Home / History / Otzi the 5,300 year old Iceman has 61 Tattoos

Otzi the 5,300 year old Iceman has 61 Tattoos


The tattoos were divided into 19 groups across his body—including groups of lines to the left & right of the spinal column, left calf, right instep, inner & outer ankle joint, and on the chest at the height of the lowermost rib. There are also 2 lines across his left wrist & a cross appears on the back of his right knee, next to the Achilles tendon.

Furthermore, Scientists discovered that many of his tattoos are located on parts (such as the lower back and joints) that may have caused him pain due to degeneration or disease—suggesting that Otzi might have got them for medical & therapeutic purposes! Many of the inked spots on Otzi seem to correspond to skin acupuncture lines where acupuncture became a form of healing in Asia that originated thousands of years after Otzi’s time.

Otzi is currently housed at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy. The findings were published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage.

Photo credit: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, EURAC/Samadelli/Staschitz



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