Tattoos on Mummys Point to Early Acupuncture
Image from the Journal of Archeological Science.
USA Today's science blog posted an article yesterday entitled "Mummy tattoos hint at ancient Andean acupuncture." In it, they talk about the discovery of a 1,000-year-old female mummy in Southern Peru who wore two distinct types of tattoos (shown in the illustration above). A study of this mummy was published in the recent issue of the Journal of Archeological Science, which highlighted that "it was the first time that two different kinds of tattooing materials were found in one and the same mummy."
Researchers believe some of the tattoos were therapeutic: "The tattoos on the neck region could have had a therapeutic, ritual or protective intention. A possible therapeutic origin may lie in the fact that the circles on the neck lie close to acupuncture points, having a relaxing and pain-relieving effect in the neck and head region."
The other tattoos, which included animals like apes and reptiles as well as symbols and rings tattooed on her hands, were ornamental (common in prehistoric mummies found across the globe). USA Today offers more on mummies' decorative tattoos:
The oldest known tattoos date from 6000 B.C. from the Chinchorros culture. They show a thin pencil mustache tattooed on the upper lip of a male adult. One of the most impressive sets of decorative tattoos was found on the skin of a Skythian nomad prince from the Altai mountain (500 B.C.). Aesthetically designed pictures of mythical creatures were tattooed on his arms, shoulders, chest, back and the right leg. But not only men were tattooed in ancient times: an obviously upper class female mummy was excavated in the Altay. She was enveloped in silk, crowned with a half-meter-high headdress and had a Skythian- pattern tattoo on her left arm. During excavations in a tomb of the Menthuhotep-temple in Deir el Bahari, ﬁgures, ﬁsh, birds, and what appeared to be landscapes, at about 1000 B.C.
So the next time you hear someone call tattooing a "trend," you can tell them it's one of the longest trends in history.