Tattooing has been practiced for centuries throughout the world. The oldest evidence of extant tattooing on preserved skin dates to 6000 BC on the a South American Chinchorro mummy; archaeological specimens that date back as much as 60,000 years may represent tattoo tools.
Tattooing has been a Eurasian practice at least since Neolithic times. Ötzi the Iceman, dating from the 5th to 4th millennium BC, was found in the Ötz valley in the Alps and had some 57 carbon tattoos consisting of simple dots and lines on his lower spine, behind his left knee, and on his right ankle. These tattoos were thought to be a form of healing because of their placement, which resembles acupuncture. Other mummies bearing tattoos and dating from the end of the 2nd millennium BC have been discovered, such as the Mummy of Amunet from ancient Egypt and the mummies at Pazyryk on the Ukok Plateau.
Pre-Christian Germanic, Celtic and other central and northern European tribes were often heavily tattooed, according to surviving accounts. The Picts were famously tattooed (or scarified) with elaborate, war-inspired black or dark blue woad (or possibly copper for the blue tone) designs. Julius Caesar described these tattoos in Book V of his Gallic Wars (54 BC).