The Man in the Ice

While it is not unusual to find the bodies of unfortunate Alpine mountaineers years after they are reported missing, the discovery of a 5,300-year-old mummified corpse in the mountains astounded the scientific world in 1991. Found in a glacier, the male body was perfectly preserved along with various artifacts proving him to be a Stone Age specimen. The so-called Iceman was accidentally uncovered by a couple vacationing in the area. Soon afterward, an international team of researchers, including Spindler, was assembled and called to investigate.

The Iceman discovery sheds new light on the Neolithic era because the corpse was preserved as it was at the time of death; it was not prepared for burial. In most societies, ancient or modern, burials follow strict rituals and customs that do not present an accurate view of everyday life. The Iceman is the first prehistoric find to provide such information.

Spindler gives a day-by-day account of the discovery and exhumation of the body, then discusses the conflict over which country should have custody of the Iceman. The public reaction to the find is also examined; Spindler refutes all of the false information and rumor spread by media hype. Most attention, however, is given to the Iceman’s equipment, clothing, remains, injuries, probable occupation, and the circumstances surrounding his death. The clues they provide combined with previous knowledge of the Stone Age give the most detailed picture ever of early man and his culture.

THE MAN IN THE ICE is a complex account, but it is not oversimplified or burdened with technical jargon. Numerous photographs and maps increase the book’s appeal, and Spindler’s skill in making it interesting for scholars and laymen alike is clear.