For most people their tats are usually no older than eighteen minus their age, but some tats are much much older! Archeologists have discovered a 7000 year old mummified body in the Alps which had definite signs of tats consisting of a series of dots and lines. The reason for the ink remains a mystery, since we don’t know if the subject willingly sat for it or if they were forcibly engraved, maybe as a result of being a criminal.
The oldest confirmed tats took place in Egypt two thousand years before the birth of Christ and then in Ancient Greece a thousand years later. These were certainly used to permanently mark slaves and criminals although there is also some evidence to show that soldiers were honored using tattoos, maybe as a result of valiance in battle.
The Japanese also have had a long penchant for tattoos, the earliest being engravings with religious connections. The use of tattoos by the criminal fraternity is a relatively recent development despite common opinion. The Chinese, on the other hand, seemed to avoid the use of tattoos despite the great age of Chinese civilizations.
The Asian continent also seemed to lack any affinity with permanent tattoos but the use of temporary henna tattoos on brides is widespread and has been in use for over 800 years, most particularly in India. The origins of this practice and the use of henna date back even further, probably as far as 5000 years.
The religious link of tattoos now seems to have disappeared and the more recent link to criminal gangs also seems to be fading away. They are now much more used as fashion statements or as an extension of the owner’s personality. Use by celebrities has further cemented their popularity and this is likely to remain as long as the infamous celeb circuit continues.