Oldest Human Blood Found In Arrow Wound Of “Iceman”

    May 3, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Meet Otzi – the 45-year-old prehistoric man who was killed by an arrow some five millennia ago. Ever since mountain climbers found him sticking out of a glacier in the Austrian Alps back in 1991, scientists have been studying him, taking samples from all over his somewhat-preserved body.

According to the Center for Smart Interfaces at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany, scientists have already sequenced his DNA and determined his last meal via intestinal samples. Now, they are announcing another huge breakthrough – the discovery of red blood cells at wound sites on Otzi’s body.

The cells came from an arrow wound as well as a laceration on Otzi’s hand. This 5300-year-old blood would be a scientific first – the oldest samples of human blood ever analyzed.

“They really looked similar to modern-day blood samples,” Albert Zink told Reuters. Zink is the head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy in Bolzano, Italy. “So far, this is the clearest evidence of the oldest blood cells,” he said.

The way in which the scientists analyzed the prehistoric blood is the real breakthrough that could influence modern forensic science.

After the samples were taken from the arrow wound and hand, here’s how the process worked

Shape and size of the blood cells have been verified by an atomic force microscope. This nanotechnological equipment scans the surface of the tissue samples with a small tip. The deflections of the tip are measured with sensors and a 3-dimensional digital copy of the surface is created. As a result images of the typical donut shaped red blood cells were produced, just like they still look like these days.

To exclude other options like pollen or bacteria, a second method has been applied. Raman spectroscopy has been used to illuminate the tissue samples with a laser beam in order to identify the characteristic Raman spectra of haemoglobin.

The above image is an actual 3D scan of one of Otzi’s red blood cells. How amazing that blood from 5300 years ago could be preserved so well and so closely resemble the blood cells of you and me.

  • Brandon

    I’m amazed that the 5300 yr old man looks a lot like us. I thought he’d look more like a monkey or a fish. Makes you wonder about ole Darwin and what he was smoking :0)

    • Jessica


      You obviously have a lack of understanding about the evolutionary process. In the future, please refreain from making comments about things which you do not understand.

      • Jacob

        Jessica, I hope that someday while driving home from school or work, you get hit by a semi that catches fire and burns you alive while you are trapped in your seatbelt. What do you know about that Brandon?

        • Chris

          Jacob and Paris…you both have obviously missed the evolutionary process…it’s OK though, the world needs simple people.

      • Paris

        Jessica, I think ole Brandon should continue to believe the way he does, and Jacob, you are an IDIOT !!!!!

      • Sam

        That does seem pretty harsh Jessica. Certainly people who are ignorant of certain concepts ought to still be heard and appreciated. We can’t even be completely sure that Brandon wasn’t joking about. I think a more beneficial, yet time consuming, response would be to gently correct where Brandon is mistaken and then to educate him in the methodology and results of modern scientific theory.

      • Joe


    • Paris

      Brandon, Every once in a while, I see a post on the internet that really makes me wonder if the person who sent it, is in the 21st century. Apparently you are either a nice kid,that doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground, or a zelot that is a believer in everything the Bible says. Either way, you are laughable and need to be set straight. 5300 years is a mear second, in the history of human existance,that stretches back over 3 million years. Please, realize that “The Iceman” is but a person of the Iron Age, who was murdered or executed, for a unknown reason, in the cold of winter,and was FLASH frozen.
      If he doesn’t look like a monkey, that’s probably because any resemblences to “monkeys” would have been a few million years earlier. Ya know what, I’ll bet YOU look more like a monkey than Otzi. lol

      • ronniejoe

        Paris wether you are evolutionist or creationist there are many things that cannot be explained. As a christian I believe that the bible is holy and is inspired by God. If I’m wrong all I’ve lost is trying to live a life of love, peace and forgiveness but on the other hand if you are wrong hell awaits. Sorry but that is what the Holy Bible teaches. I pray you accept Chrit’s gift.

        • Chelsea

          Well put RonnieJoe!

        • Katie

          ronniejoe, as an Atheist, I live a life of love, peace, and forgiveness. I don’t need god in my life to make me a better person. I’m a better person because I don’t have god.

        • Shay

          Have you even read the Old Testament? Pretty vicious. Or how about all those Christians who went on their crusades and murdered millions? So much love there.

          • Dani

            Yeah Shay, now turn around and shout “Support our troops!”

        • Josh

          Hey, i’m sorry but I’m not really anything in the religion stand point but i’m not atheist either. I believe what I want to believe. One thing that has always bugged me about some Christians is that they try to shove Christianity down your throat. But Religion isn’t all about what you believe in, its also mainly has to do with geographic locations. If your are born in America then you are most likely some form of Christian. If you where born in India you most likely believe in some form of Hinduism. If you where born in Israel you are most likely Jewish. No one should say anything about another religion being wrong because how do you know? They could say the same thing to you with the same exact points. But all in all, you believe in what you believe in it’s as simple as that.

        • Ragnar

          Hel awaits us all, with one “L”.
          and she doesn’t rule over a lake of fire or some such middle eastern belief. it’s just not as fun as Valhalla.

          Our iron age friend the ‘Ice Man’ most likely would have felt this way. He was a pre-christian European.

          Of course if the ice man went down fighting then he got a first class ticket to Valhalla. );{D> Oooh Raaah !

        • Michael

          “You can’t win if you don’t play the game” …That’s basically what you just told Paris.

    • Tim

      Modern humans are over 200,000 years old. The earth, 4 BILLION. So 5300 years is nothing but a blink in the evolutionary process. I pity the people that rely on a book of fairy tales for their understanding of the universe.

      • Mark

        Hell yeah Tim. I’m sorry for all you Christians but honestly, religion was created as a means to explain the cycles of our planet through personification. Why do you think there are so many different forms, sects Etc.? Also for people in power to control the large burst of population when new technologies were introduced. On that note I think you “believers” should watch a little documentary called “The Zeitgeist” (Forgive me if i spelled that wrong) and maybe you’ll understand why we have things like religion.

      • Jules

        The current Mayan cycle that has everyone talking about the end of the world is 5300 years old… Meaning this guy *could* have been around when the Mayans were writing their calendar that people are freaking out about today. But yeah, the article is still pretty cool.

      • David J. DiPietro

        Your pity is appreciated. Thanks and God bless you.

    • Tim

      brandon wtf are you talking about?? obviously you have no idea how long it takes for physical changes to occur in evolution over time. fyi it takes many millions of years for this to happen, not a couple thousand.

    • Ragnar


      Your assumtion is reasonable if you don’t study these things for a living or as a hobby.

      If you would like to learn more about the human family, where it has been and how old it is check out these books by Bryan Sykes,
      “The Seven Daughters of Eve ISBN 0-393-02018-5
      “Saxons, Vikings & Celts:The Genetic Roots of Britain &Ireland”.

      Really cool stuff by an expert in human genetics.

      Best of luck to you. ):{D>

  • Jo

    Otzi looks quite a bit like the link of when man started walking upright(I KNEW my degree in animal behavior was useful); amazing what they discovered.

    • Paris

      Jo, Where in the HELL did you get a degree in animal behavior? The mummy was flash freeze-dried, from the elements. Any high school kid can figure that out!!!

  • Ran

    Hey you kids — let’s tone it down!

  • Sigmund

    i use to be an iceman, then i took an arrow to the knee

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/josh-wolford Josh Wolford

      There are a lot of vitriolic comments being thrown around, and you sir, have won

      • Vic L

        I agree about the comments. Sigmund hope your knee is better?

  • Kim

    And yet none of you can spell.

    • David J. DiPietro

      thank you

  • Lisa

    Sigh….the love and appreciation of our fellow human beings is overwhelming me…..

  • http://webpronews Patrick

    If he was alive today, he’d probably still be waiting in the ER.

    • Vic L

      Only if he has medical insurance.

  • shannon

    Whoa, these comments didn’t get out of control.

  • Jason Manning

    I too have thoughts that the bible was made up for other reasons, than what people follow today. You always see the religious channels and people praying, but rarely see any one against it or saying anything to denounce it.

  • Jim

    These comments are subdued comparatively, but vitriolic as Josh says. Anonymous comments allow you to be as rotten as one probably is in reality….cool article, though.

  • Vic L

    I think the kindergarten teacher is coming, so lay back down and take your naps. No fighting little ones. Forums and posting blurbs are for grups only!

  • jim

    It just goes to show you that even in death, NO ONE WILL LEAVE YOU ALONE.

    • Vic L


  • tracy

    Now that is amazing! I wonder if it is the break we need to cure many of todays diseases. I mean if its near the original blood then maybe it is near the purest there is. Who knows. I will definitely be following news on this subject.

  • Brann Williams

    The Bible speaks of the first man being created only 6000 years ago. Back in noahs day, the earth was full of violence. They finding him in the alps suggests that the flood swept him up and dropped him off. If man lived for 3 millions years, why are we not finding them?

  • http://www.webpronews.com Me ;)

    Poor old iceman :-). I wander if his knew that his discovered remains would have caused such controversy?

  • Mani

    Okay….is there now a cure for CANCER?

  • Leah

    Hehehe…he’s obviously a vampire that was slain by a werewolf. That would be the only explanation.

  • uk sucks

    Does Professor X know the Iceman is dead?????

    • Mo

      Lmao! Best comment yet. With this being said, appreciate the discovery and refrain from insulting people. Acknowledging stupidity makes you no better.

  • Anthony

    What I think is funny is that scientists have made a huge discovery, and in some twisted way it has lead to arguments that are uncalled for. whats the point people.

  • Magnatron

    Otzi provides more evidence that we were created rather than evolved. Whether you believe in God or ancient astronaut theory, the growing body of evidence supporting creationism is rapidly overcoming the notion of human evolution.

  • Sylvia

    5000 yo is very recent in geologic time… I think the problem here is the difference between faith (which we as Americans are bound to respect) and knowlege. If you take the scientific view, the iceman is flash frozen with a wealth of information of the way our ancesters were existing at that point in history. If religious, then he is just a few decades away from Adam. If religious, remember the tree of knowlege is the destruction of the garden of Eden. In either case,the iceman has much to teach us.

  • David J. DiPietro

    I thought this about a 5300 mummy! Ya’ll are goin’ on like teenagers on Facebook!