Was Ancient Alpine "Iceman" Killed in Battle?

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Other scientists remain unconvinced by this new theory. Johan Reinhard, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence and expert on mummies and ritual sacrifice, believes that Loy's theory may have "too many coincidences," he said.

"I find it an unlikely scenario," Reinhard said. He asserts that a ritual death such as human sacrifice "better explains known facts."

Reinhard cites the quantity, quality, and placement of artifacts that the Iceman had with him as evidence that he could not have been fleeing a battle. The Iceman was found with well-made leather clothing, a finely-crafted copper axe, arrows, and a knife, among other items.

Additionally, the Iceman's grass-filled shoes made travel through the snow a slow process, according to Reinhard, who said he is also skeptical of the location of the body—the Iceman was found on the highest point of a pass.

Reinhard does believe that a fight could have been possible, but within the context of a ritual. "We know that people have been lured into places and killed. As an example, the Celts reportedly performed human sacrifice by shooting people in the back," he said.

Despite his skepticism, Reinhard said that new theories are important in studying the Iceman.

But, as James Dickson, an expert in botanical archaeology and paleo-ecology at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, who studies the Iceman, said: "Our knowledge of the events immediately before [the Iceman's] death … is poor."

Loy acknowledges the need for continued research. "There's more to puzzle out here … more to discover about both his life and death," he wrote.

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