Tattoos May Have Originated As A Form Of Ancient Medicine

ancient form of medicineDid decorating the body begin as a form of mystical medicine 5,000 years ago? Archaeology Magazine writes:

Perhaps the most famous tattooed ancient man is Ötzi the Iceman, who died high in the Italian Alps more than 5,000 years ago.

It is Ötzi’s body, almost perfectly preserved by the snow and ice after his death, that provides unique evidence of early medicine. Ötzi is covered with more than 50 tattoos of lines and crosses made up of small incisions in his skin into which charcoal was rubbed. Because they are all found on parts of the body that show evidence of wear and tear—the ankles, wrists, knees, Achilles tendon, and lower back, for example—it’s thought that Ötzi’s tattoos were therapeutic, not decorative or symbolic.

When Ötzi was first studied, archaeologists were shocked because they had never before seen Copper Age tattoos, and because acupuncture as a treatment for joint distress, rheumatism, and arthritis was thought to have originated in Asia more than 2,000 years later.

2 Comments on "Tattoos May Have Originated As A Form Of Ancient Medicine"

  1. Kevin Leonard | Oct 27, 2013 at 11:02 am |

    The story is more interesting than this article lets on. The points that were tatooed on Otzi are points that are still used today, revealing that the foundations of acupuncture existed in a cohesive form before recorded history, and managed to survive as a knowledge stream, despite no written record.

    It’s even doubly more interesting that legendary (mythological) physicician Qi Bo, speaking to the Yellow Emporer in the Nei Jing (THE classic acupuncture text, dated by scholars to be no less than 1800 years old, but as much as 2400 years old) reveals that acupuncture practiced in his time was inferior to what the “ancients” practiced. Otzi lends a bit of credence to this, at least to the notion that there were those considered ancient, even in reference to Biblical times, who were practicing this medicine.

  2. InfvoCuernos | Oct 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

    Huh, no mention of Otzi’s mustache finger tattoo.

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