This is Ötzi – he’s very cool, unlike the rest of us sweltering as the Northern Hemisphere bakes.
The original outdoorsman, he was frozen in time 5,300 years ago in the Ötztal Alps between Austria and Italy.According to archaeologists, the hunter and hiker was well prepared for life in the wilderness, from his cosy bearskin hat to well-insulated
double-layered hiking shoes. His impressive kit included a backpack, bow and arrows, and all the tools needed to eat and camp wild.
A bit of a rock star, he had 61 tattoos and carried a copper axe – this was proper high-status bling, cutting edge technology between the Neolithic and Bronze Age. But this presents a mystery: Ötzi was shot by an arrow that pierced his shoulder causing him to bleed to death. Why didn’t his killers nick the shiny, new-fangled axe? Find out in new movie Iceman, which dramatises Ötzi’s life and death.
Ötzi himself, who lay in the spot where he died on the mountainside covered by glacier until his discovery in 1991, is housed at South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. His mummified remains are kept cool and damp to prevent him from desiccating (we all know how that feels) as he loses two grams of water weight daily.
He has provided a wealth of knowledge about prehistoric humans: he was lactose intolerant, had Lyme disease and was predisposed to heart disease; he had tooth decay, parasites and the stomach bacterium helicobacter pylori. From marks where his stone tools were retouched archaeologists know he was right-handed. It is a picture of a man who was very much like us.