AR­CHAE­O­LOG­I­CAL NEWS

Timeless Travels Magazine - - CONTENTS -

With the aid of a non-in­va­sive pho­to­graphic tech­nique, re­searchers at the EURAC-In­sti­tute for Mum­mies and the Ice­man have been able to show up all the tat­toos on the man who was found pre­served in a glacier, and in the process have stum­bled upon a pre­vi­ously un­known tat­too on his ribcage.

This tat­too is very dif­fi­cult to make out with the naked eye be­cause his skin has dark­ened so much over time. The latest so­phis­ti­cated pho­to­graphic tech­nol­ogy has now en­abled tat­toos in deeper skin lay­ers to be iden­ti­fied as well.

Ötzi’s dis­cov­er­ers had al­ready no­ticed his tat­toos on the very day they found him, 19th Septem­ber 1991. Var­i­ous stud­ies since then have in­ves­ti­gated and itemised these skin marks. But now, us­ing a tech­nique which he de­vel­oped him­self, Marco Sa­madelli, a sci­en­tist at the EURAC-In­sti­tute for Mum­mies and the Ice­man, has car­ried out a com­plete map­ping of all the tat­toos. They are amongst the old­est doc­u­mented tat­toos in the world.

Sa­madelli pho­tographed the mummy’s body from dif­fer­ent an­gles us­ing a multi-spec­tral pro­ce­dure which cov­ered the whole range of wave­lengths from in­frared to ul­tra­vi­o­let. This al­lowed tat­toos deep in the skin lay­ers and which are no longer recog­nis­able to the hu­man eye to be shown up with great pre­ci­sion.

The newly dis­cov­ered tat­toos on the ribcage have now re­opened the de­bate about the role of tat­toos in pre­his­toric times. This in­ves­ti­ga­tion has given re­searchers a new piece to add to the jig­saw puz­zle when try­ing to tease out whether pre­his­toric tat­toos had a ther­a­peu­tic, sym­bolic or re­li­gious sig­nif­i­cance.

To read more see www.pastho­ri­zon­spr.com

Over­view of the tat­toos on Ötzi

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