Ötzi and the Laces menhir
Who is Ötzi?
Ötzi the Iceman is the oldest preserved mummy of the world. In September 1991, the Simon couple found Ötzi’s corpse, which had just been released by the ice in those days, during a glacier hike at Giogo di Tisa in the Ötztal Alps. Giogo di Tisa is situated at only a 16 km linear distance away from Laces and the site of the find of the Laces menhir. It soon became clear that the corpse was a more than 5,000-year old mummy from the Copper Age. There are many finds from excavations dating back to the Copper Age, including skeletal remains of humans. But this find was so sensational because of the many organic remains that normally decompose very fast and had been preserved in the ice. In addition to Ötzi’s body, his clothing and the many objects and artifacts provide an exciting insight into the past. Today we know that Ötzi lived between 3,350 and 3,100 BC. The mummy is exhibited in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano together with his clothing and equipment and can be visited there.
Was Ötzi from Laces?
The way across Giogo di Tisa connects the valleys to the north and south of the main Alpine ridge. Ötzi can only have climbed the pass from the north or from the south. The plant materials of the objects and artifacts that Ötzi carried with him as well as the remains in his stomach demonstrate that he lived to the south and not to the north of the main Alpine ridge. Cornelian cherries, for example, whose wood was used to produce his arrows, grow much more often to the south than to the north of the main Alpine ridge. His place of origin could be further delimited. An analysis of his enamel showed that he had spent his childhood on a crystalline area rather than on a chalky area and therefore maybe in Val Venosta or in Valle Isarco. Minerals from the drinking water build up in the enamel and can provide information about the habitat. Due to the proximity of Ötzi’s site of the find it’s just a small step to assume that Ötzi spent at least part of his life in Val Venosta. There are several settlement traces from the Copper Age in the surroundings. The provincial archeologist Dr. Hubert Steiner, however, supposes that Ötzi might have been from the Laces settlement (link: Laces in the Copper Age). „Especially the examination of the charcoal remains from the settlement in Laces can draw a comparison with the Iceman in addition to a reconstruction of the flora in the near surroundings. Another comparison can be made with the cereal finds. The settlement in Laces is the first confirmed settlement in Val Venosta’s valley floor. All others were single finds (Ganglegg and Kalvarienberg, Tarces Hill, Laudes-Oberberg, Marchriese, Oris, Lasa, Corces-St. Laurentius, Colsano Castle, Juval Castle). Given the coincidence in time, we can assume that Ötzi the Iceman at least knew the settlement in Laces. He must have passed the settlement in Laces when he crossed Val Venosta.“
Is Ötzi’s equipment depicted on the Laces menhir?
There is a striking similarity of the objects that Ötzi carried with him and the motifs depicted on the Laces menhir, namely axe, dagger, bow and arrow. This equipment is part of the motif repertoire of the menhirs of the Adige Valley group. These objects might not only have had a practical benefit but might also have been symbols of a special status, power or virility.
Is Ötzi’s murder depicted on the Laces menhir?
In 2001, and thus ten years after the Iceman’s discovery, Ötzi’s mummy underwent further examinations. A team around radiologist Dr. Paul Gostner and pathologist Dr. Egarter Vigl scrutinized the mummy with an X-ray unit and discovered something amazing: They found an arrowhead in his left shoulder! No scientist before them had seen the obvious. The arrowhead of flint is 27mm long and 18mm wide. It wasn’t removed by the scientists and can still be seen in Ötzi’s body. Ötzi was hit by an arrow. Was he murdered? There is a very special, mysterious motif on the backside of the Laces menhir: A bowman points his arrow at another person. Is this Ötzi’s story?