The last domicile of the Iceman from Hauslabjoch

A geochemical approach using Sr, C and O isotopes and trace element signatures

Jurian Hoogewerff, Wolfgang Papesch, Martin Kralik, Margit Berner, Pieter Vroon, Hermann Miesbauer, Othmar Gaber, Karl Heinz Künzel, Jos Kleinjans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Citations (Scopus)


We present Sr, C and O isotope ratios and quantitative ratios of trace element ratios in the rib and the femur of the Tyrolean Iceman "Ötzi". The results from the rib and the femur are compared with those obtained from pre-industrial historic human skull bone fragments collected in the late 19th century from charnel houses located on different geological backgrounds throughout North and South Tyrol. Comparison of strontium isotope data from the bone fragments locates the Iceman's domicile, during the last 5 to 10 years of his life, to the crystalline part of the Central Alps. Statistical analysis of the trace element ratios, together with oxygen isotope results, suggests that the Iceman probably spent most of his last years in southern elevated part of the Ötztal. However, the results from Iceman only represent those from a single individual and are not a representative average of a group. It cannot therefore be established with absolute certainty that the original trace element signatures were conserved, especially during the first stage of mummification. Our conclusions should therefore be regarded as tentative, but nevertheless the best possible indication his domicile, and a stimulus for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-989
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


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