The "Iceman" refers to the well-preserved remains of a man who lived between 3400 BCE and 3100 BCE in the Alps. It is the oldest known naturally created European mummy. The significance of the Iceman is that we can learn a lot about Copper Age life from studying his remains.
Extensive x-rays, CT scans, and examinations give researchers an idea of the physical condition of this ancient man. We know that he was about forty-five years old when he died. We can tell what his diet consisted of. His last several meals consisted of several types of meat, fruit, roots, and grains. The grains were highly processed and likely in the form of bread.
The Iceman has the oldest surviving human blood cells. It is very uncommon to find intact blood cells from old sources, so this finding is particularly significant for future studies.
Researchers have also learned a lot about this individual's health by studying his remains. We know what parasites he suffered from, how much and what type of exercise he had, and that he was lactose intolerant. There had been some debate about how prevalent lactose intolerance was after dairy became a large part of the human diet in Europe. This discovery shows that it still existed to a certain extent.
Interestingly, the Iceman is the oldest known mummy with tattoos. He has over sixty tattoos on much of his body. These tattoos often correspond to places where he had chronic injuries. It is thought that the tattooing may have been part of a pain-relief process similar to acupuncture, a technique commonly used in China 2,000 years later.
By analyzing the mummy's DNA, researchers can learn about hereditary lines since the Copper Age. They have already identified nineteen men who live in the same region of the Alps who are descendants of the Iceman.