Head Trauma Contributed to Iceman's Demise

August 31, 2007

Severe head trauma added to the lethal arrowhead wound in the shoulder that killed the prehistoric iceman known as Oetzi, a new analysis reveals.

The new finding builds on research published in June that showed the 46-year-old man found in Italy likely bled to death 5,300 years ago from an arrow-inflicted laceration to an artery just below his collarbone.

(Read: "Iceman Bled Out From Arrow Wound, X-Ray Scan Reveals" [June 7, 2007].)

"The new thing is the trauma of the skull was detected," said Albert Zink, director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy in Bolzano, Italy.

"The wound from the arrowhead was so severe that he would have died from it alone. But it was probably a combination of these two injuries."

But, the experts add, it's still unclear whether the head trauma or the arrow wound came first.

Zink's colleagues presented the new finding at a briefing at the institute on Monday. A paper on their work also appeared in a recent edition of the archaeological magazine Germania.

Final Moments

Oetzi died in South Tyrol in northern Italy on a mountain glacier 10,500 feet (3,210 meters) above sea level.

The body was discovered by hikers in 1991 and is one of the world's oldest and best preserved mummies.

For the past 16 years scientists have pieced together details of the man's life history and fateful final moments.

(See images of the iceman and illustrations of his probable death.)

Continued on Next Page >>


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