Archaeologists discover the oldest human bone tattoo kit in the world


Archaeologists have unveiled the world's oldest known human bone tattoo kit, which could provide important clues to the history of Polynesian body art.

The kit was found on the Pacific island country, Tonga, according to a press release from the Australian National University. Australian researchers studied the tattoo kit and published their findings in The island and coastal archeology journal. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the tools were around 2,700 years old. This set, which was originally discovered in 1963, has most probably been documented. However, his documents are missing, making it the oldest complete tattoo kit to be discovered worldwide.

Geoffrey Clark of Australian National University and Dr. Michelle Langley of Griffith University analyzed the ancient instruments of the kit and discovered that two of them were in bird bones and the other two " probably "in human bone.

"Since there was no other mammal of this size on the island at this time and human bone is a preferred material for the making of tattoo combs, we believe that". it is probably made from human bone, "said Dr. Langley in the press release.

Geoffrey Clark of the Australian National University is holding a bone comb in a tattoo kit dating back about 2,700 years. (Photo credit: Jack Fox / Australian National University)

Nicknamed "bone combs", the tools look like combs with grooved edges, and they were sharp enough to penetrate the pigments into the skin, noted NPR. Back in the day, the kit probably also contained a stick, a mallet, a carbon pigment, a mortar, a pestle and a container containing ink.

Traces of manufacture and use on Tongatapu tattoo combs. (Photo credit: Ancient tattoo in Polynesia / 'Journal of Archeology of Islands and Coasts')

What's interesting about these tools is that they provide more detail about the origin of the tattoo to the Polynesian, and that bone tattoo combs represent the type of body work that would have existed in Oceania many years ago. It is likely that the tattoo kit belongs to an artist, who may have accidentally left behind or renounced repair.

"The question has always been whether these tools were introduced to the Pacific through migration, or have they been developed in Polynesia where we know that tattooing has a very important role in society and has spread from there, "Clark said in the press release. "This discovery dates back to the date of the Polynesian tattoo with the origins of Polynesian cultures around 2,700 years ago."

This type of tool has not changed much in about 3000 years, as traditional tattoo equipment still used in the Pacific looks like old instruments.

"The tool itself – the shape of the comb and its use – has not changed much, and that's why this discovery is so interesting," added Langley. "These old tools continue to be used today."

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