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Otzi: The Tyrolean Ice Man of Bolzano

Updated on March 22, 2018
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Tyrolean Mountain Range

Schlern, one of the famous mountains of South Tyrol
Schlern, one of the famous mountains of South Tyrol | Source

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous." ~ Reinhold Messner, Italian Mountaineer and Explorer

Destination Aldige

While living in Italy, I'd the privilege of taking a bus tour to the town of Bolzano, a mountainous location near the border of Austria.

The winding trip through the Alto Adige was a spectacular sight to behold, but due to my anticipated fascination, the beautiful snow-capped view was nothing compared to my visit to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.

Discovering Otzi: Between Tisenjoch and Hauslabjoch Pass

Between Tisenjoch and Hauslabjoch Pass (place of discovery of Ötzi)
Between Tisenjoch and Hauslabjoch Pass (place of discovery of Ötzi) | Source

Ice Man's Memorial

Otzi Memorial Hauslabjoch Pass
Otzi Memorial Hauslabjoch Pass | Source

The Lure of Excitement

For years, I'd heard of the monumental discovery of a mummy found in the Otztal Alps of Northern Italy. Nicknamed Ozti, short for his founding origin, the bronze-age iceman, was an immediate sensation around the world. When I'd heard about the impending tour - there was nothing to stop me from taking advantage of such an experience.

This all-day trip from my hometown of Vicenza started just after the sun came up. The drive took about four hours. By the time our tour bus arrived, it had been nearly noon, and we had a few hours to browse around town before the touring of the Tyrolean museo. Taking advantage of my free time, I wandered the ancient streets of Bolzano.

Rustic Streets of Bolzano

Town of Bolzano, Italy
Town of Bolzano, Italy | Source

Taking in the Beautiful Sights and Sounds

Eventually, I'd ended up at the local market. There I'd found the sights and sounds absolutely, enchanting. While venturing further into the bustling den, I'd heard an influential mix of German and Italian accents, typical for this northern Aldige town.

Immediately, I'd taken advantage of the different food vendors which hawked their German and Italian delicacies. It had been years since I'd lived in southern Germany, and the first thing that called to me was a helping of tangy currywurst and pommes fritz. Nor could I've passed-up a serving of yummy rum and raisin gelato ... and never had I experienced such a simple heaven! After a few hours of adventure, the time had finally come for the main event.

Finally, I would get to see Otzi.

Documentary on the Ice Man

Reconstructing Otzi

Reconstructing the Ice Man's Voice

Replica Clothing Worn by the Iceman as Portrayed by the Tyrolean Museum of Archaeology

Survival of the Iceman
Survival of the Iceman | Source

"It seems probable that his last meal was very fatty, dried meat - perhaps a type of Stone Age Speck or bacon," ~ Dr. Albert Zink, European Academy of Bolzano

South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is a state of the art facility created with two viewing chambers. Just in case, if one of the chambers fail there is always another chamber is close at hand. The preservation of Otzi is a constant battle due to opposing bacteria which waits to consume the mummy's remains. The only way to combat natural decomposition is to monitor the chamber's temperature and humidity gauge which are set to a continuous -6 degrees Celsius- nearly 21.2 degrees Fahrenheit with a 98% relative humidity rate.

Not only does the museum staff physically protect Otzi's remains, but spiritually they revere him, as well. Visitors are not allowed to pass Otzi's chamber while wearing a hat nor are they to utter a sound. You are told before entering that, at one time, this ice age mummy was a living and breathing person and that he deserves all the love and respect that we allow our loved ones today. I found this act of reverence, touching, and have not forgotten the feeling of awe while viewing this man's well preserved body.

My dream to see Otzi had been fulfilled. I walked away with a smile, knowing that not many have had such a wonderful opportunity as I and that I would treasure this visit for the rest of my life.

Otzi's Resting Place

Archeological Museum of South Tyrol, Bozen
Archeological Museum of South Tyrol, Bozen | Source

Which of One These Finds is Your Favorite Archaeological Discovery?

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 7 weeks ago from UK

      Sorry, I got confused with the reference to the Tyrol, as I have visited the Tyrol area of Austria, but over 30 years ago. Hence my very poor geography.

    • BellaCucina profile image

      That's Amore 8 weeks ago from Somewhere Living Abroad

      Otzi is located in Bolzano, Italy ... a must see!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 8 weeks ago from UK

      I've not been to Austria for a long time, but would like to return. This sounds like an interesting trip.