In this post, I am going to discuss human remains that were discovered among the layers of ice.
As modern science states, some of the glaciers remained intact for several million years. And whatever got trapped between the ice sheets came to our days in a good shape thanks to the preserving properties of ice.
Nowadays, the climate is changing, ice sheets are melting, and new evidence of the ancient past are starting to emerge from layers of ice.
Did you know that now there is a new scientific discipline of history that studies ice? It is called glacial archeology.
Ötzi the Iceman
Ötzi the ice is a 5,300- year-old mummified body of a man discovered on the Otzal Alps at the border between Italy and Austria.
It was discovered in 1991 by two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simon.
At first, the tourists thought it must be the corpse of one of the recent climbers. However, the examinations conducted by Konrad Spindler from Innsbruck University revealed that the body belonged to sometime between 3100 – 3400 BCE.
The archeologist also found several pieces of Copper Age tools with the body, which also supported the estimated age of the corpse.
Additionally, examinations revealed that at the time of his death, he was a 45-old man, who weighed about 110 lbs. (50 kg) and his height was around 5 ft. 3 inches (160 cm).
However, archeologists still debating the possible causes of his death. According to Konrad Spindler, the Ötzi died while he was fleeing across the mountains.
He had some equipment with him during his journey, but those got broken and he had no time to repair them until he was hit by a heavy winter storm.
Ötzi also had broken ribcages which indicates that he was unable to continue his way in harsh terrain and died in the gully. Then, ice buried his body and kept him there for more than five millennia.
Some scientists do not agree with that theory. Some believe he was murdered during a fierce battle. Because the 2003 discovery found an arrowhead in his shoulder and some signs of head injury, all of which suggest that Ötzi’s death was intentional.
If you are curious to see Otzi the Iceman with your own eyes, you can visit the Otzi Museum in Bolzano, Italy. The museum hosts about 250,000 visitors each year. And you can be one of them.
Inca the Ice Maiden.
This is another human body that was well-preserved thanks to ice. The Ice Maiden, who is also known as “Juanita”, is the mummified body of a 14-year-old girl.
Like Otzi the Iceman, Juanita was found at the high elevation of a mountain where the layers of ice stayed for a long time.
More specifically, she was found on Peru’s Mount Ampato (Andes mountain) in 1994 by a photographer, Johan Reinhard, and his climbing partner Miguel Zarata.
Examinations revealed that the Ice Maiden was the victim of Inca’s human sacrifice. Incas did not offer young people for religious sacrifices quite often. However, they made exceptions after serious and cataclysmic events.
In the case of the Ice Maiden, she was believed to be sacrificed after a large volcanic eruption. She was buried on the Andes Mountain near the volcanic site, which was deemed to be a sacred place for Incas.
Pottery, clothed statues, and food were found next to the mummified body.
Examiners revealed that the cause of Juanita’s death was a single blow to the head.
It is another frozen body of a girl. She was also sacrificed for the Inca gods. The body was found in 1999, not far from the location of the Inca the Maiden.
She was only 13-years of age when she died. Interestingly, her body indicates that she almost died on her sleep as her pose was so peaceful at the time of her death.
However, there is a different explanation of that pose. According to a National Geographic post, Llullaillaco Maiden was drugged and intoxicated with alcohol before she died.
The researchers studied the food she consumed in her last days and found that the girl consumed an extraordinary amount of coca and alcohol.
Additionally, the quality of the food she ate during the last year of her life significantly improved. Scientists speculate that Inca elders chose the maiden a year earlier. Then, they took care of her well for a whole year to sacrifice for their god.
Llullaillaco Maiden, like Inca the Maiden, was buried with various artifacts.
Media companies around the world increased her popularity and the museum attracted thousands of visitors by displaying her body.
Human Remains in Roopkund Lake.
Roopkund lake locates in the remote areas of the Indian Himalaya at the elevation of 16,500 feet (5029 meters). The lake is also known as “Skeleton Lake” as it holds bones of over 800 individuals.
The lake remains frozen most of the time. However, as the ice melts, more and more human bones become visible in the lake.
Several scientists climbed to the site by walking through treks that take about several days.
Scientists try to determine who those people are, what they were doing in those remote places, and how they perished.
So far, there is no solid answer to those questions. Some speculate all those people died during a mass pilgrimage. However, this theory does not add up because all those people did not die at the same time.
They perished in groups during several waves of events. Additionally, the bodies belonged to the three genetically distinct groups.
For instance, 38 of the examined skeletons were ancestors of the present-day Indians and they perished sometime between the 7th and 10th centuries.
Fourteen of the skeletons were related to the people of Crete and Greece and one to Southeast Asian ancestry. The group of 15 perished between the 17th and 20th centuries.
Contrary to other human bodies found in the ice, the remains of Roopkund Lake are poorly preserved. Visitors can see only human bones that are scattered around the lake – nothing else.
Severe hailstorm, mass suicide, human sacrifice, war, and graveyard are some of the suggested theories to explain the site.
However, war and graveyard theories do not work. Because no weapon was found in the site and the location is too remote to serve as a graveyard.
Bodies of Mount Everest Climbers.
Every mountain climber dreams to summit Mount Everest. Because it is the highest peak of our planet.
The 8,848-meter-high (29,029 ft.) peak is not only the highest in terms of height but it also highest in terms of climber mortality.
The harsh and unpredictable environment of the mountain claimed the lives of over 300 climbers, about 100 of whom remain on Everest.
If a climber dies above 21,000 feet (6,400 meters), it is almost impossible to bring their body to the ground. Each frozen body weighs over 300 pounds and climbers do not have spare energy to handle that weight.
That being said, now there is a natural graveyard of climbers on Everest.
The bodies of dead climbers are not buried. They are just lying there in the same position that they died in, creating one of the horrific scenes.
Those 100 bodies are just officially counted ones. People think the Everest may be holding more bodies than we know of.
For instance, according to a source, as the ice on Everest melts, a new human remains emerge from the ice.