Three millennia ago, the inhabitants of the Deir el-Medina village found in Ancient Egypt were hard at work on the tombs that can be found in the Valley of the Kings. A new study has discovered that besides construction, they also mastered a different kind of art.
With the help of infrared imaging, a team of researchers has uncovered a diverse selection of tattoos on the mummified corpses of seven women. Interest models could be found across the bodies, and it appears that tattooing may have been popular in Ancient Egypt.
As in the case of the 5,000-year-old mummies recovered from Gebelein, the tattoos were quite challenging to spot. The mummification process will lead to a skin that is darkened and discolored, primarily if resins are used during the procedure. Tattoos tend to lighten over time.
Researchers Found Hidden Tattoos on Egyptian Mummies
Hidden tattoos can be observed with the help of infrared photography, which employs wavelengths that are usually invisible to the naked eye. Thirty tattoos were discovered on the first female body, and most of them were placed areas that require a second person to perform the task, including the neck, back, and shoulder blades.
Many of the tattoos featured sacred models, among which we can count Wadjet eyes, baboons, cobras, cows, and lotus flowers. The exciting combination encouraged researchers to conclude that the woman could have been a healer or a priestess. According to the lead researcher, the tattoos were used to identify the woman as a religious practitioner within the community. Tattoos identified in six other mummies between 2016 and 2019 infer that many inhabitants of the Deir el-Medina community favored extensive tattoos.
Tattoos have practitioners in other mummies spread across the world, including the Siberian Ice Maiden and an unnamed warrior who, on the Ukok Plateau. Further research will take place, and it thought that new data could be found in the future.