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Thread: Origin and Migration of the Alpine Iceman

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    Post Origin and Migration of the Alpine Iceman

    Origin and migration of the Alpine Iceman.

    Muller W, Fricke H, Halliday AN, McCulloch MT, Wartho JA.

    Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

    The Alpine Iceman provides a unique window into the Neolithic-Copper Age of Europe. We compared the radiogenic (strontium and lead) and stable (oxygen and carbon) isotope composition of the Iceman's teeth and bones, as well as 40Ar/39Ar mica ages from his intestine, to local geology and hydrology, and we inferred his habitat and range from childhood to adult life. The Iceman's origin can be restricted to a few valleys within approximately 60 kilometers south(east) of the discovery site. His migration during adulthood is indicated by contrasting isotopic compositions of enamel, bones, and intestinal content. This demonstrates that the Alpine valleys of central Europe were permanently inhabited during the terminal Neolithic.

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    Post 'Iceman' discoverer joins his find in Alpine grave

    'Iceman' discoverer joins his find in Alpine grave

    Sophie Arie in Rome
    Sunday October 24, 2004
    The Observer

    For 13 years, mountaineer Helmut Simon had basked in the glory of his unique encounter with history.
    In 1991, the 67-year-old German discovered Otzi the Iceman, the perfectly preserved body of a Neolithic hunter, emerging from the Similaun glacier, 3,200m (10,500ft) up the Austrian Alps. Wherever he went in his beloved Alps, Simon wore a badge identifying himself as 'Discoverer of Otzi'.

    But yesterday, Simon's body was found in a stream in these same mountains.

    On 15 October, the pensioner departed alone from the village of Bad Hofgastein, near Salzburg, up the 2,134m (7,000ft) Gamskarkogel peak. His wife, Erika, who usually walked with him, did not go.

    Foul weather should have deterred the experienced climber, who did not even take a tent with him.

    Half a metre of snow fell in the three days following his disappearance. On Monday, Simon's wife returned to Nuremberg and rescuers gave up their search.

    Simon and his wife had made the journey to Bolzano to visit Otzi several times a year. While scientists learnt about Neolithic man by examining Otzi, Simon developed an affection for the 5,300-year-old and came to call the iceman his 'brother'.

    'Being a discoverer is like being the author of an important invention,' said Simon's Italian lawyer, Armin Weis. 'It becomes your identity.' Simon died just weeks before his lawyers were due to launch a case for him to receive a €250,000 (£170,000) reward from Italian authorities for his discovery.

    Rumours in the villages around the Austro-Italian border suggested Simon may have walked deliberately to his death. Other locals fear Otzi - like Tutankhamen - claimed Simon's life in revenge for disturbing the mummy's peace.

    The body of the iceman is under renewed scrutiny this time by experts seeking to prove its value in cash rather than archaeological terms.

    The iceman is one of the best and oldest preserved human bodies because of an extraordinary combination of events. After apparently falling into a crevasse and dying of hypothermia, the Neolithic hunter was quickly covered by snow which preserved his body intact. It appears the Simons found him at the precise moment the body emerged from the melting glacier and before it began to decompose.

    Under Italian law, Simon was entitled to receive up to 25 per cent of the value of his find. Since he was only recognised as the official finder of the mummy last year, legal proceedings will begin on 5 November to determine the size of the reward.

    The Otzi mummy, kept in Bolzano's south Tyrol museum of archaeology, has made about €2 million (£1.4m) per year for northern Italian authorities since 1998.

    Simon turned down an offer from Italian authorities of €50,000 several years ago. His lawyers claim his family's reward should be at least four times as much.

    With Simon's death, the pressure to reward his wife and two children with the amount denied to the climber in his lifetime has increased.


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    Post Alpine iceman reveals Stone Age secrets (Sophie Hardach)

    Some 5,300 years after his violent death, a Stone Age man found
    frozen in the Alps is slowly revealing his secrets to a global team of scientists.

    But despite more than a decade of high-tech efforts by geneticists, botanists and engineers many questions about his life and death remain unsolved.

    And rumours of a deadly curse on those who found him continue to swirl.

    German amateur mountaineer Helmut Simon and his wife spotted Oetzi, as he became known, in the mountains between Italy and Austria, near the Oetztal valley, in 1991.

    At first glance, they thought it was the body of an unfortunate hiker.

    Forensic medics and assistants also failed to recognise the significance of the find at first inspection: Documentary footage shows one assistant using a piece of wood, later identified as part of the mummy's ancient equipment, to unearth the frozen body.

    Only recently have new methods such as DNA and tooth enamel analysis produced a clearer picture of his life.

    "Looking at the iceman, we can see how science has developed over the past years," said Angelika Fleckinger, co-ordinator of the Museum of Archaeology in the South Tyrolean city of Bolzano, where Oetzi is kept. "There are always new discoveries."

    In the latest project, genetic researchers in Oxford and Bolzano are testing his DNA for clues about ethnicity.

    Scientists expect the first results within months. The outcome could stir controversy in a region controversially claimed by Italians, German-speakers and members of the ancient Ladin culture.

    "So far, we only know that he's a middle-European from earlier DNA tests," said Peter Pramstaller, leader of the team investigating the mummy's origins at Bolzano's Institute for Genetic Medicine.

    "Through our new methods, we could learn more about his origin," he added.


    Data from tooth enamel, soil and water samples has already shown that Oetzi probably grew up in the Pustertal region south of the Alps and left his home valley when he was 20-30 years old.

    Archaeologists believe he may have been a shaman. He used medicinal mushrooms, and his tattoos -- a series of short, dark, parallel lines -- had been placed to treat his arthritis as an early form of acupuncture.

    But even the best scientists have been unable to explain the exact circumstances of his death.

    In 2001, with the help of digital x-ray images, doctors detected an arrowhead in the iceman's shoulder blade.

    DNA tests also revealed traces of blood from four different people on Oetzi's clothes, and a deep cut between his index finger and thumb, possibly from a fight.

    The results have prompted a theory by Professor Walter Leitner at the University of Innsbruck, who has spent years studying the iceman, that Oetzi was probably victim of a political plot and assassinated by his own tribe.

    Common criminals or members of an enemy tribe would have taken his extremely valuable possessions, such as a copper axe, generally carried by tribal leaders.

    Oetzi was old for his time -- at 45 -- and this could mean that he was toppled by younger rivals, Leitner's theory goes.

    "Of course, no one knows what it was really like," he said.


    Science has also been unable to explain a series of sinister accidents since the iceman was discovered.

    Forensic medic Rainer Henn, one of the first to touch the mummy, died in a car crash on his way to a lecture about Oetzi. A mountain guide who helped with the find plunged to his death, and a journalist who filmed the excavation died from cancer.

    Last October, Helmut Simon fell to his death in the Alps after a sudden onset of bad weather near the spot where he had discovered Oetzi.

    Walter Leitner was close to the scene the night Simon died.

    At the time, he was explaining his iceman theory to a team of U.S. American journalists when they too were suddenly engulfed by the storm and had to be rescued by helicopter.

    "At that moment I thought of my survival rather than the curse; of my family; my daughter's birthday the next day, and how I would maybe not be there," Leitner said.

    "The next day, when I arrived at the institute, people were saying, 'have you heard, Helmut Simon went missing in the mountains', and that's when I started feeling a bit queasy."

    The archaeologist explained Simon had been profoundly moved by his discovery, seeing it as a religious signal to convert to Christianity.

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