Bones found inside a Native American tomb appear to be the oldest tattoo tools we have found to date, according to the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
The practice of body modification, therefore, has been around for at least 3,000 years. Although we have even found evidence of tattooed mummies dating back 5,000 years, the tools with which bodies were “embellished” are hard to find for one simple reason… sharp tools found by archaeologists tend to be archived in the rather broad category of “awl.”
Thus, a team of researchers decided to analyze sharp bone tools recovered in 1985 from Fernvale, a Native American archaeological site. “Our analysis reveals that from around 3500 to 1600 BC, the Fernvale site occupants used sharp turkey bone tools (Meleagris gallopavo) as tattoo tools.
Both red and black pigment remains are directly associated with these artifacts, “said Aaron Deter-Wolf of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Expert examinations revealed that the red and black pigments on the bones were likely derived from iron oxide and carbon materials, both recorded as traditional tattoo materials in the archaeological literature.
If the discovery proves true, we are faced with the first known tattoo tools. Previously, the first known tool was a tool built with cactus thorns found in Utah, dating back about 2,000 years. Tattoos were once very popular, even among the Vikings this practice was widespread.
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