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dots and dashes (ancient Egyptian designs)

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Eye of HorusAll the early examples of tattooing that we have been able to find were composed of simple dots and lines. Even the ancient Egyptians, who had richly symbolic writing, did not put hierogyliphic or other graphic designs on the body. They did mark figurines with graphic designs. No one yet has explained why figurines would be decorated in different ways from the people they were created to represent. (It was common for small figurines known as ushabti to be placed in tombs for the symbolic purpose of serving the deceased in the afterlife.)

A few mummies have been found with patterns of dots and dashes tattooed into the skin. Since the number of tattooed mummies we have found so far is small, no real conclusion can be drawn about the reason for the designs. But since the best-known mummified tattooed person was a priestess, it has been assumed that the tattoos served some ritual purpose. So far, no tattooed male Egyptian mummies have been found.

Archaeologist Flinders Petrie found implements that could possibly have been used to create tattoos, and later archaeologists have compared those instruments to those still in use in that area of Africa, particularly in Nubia. It has been speculated that the Egyptians adopted the practice of tattooing from the Nubians.

Smithsonian Magazine did an article recently about the history of tattoos, and if you’d like further information on ancient tattoos you can read that article here.

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.

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