The Ice Mummy

Exactly 20 years ago, on Sept. 19, 1991, German hikers Erika and Helmut Simon spotted something brown while walking near a melting glacier in the Ötztal Alps in South Tyrol.

As they got closer, they realized with horror that it wasn't just some sort of rubbish: a human corpse was lying with the chest against a flat rock.

Only the back of the head, the bare shoulders and part of the back emerged from the ice and meltwater.

The hikers thought the body belonged to an unfortunate victim of a mountaineering accident a few years back. In fact, they discovered one of the world's oldest and best preserved mummies.It was an Austrian reporter, Karl Wendl, who first named the mummy "Ötzi," referring to the Ötzal Alps where it was found. Soon after the mummy was recovered, a harsh debate arose on which soil it was found. A survey of the border carried out on Oct. 2, 1991 established that the mummy lay 303 feet from the border in South Tyrol, in Italy. Radio carbon dating established that the Ötzi lived around 5,000 years ago, between 3350 and 3100 B.C. Recent investigations established that he had brown eyes, not blue as previously thought. Ötzi was probably a bearded man. He was about 5 foot, 3 inches tall and weighed 110 pounds.The Iceman also lacked wisdom teeth. He suffered from cavities, worn teeth and periodontal diseases, yet still had all his teeth when he died at around 45.


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