A mummy discovered deep in the Italian Alps is sharing its secrets.
Otzi the Iceman has been fascinating scientists ever since he was discovered in the Otztal Alps in Italy, and this natural mummy is now helping scientists understand what kind of clothes he wore. Otzi has been offering lots of clues on how Copper Age Europeans lived on a daily basis, and a new study in Nature sheds light on what kinds of leathers and furs his people had to rely on for survival.
Researchers found that most of his clothes came from cattle, sheep and goats, not surprisingly as these would have been the animals most readily available to him. Otzi was believed to be an agro-pastoralist, meaning farming was his primary way of supporting himself as opposed to hunting and gathering.
But not all of his clothes came from domesticated animals — he got a little bit of hunting in, as scientists found out that he had brown bear furs and deer hide.
This gives some fascinating insight into the daily lives of agro-pastoralists like Otzi and how they lived many years ago. It showed that while they were becoming less dependent on the wild, they still weren’t fully getting what they needed from the farming lifestyle.
Otzi was first discovered by two hikers back in 1991, and since then scientists have been seeking to learn everything they can about him, even how he was killed and what his last meal was.
“Intriguingly, the hat and quiver samples were produced from wild species, brown bear and roe deer respectively,” the paper’s abstract states. “Combined, these results suggest that Copper Age populations made considered choices of clothing material from both the wild and domestic populations available to them. Moreover, these results show the potential for the recovery of complete mitochondrial genomes from degraded prehistoric artefacts.”