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Answers frozen in iceman

Bolzano (Italy), Feb. 17 (Reuters): Some 5,300 years after his violent death, a Stone Age man found frozen in the Alps is slowly revealing his secrets to a global team of scientists.

But despite more than a decade of high-tech efforts by geneticists, botanists and engineers many questions about his life and death remain unsolved. German amateur mountaineer Helmut Simon and his wife spotted Oetzi, as he became known, in the mountains between Italy and Austria, near the Oetztal valley, in 1991.

At first glance, they thought it was the body of an unfortunate hiker. Only recently have new methods such as DNA and tooth enamel analysis produced a clearer picture of his life. In the latest project, genetic researchers in Oxford and Bolzano are testing his DNA for clues about ethnicity.

Data from tooth enamel, soil and water samples has already shown that Oetzi probably grew up in the Pustertal region south of the Alps and left his home valley when he was 20-30 years old. He used medicinal mushrooms, and his tattoos ' a series of short, dark, parallel lines ' had been placed to treat his arthritis as an early form of acupuncture.

But even the best scientists have been unable to explain the exact circumstances of his death.

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