Unsolved Murder Case / I’ve started looking old lately

I’ve started looking old lately, but I still feel young. I woke up today and felt like Ötzi.


Self-portrait as Ôtzi | I’ve been stuck under the ice for 5000 years. Now I’m ready to go out and party!

The find

On September 19th, 1991, the German couple Erika and Helmut Simon made a macabre discovery during a hike in the Oetztal Alps, on the border between Austria and Italy. On about 3214 meters altitude, Erika sees something sticking out of the ice and it is evident that it’s a human body. They report this to the Italian and Austrian police.

The body was removed with an ice pick and drill and transported to the forensic institute in Innsbruck. It appears that the victim in Criminal Case 619/91, has an unknown perpetrator from the Bronze Age. This is an historical sensation and the dead body is called Ötzi.

Using carbon dating they’ve concluded that Ötzi was about 40 years old when he died more than 5000 years ago. The body is mummified, so the internal organs are preserved, as well as hair, skin and other body parts. They also found his clothes, a bow and arrow, knife, ax and more at the crime scene.

How did he die?

Judging from wounds found on the mummified body, the experts concluded that Ötzi, just before he died, was hit in his left shoulder blade of an arrow that was shot at him from behind. The arrow hit a vein, so he probably bled to death after a short time. Ötzi has also received a hard blow to the head, without this being considered as the cause of death.

Besides this there are damages to his hand, showing that he had been in a fight a few days before.

Other findings indicate that Ötzi had stayed further down the valley just a few hours before he died. It is assumed therefore that Ötzi was killed while attempting to escape over the mountains. The fact that the arrow that killed him had been removed from the body, indicates that whoever killed Ötzi, approached the corpse to withdraw the arrow. But, since Ötzi’s belongings were left behind, including an ax, which was considered something valuable at the time, they know that the murder was not robbery related.

Well Preserved

Ötzi is well preserved after 5000 years, which means that the body must have been covered with snow shortly after the death occurred. Covered in snow, but with ventilation and low humidity, the body was freeze dried. Eventually, the body has been covered in ice. Although the ice was thawed in shorter periods, the body has been preserved, probably because of the cold meltwater. It is believed that Ötzi had only been a few days in open air when he was found.

The discovery has led to a lot of knowledge about the conditions during the Bronze Age, such as what tools they used, how they dressed, what they ate and, more importantly: tattoos.

My Photo

My photo was taken at the Museum of History in Oslo and it’s a photo of a reconstruction of Ötzi’s face (combined with two other of my photos – a self-portrait in a mirror and the teeth on a skull). Ötzi was exhibited at the museum in 2011, but he’s residing at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.

As far as we know, Ötzi’s murderer was never caught.

This article is mostly a translation of the source, written by Harald Fossberg:  http://www.osloby.no/article579449_2.ece

The theme for #photo101 today is Mystery.


UPDATE: The latest news on Õtzi’s tattoos: http://www.sciencealert.com/otzi-the-iceman-had-way-more-tattoos-than-you

30 thoughts on “Unsolved Murder Case / I’ve started looking old lately

    • Thanks for the link, it was an interesting read! It’ll be exciting to see what’ll happen regarding the DNA in the future. And that translation fault: oooh!

  1. This interesting post reminded me of seeing the ‘Lindow Man’ when I was last in the British Museum. Absolutely fascinating how he was preserved and to think I was actually looking at someone who was alive about 2 BC!

  2. As for the pic , a mix between humorous and macabre…
    As for the read , very interesting and precise.

    ( why not some moisturizing cream?)

    • You’re right and if it was solved, the perpetrator would probably get away on claims that the case is obsolete! (It’s just too easy to get away with murder if you have the right lawyer).

  3. 😀 You give us a mystery story, history, forensics, photo journalism, and tips on photography 🙂 Isn’t this PS project too advanced for this 101 course level? 😉 I wonder how many mummified Copper Age bodies will yet rise to surface with global warming. 😆

  4. This was a great post — at first, when I just saw the picture in the reader, I thought like … WTF?! but then, when I read it, I realised you’d once again stretched over and above. Terrific! 😊

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