Saturday, 26 March 2011

A little more on Otzi The Ice Man and his Fireworks.

I can't help feeling that the Otzi site may have been contaminated, or, people did not know at the time what they were looking for. I wish I could see the site for myself. One news item sais that pyrite was found, but this appears not to be true. Pyrite particles were found suggesting that Otzi may have used flint & pyrite to make fire.
Here are some notes I made recently:
The Ice Man Otzi.

Fire kit contained:

• Pyrite.(particles found on fungus, but no actual rock was found)

• Flint

• Tinder fungus (Fomes Fomentarius & Piptoporus)

• Bark container blackened inside. Contained charcoal and birch leaves(carrying fire)

• Moss
The moss was said to be used for carrying food.
Question: Why would he carry food in moss? Is it more likely that the moss was kindling for making fire?

Question: Could two flints have been used?
Flints too small.

The charcoal in the green leaves suggested to scientists that Otzi was carrying fire. But normally this is done by burying live coals/embers in ash to keep them alive. Just like banking a fire for the night. The ash and the embers would indeed be carried in a bark container.
Question: Could this charcoal have been in fact pieces of charred punk wood intended for use as tinder?
The fire-bag/fireworks does not look very big, but then it has been under the ice for a long time & size is difficult to tell under such conditions. To use pyrite & flint you need a decent chunk of both, something to hang on to whilst striking.
I think the scenarios for why Otzi was where he was are important, because at present it looks as though he was quite unprepared. When I am travelling I collect kindling as I go along & as chance presents itself. If Otzi knew that he would be camping in a place where wood & kindling was not available, he would have taken it with him.
Question: Was the site contaminated? Was there other items to be found that people missed?
I get the feeling that these scientists, though obviously very knowledgable, may not know enough about individual primitive skills.
Question: Was the fungus for medical use as they suggest, or was it simply spare tinder such as I carry in my pack? 
I think that unless someone goes back to the Otzi site and searches further, we may never have all the answers.

Remnants of Otzi's fire bag.

Piptoporus Betulinas.


Flint nodules I collected in England.


Two flint nodules like those above will create sparks if struck together, as will agate struck against flint, but the spark only occurs at the point of contact, it does not throw or project the sparks.


buzzard said...

Very interesting read, carrying fire would certainly be a more reliable method than trying to make fire with flint alone..I can make sparks with quartz pieces but the spark is so small and cold that it never has succeeded in lighting amadou..food for thought!

Karl said...

Interesting questions.

Q1- Moss: I think this was more likely carried as a medical item, Spaginum moss has been used for an absorbent material for centuries, in fact it was thw material of choice for many years inside military shell dressings... He was injured after all.

Q2- two flints for fire lighting, as you say the ones they have shown are awfully small, he most likely carried something more substantial.

Q3- The Charcoal carried may have carried for fire lighting, since charred wood catches a cool spark far better than the fungus does.

Q4- Undountedly... he was found on a shepheards route through the mountains, who's to say that some of his kit wasn't found and removed over the centuries without the discovery of his body?

Q5- I believe the fungus was for medical use, its too small to be used for tinder and when you look closely at them they have had small pieces cut from them.

As for his belt, it seems to be a simple envelope pouch with two ties coming off the ends, the fungus along with his knife sheath were tied onto this...

Just my two cents...


Le Loup said...

Buzzard. Yes the natives here often carry fire with them using the flower stem of the Goonagurra or Grass Tree.

Karl. Thanks for your input, appreciated.