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The Life of Ötzi

            Ötzi was a quiet boy. He was always known for being a loner.  As we whip through time, we will see him bring the magic of other cultures come alive.  Cultures special like his.  Five thousand three hundred years ago, was an ice mummy named Ötzi. (www.iceman.it/en/the-discovery)

The wind rushed quickly past his face and through the trees as he watched the trees sway side to side.  He crouched down as he watched the pack sniff at the ground.  A bone wiggled at his hip as he jumped into the mix of wolves.  He scooped up his net and zipped off, the barking became muffled as he ran.  Ötzi nearing the camp grounds, he could hear two men clapping, and see his father’s face full of joy. His first companion.

In prehistoric times, the children would test their fate is capturing a companion.  As you see here, Human and Canine were discovered ‘growing together’ throughout history: “Recently unearthed fossils and analysis of historical genetic data suggest that humans and proto-dogs evolved together.  Dog historian Mark Derr discusses canine evolution in the following interview from the Wall Street Journal, and explains how new scientific findings are changing our preconceived notions of the domesticated dog.”  (www.lifewithdogs.tv/2011/11/from-cave-to-kennel-canine-evolution-explored)

We all know dogs are ‘Mans’s best friend’. It’s just a simple notion that man and canine do very well together! What we also find is “A stunning study that illuminates this decisive period was recently published in Science by Paul Mellars and Jennifer French of Cambridge University. They argue, based on a meta-analysis of 164 archaeological sites that date to the period when modern humans and Neandertals overlapped in the Dordogne region of southwest France, that the modern-human population grew so rapidly that it overwhelmed Neandertals with its sheer numbers.” (www.americanscientist.org/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/)

It only took a few days before Özel (the wolf) and Ötzi were best friends.  Only being 15 years old, Ötzi needed the protection and to help him along the way with hunting.  He chuckled as he tossed Özel a bone and slunk back against a tree.  His two sisters laughed from behind another tree, while watching Ötzi and Özel.

Ötzi and his wolf went to find his mother.  She was in a hut near the waterside, the waves slapping the bank of the valley while the other children play.  She turned around and quickly smiled at Ötzi.  From her hands dropped a tiny doll.  His little Hands grabbed it, and turned it over and over looking at each part carefully before handing it back.  He whisked away without a word and looked at the other children’s’ toys.  He was suddenly very curious about the dolls.  Peering from hut to hut you would see Ötzi looking at the different dolls, inspecting them all closely. They were all women dolls.  He was suddenly very confused.

In the Ҫatalhöyük, you would see various women shaped dolls buried with their dead. The doll was referred to as the “Mother Goddess” (www.catalhoyuk.com/ ), Similar to what his sisters had, but these did not have clothing on. “Archaeologists frequently reinterpret their finds. This could be due to a new discovery, or further analysis of an artefact that is already found. Archaeological theories are often the products of their time. It is therefore important when forming our interpretations that we act with caution and always search for the latest research and evidence available. A prime example of such archaeological reinterpretation is shown at Ҫatalhöyük, wherein the popular conception of the ‘mother goddess’ figurines has been challenged.” (www.catalhoyuk.com/)

His sisters started to giggle as they caught him with a doll in hand.  Ötzi quickly stood up, pulled his trousers (which were 2 leggings held together by a belt) up tied his shoes and sped off. (www.iceman.it/en/clothing/) He was nearing 20 years of age; the embarrassment was simply silly. No reason to be red faced and breathing heavily as he jogged the other way. After he was safely away from the giggling girls, he sat down on a tree stump to think.

Ötzi raised up quickly and walked further and further away to completely drown out the girls’ laughter.  He gently touched every tree he passed with his knobby, crooked fingers. He grabbed a piece of coal and rubbed it on his hand lightly, then approached a tree. Standing perfectly still, he gently rubbed his palm and knobby, crooked fingers up against the tree. He left his hand there a few minutes before pulling away.  Ötzi then had a picture of his handprint with his knobby and crooked fingers. He gasped at the beauty he created. Beauty like in the Chaveaux cave.

What Ötzi did was close to what happened in the Chaveaux cave. Artwork has been found that is a “Series of handprints on the walls. The man with the crooked finger contributed”. (Like Ötzi) (www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSBMdAh_ey/) There are so many wonders in this cave, indeed.  The Chaveaux cave also had stacks of different bones everywhere.  Bones of “Cave Bears, Mammoth, Wooly Rhino, and other remains were found in the cave”.  (www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSBMdAh_ey/)  There were also many paintings inside the cave. Some of the “paintings suggest movement by having extra legs.” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSBMdAh_ey/) It is a beautiful cave, with fabulous art dwelling inside. Just like Ötzi’s attempt at “painting” the tree with his hand and crooked finger.

Ötzi, now nearing 30 years of age, is watching his dog as he limps down the field. “He is not doing well”, Ötzi thought.  A few days pass by as he watches his dog progressively get worse. Özel let out a loud cry, shrunk to the ground and rolled over.  There was no more movement coming from Özel’s body. Not a breath to be seen.  Ötzi’s eyes began to swell with tears as he slowly realized his beloved Özel had passed on.  Ötzi wrapped him up, took him out in the valley and began placing rocks and stones on his body.  He had nothing to dig with, so he covered him with rocks. The rocks piled up, and he covered them with dirt.  With a solid frown, he walked away, back to his tent on the shore.

Ötzi buried his dog like a culture at Göbekli Tepe.  The ancestors at Göbekli Tepe designed an elaborate burial ground with limestone slabs and dirt that later formed a mound. “The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, weigh between seven and ten tons”. (www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobelki -tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/) “As I walk among them, I see that some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars’ broadside.” (www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobelki -tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/)

Göbekli Tepe was a beautiful area, “Prehistoric people would have gazed upon herds of gazelle and other wild animals; gently flowing rivers, which attracted migrating geese and ducks; fruit and nut trees; and rippling fields of wild barely and wild wheat varieties such as emmer and einkorn.” (www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobelki -tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/)

Ötzi, now nearing 40, trudged up the snow on the mountain, his feet packing down the snow every foot fall. He stopped briefly to sketch a bear in the snow.  He loved bears, it was his favorite animal, besides the wolf he had.

In the Chauvet, we will find many bears remains and different species. One is the Ursus Spelaceus, which is now “an extinct species in Eurasia, where it appeared around 200,000 years ago.” (www.archeologie.culture.fr/chauvet/en/explore-cave/chamber-bear-hollow/) Also in the Chauvet, Ursus Deningeri could be found. This cave bear “owes its name to discovery (in 1794) of its bones in an underground environment.  Remains are particularly abundant in these environments as a result of its prolonged occupation of caves in the cold season.  The wallows made by the bears enable us to identify the areas occupied during hibernation, and the trails of foot prints to reconstruct their routes throughout the cave.” (www.archeologie.culture.fr/chauvet/en/explore-cave/chamber-bear-hollow/)

Ötzi became a loner shortly after his mother had died.  He was found hanging his head low to the ground as he walked, the longer he trudged on alone.  Ötzi has been alone now for some time, and it was starting to wear on him.  He was sad and lonely, but refused to get out and meet back up with his old friends.  As he drew the bear in the snow, he ran into a small group of men that were cheery and invited him along.  He accepted, and away they went.

Ötzi was treated to cheery conversation and a fine copper axe to hunt with.  The axe was breath taking, it was forged out of 99% pure copper, then tightly bound with nice leather straps. (www.iceman.it/en/equipment) Day after day, they would wander through the snow, carrying their freshly sharpened axes, bows and staves while the snow crunched up under their feet.  Ötzi always wore his finest pair of shoes, which his mother used to make him.  They were tightly bound with leather strapping and stuffed gently with grass. (www.iceman.it/en/clothing)

As they were traveling up the mountain, he noticed a rather large, bulky bear poking its nose out from behind a tree.  He gasped quietly, but the men still noticed his gasped and saw what was up ahead.  Today he would learn that these men weren’t really his friend, or the kind of friends he thought they were.  They raced up the mountain towards the bear, urging Ötzi forward. These men were bear hunters, and Ötzi did not like this!

The type of bear that they were stalking was a prehistoric version of the Polar Bear.  “The Polar Bear has become a symbol for threatened wildlife, and is future in a warming world has created much controversy.  The evolutionary history of Polar Bears has been re-written several times in recent years, complicated by an incomplete fossil record and a history of hybridization with the Brown Bears.” (www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32386/title/The-Polar-Bear-s-Prehistoric-Past/)

They continued, urging Ötzi to kill the bear.  Ötzi had a soft heart when it came to wolves and bears, he did not want to kill the bear.  As he approached the bear, he gazed into it small brown eyes and decided firmly he was not freely able to do it.  He turned slowly in the direction of the men he once called his friends for the last five years.  Ötzi put his arms out, defending the bear and shook his head at the men. They became angry fast and zipped towards Ötzi.  Ötzi turned back towards the bear and softly closed his eyes.  He felt a sharp sting in his shoulder and fell to the ground, hitting his head on a branch of the tree that the bear was hiding behind.

The snow quickly went from white, to pink, to red.  His shoulder throbbed as he fell deeper into the snow, and lost grip of the axe.  He panted as the pain increased and his breathing became shallow. He stared up into the sky, thinking to himself of his life as the sky became blurry.  Ötzi was dying and fast.  At age 45, Ötzi fell into the snow, as he bled to death, and perished at the hands of a Polar Bear Hunter’s mercy.

Ötzi’s life brings to us a sense of culture. The existence of these various prehistoric cultures can successfully show us how special our history is. The precious art telling us a story of what they did and how they lived. Now we can look back upon these events and relish the stories behind it.

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/26/otzi-iceman-new-tattoo_n_6546884.html?slideshow=true#gallery/211661/0)

 

 

 

Works Cited

Yong, Ed. “The Polar Bear’s Pre-historic Past.” 23 July 2012. Web. 5 July 2017. www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32386/title/The-Polar-Bear-s-Prehistoric-Past-/

“Ötzi – The Mummy in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.” 2016. Web. 6 June 2017. www.iceman.it/en/the-mummy/#health

“Clothing – South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.” 2016. Web. 6 June 2017. www.iceman.it/en/clothing

“Equipment – South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.” 2016. Web. 6 June 2017. www.iceman.it/en/equipment

“The Discovery – South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.” 2016. Web 6 June 2017. www.iceman.it/en/the-discovery

“Chamber of the Bear Hollow.” Web. 18 June 2017. www.archeologie.fr/chauvet/en/explore-cave/chamber-bear-hollow

Curry, Andrew. “Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?”  November 2008. Web. 28 June 2017. www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobekli-tepe-the-words-first-temple-8313665

“Cave of Forgotten dreams (2010) Full Documentary by Werner Herzog” Web. 28 June 2017. www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSBMdAh_ey

Shipman, Pat Lee. “Do the eyes have it? Dog domestication may have helped humans thrive while Neanderthals declined.” American Scientist 2017. Web. 30 June 2017. www.americanscientist.org/article/do-the-eyes-have-it

Tinning, Jenny. “Was there a belief in a Goddess at Ҫatalhöyük?” 31 January 2017. Web. 1 July 2017. www.cataihouk.com/node/736

“Ötzi The Iceman Mummy.” Web. 01 July 2017. www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/26/otzi-iceman-new-tattoo_n_6546884.html?slideshow=true#gallery/211661/0