My latest impression is going to be VERY educational.  I'll be learning how to knap flint and spin sinew and grass.  The best way to start this page is to point you towards a couple websites that show all the Iceman's equipment, so that you can see what I'm aiming at.  Note that much of his clothing and gear was made of tanned hides with the hair still on, but that the hair has fallen out over the centuries so that it looks like plain leather.

Oetzi, the Glacier Man 

The Iceman--University of Minnesota Duluth 

Discovery News Article--Not a pack frame, but a snow shoe?

Otzi, de gletsjermummie--zijn pijlkoker--An alternate method for slinging the quiver 

Testing Otzi's shoes 

      The quiver is made of deerhide--this one was untanned and I treated it as best I could with "Tannit" compound, but not sure if I'd call it "leather".  A heavy coat of neatsfoot oil made it a little more flexible.   I have since heard that ancient tanned deerhide ends up de-haired, so regular deer leather may be more accurate for this.  The first photo shows it in progress, stitched together with leather thongs (like the belt, so no sinew thread needed!).  The last photo shows the flaps open to expose the arrow fletchings.  Since no strap survives, I'm experimenting with attaching one to the wood stiffening rod.

       What a pain to make!  There is probably a more complicated and difficult way of doing the wooden stiffener (carving a V-shaped notch almost the whole length and drilling holes through for the thongs that close the side seam), but it would take some doing to come up with one...  The arrows are actually medieval and are just there for show!  They are only superficially similar to Oetzi's, the fletchings being attached with hide glue and linen thread, rather than birch tar and sinew.

       The belt is also sewn with thongs, so it's done except for some kind of coating (tallow or grease).  It's long enough to go around me twice and tie at the front, as long as it's only going over the breechclout.  This is Spindler's interpretation, with the advantage of keeping the pouch with the fire-starting gear nice and dry under the flap of the breechclout.  For tying the coat or tunic, I'd either have to lengthen the belt, or (more likely) make a new one without the pouch.

       My copper axehead was made by Neil Burridge and Jeroen Zuiderwijk

       After cleaning and smoothing it, I hammered the edge to flair and harden it, and the sides to make slight flanges.  Then filed off most of the hammer marks and sanded it smooth again.  Next comes the hunt for a suitable haft, more likely oak than yew.

       I've got YEW!  Turns out my sister-in-law and her boyfriend have a yew tree in their yard that has gotten a bit wild, and they very graciously let me lop a couple limbs off.  Have to mull a bit before deciding which end of the large one to use.  Not sure if the small one will work, but it was there so I grabbed it.  8/22/05

       Two evenings of work, using the tools shown: copper axehead, small bronze axe, and flint flake.  This just might work!

      3/23/06--After quite a bit of work during the fall, and a long hiatus over the winter, the haft is whittled to shape and notched for the head.  Clever trimming reduced the curvature considerably.  Yew is hard to work!  I found out that it's also *toxic*, so be sure to wash your hands, boys and girls.  (The dust is very dangerous for the lungs, too.)

       Close-up of the notch.  Might be better if it were a little deeper, but we'll go with this for the moment.

       3/26/06, and it's finished!  I hope.  I mixed liquid hide glue with wood ashes to make a thicker adhesive for setting the head in the notch, then wrapped the joint with a long strip of wet rawhide, with more glue here and there.  The rawhide is from a doggy chew, which I understand is boiled and not as strong as "real" rawhide, but we'll see.

       Close-up of the head.  It's not all completely dried yet, so I don't dare swing it.  There is also a close-up from the edge, showing that it is very slightly out of alignment with the handle.  For my first attempt, I'm satisfied.


1.  Question: "Are you going to cut off your you-know-what to match Oetzi?"
     Answer:  No, that's a very old myth, sorry!  His private parts are complete and intact.

2.  Question: "Got tattoos?"
     Answer: Felt-tip marker.  No, you can't see them.  Wierdo.


Official Museum site-- 

Oetzi Links-- 


Great Lakes Lithics--

Caveman to Chemist Stone Tool page-- 

Knappers Corner-- 

Flintknapping resources-- 

Primitive Ways-- 

The History and Primitive Technology Page-- 

Bog Body links-- 

Neil Burridge--  Teaches COURSES on bronze casting using accurate historical methods!

Bronze Age Living in the Netherlands, by Jeroen Zuiderwijk--

Native Way--  Sinew, gut, flint items, knapping materials and tools, books, etc.

Moscow Hide and Fur--PO Box 8918, Moscow, Idaho 83843.  208-882-0601.  Leather, hides, etc.

Other historical websites by Matthew Amt, in chronological order: 


Fleckinger, Angelika, and Steiner, Hubert.  The Iceman.  3rd edition, Vienna: Folio Verlag Bolzano, 2000.  ISBN 3-85256-100-0.  A thin paperback booklet, but an excellent overview with great photos and drawings.

Fowler, Brenda.  Iceman: Uncovering the Life and Times of a Prehistoric Man Found in an Alpine Glacier.  New York: Random House.  Also has excellent illustrations, as well as very revealing information about the "behind the scenes" politics and science surrounding the Iceman's recovery and study.

Spindler, Konrad.  The Man in the Ice. Translated by Ewald Osers.  New York: Harmony Books, 1994.  ISBN 0-517-79969-3.  "The" book, of course, since Spindler was one of the lead scientists on the Iceman team.  A little out of date by now, and includes a few theories about the man and his death which are no longer cosidered viable.  A revised edition may be in the works.

The Usual:  Copyright Matthew Amt, 2005, may not be used for any "for-profit" purpose without permission.  I live in Laurel, Maryland (USA), email matthew_amt AT yahooo DOT com (weird format to try to avoid spambots!).  (Please put something distinctive in the subject line of your message, or I may delete it as spam!)  I have no connection to any museum or official Iceman organization, unfortunately, just indulging in my latest passion as time and money allow.  I will be delighted to chat with you about making all this stuff, but it's not likely that I'll be making anything to sell, sorry.  The whole point of doing the Iceman is to make the stuff yourself, right?  It's a learning thing!  

       This page last updated 12/2/06