When did he die?
Analyzing the Iceman’s stomach contents, the Botanical Institute of Innsbruck University identified 30 different types of pollen.
The pollen entered the Iceman’s body with the food he ate, the water he drank and the air he breathed. Most were pollens from trees. They provide important clues about the Iceman’s whereabouts before he climbed from the valley into the high mountains. The tree species indicate mixed woodland, such as that found in the Vinschgau and especially in the Schnal Valley. In particular, the hop hornbeam only grows south of the Alps.
Judging from the degree to which the pollen had been digested, botanists believe that Ötzi must have been in the Vinschgau 12 hours before his death.
The season of his death can be determined from the flowering phases of the pollen types found. Early blossomers clearly dominate. The hops hornbeam, for example, flowers from March to June. Another clue is provided by the maple leaves in the birch-bark container. According to their chlorophyll levels, they must have been freshly picked, some time between June and September. This finding is apparently contradicted by the sloes Ötzi was carrying, as they could only have been picked between July and November. However, the fruit may have been dried a long time before and then carried in that state.
From this wealth of information, scientists have concluded that the Iceman must have died in the spring or early summer.