Ötzi’s New Clothes

(c) South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

New reconstruction of the Iceman’s shoes and coat

Ötzi’s equipment is the oldest and best preserved in the world. His Copper Age clothing and weapons were frozen in the ice with him and therefore remained well preserved to this day.
Experts have recreated the Iceman’s clothing using the same materials and tools as he would have used. This allows us to take a better look at the items and to study their practicality.
Last year we commissioned the Dutch archaeotechnician Eva Ijsveld (pronounced: ice-felled) with making new replicas of Ötzi’s shoes and coat. After decades of use in workshops and for events our “old” replicas were damaged and could no longer be used (after decades of workshops and events).

She began by looking for brown bear and goat skins, had Niels Scherpenzeel tan the skins naturally using smoke, twisted animal sinews into fine sewing threads, and cut pieces of leather and hide using flint blades.

Recently, Eva Ijsveld and Niels Scherpenzeel visited us at the Museum in Bolzano: Now we have a brand-new replica of the Iceman’s coat and a new pair of his shoes!

Eva made the shoes and coat exactly like the originals: the goatskin coat with striking vertical strips of light and dark fur and the shoes with soles made of bearskin, the upper part made of deerskin, and the anti-slip cross straps beneath the sole made of cowhide. The inner netting and the shoelaces are braided from linden bast. To keep his feet warm in the snow the Iceman also stuffed his shoes with hay. Eva Ijsveld did the same thing.

The new replicas of Ötzi’s shoes and coat are shown during our online tours and used in our workshops for schools.

While making and cutting these clothing items Eva gained important practical insights which she shared in an essay in the specialist journal EXARC for experimental archaeology.


Eva Ijsveld and Niels Scherpenzeel with the new shoes and the Iceman’s coat reconstruction (c) South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

Photos of the shoes: (c) Eva Ijsveld

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