Saturday, December 06, 2014

Day Trip to Bolzano

Saturday we took a day trip to Bolzano, also known as Bozen.  This is a town in the South Tyrol region of northern Italy.  It's in the Alps, and from both an architecture and cultural point of view, it seems a lot more like part of Austria than Italy.  Many residents speak German, and signs were in Italian and German.  The town itself looked a lot like the towns we visited in Switzerland back in 2005.  It was also very crowded, presumably because it was a Saturday.  They were setting up for their Christmas festival, but it wasn't ready yet.

Here are a few pictures of the town.
Bolzano's cathedral

Street view

The main square


The hills around the town

Also the main square
But of course, the reason we went to Bolzano was to see Otzi the Iceman, who is housed at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.  For those of you who have not heard of him, Otzi is a natural mummy of a 5,300 year old man from the Bronze Age who was found frozen in ice in 1991.  In addition to his remarkably well-preserved body, a large amount of his equipment was found with him.  Of course, as I am an archeologist, I was primarily interested in seeing his stuff, which included an unfinished bow, several arrows, a quiver, clothing, a hafted flint dagger and sheath, and, most spectacularly, a copper axe.

The museum, which I believe was specifically built for him, is very new and very nice.  In addition to Otzi himself, who is of course in a carefully climate controlled freezer, you can also see all of his equipment.  They don't allow pictures of his clothing or equipment, but you can see some pictures of them on the museum's website.  Needless to say, it was amazing.  I would really like to see his coat in complete form.  It had alternating light and dark stripes of goat hide, and must have been quite striking when it was complete.  Most of his leather was apparently goat, which is not a shock given the area.  His hat was pretty sweet, too.  You should go check out the photos on that site.  He had some impressive equipment, and obviously was experienced at traveling through the mountains.

One thing that shocks me, though, is his bow.  It was unfinished, and was not in a usable state.  Also, only two of his arrows had tips (stone) and fletching attached.  I wonder why we would go into the mountains without a functional bow.  Maybe if his bow had been functional, he wouldn't have been murdered. (For those of you who don't want to read links, Otzi has a stone arrow point imbedded in his back, had fresh cuts on his hands and other areas, and suffered a severe blow to the head.)  The mysteries of archaeology.

In any case, it was worth the two and a half hour train trip each way to see him.  I have been fascinated by him ever since he was found, and seeing him was one of my life goals.  I am really glad I got to see him.  Now I just need to get the Athens and see the Antikythera Mechanism...

The train trip up there was very scenic anyway, and was fun in it's own right.  Here are a few pictures taken from the train.  Sorry about the quality (or lack thereof); it's hard to take pictures through the window.



Town from the train.  Note the castle on the toe slope of the mountain at frame left

This is a view of the hills around Bolzano, and was not taken from the train
Well, that's enough for now.  More to come tomorrow.

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