Ancient Ink

Ancient Ink

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I suppose . . . that the value of these artifacts lies in how one looks at them.
—Susie Silook, St. Lawrence Island Yupik artist (2009)

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Book Details
 392 p
 File Size 
 16,791 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 (hardcover): 978-0-295-74282-3 
 (paperback): 978-0-295-74283-0
 (ebook): 978-0-295-74284-7
 2017 by
 the University of Washington Press 

Orlando V. Abinion is a curator at the National Museum of the Philippines, Manila.
Gemma Angel is a research fellow at Cornell University Society for the Humanities, Ithaca, New York.
Ronald G. Beckett is a mummy specialist at the Bioanthropology Research
Institute, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut.
Tara Clark is a tattoo enthusiast and collector in Nashville, Tennessee.
Colin Dale is a tattooist and independent scholar at Skin and Bone Tattoo, Copenhagen.
Aaron Deter-Wolf is a prehistoric archaeologist with the Tennessee Division of
Archaeology, Nashville, Tennessee, and an adjunct professor in the Department of
Sociology and Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Renée Friedman is a research fellow at the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford, England.
Louise Furey is the E. E. Vaile Curator of Archaeology at Auckland War Memorial
Museum, Auckland, New Zealand.
Lars Krutak is a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Svetlana Pankova is senior research fellow and curator of Siberian collections in
the Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia, The State Hermitage
Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Dario Piombino-Mascali is a bioarchaeologist with the Department of Cultural
Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Palermo, Italy.
Luc Renaut is a lecturer in the History of Art at Université Grenoble-Alpes and
reseacher at Laboratoire Universitaire Histoire Cultures Italie Europe, Grenoble, France.
Benoît Robitaille is an independent scholar in Valcourt, Quebec.
Analyn Salvador-Amores is an associate professor at the University of the
Philippines, Baguio City.
Dong Hoon Shin is an anatomist with the Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul
National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Isaac Walters is an educator and independent scholar in Blair, Wisconsin.
Leonid T. Yablonsky is the former head of the Scytho-Sarmatian Department at
the Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.
Petar N. Zidarov is a PhD candidate in the Department of Early History, at the
Institute of Prehistory, Early History, and Medieval Archaeology, Eberhard Karls
University, Tübingen, Germany, and a research assistant at the Lab of Archaeometry
and Experimental Archaeology, New Bulgarian University, Sofia.

Aaron Deter-Wolf and Lars Krutak
The desire to alter, decorate, and adorn the human body is a
cultural universal. While specific forms of body decoration and the underlying
motivations vary according to region, culture, and era, human societies
from the past and present have engaged in practices designed to enhance their natural
appearance. Tattooing—the process of inserting pigment into the skin to create
permanent designs and patterns—as a form of body decoration has been practiced by
cultures around the globe and throughout human history. Preserved tattoos on mummified
human remains demonstrate that the practice extends back to at least the fourth
millennium BCE (Deter-Wolf et al. 2016). However, the exact antiquity and archaeological
footprint of tattooing remain poorly understood, and it was not until recently
that the various pieces of archaeological evidence for tattooing have been seriously or
systematically evaluated by qualified scholars.

Over the past two decades there has been a surge in interest among both academics
and the general public in learning more about ancient and historic tattooing. Researchers
studying past societies have begun to recognize the importance of tattooing in
both social and ritual contexts. Professional tattoo artists are increasingly interested
in learning more about the history of their profession, about authentic ancient and
historical motifs, and about the techniques involved in applying tattoos in the preelectric
era. The ever-growing population of tattooed individuals (as well as those
aspiring to become tattooed) are similarly intrigued by traditional tattoo methods, and
by the designs and meanings of ancient and historic body art. Members of Indigenous
cultures worldwide are actively seeking out information regarding the tattoo tools,
symbols, and significance associated with their unique cultural traditions, which were
historically suppressed by colonial, missionary, and other acculturative agents.

Despite this growing interest, there are few solidly researched volumes examining
ancient tattoo traditions. Those works are generally region specific (e.g., Deter-Wolf
and Diaz-Granados 2013; Krutak 2014a), contain dated or suspect scholarship (e.g.,
Hambly 1925; van Dinter 2005), are generalist texts that do not contain in-depth or
specific archaeological information, or are overly academic and unapproachable for
the general public. In the absence of definitive source material, scholars, tattoo artists,
and the interested public rely instead on questionable sources, including the fountain
of readily accessible but often inaccurate information on the internet, to learn about
the history and archaeology of tattooing. As a result, myths and misunderstandings are
being perpetuated regarding the historical scope of tattooing, the historic and Indigenous
tools, methods, and meanings, and the available archaeological evidence.

Ancient Ink is the first book dedicated to the archaeological study of tattooing. In
the volume, we present essays by international researchers working to understand
our shared human past through examination of the principal lines of archaeological
evidence used to examine ancient and historic tattooing: preserved human skin, tattoo
tools, and the artistic record. These studies contribute to our understanding of
the antiquity, durability, and significance of tattooing and human body decoration by
illuminating how different societies of the past have employed their skin in the construction
of their identities. Moreover, they illustrate how ancient body art traditions
connect to our modern culture through Indigenous tattoo revitalization efforts and
the recontextualization of tattoo meanings and praxis through the work of contemporary
artists. To this end, chapters alternate analyses of the archaeological record with
descriptions of contemporary work by tattoo artists who employ historic and traditional
techniques and/or imagery, thereby demonstrating the persistence of traditions
discussed in the preceding chapter. When possible, the chapter authors draw parallels
between modern and historic or Indigenous traditions.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Aaron Deter-Wolf and Lars Krutak . . . . . . . . . . 3

Part 1: Skin
1 New Tattoos from Ancient Egypt: Defining Marks of Culture Renée Friedman. . 11
2 Burik: Tattoos of the Ibaloy Mummies of Benguet, 
North Luzon, Philippines Analyn Salvador-Amores .. . 37
3 Reviving Tribal Tattoo Traditions of the Philippines Lars Krutak . . . . 56
4 The Mummification Process among the 
“Fire Mummies” of Kabayan: A Paleohistological Note
Dario Piombino-Mascali, Ronald G. Beckett,
Orlando V. Abinion, and Dong Hoon Shin . . . 62
5 Identifications of Iron Age Tattoos from the Altai-Sayan 
Mountains in Russia Svetlana Pankova . . 66
6 Neo-Pazyryk Tattoos: A Modern Revival Colin Dale and Lars Krutak . .. . 99
7 Recovering the Nineteenth-Century European Tattoo:
Collections, Contexts, and Techniques Gemma Angel .. 107
8 After You Die: Preserving Tattooed Skin
Aaron Deter-Wolf and Lars Krutak . . 130

Part 2: Tools
9 The Antiquity of Tattooing in Southeastern Europe Petar N. Zidarov .  . . 137
10 Balkan Ink: Europe’s Oldest Living Tattoo Tradition Lars Krutak .. . 150
11 Archaeological Evidence for Tattooing in Polynesia and Micronesia Louise Furey  . 159
12 Reading Between Our Lines: Tattooing in Papua New Guinea Lars Krutak . . 185
13 Scratching the Surface: Mistaken Identifications of
Tattoo Tools from Eastern North America
Aaron Deter-Wolf, Benoît Robitaille, and Isaac Walters  . 193
14 Native North American Tattoo Revival Lars Krutak. . . 210
15 The Discovery of a Sarmatian Tattoo Toolkit in Russia Leonid T. Yablonsky . .. 215
16 Further Evaluation of Tattooing Use-Wear on Bone Tools
Aaron Deter-Wolf and Tara Nicole Clark . . 231

Part 3: Art
17 What to Make of the Prehistory of Tattooing in Europe? Luc Renaut .. . 243
18 Sacrificing the Sacred: Tattooed Prehistoric Ivory Figures of
St. Lawrence Island, Alaska Lars Krutak . . . 262
19 A Long Sleep: Reawakening Tattoo Traditions in Alaska Lars Krutak . . . 286

References . . . . . . . . . . . . 295
Contributors . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339
Index . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . 341
Color plates follow page 180.


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University of Washington Press