Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsBodies

Science File

Ancient Foes Killed Iceman

August 16, 2003|Shasta Darlington | From Reuters

ROME — A prehistoric Italian iceman nicknamed "Otzi" may have been shot in the back with an arrow, but he died only after prolonged combat with his foes, new DNA evidence has shown.

The 5,000-year-old corpse, dug out of a glacier in northern Italy more than a decade ago, had traces of blood from four different people on his clothes and weapons, molecular archeologist Tom Loy said this week. He also had "defensive cut wounds" on his hands, wrists and rib cage, Loy said after recent blood and DNA tests. Loy, a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, traveled to the northern Italian town of Bolzano for the research.

"Presumably he was in a combat situation for between 24 to 48 hours before he died," Loy said in a telephone interview.

Loy took initial blood samples from Otzi's arrows, knife and coat in July. Amplifying and sequencing the samples, he concluded they belonged to four people -- not including Otzi himself.

Otzi, the oldest mummy ever unearthed, was found frozen and almost perfectly preserved in the Italian Alps in 1991.

He wore clothing made from leather and grasses and carried a copper ax, a bow and arrows. He was probably a hunter, Loy said.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|