Article / artikel
Mann im Eis. Neue Funde und Ergebnisse. K. Spindler, E. Rastbichler-Zissernig,
H. Wilfing, D. zur Nedden, H. Nothdurfter (eds.), 275-278. Wien/ New
body of the man from Hauslabjoch. Preliminary results
Eddy van der Velden(1), Leo den Dulk(1), Henk Leenders(2), Koert Dingemans(3),
Marius van der Bergh Weerman(3) , Sebastiaan van der Putte(4), Vojislav
Vuzevski(5), and Bemard Naafs(1)
of Dermato-venereology, Academic Hospital Dijkzigt, Erasmus University,
for Otobiology & Biocompatibility, Biomaterials Research Group,
University Hospital, Leiden
of Pathology, Electron-Microscopy, Academic Medical Centre, University
of Pathology, Academic Hospital, University of Utrecht
of Pathology, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
oldest tattoos known until the discovery of the man from Hauslabjoch were
those found on the bodies of the Egyptian mummies of the priestesses of
Hathor (Middle Kingdom, 2040-1780 B.C.)(1,2). The new find makes the tattooing
technique some 1200 years older than was assumed. In historical respect,
the finds of Pasyryk (Altai mountains, 440-420 B.C.)(3,4) and Qilakitsoq
(Greenland, 1475 A.D.)(5) are equally important in showing that tattooing
techniques have been used over a very long period and with a wide geographical
The body of the man from Hauslabjoch shows three tattoos. The first is
situated on the left lower back and consists of one group of four lines
positioned above two groups of three lines. The second tattoo is located
on the inside of the right knee and has the shape of a cross. The third
is formed by a group of three lines on the outside of the right ankle.
December 21, 1992, punch biopsies of 4 mm diameter were taken from all
Biopsy no. 1 was taken from the lower side of the medial line of the group
of four in tattoo no. 1. The biopsy was full thickness into the subcutaneous
fat and was divided in two. One half, specimen no. 1A, was fixed
in buffered formalin, the other half; specimen no. I B, in liquid nitrogen
after saturating it in PBS.
Biopsy no. 2 was taken from the medial side of the horizontal arm of the
cross of tattoo no. 2. This biopsy was also divided in two. One half;
specimen no. 2A, was fixed in glutaraldehyde, the other half; specimen
no. 2B, was frozen.
Biopsy no. 3 was taken from the top of the middle line of tattoo no. 3.
The biopsy was divided in two. One half, specimen no. 3A, was fixed in
glutaraldehyde, the other half, specimen no. 3B, was frozen.
The frozen samples were stored at -70 °c until use.
The samples were examined in order to answer three important questions:
Where in the dermis is the pigment located, what material does it consist
of and how has it been introduced into the skin?
no. 1A, fixed in buffered formalin, was carefully processed and embedded
in paraffin. Slides were cut and stained with H & E and examined.
1 B has not yet been examined.
2A was embedded in Epon, after Osmium-postfixation, for TEM (Transmission
Electron Microscopy), which was performed on coupes of 60 nm on copper
grids with a Zeiss EM 902.
2B has not yet been examined.
3A was divided in two halves, no. 3A1 and no. 3A2.
After Osmium fixation and a prolonged embedding procedure in Epon, Sp.
3A1 was used forTEM which was performed on coupes of 60 nm on copper
grids with a Philips CM 10.
3A2 has been examined using TEM, SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy),
freeze-fracturing and X-ray microanalysis. TEM was performed on coupes
of 80-100 nm on copper grids with a Philips EM 400, fitted with a Tracor
Northern Microanalyser. SEM was performed according to the procedure
described by Hayat(6). After Critical Point Drying (CPD) with a Balzer
CPD-030 the specimen was glued with a carbon glue onto an aluminium
stub. It was then shadowed with carbon and examined using a Philips
SEM 525M, equipped with a Voyager Tracor Northern Microanalyser. The
results were reproduced on slides. After X-raf microanalysis the specimen
was sputtered with gold (Balzer MED 010) to get a still better resolution
for SEM. Another specimen was freeze-fractured according to the procedure
described by Hayat(7).
3B has not yet been examined.
was noted first in all three of the specimina was the absence of details
of the epidermis. Electron microscopy at a low magnification shows that
it has completely necrotized (Fig. 1).
examination of sp. 1A did not reveal any recognizable structure.
of sp. 2A showed abundant, well-preserved collagen fibres in between which
pigment particles were seen. These were located in the dermis through
the whole of the sp. and some could be seen in cells which had the features
of fibroblasts. Distribution and size of the pigment particles showed
a remarkable likeness with those of contemporary tattoos (Fig. 2).
of sp. 3A1: The material was found to be very hard to cut, even after
a prolonged embedding procedure. As a result, the coupes are folded and
fall apart easily, which makes them difficult to evaluate. Collagen bundles
are recognizable, in between which crumbled material is seen. The rest
of the material is structureless and homogeneous. In TEM the collagen
bundies are made up of closely packed, very regularly structured fibrils.
The pattern of the transverse bands is extremely weIl-preserved (Fig.
3). The diameter of the fibrils is approx. 60 nm. The crumbled material
also turned out to be collagen, but this was non-structured. The homogeneous
material consists of criss-cross structures, often filament-like, which
are difficult to define but which could be degenerated elastine. In between
the components of the matrix structure mentioned above two more structures
can be seen:
A. Homogeneous, electron-dense rounded bodies of 100-400 nm diameter.
These could weIl be the expected pigment particles.
B. Bodies of 600-900 nm diameter with a clear wall. These could be micro-
of sp. 3A2: During examination a number of structures was seen, which
were found during x-ray microanalysis to consist of CaP (calcium phosphate).
The calcium phosphate depositions are present throughout the specimen.
During one of the mappings a high concentration of silicium was detected
in the upper layer of the specimen. This could be sand particles (Fig.
4a, b). Diffusely spread traces of sulphur and phosphate were also detected.
of sp. 3A2: Using x-ray microanalysis, different trace elements were detected.
In some areas, amorphous black deposits were seen in which silicium could
be detected. In other areas remnants of the post-fixation osmium and uranyl
were found. Furthermore, iron, phosphate and sodium were found among others.
Many aggregates of pigment particles were also seen.
Freeze-fracturing was also performed on sp. 3A2, followed by SEM. The
procedure for the preparation of the specimen took a considerably longer
period of time than for normal skin. Due to the age of the specimen the
release of the replica took 6 weeks. The replicas showed a very good skin
morphology in which the normal skin structure was visible. The replicas
also showed the corneocytes located in layers showing a stepped aspect.
Within this normal morphology, in some areas aggregates are found consisting
of rounded pigment particles 100- 400 nm in diameter (Fig. 5). The particles
are found in the same locations, and have the same shape and size as the
electron-dense aggregates seen in TEM.
present no definite statement can be made about the method of application
of the tattoos. It is likely that a method similar to well-known primitive
methods was used. This may have involved the use of soot. This would either
have been rubbed on the skin, after which it was punctured, or vice versa.
In the upper layer of specimen 3A2 particles were present which could
be sand particles, since x-ray microanalysis showed the major constituent
to be silicates. Moreover, cutting these particles presented major problems,
even though a diamond knife was used.
The presence of sand particles on the skin of the Man from Hauslabjoch
may support the theory that after his death hot föhn-winds desiccated
Remarkable is the excellent condition of the collagen fibres (Fig. 2).
Among them, a few fibroblasts are preserved. In some of these, pigment
particles of the same size and morphology as those found in contemporary
tattoos are present. At the moment, it is not as yet clear whether these
particles are soot or another substance.
The significance of the tattoo is still a subject of speculation. One
thing which may be safely assumed however is that the tattoos did not
serve any decorative purposes, since they are located on parts of the
body which were normally not exposed. However, in primitive societies
tattooing is often used as a therapeutic, or a preventive measure. Both
localisation and shape show a remarkable resemblance to contemporary therapeutic
tattoos as seen in India and Africa.
normal light conditions, the body of the man from Hauslabjoch shows tattoos
on three locations. Of each location, a 4-mm punch biopsy was taken. Different
electron microscopic examination techniques showed the presence of sand
particles, supporting the theory that the body was desiccated by hot winds.
Size and morphology of the pigment aggregates found indicate that the
method used to apply the tattoos was much the same as contemporary methods.
Macroscopic evaluation shows that a remarkable resemblance exists with
contemporary therapeutic tattoos found in India and Africa. Examination
of the remaining specimina should give additional clues as to what materials
normalen Lichtbedingungen zeigt der Körper des Mannes vom Hauslabjoch
drei tätowierte Stellen. Jeder Stelle wurde ein 4-mm Biopt entnommen.
Unterschiedliche elektronenmikroskopische Untersuchungstechniken zeigten
die Anwesenheit van Sandpartikeln, die die Theorie bestätigt, dass
der Körper von Föhnwinden ausgetrocknet worden ist. Grösse
und Morphologie der gefundenen Pigmentaggregaten deuten daraufhin, dass
die damals zur Aufbringung der Tätowierungen angewendeten Techniken
den heutigen sehr ähnlich sind. Die Makroskopie ergibt eine bemerkenswerte
Übereinstimmung mit modernen therapeutischen Tätowierungen wie
diese in Afrika und Indien angewandt werden. Untersucnung der noch vorliegenden
Spezimina sollte zusätzliche Ergebnisse über die verwendeten
du corps de I'homme de Hauslabjoch, exécuté sous des conditions
d' éclairage normales a revélé trois lieux tatoués.
On a pris un 4 mm-biopte de chacun de ces lieux. l'Examen exécuté
à l'aide du microscope électronique, a montré la
présence de particles de sable, ce qui confirme l'hypothèse
que des tempêtes, causées par le föhn, ont desséché
le corps. l'Etendue et le caractère morpholo- gique des agrégats
de piment justifient la conclusion que les méthodes employées
pour appliquer les tatouages ont été quasi-identiques aux
méthodes actuelles. l'Evaluation macroscopique révèle
une ressemblance remarquable avec les tatouages thérapeutiques
en usage aux lndes et en Afrique. l'Examen des autres spécimen
devrait résulter dans des conclusions additionelles en ce qui concerne
la nature des matériaux en usage en ce temps-là.
una luce normale il corpo dell' uomo di Hauslabjoch dimostra tatuaggi
in tre posti differenti. In ogni posto è stata fatta una biopsia
di 4 mm. Esami elettromicroscopici di tecniche differenti hanno indicato
la presenza di granelli di sabbia il chè sorregge la teoria che
il corpo è stato disseccato da venti caldi e secchi. Le misure
e la morfologia degli aggregati di pigmento dimostrano che la tecnica
di tatuaggi di allora non è certamente molto differente da quella
di oggi. La macroscopia fa vedere una notevole assomoglianza con i tatuaggi
terapeutici moderni come li troviamo in India e in Africa. Ulteriori esami
delle rimanenti specimina potranno informarci sul materiale allora usato.
L., Remarques sur le tatouage dans I'Égypte ancienne, le Caire/Paris:
Imprimerie de I'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale,
W, Westendorf, W, Lexicon of Aegyptology 1985; 6: 145.
S. I., Tätowierungen asiatischer Eskimos. Sovjetskaja Etnografija
1949; 1: 149-154.
S. I., Die älteste "skythische" Tätowierung. Sovjetskaja
Etnografija 1949; 3: 133-143.
J. P. H., Meldgaard, J., Nordquist, J., Qilakitsoq. De Grönlandske
Mumier frå 1400-tallet. Kopenhagen 1985.
M. A., Principles and Techniques of Scanning Electron Microscopy, v:
2, New York 1974.
M. A., Principles and Techniques of Electron Microscopy, London 1984