Offbeat This May Be the Oldest Tattoo Kit in the World

09:01  15 april  2018
09:01  15 april  2018 Source:   mentalfloss.com

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Despite those challenges, a pair of researchers thinks they've identified what could be the world 's oldest tattooing toolkit: a set of pointy, ink-stained needles that were carved out of wild turkey But after examining the objects, the researchers thought they might be dealing with a tattoo kit .

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a close up of an animal: This May Be the Oldest Tattoo Kit in the World© Aaron Deter-Wolf and the Tennessee Division of Archaeology This May Be the Oldest Tattoo Kit in the World Tattooing is an ancient art, but it has left only ephemeral traces in the archaeological record. Examples of mummies with ink-decorated skin do exist—such as Ötzi the Iceman and the Siberian Ice Maiden—but they're rare. And archaeologists are only just beginning to distinguish tattoo needles from other tools that were used for tasks like working leather or weaving baskets.

Despite those challenges, a pair of researchers thinks they've identified what could be the world's oldest tattooing toolkit: a set of pointy, ink-stained needles that were carved out of wild turkey bones and then buried in a Native American grave at least 3600 years ago.

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ShadySpotlight: RT @mental_floss: This May Be the Oldest Tattoo Kit in the World — https://t.co/jROFrImv4a https://t.co/qAV30WfJYG - 2018-04-16 02:47:27.

At first glance, it looks like nothing but a pile of old bones – but these relics actually comprise the oldest tattoo kit in the world . Amber Heard and Vito Schnabel PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: New couple are locked in intense discussion It seems things may be less than perfect.

The burial was found west of Nashville, Tennessee, at a riverside campsite called the Fernvale site, which had been used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers for centuries. The settlement was excavated to make way for a bridge in 1985, but archaeologists at the time did not fully analyze the findings. The set of bone needles, pigment-filled half-shells, and stone tools were collectively labeled a toolkit and put into storage, where they spent the next three decades.

"It was one of these situations where it went into a collection and nothing was done with it," says Aaron Deter-Wolf, an archaeologist with the Tennessee Division of Archaeology and an expert in ancient tattoos.

3600 year old tattoo needles© Provided by The Week Publications 3600 year old tattoo needles

Deter-Wolf teamed up with Tanya Peres, a zooarchaeologist at Florida State University, to take a fresh look at the set of artifacts. They were initially interested in the toolkit because it resembled a medicine bundle—a collection of artifacts that was bound together to act like a portable shrine in more recent Native American cultures. But after examining the objects, the researchers thought they might be dealing with a tattoo kit.

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Researchers have now come across what might be the world ’s oldest tattoo kit to date: a 3,600-year- old collection of pointed turkey bones, ink-stained shells, and stone tools found buried in a Native American grave in Williamson County, Tennessee.

"By the arrival of the Europeans, virtually every Native American group in the Great Plains and the Eastern Woodlands practiced tattooing," Deter-Wolf tells Mental Floss. "If it's something that widespread and that important, we suspect that it is very deeply rooted in Native American history."

Their theory got a boost from another study published last year, in which Christian Gates St-Pierre, an archaeologist at the University of Montreal, tattooed pig skin with bone tools to test the wear-and-tear patterns that prehistoric tattoo needles should exhibit. He found that when it was used for tattooing, a bone needle would develop a bright polish—but only on the first 3 millimeters of the tip.

Deter-Wolf recently took those experiments one step further. He re-created one of Ötzi's tattoos on his own skin, using a bone tool and black ink to make 1500 individual punctures on his left wrist—and a permanent tattoo.

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Would you get tattooed by the oldest tattoo kit in the world ? This May Be the Oldest Tattoo Kit in the World — Mental Floss.

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attooing human skin using bone tools for an experimental archaeological evaluation© Provided by The Week Publications attooing human skin using bone tools for an experimental archaeological evaluation

Deter-Wolf and Peres said that two of the needles in the kit had the same wear-and-tear signatures that Gates found in his experiments. "At this point there's not another activity that we know of that would create that same pattern on bone tools," Deter-Wolf says.

They also found traces of red and black pigment on the tips of the tools. (They're awaiting the final results of an analysis to figure out the chemical makeup of this paint.) They presented their preliminary findings this week at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Washington, D.C.

The toolkit is thought to be at least 3600 years old and could be even more ancient: Initial results from a radiocarbon study of shells found at the same site suggest an age of 5200 years. Either way, the tools predate a group of 3000-year-old tattooing tools made from volcanic glass that were identified in 2016 at an archaeological site on an island in the South Pacific.

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What could be the oldest tattoo took kit ever found. The grave was found near Nashville, Tennessee, at a riverside campsite known as the Fernvale site. It had been a site used by ancient hunter-gatherers for centuries.

Numerous ancient mummies have been found around the world with inked skin, some dating back as far as 5,000 years. However, it’s very rare for archaeologists to come across the tools used to actually make the tattoos . Researchers have now come across what might be the world ’s oldest tattoo kit

Tomochichi holding a book: King of Yamacraw and his nephew, mezzotint by John Faber the Younger© Provided by The Week Publications King of Yamacraw and his nephew, mezzotint by John Faber the Younger While scholars know a lot about more recent Native American tattooing practices because of historical accounts and ethnographic studies after European contact, prehistoric tattooing remains more mysterious. For now it's impossible to know what kind of tattoos the Fernvale tools would have been used to create, or what meaning tattooing had for the people who lived along this Tennessee river valley during this era, called the Archaic period in North America.

"I think there has to be a whole lot more work done on Archaic lifeways in general before we can even start to parse the deeper meaning of tattooing in this period," Peres says. "We're still arguing about what they were eating and what kind of houses they living in, which are more durable things in the archaeological record."

Deter-Wolf expects archaeologists will identify more tattoo kits hiding in collections: "What I suspect is that once we start looking at more of these things, we're going to find that tattooing is an incredibly widespread activity."

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