Peopling the Past, Video #17: Tattoos in Ancient Egypt with Anne Austin

** Content Warning: This video contains images of human remains from Egypt. Please read more about Peopling the Past’s approach to the study and display of human remains here **

Photo of Dr. Anne Austin looking at an Egyptian sarcophagus through a glass case.
Dr. Anne Austin

In the seventeenth instalment of the Peopling the Past Video series, we are joined by Dr. Anne Austin who discusses tattooing in ancient Egypt, including who was tattooed, how tattoos are studied, and what tattoos might have meant within the community in ancient Egypt.

Dr. Anne Austin, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She joined UMSL in 2017 after completing a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in the History Department. Her research combines the fields of osteology and Egyptology to document medicine and disease in the past. Specifically, she uses data from ancient Egyptian human remains and daily life texts to reconstruct ancient Egyptian health care networks and identify the diseases and illnesses people experienced in the past. While working in Egypt, Anne discovered the most extensive evidence for ancient Egyptian tattooing to date including over 30 different tattoos on one woman. Anne’s next research project will focus on the practice of tattooing in ancient Egypt and its potential connections to gender, religion, and medicine.

In addition to her interested in Egyptology and osteology, Anne works on improving archaeological data management practices through her participation in an international, collaborative ethnographic research study on archaeological field schools.

Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant publications from Dr. Austin.

Forthcoming. Austin, A, and M.-L. Arnette. “Of Ink and Clay: Tattooed Mummified Human Remains and Female Figurines from Deir el-Medina,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (submitted March 2021; accepted with minor revisions May 2021).

Forthcoming. “Shifting Perceptions of Tattooed Women in Ancient Egypt.” In Women in Ancient Egypt, edited by M. Ayad. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

Austin, A., and C. Gobeil. 2017. “Embodying the divine: A tattooed female mummy from Deir el-Medina.” Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 116: 23–46.

Further Reading

Gobeil, C. 2015. “The IFAO Excavations at Deir el-Medina, ” Oxford Handbooks Online.

Krutak, L., and A. Deter-Wolf. 2017. Ancient Ink: The Archaeology of Tattooing. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Online Resources

Tattooing in Ancient Egypt (Article by A. Austin)

Archaeology Ink

Introduction to Hathor (Ancient Egypt Online)

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