Tuesday, January 22, 2008

THE MAN IN THE ICE by Konrad Spindler

The Book: Konrad Spindler, THE MAN IN THE ICE: The Discovery of a 5,000-Year-Old Body Reveals the Secrets of the Stone Age. Translated from the German by Ewald Osers. Harmony Books, 1994 (first edition).
First read: 1994
Owned since: 1994

It's warmer today -- 14F is noticeably warmer than 4F -- or maybe it's just that I'm running a fever. I have the worst cold I've had in three years, and could hardly be more miserable or disgusting. If I stop posting, alert the authorities in about a week to come hose out a toxic phlegm site on the western end of Water Street.

But things could be worse. Things could always be worse. I am not alone in the dark, miles from home, trapped by snow or fog in the mountains with a few weapons and shoes stuffed with grass.

That's how hikers found the Iceman in 1991, in a remote glacier in the Oetztaler Alps. Christened "Oetzi," the man in the ice was probably between 35 and 40 years old, and most likely died of exhaustion and hypothermia sometime between 3,300 and 3,200 BCE.

The Man in the Ice is the story of his discovery, and the research that showed what he was carrying, how he lived, and how he died. The ice preserved him so well that scientists could speculate with confidence about where he lived, how far he had gone, what he was hunting. Illustrations show the Iceman's mummified body, the face eerily well-preserved despite being freeze-dried.

It's hard to imagine what it would be like to live in this climate without modern conveniences -- without my fleece and my microfiber and my central heating. It's hard to imagine what it must have been like for the Iceman, alone in the dark and far from home. Maybe he had a dog with him; maybe the dog made it home. I hope so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The July 2007 National Geographic had an article speculating that the Iceman may have been murdered.