5200 years ago, a traveller was shot in the back and bled to death from an arrow wound, on a high ridge in what are now the Austrian-Italian alps. Frozen in the ice, he was found in 1991, preserved with most of his clothing, tattoos, tools, and even his stomach contents intact. “Otzi” the iceman is Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy, the oldest frozen mummy in the world, and has provided unprecedented insights into the lives of Copper Age Europeans.
Found with him were personal effects: a study in every day carry (EDC) from 3200 BC. From left to right:
- a hand ax with a wooden handle with a naturally angled crook, leather bindings, and a small smelted copper blade, used both as a weapon and to fell small trees,
- a retouching tool on a leather lanyard, used to sharpen flint edges,
- chunks of pyrite and flint, used to spark a fire,
- a woven plant fiber sheath and a flint bladed dagger with and ash wood handle, sinew wrappings and leather lanyard,
- a bone awl,
- a flint drill,
- a flint scraper,
- below, two pieces of birch fungus on a rawhide tether, likely for medicinal purposes.
All in all, not really that different from what you or I might carry on a belt or in pockets on a wilderness trip: a small ax, a sheath knife, tools, fire starters, and medicine. It’s a fascinating glimpse back through time.
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- Ötzi the Iceman on Wikipedia
- Official Ötzi website
- Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past by James Deem
- Iceman: Uncovering the Life and Times of a Prehistoric Man Found in an Alpine Glacier by Brenda Fowler