World's Oldest Murder Case Solved?

Apr 12, 2017 By Deepa Gopal
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A male, around 45 years of age, was killed in the Otztal Alps that border Italy and Austria. His frozen body was discovered by a German couple hiking in the region.

But this was no ordinary find. Next to the body lay a copper axe, a knife with flint-stone blade, a quiver full of arrows, a fire-starting kit, two baskets containing berries and other stone age tools.

The skeleton turned out to be the remains of a 5,300 year old man who had been mummified by ice and was very well preserved. He belonged to the Copper Age -- a period in human history between the Stone Age and Bronze Age when copper was used for making tools. The "Ice Man" was named Otzi after the Otztal Alps where he was found.

What We Know So Far...

Since Otzi is one of the most intact discovery of our ice age ancestor, scientists have been studying his body in detail for every little clue. By sequencing his DNA, scientists have concluded that his closest descendants live in the islands of Sicily and Corsica off the coast of Italy today

Based on his fine woven-grass cloak and coat, leggings, leather shoes, and tools he was carrying, scientists conclude that Otzi might have had a respectable social standing in his community. He may have belonged to an agricultural community as there were grains, deer meat and herb bread detected in the contents of his intestine. It also appeared that he had just eaten a big meal. The discovery of an arrow mark on his left shoulder indicates he may have been the victim of an attack and bled to death.

According to scientists, had Otzi not died from an arrow, he would have surely died from heart disease. He was predisposed to a heart condition and had thickened arteries, as well as suffered from Lyme disease. The tattoos on his body, especially around the joints, indicate they may have been a medical treatment like acupressure. 

Piecing Together The Story

On closely examining the body, Detective Horn of Munich Police Department, found a gash on the victim's right arm which indicated he had been badly injured a day or two earlier. Also, based on how deep the arrow had traveled in the body, Horn concluded that Otzi had been shot from 30 feet away. Had he been shot from a closer distance, the arrow would have traveled out of the other end of Otzi's body.

So from this, investigators have pieced together the details of the murder. Follow along!

A day or two before the murder, Otzi had traveled to a village where he picked up a fight. He managed to defend himself, but suffered a knife injury. After the fight, Otzi picked up a fresh set of supplies and headed back up the mountain. At 10,500 feet, he camped out and had a hearty meal consisting of wheat grains and meat. Barely half an hour after his large meal, Otzi was killed by someone who had followed him to take revenge and had shot an arrow from a distance. The fact that nothing was stolen from Otzi indicates the killer was after the person, and not his belongings.

Pretty amazing what scientists can figure out, isn't it!