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Andean mummy tattoos marked acupuncture points

Pretty tatoos found on a 1,000-year-old Andean mummy may have been used to mark accupuncture points.

The female mummy in the study is much more recent, from about 1,000 B.C., and bore tattooed animals like “birds, apes, reptiles in addition to symbols.” Rings were tattooed on four of the fingers with soot.

Most intriguing to the researchers, 12 overlapping circles tattooed on the woman’s neck resemble “therapeutic” tattoo spots corresponding to acupuncture points used to relieve neck pain. A 1999 study (not without disagreement) suggested similar therapeutic tattoos adorn the famous Tyrolean iceman mummy, Otzi.

Summarizing the possible medical intention lying behind the circle tattoos, we assume local problems of the upper spine or headaches as possible reasons for treatment by the tattooing. In contrast with the soot used in the decorative parts of the tattoos, partially pyrolyzed plant material, probably burned herbs, was used for the therapeutic neck tattoos.

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3 thoughts on “Andean mummy tattoos marked acupuncture points

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