Ötzi - The Iceman

When visiting the beautiful South Tyrolean capital of Bolzano, you should visit "Ötzi" in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology! Even though the queues in front of the counters can get quite long, it is worth the wait to marvel at the oldest mummy in the world.

What makes "Ötzi" so special

For thousands of years, the glacial ice of the Central Alps preserved the body of “Ötzi,” which only came to the surface in the late summer of 1991. Hikers discovered it by chance, even before it could dry out in the air and decompose. Along with the 5,300-year-old corpse, pieces of clothing and utensils for hunting, fire-making, food preparation and other things became known. They were all in a very good state of preservation and were each the oldest ever found.

Innsbruck and Bolzano argued for a long time about the whereabouts of the find. Bolzano won out, as “Ötzi” was discovered a full 92m south of the border on Italian territory. The Archaeology Museum was built as a dignified setting for the world-famous find.

The story of the important find

What drove the man to an altitude of 3,000 metres has not yet been fully investigated. How he died was only clarified in 2001, when an X-ray identified an arrowhead in his back that had been overlooked until then. 

“Ötzi” must have been pursued and shot and either died of wounding or exhaustion or bled to death after his carotid artery was hit. This mystery has not yet been completely solved and perhaps “Ötzi” will keep this secret to himself forever.

What is clear, however, is that the mummy dates from the Copper Age. On display in the museum are a fur hat, leggings, a grass cape, a fur coat, underwear made of goatskin, leather shoes, a small leather bag, a fire sponge, a knife, 14 arrows and an axe made of copper ore. One is surprised by the vivid-looking life-size reconstruction of the iceman, who had been around in his mid-forties. In a darkened room behind a plate of bulletproof glass, in which the temperature and humidity of a glacier are set, you can marvel at the ice mummy in the original.


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