Life and times of Otze the hunter

 作者:漆肥症     |      日期:2019-03-02 06:12:04
By IAN ANDERSON in MELBOURNE Otze, the prehistoric man whose body was preserved in ice in the Alps for more than 5000 years, was a skilled hunter. Blood and hair on his knives and other tools reveal that he had recently killed a number of animals, including wild goats and deer. This picture of Otze comes from Tom Loy of the Australian National University in Canberra. Loy, an expert on residues found on prehistoric artefacts and clothing, was asked by Austrian researchers to examine the iceman’s belongings, which are under investigation at the Romano-German Central Museum in Mainz, Germany. The body is undergoing forensic tests in Innsbruck. Loy presented his preliminary findings this week at the Australasian Archaeometry Conference in Armidale, New South Wales. ‘One of the most exciting aspects of my work is that I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary,’ says Loy. ‘We will get a very clear picture of what one person would have been like 5000 years ago. This is different from mummified kings and queens. Unlike Otze, these people and their possessions were divorced from everyday culture.’ Loy believes that one of Otze’s last acts was to repair the handle of his copper axe – while eating his last meal of porridge. He found deposits of semi-cooked or heated starch grains on the axe. ‘It doesn’t resemble starch from a root plant. I suspect it’s from a cereal, most likely barley.’ The grain is on both the tip of the blade and where the handle is lashed to the blade. ‘When he was eating, the porridge would have been passed from hand to axe. He may not have used that axe again after that meal.’ No meat was found with the body, but Loy believes Otze was a hunter. Others have speculated that he was a shepherd, explorer or trader. Hairs on the tools indicate he killed red deer, chamois and ibex. ‘The number of animals slain, and the variety of weapons and tools, which were in good nick, suggest he was a skilled hunter,’ says Loy. He was well equipped for killing and butchering animals and making his own clothes. A tiny triangular flint blade, about 3 centimetres long, would have been used for several purposes. One side of the blade was a sickle to cut grass. His boots were lined with an insulating layer of grass. The implement would also have been used to scrape skins for clothes and to shape bones and antlers for tools. Loy believes that a bundle of sharpened bones, lashed together with plant fibre, could have been made to hunt birds. Otze had an unfinished bow made of yew wood. ‘A hunter normally would not go out with an unfinished bow,’ says Loy. He speculates that Otze damaged his bow and split off from a larger hunting group to finish making a new one. The copper axe was being used to make the bow, Loy says. Nicks on the axe match scouring patterns on the bow. With Markus Egg from the museum in Mainz,