Starting with last week's sneak preview of the Iceman's reconstructed head, the grizzled visage of the new-model Ötzi has surprised even some experts. In earlier renderings, the Iceman looks very much his age at death—about 45, according to bone studies and other research.
"To me, he seems a bit too old, to be honest," Zink said.
The artists, he said, based the new, old appearance, in part, on living mountain people, such as traditional Tibetans. Due to sun exposure and hard living, he added, "they indeed look a bit older than they are."
The color of the Iceman's coif, too, may be beyond the pale, Zink said. Though brown strands have been found, "we have no evidence of gray hair."
But, he added—even though the new model is based on new DNA revelations and 3-D scans of Ötzi's body—the finishing touches remain works of art, not science. "People should not take it too seriously."
One big change, though, is rooted in cold, hard facts. According to new DNA evidence, Ötzi's eyes were brown, not blue, as originally thought.
Though the mummy's genome is still being unraveled, Zink's team slipped the eye-color info to the artists in advance.