History : Jul-Aug 2019
NEWS archaeologists has concluded that a tool, found near Bears Ears National Monument, is a tattoo needle. The un- assuming artifact is made of cactus spines, less than half an inch long , inserted in- to a sumac-twig handle, and tied in place with yucca-leaf strips. Tips of the spines are stained with dark pigment. R esearchers have evi- dence that tattooists were busy honing their skills nearly two thou- sand years ago, pushing back the timescale for the practice in North America by almost a millennium. Presenting their findings in the Journal of Archaeologi- cal Science: Reports, a team of Ancient Ink: The Story of Tattoos in North America Identification of an ancient tattoo needle confirms that the practice began in the Southwest much earlier than was previously thought. A NEW PICTURE New research reveals that they were used for inking patterns onto people in the first or second centuries a.d., making the tiny instrument the ear- liest evidence of tattooing in the Southwest. Revisiting the Past Archaeologists first found the curious implement in 1972, A POINTED HISTORY TWO SPINES from a prickly pear cactus (above) form the sharp end of what has now been confirmed was a tattoo tool used at an An- cestral Puebloan settlement in Utah around 2,000 years ago. The tool was dated by analyzing the area of the midden (trash heap) in which it was found. The spines are mounted in a sumac-twig handle (below). Placement of the black pigment on the spines is consistent with the proper depth to pierce and stain the epidermis. 4 JULY/AUGUST 2019 Salt Lake City Turkey Pen Ruin UTAH Bears Ears National Monument ANDREW GILLREATH-BROWN, WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY 0.4 inch ALAN CRESSLER TURKEY PEN RUIN clings to the walls of Grand Gulch, Utah, in the Greater Bears Ears landscape. The site was occupied intermittently by An- cestral Puebloan peo- ples until about 1250. Drought may have led to its abandonment. ROBERTHUBNER,WASHINGTONSTATEUNIVERSITYNGMAPS THE BIG KACHINA PANEL IN BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH, WAS PRODUCED DURING ROUGHLY THE SAME PERIOD AS THE NEEDLE, LEADING SOME TO BELIEVE THE FIGURES ARE ADORNED WITH BODY ART.