Tattoos have become an everyday thing by 2019. You’d have to really try to live a day in our world without encountering someone with at least one tattoo (not to mention the thousands of people that want one but haven’t mustered up the courage to get one yet). Tattoos have a long history that spans all continents, many countries, and centuries of traditions and customs. You might think you know everything about them, but here are 9 facts about tattoos that just might surprise you!
They Can Symbolize Status
Tattoos can symbolize status — both “elite” status and “low life” status (depending on where you go). For example, in Europe (especially Eastern Europe) tattoos used to be signifiers of the lower class, commonly associated with criminals who have had jail time. In ancient Greece tattoos were used to mark slaves and in Rome tattoos were used to mark fugitives. On the other hand, for the Mãori people of New Zealand and Native Americans tattoos are a rite of passage and symbols of war or cultural accomplishments.
Tattoos are Older than You Think
Archeologists have discovered ancient tools in areas around France, Portugal, and Scandinavia that resembled tools likely to have been used to give people tattoos. These date to the times of the last ice age, placing them around 10,000 B.C.
Meanwhile, the preserved skeleton called Tyrolean Iceman, whose skin was still intact, also had signs of tatouage. His legs, ankles, wrists, and spine are covered in crosses and parallel lines. When the skeleton was X-rayed, it was discovered that the tattoos were on joints that were diseased, likely signifying that tattoos were used to “heal” illness and treat pain.