January 30, 2009

New theory advanced on Iceman’s death

A new examination of Italy's mummified Iceman indicates the Stone Age man was attacked twice before he died, Italian and German researchers said.

The joint study indicated the Iceman, also known as Oetzi, was wounded in the hand ''a few days before'' he was hunted down and killed in the mountains between Italy and Austria, the Italian news agency ANSA reported Friday.

After Iceman climbed to spot where his frozen and mummified body was found, the researchers from Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University and the Iceman Museum in Bolzano, Italy, said he sustained a fatal arrow shot in the back before being hit with a blunt object, probably a rock or a stick.

The researchers also re-examined arrows found with the Iceman's body, discovering they weren't properly sharpened, which they said was a likely sign that he had to leave his village in a hurry and was unable to defend himself.

The discovery is another element in a long-running dispute over the death of the Iceman, who emerged from an Alpine glacier in 1991 and has become the world's most famous wet mummy, ANSA said.

For years, the accepted version was that he was shot by another hunter prepared to kill for deer, based on the contents of Iceman's stomach.