New research has shown that a copper axe carried by a Neolithic hunter known as Ã–tzi the Iceman came from southern Tuscany.
The find has surprised experts because hundreds of miles separate Tuscany from the Alpine pass where the mummified body of Ã–tzi was discovered 25 years ago.
It is known that copper was mined in the Alps so it is a mystery why the Icemanâ€™s blade should have come from so far away.
Nor do scientists know whether the copper was acquired as a raw ingot, which then had to be fashioned into an axe, or as a ready-made blade.
The hunter-gatherer, nicknamed Ã–tzi after the Otztal mountains where he was found, died 5,300 years ago on what is now the border between Italy and Austria.
He perished after being shot in the back with an arrow by an unknown assailant, in one of the worldâ€™s oldest murder mysteries.
His body was frozen forever in the snow and ice of the mountains.
“Our results unambiguously indicate that the source of the metal is the ore-rich area of southern Tuscany, despite ample evidence that Alpine copper ore sources were known and exploited at the time,” scientists said in a report published in the research journal Plos One.
The fact that copper was being traded between central Italy and the remote Alps was â€œsurprisingâ€, said the experts, who are from Padua University and the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, where the mummified body of the Iceman is on permanent display.
We already know what Ã–tzi the Iceman was wearing when he died more than 5,000 years ago in the Italian Alps, as well as how many tattoos he had.
But now scientists have taken things one step further: they’ve managed to recreate the “best possible approximation” of his voice.
By using CT scans to measure the structure of the famous mummy’s vocal cords, throat, and mouth, scientists from Bolzano’s General Hospital in Italy have been able to digitally reconstruct what Ã–tzi might have sounded like while pronouncing vowels in Italian.