Between the hills of the Senales Valley, over 5 thousand years ago, a man died in the grip of a glacier. His mummified body, together with his clothes and tools, wee discovered by chance in 1991. It was a sensational archeological event, which permits us to touch the reality of the Bronze Age. After numerous investigations by specialist researchers and students from all parts of the world, the celebrated mummy from the glacier (also called Ötzi or Similaun) has become one of the principal attractions for tourists visiting the cities of Alto-Adige.
Thanks to the curious destiny of our ancestor, subtracted from his anonimity by history, we have the possibility to encounter a direct witness to our past. The museum’s collection, arranged cronologically, documents the entire history of Alto Adige, from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic Ages to the Carolingian period. It is a rich collection of information, with numerous findings, but also reconstructions, stereoscopic images, videos and interactive multimedia which take us back to the origins of the southern slopes of the Alps.
According to numerous studies conducted on the mummy, Ötzi presents typical alpine characteristics in his dress and tools. Even his medical and anthropological profile reveal characteristics of his life-style, his diet and his habits, all recalling the daily life of the inhabitants of the mountainous area of the Peninsula. Great importance can be given to the tatoos found on the skin of the ice-man, and these have become the object of research and of a temporary exhibition to be held until the 18 May on the top floor of the Archeological Museum of Alto Adige.
The exhibition has focused on the theme of the tatoo and the culture that develops around it. Designs on the skin bear witness to a particular culture, and have their beginnings in ancient times even if evident still today. Tatoos, lacerations, ornamental dies and bodily modifications are not passing fancies, but expressions of a concept of life in society. They are thus fundamental elements in the rituals which accompany the various phases of human existence. The skin can be a means of communication, characterise an identity, relegate a person to a specific social, religious of familial group.
Numerous examples of this kind of culture have succeeded each other in time, from ancient times in prehistory until today. These cutaneous traditions have been placed side by side in this exhibition and with the research effected on the mummy (on whom over 50 tatoos were found), delineate their function and meaning in various contexts. To complete the exhibition, there are as part of the programme, conferences on the theme of tatoos within archeological finds and on ethnological comparisons between different peoples, workshops and demonstrations of traditional tatooing techniques and of b ody painting.
Archeological Museum of Alto Adige
Via Museo 43, 39100 Bolzano