Everyone’s favorite creepy frozen corpse is back, this time with a new theory on how he might have died. Ötzi the Iceman has been the subject of numerous studies since his discovery in 1991. Ötzi lived somewhere near the Ötztal Alps along the border between what is today Austria and Italy. It is believed he died at some point between 3329 and 3105 BCE, but estimates vary. Nevertheless, Ötzi remains the oldest-known natural European mummy.
Since his discovery, several studies of the wounds found on Ötzi’s mummified remains led to the conclusion that the roughly 45-year-old man succumbed to wounds sustained shortly after eating wild goat bacon: an arrow wound to the shoulder, a knife wound to his hand, and a traumatic blow to the head. I suppose there are worse ways to go - like an arrow wound and blow to the head with no bacon. However popular the murder theory might be, a new study by anthropologist Frank Rühli of the University of Zurich claims that these wounds were likely not fatal and that Ötzi’s cause of death could have been far less violent in nature.
In a presentation given at the 2017 American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Rühli claims that “freezing to death is quite likely the main cause of death in this classic cold case.” Rühli’s analysis of Ötzi’s wounds led him to conclude that Ötzi’s arrow wound would have only caused a minor loss of blood. Furthermore, Rühli believes Ötzi’s head wounds could have likely been caused by a fall on slippery Alpine ice and were likely not traumatic enough to be fatal.
This new study is likely to be challenged and refuted, but such is the nature of science. The curious case of Ötzi the Iceman keeps popping up not only because he’s a creepy almost perfectly-preserved ice mummy, but also because Ötzi reminds us that one day, each one of us will be found embarrassingly naked, lying face-down on a mountainside somewhere with bacon in our guts. Let Ötzi be an example for all of us: Life is short. Eat more goat bacon.