The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Christian Tattoo: Age 1,300 Years

If you're among the select few who follow this ill-organized blog, you'll know that I am intrigued by things archaeological. I haven't touched on the subject recently, but today I came across a story that certainly caught my attention. 

In 2005 archaeologists involved in a dig in Sudan unearthed the extraordinarily well-preserved mummified remains of a young woman, aged 20 to 35. The body (pictured above) had been wrapped in linen and wool and was mummified by the hot, dry environment in which it had been buried. The remains have subsequently been dated to approximately 700 A.D. 

Interestingly the scientists found a tattoo on the inside of the woman's right thigh. This tattoo (see photo below) is a monogram that includes Greek letters spelling out the name of the Archangel Michael. A Fordham University theologian, Maureen Tilley, has suggested that the tattoo is religiously significant and relates to childbearing. According to Dr. Tilley:
“Christian women who were pregnant often placed amulets with divine or angelic names on bands on their abdomens to insure a safe delivery of their child. Placing the name on the inner thigh, as with this mummy, may have had some meaning for the hopes of childbirth or protection against sexual violation, as in, ‘This body is claimed and protected.’”

The mummy, along with a number of others unearthed in the same dig, will be on display at the British Museum in London. If you want to read more about the mummy, see the article on The Telegraph website, and be sure to watch the brief video. It's all very interesting, and makes one wonder what future archaeologists will make of all the tattoos they will surely find on any mummified remains of today's population.