Poking your skin with needles and ink dates way further back than you think. Yes, tattooing has been prevalent in many regions and is even deemed as a cultural necessity for some.
It dates back to Neolithic time and every now and then, evidence is discovered showing that tattooing has great historic significance. While tattooing may have been here for a long time, it has evolved greatly in terms of procedure, and reasons behind getting one.
Evolution of Tattooing
In the 5th century, the Ancient Greeks used tattooing as a way of communication amongst spies. Then came the Romans who used it as a way to mark criminals and slaves. In Japan, criminals had to get a straight line tattooed on their forehead, indicating their first criminal offense.
The second criminal offense would lead to an arch added to the forehead and if they continued with a third one, they received another straight line tattoo, which completed the symbol of ‘dog’. It doesn’t end there. Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, Saxons, Norse, and the Danes all had inclinations towards tattooing.
An excavation site in Tennessee named Fernvale uncovered what appear to be ancient tattooing utensils: two turkey legs bones with sharpened ends. These bones continue to tell similar tales as the stains of the pigments confirm them to be tattooing tools.
According to Aaron Deter-Wolf, an archaeologist in the Tennessee Division of Archaeology in Nashville, these bones are simply the world’s oldest tattooing tools that have been discovered. This indicates that Native Americans used these bones to draw tattoos around 3,620 to 5,520 years ago.
What makes this find so special is that it depicts a clear photo of tattooing a thousand years back. The first naturally preserved mummy to have a tattoo is Otzi the Iceman who lived around 5,250 years ago but there were never any findings that suggested the tools used for the tattooing process.
After studying the tools under a microscope, Deter-Wolf stated that even though it is difficult to notice and recognize the tattooing tools, these turkey bones show unique and significant damage near their tips, confirming them to be used as tattooing tools. The researchers believe that these bones were a part of a tattoo kit.