Curse of Iceman is just a superstition, say scientists

Rome, Nov 8 (A: Archaeologists have dismissed the so called 'curse of the Iceman' as superstitious nonsense.

Found in 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy, the 'Iceman' is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC (5300 years ago).

According to the curse, whoever has come into contact with the mummy of the 'Iceman' has died under mysterious circumstances.

This curse became more popular after Australian scientist Tom Loy died two years ago of an inherited disorder, aged 63.  As director of the University of Queensland's Archeological Science Laboratories, Loy had identified residues of human blood on Otzi's fur cape, and animal blood on his arrows.

He was the seventh person associated with the Iceman's remains to die.

"We don't believe in this curse at all," said Dr Fleckinger, director of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. "The Iceman was found 16 years ago, and many, many people have been in contact with him. Sixteen years is a long time and a lot of life happens. People die. It's quite normal," he added.

Since the mummy's discovery, many causes for its death had been speculated upon.

But a recent study by the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, has proved that the 46-year-old iceman bled to death when an arrow lacerated the subclavian artery, which lies just below the collarbone.

Also, a CT-scan revealed that the Copper Age hunter had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage after falling down.

Many International teams have pieced together other extraordinary details about the life and death of 'Otzi the Iceman', as the mummy is popularly known.

For example, researchers are investigating more than 50 tattoos on Otzi's body, possibly the oldest tattoos found. The tattooed lines are positioned on the meridian lines that are used in traditional Chinese acupuncture.

"We think they were a pain therapy," said Dr Fleckinger, adding that tattoos were found on parts of the Iceman's body that skeletal analysis showed had suffered age degeneration.

According to Dr Fleckinger, scientists at a new mummy research centre established in Bolzano last May will follow up Loy's findings later this year in collaboration with experts at Munich Hospital and the University of Munich. (ANI)