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Monday, 4 December 2017

Mummified iceman is set to become world's oldest movie star in new film detailing the life of the 5,300-year-old Stone Age hunter

  • German hikers found the remains of a Neolithic male in the Oztal Alps in Tyrol
  • Nicknamed Ötzi, it was found to be the world's oldest known human mummy
  • Filmmaker Felix Randau has brought him to life in a biopic called Iceman
  • It is based on research conducted by forensic experts about his every day life
  • The remains are currently displayed in the Italian mountain town of Bolzano
  • But the corpse may be packed in ice once more as it continues to deteriorate

  • A mummified Neolithic male whose corpse was discovered in a glacier 26 years ago will be the focus of a film giving a fictional account of his life.
    Ötzi's body was found by German couple Erika and Helmut Simon, who stumbled across the remains, complete with tools and clothing, in the Ötztal Alps of southern Tyrol, Italy
    Its skin - covered in 60 tattoos - and other organs were intact and the hikers initially believed the corpse to be new, until forensic scientists found it was the world's oldest known human mummy at about 5,300 years old. 

    Ötzi's body was found by German couple Erika and Helmut Simon in the Ötztal Alps of southern Tyrol
    Ötzi's body was found by German couple Erika and Helmut Simon in the Ötztal Alps of southern Tyrol

    Nicknamed after the Alpine valley in which he was found, the Stone Age hunter became the subject of stomach content analysis as thousands of specialists clambered to determine his cause of death. 
    The investigation found he was felled by an arrow that pierced his left shoulder, leading him to fall, hit his head on a stone and bleed to death. 
    Now the corpse draws about a quarter of a million visitors annually to the northern Italian mountain town of Bolzano, where he is displayed in a specially designed cold chamber. 
    His popularity over the past two decades means the museum, which can only house 300 people, is soon moving to a new site to accommodate visitor demand.

    The corpse's skin and other organs were preserved, revealing 60 tattoos across the Neolithic male's body
    The corpse's skin and other organs were preserved, revealing 60 tattoos across the Neolithic male's body
    Breakthroughs establishing facts about how Ötzi lived have allowed German filmmaker Felix Randau to create a feature film about his struggle for survival.
    Der Mann aus dem Eis (Iceman) is out this month and was shot in the rugged mountains of Bavaria, South Tyrol and Carinthia in Austria. 
    Randau says his film questions whether humans have progressed in the millennia leading to the present day and his biopic speculates as to why Ötzi was killed after archaeologists and scientists have failed to offer a concrete conclusion. 
    'The figure of Ötzi, with his mythical grandeur, allowed us to look into the past to see what it tells us about the present,' he said. 

    Randau's film, Iceman, shows German actor Jürgen Vogel playing Ötzi, who is called Kaleb in the biopic
    Randau's film, Iceman, shows German actor Jürgen Vogel playing Ötzi, who is called Kaleb in the biopic
    'It raises the question as to whether humans have really changed at all and developed over 5,000 years.' 
    Jürgen Vogel plays Ötzi, who is called Kelab in the film, speaking an early version of the Rhaetic tongue.
    The pre-Roman and Roman era language was spoken in the eastern Alps and no translation is offered in the film. 
    Kelab is depicted as a hunter living with goats and pigs, wearing animal furs for warmth and trekking through the treacherous, snowy landscape in an attempt to shield himself and his family from human enemies and the elements.

    The body is displayed in the northern Italian mountain town of Bolzano, where the museum is being forced to move premises due to demand 
    The body is displayed in the northern Italian mountain town of Bolzano, where the museum is being forced to move premises due to demand 
    Rituals define his life in the film, which has been praised for its 'spectacular locations and pure story telling,' in Screen Daily.
    Der Spiegel magazine said the film underlines the universal fascination for Ötzi, who it calls 'our bridge to the beginning of humanity' and central to 'the search for the origins of our own species'.
    But science magazine Spektrum der Wissenschaft says Randau missed a chance to celebrate 'the cultural achievements that science has discovered', such as how Ötzi  crafted weapons, gathered his food and made his clothes.
    The South Tyrol archaeological museum, whose experts advised the film-makers, is bracing itself for a new wave of tourists following the film's release in three countries while Bolzano's souvenir shops have stocked up on Ötzi memorabilia.

    The film shows Kaleb traversing snowy landscapes to protect himself and his family from the elements and human enemies
    The film shows Kaleb traversing snowy landscapes to protect himself and his family from the elements and human enemies
    South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology director Angelika Fleckinger said: 'People are fascinated by the man from the ice – they cannot get enough of him.'
    But the scientists who have kept Ötzi's remains pristine since the discovery say he is in serious danger of disintegrating due to over-exposure to researchers and the public.
    Despite efforts to keep the 13kg corpse hydrated, it is losing about two grams every day as it dries out. 
    It may become necessary to removed him from public display and preserve the body in ice once again.

    Scientists have warned the corpse may have to be packed in ice once again due to it losing weight despite efforts to keep it hydrated
    Scientists have warned the corpse may have to be packed in ice once again due to it losing weight despite efforts to keep it hydrated
    Forensic scientist Oliver Peschel sprays the body with a fine layer of water every two months.
    It cools to form a thin ice layer over the entire corpse, including every fold of its skin. But the weight loss indicated the hydrating process is inadequate. 
    Peschel also fears that microbes might attack Ötzi’s tissue, adding: 'If we’re not extremely careful, Ötzi will go bad on us.'

    The head of Bolzano’s institute for mummy research, Albert Zink, says scientists want to conduct more research and keep the find accessible to the public without irreparably damaging it.
    The anthropologist, who has worked on the remains of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, said: 'We are far from being finished with him.' 
    About 800 academic papers have been written about Ötzi, establishing details such as eye colour (brown) and that he would have been around the age of 45 when he died.

    After hundreds of academic papers were written about Ötzi, scientists have established what colour his eyes were and other facts that enabled the biopic to depict him
    After hundreds of academic papers were written about Ötzi, scientists have established what colour his eyes were and other facts that enabled the biopic to depict him
    An analysis of pollen found in his stomach even revealed that he died on a spring day. 
    Scientists also found he was lactose intolerant but had calcified arteries. He also had whipworm eggs in his intestines, fleas, tooth decay and inflamed gums.
    Lyme disease was discovered along with gallstones and researchers believe he probably suffered backache. 
    The arrow that killed him was found to have been fired from a distance of about 30 metres.
    People are keen to carry out more experiments on the body, with one scientist requesting samples to find out if Ötzi took natural hallucinators.
    Many requests are decline, notably those from people - usually Americans - who want to compare their DNA with Ötzi's. 

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