Oetzi the Iceman dressed like a herdsman

August 21st, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, August 21 (ANI): A new study has shown that a famous Neolithic Iceman, Oetzi, whose mummified remains were discovered in an Alpine glacier in 1991, dressed like a herdsman in clothes made from sheep and cattle hair.

The social and cultural background of the Iceman, dubbed Oetzi, has been the subject of much debate since his remains were found. Although his clothes were known to be made of animal skins, their exact origin was uncertain.

The new study focused on hair samples taken from Oetzis coat, leggings and moccasin shoes.

We found that the hairs came from sheep and cattle, just the types of animals that herdsmen care for during their seasonal migrations, said lead researcher Klaus Hollemeyer of Saarland University in Germany.

The researchers analyzed hair samples in excess of 5,000 years old using MALDITOF mass spectrometry.

This allowed them to study patterns of peptides of fermented proteins present in the ancient hair and compare them with those of modern day animals.

They found that Oetzis coat and leggings were made from sheeps fur, whilst his moccasins were of cattle origin.

The researchers believe that MALDITOF mass spectrometry may be faster and more reliable than methods based on DNA analysis and that it could be applied in archaeology and evolutionary biology.

This method could, for example, be used in checking the purity of products made from animal hair, such as pullovers and jackets made of Cashmere wool, said Hollemeyer.

I think that a major field of application will be to help manufacturers abide by the European Union law concerning the ban of dog and cat fur trade next year, he added. (ANI)

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