History of inking reshaped: Tattoos found in Egyptian mummies in British Museum

Representational image of a tattoo Pixabay

A new study report published in the Journal of Archeological Sciences has revealed that inking was prevalent even before 5000 years. Researchers who took part in the study has spotted tattoos in the bodies of the Egyptian mummies preserved in the British Museum.

These tattoos were found on the bodies of both the male and female 'Gebelein' mummies. In the male body, researchers found tattoos of a wild bull and a Barbary sheep, while S-shaped tattoos were found in the upper arm and shoulder of the female.

According to the researchers, the tattoos might have been embedded in the body of these people using a needle made from copper or bone. The researchers believe that these tattoos may have denoted status and bravery among people in the community. In the ancient ages, goats and bulls were considered as symbols of masculinity, and the tattoos in the body of the male indicated that he might be a warrior in his times.

Researchers believe that the S-shaped tattoos in the upper arm and shoulder of the female are a symbol of her importance in the society.

"We are very confident that this is tattooing and not painted or decorated. It would have been carried out with some type of needle made from bone or copper. These tattoos push back evidence of tattooing by 1,000 years. Incredibly, at over 5,000 years of age, they push back the evidence for tattooing in Africa by a millennium," said Daniel Antoine, the British Museum's curator of physical anthropology.

Both the mummies were located from the Gibelin region of upper Egypt. They have lived between 3351 and 3017 BC.

The oldest tattoos in the world were discovered on Ötzi the Iceman. These tattoos also dated back up to 5000 years, and experts believe that the Iceman lived during the copper age. The man who was 46 years at the time of his death had 61 tattoos inked in his body.