How has the discovery of Iceman contributed to our understanding of Neolithic Italy/Austria?

Essay by CaracasHigh School, 11th gradeA+, July 2004

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On September 19, 1991, a couple from Nuremberg mountaineering in the Otztal Alps discovered the upper part of a corpse protruding from the glacier. It was to be later discovered that this body was actually that of a 5200-year-old man from the Stone Age. Not realizing the age of their discovery, rescue workers who came to the scene treated the body less than gently as they tried to pull it from the ice. A jackhammer tore chunks of flesh from iceman's left hip and damaged his thigh. The unfinished bow that he carried was broken into two pieces, and the frame of his backpack was ripped apart. Only when an archaeologist from the University of Innsbruck, Dr. Konrad Spindler, saw the copper axe found with Iceman and estimated it to be 4,000 years old-a relic of the Neolithic age-did anyone begin to comprehend what an astonishing discovery had been made on the Tisenjoch.

The Neolithic era was the transitional age when stone tools began to give way to metal and when agriculture was supplanting hunting and gathering. The body, his equipment and clothing have all contributed to the knowledge and understanding of the Iceman and the period of time from where he came.

The body looks like a skeleton wrapped tightly in hairless skin. It gleams with a glaze of ice that is left undefrosted to protect it. Its mouth is frozen in an expression that displays a few worn, chipped teeth but the skull of Iceman has still allowed the reconstruction of his face with the aid of Stereolithographic skull models and computer tomography. These have given a good perspective of how people from the Neolithic age generally looked. His right earlobe had a pit like, sharp edged rectangular depression, indicating there was once an ornamental stone fitted...