Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Iceman's Tattoos (Joann Fletcher - Smithsonian Institute)

The tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy
The tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy is displayed at El Algarrobal Museum, near the port of Ilo in southern Peru. The Chiribaya were farmers who lived from A.D. 900 to 1350. (Joann Fletcher)
What is the earliest evidence of tattoos?
In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old.
Can you describe the tattoos on the Iceman and their significance?
Following discussions with my colleague Professor Don Brothwell of the University of York, one of the specialists who examined him, the distribution of the tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration, with the suggestion that they may have been applied to alleviate joint pain and were therefore essentially therapeutic. This would also explain their somewhat 'random' distribution in areas of the body which would not have been that easy to display had they been applied as a form of status marker.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/tattoos-144038580/?no-ist#FCxOmtU8byFeUKP7.99
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

To Jonny and Chris....Aunt Jeannie


  1. Jonny and Chris5:27:00 PM

    Aunt Jeannie , thank you so much for this article it will help a lot . Daddy gets the Smithsonian magazine and we found a lot of related stuff in the January 1 magazine .
    This is a puzzle and Chris and I is throwing round the idea it may be for pain , we think the Chinese use needles for pain . Jenny said it maybe like gunfighters did to their guns , put a notch on them for every man they kill . Jenny has an answer for everything but most times she is right .
    We are throwing our hats in the ring to come up with an answer , we asked daddy did he think we had a chance of finding the answer . Daddy said maybe , but we will never know unless we try .
    Aunt Jeannie , poppa say go to maxy , he answer a comment . Hope you are feeling much better .
    We love you very much .
    Wrote by Jonny

  2. Hey PIC ,
    SHs hit 75,000 this evening . drink ... clink ... clink to us .
    Love PIC

  3. Dear Jonny and Chris,
    I think you guys are right to go with the pain theory. I happen to agree with you since there is no pattern to the Tattoos ....they are scattered randomly and most of them are near a joint and one is over his heart. The poor old iceman had a lot of health problems.
    You are right, Jenny has an answer for everything :) This time I think you are closer to the answer.. Thank you for the interesting puzzle.
    I am feeling pretty good; thank you for your kind thoughts. I love you guys,
    Aunt Jeannie

  4. Hooray!!!
    That is great PIC. We are groovin'. I am proud of us.Clink!! I'd like a refill please.
    Lots of love


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