| 9 August 2003
Oetzi the Iceman was from Italy
Oetzi, the hunter whose frozen remains were found in a glacier in the Dolomites in 1991, can finally rest in peace after a row between Italy and Austria over his origins was settled. The body is displayed in Bolzano's Museum of Archaeology (Italy).
After analysing mineral samples taken from his teeth and bones, a leading Austrian scientist has concluded that his country's claims are misplaced and that the Bronze Age man came from the territory of modern-day Italy. The nearest he got to Austria was probably the Alpine mountain range where he died after being shot in the back by an arrow.
Ownership of the body is more than a matter of pride: the remarkably well-preserved remains have become the basis for a multi-million- pound tourist industry. Now Dr Wolfgang Muller, who is attached to the Australian National University in Canberra, says the hunter came from South Tyrol in Italy, not North Tyrol in Austria.
Dr Muller examined deposits embedded in dental enamel and bone and compared them with minerals from the north and south of the main Alpine ridge dividing Austria and Italy. Because the composition of human bones reflects the minerals taken into the body in the last 10 to 20 years of life, the results were very precise: the hunter was born in the Eisack Valley, South Tyrol, while later he remained in Lower Vinschgau.
Earlier studies revealed that the man's last meals included venison and goat, suggesting that he was a high-ranking hunter. Arrow wounds hinted at a fatal injury as he ran from enemies, or a hunting accident.
Source: The Daily Telegraph (3 August 2003)
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