The world’s first known sheepskin coat was worn by Ötzi the ‘Iceman’ 5,300 years ago. Scientists have studied the famous mummy’s clothes for the first time and found they were made from a variety of five different animals.
Researchers believe they have discovered the origin of his garments and quiver – a bag for holding arrows. From top left clockwise in this image is a shoe with grass interior (left) and leather exterior (right), the sheepskin coat, leggings made from goat hide, a hat made from bear fur, a grass coat and a leather loincloth.
These included brown bear for his hat, goat for his leather and sheep – for his coat. It means Ötzi, found frozen in a glacier in the Alps a quarter of a century ago, was donning the garment more than 5,000 years before today’s hipsters.
The mummy was discovered in the Italian Ötztal Alpes in 1991, and two decades of analysis have provided insights into his ancestry, diet, tools, lifestyle, health and attire.
In the latest study, researchers from University College Dublin, looked at nine fragments of leather from Ötzi’s clothes and quiver, and were able to identify the species of origin for each.
Dr Niall O’Sullivan, who led the study, said the findings ‘provide a surviving example of ancient manufacturing technologies.’
This is believed to involve scraping, exposing to fatty acids and, in some cases, intense heating.
He said the results indicate the majority of the samples originate from domestic species such as cattle, sheep and goat now widespread on today’s farms.
He went on: ‘Intriguingly, the hat and quiver samples were produced from wild species, brown bear and roe deer respectively.
‘Combined, these results suggest Copper Age populations made considered choices of clothing material from both the wild and domestic populations available to them.’
The study also discovered his loincloth was from sheep and shoelace from cattle.
Meanwhile, his quiver used for hunting expeditions consisted of leather made from roe deer.