Scientists have found out what clothes Ötzi the “Iceman” — the most famous Copper Age person — wore the day he was killed in the Italian Alps. Shortly after his death, Ötziwas covered in snow, then ice, which preserved his remains for 5,300 years like a mummy. Ötzi was found in 1991 and immediately garnered worldwide fame after scores of reporters and documentaries told his dramatic story.
Though well preserved, Ötzi’s belongings were badly damaged by the passage of time. Technology has caught up, though, and using genetic sequencing researchers at the European Academy of Bolzano, Italy found Ötzi was wearing clothing made from a mix of wild and domesticated animals like sheep, goat and cattle.
His coat was made from at least four separate goat and sheep hides, suggesting Ötzi wasn’t a fashionista. Rather, far more practically, the Iceman did what he could with the resources he had at his disposal, even if it meant stitching a coat from many scraps of skin. Researchers also found leggings made from goat skin, cow leather shoelaces, a quiver made of roe deer and a fur hat made from a brown bear.
“It clarifies what we already knew – that the Iceman was an agropastoralist; that the majority the food and resources that he used were of domestic origin,” said the paper’s first author Niall O’Sullivan, a PhD student at University College Dublin based at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy.
“But we also know, from earlier experiments, that he supplemented his living with food from wild sources. His last meal was composed of ibex and red deer,” he added for the BBC.
“Our study shows that, as well as for food, for the manufacturing of leather he also used both wild and domestic animals.”
The findings were documented in the journal Scientific Reports. These support a previous paper published in 2008 which suggested the Iceman likely herded sheep, cattle and perhaps goat. Another study showed Otzi was covered in tattoos and their position suggests these may have actually been used as a form of acupuncture.
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.