Iceman research milestones

The following chronological list summarizes the most important results since Ötzi the Iceman, moved to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano in 1998.


Radiologist Paul Gostner discovers that the Iceman was murdered. He was shot with an arrow

Publication: E. Egarter Vigl/ P. Gostner, Insight: Report of Radiological-Forensic Findings on the Iceman. Journal of Archaeological Science (2002) 29, 323-326


The Iceman’s last meal

Publication: Rollo, F.U. et al., Ötzi’s last meals: DNA analysis of the intestinal content of the Neolithic glacier mummy from the Alps, PNAS October 1 vol 99 no 99 (2002)


The Iceman did not come from abroad, he was born and lived in what is now South Tyrol

Publication: W. Müller, H. Fricke, A.N. Halliday, M.T. McCulloch, J.-A. Wartho, Origin and Migration of the Alpine Iceman, Science 302, 31 Oct. 2003, 862-866


A cut in his hand shows a battle before the Iceman died

Publication: A. Nerlich, B. Bachmeier, A. Zink, S. Thalhammer, E. Egarter Vigl, Ötzi had a wound on his right hand, The Lancet 362, July 26, 2003


The Iceman belongs to the European genetic haplogroup K and was probably infertile

Publication: F.U. Rollo/L. Ermini/S. Luciani/, I. Marota, C. Olivieri, D. Luiselli, Fine characterization of the Iceman’s mtDNA Haplogroup. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 130 (2006) 557-564


The Iceman’s constitution was athletic, he was more a wanderer than a manual worker

Publication: C.B. Ruff, B.M. Holt, V. Sladek, M. Berner, W.A. Murphy jr, D. zur Nedden, H. Seidler, W. Recheis, Body size, body proportions and mobility in the Tyrolean “Iceman”, Journal of Human Evolution 51-1 (2006) 91-101


The Iceman bled to death. The arrow tip in his left shoulder pierced the subclavian artery

Publication: P. Pernter, P. Gostner, E. Egarter Vigl, F. R. Rühli, Radiologic Proof for the Iceman's cause of death (ca. 5300 BP), Journal of Archaeological Science (2007), 1-3


The last 33 hours in the Iceman’s life by the pollen found in his intestine

Publication: Oeggl, K., Kofler, W., Schmidl, A., Dickson, J.H., Egarter-Vigl, E., Gaber, O., The reconstruction of the last itinerary of "Ötzi", the Neolithic Iceman, by pollen analyses from sequentially sampled gut extracts. In: Quaternary Science Reviews 26 (2007) 853-861


New radiological photos show brain trauma and prompt new theories about his death

Publication: Lippert, A., Gostner, P., Egarter Vigl, E., Pernter, P., Vom Leben und Sterben des Ötztaler Gletschermannes. Germania 85-1 (2007) 1-21;


Brain trauma and head injuries: new theories about the Iceman’s death

(Dr. Paul Gostner, Head of Radiology, Regional Hospital of Bolzano/Italy) Publication: Pernter, P. / Gostner, P. / Egarter-Vigl, E. / Rühli, F. J.: Radiologic proof for the Iceman`s cause of death (ca. 5300 BP). In: Journal of Archeological Science, 34 (2007) 1784 – 1786 (doi:10.1016/j.jas.2006.12.019)


Publication of the complete Mitochondrial (maternal) Genome Sequence of the Iceman

The Iceman genome is the oldest complete Homo sapiens mtDNA genome generated to date. The Iceman belonged to a branch of mitochondrial haplogroup K1 that has not yet been identified in modern European populations.
Publication: Ermini, L. / Olivieri, C. / Rizzi, E. / Corti, G. / Bonnal, R. / Soares, P. / Luciani, S. / Marota, I. / De Bellis, G. / Richards, M. B. / Rollo, F.: Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman. In: Current Biology, Vol. 18 (2008) 1687-93


The Iceman died in early summer

(Prof. Dr. Klaus Oeggl, Institut für Botanik, Universität Innsbruck/Austria) Publication: Oeggl, K.: The significance of the Tyrolean Iceman for the Archaeobotany of Central Europe. In: Veget Hist Archaeobot (2009) 18:1-11


Researchers identify blood cells and sequence the y-chromosomal DNA of the Iceman (paternal). Iceman’s stomach content is analyzed. The Iceman had dental pathologies. The Iceman was involved in seasonal transhumance.

(Albert Zink (DNA), Marek Janko (blood), Frank Maixner (stomach), EURAC-Institute for Mummy Studies, Bolzano/Bozen (I), laboratory for ancient DNA); Roger Seiler (teeth), Centre for Evolutionary Medicine (ZEM) Zurich (CH); Wolfgang Müller (transhumance), Royal Holloway University of London (UK). All studies have been presented at the EURAC Iceman Congress in October, 20-22nd 2011 in Bolzano. Most of them are yet published in scientific journals, some of them also in the Yearbook of mummy studies 2014.


The Iceman’s genome (nuclear DNA) is deciphered.

First results: The Iceman had brown eyes, blood group 0 and belongs to the y-chromosomal Haplogroup G2a2b (formerly G2a4), which is rare in modern Europe. The Iceman was lactose intolerant. Maladies: The Iceman was predisposed to cardiovascular disease and is the first recorded case of a human infected with the Lyme disease pathogen.

Publication: Keller, A. / Graefen, A. / Ball, M. / Matzas, M. / Boisguerin, V. / Maixner, F. / Leidinger, P. / Backes, C. / Khairat, R. / Forster, M. / Stade, B. / Franke, A. / Mayer, J. / Spangler, J. / McLaughlin, S. / Shah, M. / Lee, C. / Harkins, T.T. / Sartori, A. / Moreno-Estrada, A. / Henn, B. / Sikora, M. / Semino, O. / Chiaroni, J. / Rootsi, S. / Myres, N.M. / Cabrera, V.M. / Underhill, P.A. / Bustamante, C.D. / Egarter Vigl, E. / Samadelli, M. / Cipollini, G. / Haas, J. / Katus, H. / O’Connor, B.D. / Carlson, M.R.J. / Meder, B. / Blin, N. / Meese, E. / Pusch, C.M. / Zink, A.: New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman's origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing. In: Nature Communications 3:698 doi: 10.1038/ncomms1701 (2012)


The Iceman suffered from tooth decay and periodontosis

Publication: Seiler, R. / Spielman, A.I. / Zink, A. / Rühli, F.: Oral pathologies of the Neolithic Iceman, c. 3,300 BC. In: European Journal of Oral Sciences (2013) 1-5


Evidence of 5,00 year old red blood cells (intracranial haematoma) and proteins in the brain of the Iceman

Publication: Maixner, F. / Overath, T. / Linke, D. / Janko, M. / Guerriero, G. / van den Berg, B.H.J. / Stade, B./ Leidinger, P. / Backes, C. / Jaremek, M. / Kneissl, B. / Meder, B. / Franke, A. / Egarter-Vigl, E. / Meese, E. / Schwarz, A. / Tholey,A. / Zink, A. / Keller, A: Paleoproteomic study of the Iceman’s brain tissue. In: Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (2013) o.S.; DOI: 10.1007/s00018-013-1360-y


Non human bacteria in the Iceman DNA: opportunistic oral pathogen associated with periodontal disease detected

Publication: Maixner, F. / Thomma, A. / Cipollini, F. / Widder, W. / Rattei, T. / Zink, A.: Metagenomic Analysis Reveals Presence of Treponema denticola in a Tissue Biopsy of the Iceman. In: Plos One 9, 6 (2014) 1-10


The Iceman has 61 tattoos (new tattoo discovered). They are the oldest (known) tattoos of the world

Article: Samadelli, M. / Melis, M. / Miccolic, M. / Egarter Vigl, E. / Zink, A.R.: Complete mapping of the tattoos of the 5300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman. In: Journal of cultural heritage (2015), DOI: 10.1016/j.culher.2014.12.005; Deter-Wolf, A. / Robitaille, B. / Krutak, L. / Gaillot, S.: The world’s oldest tattoos. In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5 (2016) 19-24; online 12.11.2015 Link


Evidence of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach of the Iceman

Article: Maixner, F. / Krause-Kyora, B. / Turaev, D. / Herbig, A. / Hoopmann, M.R. / Hallows, J.L. / Kusebauch, U. / Egarter Vigl, E. / Malfertheiner, P. / Megraud, F. / O’Sullivan, N. / Cipollini, G. / Coia, V. / Samadelli, M. / Engstrand, L. / Linz, B. / Moritz, R.L. / Grimm, R. / Krause, J. / Nebel, A. / Moodley, Y. / Rattei, T. / Zink, A.: The 5300-year-old Helicobacter pylori genome of the Iceman. In: Science VOL 351 ISSUE 6269 (2016) 162-165, doi: 10.1126/science.aad2545


The Iceman’s maternal genetic line originated in the Alps and is now extinct.

Article: Coia, V. / Cipollini, G. / Anagnostou, P. / Maixner, F. / Battaggia, C. / Brisighelli, F. / Gómez-Carballa, A. / Destro Bisol, G. / Salas, A. / Zink, A.: Whole mitochondrial DNA sequencing in Alpine populations and the genetic history of the Neolithic Tyrolean Iceman. In: Science Report 6, 18932 (2016), doi: 10.1038/srep18932


Determination of mDNA of nine leather samples from Ötzi’s artefacts

News: the Iceman’s quiver was made, among others, from deer hide. The loincloth mas made from sheep hide. It was also shown that a piece of leather strap from a shoe was of bovine origin.
Article: O’Sullivan, N.J. / Teasdale, M.D. / Mattiangeli, V. / Maixner, F. / Pinhasi, R. / Bradley, D.G. / Zink, A.: A whole mitochondria analysis of the Tyrolean Iceman’s leather provides insights into the animal sources of Copper Age clothing. In: Scientific Reports 6 (2016) 31279, doi: 10.1038/srep31279;


Criminal profiling of the Iceman's murder

The reason for the offence is more likely to be found in some sort of personal conflict situation.
Analysis of Alexander Horn and the OFA profiling team, Police department Munich (D): see press information of the 3rd Bolzano Mummy Congress - Ötzi: 25 years of research, 19th September, 2016


The copper used to make Ötzi’s axe blade comes from ore mined in southern Tuscany

Article: Artioli, G. / Angelini, I. / Kaufmann, G. / Canovaro, C. / Dal Sasso, G. / Villa, I.M.: Long-distance connections in the Copper Age: New evidence from the Alpine Iceman’s copper axe. In: PLOS One 12(7) (2017) 1-14.
Ötzi was probably not involved in working the metal himself, as the high levels of arsenic and copper found in his hair had, until now, led us to assume.
Article: The scientific publication of Wolfgang Müller will follow. In the meantime see press news of 19th Sept 2016 of the 3rd Bolzano Mummy Congress - Ötzi: 25 years of research


The Iceman: Troubles at heart

High-resolution computer tomography images establish the existence of calcifications in the Iceman’s coronary arteries
Article: Pernter, P. / Pedrinolla, B. / Gostner, P.: Das Herz des Mannes aus dem Eis. Ein paleoradiologischer Fall. In: RöFo Fortschritte auf dem Gebiet der Röntgenstrahlen und der bildgebenden Verfahren 190 (2018) 61-64 here


The Iceman’s lithic tools

Origin of the silex: Trentino, Italy; the Iceman's lack of raw material; the Iceman was right-hander
Article: Wierer, U. / Arrighi, S./ Bertola, S. / Kaufmann, G. / Baumgarten, B. / Pedrotti, A. / Pernter, P. / Pelegrin, J.: The Iceman's lithic toolkit: raw material, technology, typology and use. In: PLOS ONE (2018)


The Iceman’s last meal

It consisted of deer and ibex meat and fat, einkorn and the toxic bracken fern.
Article: Maixner, F. / Turaev, D. / Cazenave-Gassiot, A. / Janko, M. / Krause-Kyora, B. / Hoopmann, M.R. / Kusebauch, U. / Sartain, M. / Guerriero, G. / O’Sullivan, N. / Teasdale, M. / Cipollini, G. / Paladin, A. / Mattiangeli, V. / Samadelli, M. / Tecchiati, U. / Putzer, A. / Palazoglu, M. / Meissen, J. / Lösch, S. / Rausch, Ph. / Baines, J.F. / Kim, B.J. / An, H.J. / Gostner, P. / Egarter-Vigl, E. / Malfertheiner, P. / Keller, A. / Stark, R.W. / Wenk, M. / Bishop, D. / Bradley, D.G. / Fiehn, O. / Engstrand, L. / Moritz, R.L. / Doble, Ph. / Franke, A. / Nebel, A. / Oeggl, K. / Rattei, T. / Grimm, R. / Zink, A.: The Iceman’s Last Meal Consisted of Fat, Wild Meat, and Cereals.
In: Current Biology 28, 1-8, July 23 (2018);
Article in Current Biology


Intestinal Flora

Discovery of the intestinal bacteria prevotella copri in Ötzi. Sign of a more diverse intestinal flora than what is found in people of the Western world today.
Article: Tett, A. / Huang, K. / Asnicar, F. / Fehlner-Peach, H. / Pasolli, E. / Karcher, N. / Armanini, F. / Manghi, P. / Bonham, K. / Zolfo, M. / De Filippis, F. / Magnabosco, C. / Bonneau, R. / Lusingu, J. / Amuasi, J. / Reinhard, K. / Rattei, T. / Boulund, F. / Engstrand, L. / Zink, A. / Collado, M. / Littman, D. / Eibach, D. / Ercolini, D. / Rota-Strabelli, O. / Huttenhower, C. / Maixner, F. / Segata, N.: The Prevotella copri Complex Comprises Four Distinct Clades Underrepresented in Westernized Populations. In: Cell Host & Microbe 26-5 (2019), doi:;
Cell Host & Microbe


Patient Ötzi

Ötzi’s first aid kit and his tattoos are signs of extensive knowledge of treatment methods in the Copper Age.
Article: Zink, A. / Samadelli, M. / Gostner, P. / Piombino-Mascali, D.: Possible evidence for care and treatment in the Tyrolean Iceman. In: International Journal of Paleopathology (2018) doi: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2018.07.006;
International Journal of Paleopathology


The Iceman's bowstring

The artfully twisted string in Ötzi’s quiver was not made of linden bast fibers, but of animal sinews and is therefore most likely Ötzi’s bowstring.
Article: Junkmanns, J. / Klügl, J. / Schoch, W. / Di Pietro, G. / Hafner, A.: Neolithic and Bronze Age Archery Equipment from Alpine Ice-Patches: A Review on Components, Construction Techniques and Functionality. In: Journal of Neolithic Archaeology (2019), DOI: doi 10.12766/jna.2019.10;
Journal of Neolithic Archaeology


Local Migration

Mosses in Ötzi’s stomach provide insight into places where he stayed prior to his death.
Article: Dickson, J. / Oeggl, K. / Kofler, W. / Hofbauer, W. / Porley, R. / Rothero, G. / Schmidl, A. / Heiss, A.: Seventy-five mosses and liverworts found frozen with the late Neolithic Tyrolean Iceman: Origins, taphonomy and the Iceman’s last journey. In: Plos one, 14-10 (2019), DOI:;
Plos one


European Migration

Ötzi im Kontext kontinentaler und alpiner Migration: mikrobiologische und kulturelle Einflüsse.
Articles by Rollinger/Stadler, Leuzinger and Hajnal in: Rollinger, R. / Stadler, H. (Hg.): 7 Millionen Jahre Migrationsgeschichte. Innsbruck, University Press (2019) 7-39, 91-125;


Prehistoric Schnalstal Valley

In the Copper Age, Schnalstal Valley and its adjacent valleys were only visited sporadically by hunters. Seasonal pastoralism first began after Ötzi.
Summary article of last year's research results: Putzer, A.: Schnals - Prähistorische Nutzung eines Hochtales. In: UPIKU:TAUKE. Festschrift für Gerhard Tomedi zum 65. Geburtstag. Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie, Band 339, Universität Innsbruck (2019) 469-482;


30 years of research history about the Iceman

Summary of the results of 30 years of research on the Iceman.
Publication: Kaufmann, G.: 30 Jahre Ötzi-Forschung. In: Der Schlern, 9 (2021) 4-45;


The Iceman's health

Summary of medical findings from 30 years of preservation and pathological examinations.
Publication: Nerlich, A. / Egarter Vigl, E. / Fleckinger, A. / Tauber, M. / Peschel, O.: Der Mann aus dem Eis. Lebensszenario und Pathologische Befunde aus 30 Jahren Forschung an der Gletschermumie „Ötzi“. In: Der Pathologe, online July 8, 2021,


Hypotheses on the glacier situation at Ötzi's find spot

Glacier condition, situation at the time of death and climate changes at the site where Ötzi the Iceman was found 5300 years ago.
Publication: Pilø, L. / Reitmaier, T. / Nesje, A. / Fischer, A. / Barrett, J.H.: Ötzi, 30 years on: A reappraisal of the depositional and post-depositional history of the find. In: The Holocene (2022), Volume 33, Issue 1,


Genetic dispositions to the Iceman’s origins, skin and hair

A new DNA study corrects the origins of the Iceman with a genetically high proportion of neolithic immigrant farmers from what is now Anatolia (Turkey) and finds genetics for adult-onset diabetes, obesity and male pattern baldness. Ötzis skin was probably darker than the previously known Mediterranean skin type.
Publication: Wang, K. / Prüfer, K. / Krause-Kyora, B. / Zink, A. / Schiffels, S. / Krause, J.: High-coverage genome of the Tyrolean Iceman reveals unusually high Anatolian farmer ancestry. In: Cell genomics, August 16, 2023,