Few Copper Age artefacts have been found in South Tyrol, where Ötzi probably lived. We therefore know very little about the life of Copper Age people. And since Ötzi had no pottery on him, it is very difficult to assign him to one of the culture groups of the period. It is assumed that Ötzi belonged to the Tamins-Carasso-Isera 5 group, a cultural group that emerged in the region in the 4th millennium BC. The Remedello culture, which was prevalent in the Po Valley at the same time, had a strong influence on the Alpine inhabitants. Axe blades, daggers and arrowheads have been found in graves there that bear close similarities to Ötzi’s equipment.

Social upheaval

Far-reaching social changes occurred during the Copper Age. Metal extraction and smelting created new professions. Trade links were strengthened, accelerating cultural exchange, and social groups emerged. We can assume that the Alpine region was densely populated in the Copper Age because of the presence of rich mineral deposits.
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Life in Ötzi’s time

How did people in the Copper Age live? Beliefs, diet and social structures


Belief systems

Little is known about the religion or concepts of the afterlife of Copper Age people. There were no written accounts, and cult sites have not been preserved. Huge Copper Age menhirs, however, have been preserved. They represent mostly schematic male or female figures wearing jewellery or carrying weapons. Representational scenes are less common. These menhirs were probably connected with ancestor worship.

Diet in Ötzi’s time

Analyses of Ötzi’s stomach contents have shown that he ate venison and chamois meat, grains and other plants before he died. Two grains of spelt were found in his clothing. His cultural group therefore consisted of farmers and hunters. They also gathered many food items from the forests and fields. A sloe, a wild plum packed with vitamins, was found at the excavation site. Unfortunately, no Copper Age settlement has been found in South Tyrol, which would provide us with more details about the everyday life of the people.