On September 19, 1991 a couple hiking along an Alpine ridge stumbled upon a frozen, intact corpse melting out of a glacier. He was dubbed "the Iceman," and the realization that he was actually 5,000 years old set off a whirlwind of political, scientific, and media activity that made him an overnight sensation. In this remarkable and dramatic book, Brenda Fowler takes readers through the bizarre odyssey that began in the Stone Age and continued for years after the Iceman was unearthed. In a new afterword Fowler looks back on the ten years since the discovery and shows that the Iceman continues to inspire controversy and wonder.
In September 1991, hikers in the Alps discovered a well-preserved frozen corpse; nearby lay a stone ax and swatches of leather and fur. The man turned out to have died in the early Bronze Age, making him an incalculable treasure for students of early human beings. Fowler, who has covered Central Europe for the New York Times, offers a brisk and easy-to-follow narrative, first of the great discovery, then of the personal and political struggles for control of the frozen body, which researchers eventually nicknamed Ötzi. Her tight and compelling account emphasizes the late-20th century people who acted, investigated and argued the science and law surrounding the man from the past. Fowler's journalistic experience serves her well as she introduces each of the characters: local archeologist Konrad Spindler, who first pronounced the corpse 4,000 years old; Reinhold Messner, "the best [mountain] climber who had ever lived"; museum curator Markus Egg; botanist Sigmar Bortenschlager ("a feisty strawberry blond"); and a few dozen others. Each gossipy controversy begot others; each scientific answer led to new questions. Should Ötzi be used to help the local economy, displaying him for tourists? Yes, said the government; no, cried the local priest. The scientists were split on the issue. Was Ötzi missing his genitalia? No (though they had "dried up like a leaf"); so how did the story that he had been castrated come to be circulated so widely? Archeological and present-day whodunits proceed in alternating steps throughout Fowler's attentive narrative; readers with any interest in early humans, in the politics of scientific discovery or in this region of Europe will want to dig in. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|