November 2, 2017
24 color illus., 157 b&w illus., 7 maps, 2 tables
10.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
2 Pounds (US)
$60.00 USD
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
February 20, 2020
24 color illus., 157 b&w illus., 7 maps, 2 tables
10.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
1.55 Pounds (US)
$35.00 USD, £26.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Ancient Ink

The Archaeology of Tattooing

The desire to alter and adorn the human body is universal. While specific forms of body decoration, and the underlying motivations, vary according to region, culture, and era, all human societies have engaged in practices designed to augment and enhance their natural appearance. Tattooing, the process of inserting pigment into the skin to create permanent designs and patterns, appears on human mummies by 3200 BCE and was practiced by ancient cultures throughout the world.

Ancient Ink, the first book dedicated to the archaeological study of tattooing, presents new research from across the globe examining tattooed human remains, tattoo tools, and ancient art. It contributes to our understanding of the antiquity, durability, and significance of tattooing and human body decoration and illuminates how different societies have used their skin to construct their identities. Ancient Ink connects ancient body art traditions to modern culture through Indigenous communities and the work of contemporary tattoo artists.

About the Authors

Lars Krutak is a research associate in the department of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity and Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification. Aaron Deter-Wolf is a prehistoric archaeologist for the Tennessee Division of Archaeology and senior editor of Drawing with Great Needles: Ancient Tattoo Traditions of North America. The contributors are Orlando V. Abinion, Analyn Salvador-Amores, Gemma Angel, Ronald G. Beckett, Tara Nicole Clark, Colin Dale, Renée Friedman, Louise Furey, Svetlana Pankova, Dario Piombino-Mascali, Luc Renaut, Benoit Robitaille, Dong Hoon Shin, Isaac Walters, Leonid Yablonsky, and Petar N. Zidarov.


"A careful, measured, detailed, well-researched, and interesting volume. It updates a huge range of scholarship on tattoo practices from across the globe."—Matthew Lodder, tattoo art historian, University of Essex

"Krutak and Deter-Wolf have brought together an impressive group of scholars to write about the antiquity and persistence of a near-universal human activity."—Tanya M. Peres, associate professor of anthropology, Florida State University

"Tattooing is as popular today as at any time in human history, and Ancient Ink will help the layman, as well as the scholar, better understand how we got here."—C. W. Eldridge, Tattoo Archive, Winston Salem, North Carolina

"With contributions by leading lights in the growing field of tattoo studies, Ancient Ink is essential reading for tattoo scholars, artists, and enthusiasts—anyone who cares about the history and diversity of this ancient global practice and its modern iterations."—Margot Mifflin, author of Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo

"As tattooing has become massively popular, the world has commodified our trade for cash, television shows, magazines, and flash books. Thankfully, every now and then a significant publication comes along that is created by people who know its history and are themselves tattooed. Ancient Ink is an important book and a must for every library."—Henk Schiffmacher, tattoo artist and author, The Netherlands

9780295742823 : ancient-ink-krutak-deter-wolf
392 Pages
$60.00 USD
9780295742830 : ancient-ink-krutak-deter-wolf
Paperback / softback
368 Pages
$35.00 USD

Other Titles by Lars Krutak

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Yushi 'Horikichi' Takei
Mar 2015 - LM Publishers
$95.00 USD - Hardback