Sunday, September 27, 2015



             HOW DID THE ICEMAN DIE?

Hello again!  Sorry for missing last week, it got really crazy around here and it still is! But I am bound and determined to get a blog out this week.

Well it seems that Ötzi, the Iceman, was also bound and determined either to get away or to get where he was going. How do we know that? Well let’s take a closer look… 

Ötzi was well equipped as we noted in the previous two blogs. He had weapons, was warmly clothed, carried two birch bark containers one of which contained remnants of “freshly pick maple leaves peppered with various plant remains and traces of charcoal. This container was therefore probably used for keeping embers
alight, with the leaves serving as insulating material.”1 Ötzi also carried a retoucheur which is a “tool used for working flint. The approximately 12 cm-long pencil-like tool was made from a piece of lime branch which was shaped to a point at one end. At the pointed end an approximately 6 cm-long rod was driven into the central canal, leaving a few millimeters protruding. The rod turned out to be the fire-hardened point of a stag’s antler. To fashion tools of flint, a flint cobble would first be hammered with hard blows to produce flakes and crude blades. These were then precisely shaped by pressing against the edge of the workpiece with a retoucheur to remove small fragments.”2

Ötzi also had the makings for repairing and making new arrows,
pieces of wood to make a back pack, a net for trapping small game, a hide noose with a stone dolomite disc attached to the end used for wildfowl hunting and a first aid kit that “included two hide strips, on to each of which a round lump of material had been threaded. The strips were attached to Ötzi’s clothing. Analysis showed that these lumps consisted of the fruiting body of the birch polypore fungus. Right up until the 20th century such bracket fungi were used for many medicinal purposes. The birch polypore is known to have antibiotic and styptic effects. Furthermore, toxic oils in bracket fungi are effective against the intestinal parasites that Ötzi himself suffered from.”3

All in all the Iceman’s “equipment consisted of 18 different types of wood, with the most suitable wood being chosen for each object. Bark, bast, grasses, leather and flint were also skillfully fashioned into useful utensils and items of clothing…Ötzi and his contemporaries evidently possessed excellent knowledge of natural materials. The ability to use natural raw materials to their best advantage was a vital skill for people living at the time.”4 

So the Iceman was well prepared to survive in his environment. Then how did he die? At first it was believed he just came to the end of his line and froze to death. But from some of the last contents of his stomach (specifically from the flowering phases of the pollen types found in his stomach) scientists have realized that he must have perished in the spring or early summer. Could he still have frozen to death? Yes but that time of year makes it much less likely. Remember Ötzi is a seasoned woodsmen. But the most convincing evidence was the Iceman’s bow which he evidently had leaned against a rock next to where his body was found. The bow was still there discovered by the people
who excavated the scene thousands of years later. 

Because the bow had been carefully placed against a rock that also rules out the possibility of a fall which some scientists at first thought due to a head injury. So it does seem something more sinister did happen. Scientists have confirmed that just hours or days before his death Ötzi received a deep wound (unhealed) to the hand. This would suggest he was involved in hand-to-hand combat. Also there were unhealed rib fractures on the left side. But it wasn’t until recently that they discovered the true reason of his death. “By all appearances, the Iceman had been involved in a fight shortly before his death. This may have prompted him to flee into the mountains. His pursuers, however, caught up with him and shot him with an arrow. Penetrating the body, the arrowhead created a 2-cm-wide hole in the left shoulder blade and ended up just a few centimeters from the lung. Vital organs were not hit, but the arrow severed a major blood vessel and damaged the neuromuscular fascicles of the left arm, which must have caused heavy bleeding and possibly
paralysis of the arm. Mustering his last strength, he was able to shake off his enemies and reach the gully, only to die of his wounds there. The Iceman probably bled to death within a matter of minutes.”5

It seems from the piercing arrow and the wounds on his hands and head that Ötzi was on the run. It is reasonable to think the Iceman was shot by the arrow, went into the gully to hide and tend his wound, then keeled over from lack of blood, landing face down on the rock slab where he was discovered so many centuries later. One thing is known for sure. Whoever Ötzi’s enemy was, they never found him. Had he been found the copper axe would have been quite a prize along with the arrows, bow and all the other equipment and clothing Ötzi had. 

The Iceman was an intelligent, knowledgeable person. DNA tests indicate he had brown eyes and dark hair. Also traces of a high arsenic content found in his hair indicate that Ötzi had been involved in the smelting of metal ores and the extraction of copper. That certainly is not something that is portrayed by evolutionary standards of stone age man. However it fits perfectly with the unaltered truth recorded in the Bible.

Until next time, God bless and take care!
Willow Dressel


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