Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2022

Keywords

Ötzi, Egypt, Mesopotamia, mummy, therapeutic

Abstract

As one of the most permanent markings of culture etched into human skin, tattooing provides a unique view into the beliefs and practices of the human species. Tattooing has existed throughout human history, but it can be difficult to establish its true purpose and antiquity within early cultures. This is due in part to biological degradation and misclassification of the material implements of tattooing, as well as the scarcity of tattooed physical human remains. Archeological context and the identification of possible material artifacts associated with tattooing, along with the examination (or re-examination) of physical human remains for evidence of tattooing, will help place tattooing's presence and purpose within a historical context. For this paper, I reviewed ten scientific journal articles on the subject of tattooing within early cultures. Current investigations into the proposed purposes of early tattoos focus on iconographic and symbolic use, as well as cross-cultural therapeutic application. Tattoos, as instruments that transmit culture, can provide new insights into ancient societies and thereby reveal new avenues for exploring the visual language of Paleolithic times.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Tattooing--History--To 1500; Body art--History--To 1500

Genre/Form

articles

Type

Text

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

Included in

Anthropology Commons

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