Augustin Ochsenreiter/AP

Oetzi the Iceman Has No Living Kin

November 04, 2008 12:11 PM
by Emily Coakley
There’s a new woe for Oetzi, the “cursed” Stone Age iceman discovered in the Alps nearly 20 years ago; a new study suggests he has no living descendants.

His Only Legacy Is His Curse

An examination of the DNA of a 5,300-year-old corpse discovered in the Italian Alps suggests that Oetzi the Iceman has no living descendants, according to Agence-France Presse.

Given the trouble surrounding Oetzi—his violent death, courtroom battles and lingering talk of a curse attached to his remains—it’s probably just as well.

Oetzi was discovered in 1991 by hikers near the Italian-Austrian border. He was clothed, and had tools near him that helped pinpoint what time he lived in.

AFP said, “Scientists believe Oetzi was around 46 when he died. He had been severely wounded by an arrow and possibly dispatched with a blow to the head by a cudgel.”

The people who discovered him fought with others over who found him first. Then the hikers credited with finding the iceman, Helmut and Erika Simon, sued the Italian government for a finder’s fee, according to the Independent. Italy and Austria also fought over the location of Oetzi’s grave, a battle Italy eventually won.

And since the discovery, bad things have happened to those connected to it. As of 2005, seven people connected with Oetzi’s discovery have died. Some of the people, such as Rainer Holz and Konrad Spindler, died from a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis complications, respectively.

Others, such as Helmut Simon, died in accidents. The Independent described the death of Kurt Fritz, one of the first people to see the Iceman, who later died in an avalanche: “An experienced climber who knew the region intimately, he was the only member of his party to be struck by the falling rocks.”

The last person to die was Tom Loy, a scientist who did DNA research on Oetzi in 2005. At the time, an unnamed colleague at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience called talk about the curse upsetting.

“They feel that it trivialises his death, and does not do justice to his life and work. He was a brilliant academic, and that is how his colleagues want to remember him,” the person told the Independent.

Related Topics: Curses attached to King Tut, the Hope Diamond

Alleged curses attached to other famous objects are unsubstantiated or have been debunked.

According to the PBS program “Treasures of the World,” the Hope Diamond has a long list of people who have died violent deaths connected to it, though many of the events are unsubstantiated.

Some examples, according to “Treasures of the World,” include Princess de Lamballe, a member of the court of Louis XVI, who allegedly wore the diamond and was later “torn to pieces by a French mob.”

Simon Maoncharides, a Greek jewel broker who was allegedly one of the diamond’s owners, “drove his car over a precipice, killing himself, his wife and child.”

“Great Moments in Science,” an Australian Broadcasting Corp. program, reported that the curse of King Tut is a myth.

King Tutankhamun’s Egyptian tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in 1922. Carnarvon died within six months of the tomb’s opening from pneumonia. Museum officials from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre have died after King Tut exhibits, fueling speculation of a curse. According to “Great Moments,” newspapers made up a saying that was allegedly carved outside Tut’s tomb, that read, “Death shall come on swift wings to him that touches the tomb of the Pharaoh.”

Analysis of the people connected to King Tut’s discovery, and their deaths, compared to actuarial tables showed that most of the people died a year later than expected.

“It took science to finally bury the Curse of the Pharaoh. The only person in this sorry saga to die an unreasonably early death was the Boy King, Tutankahmen.”

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