Nova (1974–…): Season 43, Episode 7 - Iceman Reborn - full transcript

Murdered more than 5,000 years ago, Otzi the Iceman is the oldest human mummy on Earth. Now, newly discovered evidence sheds light not only on this mysterious ancient man, but on the dawn of civilization in Europe.

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He's the oldest human specimen
we have

that is so complete

So well preserved

He continues to generate
this body of information

He may well be

the most studied human being
in history

The Iceman

He was found in a glacier,

frozen in time for 5,000 years

An ancient murder mystery

Ready to go?



What can we learn from him?

What is his story?

We figured he was
probably Italian

Wrong

Eastern European?

North African?

Wrong, wrong, wrong

Where's this guy from?

Scientists search for answers
hidden in his genetic code

We're rewriting the
history of humankind

As an artist brings him
back to life

When they believe that it's
real, then I have done my job

Science and art join to share
the Iceman and his secrets

with the world



We have to turn this thing
from plastic to flesh

"Iceman Reborn,"
right now, on NOVA.

In a custom-built lab,
a team of doctors suits up

Strict precautions are taken

Okay

Because this is
a very unusual case

The patient has been dead
for over 5,000 years

This is Ötzi, the Iceman

one of the oldest and best
preserved intact human bodies

ever found

The story of Ötzi's discovery is
still one of the most astounding

in human history

1991... on a 10,000-foot glacier

near the border of Austria
and Italy,

two hikers come across the body
of a man face down in the ice

They have no idea the importance
of what they've stumbled upon

Perhaps it's a mountaineer,

or even a lost soldier
from World War I

But as they pull the remains
from the ice,

capturing the recovery on video,

certain clues point
to a different story...

A knife made of stone;

a shoe made of grass;

a quiver of arrows;

leather leggings;

a copper ax

Carbon dating later reveals
that the body

and the items found with it

have been preserved
in the mountain ice

for over 5,000 years

Ötzi becomes not only an
international sensation

but also a scientific treasure

He's the oldest human specimen
we have that is so complete,

so well preserved

With all the scientific
disciplines

that are intrigued by him,
that want answers,

he may well be the most studied
human being in history

Now, new technology is yielding
more clues,

revealing surprising secrets

about this mysterious
ancient man

and the world he lived in,

from the strange markings
that cover his body

to the DNA in his bones

Researchers are trying to use
his genetic code to uncover

his true origins,

to track down his relatives,
alive, even today,

and help solve long-standing
mysteries

about how people lived
at the end of the Stone Age

Ötzi provides a window into what
life looked like 5,000 years ago

in Europe

So it's kind of like finding
the Ark of the Covenant

How important is that?

Yeah, it's pretty important

The clues begin
with Ötzi himself

At the time of his death, he was
about 45 years old, 5'2" tall,

weighing about 110 pounds

New research deciphering Ötzi's
genetic code

reveals he had brown eyes, dark
hair, and had both Lyme disease

and a predisposition
to heart disease

But that's not what killed him
on the mountain

At first, it was thought that
the Iceman had frozen to death

in a storm and been buried
in the snow

But a radiologist reviewing his
x-rays spotted something strange

that had escaped
everyone else's notice:

an arrowhead lodged deep
in the Iceman's shoulder

The arrowhead was detected
in 2001

And then the question was did
the arrowhead kill him or not?

CT or CAT scans of the body

revealing Ötzi's internal
anatomy in amazing detail

provided more clues

We could reconstruct then the
area where the arrow entered

the body and disrupted a major
artery of the left arm

If you're losing so much blood,

after ten to 15 minutes
you are dead

From this, we knew that he was
killed by this arrow shot

Shot and left to die
on the mountain

The mystery was deepening

Who was Ötzi?

What did he do for a living?

Who were his people?

And why was he killed?

The answers will not
be easy to find

because Ötzi's condition
is so delicate

Ötzi has spent years
locked in a freezer

at the South Tyrol
Museum of Archaeology

His cell, kept at a chilly
19 degrees, is designed

to protect him from potentially
destructive microbes

No one enters
the sterile environment

except Ötzi's doctors

The Iceman is kept

under sterile condition
in this refrigeration cell

And that's why we have to take
care who's entering the cell,

because we want to avoid
that anybody brings in

any kind of contamination

Yeah, ready to go

Today an exception has been made
for an artist named Gary Staab

Gary has been charged
with a difficult mission...

To sculpt an exact replica
of the Iceman,

a copy that will be accessible
to researchers and to the public

who can't get close
to the real thing

We cannot allow everybody
entering the cell

who has maybe a certain research
question to inspect the mummy

We want to make a good copy
people can use to see,

to get very close, to get data
which cannot be done

with the original mummy,
it's always really a risk

Nail bed, pinky,
nine millimeters

Gary has limited time
to take in all the details

of this rare and unique
human body

I am soaking in every single
detail I can lay my eyes on

He must create the most accurate
replica possible:

Ötzi's twin

Right index, five millimeters

He evaluates Ötzi's skin tone
and texture

The keratin has fallen off
the nailbeds

His distorted face

That cartilage is so, so thin

His ravaged hip

Yes, you have a very big defect

of soft tissues and bone tissues

Because of the damage, this will
be very difficult to replicate

In the process of
getting every detail just right,

Gary will have to learn
all he can

about the Iceman and his times...

How he lived, died,
and became mummified

What is his story?

What can we learn from him,

and how can he enrich our
understanding of the past?

Okay?

Very good

Dr Eduard Egarter-Vigl calls
an end to Gary's visit

Any more thawing and the Iceman
could be in danger

of bacterial contamination

Absolutely amazing

That was the fastest 30 minutes
of my life

This very intimate moment
with the mummy

will be very helpful
in the final product

It will be so much better
because of that

With Ötzi safe
in his sterile crypt,

Gary will begin to bring
his body double to life

To start, the CT scans
that helped determine

Ötzi's cause of death will
provide a detailed blueprint

for the Iceman's twin

thanks to a remarkable
technology

3D printing

Ötzi will literally be printed
out in three dimensions

We use our software

to transform the CT images into
a 3D model that you can print

Special software
converts the data

into a stack of over 2,000
horizontal slices,

creating a blueprint
of Ötzi's body

This is then fed
into a computer,

which controls a gigantic
five-foot by 18-foot machine

known as "the Mammoth"

They have the ability to create
the entire print in one piece,

which is very rare

In this enormous vat,

350 gallons of liquid resin
the consistency of warm honey

will be transformed
into a life-size plastic model

of the Iceman

The computer guides lasers
around a thin layer

of liquid resin

We use a laser to trace out
cross sections of Ötzi

and under UV lights
the polymer starts to harden

Once it solidifies,
just a few seconds,

a very thin layer is positioned
on top of it

and the laser hardens it out
again

and this way the model
is built layer by layer

For nearly three days,
the lasers continue their work,

little by little, until
every small bump and hollow

on the surface of
the Iceman's body

is present and accounted for

This is very exciting

We're using the newest
technologies

to three-dimensionally print
the oldest wet mummy ever found

Finally, it's time to reveal
the 3D print

Oh my gosh, this is fantastic

Transformed from liquid to solid

The face details are beautiful

That is absolutely fantastic

Ötzi's body has been
reconstructed

as one extremely detailed
hollow piece of plastic

Beautifully translucent
but it still captures

all the forms and the shapes

As the model emerges,
the Iceman is reborn

Ötzi coming out of this resin
was kind of overwhelming

Because slowly his face
was revealed,

his feet were revealed,
his ribcage

And it was
super exciting to know

that that
three-dimensional print

was at such a high resolution,

I really have something
to work with

It is on this plastic Ötzi
that Gary will sculpt

the life-like version

It's a treat to see it
in one color

because there's nothing
distracting your eye

I'm also looking at anatomical
features that correspond

to the structures that I saw
in the freezer

While Gary reviews Ötzi's
plastic form,

scientists continue
to hunt down clues

about the flesh-and-blood man

For Albert Zink, who oversees
research on the mummy,

Ötzi's CT scans are
especially valuable

because a look at Ötzi's muscles
and joints can tell us a lot

about his life and lifestyle,

perhaps even
how he made a living

The two main ways of life 5,300
years ago were farming

and hunting and gathering

You can reconstruct the muscles,
the muscle structure,

how the muscles are attached
at the bones

We just could extract
all this from the CT scans

Zink notices Ötzi
did not show signs of strain

in his upper body muscles
and joints

That might rule out farming

In his upper part,
in his shoulders,

in the arms and hands,
there is almost nothing,

and for a man which was
about 40 to 50 years old

in this time period,
we would expect some changes

if he had worked with his hands

The scans do indicate severe
damage in the muscles and joints

of his legs and back,

which suggests he was
a constant traveler

Also, the mummy's knee and hip
joints are missing

a lot of their cartilage...

A painful condition
called arthrosis,

a kind of arthritis
caused by wear and tear

The physical facts of the Iceman

were that he had
lower back problems

The same is true for the knee

We know he had some arthrosis
of the knee joints,

and this caused pain
from time to time

Ötzi died in the mountains

and he likely spent much
of his life there, too

We know from his
physical appearance

that he was walking a lot,
that he maybe was carrying

some heavy things

So maybe he was
trading something

It could be that he was
really traveling a lot

But we cannot really say what
was his role in society

Searching for even more evidence
about this enigmatic man,

scientists perform
a kind of autopsy on Ötzi

They remove specimens
from inside

his most culturally
sensitive organ

This is stomach here

His stomach

And they are able to extract
Ötzi's last meal,

eaten only hours
before his death

Some of the contents point
to Ötzi being a hunter

So much material
from the stomach now

He had wild ibex meat
in his stomach,

so he was clearly hunting
for part of his sustenance

He also had einkorn wheat

Einkorn wheat has to come
from farming

It's this classical
kind of interesting mystery

Ötzi's sending us mixed messages
about how he's living his life

In addition to food, researchers
also found

different kinds of pollen
in the Iceman's stomach

This revealed that Ötzi
had been traveling

up and down the mountain within
the last 48 hours of his life

Ötzi seems to have been
a man on the move

whose adventures
came to a violent end

More than 5,000 years later,

Ötzi's twin is
on a journey of its own

across the Atlantic Ocean, all
the way to Kearney, Missouri,

in the American heartland

Here, Gary Staab brings
ancient fossils back to life

He is a master model maker,

and over the years he has been
commissioned to build replicas

of dozens of extinct creatures
for museums around the world

He has fashioned
prehistoric fish,

sculpted life-size dinosaurs,
and crafted giant crocodiles

I've spent entirely
way too much time

on the inside of large animals

From the miniature
to the monstrous,

whether it swims,
crawls, or flies,

Gary's job is to resurrect
the long dead

So the fascinating fact is

that 99% of all life
that has ever existed

on earth is extinct

So, I follow floods

I follow volcanic eruptions,
mass death events

I'm a bit of
an ambulance chaser,

but I'm just a little bit late

Maybe a few thousand years late

In some cases,
50 or 60 million years late

Gary's investigations... all to
better understand his subjects

and the worlds they lived in...

Have taken him around the globe,

from exotic excavation sites
to ancient fossil fields

Most of the time my job is
to sculpt animals for museums

And we only have their bones

We only have fossils

So I have to take something
that no one is exactly sure

what it looked like, and
try and breathe life into it

This is a neat situation;

we know exactly what Iceman
looks like

So my job is to replicate him
exactly as he looks right now

What's in here?

Now Gary faces one
of the biggest challenges

of his career:

creating the exact replica
of Ötzi the Iceman

It's like Neolithic Christmas

The plastic model generated
by the 3D printer

has just arrived in his studio

It was an amazing feeling
to finally lift him

out of the crate and take him
onto the table

By the time we're finished,
we will work thousand of hours

3D printing technology has
provided the artist

with a good head start...

A model with physical dimensions
exact to the millimeter

It's a perfect match
to the shape of the Iceman,

but the surface of the model
is not detailed enough

to create a believable replica

We've got a lot of work
ahead of us

Gary and his team will need
to sculpt Ötzi

the old-fashioned way...
All by hand

There is not one centimeter

of this thing
that isn't complicated

It's going to be very hard

It will be a four-part process

Sculpting, molding, painting,

and crafting
minute surface details

will take Gary and his team
months to complete

The challenges are many

We have not only the elements
of the skin texture,

we have the detail of the face

We have the detail of the hands

And we have to figure out
how to replicate the hips

The hip is going to be
very challenging to do

You guys start on this end
and work your way up

and I'll start on the head
and then I'll meet you

somewhere in the middle, I hope

The first step:
darken the mummy's body

to better reveal the exact
contours of the 3D print

We can't actually read the
surface when it's translucent

So we take a very dark
and penetrating stain

and we paint it over the top
of the three-dimensional print

It allows us to see the surface
in a much better way

So we can read those shapes,
and then actually make judgments

on how we're going to sculpt the
surface based on what we see

There are thousands
of considerations...

Not hundreds, thousands
of considerations,

that have to be taken
into account for

while you are doing this

Next, Gary replicates
Ötzi's skin

with especially malleable
modeling clay

As the thin clay bonds
to the resin,

Gary and his team sculpt
every detail

of the mummy's surface texture,
inch by inch

Getting Ötzi's skin just right

is one of the main challenges
for Gary and his crew

We have to turn this thing
from plastic to flesh

Human skin is actually an
organ... the largest we have

On average, it takes about 20
square feet of skin

to cover a human body

It will take hundreds of hours

to replicate Ötzi's complex
mummified surface

Pick out some of these
that might work well

and then run some samples

Gary relies on texture pads

to press patterns
into Ötzi's clay skin

I have hundreds of textures
in a box

I pulled them out to see
which ones might match

These flexible
rubber patches create

varied imprints on the wet clay

Human skin has three layers

The epidermis, or outer layer,

acts as a waterproof wrapping
and a guard against infection

It also determines
our skin color

The next layer, the dermis,

is made up of tough
connective tissue,

along with nerve endings,

hair follicles, and sweat glands

Finally, the deep hypodermis

consists of subcutaneous fat
and more connective tissue

Gary and his team are sculpting

the second layer
of Ötzi's skin... the dermis

Most of the outer layer was lost
to the mountain

If you look at the skin
of this mummy,

you have to realize that

this body has been lying in ice
for years

The ice isn't always stable,

so in summer,
the ice melts into water

If it's in water for too long,

the upper layer of the skin,
the epidermis, separates

and you lose it

The layers underneath,

the dermis and the subcutaneous
layer, remain preserved

A lot of hair, fingernails,
and toenails have been lost

Enough of the Iceman's skin,

along with soft tissue
and muscle,

has been preserved
to make Ötzi a true mummy

For Gary, Ötzi is not the first
mummy he has replicated,

but certainly one
of the most unique

Mummies can be created naturally
or artificially

Artificial mummies,
like those from ancient Egypt,

were made by intentionally
blocking the decaying process

The important thing
during mummification

is that it happens immediately

So the natural process is
the degradation

or the decomposition of a body,

so it has to be stopped
immediately

This was the case for one of
the most famous mummies of all:

the Egyptian pharaoh
King Tutankhamun

He was embalmed and then coated
in a black resin-like liquid

that encased
and preserved his skin

But in natural mummies
like Ötzi,

or those discovered
on mountaintops in the Andes,

or bog bodies
found buried in peat,

the environment alone
preserves the body

The Iceman is a natural mummy

He was naturally captured
in the ice

And he's also a humid mummy,

so he still contains
some water in his tissue

that makes him also
so difficult to preserve

It is luck that Ötzi
was preserved at all

He was nearly lost forever

Fortunately, his body lay
in a small trench,

protected by large rocks
on two sides

This trench eventually filled in
with ten feet of snow and ice,

preventing the Iceman
from being swept

into the deadly frozen current
that flowed around it

This makes him also quite unique

He's one of a few ice mummies
that exist at all,

and he's the only natural
ice mummy we have

in the Alpine region

The ice preserved Ötzi,

but the great weight
of the glacier

eventually flattened his body,

creating the ultra-lean frame
that Gary is now duplicating

After weeks of work,

the replica is covered
in a layer of white clay

that matches the texture
of Ötzi's body

But in order for Gary
to finish the face,

he must remove Ötzi's head

It's much easier to sculpt
away from the body

So you have to bring it
to where you can focus,

get exactly in a zone
where physically,

you can work on it
for that length of time

and not get ultra-fatigued

Ötzi's face presents
a particular challenge

This will be the thing
that everyone looks at

They'll engage it in the face,
in the eyes,

and that's where they will spend
most of their time

This is where he will become
a person to them

He has a really
wild-looking face

It's a bit grotesque
in some ways

His lip is actually
pushed up here

because he was lying face down
on a rock,

and that pressure on his face
and over his nose

The nose is so difficult
to tease out the details

of what's actually
happening there...

You know,
what am I actually seeing,

what's doing what...
So that it can be correct

It's entirely possible

I will know his face
better than his mother did

After months of sculpting,
molding,

and crafting
the exact details of the Iceman,

Gary has reached the most
visible stage in his process

I'm at a very exciting point

The paint

Finally, I can actually
put color on

Painting is a very fun part
of this process,

and it's very fun to see this
come to life through color

From the rims of his eyes
to the tips of his toes,

Gary must match every inch of
Ötzi's skin to the original

including the mummy's
mysterious markings

Many sets of parallel lines

and two crosses

These are Ötzi's tattoos

The Iceman is the oldest
tattooed mummy ever discovered

It's complicated
because there's so many

Yes, he's covered
with a lot of tattoos

Researcher Marco Samadelli has
been one of Ötzi's caretakers

for nearly 20 years

How did you catalogue
each one of these?

Recently, Marco set out

to inventory every tattoo
on Ötzi's skin

We discovered exactly 61 tattoos

That's a lot of ink

It's difficult
to see the tattoos

on a 5,000-year-old mummy

Marco's research
revealed something

no one had ever seen before,

thanks to a unique camera
sensitive to invisible light

Multispectral imaging
is a technique used

to see what the eye can't see

It's with this we discovered
every single detail,

even under the surface
of the mummy's skin

The exact number and location
of all the tattoos

was a mystery until now

We discovered a tattoo
that had never been seen before:

four parallel lines
on the right side of his chest

We were able to locate
all his tattoos

and obtain a complete mapping

61 tattoos

arranged in 19 groups
across his body

Archaeologist Aaron Deter-Wolf

studies the use of tattoos
in ancient cultures

Tattooing has been practiced

throughout a huge portion
of human history

going back at least 16,000
or 18,000 years before present

During that time period,

people have been tattooed for
all sorts of different reasons

depending on their culture and
the region in which they lived

Aaron has come to Gary's studio
to demonstrate how and why

he believes Ötzi's tattoos
may have been made

We're going to take
a piece of pigskin,

which is a proxy for human skin,

and we're going to use
these reproduction tools

to tattoo that skin
in the same patterns

that are on Ötzi's body

Aaron thinks Ötzi's tattoos
were most likely created

with a technique that was
widespread in the ancient world:

by using a sharp needle,
probably made from bone,

to puncture the skin
and push ink,

made from charcoal,
into the tiny shallow wounds

What you want to do is just
dip the tip of the tool,

and then you're just going
to go in very, very shallowly

Microscopic and chemical
analysis reveals that

the dark lines are made
primarily of carbon,

along with bits of silica

A composition

most likely collected
around the edge of a campfire

So what kind of depth?

Less than a millimeter

You can feel the skin give

Just a little tiny pop

That's moving through
that epidermis, yep

I thought it would be
a little bit easier,

but it takes hundreds
and hundreds of punctures

to actually get a solid line

I am using the exact same
stabbing technique

with a brush on the model

Looking at how difficult it was

to create those tattoos
on pigskin,

imagine the pain that Ötzi
had to go through

when he had his tattoos made

I wouldn't get a tattoo that way

So why would Ötzi endure

this painful process

not just once,
but dozens of times?

We generally agree
that Ötzi's tattoos

don't seem on the whole
to be decorative or symbolic

For Aaron and other experts,

a key clue to understanding
the purpose of the tattoos

could be where
they've been placed

A number of Ötzi's tattoos
seemed to correspond

to areas where he suffered
from ailments or injuries

He had arthritis
in his lower back,

and there are tattoos
on his lower lumbar area

He had arthritis
in his right knee;

there are tattoos
on the back of his right knee

He had arthritis in his ankles;
there are a number of tattoos

around both his right
and left ankles

Most recently,
this new set of tattoos

is located
on his lower right abdomen

Among the many ailments
that he suffered from

was gallstones and whipworms
in his colon,

and this is a place that is
very close to those areas

and could potentially
have been used

to treat the pains
he was experiencing

Tattooing the skin
to alleviate pain

has been the practice
of many cultures

There are therapeutic
tattoo traditions

that have been documented
all across the world:

in India,

in Southeast Asia,

in North America,
in the American Arctic

Ötzi's tattoos are
the earliest direct evidence

of this ancient tradition

But the tattoos
may not have been

the only medicinal treatment
Ötzi relied on

In the woods
of Upstate New York,

archaeologist Patrick Hunt
is tracking down wild mushrooms

With the help of David Work,
an expert in fungi,

they're hunting
for two varieties...

The same ones that Ötzi carried
with him 5,300 years ago

This is very much like
the forests

that Ötzi would have known
in the Tyrol,

where you've got mixed
deciduous forests

Wow, that's a beautiful example

I can probably roll this over

Maybe not

If you're carrying
two different mushrooms,

you must have a pretty good idea

they address different functions

One mushroom,
known as tinder fungus,

is often used to start fires

When dried, it ignites easily
and burns for a long time

The other kind of fungus, which
Ötzi carried on leather straps,

is called birch polypore

I'm gonna harvest this one

Most believe Ötzi was carrying

this particular mushroom
for another reason

This white section here

Its antiseptic power

Take this mushroom,

peel off the spore layers,

and you can put that
directly on a wound

It's antibacterial,
it's antiviral

Here, I have a cut there

We'll put that there

And you can actually
tie it around

with a piece of grass

Band-Aid

You don't need bacterial agents

because it's got it
in the mushroom

It's already there

Pretty cool

In addition
to the topical treatment,

Ötzi may have ingested
the mushroom

as a kind of Stone Age
pain killer

The peculiar thing is,
it has the exact properties

that act as remedies

to what Ötzi had wrong with him

It's been used in modern periods

for some of these
same functions,

but Ötzi is the oldest case
on the record

for anybody knowing this

We thought that this was
a relatively modern discovery

Obviously, it's been around
for a long time

As Ötzi continues to challenge
scientists and historians

to revise their picture
of the past,

Gary Staab is facing
his own challenge

in the reconstruction
of the mummy's body

Gary knew it would be a problem

ever since his day
in the freezer:

the Iceman's damaged hip,

perhaps mauled by an animal
scavenger after Ötzi's death

It's clear that the animals

go to this part of the body

Scavenging

Because it's a big attraction
for the animals

The hip is very,
very complicated

In fact,
it's almost as complicated

as making the entire mummy
on its own

While Gary's studio team makes
hundreds of simulated tendons

from natural fibers that are
frayed and dipped in paraffin,

Gary builds Ötzi's
ravaged backside

Because included
in the complexity of this,

there's dried muscle
overlaid by tendons,

then you have frayed tendons
up against bone,

the bone itself,

the cancellous bone
or the bone marrow

inside of the bone
that's fractured and torn apart,

and then you have
the soft tissues

that overlay the bone
on this side,

you've got lower bowel intestine
that's exposed and broken

with bowel stomach contents
inside of it,

and then you have
fat deposition in here

So just this section alone has
that many different finishes

that have to be replicated,
so this is by far

the most complicated project
I've ever worked on

It will take weeks to sculpt
the Iceman's injured hip

Meanwhile, scientists
continue to search

for Ötzi's true identity,

investigating perhaps the most
revealing evidence available:

Iceman's genetic code

Genetics is giving us insights

that we cannot get
through any other means

The genetic blueprint of every
living thing is written in DNA

It's made of four chemicals,

abbreviated as A, C, G, and T

These four letters,
in a twisting double helix,

are arranged into 23 pairs
of chromosomes within each cell

This is our biological code

containing all the information
to build and run our bodies

Ötzi was one of the first
ancient Europeans

to have his entire code,
or genome, analyzed

It provided detailed clues
to his appearance and health

If you look at a particular gene
on chromosome 15,

it's the gene that most likely
determines eye color

If you see a pair of Gs
at this position,

that likely means that
the person has blue eyes

Whereas in the case of Ötzi,

we see an A from both parents,

and so that likely means that

he had dark-colored eyes

On another chromosome,
number 12,

two Ts indicate that his hair
was also dark

Other chromosomes reveal
new details

Ötzi had blood type O

He even had a predisposition
for arteriosclerosis...

Heart disease,

often assumed to be associated
with our modern lifestyle

The team also found
DNA fragments

from the microbe that causes
Lyme disease,

making Ötzi
the earliest known case

But what about his origins?

Who were Ötzi's ancestors?

The very cool thing about DNA

is that changes in DNA
literally make us who we are

The material that we inherit
from our mom and our dad

links us to all
of our ancestors,

and by comparing DNA across
individuals in populations,

we can get a very rich picture
of our ancestry:

who are we related to,
where did they come from?

Finding answers
is especially important

because Ötzi dates
to around the time

when prehistoric Europe
was undergoing major changes,

as the ancient
hunter-gatherer lifestyle

was gradually displaced
by farming

Ötzi comes

from an incredibly important
period in European history,

where we go from hunter-
gatherers living in Europe

to the widespread adoption
of farming

Because it's a transitional
time period in which Ötzi lives,

there are huge life ways
that converge,

whether people
are hunter-gatherers

or whether they're early farmers

He's in transition

His culture's in transition

45,000 years ago, modern humans
first began arriving in Europe

They were hunter-gatherers,

foraging plants
and hunting wild game

Then, about 7,000 years ago,
everything began to change

People in Europe began
to cultivate crops for food

And by about 5,000 years ago,
the hunter-gatherer culture

had almost completely
disappeared from the continent

It is one of the most
revolutionary transformations

in human history

Where does Ötzi fit
into this changing landscape?

Did he come from a group
of ancient hunter-gatherers

who still lived in pockets
throughout Europe?

Or were his people farmers

living a more settled life
in the foothills of the Alps?

Scientists turn to Ötzi's
pre-historic artifacts

for more insight

When you excavate

or find someone who died
5,000 years ago,

usually, all you have left
are the bones

What is so fantastic
about Ötzi is that

because he was found
in a glacier,

because he was frozen in time
for 5,000-plus years,

everything survives:
his clothes, his tools

Among the items recovered
from the glacier were a fur hat,

patchwork leggings
made of leather,

deerskin shoes stuffed with hay,

a six-foot longbow,

a quiver that held
over a dozen arrows

If you want an arrow shaft,

you want the woods that
he chose, cornel and viburnum

They grow very straight,

they're easily harvested,
they're fairly prolific

His expertly made weapons

seem well suited for a man
who hunted for his meals

But other objects paint
a different picture

Ötzi's finely crafted copper ax,

one of the oldest metal tools
ever found in Europe,

points to a more advanced
society...

One based on farming

Could the Iceman's DNA
help solve the mystery

and determine
whether Ötzi's people

were hunter-gatherers
or farmers?

To find out, researchers focus
on mutations in the DNA,

random mistakes that can occur

when the billions of chemicals
that make up our genetic code...

All those As, Ts, Gs, and Cs...
Get copied

The human genome is three
billion base pairs long

Every once in a while,
you get a mutation,

and that mutation
sometimes ends up spreading

These mutations help create
specific patterns

of genetic variation in our DNA
inherited from our parents

The closer two people
are related,

the more of these patterns
they'll have in common

So whose DNA
does Ötzi match best:

the hunter-gatherers
or the farmers?

The only way to get at that was
to have other ancient samples

from known farmers
and known hunter-gatherers

from across Europe
across different points in time

They found the sample DNA

in the bones of dozens
of ancient people

excavated from archaeological
sites all over Europe

Some samples go back
45,000 years,

when hunting was
the only way of life

Other samples were from
7,000-year-old farming sites

And the result?

Ötzi's DNA is a close match
to that of ancient farmers,

not hunter-gatherers

It became pretty clear

that all of the individuals

that we had labeled
archaeologically as farmers

were closest to Ötzi

Ötzi's DNA reveals that
he was descended from farmers

who were in Europe nearly
2,000 years before he was born

What's more,

the same DNA patterns show up
in even older bones found

in some of the earliest known
farming sites in the world,

in what is today Turkey

This suggests that farmers
migrated to Europe from Turkey,

filling much of the continent

Eventually, they pushed aside
most of the hunter-gatherers

and their DNA

So where is Ötzi's DNA now?

Could he have distant relatives
alive even today?

Comparing his genome

to modern DNA samples
from all over Europe

would provide the answer

Who Ötzi really was genetically
surprised us

When we started analyzing Ötzi,

we figured,
"Ah, he was probably Italian"

Wrong... didn't cluster
with the Italians

Maybe he's Austrian?

Wrong... he didn't cluster
with the Austrians

Eastern European?

Wrong

North African?

Wrong, wrong, wrong

So where's this guy from?

And it turned out,

much to our surprise, that
his closest living relatives

were on the island of Sardinia

Totally unexpected

Does this mean that Ötzi
was Sardinian?

Not necessarily

Most likely, 5,300 years ago,
when the Iceman was born,

most people in Europe,
including Sardinians,

carried similar patterns
in their DNA

from the early farmer immigrants

But over the last 5,000 years,

Europe has seen wave after wave
of new immigrants,

adding new patterns of DNA
to the mix

Except on the isolated island
of Sardinia

There, ever since
the early farmers arrived,

the inhabitants
and their DNA pattern

have stayed relatively stable

This wave of farmers
that swept through Europe

made it to Sardinia
and stayed there

as a genetic snapshot

of what that wave of immigration
looked like

This makes today's Sardinians
Ötzi's closest living relatives

Over the past five months,

here at Gary's studio
in Missouri,

the Iceman has undergone
a complicated transformation

If they look at this
and they believe that it's real,

then I've done my job,

and we want only Ötzi
to be the final product

It's just about Ötzi

Before the model is finished,

its accuracy will be put
to the ultimate test

So good to see you

When Albert Zink,
who oversees the institute

for mummies
and the Iceman in Italy,

comes to examine Gary's work

I'm absolutely petrified
that he's here to see this

because he is the person

who is the most familiar
with the mummy

My goal is to have him
for one second be fooled

that maybe he's actually
looking at Ötzi

I have to tell you something,
it's really good

It's a really good work

I'm really very impressed

It's really amazing

That's good

Wow, wow

Some moments, I felt that

the mummy's outside of his
freezer, it's too dangerous

But then I realized
it's the replica

You managed to give him
this kind of expression

that you still can feel somewhat
that this was a human being,

somebody who lived very long ago

It's really a masterpiece

This is great for scholars
because with this replica,

you can really explore
in much more detail

In combination with all
the other data we have,

I think this will bring us also
a step forward in our research

With Albert Zink's approval,
the time has come for Gary

to share the replica
with the world

All right

He's brought Ötzi to New York's
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,

one of the world's foremost
genetic research institutes

For Gary, it's like
dropping a child off

at the first day of school

I'm a little bit nervous

It's been a really long road,

and it's a lot of work
culminating with this day

For many years, the director
of Cold Spring Harbor

was James Watson, co-discoverer
of DNA's double helix

It's remarkable

It was very exciting to get DNA

from 5,000 years ago

Ötzi could never have known
that how he lived and died

would intrigue and inspire
future generations

It looks like
he's looking at you

Like these students,

some of whom have been
studying him for years

Ötzi is a great example

of how DNA can help us
learn about the past

He's awesome,
coolest dead guy in the world

What's incredible
about the Ötzi story is

that as technology's
gotten better and better,

it's the gift
that keeps on giving

We can keep going back
to the sample,

and it yields new mysteries
and new insights

into both human history
and into Ötzi himself

Ötzi was a man on the move

until an arrow ended his journey
through life

But his death on the mountain
would ultimately take him

much farther than
he could ever have imagined,

and make him one of the most
famous and fascinating humans

who ever walked the earth