February 21, 2011

Brown-eyed Oetzi the Iceman

Heike Engel-21Lux / Sdtiroler Archologiemuseum / National Geographic Deutschland

Iceman Oetzi gets a new face for 20th anniversary
BOLZANO, Italy — Iceman Oetzi, whose mummified body was famously found frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991, will get a new face for the 20th anniversary of his discovery.

As part of a new exhibit at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano (www.iceman.it), two Dutch experts -- Alfons and Adrie Kennis -- have made a new model of the living Oetzi, this time with brown eyes.

Indeed, recent research has shown the Iceman, now approaching the tender age of 5,300 years, did not have blue eyes as previously believed.

The Kennis model was created based on three-dimensional images of the mummy's skeleton as well as the latest forensic technology, and will go on display on March 1 until January 15, 2012.

The Bolzano museum is also planning to improve conservation of the mummy by using pure nitrogen, which should help it keep its relatively young appearance by eliminating oxidation.

Oetzi was discovered on September 19, 1991 by a German couple in a glacier in the Oetztal Alps in South Tyrol, northern Italy.

The Iceman, who is believed to have died around the age of 45, was about 1.60 metres (5 foot, 3 inches) tall and weighed 50 kilogrammes (110 pounds), about average for his time. If he had lived today, he would have worn size 38 shoes.

But Oetzi's notoriety has also been linked to a supposed curse surrounding the mummy, after several people -- authors, researchers, even mountain guides -- who came in contact with it died over the years.

One of the couple who discovered Oetzi was found dead after a mountain hike in 2004. A forensic expert, who had closely examined the find, meanwhile died in a car accident in 1992 on his way to a lecture about Oetzi.

Picture from an Italian story on the same topic


Anonymous said...

The curse of the mummy, lol. This is the 21st century!

The point of the article for me is to take what is said or written about ancient remains with a grain of salt until it is proven beyond all doubts. Whether Oetzi's eyes are blue or brown is irrelevant as people living in the region today have blue or brown eyes. So mundane.

Oetzi was supposed to have his genome scanned. When will it be released? What is his Y chromosome haplogroup and subclade? Far more interesting facts can be gleaned from his genome than him fancifully having blue eyes.

Unknown said...

I presume the 38 shoe size is EUR not US sizes. Regardless that is a pretty big foot for a relatively short guy, at least by todays foot size proportions. Did ancient population have relatively larger feet?

pconroy said...


EU 38 = US 5.5 = Br 5

That's a tiny foot!

My 7 yo daughter - admittedly tall for her age - takes a US ladies 5

Unknown said...

After your comment I figured out what i did. I had gone to Wikipedia "shoe size" and only looked at the children's chart.