-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- The oldest known human
blood has been found in the body of the 5,000-year-old Otzi, the
"iceman mummy" that was discovered in a glacier in the Alps in
Previous attempts to find blood cells in Otzi's aorta were
unsuccessful, but this latest effort located blood cells in an
arrow wound on his back. It is believed that this wound caused his
There also is new evidence suggesting that Otzi did not die
immediately after being hit by the arrow, according to the
researchers at the European Academy of Bozen-Bolzano.
"Up to now, there had been uncertainty about how long blood could survive, let alone what human blood cells from the Chalcolithic period -- the Copper Stone Age -- might look like," Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the academy, said in an academy news release.
The red blood cells found in Otzi's arrow wound have the classic
"donut shape" that is seen in healthy people today. The wound also
contained fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting.
"Because fibrin is present in fresh wounds and then degrades, the theory that Otzi died straight after he had been injured by the arrow, as had once been suggested, and not some days after can no longer be upheld," Zink said.
The study was published in the
Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
The South Tyrol Museum of Archeology has more about
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