Mountain Man...Thatís Hot. Not Literally.

     Otzi is thought to have been a shepherd who died in his 30s or 40s. DNA evidence shows that he could have fit right in with modern European populations.  His clothing was that of a mobile person exposed to varying natural elements, and arthritis was evident in his joints. His grass cape was a common garment worn by the herdsmen of his time. His tibia was thick compared to others examined from around the same time period, which could be explained by a lot of travel over hilly or rocky terrain.  Scientists are not absolutely positive that he was a shepherd because his clothing was made mostly of deer skin and bear fur. Only two garments were made from a herded animal and those were his loin cloth, which was made from goat hide, and his belt pouch made of calf hide. Such evidence would point to a hunter gatherer lifestyle. Because scientists found evidence of meat in Otziís colon, it was highly possible that he had hunted because his village had not yet been able to depend entirely on agriculture.    

     Scientists had first thought that Otzi had not made his own axe, and that it had been made by a local smith or maybe a traveling specialist of the time.  What they found was that the traveling specialist culture had not begun yet, and Otzi actually had traces of arsenic in his hair, which pointed to frequent exposure to the copper melding environment.  Otzi could have possibly been a hunter or a shepherd who had undertaken the task of making his own copper tools.

     The general conception of Otzi at this point is that he was a shepherd who would herd his sheep into the alps every spring during a kind of transhumance that is still practiced today (yours truly actually participated in an Italian transhumance (transumanza) in Abruzzo in 2005Ötotally rad!!).  Once summer came to an end, he would travel back to the village with the sheep and help in the autumn harvests, and possibly hunt before winter.  This conception places Otzi in the mountains at the correct time of his death, and explains why he was up there in the first place.  Many other hypotheses have been considered, but this one remains strong and fits with the rest of the evidence.

Other Ideas

     Other hypotheses that tried to explain who Otzi was:

         Social Outcast

         Man traveling to deliver the copper ax

         War hero

         Last survivor of a village attack

         Fugitive