Ancient Tattoos Linked to Healing Rituals

Topics: Sociology, Alternative medicine, Culture Pages: 2 (486 words) Published: April 12, 2011
Anthropology in the News – Cultural/Archeology
Ancient Tattoos Linked to Healing Rituals
October 2010, Jo Marchant
In the article “Ancient Tattoos Linked to Healing Rituals” written by Jo Marchant in October 2010, there had been a discovery on a 1000-year-old Peruvian female mummy. She was found buried in southern Peru with her wrapping removed in the desert at Chiribaya Alta. Unexplained circle tattoos comprised of burnt plant substance were found. Consequently, this discovery had raised theories that these tattoos may have been a likely “ancient healing practice” that may be related to acupuncture. Maria Anna Pabst of the Medical University of Graz in Austria used microscopy and spectroscopy to examine the tattoos. Since the tattooed neck circles contained a plant material instead of ash or soot, Pabst suggests that these tattoos were most likely part of a healing or strengthening practice. The tattooed circles are near what is known to be Chinese acupuncture points. By receiving tattoos at these points, there are comparable health benefits that are similar to what acupuncture offers. By stimulating these points, it is thought to help the body's natural healing capabilities and improve its function (Watson, 2007, Para. 2). Also, Pabst suggests that it is likely that the type of plants used in the tattoo would have had medicinal traits. These tattoos may have had a purpose to relax and relieve neck pain. There are also opinions from a Peruvian shamanic healer that this mummy may have been from the upper class who received these tattoos as part of a strengthening ritual.

This article is associated with the subfield of Cultural anthropology because these ancient healing rituals are found to be associated with places like China and Peru. These places have had a cultural influence in Western medicine because of the positive natural healing benefits these holistic approaches include. It also may be associated with the class system, which deals with the social...

Cited: Marchant, J. (2010, October 8). Ancient tattoos linked to healing ritual. Retrieved from
Watson, Stephanie. "How Acupuncture Works" 17 June 2007. 24 March 2011.
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