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Intricate animal and flower tattoos found on Egyptian mummy

A mummy from ancient Egypt was heavily tattooed with sacred symbols, which may have served to advertise and enhance the religious powers of the woman who received them more than 3,000 years ago.

The newly reported tattoos are the first on a mummy from dynastic Egypt to show actual objects, among them lotus blossoms on the mummy’s hips, cows on her arm and baboons on her neck. Just a few other ancient Egyptian mummies sport tattoos, and those are merely patterns of dots or dashes.

Especially prominent among the new tattoos are so-called wadjet eyes: possible symbols of protection against evil that adorn the mummy’s neck, shoulders and back.

“Any angle that you look at this woman, you see a pair of divine eyes looking back at you,” says bioarchaeologist Anne Austin of Stanford University in California, who presented the findings last month at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Read more.
Egyptian Mummy's Symbolic Tattoos Are 1st of Their Kind
A mummy of an Egyptian woman who lived 3,000 years ago was the first to be found with tattoos of recognizable symbols, with dozens illustrating her neck and torso.

More than 3,000 years ago, an ancient Egyptian woman tattooed her body with dozens of symbols — including lotus blossoms, cows and divine eyes — that may have been linked to her religious status or her ritual practice.

Preserved in amazing detail on her mummified torso, the surviving images represent the only known examples of tattoos found on Egyptian mummies showing recognizable pictures, rather than abstract designs.

The mummy was found at a site on the west bank of the Nile River known as Deir el-Medina, a village dating to between 1550 B.C. and 1080 B.C. that housed artisans and workers who built the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.