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Although tattoos were once seen as something only criminals and rogues would sport, these amazing works of art have a long and diverse history that spans multiple continents and centuries. Each piece, whether it is an elaborate custom work or a simple flash, comes with a long history that traces all the way back to the dawn of humanity. If you've ever wondered about the history of tattooing, read on to discover how artists have evolved from rudimentary marks designed to protect against pain to the elaborate images we see today.

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1. An Ancient Practice

Tattoos have been a part of human history for thousands of years. The oldest known tattoos were found on the mummified body of a man known as Otzi the Iceman, who lived around 3300 BCE. His body was found near what is now the Austria-Italy border. Tattooed Egyptian mummies have been found from the dynastic period, which was between 3150 BCE and 332 BCE. Archaeologists believe that tattoos were in use long before then. Many cave paintings, figurines and other artifacts show figures that appear to be tattooed.

(c) Aurobindo Sundaram / Getty Images
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