Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,300-year-old mummy found in the Italian Alps, may have been ceremonially buried, according to a study which mapped the items found near the frozen corpse.According to research published in the journal Antiquity, the melting glacier in the Ötztal Alps, where the well preserved mummy was found in 1991, was not the site of a murder, but a solemn burial ceremony.
"Our reconstruction suggests that Ötzi died at at lower altitude in early-mid spring, and was then buried up on the mountain with his goods in late summer or early autumn," Luca Bondioli of the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnology in Rome told Discovery News.
Pollen found in the mummy's gut indicated that Ötzi died in April, while pollen within the ice suggested the corpse was deposited there in August or September. The theory would explain this mismatch.
The hypothesis is the last of a long series of speculation over the Iceman.
Prior to the discovery in 2001 of an arrowhead in the mummy's left shoulder, researchers believed Ötzi died at about age 45 from cold and hunger, or was the victim of a ritual sacrifice.
Further investigations established that the mortally wounded man froze at a high altitude with his tools and personal items, succumbing to the arrowhead that hit his left subclavian artery. He was escaping from a tribal clash, researchers theorized.