Study finds modern relatives of Otzi alive and well in Austria

Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved natural mummy of a Chalcolithic (Copper Age) man from about 3300 BC, who was found in 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. Credit: Wikipedia.

( —A team of researchers from Innsbruck Medical University has found 19 modern humans living in Austria with the same genetic defect as the ice-man Ötzi, the APA News Agency is reporting. The ice-man was found by German tourists and is believed to have lived approximately 5,300 years ago.

Ötzi, named for the region in the Alps where his remains were discovered, has enjoyed worldwide fame since his discovery, owing to his well preserved remains. Over the past twenty years, the ice-man has been studied by various scientists looking for clues that might reveal the nature of the world he inhabited. In addition to his body, researchers also found artifacts that are believed to have belonged to him—the cause of his death, ranging from an arrow wound, to a blow on the head has also been the subject of much research and conjecture. In this latest effort, the researchers were looking to determine if anyone alive today can be tied genetically to the ancient ice-man.

To find out, the researchers asked males of all ages living in the Austrian state of Tyrol, to donate blood samples for DNA testing. Subsequent analysis revealed that 19 of 3,700 volunteers had the same genetic mutation as the ice-man, indicating that they were related to the same ancestors as Ötzi—no mention was made regarding whether anyone alive today could actually be one of his descendants, however. The research team has already reached out to partners in Switzerland and Italy to organize a similar study to determine if there are matches in other nearby locales. Those men identified as a match in the original study have not been told of their connection to the ice-man.

Study of the ice-man has revealed that he had Lyme disease, that he was approximately 46 years old at the time of his death, was approximately five foot two, was likely from Sardinia originally, and had a predisposition to heart disease. It's still not known what he was doing in the Alps, or why he was killed, likely from falling after being shot in the collarbone by an arrow. His stomach contents indicated he ate a diet heavy in meat and because he was carrying a bow and arrows, researchers have speculated that he was likely either a hunter or a soldier. His remains have been kept in cold storage to prevent decay since his removal from his final resting place.

Explore further

Crucial mummy found 20 years ago Monday

© 2013

Citation: Study finds modern relatives of Otzi alive and well in Austria (2013, October 14) retrieved 21 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 14, 2013
This guy is older than the Egyptian pyramids, the Epic of Gilgamesh. Evidences of his clothing alone has revealed he lived in a high cultural time . . . and this was in Europe.

Recently, archaeologists found a Nebra sky disk; it shows the pleides, the sun, the moon, a boat, and two diametrically opposed strips(some suggest they represent angles of the sun's movement throughout the year). Point is Otzi as they call him and the Europeans of the time appear to be more cultural than thought just a decade or more.

Some romans met some Germanic 'barbarian' of the time. Despite the reports being not so un-favorable, the German 'barbarians' sound to me to have regressed or at least to not have progressed beyond Otzi of thousands of years before. Around Otzi's time, the Stonehenge was also being built.

Just some observations . . .

Oct 14, 2013
If I could get the names of those descendants of Otzi I will track them down and finish what my ancestor did by shooting him with his arrow. There are nineteen of us, all with the same genetic defect which manifests itself by carrying a grudge too far.

Oct 14, 2013
The reconstruction of his body and face done in the museum makes him look like a relative of Anthony Perkins.

Oct 15, 2013
So don't be shy- tell us his genotype. He is not going to be offended.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more