5,300-year-old ‘Otzi the Iceman’ mummy wore bear-fur hat and leggings made from goat leather

The world’s first known sheepskin coat was worn by Ötzi the ‘Iceman’ 5,300 years ago. Scientists have studied the famous mummy’s clothes for the first time and found they were made from a variety of five different animals.
These included brown bear for his hat, goat for his leather and sheep – for his coat. It means Ötzi, found frozen in a glacier in the Alps a quarter of a century ago, was donning the garment more than 5,000 years before today’s hipsters.
The mummy was discovered in the Italian Ötztal Alpes in 1991, and two decades of analysis have provided insights into his ancestry, diet, tools, lifestyle, health and attire.

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In the latest study, researchers from University College Dublin, looked at nine fragments of leather from Ötzi’s clothes and quiver, and were able to identify the species of origin for each.

Dr Niall O’Sullivan, who led the study, said the findings ‘provide a surviving example of ancient manufacturing technologies.’
He said the results indicate the majority of the samples originate from domestic species such as cattle, sheep and goat now widespread on today’s farms.
He went on: ‘Intriguingly, the hat and quiver samples were produced from wild species, brown bear and roe deer respectively.

‘Combined, these results suggest Copper Age populations made considered choices of clothing material from both the wild and domestic populations available to them.’

The study also discovered his loincloth was from sheep and shoelace from cattle.

Meanwhile, his quiver used for hunting expeditions consisted of leather made from roe deer.

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The Iceman provides us with an unprecedented insight into the daily life and appearance of a Copper Age inhabitant of the Alps.

Under normal conservation conditions, items of clothing and equipment made of organic materials would have disintegrated long ago.

A good part of it disintegrated, and when he was found, he was mostly naked except for his shoes.

But researchers were pleased to find any clothing at all, since this type of material is very rare.

When his body did appear from the ice, the back of his clothing was badly damaged but because he was lying face down, substantial parts were saved.

Now their origins are presented in a paper in Scientific Reports following two and a half decades of analysis that have provided insights into his ancestry, diet, tools, lifestyle, health and attire.

By sequencing the DNA of nine fragments of leather from the Iceman’s clothes and quiver Dr O’Sullivan and colleagues identified the origin for each fragment of his surviving clothes and quiver.

The hat and quiver came from wild species – brown bear and roe deer respectively.

Whilst previous research has established the Iceman as a farmers, the researchers suggest they provide evidence of hunting and trapping of wild animals.

They also found the coat was a combination of at least four hides from two specie : goat and sheep, which suggest a haphazard stitching together of clothing based upon materials that were available.

The leggings were composed of goat leather, adding support to the idea Copper Age people selected species for specific attributes when manufacturing clothing.

Believed to be of Asian origin Otzi died a violent death, shot by a bow and arrow and then clubbed to death as he hiked across the Otztal Alps on the border of Austria and Italy. He was between 40 and 50 years old.
He carried an extensive and efficient kit that allowed him to remain away from home for long periods and to be self-reliant.

With his tools, he would have been able to repair damaged items and fashion new ones.

When he was discovered, the Iceman was wearing only his right shoe. The uppers were worn with fur on the outside and laced up.

Dried tree bark was also stuffed inside the shoes to keep his feet warm.

Although these are the oldest ‘shoes’ ever found, a pair of 10,000-year-old slippers was discovered in Oregon, so they are the oldest footwear.

A grass mat was also found in three separate pieces. At first, archaeologists believed that this was a cape.

Researchers now believe it was worn over his head, as a type of protection from the rai, or possibly even snow, or possibly as a kind of backpack.

Otzi also had 61 tattoos, a set of horizontal or vertical lines made by rubbing charcoal into punctured areas in his skin

However, the researchers suggest that the hat and quiver provide evidence of hunting and trapping of wild animals.

They also found that his coat was made of a combination of at least four hides from two different species – goat and sheep.

This suggests a haphazard stitching together of clothing based on the materials available.

His leggings were also made of goat, which backs up the idea that Copper Age people selected species for specific attributes when making clothes.

Dr O’Sullivan said: ‘These results suggest Copper Age populations made considered choices of clothing material from both the wild and domestic populations available to them.’

When he was discovered, the Iceman was wearing only his right shoe.

The uppers were worn with fur on the outside and laced up and dried tree bark was also stuffed inside the shoes to keep his feet warm.

Although these are the oldest ‘shoes’ ever found, a pair of 10,000-year-old slippers was discovered in Oregon, so they are the oldest footwear.

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