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Europe’s oldest known natural mummy has been recreated with 3D printing

by • February 17, 2016 • No Comments

A European man was killed over 5,000 years ago, and were it not for the location of his body, his existence would have been lost to history. But
, the man dubbed Ötzi was discovered preserved within
an Italian glacier in 1991. Ötzi is notable for being the oldest naturally preserved European mummy ever discovered, and now he’s been reproduced using 3D printing.

The incredible preservation of Ötzi has given scientists a glimpse of what life was like in Copper Age Europe, something you don’t often get with a regular burial or prepared mummy. Ötzi carried a bow, arrows, a copper axe, flint knife, baskets, and a fire lighting kit among other treasures. His body is covered with several dozen tattoos, and there is evidence he had been sick repeatedly in the months preceding his death. He in addition
has an arrowhead in his shoulder from the attack which
likely killed him.

His possessions have been reproduced and studied in detail since Ötzi’s discovery, but the body is much more delicate. Having been frozen for millennia, Ötzi is kept in a climate controlled environment in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. The creation of a 3D replica, as detailed in a new episode of Nova, will allow researchers and museum patrons around the world to get a advantageous
look at Ötzi.

Ötzi is amazingly
well-preserved, which means a lot of detailed work to make a convincing replica. It all started with CT scans to create a single file describing all of Ötzi’s bits. Designers had to in fact
create some missing body parts (like ribs) based on what was available. 3D-printing firm Materialise utilized
a stereolithography system to recreate the 5.5-inch ancient human out of liquid resin.

Ötzi replica

Getting the right shape is only the beginning, though. Because Ötzi is so well-preserved, it took the skills of renowned paleoartist Gary Staab applying multiple layers of pigment to arrive at the convincing final product. The above image shows the finished replica, which is a very great
match for the original. The Nova documentary is worth a watch if you dig history.


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