ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) - Swiss and Italian scientists say they have solved the mystery surrounding the death of the prehistoric hunter frozen in a glacier for more than 5,000 years.
They say the man known as Oetzi bled to death after being struck in the back by an arrow.
According to the researchers, the arrow tore a hole in an artery beneath his left collarbone, leading to massive loss of blood and shock and causing Oetzi to suffer a heart attack.
Their findings were published online in the Journal of Archeological Science.
Oetzi became a celebrity after his well-preserved body was accidentally discovered by hikers in 1991 on a glacier more than 3,000 metres above sea level on the border between Austria and Italy.
Archeologists believe Oetzi may have been killed in a skirmish with a rival tribe.
The researchers used newly developed medical scanners to examine the frozen corpse.
Even today, the chances of surviving such an injury long enough to receive hospital treatment are only 40 per cent, according to the article.
The fact that the arrow's shaft was pulled out before his death may have worsened the injury, said Frank Ruehli of the University of Zurich, who carried out the research with scientists from Bolzano, Italy, where the iceman's body is preserved.
The use of high-resolution computer tomography - normally used to diagnose living patients - allowed the researchers to create three-dimensional images of Oetzi without having to use surgical procedures that would have damaged the body.
"Five years ago this would definitely have been more difficult," Ruehli told The Associated Press.