Yale Egyptology Lecture Series - Lecture 6

April 27, 2022 (12:00 ET)


Anne Austin

(University od Missouri - St. Louis)


Title: Shifting perceptions of tattooed women in ancient Egypt

Abstract: While the earliest evidence for tattooing on mummified human remains from ancient Egypt was found well over a century ago, it has only been in the past decade that we have seen incredible growth in physical evidence for ancient Egyptian tattooing. This disparity between initial evidence for tattooing in the early twentieth century and more recent evidence allows us to compare how scholars have approached the topic over time. With both changes in evidence and broader changes in social attitudes toward tattooing today, the perceptions of tattoos in ancient Egypt have also shifted. As most evidence for tattooing has been specifically found on women, these shifting perceptions have in particular changed our attitudes around tattooed women in the past.

In this talk, we’ll discuss both past and present interpretations of tattooing in ancient Egypt to problematize earlier scholarship and identify new pathways toward interpreting the function of tattoos in ancient Egyptian society. Our talk will end with some of the most recent discoveries from Deir el-Medina in the 2019 and 2022 field seasons which further expand our dataset of tattooed Egyptian women and suggest a more widespread, individualistic practice of tattooing among and, perhaps, by women in the village.


Short Bio: Dr. Anne Austin received her B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University, and she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in the Archaeology program at UCLA. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri St. Louis after completing a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in the History Department. Her research combines the fields of osteology and Egyptology in order to document medicine and disease in the past. Specifically, she uses data from ancient Egyptian human remains and daily life texts to reconstruct ancient Egyptian health care networks at the village of Deir el-Medina. As lead bioarchaeologist at Deir el-Medina, Anne has also researched and published on ancient Egyptian tattooing after discovering the mummified remains of a woman with over 30 tattoos. These new tattoos have changed our understanding of both the practice of tattooing in ancient Egypt and the role of women in religious practice during the New Kingdom. Anne’s next research project will focus on the practice of tattooing in ancient Egypt and its potential connections to gender, religion, and medicine


Registration link: https://yale.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Lvph9wXETYOvTL4K1QyMKQ


Poster: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VEL91RXGUTc9co7n65aJEM25OXfk4C4b/view?usp=sharing