Scientists Have Mapped All of Ötzi the Iceman’s 61 Tattoos

By Carl Engelking | January 30, 2015 2:09 pm

Researchers have identified all 61 tattoos on Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in a glacier in 1991. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Proving that tattoos can age well, all 61 tattoos on the mummified Ötzi the Iceman have been mapped — and they still look pretty darn good, all things considered.

Anthropologists mapped the ink on the 5,300-year-remains using a new imaging technique, revealing previously-unknown tattoos. With this new census in hand, researchers hope to finally answer the question of what the tattoos mean.

Ancient Ink

In September 1991, two tourists discovered the Iceman’s remains nestled into a glacier in the Italian Alps. Since then, researchers have rigorously analyzed the Iceman to paint a picture of what life was like during the start of the Bronze Age some 5,300 years ago. We now know that he suffered from a variety of degenerative ailments and ultimately died from an arrow wound to the shoulder. However, his peculiar horizontal line tattoos are still a formidable riddle to solve.

Early studies initially detected some 49 to 57 tattoos, eventually rising to 59. The tallies varied over time because his tattoos are difficult to spot. For one, the guy is 5,300 years old so his skin is understandably weathered and browned. On top of that, his tattoos were likely applied by puncturing the top layer of skin and rubbing in charcoal. Dark, ancient skin and black ink don’t offer a lot of contrast.

In order to up the contrast, researchers in the most recent study used a multispectral imaging technique that detected color differences on the skin — even in the non-visible range. This upped the contrast on the Iceman’s body, and revealed a set of chest tattoos not seen before, bringing the final tally to 61 tattoos. They published their findings this week in the Journal of Cultural Heritage.

This map shows the locations of all 19 tattoo clusters. (Credit: Marco Samadelli)

This map shows the locations of all 19 tattoo clusters. (Credit: EURAC/M.Samadelli/M.Melis)

What Does Your Tattoo Mean, Bro?

Iceman’s 61 tattoos are organized into 19 different groups. Each group of tattoos is simply a set of horizontal or vertical lines. It is believed that the tattoos served a therapeutic or diagnostic purpose for the Iceman, because the tattoo groupings tend to cluster around the lower back and joints — places where Iceman was suffering from joint and spinal degeneration.


A closer look at some of Iceman’s tattoos. (Credit: EURAC/M.Samadelli/M.Melis)

The tattoos may have demarcated the locations for acupuncture treatments, or perhaps the tattoos were the treatment. However, in the most recent tattoo inventory, researchers spotted a tattoo cluster on Iceman’s chest where there were no signs of an ailment. This newly discovered cluster could challenge prevailing theories about the purpose of the Iceman’s tats. But researchers were quick to point out that he may have suffered from other health issues that caused pain in the chest area but that weren’t recorded in the remains.

Ultimately, all theses theories could be dead wrong and the tattoos symbolic of something entirely different. But assembling a definitive inventory of the Iceman’s body art gives future researchers a firm foundation to start from.

And it also gives a new catalog of designs for would-be inkers, mummy-style.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
  • Bruce Brown

    So much for the comment “What is that going to look when you get old”?

    • alitlweird .

      lol. Ötzi’s mother: youre not getting any tattoos as long as youre living under this roof.

    • Matt Alexandrescu

      To be fair, all his tattoos are basically composed of lines, so that’s why they don’t look bad. If he had a more complex tattoo then the it might be a different story.

      • angrymomo

        Just like egyptian or greek sculptures? You don’t know how it looked back then, they could be full colored back then

        • Ken Baker

          What are you talking about “back then” and “dont knwo how it looked” We have the mummy of the dude… we know how the tattoos look.

          a more complex tattoo has more things that can go wrong with it, 1 as the person ages, and 2 as the mummy ages after the person dies. If it were a highly intricate tat of say like a blonde chick with a sugar skull face I would say… it may not age that well.

          • Voyaging

            I think he’s saying, the corpse is thousands of years old, maybe the tattoos used to look different than they do on the corpse today.

            Just like, maybe Greek sculptures were created with full color but it’s since disappeared and we just have to assume they were never colored.

          • Ken Baker

            Actually we can tell if they’ve had color by analyzing the trace elements. We know with roughly a 95% certainty that some of the pyramids were covered with marble and that most had a golden capstone.

            and we know that some ancient marble statues did have pigments painted on them.

            If we mapped otzi’s tats we also likely took minute samples of them and scanned them to see what pigments were used..

          • Ken Baker

            but nice job at thread necromancy.

  • Renee

    Well, from what I know, the “cross” tattoo (or just the symbol rather) was a symbol of concentration (of energy most of the time and also it would sometimes symbolize the unity of their god’s for a single purpose) for the ancient Celts. The other lines of different spaces, heights and lengths are probably a more southern form of European “Ogham” writing, the oldest form of writing in the world, the predecessor to Runes and it predated Assyrian Cuneiform. Ogham is indecipherable as far as science is concerned. So that’s my theory, his tattoos are in Ogham and they’ll never know what they mean.

    • Yannick

      There is a 4000 year gap between Ötzi and the oldest appearance of Ogham (which most certainly does not predate Assyrian cuneiform) in a location far away from the Alps. There is a well documented history of using abstract symbols in tattooing for shamanistic and medicinal purposes. Odds are no Ogham expert will indeed ever find out the ‘hidden message’ in Ötzi’s tattoos. The fact that they correspond with areas in his body where he was suffering from physical inflictions does however provide a fairly strong clue towards a medicinal purpose for the tattoos, rather than as a form of data storage.

      Cuneiform was used between 3100 BCE and about 100 BCE and the oldest Ogham inscriptions did not appear any time before the 4th century CE. There is of course a silly legend that says Ogham was invented by a Scythian prince after the litlle fraccas at the tower of Babel, but that is of course fanciful and not documented in any source predading the 11th CE, centuries after the rather brief period in which Oghma was even used.

      • Lee Davis

        Very good information. I noted the similarity to the I Ching trigrams, but as yet haven’t done my homework on the time line. What was the state of Chinese civilization at the time of Otzi’s death, and had the I Ching been written? Obviously no hexagrams are present, but the trigrams could have had meaning then. Not trying to get you to do the work for me, but just in case you already know…

    • TRoane1

      Yes and Wicca is an ancient religion…

      • BaSH PR0MPT

        >Yes and Wicca is an ancient religion…

        Totally not invented in the 30’s by Gardner when he was kicked out of the Craft for being a creepy kiddy fiddler (the real Craft, not the 1990’s theft of the term, as in Freemasonry) who then took the rituals and swapped some words out–but mostly kept it all verbatim even down to so mote it be–so he could continue to have an excuse to be a deviant that then took off in the 90’s with fat teenage girls and batty goffs who failed to have the mental acuity to know what a primary source is and held a misguided belief that it wasn’t a decades old cult and not a religion.

        It astounds me that everyone seems to play make believe and let them spout nonsense as soon as people drop the R-word. Heck, look at the wikipedia article on the subject. And just think, in 50 years when those of us who were alive to see it’s inception are dead they will probably spout it as fact, just like these new age Christ cults in the US do about their decades old religions.

    • fark

      shaddup u dont know what they mean

      • farkyou

        yeah it says you posted this a year ago, do you still have such a bad attitude now? I’m actually curious about this.

        • BaSH PR0MPT

          It says you posted this 2 months ago. Are you still a whiney little fgt white knight cuck now? I’m actually curious about this.

    • farkyou

      these are the comments I came here to read.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      LOL. All I have to say to that mass of pseudo-intellectual high school drop out prattle is;

      {{citation needed}}

  • ILeana McCaffrey

    I have Tats and I’m 60 yrs. Of age and there not distorted or wrinkled. So that’s a myth about wrinkles and any thing else. I have 7 tats.

    • Roger Mills

      I’m sixty four. Eyes our age tend to soften reality. I look 16.

      • Marsha Freburger-Gumpf

        Well said Mr. Mills…they still look good on me and my husband!

        • BaSH PR0MPT

          I bet he tells you that it doesn’t make you look fat, and you still look as pretty as when he married you too. Right? Riiiiight. 😛

      • BaSH PR0MPT

        This entire comment section seems to be random old farts spouting anecdotes. Shouldn’t you be squandering your children’s inheritance and ensuring that the future generations face financial instability and neo-serfdom instead? Your generation’s legacy as breaking the custodial chains of all European descendents financial stability and education is at stake here.

        • angrymomo

          Wow i bet you actually believe you are Not one of those european descendant? Hahhahahah

        • Patrick Bertlein

          Oh my gods what a pathetic troll!

          • Ken Baker

            What really shows how much of a neckbeard he is he named himself after a command interpreter from unix-like systems. Needs to get outta here before he gets hit with a shellshock.

    • Guest

      I have no Tats, and never will. Instead, the money that might have gone into Tats is in my savings account.

      • ophel1a

        You are such a paragon citizen, look at you! I’m sure you’ve never spent money on things other people would find pointless or frivolous! We should all be more like you.

        • Guest

          Not judging anybody, just stating a fact. Please re-read my post then do the same for yours. Who is the judgmental one?

          • Kate

            Still you.

          • Guest

            Someone has “Tats” and a low balance.

          • Sean Olsen

            I have alot of TATS and don’t have a low balance. How do you expect that comment not to come across as judgmental and pretentious.

          • Patrick Bertlein

            Some people are oblivious to their own behavior.

          • justicelps

            what is a “tat” i think you mean tattoos bruh…

          • Lisa Chickering

            True. In a in-between-the-lines sort of way River is being judgmental.
            If the comment was left alone without any one pointing this out it would have been ignored and oft times that speaks louder then words. Ophelia was being rude in her rejoinder. not judgmental.

          • Gunner

            …Hmmm…..My wife and I have tat’s and wear them well, balance is fine, and as stated by “Roger Mills” :”16″, sweet. Respectively 63 and 57, and have the rest of them mapped out.
            Non-judgmentally, some folks have no tat’s and either a plus balance or no balance, same with those with tat’s, plus or minus balance, but the balance is not the issue. Broke or not, no tat is wearing his right to choose, thus also, broke or not, tat’s are a choice. Choices should be left alone.
            We chose tat’s, and we wear them remarkably well if I can say so.
            Check us out in 5,000 years, we will have them baffled-tat’s, buried in the same casket together, her in her wedding dress, and me in my old Dress Blues. It’s all about choices…..

          • BaSH PR0MPT

            There is overwhelming scientific consensus on the evidence that tattoos and piercings are linked to underlying mental health issues. You don’t find any intellectual well adapted people with either, except within the normal functional standard deviation that applies to society through cultural influences from American media no doubt. But I’m sure the scientists in question took that factor into consideration just as I’m sure the angsty defensive and butthurt commentors here who are spouting their anecdotes of “I have a X and I’m still Y.” did NOT take the science of the matter into consideration when being butthurt. Denial is a very banal habit.

          • Gunner

            Consensus. Wow. Fact? “of a truth”? Well, any way you way you want to call it, it still comes down to this Mom, It’s my mentally ill a$$, and if I want a tat, I’, getting my mentally ill a$$ a tat. Your opinion counts, I will not deny you that, and if it counts with you then keep it. I have no qualms with that. At some point you decide to send me a bill for diagnostic’s on my mental health and state of being I would like to bring the check in person.
            See chuckles, I am not claiming to be intellectually well adapted. I have never claimed any of the aforementioned, well adapted, normal functioning, etcetera. I grew up and followed the -not easiest or one of a path of least resistance-path that I chose. I chose to be a Marine, made sure you had the freedom to sit behind the curtain and issue your plagiarized proclamations from upon high. I chose to go to college and pursue a career, licensed in health the health care field, working in places and times no one else would with people in the worst part or times of their lives and in need of some humanity that didn’t sit in my front sight post. So maybe when I retired, looked back and called it good, saw that my maladaptive a$$ gave all it could and a little bit of me that society could not give back-you do leave parts of your self everywhere you have been and sometimes you just don’t get them back when you try to find them, part of you has been lost, as if you would know that-that it was time to relax. I didn’t climb the tower and check my marksmanship, I hire out to some subversives and protest bra burning and how it was destroying the bozo zone, I just relaxed, got a few more tat’s to tick off folks like you-inadvertently, and maybe a little in the back of my mind knowing that anal retentive folks might bind up a little tighter. But those things never really crossed my mind. In the moment, my ‘Baby (my wife) and I just went with it, and as like the rest of our lives, no regrets.
            My suggestion to you is to lighten up and look around you. All the things you want to do and don’t are really more important than the things you HAVE to do! And stop trying to be someone you are not. Don’t blame the media, drop your anal fixation, no need to call someones life an “anecdote”. Chance we meet after departing this life to our everafter, I’d like to very much hear how much you enjoyed this stop you made here, what you saw, what you did, how much you liked what you were and did. I love a good story.
            My mental illness, underlying or not, probably started when I was about 4. Sitting on the lap of a woman born in 1880, became a doctor by experience, yet was deemed a second class citizen and was not allowed to vote until she was 30. And she rolled her own smokes, yet told me to never smoke. Funny, she never was wealthy, yet she was richer than you ever could know. As a child I hated getting out of bed until she showed me that life started new every time you woke up, and there Mom is where you need to start. Tomorrow, hit the toilet, drop the anal fixation/retention and go be the person you wanted to grow up to be. So, have at it, tear it up, call me vile names if you have to-I noticed your language was a little off base and very vulgar back there on someone. I could of just told you to F off, but to what end? How does that really have any meaning. That was not a question. This is: Are you setting the bar that low after your diagnosis of my underlying mental illness? Brilliant. Or maybe not. Back to the books, it’s called a “personality disorder”, they generally exist in an underlying state and rear their sometimes ugly heads at the most inopportune time. Then we could work on the polar parts, the depressive parts, phrenic parts, the paranoia parts, manic, panic, anxieties, all of the good stuff ya know. I could set you up with a free trip to the “Psychotropic Islands”-still have a few connections if your willing to put in the time.
            Time, don’t ever waste a second of it.
            And hopefully this will give you enough stuff to take up a sufficient amount of time and subject matter that you and others will not know where to start, how to approach it, what exactly to say-call me anything except sane, rational, well developed, educated, or any of the many scholarly names that go along with grammar or writing skills other than that I have a spelling app. Have fun with it kid’s, hopefully there is enough to go around also. Play nice and share your toy’s.
            Oh, and happy mothers day to ya! 😉

          • nik

            Utter, and total crap, from an obvious bigoted halfwit.
            Humans have used piercings, tattoos, and other forms of body modification, throughout history, and throughout the world.
            You obviously also have mental health issues, judging by your ignorant and uninformed rantings.

          • angrymomo

            you should be the first one here to get a tattoo…. “sociopath wannabe”.. scientist also affirm gamers are emotionally weak unstable people… so.. I’ll Stay in the tattoo team, thank you very much

          • Ken Baker

            Where is your proof of the “overwhelming scientific consensus” you provided the argument, so the burden of proof is on you.. otherwise, You are just spouting anecdotal evidence yourself.

            “I read this once on the internet”
            Sorry, but when it comes to personal experience, sharing something you have experienced first hand trumps something you have “once read about”

            Provide links to your studies, or STFU.

          • Admin

            LOL, hey Troll, you slipped out of character a few times and you are using blatant “false attribution”,”whataboutisms” and “gas lighting” you’ll never get that Troll promotion if you don’t get better it this. I’ll try to help you here…if you want to claim that you have reliable sources to back up your point of view you need to include an actual reference to the source and if you want to be subtle and not stick out as an obvious anti American government paid troll don’t refer to the media as “American media”. Hope that helps comrade :)

          • Admin

            It’s too bad I didn’t see this till so much time had passed, but the message will always be relevant :)

          • Todd Homer

            Bitch we know you have tats ..ok? Get over it.

          • Patrick Bertlein

            Why say anything if you weren’t trying to be insulting?

        • BaSH PR0MPT

          You’re a bit of an angsty cuñt, aren’t you. Left that tampon in a bit too long and the toxic shock syndrome is spilling out your fat mouth, it seems.

          • nik

            Your mouth would make a good entry point for a septic tank, and all that entered it would be well provided for.

          • Jerry Galvin

            Easy killer!

            Just listen to yourself.

          • Ken Baker

            Not to mention someone who names themselves after a command line interface prompt is not so… Intellectually stable, either.

      • Sean Olsen

        good for you, what was the point of that comment. Get a life.

        • Todd Homer

          Sean your an idiot

        • BaSH PR0MPT

          Todd is right, you are an idiot.

      • BaSH PR0MPT

        That’s because you’re sane. Not just fiscally, or is it frugally? But also psychologically. There’s a significant causal link between psychiatric and psychological instability and tattoos and piercings. It’s amusing because for decades we’ve all known it, but now it’s scientific fact. Although you can’t really mention it without having a bunch of escaped mental patients threatening you with violence and flooding you with anecdotes of “I have a X and I’m still Y.”

        • nik

          You wouldn’t recognise science if you were drowning in it.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Do you know what the term anecdote means? Have you ever heard the term anecdotal evidence? Do you understand how pointless and redundant that is? If you answered yes to any of the questions then please return your computer to the place you bought it. If you answered no, take your keyboard firmly in two hands, slap yourself across the head and return to the beginning of this passage. Repeat until enlightenment is reached.

      • Gunner

        (My God, if Todd Homer can’t bring himself to it, I will)
        “BaSH PR0MPT your an idiot”
        (I thought I’d feel better if I did that, now I just feel like I bullied the “slow” boy getting off the short bus. Not the bus for shorter people-that’s a myth that has already been dispelled on some other thing somewhere there or other… know. “THE” short bus……cheap amusement is exactly that, cheap amusement.)

      • Ken Baker

        The thing is, Your evidence is anecdotal as well, seeing as you never cited any sources other than “I read this” essentially. and when it comes to anecdotal evidence First person anecdotes are more accepted than 3rd person ones. Grasshopper, you have a long way to go until you achieve any understanding of science.

      • Ken Baker

        not to mention if you do a google search they all reference a single study done on 17 people.

        See while Some people with X are Y does not prove that All people with X are Y nor does it mean or prove All people that are Y Have X… that is YOUR logical and intellectual Fallacy.

  • Jeff

    Call in a tattoo experts on this

  • Artur Sixto

    Chest tattoos could relate to mental issues: anxiousness, depression, grief, whatever. It could relate to tachycardia or heart attack. It could relate to respiratory problems or to esophagal pain. It could even relate to purely cultural issues, myths, etc. that had to do with the chest (heart, lungs, or simply the chest without any particular organ in mind).

    • Lisa Chickering

      Could be Artur. From my readings, though, it was the shaman’s who decorated themselves with tattoos back in the day and true they could have been healers as well as holy men I believe myself that it was a something done by those who dabbled in the spirit world.

      • JR

        That would be consistent with the use of the parallel lines motif in paleolithic art, San rock paintings etc, associated with shamanic ritual (entoptic images perceived in trance states).

      • BaSH PR0MPT

        Pretty sure the dudes Italian not Evenki. Shaman’s didn’t exist outside of the Evenki until the internet and hippies collided. As an aside, love the “I believe myself that” part. Remember when you were little and your parents told you that your opinion mattered? They lied. Just like when they told you you can be or do anything you want if you just believe in it hard enough, or that you’re pretty and going to break a lot of men’s hearts.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Relate to? What are you even saying? You’re just prattling nonsense there bro. Are you … trying to interpret meaning to his tattoos or something? I honestly thought that this articles comments seemed to attract the intellectually vacuous but this one takes the cake. Chest tattoos could relate to mental issues? What planet are you even from? All tattoos (and piercings) relate to mental issues in contemporary society, the science is black and white on that one. However in more primitive societies we don’t know what was their norm as it is not testable. Therefore you would be purely guessing. One more reasonable guess would be that the woad used was thought to settle the pain of arthritis, which is far more probable than ‘relate to’ and then a prattling rant of random symptoms that have zero rhyme nor reason besides you pulling them out your butt.

  • James R List

    im 60 still getting tattooed one arm completely sleeved quotes from buddha and dalai llama on right and left ribs working to sleeve the other arm tats on chest back and 1 leg the only thing yr taking with u might as well do it up. my only question is did they find the mans motorcycle buried near him

    • Lee Davis

      No, he was hoofing it. But they did find his quiver and leather stash bag, as I recall. I believe he was “leaving the scene of an altercation” and was shot in the back. No respect and little honor, even in those days… BTW, try some Huang Po as well, he’s very good, as is Chuang Tze.

      • BaSH PR0MPT

        Because vague pseudo-intellectual prattle totally pulls the chicks bro. I find Asian intellectual’s to speak pure bollocks, they’re so ambiguous and weasely in their wording. Heck, it seems to still be a living tradition, watch the Dalai lamer being interviewed. The bloke should be a politician he’s that incapable of answering a question let alone in an honest and succinct manner. As an aside, there is no honor in battle, there is the dead and the living. You’ll find in historical combat that honor was a transient and very fluctuating thing that tended to be emphasised back home to impress the ladies and may not match up to the historicity of the event. If you shoot them when they flee and you can sleep well knowing they won’t be back in the night to cut your throat. Then again, it’s no real difference than using cavalry to run down routed units, which was the absolute normality of big-field combat.

        • Bobby

          I have several tats plus an engineering degree from uva…

        • Chris Nick Joy

          I have a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University, and 2 full sleeve tattoos, and a nose ring. I work for a hospital as a network engineer and make over $120k/year. Am I a “pseudo-intellectual prattle” as well? You’re pathetic.

        • Patrick Bertlein

          Oh, he’s British, now I get it…

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      At your age your body is already wrecked so it doesn’t matter what you do to it. There are, however, significant scientific papers on the subject of mental health and tattoo’s and piercings. You will never find an intelligent well adapted person with either. My father was covered head to toe, and he had some very honest and insightful views on them that most people are in too much denial to admit, which made me interested in the science of the psychology behind it. It’s quite interesting to read up on, provided you steer clear of the kooky non-academic spiritualist nonsense.

      As an aside, the Dalai Lama has one L and zero intellectual integrity. He spouts pure puff and waffle akin to Barnum statements. Having met the guy in person I was astounded that he’s so lauded by people, he’s a fool. Then again, I find it ironic peoples idea of a ‘free tibet’ is reinstating a theocratic totalitarian religious dictatorship under that tool. I find the whole ‘insightful quote’ type thing to be a combination of cancer and AIDS. If you lack the intelligence to be insightful, don’t try to impress people with the words of others – instead better your own rhetoric and hone your own intellect and impress people with words from your own tongue.

      • Matt Alexandrescu

        Kobe Bryant is a very intelligent man. He speaks four languages: Italian, Spanish, Serbian, and English. He learned to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by ear. Learning to play anything on the piano by ear is tremendously difficult. Above all, he has worked extremely hard to be one of the best basketball players of all time. His work ethic has been compared to Michael Jordan’s. Many days, he would practice upwards of 8 hours a day. I believe that Kobe Bryant is a pretty intelligent person regardless of the fact that he has tattoos.

      • christine

        Bash Prompt, you know absolutely nothing about these tattoos and should take your own advice: “…don’t try to impress people…”. These are divination symbols, as true for the movement of energy then as they are today. Energy moves in specific ways, it makes our bodies move in specific ways, and is used for ascertaining the truth or falsehood of information. One can only imagine how helpful this skill would be. I’ve seen your posts elsewhere and you are arrogant and unknowledgeable about some subjects you think you have knowledge about. This is one of those subjects.

      • angrymomo

        Here you have words from my own tongue: those who belittle other people’s believes and way of living, are thick minded people who claim to be in a higher level than the majority but are in fact far below the average: “a wise man is humble, knowing he doesn’t know much” … your post shows your ignorance

        • Wm

          Klaatu Barada nikto

      • Ken Baker

        people dont want a “free tibet” people want tibet released from the atrocious and cruel rule of the totalitarian china, and back to the rule it had before. Where it was actually a quite prosperous and happy country. No one wants the Dalai lama as the head of Tibet either, He’s simply the head of one of many schools that would rule over the country. You obviously know nothing about tattoos or piercings, nor spirituality, nor Tibetan Buddhism. and your use of Cancer and Aids in that sort of relation… well.. that just shows me you are an immature 4channer.

      • pope_suburban

        Lord have mercy, this might actually be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read, and I’ve been using the internet since childhood. I mean, I’m including TimeCube in this. You have no grasp of history, art, or culture. Please don’t, ever again.

      • Kristina Renee

        So do you personally have any insightful words of wisdom? Or is it just hate for others? Or More accurately, selfloathing for the fact that you live in your parents basement and make minimum wage

        • Patrick Bertlein

          He’s British so probably blames the immmigrants.

      • Flatch

        How about you give it up? Maybe you deal with your Daddy issues, then try highbrow trolling again.

      • Angry1541

        Show me a person that is “intelligent and well adapted”! Such a person just doesn’t exist, everyone has something that makes them a bit strange. This is makes us individuals. Saying “intelligent and well adapted” suggests there’s a standard for such a thing and I can assure you no psychologist worth a hill of beans would say otherwise. Additionally what qualifies for “intelligent and well adapted” is culturally different and relative.

        Your assertions don’t hold weight, even on the surface.

      • Patrick Bertlein

        You literally just spouted off about your daddy issues on the internet, good job.

      • Cassian Hall

        Sheesh – you’ve got some serious issues buddy! An educated guess suggests it emanates from your poor relationship with your father. Your generalising about people, and opinionated ejaculations speak to an inner pain and no particular wisdom. If you had a fraction of the understanding of the Dalai Lama you’d be happier, as is you sound like, in the words of the bard, ‘you protest too much’. Have a search inside and I think you’ll find you actually do want to be compassionate and understanding and release all that anger. I hope you find peace.

      • Iñaki Garrido Frizzi

        First of all, apart from really “sick” individuals with clear sociological pathologies or cognitive limitations, I’m yet to find a completely “mental sane” person, so there is no problem with assuming tattoos might indicate that a person might have a mental issue or two. But look around, ¿how many tattoos Hitler had? ¿must serial killers and evil people are or are not tattooed?
        So (second) please include your bibliography or stop referring to “significant scientific papers”. If you boast of having academic support be professional and present your sources.

      • Mindy Quayle

        Excuse me? I happen to be an intelligent and well adapted person … And I have a tatoo. I do not regret it and I do plan on getting more. Just because you are apparently non-spiritual does not mean it’s nonsense , it just means you do not have the same experience as someone else.

    • Ron

      Pretty funny

    • People

      Do you want some cookies and milk, Grandpa?
      Absolute degenerate.

  • jack

    could you imagine going back in time and seeing a tattooed person? terrifying.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      I’d just think they were psychiatrically impaired and had poor judgment, the same thing I think today when I see them.

  • fark

    now there are gonna be a bunch of half-wits getting copies of his tattoos

    • Lisa Chickering

      You could be right.

    • GilbertPinson

      Better than stars. Or butterflies on their lower backs.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Because tattoos and piercings attract such cultured and intellectual heavyweights in the first place. 😛

      • Ken Baker

        they do actually attract some highly cultured people and highly intellectual people. then again…You are here.. so… it can be said that they, like many things also bring Retarded people out of the woodwork

      • Patrick Bertlein

        Like your mom was attracted to your dad? I’d be ashamed if you were my son, you’re a fool.

  • Cinithya NenaifUknome

    See that just proves that history will always repeat it’s self and what most consider as new has already been done #&theworldkeepsonspinning lol

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Cool story bro.

  • Roger Mills

    Obviously barcode. Italians always been way ahead of other cultures.

  • David Michael

    Children, joining in the latest “fad.”

  • Albert Costello

    must have been like acupuncture


    for would-be inkers… will ya put text definitions on every shape you craved will ya…so future scientists 5000 years from now not wasting gov money on your naked body

    • rodmarcia

      Who says they will be able to read the ancient languages?

      • BaSH PR0MPT

        Yeah, because we totally don’t understand Heiroglyphs or Etruscan or Latin, right? There’s zero chance that English will be lost. There’s just too many of us leaving too much evidence behind of our civilisation. I’d be surprised if humans as a species are ever forgotten or relegated to oblivion given how much we’ve polluted space also. And that stuff will stay mint forever.

    • farkyou

      Eh I think the golden spiral will be pretty easy to figure out.

      the other ones I plan on getting might not be so clear tho…

      • BaSH PR0MPT


  • Lou

    It looks like he is doing the “Carlton” in the second photo…

    • GilbertPinson

      OMG I NO RITE? I thought I was the only one thinking that.

  • Joe Deschaine

    I got a tattoo when I was 17 and then my pet rabbit died. I’m 31 now and my tattoos have withered so much that people comment on how terrible they make my face look. Don’t get tattoos or someone will end up robbing a store, where you are just trying to buy some Skittles, and they get away, but the cops just arrest you, because you have tattoos and, even if you didn’t rob this store, you probably robbed like 5 stores last week. Tattoos did that to my cousin Jebediah. I seen it.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      That’s the most random and retarded post so far. You got a tattoo when you were 17 and then your pet rabbit died. What the hell kind of … look, you know, forget it. I don’t even want to try and understand you when you’re that retarded in fear that my IQ will drop just by association.

  • Julie Zberg

    I’m sleeved, my back is tattooed and I have a dragon from hip to ankle down the side of one leg. i’m 57 and i’m not done yet m/

    • Todd Homer

      R U shaved too?

      • farkyou

        are you lobotomized?

        • BaSH PR0MPT

          Such a classy lady attracts such classy men. Are you surprised?

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Congratulations, you sound like one classy lady. That just screams good judgment and solid decision making of reasonable life choices.

  • Scott M

    It’s amazing to stop and try to imagine what life was like for this guy.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Very little difference from today when you think about it. He got ban hammered for sh*tposting and we found the chat logs many years later.

  • Holly Golightly

    The “MOM” tattoo on his bicep faded, I betcha…

  • Ebins

    I wonder if there is an “m” tattoo on each one of his butt cheeks, spelling out “mom” … ?

  • Tammy

    I can’t believe how many people are arguing about freakin tattoos. Jerks

  • Ian Breitenfelder

    It is wrong that he was found in Italy, he was found in the “Ötztal” which is in Austria. That is the reason why he was called “Ötzi”.

    • Justin Eichelberger

      he was found on the line. Originally thought Austria (if that is correct), but then realized to be Italy. That’s according to the History of Fire podcast.

  • Michael, Sweden

    If you want your tats to look good when you’re old, use charcoal like Ötzi, if you use ink they will still look horrible when you’re old. Nothing has changed.

  • Jim

    He was a prototype gang member!

  • Terry

    I guess if there were 61 tats he was 61 years old.

  • Bob

    My guess would be they are the result of a concentrated treatment of a scratching/scraping or cut to treat the ailment followed with an anticeptic/coagulatory rub with charcoal resulting in a “tat” upon healing.

  • Keller Mane

    Clearly this is the oldest anthropological example of tattoos. However, does anyone know the oldest example for scarification? I imagine older. I would be interested in reading a paper comparing the two, and to see if the practices developed along side each other, or separate. Again from an historical perspective. Any thoughts on this?

  • Keller Mane

    Clearly this is the oldest anthropological example of tattoos. However I would be interesting in learning about scarification, and what the oldest know example of it is. As well as any studies or papers that compare the two and look at whether tattooing developed out of scarification practices, or totally separately.

  • nik

    Charcoal is known for its ability to absorb considerable amounts of other substances, and then release it slowly.
    It would seem possible that the ‘tattooists’ may have soaked the charcoal with herbal or other remedies, and then injected it into the skin as a sort of ‘slow release’ medication, or pain control maybe.
    Quite a remarkable innovation in medicare for the time.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      I love how you make a random claim based purely on black and white images (given the ink appears to have a blue hue it’s probably woad which was common at the time) and then at the end proclaim your own invented therapeutic use to be a ‘remarkable innovation for the time,’ which in it’s own right should indicate to you that you’re spouting pure nonsense. Seriously, you’re not a very smart man are you. 😛

      • nik

        Before you make sarcastic comments, you should at least learn to read. AND, understand what you read, rather than, “proclaim your own invented ” ideas.
        From the article;
        ” On top of that, his tattoos were likely applied by puncturing the top layer of skin and rubbing in charcoal.”
        and again;
        ” It is believed that the tattoos served a therapeutic or diagnostic purpose for the Iceman, because the tattoo groupings tend to cluster around the lower back and joints — places where Iceman was suffering from joint and spinal degeneration.

        “Seriously, you’re not a very smart man are you. :P”
        In fact, it appears that you are just an ignorant and illiterate troll.
        There are other descriptions that could also be applied to you, but they have no place in this forum.

        • Gunner

          “Seriously, you’re not a very smart man are you. :P”
          In fact, it appears that you are just an ignorant and illiterate troll.
          There are other descriptions that could also be applied to you, but they have no place in this forum”

          Exceptions/exclusions to that my friend? The software is so abundant and cheap, that a paper-boy, with even a small route, can afford most of it.
          I had started to wonder about his reading skills. Then I remembered Cortana, Dragon, and several other “help” programs.
          He may not be participating with out the help of several programs. He could also have food poisoning and this is what happens every time he has enough strength to try to grab something like a Smart Phone and he breaks wind from any and all orifices that can make sounds……just theory until proven to be product, and I have a telescope to change batteries in, a little to busy to check theory now…….

  • Moira West

    Early form of scanning.

  • Ddad99

    I clearly see “Mom”, an anchor and a bottle of Jack.

  • cliveklg

    Have they delved into what the ink was made of?

  • Lee Davis

    Very interesting that the lines resemble those used in the I Ching (male and female trigrams), though I doubt seriously that they had any reference to it. OTOH, if they marked acupuncture treatments, perhaps they did. I don’t know how widely the I Ching was distributed in those times (if it existed then). I will have to track the information down. Still, the resemblance is eerie. Also, has anyone done a facial reconstruction yet??

  • freddy_hills

    I always suspected Otzi wrote the I-ching. I’m only half joking. Google “Tarim Basin Mummies”

  • Michael O’Leary

    The tats are a treasure map, waiting for Nicolas Cage to decode.

    • Anna B.

      This article has it all wrong! Otzi was found in the alps, in Switzerland. He was from the Neolithic Age, and he was murdered. No one Knows why he was named Otzi, they just did! He had 62 tats, not 61. They, later, found an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder and a big cut on his hand. Also, in his stomach, they found undigested food, meaning he had a meeal right before he died. This shows that he might have been an important person, was murdered, and died in the Alps.

  • Todd Homer

    Otzi had purpose a getting his tats.. Not like the retards today.

  • blake


  • blake

    lol you are all gay hahahaha and ugly but i am hot lol

  • joe breazeale

    May I ask, Scientist haved mapped all these tats out. From an alternative medicine standpoint, have these locations of tats been put on an illustration so that any average Joe can look at these locations. I kinda believe the story of acupuncture and OTZI tat locations. I would love to see all locations drawn out on a reference human body. Anyone have this info please?

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      >From an alternative medicine standpoint,

      HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah. Right. Wtf do you think scientists would waste their limited budget of actually DOING stuff to help people who don’t actually do anything but lie and delude themselves? Google Dunning-Kruger effect, once you’ve read through that and understood it then google the Million Dollar Challenge. Go enjoy your million dollars by proving that alt med has any medical efficacy. <3

      • nik

        What! No WOAD?

  • Mister Mantra

    Forgetting the tats does O Man have an Oxen ring in his snout ???

  • John Thimakis

    I want to get a tattoo. Otzi lines. lol.

  • justicelps

    this is gross…but interesting!I am doing a school project on this dude and i wanna puke but at the same time i wanna see it in person!but….is this gonna be what i look like when i die?????

    • farkyou

      if you perish in an icy tundra or a peat bog maybe.

  • Anna B.

    This article has it all wrong! Otzi was found in the alps, in Switzerland. He was from the Neolithic Age, and he was murdered. No one Knows why he was named Otzi, they just did! He had 62 tats, not 61. They, later, found an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder and a big cut on his hand. Also, in his stomach, they found undigested food, meaning he had a meeal right before he died. This shows that he might have been an important person, was murdered, and died in the Alps. So there. Take that, discover magazine!

  • Eagle05

    See what tats will do to you. This man only lived to be 39.

    • farkyou

      I guess being shot in the shoulder with an arrow had nothing to do with that eh?

  • Akamai Akule

    Looks like Eskimo tattoo.

  • Rich Ouroboros

    Darn. No Ouroboros tat. Must be from a different clan.

  • Hp B

    Tripundra marks of Shiva

  • Crystalshine Marie

    This not my field(Dual Master’s in Theoretical and Biological Maths/Ballet dancer), but I’m surprised that the easiest answer hasn’t surfaced, or been bandied about. He was a traveller. Nomadic persons often have these tats, even in the USA in 2016. I know because 1/3 my friends have them. They are dirty kids(travelers/Crust Punks), as was I
    for a long town. Running away, and hopping frieght trains. There are many types and names, but the majority are lines, dots, or a combination of the two.

    • BaSH PR0MPT

      Dual Masters [sic] in bollocks and nonsense you mean, lying about your academic qualifications will only impress people without education, anyone else will immediately realise you’re a liar and got mathematical and theoretical biology the wrong way around.

      Maybe in your demented imagination you have a ‘dual masters’ (whatever the hell you think that is,) but it isn’t in mathematical and theoretical biology as you’d know there’s no such thing as a dual masters, nor ‘theoretical and biological maths.’ I’m actually somewhat confused if you’re trying to claim you have a masters in ballet dancing too. It would be an absurd claim, but no more absurd than your first claim is. Although that begs the question – in your psychiatrically impaired drug addled dropout mind what did you think theoretical and biological math is? Counting beans? Numbering allele? I hope you realise 99% of people you’ve spouted this lie to have realised you’re a loser and a liar. As an aside, the term isn’t ‘traveller crust punk’ it’s feral burn out. But hey, have fun at the Tolstoi Ballet, I’m sure that’s where you work in your imagination.

      Now that we’ve got through your lies let’s move onto your pseudo-intellectual prattle; You know nothing about what he was, and your understanding of history is sorely obvious given that you misunderstand the logistics of jet setting in the neolithic. I do not think he was hopping freight trains. But hey, good attempt at prattling pseudoscientific bollocks after fugding your credentials. And have fun with that ‘Dual Masters in Theoretical and Biolotical Maths and Ballet Dancing.’ You prize pratt.

      • nik

        You didn’t mention woad, you’re slipping.

  • farkyou

    Tattoos have clearly been proven to be an ancient art form, with roots beyond aestheticism (not that this is bad, if you want a tattoo your reasons are your business) and yet people still come on here to spew their judgement and bad attitude. If you don’t want a tattoo Don’t Get One and stop pretending you’re a better person for it. You’re just a person, just like all the folks on here with tattoos who actually want to discuss and appreciate ancient history. Save your judgement for church, even though that’s not even technically your job within it…

    We’re all people with different interests, different stories, and different needs. Get over yourselves if you just want to lord over people with this attitude that you’re better because you made different choices. You aren’t, you’re gonna die some day just like the rest of us.

    Save yourself some grief and just live and let live…

  • christine

    It is a miracle Iceman’s body survived. What are the chances that two hikers got to him before the animals completely devoured his soft tissues and scattered his bones? How many times had snow melted, then covered him again in 5,300 years since his death? It makes me feel that some other force was working to preserve his body, perhaps even the spirit of Otzi himself! The answer as to why his body escaped the natural ravages of time and animals will be left to the future when we have ways of finding out the past and the actual reasons for events. One thing for sure, in his life he preserved divination symbols by ‘writing’ them on his body so that if he forgot a method, as people do forget when they get older, he could look for the symbol on his body to jog his memory.

  • christine

    I would like to know if he had a ‘hair lip’ or if his mouth was injured. The article didn’t mention his lip at all.

  • Michael von Bornemann

    Anyone else notice that these assumed medical tattoos on Otzi are done in exactly the same way as the nomadic Ju/’hoansi tribe do their medical tattoos (a tribal group of San click speakers in Namibia)


    Carl Engelking, you sir are a buffoon. Acupuncture treatments? Wow, Discover Magazine has sunk to a whole new low. There’s no scientific efficacy for acupuncture, and it NEVER existed outside of the modern woo-woo medicine of the asiatic. It is probable that the tattoos were woad, and part of an equally woo-woo spiritual healing attempt of his pains. Diagnostic for acupuncture, ffs, seriously, did Carl Engelking finish high school let alone have any qualifications in history? Or is he just another opinionated ‘modern journalist’ (see millennial with an opinion) you guys hired because he’s free or cheap? If he’s not free, I strongly urge you to get rid of him and drop his articles, the damage they do to your brand are astounding.

    • nik

      You’ve got ‘woad’ for a brain.


    The fact that we have such ubiquitous pollution of examples all over the planet, in space, and other planets that would make it nigh on impossible for future archeologists to struggle to understand English. It’s not exactly like they need to find the Rosetta Stone to finally break the key.

  • Dread Mike

    There was a kid called Preran Apinakoppa in my high school he wears tattoos of similar kind. We call him Apenischopper or Apenischocker

  • Billie Mudry Spaight

    LOVE this! My sister and I have always been fascinated by the Iceman! I wish we knew what his tats stood for!

  • Antonio Stegues Batista

    É possível que a morte de ötzï tenha sido um acidente e não assassinato. Talvez ele tenha escalado o rochedo e caído, na queda uma flecha penetrou em suas costas, além de ocasionar fraturas nas costelas e braço.

  • Peyton Palmer

    this is disgusting and desturbing

  • Kailen Hanafin

    This is so disgusting.

  • Peyton Palmer


  • Luke Billesdon


  • Luke Billesdon

    hi hi

    • Kailen Hanafin


  • Steven Haidinger

    – – = yin — = yan the origins of Taoism

  • will

    it is not funny he is a legend that invented the dab and was shot absolute disgrace

  • Kyan

    Otzi is my dad

    • will

      he is my uncle

  • Steve Sterling

    Some of the tatoos look like the trigrams used in the Yi jing. It is possible that these may have been used as a shamanistic-like treatment in and of itself without acupuncture or acupressure.

  • Josh Snow

    Strange how many people seem to know what he (otzi) was doing or why he was killed or what his tattoos meant, or what the people who have tats today have in ther heads, i always go by the rule of thumb that if i didnt ask you myself and get an answer from you i prolly dont really know but thats just me.

  • adruidwolf

    They look like the Celtic Ogham that were used among the Druids


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