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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2344

Oetzi the Iceman? Italy reopens coldest of cases

High in a remote area of the Oetztaler Alps in northern Italy, 5,300 years ago, Oetzi the Iceman was shot in the back with an arrow.

It hit a main artery and he probably bled to death within minutes.

His body was preserved in the ice, making him one of the oldest and best-preserved mummies on Earth.

Oetzi was first discovered in 1991 and scientists discovered the flint arrowhead lodged in his shoulder 10 years later. But only in recent months have investigators, led by a senior police detective, focused more intently on how Oetzi was shot.

Was it murder? And who might have killed him?

DNA traces origins of Iceman's ragtag wardrobe Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians

Angelika Fleckinger, director of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, where Oetzi's body is on display, called on a professional to investigate. He is Detective Chief Inspector Alexander Horn of the Munich Police Department, who is also head of behavioural analysis with the Bavarian police.

He admits to being slightly taken aback at the request.

"It was a funny situation, because when I was asked by the director if I work on cold cases, I said 'yes, I do'," Inspector Horn said.

But this case was colder than most.

It looks a lot like a murder - Detective Chief Inspector Alexander Horn, Munich Police Department

"The usual cold case that we have is 20 or maybe 30 years old, and now I was asked to work on a case 5,300 years old," he said.

Initially, Inspector Horn did not think he could help.

"I thought that probably the body would be in a bad condition. But what I learnt very soon was that it was in perfect condition. It's even in a better condition than some of the bodies I am working on nowadays."

As well as visiting the scene of the crime high in the Alps, the inspector was able to draw on the extensive research done on Oetzi over the last 25 years, which includes detailed analysis of his stomach contents and the injuries on his body.

Both were to prove key to Inspector Horn's theories.

"It looks a lot like a murder," he says.

Oetzi the Iceman had a stomach bug, researchers say

Apparent ambush

The killer seems to have caught Oetzi by surprise.

"Oetzi was shot probably from quite a distance, about 30m (100 ft), which is not a close-contact killing; it's a distance killing."

Inspector Horn says Oetzi seems to have been quite relaxed up on the glacier just before he was shot. His own bow wasn't ready for use.

- Asian Tribune –

A reconstruction of the Iceman in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy.
The mummy on display at the museum. There are a few mummies in the world as old, but none so well preserved.
 Oetzi the Iceman? Italy reopens coldest of cases
Clockwise from top left: the Iceman’s hand, lower leg, ax and dagger.
diconary view
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