By using an innovative non-invasive photographic technique, European researchers have managed to locate and map the extensive set of tattoos on the exquisitely preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman. Remarkably, they even found a previously unknown tattoo on his ribcage.
Ötzi’s frozen remains were discovered by two German tourists in the Ötzal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy in 1991. He lived around 3,300 BCE and represents Europe’s oldest natural human mummy. Because he was so well preserved in ice, he has provided anthropologists with a slew of information about Copper Age (or Chalcolithic) humans.
His tattoos are no exception. They’re amongst the oldest tattoos ever documented in the world, and they’re proving to be quite fascinating.
+ Ötzi’s tattoos were not applied by needles, but by making incisions into which charcoal was rubbed.