Here's How an Ancient Iceman Kept Warm

Clothing made from bear, sheep, goat, deer, cattle—you name it, Oetzi wore it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 19, 2016 10:48 AM CDT
Here's How an Ancient Iceman Kept Warm
In this Jan. 16, 1998, file photo, the 5,000-year-old body of Oetzi the Iceman, discovered in 1991, is inspected by scientists in Innsbruck, Austria.   (str)

Scientists say Oetzi the Iceman, whose mummified body has been studied extensively since it was discovered on a glacier near the Italian-Austrian border in 1991, wore clothes made of brown bear pelt and roe deer when he died in the Alps 5,300 years ago. Researchers in Italy used genetic analysis to determine that the two materials were used for Oetzi's fur hat and his leather quiver, respectively. Niall O'Sullivan, a researcher at the European Academy of Bolzano, says the study published Thursday in Scientific Reports also showed that other pieces of Oetzi's clothing came from domesticated animals. The mix of materials suggests the Iceman was adept at using material from domesticated sheep, cattle, and goat, as well as wild animals, to fashion clothes, the AP reports.

The study notes it lends insight into what raw materials humans living during that time period used to make their clothes. "The choices that Copper Age people made with respect to [animal] exploitation were likely dependent on availability, necessity, functionality, and symbolism," the researchers write. The bear hat, for instance, may have served a powerful psychological purpose. "It is imaginable that with a hat of a skin of an intimidating animal, you become more intimidating yourself," Utrecht University professor Johannes Lenstra, who was not a part of the study, told the Christian Science Monitor in an email. (More discoveries stories.)

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