History : May-Jun 2019
28 MAY/JUNE 2019 5 ÖTZI’S ORIGINS COPPER AGE CLUES KENNETHGARRETT KENNETH GARRETT/GETTY IMAGES WESTEND61/AGEFOTOSTOCK HIGH AND LOW The valley floor spreads beneath the Gaislachkogel in Austria’s Ötztal Alps. For thousands of years farming had slowly spread through these valleys. By Ötzi’s lifetime in the Copper Age, some communities had already become well established here, farming throughout the year, and herding in the high Alpine pastures in the summer. STATUS SYMBOLS A stela from the Copper Age (left) from Italy is decorated with precise geometric designs and images of tools and weapons, including axes. ÖTZI'S AX HEAD IS 99.7 PERCENT COPPER AND OF TRAPEZOIDAL FORM. POSSESSING SUCH AN OBJECT SUGGESTS HE HAD HIGH STATUS WITHIN HIS COMMUNITY. A nalysis of Ötzi’s bones reveals he spent one to two months a year in the moun- tains. Earth scientist Wolfgang Müller suggested that this finding is consistent with working as a farmer and herder, growing crops in the valleys, and spending the summer months in the Alps with flocks. Researcher Thomas Loy argued that the same evidence supports the case that Ötzi was a specialist mountain hunter, who became in- volved in a deadly turf war with other hunters. scientists have found other clues that point to his possible origins. The grains he was carrying were farmed, suggesting he lived in a farming community. The central Italian copper in his ax has led some re- searchers to suggest he was from farther south, but he could have acquired such an object through trade. Analysis of his bone revealed isotopic signatures consistent with the Alpine valleys, suggesting Ötzi was born and raised in the shadow of the mountains where he died.