Tattoos, even the ancient Egyptians were fascinated by them


With the fashion for hipster pants, the custom of tattoos on the lower back broke out, we are around the 2000s. However, we know that the fashion for tattoos is not recent: Ötzi, the mummy from the Copper Age (then lived 5300 years ago), found in Ötztal in North Tyrol, had 61 tattoos .

Some excavations have found that tattoos were also quite common in Ancient Egypt. The first discovery dates back to about twenty years ago, on two female mummies, from an ancient city called Deir el-Medina, near the Nile River. Over the years, discoveries at the archaeological site have continued to unearth more remains, including mummies and tattooed statuettes , which suggest that tattooing was a fairly common fashion for women in ancient Egypt around 3,000 years ago. does.

The most interesting discovery is the motivation behind these indelible drawings that have come down to us.

Good luck tattoos

Analyzing the skin of one of the two mummies, the researchers found traces of a tattoo depicting a bowl, a purification ritual and a representation of Bes , the Egyptian god who protects families and mothers . Analyzing the other mummy, it was discovered that it was a middle-aged woman who had, in addition to the depiction of Bes, another tattoo that symbolized the eye  of Horus (symbol of prosperity and health) and a further tattoo on the neck. In the design that makes up the back tattoo, there is also a zig-zag line that indicates a swamp, a place where people went to relax and relieve pain (as in childbirth).

Putting all these elements together, the researchers interpret this custom and the choice of specific symbols as a sign that tattoos were used to ask the gods for help in pregnancy and postpartum – with the aim of always wearing the own amulet. The choice of placement on the body, the lower back, is also significant: “Acute back pain often accompanies labor,” the study authors write.


The authors of the research say these are initial guesses that warrant studying far more mummies to ascertain their theory.

The study was published in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology .


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