It might seem a strange idea, but using a sharp object to inject dye underneath the skin has been going on for a long time, and in many far-flung corners of the world. Scratching the Surface.
Believe it or not, we can still see the tattoos on a 5,500-year-old man. The oldest mummy ever found, known as Otzi the Ice Man, was preserved in ice in the Alps. Otzi has no fewer than 57 tattoos on his body. X-rays have shown that Otzi had arthritis in the places covered by the tattoos, so perhaps they were used as a magic charm or remedy to cure the condition.
There are tattoos on an ancient Egyptian mummy of a priestess called Amunet from around 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptian clay dolls have also been discovered with similar tattoo marks on them. No one knows what the marks signified.
A tattooed chieftain from around 2,500 years ago was found in Siberian Russia. The body is covered in tattoos of elaborate animal designs. People of the South Pacific have worn tattoos for hundreds of years. The complicated designs carry meanings about the wearer’s status.
Our word ‘tattoo’ may derive from a Tahitan word ‘tatau’, which means ‘wound’. Tattoos are still as popular as ever. Samuel O’Reilly invented his electric tattooing machine in 1891 and modern machines can puncture the skin 3,000 times per minute, making the ancient art of tattooing a little quicker.
Useful tattoos: Scientists have invented a ‘smart tattoo’ that glows to warn diabetics when their blood sugar levels are low. At the moment, people with diabetes have to prick themselves with a needle to test their blood sugar.
It’s easy to make your own temporary tattoos if you have the use of a computer and color printer. You’ll also need special tattoo paper that can go through the printer, oh yes, and an eye for brilliant designs.
There are many types of tattoo paper, so make sure you read the instructions properly before printing. Scan examples into your computer or create your own using an art program, and then print them on to tattoo paper.