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Body Paints

The Ancient World and Fashion > Early People

There is evidence that the early cave painters painted their bodies as well as their caves.Traces of red ocher pigment have been discovered on bodies in graves, suggesting that people decorated the bodies of the dead before they were buried.
It is probable that people also used pigments to paint patterns on their own bodies, just as people have done for millions of years in Africa and Australia. Specialized tools for permanent tattooing dating from around  38,000 years ago have been discovered in Europe.

Where’s the Evidence?


Archaeologists draw on a range of different sources to build up a picture of the sort of clothes that very early people wore. Scraps of leather clothing have been found in graves, while shells and teeth pierced with holes indicate that these objects once formed necklaces. To help them reconstruct the practices of ancient people, archaeologists also study traditional groups, such as the aboriginals of Australia and the Inuit of Alaska, who have followed the same basic way of life for thousands of years.

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