Ancient Ink

Ancient Ink

The Archaeology of Tattooing

Edited by Lars Krutak and Aaron Deter-Wolf

Published by: University of Washington Press

368 pages, 178.00 x 254.00 mm, 24 color illus., 157 b&w illus., 7 maps, 2 tables

  • ISBN: 9780295742830
  • Published: February 2020



The human desire to adorn the body is universal and timeless. While specific forms of body decoration and the motivations for them vary by region, culture, and era, all human societies have engaged in practices designed to augment and enhance people’s natural appearance. Tattooing, the process of inserting pigment into the skin to create permanent designs and patterns, is one of the most widespread forms of body art and was practiced by ancient cultures throughout the world, with tattoos appearing on human mummies by 3200 BCE.

Ancient Ink, the first book dedicated to the archaeological study of tattooing, presents new, globe-spanning research examining tattooed human remains, tattoo tools, and ancient art. Connecting ancient body art traditions to modern culture through Indigenous communities and the work of contemporary tattoo artists, the volume’s contributors reveal the antiquity, durability, and significance of body decoration, illuminating how different societies have used their skin to construct their identities.