Monday, March 7, 2011

'Frozen Fritz' more popular than ever

If fewer than 1,700 people 'like' your Facebook profile, you're not as popular as a person who hasn't breathed in over five millennia.

And if Brad Pitt doesn't have your silhouette tattooed onto his forearm -- ink, he's refused to talk about -- then you may not measure up against a 5,300-year-old iceman.

Two decades ago, researchers carved out Otzi from a frozen bit of the Italian Alps. Today, the hunter, who's also known as 'Frozen Fritz', is more popular than any time in history.

His second life has garnered him international headlines and new legions of fans -- even on social media sites and Pitt's arm.

And thanks to a remarkable reconstruction of his mummified form -- unveiled this month at the museum where he lives -- Otzi can peer back at us, as we're gawking at him.

Kunigunde Weissenegger, spokesman for the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, in Bozen, Italy, says Otzi is captivating because he made the journey from yesterday to today in relatively good condition.

And he arrived equipped with what he left with the morning he died.

"He was not buried," Weissenegger tells QMI Agency, "but (was) grabbed from his normal course of life."

Experts, using medical scans, have reconstructed his face and based on anthropological studies, have put flesh onto his limbs.

"(It's) difficult to say how hairy he was, only a few pubic hairs are conserved," Weissenegger admits.

He was likely out gathering food when an arrow, possibly from another hunter, felled him.

When they thawed Otzi out, his belly was full from a meal of meat and unleavened bread.

And his clothes -- from sheep fur leggings to leather moccasins -- survived as well as he did.

He couldn't have known what fame he would wear in the afterlife.

With deep wrinkles and weathered features, Otzi's face -- last seen by someone pointing an arrow at his head -- is captivating for being 5,300 years old.

Though when he died, experts say he was an old man at the end of his first lifetime.

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For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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