A prehistoric hunter known as Oetzi whose well-preserved body was found on a snow-covered mountain in the Alps died more than 5,000 years ago after being struck in the back by an arrow, scientists said in an article published on Wednesday.
Researchers used newly developed medical scanners to examine the hunter's frozen corpse to determine that the arrow had torn a hole in an artery beneath his left collarbone, leading to a massive loss of blood.
That, in turn, caused Oetzi to suffer a heart attack, according to the article published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Even today, the chances of surviving such an injury long enough to receive hospital treatment are only 40 percent, according to the article.
Oetzi, also known as the Iceman, caused a sensation after his body was discovered by hikers in 1991 on a mountain glacier on the border between Austria and Italy.
The body has provided a wealth of information about the late Neolithic Age, or 3,300 to 3,100 BC. Archaeologists believe Oetzi, who was carrying a bow, a quiver of arrows and a copper axe, may have been a warrior killed in a skirmish.
The fact that the arrow's shaft was pulled out before his death may have worsened the injury, said Frank Ruehli of the University of Zurich, who carried out the research with scientists from Bolzano, Italy, where the Iceman's body is preserved.
The new findings virtually rule out theories that Oetzi had been the victim of ritual sacrifice or got lost in a storm.
Source: China Daily/Agencies