The Italian Almanac


A New Face

Italy's famed prehistoric 'Iceman' is set to get a new face after scientific studies showed the fierce warrior features of his lifelike replica are not correct. "The face should be much older than that of a 40-year-old of today, and marked by the adversities of life in the high mountains with their hostile climate," experts said ahead of the unveiling of the new model on March 1 in the lab where his frozen and mummified body is preserved.

Dutch twins Alfons and Adrie Kennis, two of the world's top specialists in palaeontological reconstruction, have based the new face on the latest 3D computer modelling of the Iceman's skull. The technique, known as stereo-lithography, was first used in 1992 when it was tried out on the Iceman, or Oetzi as he is also known. "The new appearance of the man who came out of the ice is fully supported by the results of numerous studies over the last few years," officials at the Iceman lab said. However, only the barest outline of the face has been released amid high secrecy surrounding its unveiling at the start of 'Oetzi 2011', a major show on the most recent findings about the Neolithic hunter.

The eyes of the world's scientific community have been focused on the Iceman since he was found peeping out of a glacier in the Oetz mountain valley in 1991. The body, which dates back to 3000 BC, has spawned a global cottage industry of studies. There have been discoveries about what he ate, what illnesses he suffered from, whether he was a shepherd, herder or hunter, and exactly how he died.

Ritual sacrifice had long been one of the favourite theories about the Iceman's death until a CAT scan in the late 1990s revealed an arrow wound in his body. This led most experts to conclude he was shot during a fight with rival hunters. Another study - fiercely contested by patriotic residents of this formerly Austrian region who see Oetzi as their forefather - reckons he was cast out from his community because a low sperm count rendered him childless.