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Who invented tattoos?

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Quick Answer

Humans around the world have practiced tattooing since prehistoric times. As such, there is no consensus as to who invented tattoos. The word "tattoo" is derived from several Polynesian languages. Natives of islands as far apart as Samoa and Tahiti refer to such body art as "tatau" or "tatu," respectively.

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Who invented tattoos?
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When people at distant locations share a common word for an object or practice, linguists interpret it to mean that the word in question originated a long time ago. According to archaeologists, Polynesians began colonizing the Pacific over 3,000 years ago. "The Bible," which was compiled around the same time and half a world away, also makes passing references to tattoos, if only to prohibit them. Thus, it is safe to say tattoos have been around for well over 3,000 years and were probably developed independently by a variety of people throughout the world.

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