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Thread: Did Ancient Germanics Have Tattoos?

  1. #21
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    Tattoos were common among ancient peoples, especially the Celts, Germans, and Slavs often used body decorations.
    Ibn Fahdlan mentions in his "Risala" that many of the Vikings living in Russia had tattoos from their fingers to their necks and in western Russia frozen human bodies have been found that had tattoos of snakes, horses, trees, and swirling patterns.
    It is believed that tattoos were made with sharp objects (for scars), fire (for burnmarks), or ink (for detailed drawings), temporary tattoos may have also been used for rituals and there are reports of Vikings decorating their bodies with runes, this kind of temporary tattoos did not have to be permanent so they may have been created with paint that could be washed off again.
    After the Christianization of Europe tattoos were condemned as a sign of heathenism and even today tattoos are seen as something that is only used by criminals and proletarians, it can even get you fired in some professions.
    Seems to be an interesting site in general on Germanic history

    Used throughout the history of humanity for religious, medicinal, and cosmetic purposes, tattooing can be traced back as far as the human record extends. The ancient practice is mentioned by classic authors in Gaulish, ancient German, and Thracian society, and tattoos can be found on Nubian and Egyptian mummies, but the oldest historical record was discovered in 1991 on a mountain between Austria and Italy. The frozen remains of a 5000-year-old hunter were excavated and found to be bearing several tattoos. A cross on the inside of a knee, six straight lines above the kidneys, and a host of parallel lines on the ankles has led scientists to surmise, because of the tattoo placement, that they served a therapeutic purpose.
    Brief history on tattoos

    The Scythian Pazyryk of the Altai Mountain region were another ancient culture which employed tattoos. In 1948, the 2,400 year old body of a Scythian male was discovered preserved in ice in Siberia, his limbs and torso covered in ornate tattoos of mythical animals. Then, in 1993, a woman with tattoos, again of mythical creatures on her shoulders, wrists and thumb and of similar date, was found in a tomb in Altai. The practice is also confirmed by the Greek writer Herodotus c. 450 B.C., who stated that amongst the Scythians and Thracians "tattoos were a mark of nobility, and not to have them was testimony of low birth.”

    Accounts of the ancient Britons likewise suggest they too were tattooed as a mark of high status, and with "divers shapes of beasts" tattooed on their bodies, the Romans named one northern tribe "Picti," literally "the painted people."

    Yet amongst the Greeks and Romans, the use of tattoos or "stigmata" as they were then called, seems to have been largely used as a means to mark someone as "belonging" either to a religious sect or to an owner in the case of slaves or even as a punitive measure to mark them as criminals. It is therefore quite intriguing that during Ptolemaic times when a dynasty of Macedonian Greek monarchs ruled Egypt, the pharaoh himself, Ptolemy IV (221-205 B.C.), was said to have been tattooed with ivy leaves to symbolize his devotion to Dionysus, Greek god of wine and the patron deity of the royal house at that time. The fashion was also adopted by Roman soldiers and spread across the Roman Empire until the emergence of Christianity, when tattoos were felt to "disfigure that made in God's image" and so were banned by the Emperor Constantine (A.D. 306-373).
    From the Smthsonianmag

    A tattooed Pictish woman:

    Even the name is confusing: Pict (Pictii) is actually probably a derrogatory nickname given by the Romans to their tattooed enemies; it could mean "Painted."

    The ancient Greeks called them the "Pritanni" (which some people think is the origin of the word Britannic). Pritanni means "the People of the Designs" as does the word "Cruithnii," which is what the Gaelic Celts called them.
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  2. #22
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    While we don't know if he was Germanic or not Ötzi did have tattoos.

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