Ancient Egyptian women got ‘tramp stamp’ tattoos to protect them and their child during labor


Ancient Egyptian women sported lower back tattoos, or ‘tramp stamps,’ more than 3,000 years before they were popularized in the late 1990s, and they did so to protect themselves during childbirth.

Two mummies discovered on the west bank of the Nile River were found to have ancient markings on preserved flesh on their backs, which researcher said are associated with the god Bes who was believed to protect women and children, specifically during labor.

Along with depictions of Bes, the markings included a bowl, which symbolizes a postnatal ritual, the Eye of Horus that represents protection and health and goats for good luck.

Several figurines were uncovered with the mummies, which also bear similar markings in the same places – on the lower back and upper thigh – and researchers are sue this provides even more evidence that the tattoos were used for protection.

Archaeologists discovered two female mummies in Egypt that feature tattoos on their lower backs. The lotus flowers in this image symbolize rebirth and the goats are for good luck. The center Eye of Horus represents protection and health

The ancient mummies are more than 3,000 years old, but their preserved flesh still bears markings etched in their skin prior to death

The ancient mummies are more than 3,000 years old, but their preserved flesh still bears markings etched in their skin prior to death

The mummies were discovered in the ancient town of Deir el-Medina, which was a bustling region from 1550 to 1070 BC when it was a community for the men who built the great tombs for the Egyptian elites, Phys.org reports.

Those living in the ancient town were deemed commoners and several of the mummies unearthed have been found with evidence of tattoos.

The latest work was conducted by two researchers, one with the University of Missouri at Saint Louis and the other at Johns Hopkins University, who analyzed two mummies – the team reported their findings in 2019.

The researchers used infrared photography to identify the tattoos, which used infrared light to uncover false colors and allowed the team to analyze the mummies without damaging them.

One of the mummies was between 25 and 34 years old when she died and featured at least 30 tattoos on the neck, shoulders, arms and back - and they all were made prior to mummification. A human eye was found on her neck, a symbol associated with protection

One of the mummies was between 25 and 34 years old when she died and featured at least 30 tattoos on the neck, shoulders, arms and back – and they all were made prior to mummification. A human eye was found on her neck, a symbol associated with protection

She also had one on her lower back that features Bes wearing a crown of feathers. This god was believed to protect women and children, specifically during labor

She also had one on her lower back that features Bes wearing a crown of feathers. This god was believed to protect women and children, specifically during labor

Pictured is the preserved flesh of the mummy that features the images of the god bes

Pictured is the preserved flesh of the mummy that features the images of the god bes

They used a scanner to take images of the tattooed flesh, allowing them to reconstruct the ancient markings. 

One of the mummies was between 25 and 34 years old when she died and featured at least 30 tattoos on the neck, shoulders, arms and back – and they all were made prior to mummification.

A human eye was found on her neck, a symbol associated with protection. 

She also had one on her lower back that features Bes wearing a crown of feathers.

The tattoo also had a zigzag line beneath the other figures, which likely represented a marsh, where people of the time would go to cool themselves and at times to ease pain, such as would be felt during childbirth.

The other woman, who died around the same age, has two lotus blossoms on each side of her lower back and, according to ancient Egyptian culture, this signifies  rebirth.

The researchers used infrared photography to identify the tattoos, which used infrared light to uncover false colors and allowed the team to analyze the mummies without damaging them

The researchers used infrared photography to identify the tattoos, which used infrared light to uncover false colors and allowed the team to analyze the mummies without damaging them

Next to each flower is a goat, which ancient Egyptians used to reference fertility, abundance and good luck.

Anne Austin with the University of Missouri at Saint Louis told IFLS: ‘Our most recent discoveries of tattoos in figurines and mummified remains all connect to symbols and gods related to protection of mothers, children, and childbirth.

‘So one possibility is these tattoos could have served as protections before, during, or after childbirth.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk