Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 1138–1139 | Cite as

New evidence for Ötzi’s final trauma

  • Andreas G. Nerlich
  • Oliver Peschel
  • Eduard Egarter-Vigl
Sir: Recently, we have shown that the Similaun Iceman, called “Ötzi”, suffered from a deep wound to his right hand [ 1]. Histology and histochemistry clearly indicated that the laceration must have been survived for at least several days. A parallel CAT scan study by Pertner and co-workers [ 2] further identified an arrow head in the left axilla that might have caused death due to laceration of the brachial artery and acute bleeding. Concomitantly, a small skin wound was detected on the Iceman’s back which was identified as the entry point of the arrow (Fig.  1a). In consequence, chronologically independent injuries have been claimed. However, the events (and their eventual time courses) leading to the Iceman’s death remain unclear. Our present report describes morphological evidence that Ötzi′s arrow wound—and a small suffusion lesion on the Iceman’s back—represent fresh presumably vital bleeding and were not survived for a significant time period. Besides these two injuries two further...


Hand Wound Haemosiderin Dark Brown Spot Significant Time Period Force Object 
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The authors are indebted to Dr. Albert Zink (Bolzano) for help with the procurement of the material and Mrs. Christine Reischl (Munich) for technical assistance.


  1. 1.
    Nerlich A, Bachmeier B, Zink A, Thalhammer S, Egarter-Vigl E (2003) Ötzi had a wound on his right hand. Lancet 362:334PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pertner A, Gostner P, Egarter-Vigl E, Rühli FJ (2007) Radiologic proof of the iceman‘s cause of death (ca. 5, 300 BP). J Archeol Sci 34:1784–1786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nerlich AG, Parsche F, Kirsch T, Wiest I, von der Mark K (1993) Immunohistochemical detection of interstitial collagens in bone and cartilage tissue remnants in an infant Peruvian mummy. Am J Phys Anthropol 91:279–285PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Hess MW, Klima G, Pfaller K, Künzel KH, Gaber O (1998) Histological investigations on the Tyrolean Iceman. Am J Phys Anthropol 106:521–532PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas G. Nerlich
    • 1
    • 4
  • Oliver Peschel
    • 2
  • Eduard Egarter-Vigl
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of PathologyAcademic Hospital Munich-BogenhausenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Forensic MedicineLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMunichGermany
  3. 3.Institute of PathologyProvince Hospital BozenBolzanoItaly
  4. 4.Institut für PathologieKlinikum München-BogenhausenMunichGermany

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