“The earliest evidence we have of tattoos, not surprisingly, is cosmetic,” says Lars Krutak. Tattooed on the upper lip of a 7,000-year-old mummy from the Chinchorro culture of northern Chile and southern Peru is a thin pencil mustache. “But, the second oldest we have is medicinal,” he adds.
Krutak, sitting at his desk in the bowels of the National Museum of Natural History, is referring to Ötzi, the 5,300-year-old mummified “Iceman,” so named by researchers because he was discovered in the Ötztal Alps on the Italy-Austria border in September 1991. The preserved body has a total of 57 tattoos—short lines etched in groups on his lower back and ankles, a cross behind his right knee and two rings around his left wrist. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Photo: Bracelet-like tattoo of the 5,300-year-old Iceman. Courtesy of South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology / Eurac / Samadelli / Staschitz