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Archaeo News 

28 May 2005
Bacteria trouble for Oetzi

Oetzi, the world’s oldest and best-preserved mummy may be at risk of deteriorating, as is indicated by suspicious gray spots that have shown up on recent X-Rays.
     Oetzi’s official caretaker, Eduard Egarter Vigl states, "We noticed that these spots change aspect over time, and this would indicate the formation of air or gas bubbles in the tibia, and we know that gas is produced by bacteria".
Egarter Vigl had suggested that a needle biopsy be performed in order to analyze the bubbles. His concern is that this strain of bacteria could damage the mummy.
     Another factor is that Oetzi is dehydrating dangerously, loosing weight by water evaporation despite being housed in a refrigerated cell in the South Tyrolean Museum in Bolzano, Italy, that creates the exact conditions of the Similaun Glacier, where Oetzi was discovered in 1991 by hiker Helmut Simon of Germany in a melting glacier in the Oetzal Alps. Oetzi is also being vaporized every two to three months with sterilized water in an effort to stabilize and preserve the three-dimensional structure of proteins and fats that are still present and intact.
     Oetzi may have died at the hands of one or more assailants at the age of about 45, in what is thought to have been a violent hand to hand battle, and ultimately resulting in his being wounded by an arrowhead to the ribcage that had rendered him cold, hungry and in pain. Frightened and alone, he fled up the mountain in search of safety until he collapsed from loss of blood, and was caught in a storm where he lay at 10,000 feet. DNA other than that of his own were found on Oetzi’s clothing.
     Local officials have dismissed the idea of any further invasive biopsies, as was the decision they had made 4 years ago.
Oetzi has suffered for 5,300 years. It is time we left him to have some peace.

Source: discovery.com  (23 May 2005)

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