Tattoos have existed for at least 5,200 years, as shown by the 1991 discovery of a natural mummy named the "Iceman" that bears tattoo patterns. Before the discovery of the Iceman, the earliest evidence for tattoos was around 4,000 years old.
Evidence shows that in the very early history of tattooing, the practice was probably intended to serve therapeutic purposes and not symbolic ones. By the time of the Scythians and Thracians, starting around 2,400 years ago, tattoos had come to mark nobility. Other cultures used tattoos to mark criminals or members of a particular religious group. Beginning in the late 1700s, Polynesian tattoos influenced the popularity of the art among European sailors. The sailors then brought the art to Europe and the modern West.