It's been over 20 years since the body of Ötzi the Iceman was found in the Alps on the border of Austria and Italy, but only now are scientists discovering the 61 tattoos that adorned his body. It's believed that these tattoos are among the oldest ever found on humans. 

The tattoos are no longer visible to the naked eye due to Ötzi's age-darkened skin, scientists used advance ultraviolet photographic techniques to uncover them for the first time since his mummified body was exhumed back in 1991. Nineteen of the tattoos are in close clusters, and there are even two cross-like ones on his right knee and ankle. 

While tattoos today are used mostly for decorative purposes, these mummified tattoos could be helpful for anthropologists who are interested in learning more about the purpose of tattooing almost 5,000 years ago when Ötzi was alive. They could have been for decoration, or have served some spiritual purpose. Some have even speculated that the tattoos were related to pain relief treatments similar to acupressure or acupuncture

Check out some images of Ötzi's ink below. 

[via FastCoDesign]

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