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He's been dead for more than 5,000 years and poked, prodded, and probed by scientists for the last 20. Now, a rare and dangerous procedure leads to some startlingly fresh clues.Yet ítzi the Iceman, the famous mummified corpse pulled from a glacier in the Italian Alps, continues to keep many secrets. A piece of bone, a copper ax and a last meal surprise the experts, as they come closer to understanding our ancient past and to solving the Iceman Murder Mystery, right now on this NOVA-National Geographic Special.He's a messenger from the past, bearing secrets of how humans lived nearly a thousand years before the pyramids. September, 1991: Two hikers climbing in the Italian Alps wander off the trail..stumble across a gruesome sight: the head and shoulders of a man, emerging from the ice. Its skin and flesh appear to have been freeze-dried. The mountain air and ice had transformed this corpse into a mummy.At first, the pathologist responding to the scene assumes it's simply the remains of an unfortunate hiker, one of many lost to the Alps over the years. As the recovery continues, some unusual items begin popping up: bits of leather and hand-made rope and a knife with a flint blade. Initial analysis of his gear suggests he was thousands of years old. The press dubs him the "Iceman," or "ítzi," after the ítztal Mountains where he died.Now, doctors in charge of the body are hoping to force a break in the ancient case by conducting a rare and dangerous procedure. Scientists flock to Bolzano to get their hands and instruments on the 5,000-year-old corpse.
Why would he have been carrying these things with him at the time of his death?One risk is that scientists who enter the room bring their bacteria and germs with them.Another risk is that we have no way of knowing if there are still living organisms in the mummy itself, and if these would be activated in the defrosting.A leather pouch was possibly tied around his waist like a fanny pack.Chunks of tree fungus, thought to have medicinal powers, served as first aid kit.