An archaeologist who followed a hunch has discovered the oldest figural tattoos in the world on the bodies of two 5,year-old mummies from Egypt. Infrared images of the mummies revealed tattoos of a wild bull Bos primigenius and a Barbary sheep Ammotragus lervia on the upper arm of a mummy nicknamed "Gebelein Man A. Friedman's hunch came about after she and her colleagues discovered a Nubian cemetery at Hierakopolis in Upper Egypt dating to the early Middle Kingdom, or about B. The archaeologists found that three ancient women buried in the cemetery had extensive tattoos, especially on their abdomens.
Oldest Tattooed Woman Is an Egyptian Mummy
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A bog body is a human cadaver that has been naturally mummified in a peat bog. Such bodies, sometimes known as bog people , are both geographically and chronologically widespread, having been dated to between BCE and the Second World War. Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies often retain their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area. These conditions include highly acidic water , low temperature , and a lack of oxygen which combine to preserve but severely tan their skin. While the skin is well-preserved, the bones are generally not, due to the acid in the peat having dissolved the calcium phosphate of bone. Such Iron Age bog bodies typically illustrate a number of similarities, such as violent deaths and a lack of clothing, leading archaeologists to believe that they were killed and deposited in the bogs as a part of a widespread cultural tradition of human sacrifice or the execution of criminals.
Infrared Reveals Egyptian Mummies’ Hidden Tattoos
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The ancient Egyptians were known for decorating nearly every available surface, from the walls of temples to the interiors of tombs and every square inch of statues and furniture. Louis, presented research on the tattooed mummies at the annual conference of the American Schools of Oriental Research in late November. Austin and her colleagues found the tattoos on mummified remains unearthed at a site called Deir el-Medina. The still-unidentified individuals were probably artisans and craft workers who helped construct and decorate the elaborate tombs found in the nearby Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.