In present times, tattoos are common to the point that we don’t generally even think about their importance. You see somebody with a unique structure or an arrow on their arm or something and never even put your thoughts on it, however, tattooing or inking is a tremendous part of numerous cultures and inking customs extend back for a considerable length of time – perhaps, centuries.
Numerous Pacific island countries consider tattoos to be of high respect, and a new survey carried out to date some old tattooing tools discovered decades prior uncovers that tattooing custom can be dated back to thousands of years. The research, which was first published in The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, centers around four tools, comprising tiny structures made of bone that was considered lost until the end of time.
The bone-like tools were initially found during the 1960s amid an unearthing on the island Tongatapu, the core of the island kingdom of Tonga. Then it was uncertain what their importance might be, however, they were safeguarded for researchers to examine later.
After four decades, in 2003, a fire broke out in the building where a significant number of the discovered ancient artworks were held and took an additional five years before scientists would rediscover them in a different building. Surprisingly, the tiny bone-like tools somehow survived the devastation, and now researchers know precisely what they are.
The parts are known as “bone combs.” These are flat pieces of bone that have been exceptionally formed to have sharp ends on one side. Those sharp ends act like the needle of an advanced tattoo gun, just for this situation, the tattoo craftsman pushes the pigment into the individual’s skin manually.
Radiocarbon dating of the tiny bone fragments proposes that they’re around 2,700 years of age, which would make them the oldest inking instruments at any point found. The tools, which are believed to be made of the bones of feathered creatures and perhaps also humans, still have tiny markings of ink implanted in them, revealing their expected use.
“The tools probably belonged to one tattoo craftsman,” Dr. Michelle Langley, research co-author, said in an announcement. “One instrument was broken and it appeared that it was being fixed, so maybe the tools were incidentally abandoned or were too broken to even think about repairing. Maybe the tattooist was given new tools.”
What’s maybe most intriguing about the bone-like fragments is that they’re much the same as present-day manual inking instruments that are still being used today.