View Full Version : Cain & Abel

Don Olney
07-26-2001, 09:42 PM
Wednesday July 25 3:39 PM ET
Scientists: 'Iceman' Mystery Solved

ROME (AP) - It wasn't a fall that killed him, or the cold, scientists say. The Iceman, a Bronze Age hunter whose 5,300-year-old frozen body was discovered in the Alps, was shot through the chest with an arrow and likely died in agony.

The discovery of an arrowhead embedded in the Iceman's body, scientists said Wednesday, resolves the mystery of how he died - an open question ever since his well-preserved corpse was discovered a decade ago.

``This changes everything. Now research on the Iceman starts over,'' Alex Susanna, director of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, which houses the mummy, said Wednesday.

The flint arrowhead, less than inch long, was found in the Iceman's left shoulder last week with a technique called computerized tomography, which uses X-rays to produce a multidimensional image.

The arrow's path as it ripped through the Iceman's body can be traced on the bones - starting at the tiny puncture of the entry wound in the skin of his left chest, said radiologist Paul Gostner.

The arrow tore through nerves and major blood vessels, paralyzing the left arm and shattering the shoulder blade, said researcher Eduard Egarter Vigl. It ended up about 3 inches under the shoulder near his left lung, Gostner said.

The Iceman probably lived a few hours at most after he was shot.

There were signs of heavy internal bleeding in what must have been an extremely painful death, said Egarter Vigl. The angle of the wound indicates he was shot from below.

X-ray tests conducted seven years ago by a different team showed something in the area, but scientists at the time were unable to identify it as an arrowhead.

``All the things that have been published over the past seven or eight years - that he died because of broken ribs, that he died under the snow, or that he was exhausted and laid down and fell asleep and froze to death - are wrong,'' said Susanna, the museum director.

``Maybe there was a combat, maybe he was in a battle. There is a whole series of new implications. The story needs to be rewritten.''

Scientists hope to use this new information to reconstruct the last hours of the Iceman's life and his role in ancient society. The Iceman was between 45 and 50 years old when he died, which was very old for that era.

The mummy was discovered by two German mountaineers in a glacier in the Tyrollean Alps on the Italian-Austrian border in 1991. His superbly preserved corpse is kept in a refrigerated viewing chamber at the museum, which is in northern Italy near the Austrian border.

The museum was built to house him and the array of weapons and tools found by his side, including a copper ax, bow and flint-tipped arrows. In September, Bolzano will host an international conference on the Iceman.

07-26-2001, 09:51 PM
When I saw the topic of this post,I thought oh my,this will get this forum up and running full stride.What the heck is Don up to.
To my relief I saw your interesting article.
Tell me you don't have a secondary meaning and I'm not being gullible.
I have always been facinated by that discovery.
Thanks for the interesting update.

[This message has been edited by dasboat (edited 07-26-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
07-26-2001, 10:01 PM
Fascinating. You post some great stuff, Don.

Frank Hagan
07-26-2001, 11:42 PM
I always wondered why the Biblical story put more emphasis on Cain than Abel, and now I know. Aren't you all left with a yearning to know more about the one who shot the arrow?

07-27-2001, 12:54 AM
Excellent. I've read before of skeletons as old as Neanderthals with spear points in them. But why do the scientists always jump to the conclusion of intraspecific aggression? Maybe he was cleaning his bow and forgot to unload it.

Don Olney
07-27-2001, 08:28 AM
No provocation at all. I just find it interesting that here we have this very unusual discovery of a well-preserved corpse over 5000 years old and for the past ten years, there have been all kinds of theories as to what caused his death. I recall that the theories focused on natural causes, yet finally it turns out to be a homicide. The real mystery that will never be solved is who did it and why. Over an insult? Rivalry? Robbery? Jealousy? Sacriledge? Self-defense? Was it a punishment for some transgression? An old story, yet timeless.

Here is a link:


[This message has been edited by don olney (edited 07-27-2001).]

07-27-2001, 09:11 AM
It was over a woman of course. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Bruce Taylor
07-27-2001, 09:48 AM
An ice-woman, no doubt.

07-27-2001, 10:51 AM
I like the Lamess theory.I think is a good example of why we so desperately need bow control.

Keith Wilson
07-27-2001, 10:56 AM
Actually, it woudn't have to be homicide, although it certainly could be. Two guys hunting, one careless or with bad aim - happens today fairly regularly.

07-27-2001, 11:00 AM
Thanks for posting that Don. I wonder what was going on at that altitude? Wasn't the body found at eight or ten thousand feet? But, I guess anger and grudge know no altitude, only volume.

07-29-2001, 05:15 PM
cupid did it!!!!

jack grebe
07-29-2001, 05:52 PM
45-50 yrs old ? coulda been a jealous 15yr old husband
or how bout the little woman...maybe she caught him screwin around.
stepped on a bobby trap?
damn a 5000yr old murder mystery....and the worlds still turnin

07-29-2001, 06:49 PM
I think we all need to start marching in the streets and scream for mor bow & arrow control...just think..it could happen to any one of us, we could clim a mountain ( too look for a cheap wooden boat) and shot by a jet ski owner. if we could save the life of one ice man.... http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

07-29-2001, 08:03 PM
Leggett,bow control is the answer.A 30 day cooling off period before taking delivery because we all know that people only buy those nasty things in a fit of anger.
I'm writing Dianne Feinstein(sp) and demanding that the govt. protect us from ourselves.

07-29-2001, 08:15 PM
I read a theory about two years ago (I believe in primitive archery magazine)- before the arrowhead find. The theory predicted warfare. Since the body was found in a pass between two inhabitated areas, and since the man was found with some serious weapons, and the man's bow was broken, one archeologist stated there was likely a battle between two groups of people, perhaps after a not so friendly village raid. One group chased the others through the mountains. The ice man got nabbed.

Tom Lathrop
07-29-2001, 09:53 PM
Maybe the clearest thing brought about by this new discovery is the elaborate theories that are so often woven on insuficient evidence. Remember the thought that the astronauts might sink into deep dust on the moon. The orgin and fate of the universe changes every year or two. Leakey or some other searcher finds a part of a bone and reconstructs an entire culture, only to be shot down by the next find.

07-29-2001, 10:35 PM
hay I think we need to be careful in drawing all these conclusion before we find out that wood was not what the first boats were made from....and that jet skeets were here first...those ice men were just keeping them a secrete from those big city collage boyz.
hay wasn't 20yrs old considered old back then??..at 50 he must have been the old man of the mountain!!!

07-29-2001, 11:05 PM
I doubt it was I fight over a women - at that altitude she would have been frigid and not worth killing for.

Average longevity figures often include very high infant mortality rates and so don't reflect the age structure of the population. If a person survived the first few years chances were good for four score and ten.

Tom L. - I find that to be part of the beauty of scientific inquiry. Not that folks are wrong a lot but that new information and new ideas can change our understanding of a subject several times in a life time. That fluidity you decry is a paean to inquiry and evidence. Getting stuff wrong isn't fun but it is part of the game.

However that does not mean silliness can't prevail for a (long) time.

[This message has been edited by LAMESS (edited 07-30-2001).]

[This message has been edited by LAMESS (edited 07-30-2001).]

Don Olney
08-12-2003, 01:15 PM
Two years later...

'Iceman' was murdered, science sleuths say

Tue Aug 12, 6:21 AM ET - USA TODAY

By Tim Friend, USA TODAY

The 5,300-year-old "Iceman" discovered in 1991 in the Italian Alps was killed by one or more assailants in a fight that lasted at least two days, shows evidence obtained by sophisticated DNA testing and old-fashioned detective work

Scientists initially presumed that the Stone Age Iceman, nicknamed Otzi, was caught in a storm and froze to death. But a new team said Monday that Otzi's case instead has become the world's oldest, and coldest, murder case.

"We've been working round the clock for the last three weeks to get these results," DNA specialist Thomas Loy of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, told USA TODAY Monday by phone from a laboratory in Bolanzo, Italy. "It was very exciting when the blood samples came back positive for human DNA from four separate individuals."

Otzi's naturally mummified body, the oldest found so far, became a worldwide sensation in 1991 after two Austrian mountain climbers saw it in a thawing glacier at 10,500 feet on the Hauslabjoch Alpine pass at the Italian/Austria border. Nearby artifacts included a copper blade ax, a bearskin cap, shoes of bearskin and woven grass, a quiver of arrows, and a knife

In 2001, an Italian radiologist found an arrowhead embedded in Otzi's shoulder. Otzi had been hit from behind and managed to pull out only the shaft. That discovery led Eduard Egarter, Bolanzo's chief medical examiner and curator of Otzi's body, to look for more evidence of a fight.

Alois Pirpamer, one of the climbers who found Otzi, told Egarter that the Iceman had been clutching a knife in his right hand at the time of the discovery. The knife came loose when the body was pulled from the ice. Pirpamer says he told the Austrian scientists that Otzi was holding the knife, but was ignored.

Egarter matched the knife to the hand and found a deep gash on the hand that had been missed in previous studies. He then found another cut on the left hand and bruises on the torso, as if Otzi had been beaten. Documentary filmmaker Brando Quilici, who was making a second film for the Discovery Channel on the Iceman, suggested bringing in Loy to look for microscopic blood samples that might belong to the attackers. Blood from one person was found on the back of Otzi's cloak, and blood from two people was found on the same arrow in his quiver. More blood was on the knife.

Quilici says the team suspects blood on the back of the cloak may have come from a wounded colleague that Otzi was carrying over his shoulder. Loy says blood of two people was found on the same arrow, suggesting Otzi killed both men and retrieved the arrow.

With Europe gripped in a heat wave, Quilici says ice at the Alpine pass is melting fast. The team will look for more bodies there on Aug. 28. A one-hour documentary about the new findings, Iceman: Hunt for a Killer, airs at 9 p.m. Aug. 24 on the Discovery Channel.

08-12-2003, 01:32 PM
I just learned a valuable lesson about checking the date of the original post, but thanks for bringing a good one back with the update.

- M

Alan D. Hyde
08-12-2003, 01:55 PM
A fascinating follow-up, Don.

Thanks for posting it.

And as far as bringing back an old thread, it was good to talk, even via distant echoes in the darkness, with dasboat again.


[ 08-12-2003, 03:12 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

08-12-2003, 02:27 PM
Well, if the first fellow's name is Otsi, if they find the other 3, it stands to reason those will be Totsi, Hurdi and Gerdi. Every one knows that about Otsi Totsi doing the Hurdi Gerdi :D

[ 08-12-2003, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]