Origin Of The Tattoo: 5300 Years In The Making

sparechange in Tattoo Ideas

The word tattoo is thought to be derived from both the Polynesian 'ta: meaning, to strike; and the Tahitian 'tatau: meaning, to mark. But, when and where did the tattoo originate? The answer to this question may remain a mystery, but scientific evidence proves tattooing to have been in practice more than 5,300 years ago.

In September of 1991, German hikers, hiking in the Oztal Alps near the Italy-Autria border discovered the mummified remains of an iceman. Carbon dating would prove the iceman to be more than 5,300 years old.


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    Named Otzi, for the mountain region in which he was discovered. Otzi was discovered with primitive tools, arrows and more than 50 tattoos. 57 tattoos in total, from his upper neck to his ankles. Otzi's tattoos consist of multiple line segments and crosses, all placed strategically near or on weight bearing body parts such as the spine, knees, and ankles.

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    Unlike modern tattoos, that push ink under the skin using needles, Otzi's tattoos were done by rubbing charcoal into strategically placed incisions. It is unknown whether or not the marks are self inflicted, or placed by another member of Otzi's primal community. The placement of the tattoos has drawn some scientists to theorize that they may have been used for points of acupuncture treatment, or perhaps they have some other form of medical significance.

    So, while the actual origin of the tattoo is yet to be discovered. We do know that tattooing is as old of a practice as mankind itself. Otzi the oldest known remains of human life, proves that the art of tattooing may be one of the oldest practices of mankind.



    Just a lover of tattoo culture. I love every aspect of tattooing. The artwork, the stories behind each piece and the artist who are taking the art to new levels.


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