Congrats to my Ancient Ink: The Archaeology of Tattooing co-editor Aaron Deter-Wolf and his team regarding their research into these ancient tattooing tools from the southwestern United States! Important research and hopefully 🙏 folks will start combing through their museum collections in search of more tools like these!

For press coverage and imagery, please visit this National Geographic article.

To read the new paper, please visit the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Interestingly, the ancient tool falls into line with ethnographic descriptions of cactus thorn tattooing tools from the Southwest (see Krutak 2014). Implements such as these enjoyed a wide distribution in historic times, and almost invariably they were utilized by female tattooists in the Southwest to mark the human body. Thus, and by extrapolation, perhaps the individual who wielded the prehistoric tattooing tool was female?

Thank you to Popular Mechanics for allowing me to discuss this possibility!