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Tattoos are a hot topic today. People get tattoos for many reasons. Millions of styles have been applied and continue to be created. But tattoos aren't a new thing. They've been around for ages.

No one can really say when the history of tattoos began. The oldest known tattoo was discovered in 1991. It was found on a mummy known as Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be at least 5300 years old. His tattoos consist of horizontal and vertical lines. There is some debate as to why the tattoos are there.

The most common idea is that the tattoos were done for medicinal purposes. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are located over various joints on the body. The thought is that the tattoos were made while a form of acupuncture was administered to relieve painful joints. Today, the same sites are used for acupuncture. Other ideas range from social status and ritual markings to tribal marks or simple preference.

Prior to finding Oetzi, the Russians excavated bodies that were determined to be over 2400 years of age. These mummies were found in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Instead of lines, their tattoos are in the form of animals both real and imaginary. Many of these tattoos are thought to be decorative only while others appear to be a symbol of status rank.

The Egyptians have one of the most well known cultures for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been found to be covered in various tattoos. Women flaunted tattoo designs that were restricted to women only. These designs were mostly a series of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos among the Egyptians are thought to have been forms of ritual markings.

In Japan, tattoos were first used on clay figures. These human shaped figures represented a deceased individual and were found in the tombs of the person they resembled. The tattoos were carved or painted on the faces of the figures. It is thought that these markings have religious or magical significance. The figures have been found in tombs that have been dated from 3,000 BC.

Japan's first documented tattoo is from 297 AD and has been shown to be for decorative purposes only. Tattoo artists were known as the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were acknowledged as masters and eventually created the full body suit tattoo.

Many years later, tattoos were made widely popular by the circus. Acts are performed by people completely covered in tattoos. Individuals are renowned simply for their number of tattoos. Patrons of the circus are enamored by the extravagant and colorful tattoos of circus performers resulting in an increased number of tattoos across the world.

Tattoos have been found in history all over the world. They have been determined to be a representation of a variety of things such as social status, religion and many times just for decoration. Found on men and women alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, size and color pattern imaginable. Whether they've been found to be something that was once held sacred or they're for decoration only, tattoos have been around for ages and will continue to be around for ages to come.

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