Ötzi Is The World's Oldest Wet Mummy

Trekking the Ötztal Alps in September of 1991, two hikers stumbled upon a gruesome discovery: the head and bare shoulders of a dead man sticking out of the ice. When rescue crews arrived, however, they began to realize that this was no ordinary corpse. Scientists soon discovered that this was a 5,300-year-old human. His body had been mummified in glacier ice—making him what's known as a "wet" mummy—which preserved important details about his life and death for modern humans to find.

Because he can be seen as a typical European for his time, Ötzi, as the mummy has been named, has taught us a great deal about ancient humans. His corpse has been X-rayed, dated, DNA-analyzed, and even 3D printed. We know what he was wearing when he died: goatskin leggings, a sheepskin loincloth, a sheep- and goat-skin coat, a brown-bear hat, and even cow-leather shoelaces. We know his last meal: ibex meat and cereal. We know he had 61 tattoos, possibly for medicinal purposes. We also know he suffered from a hardening of the arteries, an intestinal parasite, and cavities, but fascinatingly, that's not what killed him: he had a flint arrowhead tip in his left shoulder and a traumatic head injury, pointing to murder as the cause of death. Even with all this analysis, scientists are still debating key details about Ötzi's life several decades after the mummy's discovery. Learn more about this fascinating ancient human in the videos below.

What Ötzi Teaches Us About Ancient Humans

Turns out it's a whole lot.

The Discovery of Europe's Oldest Mummy

Hear the story of how Ötzi was discovered.

Where Did Humans Come From?

Hank Green delves into some tantalizing research.

Written by Curiosity Staff October 5, 2016

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