Another Tattoo on Otzi

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Italian researchers were shocked to find another tattoo on the ancient iceman Otzi, bringing his total number of tattoos to 61.

This strange new tattoo was discovered on the ribcage of the 5,300-year-old mummy. Director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano said, “We didn’t expect to find a tattoo on the thoracic, as all the other tattoos are mainly close to joints and on his lower back and legs.”

The position of this tattoo makes the discovery quite unique. Many believed the tattoos were used as medical treatment for certain ailments including lower back pain and degenerative joint diseases, but that theory is being tested as the latest discovery is not near any joints.

The ink on the mummy consists of four parallel lines measuring 20 to 25 millimeters. Researchers believe the markings were made by cutting incisions into the skin and then rubbing them with charcoal.

A new technique of non-invasive multispectral photographic imaging allowed the scientists to discover the new ink. This type of photography allows for a collection of a complete spectrum of colors at every location of an image plane, allowing scientists to see things the naked eye cannot.

Otzi was discovered in 1991 by a pair of hikers in a melting glacier in the Alps. Besides finding scores of tattoos, they have determined that the Iceman was likely about 45 years old at the time of his death and that he suffered from heart disease, Lyme disease, tooth decay and joint pain.



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