An encounter with the Ice Mummy of Ötzi


A few days ago we visited the Ice Man of South Tyrol. The drive from Val di Fassa to Bolzano was originally to buy a new phone, since my cellular broke down, but it soon became an interesting experience when we walked into the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.

It’s hard to believe when you think about it. Two hikers in the Ötztal Alps stumbled upon a frozen mummy and it appeared to be a man who lived between 3350 and 3100 BC. Some people might think this happened in Austria because of the rumors that were spread, but the mummy was actually found 92 meters from the border in Italy!

At the side of an ancient path
A married couple are hiking at an altitude of over 3,200 m across an old Alpine pass, the Tisenjoch, from Schnals Valley to the Ötz Valley. In a rocky gully between Similaun and Finail peak they suddenly spot a body protruding from the ice. The Iceman wasn’t walking an the high mountains just by chance. He took a route has has been used for 7000 years – and is still used today.

– South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.

a note from mr. Viking

A note from mr. Viking

How did Ötzi die?

As I enter the museum the first thing I see are a lot of articles about Ötzi. Ever since he got discovered in the mountains he has become famous. The museum shows many theories about his death and you can think about your own theory and leave it behind on a note – just like my boyfriend did.

Speculation about Ötzi’s clan

The museum also shows speculations about Ötzi’s clan. Archaeologist usually identify a tribe by looking at the ceramics that were made. They discovered that blades and daggers similar to Ötzi’s have been discovered near the Lake Garda in Italy. Perhaps future research can tell us more about where Ötzi truly belonged.

Let’s do history over again

The copper blade Ötzi had with him, upset the previous classification of the historic ages. Prehistory had to be re-written over the past 20 years. It is now known that the Copper Age began in the Alpine region 1000 years earlier than was previously supposed.

The dagger

The dagger

a versatile tool

The blade of the dagger was found together with an ash wood handle. Without the handle it would have been taken for an arrowhead or spearhead. This type of dagger was apparently as popular as the Swiss army knife is today!

The hat

The cap

The bearskin cap

The cap was found during the second archaeological excavation in 1992. It is made out of pieces of brown bear hide with leather straps for tying it under the chin.

The axe – a symbol of status and power

Ötzi also had a copper-blade axe with him. The shaft was carved out of yew wood, while the blade itself is almost pure copper with traces of silver.


If you’re wondering how it is possible that all these things were found so well-preserved, then we could say that the mountains served as a pretty good freezer to keep things well.

The mummy of Ötzi

The mummy of Ötzi preserved in a kind of freezer with a look-through window

Details & information

Where: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
Cost: €9,- for adults
Note: Park your car in the “Kino” parking of Bolzano!

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Ever since I left my home country I felt at home at any other place I went to. I enjoy getting to know more cultures by talking to strangers and hearing their philosophy about life. Speaking with gestures when you can not find a shared language, finding places only the locals go to and learn about their customs and values. Hanging out with local people makes me happy. The experience of every new place is a step out of your comfort zone where I like to wander around until it feels like a second home.

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