Thursday, August 4, 2011
Italian workers building an addition to a kindergarten have unearthed a well preserved female skeleton who might be relatively contemporaneous with Ötzi, the Iceman mummy discovered 20 years ago in a melting glacier in South Tyrol.
The "Lady of Introd" or "Ötzi’s girlfriend," as the skeleton was nicknamed in Italy, was found in the tiny Alpine village of Introd, in the Val d'Aosta, famous to be the preferred vacationing spot for both Pope John II and his successor Benedict XVI.
According to archaeologists and anthropologists, the woman has been lying on her right side, with her head facing west, for about 5,000 years.
The dating to the third millennium B.C. was based on the skeleton’s burial position and stratigraphy, said Vittorio Anglesio, mayor of Introd.
"She appears to have been buried without any grave goods. However, we are now going to extend the dig to better investigate the area," Anglesio told Discovery News.
Moved to a laboratory, the skeletal remains are now being analyzed in order to assess the diet, the age at death, possible diseases and causes of death.
According to Kristina Killgrove, a biological anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, further research into the woman's diet would be particularly interesting.
"Little direct evidence of human diet has been found from this time period. Ötzi's preservation, of course, provides unparalleled information about his diet, but it would be fascinating to see stable isotope analysis carried out on this skeleton, who lived around the same time and also died in the Alps," Killgrove told Discovery News.
She believes that the "Lady of Introd" likely tapped different food resources since several hundred miles separated her from Ötzi the Iceman.
"In particular, we still know little about what grains people ate at this time, so the Lady of Introd could provide direct evidence of a diet composed of wheat, barley, or millet," Killgrove said.
Lorenzi, Rossella. 2011. "Iceman's 'Girlfriend' Found". Discovery News. Posted: July 20, 2011. Available online: http://news.discovery.com/history/oetzi-girlfriend-skeleton-110720.html