THE ICEMAN: ÖTZI
A little over an hour from our hotel, there is a museum that is really worth visiting. This is the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum in Bolzano, where you can admire one of the most famous mummies in the world.
We are talking about Otzi, the Iceman. Its discovery dates back to September 19th, 1991. During a high altitude alpine excursion, two German tourists from Nuremberg run into a path in the road down from Fineilspitze. By chance, their attention is captured by something underneath the ice surface at the bottom. The immediate shock is pervaded by the possibility that they had found the body of a man. Maybe some tourists lost in the maze of an itinerary finished badly.
They take some pictures bringing them to the attention of the relevant authorities, hoping to help some investigation on some reported missing persons. After careful analysis and the first surface melting processes to recover the victim, they realize that the supine body glimpsed beneath the ice sheet, may actually have a different nature.
That is when the most important archaeological find of recent times officially began. The Austrian rescue team does not realize the importance of the discovery but soon it is necessary to rely on a team of archaeologists to bring expertise and technicality to the recovery phase. The place of discovery becomes a protected area by archaeological excavations. Excavations which become more and more complicated as a result of the hostile and changing climatic conditions in its territory.
The point of the important discovery is characterized by the presence of very large glaciers and rocks facing with massive boulders overhanging at over 3000 meters altitude of the pass. The latter, the difficulty in maneuvering the territory, the climate and the importance (and delicacy) of the find, make the recovery of the body a real undertaking.
An undertaking that is witnessed and told in a careful and meticulous detail, all inside the museum, which faithfully recounts the adventure of the archaeologists when, for the first time, they found themselves digging into the ice. The monumental difficulties, the rough winter conditions and the surface of the territory recently responsible for the maintenance of the archaeological site featured are just some of the adventures that have marked this find, as one of the most important. An achievement against the obstacles of nature.
Archaeological efforts that were worth it. In fact, from the start, the team was able to see how ice has been able to perfectly preserve parts of the discovery, giving unprecedented historical evidence. Remains of leather and fur, human skin, muscle fibers, pieces of equipment, hair, nails and even tufts of grass, ropes and remnants of a bow. The entire excavation has become over the years, a place of homage and a tourist stop for the curious, as well as a source of pride for the inhabitants of the area.
The particularity of Otzi, is his state of natural mummification, dictated by his retention under the ice, which made it waterproof and protected the body over time, allegedly from the Copper Age (3100 BC) to the present. Protexted from animals and kept by the inexorable and unforgiving passage of time, it is now possible to admire the evidence thanks to the exhibition in the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum.
For information and opening hours to visit Otzi, visit the official website www.iceman .it