How did Otzi die?

Rome - Italy's prehistoric iceman "Otzi" died from a shoulder wound inflicted by an arrow, according to research into his perfectly preserved 5 000-year old body.

Otzi, the oldest mummy unearthed, was found in the Italian Alps in 1991 wearing clothing made from leather and grasses and carrying a copper axe, a bow and arrows.

Though Otzi's body underwent several scientific tests to study life in the prehistoric age, it had so far been unclear whether he died from an arrow wound, a bad fall or severe freezing while climbing the high mountains.

Using modern X-ray technology, however, an Italian-Swiss research team said on Wednesday it had proved the cause of death as a lesion on an artery close to the shoulder, caused by an arrowhead that remains in the iceman's back.

A large haematoma - or a collection of blood due to internal bleeding - could also be seen in the surrounding tissue, and the iceman probably died shortly after the lesion was caused, researchers concluded.

Researchers had previously suggested he was killed by a rival hunter after putting up a fight, and concluded that his final meals consisted of venison and ibex meat.

The latest results on the research appeared online in the Journal of Archaeological Science and will be published in the National Geographic next month.


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