Protective Birth Tattoos Found on Ancient Egyptian Mummies

Protective Birth Tattoos Found on Ancient Egyptian Mummies

A tattoo on the left hip bone of a mummified Egyptian woman buried in Deir el-Medina. Credit: Anne Austin/University of Missouri-St. Louis

Lower back tattoos may seem like an early 21st-century fad popularized by celebrities in low-rise jeans, but new archaeological evidence of Egyptian mummies shows the practice is actually more than three millennia old.

At the New Kingdom site of Deir el-Medina (1550 B.C. to 1070 B.C.), researchers Anne Austin and Marie-Lys Arnette have found that tattoos on ancient flesh and tattooed figurines of the site are likely related. with the ancient Egyptian god Bes, who protected women and children, especially during childbirth. They published their findings last month in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (opens in new tab).



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