Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ötzi the Iceman

Therese was pretty ill for a few days after returning from Manila. Though she has recovered well, she has been nursing some recurring illnesses lately and has just taken to Traditional Chinese Medicine. She had cupping on Sunday and is currently on a 15 session acupuncture treatment. After just a few sessions, she is raving about it and seeing some miracle results. Coming from a western society, we're taught that when you get sick, you go to the doctor and they give you drugs. However, I think the Chinese are on the right track here with helping the body heal itself.

Anyway, out of curiosity I started doing a little research on acupuncture. Initially, i was curious where it officially came from and when. The earliest written record is a Chinese text from 300BC, though it's believed to date back all the way to 1600BC in China. The reality is, it could be 2000 years older. While looking for this info, i stumbled on some related into on the fascinating Wikipedia article for Ötzi the Iceman. You must read this article.

Spoiler: Ötzi the Iceman is awesome.

The most amazing thing about this guy is, since he was frozen for 5300 years, he never decomposed. His skin, his clothes, even his last meal were preserved. Also, because of the tattoos on his preserved skin, we know Ötzi may have been into acupuncture. Here are a few excepts from the article.
Ötzi the Iceman [is] a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC
(53 centuries ago). The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. The nickname comes from Ötztal (Ötz valley), the region in which he was discovered. He is Europe's oldest natural human mummy[...]

Analysis of Ötzi's intestinal contents showed two meals (...), one of chamois meat, the other of red deer meat. Both were eaten with some grain as well as some roots and fruits. The grain from both meals was a highly processed einkorn wheat bran, quite possibly eaten in the form of bread.

High levels of both copper particles and arsenic were found in Ötzi's hair. This, along with Ötzi's copper axe which is 99.7% pure copper, has led scientists to speculate that Ötzi was involved in copper smelting. [smelting is also cool.]

Ötzi had approximately 57 carbon tattoos consisting of simple dots and lines on his lower spine, behind his left knee, and on his right ankle. Using X-rays, it was determined that the Iceman may have had arthritis in these joints. It has been speculated that they may be related to acupuncture.

Ötzi's clothes were sophisticated. He wore a cloak made of woven grass and a coat, a belt, a pair of leggings, a loincloth and shoes, all made of leather of different skins. He also wore a bearskin cap with a leather chin strap. The shoes were waterproof and wide, seemingly designed for walking across the snow; they were constructed using bearskin for the soles, deer hide for the top panels, and a netting made of tree bark. Soft grass went around the foot and in the shoe and functioned like modern socks. The coat, belt, leggings, and loincloth were constructed of vertical strips of leather sewn together with sinew. His belt had a pouch sewn to it that contained a cache of useful items: a scraper, drill, flint flake, bone awl, and a dried fungus to be used as tinder.
You should read the whole thing... the "Cause of death" paragraph is particularly interesting. It's amazing to me that 1. People were advanced enough to smelt things 5300 years ago, and b) We are smart enough now to perform such a detailed autopsy on this guy.

So ummm, i guess the central theme of this post is that science is cool! And so is acupuncture! Remember kids, stay in school!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. So glad Therese is recovering. One of the men on our Yangtze tour had cupping & raved about it. Mom Reitz