Results tagged “mummy tattoos”

10:46 AM
otzi tattoos.jpg Credit: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Eurac/Samadelli/Staschitz.

One of the biggest recent tattoo news stories was about an ancient man and a new discovery about his tattoos. In the excellent report, "Scan finds new tattoos on 5300-year-old Iceman," Aaron Deter-Wolf discusses how a new examination of Otzi the Iceman found a previously unrecorded group of tattoos consisting of "four parallel lines between 20 and 25 mm long and are invisible to the naked eye," which researchers have added to complete the catalog of all of Otzi's tattoos. As Aaron notes, "While the different combinations of lines in Otzi's tattoos may have held some underlying symbolic meaning, it appears that their function was primarily medicinal or therapeutic." Further to this, he discusses Dr. Lars Krutak's writings on Otzi:

In his 2012 book Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification, anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak documents an experiment in which Colin Dale of Skin & Bone Tattoo in Copenhagen determined that hand-poked tattoos applied to acupuncture points using a bone needle "could produce a sustained therapeutic effect," successfully relieving ailments such as rheumatism, tinnitus, and headaches. [...]

Krutak consulted Gillian Powers (M.Ac., L.Ac.), a licensed acupuncturist in Washington, DC, who reported that acupuncture points near the newly-recorded tattoos "can be used to treat the symptoms associated with whipworms (abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea) and gallstones (abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, etc.), as well as breathing issues." Powers also noted that the location of the new tattoos is in close proximity to the gallbladder itself, and therefore could have additional effects on gallstone pain.
Read Aaron's article here.

Kobane tattoo.jpgFor more on tattoo history, there's a piece recently published, entitled "The Last Tattooed Women of Kobane," which explores the stories behind photojournalist Jodi Hilton's portraits of women from Kobane, Syria, (shown above) and their regional facial tattoos called "deq." It's a fascinating Q&A. Here's a taste:

Many women reported being tattooed by a "nomad" or a "gypsy woman," and these traveling tattoo artists may well have dispersed the tradition. But some of the designs are unique, possibly referring to pre-Islamic religions that are, in some way, still in the hearts of some Kurdish people.

The tattoos are made from soot and breast milk and sometimes gallbladder liquid from a sheep or goat. The design is drawn on the skin and then a series of small punctures are made with a sewing needle. Then the mixture is spread over the design, which scabs over and leaves the tattoo. Most are done between the ages of eight and twelve. One woman even tattooed her own breasts, encircling the nipples with a thin round line.
See more of Jodi's portraits and read her story here

I found it fitting, on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, to share the story of Auschwitz survivor Elie Buzyn and his reflections on the prison number tattoo he received at the hands of the Nazis 70 years ago. He told EuroNews:

"To me, this number was my parents' grave stone. You do not walk around with your grandparents' or parents' grave stone on your back to show 'look, I had my father, my mother, they died here, here is the stone!' For me, symbolically, that's what it was. "And so I decided to take it off, to take it off, but only if I could keep it."

Buzyn kept the piece of his tattooed skin in his wallet for decades. Then one day it was stolen. He was devastated. He even thought about re-tattooing himself. "I had it removed at first because I didn't want it to be a part of me. I wanted to have it by my side. But many years later I realised that the number was a part of a memory that had great significance."
Cosmopolitan mag posted on a beautiful, tear-inducing video (below) featuring Freedom Tattoo, a program in Poland that helps women who were once incarcerated cover their prison tattoos with more artful ones. As one women says, after replacing her crude handpoked work with beautiful roses, "I am a woman. Now I can take another step, and this is fantastic because now I don't have to be locked up anymore in that gray world that held me back." The video made me cry, but I highly recommend taking a look as a reminder at how wonderfully transformative tattoos can be.


07:16 AM
mummy tattoo.jpg
Image via the British Museum.

An "intimate tattoo" found on a 1,300 year-old mummy is one of the highlights of the British Museum's "Ancient lives new discoveries" -- an exhibit that unlocks "hidden secrets to build up a picture" of the lives of eight people from ancient Egypt and Sudan, whose preserved bodies were analyzed, using methods such as CAT scans, to put the pieces together of who they were. The exhibit runs from May 22 to November 30, 2014, but if you can't make it to London, there are a number of outlets online, which offer some juicy details on that tattoo. Turns out it's more pious than sexy.

According to The Telegraph, one of the eight mummies, who was found in 2005 on an archeological dig in Sudan, had, on her right inner thigh, a tattoo with a monogram of a name spelled in Ancient Greek. Here's more from the article:

One of the mummies, whose remains were found just seven years ago, was so well preserved that archaeologists could almost make out the tattoo on her skin on the inner thigh of her right leg with the naked eye. Infra-red technology helped define it more clearly.

The woman, aged between 20 and 35, had been buried wrapped in a linen and woollen cloth and her remains had mummified in the dry heat. The tattoo has been deciphered by curators and spells out in ancient Greek - M-I-X-A-H-A, or Michael.

The owner of the tattoo was a woman who died in about AD 700 and lived in a Christian community on the banks of the Nile.


High up on her inner thigh, it may or may not have been out of view. And for all its scientific expertise, the British Museum admits to being unclear as to what exactly was the fashionable length of skirt worn by an ordinary Nile dwelling female in AD 700.

There's also an interesting short video on The Telegraph that further discusses the tattooed mummy, and the others in the exhibit. Check it.

The Mirror also had a piece on the mummy, which I found on the wonderful Tattoo History Daily. The editor of the blog, Anna Felicity Friedman, also posted the article on her personal Facebook page, and there's an excellent discussion in the comments, including links to further information on tattooed mummies, such as Gemma Angel's articles (Part I and Part II) on tattooing in ancient Egypt. 

As I often say, whenever you hear people talk about a "tattoo trend," remind them that it's one of the oldest "trends" of mankind.

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