This bracelet-like tattoo adorns the wrist of the 5,300-year-old Iceman. (Photograph © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/EURAC/Samadelli/Staschitz)

This bracelet-like tattoo adorns the wrist of the 5,300-year-old Iceman. (Photograph © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/EURAC/Samadelli/Staschitz)

Tattoos are becoming ubiquitous. The art of tattooing is ancient, but when it began is unknown. Written records date the art of tattooing back to fifth-century B.C. in Greece—and maybe centuries earlier in China. It is hard to ever know how old tattoos are.

A paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports concludes that the Chinchorro mummy is not as old as previously thought. And so Ötzi, the European Tyrolean Iceman who died and was buried beneath an Alpine glacier along the Austrian–Italian border around 3250 B.C, has the oldest known tattoos, to date. Ötzi is older than the Chinchorro mummy by at least 500 years.

Advertisements