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The Iceman Speaks

Friday, November 22, 2013 - 04:00 PM


If you listened to our short, An Ice-Cold Case, you know that Ötzi is the subject of much obsession. Stefan Merrill Block, a novelist and friend of our show, turned his obsession into a fictional story from the Iceman's perspective -- as if he were to wake up and speak to us today. If you'd prefer to read the story, just click the "Transcript" button under the audio above.

Check out Stefan Merrill Block's novels:

The Story of Forgetting

The Storm at the Door


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Comments [5]

I think Will, above, has the right idea, based on what was presented, and what can be surmised. We know it was a long winter, with the pollen in Otzi's stomach being from a June bloom, yet, shortly after he died, he was covered in snow, then ice.

We also know he was from the far side of the mountain because of the minerals found in his bones that aren't found on this side of the mountain. From that, we can surmise that there wasn't much contact between the tribes from the two sides of the mountain. If there were, he'd have traces of the minerals found in water from both sides of the mountain.

With it being a long, late, winter, food must have been running low. Otsi, being a strong hunter, left his village to climb the mountain to find food for himself and his people. When he is found, there is no food in his pouch. The hunting must have been poor, and he is down to his last two arrows. He has more shafts, but not enough flint to craft the arrows. He has no food. He has to eat. He has to find food. Time is running out. There is only one place he knows there might be food, and that is down in the valley on the other side of the mountain. Maybe that's the lee side of the mountain and they've had an easier winter and warmer spring. Maybe their animals are out in the fields. He has to try to find food there.

He climbs down the mountain into the others' valley. He sees smoke from a fire, and sees a small group of people out, and something cooking on a spit over a fire. A meal is being made and others are about to come for food.

He is weak, but this is his only chance. He quietly comes down the trail, moving from rock to rock, hiding from whomever, assessing the situation, his chances, and timing. There's not much time left because the others will be coming soon. He has to make his move.

He is close to the fire now, its warmth almost felt as he shivers from cold and hunger and exhaustion. He sees the woman turn away for just a minute, and he starts quietly, but quickly, moving silently toward the fire and the food. He grabs the spit and a loaf next to it, and turns to run away.

It's too late, and he's been seen and is attacked with a knife by one of the men. First, he is cut severely on the arm and he falls. The man is about to stab him and he grabs the blade with his hand. He has taken out his own knife now, and he stabs the man back, and the man falls. Otsi grabs the spit and the loaf and runs into the woods, heading back up the mountain, hoping to get away and hide from these people before they can catch him.

He's bleeding while he runs, but he still has amazing strength, having lived and hunted on these mountains all his life. He's not as fast as he once was. He has found some bog moss and dabs that onto some of the wounds, and stuffs some into another wound. It slows the bleeding, but not by much. Meanwhile, he is eating on the run. He has run for hours, he is near the crest, he's exhausted,hoping...

Oct. 30 2015 01:23 AM
Tom from Syracuse, NY

I must admit, I was expecting an account of Otzi's last days; not his experiences after his rediscovery. Oh, and @Will, in the narrative I wove in my mind, that was exactly what happened! I was considering writing a short story myself. If only I had talent as a writer.

Dec. 13 2013 12:54 PM
Jenn from Marietta, GA

This is was super powerful and well done. Thanks, Radiolab!

Dec. 09 2013 10:34 AM

Listening to program about the universe creating us to observe it. Think i
remember correctly a piece by LEWIS THOMAS about RNA doing this/creating us
for it's purposes. If the universe is seeking qualified observers, robots
seem the observer perfected. hm?

Dec. 05 2013 10:48 PM

Does anyone think Otzi was a thief that stole a goat and that is why he was killed?

Dec. 01 2013 01:22 AM

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