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WSU researchers discover oldest tattoo tool in North America

February 28, 2019

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Scientists from Washington State University have discovered the oldest known tattooing tool in western North America.

The tool was made around 2,000 years ago by the Ancestral Pueblo people in what is now southeastern Utah.

The tool has a handle of skunkbush and a cactus-spine point.

Doctoral candidate Andrew Gillreath-Brown found the pen-sized instrument while taking an inventory of archaeological materials that had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years.

School officials say his discovery pushes back the earliest evidence of tattooing in western North America by more than 1,000 years.

They say it gives scientists a rare glimpse into the lives of a prehistoric people whose customs and culture have largely been forgotten.

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