Gebelein Mummies; World’s Oldest Discovered Figural Tattoos:
The Gebelein mummies at the British Museum, has been the cause for much joy in the Archaeological society.
However, some of the most interesting recent discoveries made on this more than 5000 year old mummy, are very interesting to the tattoo society. Not only does the mere discovery of tattoos on this mummy, mean that we can estimate tattooing started on the African continent, way earlier than some may have first anticipated.
The fact that these are the oldest discovered figural tattoos, has some significance as well. We have mentioned these mummies before, as some of you may know. But it is newly come to light, that they may carry even more significance. See unlike Ötzi, their tattoos actually depict things. What is meant by this, is the fact that most of Ötzi’s tattoos were mere dots and lines, placed in strange patterns.
The patterns on the Gebelein mummies (as briefly touched upon last we talked about them), actually depict stuff, such as animals and tools. Like a bull on the male mummy among other motives (read more). This means that tattooing might also have been culturally more advanced at this point in time. At least in some areas of the world such as Egypt.
The Gebelein mummies keep teaching us more and more. Even about how much our ancestors loved to decorate their bodies, especially with tattoos. But also about the possible culture behind these tattoos. How, despite how long ago it was, tattooing had already reached a cultural significance, and were not just meaningless. A case which Ötzi also proves in his own way. So we have much to learn from our past still.