The History and Evolution of Tattoos

TLDR Tattoos have been a part of human culture for thousands of years, with evidence of tattooing dating back to 50,000 years ago. From ancient civilizations to modern society, tattoos have evolved in meaning and popularity, with 32% of Americans now having at least one tattoo.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Tattoos have been a part of human culture for thousands of years.
02:14 Tattooing is an ancient art form that dates back thousands of years, with evidence suggesting it may have originated as early as 50,000 years ago.
04:06 The earliest hard evidence of tattoos comes from Otsi the Iceman, who lived approximately 5,300 years ago and had 61 tattoos on his body, some of which were placed on areas where he had arthritis, suggesting a medicinal purpose.
06:00 Tattooing has a long history in various cultures around the world, including Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Africa, the Eurasian steppes, ancient Greece, Persia, Rome, China, Japan, the Americas, and the Pacific.
07:53 Tattooing fell out of fashion in Europe by the 17th century, but sailors who went to the Pacific brought tattoos back into popularity, using them for identification, initiation, and personal reasons, leading to the spread of tattooing among lower classes and criminals, with modern tattooing in the United States being traced back to Martin Hildebrandt.
09:38 The world's first tattoo parlor opened in New York City in the 1870s, followed by the first studio in London, and tattooing eventually spread throughout all of society, including European nobility and royalty, with the invention of the electric tattoo machine in 1891 leading to the continued popularity of tattoos throughout the 20th century.
11:33 Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular, with 32% of Americans having at least one tattoo, and they can have different meanings depending on the culture and individual.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History