Legends of the Industry

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Iceman Ötzi rocks the bear-fur hat and goat-leather coat look


By Natasha Khaleeq
Ötzi the iceman, preserved in ice in the Copper Age, is yielding his prehistoric fashion secrets, and anti-fur groups aren’t going to be happy. It seems people at the time made their clothes from a wide variety of animals – some domestic and some wild.

His 5300-year-old body was discovered in 1991 by mountaineers in the Alps, some 100 kilometres north-east of Italy’s fashion capital, Milan. Now, his clothes are revealing what was trendy at the time: bear fur for hats, goat and sheep for coats, and cattle leather for shoelaces.

In fact, the clothes come from at least five different species – cattle, sheep, goats, brown bears and roe deer – according to an analysis by Niall O’Sullivan of University College Dublin, Ireland, and his colleagues.

The iceman’s body is so well preserved it provides a great window into life at this time. “It’s a unique find of lots of information,” says O’Sullivan.


DNA of clothes


The team sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of nine fragments of leather from the iceman’s clothes and quiver. This allowed the group to identify the species of origin for each fragment.

The quiver was made from roe deer and the hat was made from brown bear. This means Ötzi’s people might have hunted and trapped wild animals, as well as living their agro-pastoralist lifestyle.

An alternative is that they acquired the wild animal parts by trading with other groups of people.

Ötzi was discovered on the Similaun mountain on the Austrian-Italian border “It’s hard to say if these clothes were hunted and made by himself or if those were traded products,” says Frank Maixner of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano, a member of the team. “Since the iceman had some tools it is quite likely that he hunted [the animals] and repaired [the clothes] by himself.”

And the coat was stitched together haphazardly from a combination of at least four hides from two species: goats and sheep. The leggings were made of goat leather, and the loincloth of sheep.

All this supports the idea that Copper Age people looked for specific attributes in their materials when making clothing.

The fur these people chose is likely to have been dependent on what was around them and what they needed. There is likely to be regional variation and Ötzi provides a window into what was in vogue in the Alps at the time.

“Applying forensic techniques and scientific methods can help to solve anthropological mysteries of the past. By identifying where people acquired their resources, we can tell a lot about their lifestyle and behaviour,” says Eric Bartelink, at California State University, Chico. “Figuring out that clothing is made from specific animals identifies how humans utilised resources from the landscape in order to adapt to different environments,” he says.


Who was Ötzi

Ötzi was male, around 45 years old and around 1.6 metres (5' 3") tall - about average for a Neolithic human. He was slim and probably weighed about 50 kilograms.

His hair was dark and wavy, and at least shoulder length. His eyeballs, though dessicated remained in the sockets, allowing scientists to determine that his eyes were blue.

He had a gap between his two incisor teeth, known as a diastema. He also had no wisdom teeth.

Source: NewScientists


Fur Industry News Worldwide
by RB Media Group
Posted: August 21, 2016