Which cultural group did Ötzi belong to?
The uniqueness of the find makes its cultural classification extremely daunting. The lack of ceramics in particular makes the task even harder.
In prehistoric times, cultural affiliation was expressed mainly by typical receptacle shapes and decorations.
Based on scant Copper Age finds discovered in what is today South Tyrol, everything indicates that Ötzi was a member of the first independent Alpine cultural group, Tamins-Carasso-Isera 5.
Emerging during the last centuries of the fourth millennium BC, this group is characterized by simple ceramic vessels decorated with edging, notches and rows of dots.The dead were buried in mass graves in caves or below rocky ledges.
There was also a strong influence from the Remnedello culture, which flourished at the same time in the Po Valley. It takes its name from the graveyard of Remedello Sotto situated southwest of Lake Garda. The graves consist of oval-shaped earth mounds. Buried along with the men were arrowheads, daggers, axes and items of jewellery. Clear social differentiation can be seen: only 17% of the axes and 13% of the daggers had copper blades, the remaining being made of either serpentine stone or flint. The burial items in some graves look astonishingly similar to Ötzi’s equipment.
Among the other cultures existing in Ötzi’s time were the Horben culture in Switzerland and the Baden culture in Austria. In Bavaria, the Altheim and Chamer culture extended as far as the Inn Valley in Tyrol.