Search form


Ötzi, a project by Nicole Wilson, will be re-executed at Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY this upcoming week.
Ötzi, the world’s oldest natural mummy to be discovered in a well- preserved state, was found in the Alps in 1991. Researchers tasked with studying him dated his death at 45 years old to the year 3,300 BCE. From the corpse, they were able to reconstruct a last meal, a cause of death, handmade tools and clothing, and a total of 59 tattoos in 16 groups. Most intriguing about Ötzi’s tattoos, and unlike other facts they could gather from the corpse, is that their particular purpose will forever be indiscernible.

In 2012 and using existing research, Wilson tattooed—to scale and in the same location on her body—images of Ötzi’s 59 tattoos in her own blood. Wilson’s body reabsorbed almost all of the blood back into itself immediately following the process of tattooing, but left behind were dark scars where heme, the pigment within blood, slowly disappeared from the skin’s surface. Through marking in and internalizing part of herself, Wilson sees this project an ephemeral event that permanently connects her to this formative archaeological ancestor. Wilson will re-execute this project in light of a study published last year that used non-invasive multi spectral photographic imaging techniques and found that there are more tattoos on Ötzi than originally believed. Researchers have confirmed that the corpse contains 61 total tattoos divided into 19 groups. Wilson has worked with these researchers and Three Kings Tattoo in order to redo this project and ensure that all 61 of Ötzi’s tattoos are tattooed into her skin.