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  • Mummy Dearest

    by Anthony Parente

    In 1991 two hikers came upon a gruesome discovery in the Ötztaler Alps along the Austro-Italian border. What they thought they uncovered was a body of a man who recently died on the Alps. Through carbon-14 dating they were able to determine that this man, dubbed Ötzi, lived some 5300 years ago making him the world's oldest mummy. What through off authorities was how well his body was preserved. This was due to the frozen temperatures accustom to areas that are some 10,000 feet above sea level.

    This amazing discovery has given scientists, for the first time, an opportunity to examine a mummy whose organs were still intact. This will allow scientists to perform tests to find out more about this man, his habits and his environment. A small portion of Ötzi's colon was removed and examined to help determine when, where and what his last meal was. Scientists hope that more testing will help answer questions about his precise age, whether he died naturally or he was murdered, where he grew up, if he had any diseases and how resistant to diseases he was.

    In addition to his body authorities uncovered various objects that Ötzi was carrying as well as wearing. The objects he was carrying included a dagger, copper axe, an arch and a quiver with broken arrows. His clothing consisted of a cap, leather belt, shoes and a coat made of leather and goat fur.

    On top of everything they found, scientists counted over 45 tattoos on various parts of Ötzi's body, which some feel may in fact be a form of acupuncture. The location and pattern of the various tattoos are consistent with modern acupuncture treatment and it could prove that this form of treatment existed in every culture.

    To help prevent the mummy from decomposing a special home was built for Ötzi in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. This home mimics the conditions where he was found. If you are ever in the area you can visit the museum, which is located in the city of Bolzano, and view for yourself his new home.


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