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In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old. Following discussions with my colleague Professor Don Brothwell of the University of York, one of the specialists who examined him, the distribution of the tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration. With the suggestion that they may have been applied to alleviate joint pain and were therefore essentially therapeutic. This would also explain their somewhat \'random\' distribution in areas of the body which would not have been that easy to display had they been applied as a form of status marker.The skin serves as a useful canvas on which to portray statements of individuality, sexuality, belonging, machismo, frustration, boredom, and anger. However, the quest for identity by teenagers often becomes irrelevant or embarrassing by age 40 years, and 50% or more of individuals later regret their tattoos.