Friday, 18 October, 2019

World's 'oldest tattoos' found on ancient Egyptian mummies

World's 'oldest tattoos' found on ancient Egyptian mummies World's 'oldest tattoos' found on ancient Egyptian mummies
Patty Aguilar | 02 March, 2018, 08:37

The oldest known tattoo in the world - a series of geometric dots and crosses - were discovered on Otzi the Iceman, dating from around 5,200BC.

The researchers, led by the natural anthropologist Daniel Antoan of the British Museum, who made the publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science, according to the BBC and the Guardian invoking the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, used tomography techniques, infrared imaging and radiochronization to study tattoos.

"Incredibly, at over 5,000 years of age, they push back the evidence for tattooing in Africa by a millennium". This means Gebelein Man has the earliest known figurative tattoos ever discovered.

On the female mummy, known as Gebelein Woman, researchers found a series of four small S-shaped motifs that were more hard to interpret.

"Only now are we gaining new insights into the lives of these remarkably preserved individuals", said Antoine in a statement. Today, this mummy is the oldest known women in the world with a tattoo on the body.

First, CT scans showed he was murdered by being stabbed in the neck aged around 18 to 21. Gebelin Man A had tattoos of what appears to be a wild bull and a sheep, while Gebelein Woman had staff-like and S-shaped motifs on her upper arm and shoulder.

British Museum researchers say the female's tattoos may have denoted status, bravery or magical knowledge, while the male's were likely symbols of virility and strength.

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"His remains were preserved naturally perhaps because he was buried in the peak of summer or was in a shallow grave", he added. The markings were also found to have been applied to the dermis layer of the skin using some kind of carbon-based pigment.

The mummies were dated to between 3351 and 3017 BC-the Predynastic period of ancient Egypt, a time before the first pharaoh unified the fledgling nation.

Tattoos on the Predynastic female mummy from Gebelein.

"We think the curved line represents a stave - a crooked stave that's often depicted in ceremonial scenes and it maybe represents a special status but also they're often depicting ritual scenes".

The application of tattoos to the human body enjoyed a long and diverse history in many ancient cultures.

These finds demonstrate conclusively that tattooing was practised during Egypt's Predynastic period (c. 4000-3100 BC) by both men and women.

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