Over 5,000 years ago, a man walking in the Alps was murdered. We would have never known about it, if the murder victim hadn’t fallen into a ravine and became frozen in a glacier. Discovered by hikers in 1991, he became known as Ötzi the Iceman, the best-preserved mummy ever found. Ötzi’s curators actually contacted Detective Inspector Alexander Horn of the Munich Police to investigate his cause of death. It was the coldest case Horn had ever tackled.
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Every modern murder investigation relies heavily on forensic science, but in Ötzi’s case, the techniques have been particularly high tech, involving exotic specialties like archaeobotany and paleometallurgy.
From examining traces of pollen in his digestive tract, scientists were able to place the date of Ötzi’s death at sometime in late spring or early summer. In his last two days, they found, he consumed three distinct meals and walked from an elevation of about 6,500 feet, down to the valley floor and then up into the mountains again, where he was found at the crime site, 10,500 feet up.
From the forensic evidence, Horn and his team were about to piece together the story of how Ötzi was murdered in bizarrely intricate detail. You can read that story at the New York Times. Horn admits that there is little chance of ever identifying the perpetrator. -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Thilo PargCC BY-SA 3.0)