Where Did Tattoos Come From?

by James Martin


Since the dawn of time, art and culture of different kinds and forms have been part of our species evolution. Tattoos, handicrafts, festivals, and songs have brought knowledge and told stories concerning the links between nature and humans, in and between generations, and are vital for making people have a feeling or sense of belonging all over the world.

Tattoos are permanent forms of body art that can be linked back to a multitude of various cultures all over the world. Humans have been marking their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. A tattoo is an indelible mark that’s planted on the body by inserting pigment under the skin. These permanent designs are sometimes elaborate and other times plain, always personal—they have served as status symbols, signs of religious beliefs, amulets, decorations of love, adornments, and sometimes as forms of punishment.

Tattoos are beautiful and are often used to represent different things. If you have one on your body, I’m sure you are pretty proud of it but have you ever stopped to wonder about the origin of tattoos? In today’s article, we’ll be taking a walk through time to discover the origin of tattoos.

Where did tattoos come from?

Tattoos are prehistoric because their origin date back many thousands of years. The discoveries of tattoos on mummified skin prove that tattoos are an ancient art form. The oldest evidence of tattoo marks on the human body is believed to be from 3370 BC to 3100 BC.

In September 1991, Otzi the Iceman was discovered. He got the nickname Otzi because he was found in the Otzal Alps. Otzi’s body survived in the ice for about 5300 years, the ice naturally preserved his body and that makes him Europe’s oldest human mummy.

Analysis of Otzi’s remains shows that at the time of his death he was a 30 to 45 years old man, standing approximately 160 cm tall. To date, the exact circumstances surrounding the death of Otzi have not been identified, although evidence suggests that he had a violent end.

Apart from the cause of death, which still remains a mystery, Otzi’s body had a total of 61 tattoos in various locations across his body and a majority of the ink inscriptions were found on his knee, ankle joints, and knees. Close examinations in the markings (tattoos) found on Otzi’s body indicate that fireplace ash or soot was used to create the tattoos.

Even though Otzi’s discovery is evidence of the first tattoos known to mankind, other ages and eras throughout history show that tattoos have a rich and long history. The exact location where this form of art originated from has not been identified but evidence of this ancient art form (tattoos) have been found in over 48 different locations from around the globe, where remains and tattooed mummies have been discovered. Some of the locations where tattooing practices have been found on human remains include Alaska, China, the Philippines, Mongolia, Egypt, Sudan, Greenland, and Russia. All the discoveries in those locations link to different periods throughout ancient history with some dating back to 2100 BC.


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