Scientists have discovered what is thought to be the oldest blood sample known to man on the body of a 5,000 year old mummy found in an Italian glacier.
The modern-day cold case investigation has thrown new light onto the life of Oetzi the Iceman, as he has been dubbed by experts, after being discovered in a frozen glacier 22 years ago.
A series of tests have revealed what his last meal was and how he met a violent and brutal death as he trekked through the mountains at 9,000ft.
Still giving up secrets: A file photo taken in 2011 shows the mummy of Oetzi, discovered on 1991 in the Italian Schnal Valley glacier. Scientists have detected blood samples from wounds on the body
Remarkably good shape: Despite being around 5,300 years old, Oetzi's level of preservation astounded scientists when he arrived at the Archeology Museum in Bolzano, Italy
Now traces of blood, the one thing that had eluded investigators studying the wounds on the mummified remains, have been found by a team from Italy and Germany.
The team also believe the find will help forensic scientists involved in murder investigations - as up until now it has been almost impossible to establish how long a trace of blood has been at a crime scene.
Professor Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy in Bolzano, Italy, led the investigation which took place at the Darmstadt Technical University in Germany.
The team of scientists used an atomic force microscope to investigate thin tissue sections from the wound where an arrow is though to have killed Oetzi, as well as lacerations on his right hand.While examining the wound at the point where the arrow entered the body, the team of scientists also identified fibrin, a protein involved in the clotting of blood.
Change of appearance: Scientists used various techniques to create a likeness of Oetzi, saying that he probably came from a region that is now Corsica or Sardinia
The high-tech equipment scans the surface of the tissue sections using a very fine probe. As the probe moves over the surface, sensors measure every tiny deflection - line-by-line and point-Professor Zink said: 'What emerged was an image of red blood cells with the classic "doughnut shape", exactly as we find them in healthy people today.'
Breathtaking discovery: Oetzi's body emerging from the glacier where he was found 22 years ago. Since then he has been the subject of various experiments - and even a curse conspiracy
Professor Zink added: 'Because fibrin is present in fresh wounds and then degrades, the theory that Oetzi died some days after he had been injured by the arrow, as had once been mooted, can no longer be upheld.'
The results of the investigation were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface and come just two months after professor Zink published a full study on the Iceman's genome, which suggested that he was 'similar to the people of Corsica and Sardinia' islands hundreds of miles from where he was found - in the Similaun Glacier close to Italy's border with Austria.
Doughnut shape': Red blood cells under a microscope, displaying the rounded shape explained by Professor Albert Zink
When he came out of the ground in 1991 palaeontologists had never seen anything like it - the body was almost wholly preserved and it also came complete with an array of clothes and weapons.
The Iceman, 159 cm tall, 46 years old, arthritic and infested with whipworm, has since become familiar to viewers of some 30 TV science documentaries the world over - and there has been heated debate on whether he died where he was found or was killed elsewhere and buried.
Lately his fame has been boosted by suggestions that, like some of his younger Egyptian counterparts, he may wield a curse - after seven people who have had something to do with him have died in mysterious circumstances.
Following his discovery he was the subject of a long-running court battle over ownership, with at first Italy and Austria battling it out before the Italians won.
Then there was a dispute between the people who found him over a finders' fee. Italian authorities initially handed over £3,000, but last year a court ruled that the figure be raised to £120,000.
Erika Simon, 71, argued that the mummy had brought in millions of Euros in tourist revenue - and as a result she was entitled to see some of the profits as the finder.
Her husband Helmut is one of the seven people linked to 'the curse' after he died in a climbing accident in 2004.
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World's oldest blood sample recovered from a murder victim preserved in ice for 5k years | Mail Online