"Otzi" – Curse of the Iceman
In 1991, two German hikers making their way up the Otztal Alps, between Austria and Italy, in a place known as Hauslabjoch, discovered a well preserved human mummy.
Much speculation has since ensued, as to what the man was doing up in the snow-covered Alps, how old he was and what his state of health was at the time.
Research was conducted on the frozen man, it was discovered he was 45 years old when he died, on his person, or nearby lay many tools, including a stone axe, a leather quiver, an unfinished bow, and a backpack frame made from larch and hazel.
It is thought “Otzi” (as the mummy was known from then on) was from the Neolithic Copper-Age, more than 5,000 years ago.
Scientists then went on to discover what season he had died in, thought to be August, due to frozen pollen found on and around him.
There has been debate ever since as to what this man was doing in the Alps, one side suggesting, from the findings that he was a simple Sheppard, searching, or caring for a flock, but the other side, suggests that he may have been a shaman of sorts.
The second theory extends from finds of polished stones near him, which are said to hold spiritual powers, and tattoos on his skin, symbolising his shamanistic qualities. This theory further extends to the belief that he may have been killed by his rivals in this location to end his reign over a tribe or village.
So how does a curse come to be attributed with a frozen corpse found in a frozen mountain range?
Like many curses, it comes down to the amount of people associated with the finding, that have died of mysterious or unexplained reasons, or mere conjecture in some cases, this “curse”, indeed has an ample body count that suggests something more sinister may be at play.
The first death associated with Otzi in modern times, is that of Forensic Pathologist, Rainer Henn, a 64-year-old working out of the University of Innsbruck. Henn was driving his car to a research conference about his work with Otzi, when he died in a very nasty car accident. It has been stated that Henn, when recovering the body from the ice, helped move it into the body bag with his own hands.
The second death was that of mountain guide, Kurt Fritz, a 52-year-old who was killed by anavalanche. It is reported in some versions of the official events that Fritz uncovered the face of Ozti in the ice, also touching him with his bare hands, like Henn previously.
Rainer Holz was the third person to associated with Otzi die. He died of a Brain tumour. Holz was a documentary film-maker covering the events of the discovery and the following attempts to uncover his identity.
Helmut Simon, the man, who along with his wife discovered the ancient body of Otzi, was the fourth person associated with the finding to die. Aged 69, Helmut was hiking through Austria’s Gaiskarkogel Peak, when he went missing. His body was discovered eight days later in a stream, it is believed he fell 300 hundred feet to his death after walking along an unmarked path.
Helmut’s death led to the death of victim number five, Dieter Warnecke, a 45-year-old in charge of the rescue team searching for Helmut in the Alps, Warnecke died of a heart attack hours after Helmut Simon's funeral.
Konrad Spindler, the man who led the scientific team into the Austrian Alps to recover the body of Ozti, died at the age of 66 years old due to complications of Multiple Sclerosis – this death does not really fit the “curse” aspects that other deaths have had, it is not mysterious, nor unexplained, but who is to say that Spindler’s death was not untimely in the grand scheme of the curse?
The seventh death was a that of a molecular archaeologist named Tom Loy. Loy discovered human blood on the tools and weapons found near Otzi's preserved body. Loy suffered from a hereditary blood disease, first diagnosed in 1992, right after he began working on the research of the discovered iceman. The link here, like that of Konrad Spindler’s death is also tenuous at best, both being older men (66 and 63, respectively) and both dying from known established diseases.
So, is the Iceman, Otzi, cursed?
I would question this one based on the fact that many, many more people than the seven who have passed away, listed above, had interaction with the corpse and the relics found with it. The number of people who may have interacted could be in the hundreds, if not thousands. This is the sort of curse that starts its life as speculation, then becomes an urban legend.
It could be this is the type of “curse” that budding young journalists admire. Something to establish their careers, and sell newspapers...could this whole “curse” simply be a journalist’s interpretation, sensationalism for article sales, much like The Haunted Boy paintings by the Sun Newspaper?
Written by Allen Tiller in 2013, previously unpublished.
Revised 2017 ©Allen Tiller, Eidolon Paranormal
Photos Courtesy of South Tyrol Museum of Archeology