History of the World: The Iceman Cometh


Can you imagine? You're out for a nice, refreshing hike, enjoying nature, when you stumble upon this:

oetzi /

Uhhh. I know what my reaction would be, but it's not exactly appropriate to print on mental_floss. Anyway, that's what happened in 1991 when two German tourists were out for a hike on Similaun Mountain in Austria and spotted this corpse. They figured he was a recent murder victim; there had been a rash of them in the region at the time. But the guy had actually been murdered thousands of years ago. The Austrian government pried him out of the ice with a jackhammer, doing some damage to the body in the process. And when people walked by, curious as to what was going on, they had no qualms about letting them take pieces of clothing and other objects as souvenirs.

Eventually, it was decided that Oetzi (AKA Ötzi, named after the Ötztal Alps where he was found) was actually found on Italian soil, so if you want to pay him a visit, check out the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. Oetzi was so well preserved because of the ice, scientists were able to study the contents of his intestines, take a hair analysis and investigate under his remaining fingernail. Pretty amazing, considered his death happened in 3300 B.C.-ish.

Random trivia not found in the book: Brad Pitt has a tattoo of Oetzi's outline on his forearm.

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