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Medicine Science

World's Oldest Tattoo Written In Soot 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the Hauslabjoch-ink dept.
ewenc writes "A series of tattoos belonging to Otzi the 5300 year-old Tyrolean Iceman are made of soot, reports New Scientist. Mountain climbers discovered Otzi's mummified body in the Austrian-Italian alps in 1991. What's left of his skin was littered with simple cross and line markings. Electron microscopy and spectroscopy now show that Otzi's tats are made of double-bonded carbon indicative of soot, as well as silicate crystals that probably came from rocks surrounding a fire pit."
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World's Oldest Tattoo Written In Soot

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  • Maybe they we burned in with hot rock edges?

    • They might have been using copper needles as well. :-)
  • I wonder if there were any bucky balls or carbon nanotubes in that soot?

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      I wonder if there were any bucky balls or carbon nanotubes in that soot?

      Undoubtedly. One of the main ways of making nanotubes is to generate a bunch of soot, then separate out the tubes.

  • was the first hardcore Tyrolean... i was wondering where my mean streak came from. Awesome!
  • Acupunture points. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by squiggly12 (1298191)
    According to the article

    Clothing would have obscured most of the designs, which are of crosses and bands of lines. Some are located near acupuncture points.

    Some of the tattoos are near acupuncture areas. Not only were our ancestors playing bone flutes 35,000 years ago [slashdot.org], but were also doing primitive medicine 5300 years ago. (Note homeopathic)

    To me that is just amazing.

    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      That's not amazing.

      'Some of which are near' - put dozens of lines and crosses on the body, OF COURSE some of them are going to be 'near' acturepuncture points/areas (which ever one you mean).

      Nothing to see here, move along.

    • by IICV (652597) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:02PM (#28711475)

      According to Wikipedia, there's about 360 acupuncture [wikipedia.org] points. According to the article, the guy's skin was "littered with tattoos".

      Birthday paradox, anyone?

    • Some of the tattoos are near acupuncture areas. Not only were our ancestors playing bone flutes 35,000 years ago, but were also doing primitive medicine 5300 years ago. (Note homeopathic)

      His body was "littered" with tattoos and some are near acupuncture points?

      Colour me surprised!

      Oh, and sticking needles into people can have an actual measurable effect. Therefore it's not homeopathic. Even the WHO agrees apparently.

      • by pnewhook (788591)

        Oh, and sticking needles into people can have an actual measurable effect. Therefore it's not homeopathic.

        Are you implying homeopathic medicine has no effect on people? i.e. same as a placebo?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Oscar_Wilde (170568)

          Are you implying homeopathic medicine has no effect on people? i.e. same as a placebo?

          Yes of course.

          Are you suggesting that a solution diluted until there are no measurable levels of any active ingredient has any effect beyond that of plain water?

          If so you'd better be writing this up because you'll get Nobel Prizes for chemistry, physics and medicine. Not to mention $1,000,000 from the James Randi Education Foundation.

          This is the point in the discussion where someone will either mention their great aunt's

          • by pnewhook (788591)

            Are you suggesting that a solution diluted until there are no measurable levels of any active ingredient has any effect beyond that of plain water?

            Dogs can detect molecules on the order of a couple parts per million, far below our level of detection. They can also smell cancer, and can tell the difference between different kinds of internal cancer just by smelling the skin. They have also been shown to be able to predict seizures, and hypoglycemic attacks.

            Most of what dogs can do we dont know how they do it because we cant detect what they can. Just because we cannot detect low levels, doesn't mean they are not there nor have any effect.

            • Dogs can detect molecules on the order of a couple parts per million, far below our level of detection. They can also smell cancer, and can tell the difference between different kinds of internal cancer just by smelling the skin.

              And your point would be? If I dilute alcohol to the limits very of detection will it still get me drunk? And what of the homoeopathic solutions which have been diluted to the point that they don't contain a single molecule of the original active ingredient?

              The burden of proof is on

              • by pnewhook (788591)

                And your point would be? If I dilute alcohol to the limits very of detection will it still get me drunk?

                And if you disable a virus and put a very tiny amount in a vaccine, will that make you sick> No. But will it help train your immune system against it? Yes.

                And what of the homoeopathic solutions which have been diluted to the point that they don't contain a single molecule of the original active ingredient?

                If it is so diluted that it no longer contains the original material, then I agree that is likely crap. However a low dilution may work.

                Er, what? We know how dogs detect those things. The chemical receptors in their noses aren't that difficult to study.

                Look it up. They don't know how dogs can detect seizures before they occur, and they dont fully understand how they can smell on the order of one part per million.

                • And if you disable a virus and put a very tiny amount in a vaccine, will that make you sick> No. But will it help train your immune system against it? Yes.
                  Wow, where to start? First of all the amount isn't tiny. It's larger than what would often be required to infect you with the live virus. Repeatedly diluting this amount would make it less effective not more yet this is how homeopathy is supposed to work. Secondly there's a well understood process involved which doesn't rely on water having a "memory"

            • by cosmicaug (150534)

              Dogs can detect molecules on the order of a couple parts per million, far below our level of detection. They can also smell cancer, and can tell the difference between different kinds of internal cancer just by smelling the skin. They have also been shown to be able to predict seizures, and hypoglycemic attacks.

              Since when is a couple of parts per million below our level of detection? Anyway, at the "concentrations" at which homeopaths consider potency to be greatest (in other words, the most dilute concentr

  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:32PM (#28711245) Homepage
    .. That he only intended getting three, but there was a language barrier between himself and the tattooist. he would have stopped more marks being made but he later fell asleep during the proceedure
  • by Oscar_Wilde (170568) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:25PM (#28711669) Homepage

    What's left of his skin was littered with simple cross and line markings.
     
    ... upon closer inspection the scientists determined this to be Chinese writing which says "Forever Protector of Old Ladies" [hanzismatter.com]. Work to locate the man's Facebook profile and collection of popped collar shirts is continuing.

    Now back to you in the studio, Dave.

  • by sasha328 (203458) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @12:04AM (#28712715) Homepage

    This is a practice that is probably still going on to these days.
    My mum, who is from the Middle East and in her early 70s has had self-applied tattoos made out of soot since she was a teenager.
    They're not like the tattoos one would be used to, but are just simple and crude symbols, one of them a cross. I am sure this is a practice still in many countries, especially 3rd world countries.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Of course this 5300 year old corpse's tattoos are made from soot. What else would they be made from? I'd say that most of all the tattoos ever done were made in soot. It's not only 3rd world countries that use soot. Many prison tattoos are done this way as well.

    • This is a practice that is probably still going on to these days.

      I can say for certain it's definitely still going on these days in West Africa, and probably all over Africa. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia from 2006 through 2008, and many Gambians have these sorts of primitive tattoos, in the Wolof language called "nyaas," that are created by taking a razor blade and cutting a design in the skin. After, the charred, sooty remains of ground nuts (what we know as peanuts, which are a staple crop there) are ground into the cuts. The soot stops the bleeding,

  • Iceman Photo Scan (Score:3, Informative)

    by worf_mo (193770) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:35AM (#28713611)

    You can find some high quality images at http://iceman.eurac.edu/ [eurac.edu]. You can see the whole body of Oetzi down to millimetric detail. You can also compare images taken with white light to images taken with a special UV light.

    As a little side note: I live only about 30 km from the Oetzi museum where the mummy is kept. But whenever I went by the museum, people were lined up in an incredibly long queue in front of the entrance, so I haven't actually seen "the real thing" yet.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      You can find some high quality images at http://iceman.eurac.edu/ [eurac.edu]

      Wouldn't it have been funny if they found the iceman, thawed him out and he was striking the goatse pose?

      I don't know what made me think of that, except I have an automatic hesitation to click any link in a Slashdot comment from the days before the domain was automatically posted after the link. After clicking enough misdirected links and having to wash my eyes out with Lysol will do that to you.

  • While I admire artistic tattoos, I probably won't get one for myself. The idea of something on my skin that is forever, but is perhaps not looking good or cool forever repels me.

    But when I was a kid, I accidentally tattooed myself, atleast with one dot of ink :-) It was in arts education in school. We did calligraphy with old fashioned dip pens. I had the habit then to gnaw on all my writing utensils like pencils, pens etc. So I did that with my dip pen too. Something fell on the floor, I bent down to get

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      when I was a kid, I accidentally tattooed myself

      I understand.

      I once accidentally tattooed the faces of all the members of Flock of Seagulls across my back.

  • The nickname of the mummy is Oetzi, because it was found at the upper end of the Oetztal (Oetz valley). I know that many Americans ignore german umlauts and write an o instead of an ö (native speakers use 'oe', if no umlauts are possible), but in this case it's not even an umlaut. The little town which gives the valley its name is called Oetz with an oe, not an ö.

    • by Shatrat (855151)
      Sounds like someone who knew some german but didn't know Oetztal wasn't spelled that way translated it 'back' to an umlaut and then someone else dropped the umlaut.
      I've seen this happen to Goethe a few times.
  • Around the Campfire and no paper available?
  • I (37) still have a *tattoo* that my aunt gave me when she put cigarette ashes on a cut that I got when I was 6. Thanks a lot :/.
  • Did he use vi or Emacs?

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

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