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Ítzi the Iceman

Ítzi the Iceman is a natural mummy of a prehistoric (Neolithic) man found by a couple of German tourists on September 19, 1991, in a glacier of the Ötztaler Alps.

The well-preserved body of a 30-to-45-year old man dates back to 3300 BC. The body was examined, measured, x-rayed, and dated. Tissues were examined microscopically, as was the pollen found on his gear. The approx. 160-centimeter-tall body had numerous tattoos. His clothes, including a woven grass cloak and leather vest and shoes, were quite sophisticated - the shoes were waterproof and wide, seemingly designed for walking across the snow. They were constructed using bearskin for the soles, deer hide for top panels, and a netting made of tree bark. Soft grass went around the foot and in the shoe and functioned like warm socks. The Iceman's equipment was incomplete or faulty. It is argued that he may have been a hunter or a shepherd, but others have put forth the theory that he was a chieftain, and his death was a ritual murder.

A recent CAT scan revealed that Ítzi had an arrowhead lodged in one shoulder when he died. This, combined with the evidence that he died alone in the Alps in winter, suggests that he was fleeing attackers. The ritual murder theory argues that, rather than fleeing attackers, he was killed to propitiate a god or gods, or that he was a chieftain and therefore ritually killed to ensure fertility.

Among Ítzi's possessions were two species of polypore mushrooms. One of these (the birch fungus) is known to have antibacterial properties, and was likely used for medical purposes. The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex firestarting kit. The kit featured pieces of over a dozen different plants, in addition to flint and pyrite for creating sparks.

Ítzi was the subject of a BBC2 Horizon television programme broadcast in the UK on February 7 2002.

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There is also an Austrian singer and entertainer who calls himself DJ Ítzi.