Female Nubian This is the left hand of a naturally mummified female, dating back 2000 years ago, from Sudanese Nubia. Using Infra-red Reflectography the image is shown here in a negative light. Examined by Mesa Community College’s own Dr. Annalisa Alvrus, this mummified hand has been tattooed in what appears to be a shape similar to an “iron cross.” In her study of this hand, considering the location of the markings, she concluded that this tattoo was meant to display a form of beauty or social status, such as body adornment or marriage.
Right Hand Radial Side
Ötzi Another naturally mummified body, this is an Ice Man named Ötzi, who was found in the Swiss Alps. His body dates to 5700 years ago. His tattoos pictured here were studied by Maria Anna Pabst, who determined by the placement of the tattoos and signs of arthritis, and the fact that those tattoos would have been hidden under his clothing, this may have been an early form of medical treatment, such as acupuncture.
Scythian Warrior This is the segment of a right arm from a Scythian man that was found buried in the Altai Mountains in Russia, whose culture flourished more than 2500 years ago. These people were skilled warriors on horseback, were usually buried fully dressed, and with an abundance of treasures. He was found with tattoos covering both shoulders and upper arms, as well as his left calf and shin areas. Question: What conclusions can you draw from these findings based on what you have read here?
Wings This student of Mesa Community College is reminded of her sister every time she looks down at her arm, and her sister has the same tattoo to admire on her own arm. To these girls, the set of angel wings symbolizes “protection, guardianship, and love.” They consider themselves to be the very best of friends and chose to display their connection to each other so that anyone they meet can see the artwork clearly in short sleeves. She is 20 years old, African-American, and Christian. Question: Can you relate this type of tattoo to either a medical or a social reason?
Fish This tattooed leg belongs to another Mesa Community College student who got her tattoo in memory of her father. She states that her father chose the fish because when they are “faced with obstacles [in life], they just keep swimming no matter what.” She believes that she should always strive to do the same. She chose to get the large tattoo on her leg so that when necessary, she is able to fully cover the colorful adornment. She is 28 years old, American, and an Atheist.
Tribal This young man got his tattoo to represent the strength and power he believes came from his ancestors and empowers his family today. He chose to get his tattoo on specifically his right leg making that a strong point on his body. He is also a student at Mesa Community College, is 18 years old, and is Christian. Question: How do you think this might be similar to the Scythian warrior’s tattoos?
Hand? A tattoo visible on the hand, worn by a Mesa Community College student, proved to be a difficult task. Unable to locate one in time for the showing of this research project, a monkey with a question mark was shown instead. Question: Why do you think it was so hard to locate a hand tattoo? What does that say about ancient and modern opinion on visible tattoos?