Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Iceman cometh amid debate over how he went

For 10 years Angelika Fleckinger has had an intimate relationship with a most unusual man.

Her partner? Otzi - the world famous Iceman whose mummified body was found in an alpine glacier on the border of Italy and Austria in 1991.

Fleckinger is the director of the Italian museum built in 1998 to house Otzi, who is 2000 years older than Tutankhamen. She has written three books about him. While other scientists might know more about their own specific areas of research, Fleckinger says, "I may be the person who is closest to the Iceman."

To her, Otzi is neither anonymous nor a scientific freak, but a human being with personality. "Sometimes I think it is so strange. He died 5000 years ago, yet this person, this Iceman, has become an important part of my life."

More than 240,000 visitors a year travel to Bolzano to see Otzi's mummy in a special refrigerated chamber at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. But Fleckinger is in Sydney to launch Iceman - The Story of Otzi, which opens at the Australian National Maritime Museum tomorrow.