The finding clarifies the mystery of how the 46-year-old man died some 5,300 years ago
for National Geographic News
The prehistoric iceman known as Oetzi died from an arrow-inflicted lesion to an artery near his left shoulder, modern x-ray technology shows.
The finding clarifies the mystery of how the 46-year-old man died some 5,300 years ago high up on a mountain glacier in northern Italy.
Oetzi was discovered in 1991 in South Tyrol 10,500 feet (3,210 meters) above sea level. He is one of the world’s oldest and best preserved mummies.
Scientists have studied Oetzi for years to determine his life history, but the exact cause of death has been unclear. Did he die from the arrowhead, or from other complications of a battle just prior to his death?
To clarify the issue, Frank Rühli of the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and colleagues from the General Hospital in Bolzano, Italy, used modern x-ray technology to examine Oetzi’s internal anatomy.”[The x-rays show the arrow first penetrated the skin for sure and then through the shoulder blade and then basically ended up close to the lung but didn’t penetrate the lung cavity,” Rühli said. “It ended up just below … the clavicle, which is the collar bone.”
There, the scans show a 0.5-inch-long (13-millimeter-long) rip to an artery. A large blood clot is visible in the surrounding tissue.