Genealogy Johann Loy Dr. Tom Loy


Dr. Tom Loy,    

 1942 - 2005

  Dr. Loy was Senior Lecturer, School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. He was a member of the Australian Archaeological Association and the Society for Archaeological Science (USA). He was Chairman of the organising committee for the 7th International Conference on Ancient DNA and Associated Biomolecules which was held at the University of Queensland from 10-17 July 2004. His last fields of research included the tools of the Italo/Austrian Ice Man Mummy, Hominid tool use at Pliocene/early Pleistocene cave sites in South Africa and, in conjunction with the Indjilandji People and the Dugalandji Aboriginal Corporation, the prehistory of the Camooweal area in NW Queensland.


Dr Loy,  director of the Archaeological Sciences Laboratories at the University of Queensland 's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, became the seventh person to have died after coming into close contact with the iceman Oetzi since his discovery in 1991 in the Austrian-Italian Alps, the so called Ötztaler Alpen.

The California-born scientist had been suffering from a blood-related condition for about 12 years, according to his family, that was diagnosed shortly after he became involved with the Oetzi analysis. 

His brother Gareth, told the autopsy results were inconclusive, apart from ruling out any suspicious circumstances over the death of Dr Loy, whose body lay undiscovered in his Brisbane home for several days.

"We have been told he died of natural causes or an accident, or a combination of both," he said.

"But Tom was in poor health - he had a blood deficiency that made him subject to blood clots."

Asked when his brother had contracted the condition, Mr Loy said he believed it was "about 12 years ago", when he telephoned his brother to tell him he should be checked for the hereditary condition.

But Mr Loy said his brother, who found his first fossil as a young child - an extinct horse in land being excavated for a road near their Californian home - never mentioned the curse.

"Tom never spoke about it - all I can say is that eventually death comes for everyone," he said.

Rumours of a Tutankhamen-style curse started a year ago when the man who discovered the mummy, Helmut Simon, 67, fell to his death during a freak blizzard while hiking near the spot where he found Oetzi protruding from the ice.

Within an hour of Mr Simon's funeral, the head of the mountain rescue team sent to find him, Dieter Warnecke, 45, died of a heart attack.

Other deaths of the team involved in Oetzi's discovery and analysis are:

* Archaeologist Konrad Spindler, 55 - the leading expert on Oetzi, who first inspected the prehistoric corpse - died in April of complications from multiple sclerosis.

* The head of the forensic team examining Oetzi, Rainer Henn, 64 - who put the frozen corpse in a body bag with his bare hands - died in a car crash on the way to give a lecture about the iceman.

* The mountaineer who led Dr Henn to the iceman's body, Kurt Fritz, 52, died in an avalanche, the only one of his party to be hit by the snow-slide.

* The man who filmed Oetzi's removal from his icy mountain grave, celebrated Austrian journalist Rainer Hoelzl, 47 - died of a brain tumour. 

An affable and enthusiastic scientist who inspired his students, Dr Loy won worldwide renown in the archaeological community for his discovery of human blood on Oetzi the Iceman's clothing and weapons.

His work - the subject of a National Geographic documentary in 2002 - debunked the theory that Oetzi died alone in the mountains after a hunting accident.

By revealing four different types of human blood on Oetzi's clothing, he surmised that the Stone Age man was hunting with a companion when the pair got into a territorial skirmish.

Fatally wounded, Oetzi appears to have leaned against his companion for support.

One of Dr Loy's research assistants, Gail Robertson, said he was finalising work on his book about Oetzi when he died.

"Tom had been working on it for some time," she said. "It was about the tools of the iceman and his interpretation of what the tools meant and the life the hunter may have led. He was just finishing the final DNA tests, which he wanted for the book.

"Tom is such a loss - he was passionate, widely read and a born teacher."

Mr Loy said the family wanted to publish his brother's book but had, so far, been unable to locate the manuscript.

"I have his laptop, but I have not yet been able to find the file for his book," he said.

Dr Loy, an American, completed his PhD in prehistory at the Australian National University before joining the University of Queensland a decade ago.

Information from an article of The Australian by Natasha Bita and Michael McKenna