I watched the very interesting NOVA show on Otzi the Ice Mummy last night.
Otzi is the oldest mummy in Europe, dating back about 5,300 years to the very end of the Stone Age. Originally they thought he died in a storm or something, but several years after he was discovered it was found that he had been shot in the back with an arrow, and had traumatic skull injuries (and a cut on his hand) indicating a violent death.
It was an interesting show on NOVA, and it got me thinking - how did Otzi die? And why?
My guess is that he was killed by someone he knew. Not by another raiding party, nor by any of the defenders of a local village if he was one of the raiders, but by another person who he knew and who knew him.
I am basing this on a couple of things.
[ol][li]He was found with a copper axe. For people of that period, a metal implement would have been more valuable than if it were solid gold nowadays. If he were killed by a stranger, they would have taken the axe. [/li][li]Somebody pulled the arrow shaft out of him before they left him. If they had time to roll him over on his face, and pull out the arrow, they would have had time to grab the axe (and whatever else he had that was worth taking). But they didn’t. They just shot him, hit him on the head (or he fell when he was shot), and pulled out the arrow and ran away.[/ol][/li]
What are the motives for murder? AFAICT, they are money, sex, anger, or mercy killings. This wasn’t a mercy killing. It wasn’t for money (or the Stone Age equivalent) or they would have grabbed his axe and other belongings. This includes war - if Otzi attacked someone and got killed, it would be perfectly legitimate to take his goods as plunder. Likewise if some raiding party killed him - what’s the point of raiding if you don’t profit by it?
So it was either sex, or anger. I’m guessing sex.
Analysis showed that Otzi had eaten a large meal about an hour before he died. I am disinclined to get into arguments after I eat, and I doubt Stone Age people are different in that regard. So I doubt the killing was done in hot blood. This was something planned.
Here’s what I think happened.
Otzi was in his forties, and showed traces of copper and arsenic. So I imagine he was moderately successful in his culture, as these things go. All his accouterments even apart from the axe were state-of-the-art.
So I imagine a girl in his village. Young, and pretty (Otzi’s first wife died without children, since Otzi’s genotype is associated with lowered fertility), and another of the young bucks in the village has his eye on her. But her parents match her off with the rich older guy. The young buck doesn’t say anything, but he comes up with a plan. Otzi, like most of the men, spends a lot of time off hunting. The buck watches for his chance.
He follows Otzi up the mountain one morning. He waits. Around midday Otzi eats the lunch his new wife has provided. It’s a big one, so Otzi isn’t moving very fast (he has arthritis, after all). The young buck catches up with him, and confronts him. And then attacks.
Otzi is older and slower. He is getting much the worse of it, and turns to run. The young buck whips out his bow, and shoots Otzi in the back. And Otzi is dead.
The young buck can’t steal the axe. If he shows up in the village with no way to account for a new axe, awkward questions are bound to be asked. He pulls out the arrow, to try to avoid being identified by it, but the arrow head breaks off and he doesn’t have time to recover it. He’ll just leave the body - the animals will eat it before too long.
But that’s where the story ends. We never know if he gets the girl in the end, or is found out as the perpetrator of one of the earliest crime cases in Europe.
Or maybe I am completely off base. What do you think?