What is a tattoo? How does one choose an image that will live on their scarified body forever? What is the difference between a sudden inspiration to swing into a tattoo parlor on Broadway and Houston in Manhattan in 2021 and a person using sharpened turkey bones and red pigment to make sigils on their skin 3,600 years ago? Here’s more from HYPERALLERGIC
Wrapped in the skin of a canid, a cluster of sharpened turkey bones and mussel shells with traces of red pigment appears, to the untrained eye, like a random assortment of ancient tools. But archaeologists believe that this bundle, buried at least 3,600 years ago in a Late Archaic cemetery in Tennessee, may represent the world’s oldest surviving tattoo kit. Their findings lend insight into ancient Native American inking traditions.
The bundle was originally unearthed in 1985 but was only recently examined as a record of tattooing processes. The excavation site, known as Fernvale, was a Native American settlement found during a bridge replacement project in Williamson County. At the time, the Tennessee Division of Archaeology recovered the artifacts, then boxed them up and placed them in a permanent curatorial facility, where they remained in the dark for two decades.
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