Tattooed female figurine

This limestone figure of a woman was discovered in Thebes and dates from, c.1938 – 1759 B.C., within the Middle Kingdom Period of Pharaonic Egypt.

The figures were often thought to be fertility or ‘concubine’ figurines, something some modern scholars may object to.

Penn Museum. ES 482

The figurine is missing the lower portion of the body, however, we are still able to see the tattoos that decorate her lower back and hips.

Modern technology has helped us realise how tattoos were more common among Ancient Egyptians than we once thought. Egyptians often depcited their neighbours from Libya with their distinguished tattooed limbs, however, C.T. scanning of mummies has shown females with tattooed necks and chests stemming from Ancient Egypt, and scans of even the Pre Dynastic mummy known as “Ginger”, at the British Museum, has revealed a tatooed upper arm.

It is believed female priestesses were the ones who were more commonly tattooed. Such tattoos included religious iconography, such as the Wedjat eye.

Penn Museum. ES 482