The Iceman’s Descendants

This is Ötzi the Iceman.

Otzi the Iceman

He died long ago, around 3,300 BCE. He was found in 1991 in the mountains, along the border between Austria and Italy. He actually looks much grosser than the image above (depending on how you feel about beards, that is), but that’s what researchers have been able to guesstimate he looked like around the time he died. (As opposed to a bunch of bones. Well-preserved bones, but still, bones all the same.)

Anyway, maybe you’ve heard of Ötzi. He’s pretty famous these days, known as Europe’s oldest natural mummy, which allows for a great deal of research about copper age folk. And while his remains, preserved deep in ice (hence the nickname) has provided insight into the clothing and tools of his peeps, there’s also been a great deal learned about Ötzi himself.

He was in his 40s. He probably died from a violent act, as indicated by a nick on his skull; it’s possible he got in a fight, fled to the mountains, and died there. His copper axe indicates that he was respected, and his attire suggests that he may have been a herder. He might have died somewhere else and been buried in a separate act in the mountains, though this is pretty heavily disputed. He did die, though. That much is certain.

One other thing we know now: Ötzi’s seed appears to have been pretty strong. Research into his DNA suggests he has at least 19 male descendants still hanging out around Austria today. Further research is expected to see whether he has living relatives in other countries, which would seem likely, but then, townie roots do tend to run pretty deep.

DNA imagery from Andy Leppard, Creative Commons/flickr