INSET: The location of the Iceman’s 61 tattoos. Image courtesy the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology © South Tyrol Museum of Archeology/EURAC/Samadelli/Staschitz.
In July of this year an epic Facebook thread concerning the biggest tattoo myths was exposed to the public resulting in this short blog post. The posts eventually lead to this paper, published TODAY a mere four months later(!), which is a timely and much needed publication.
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (2016), pp. 19-24
Aaron Deter-Wolf (USA), Benoît Robitaille (CANADA), Lars Krutak (USA), Sébastien Galliot (FRANCE)
The practice of tattooing has been documented in cultures across the globe and throughout recorded history. While there are several lines of archeological evidence through which to study ancient tattooing, the marks identified on naturally and deliberately preserved human skin provide the only direct evidence of tattooing in antiquity. Until recently there was a discrepancy regarding the identity of the oldest tattooed human remains, with popular and scholarly sources alternately awarding the honor to the Tyrolean Iceman known as Ötzi, or to an unidentified South American Chinchorro mummy. Through a reexamination of the identity of the South American specimen and the associated radiocarbon data, we are able to identify the source of this confusion, and confirm that Ötzi presents the world’s oldest preserved tattoos.
Tattoo; Radiocarbon; Chinchorro; Ötzi; Mummies