Is this evidence of the 'world's first' tattoo parlour?


Since his discovery on 19 December 1991 by German hikers, Ötzi (artist's impression) has provided window into early human history.

Since his discovery on 19 December 1991 by German hikers, Ötzi (artist’s impression) has provided window into early human history.

Since his discovery on 19 December 1991 by German hikers, Ötzi has provided a window into early human history.

His mummified remains were uncovered in melting glacier in the mountainous border between Austria and Italy.

Analysis of the body has told us that he was alive during the Copper Age and died a grisly death.

Ötzi, who was 46 at the time of his death, had brown eyes, relatives in Sardinia, and was lactose intolerant.

Experts discovered a total of 61 tattoos on Ötzi’s body using different wavelengths of light to pick them out on the mummy’s darkened skin.

And in December 2015 they were confirmed to be the world’s oldest – beating markings on an unidentified South American Chinchorro mummy.

Experts had thought the South American mummy with a moustache-like tattoo on its face died in around 4,000BC, before realising it’s younger than Ötzi, who was killed in around 3250 BC.

While researchers can’t be sure why Ötzi had the tattoos, many think that they served as a form of acupuncture.

‘We know that they were real tattoos,’ Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy told LiveScience

The ancient tattoo artist who applied them ‘made the incisions into the skin, and then they put in charcoal mixed with some herbs.’ 

The tattoos, mostly found on Ötzi’s lower back and legs, between the knee and food, may have been a way to relieve the effects of chronic pain or injuries.

Ötzi was thought to have done a lot of walking in the Alps, which could have resulted in joint pain in his knees and ankles.

The 61st tattoo, found on the ribcage, has puzzled researchers who suggest Ötzi may also suffered from chest pain.

If the tattoos were not for therapeutic benefit, the researchers say they could have had symbolic or religious significance.

Alternatively, they may simply be geometric shapes with no hidden meaning. 

In March, 2018, figurative tattoos were been discovered on 5,000-year-old Egyptian mummies at the British Museum.

Experts said that these were the world’s earliest figurative tattoos.

The tattoos are of a wild bull and a Barbary sheep on the upper-arm of a male mummy, and S-shaped motifs on the upper-arm and shoulder of a female.

The find dates tattoos containing imagery rather than geometric patterns to 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Researchers said the discovery ‘transforms’ our understanding of how people lived during this period.



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