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"Did Gauls have tattoos?" Topic

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1,007 hits since 27 May 2018
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idontbelieveit27 May 2018 6:14 p.m. PST

I seem to recall Caesar mentioning Britons having tattoos. I don't know about the rest of the Gauls he encountered. The couple of small references I have about Gauls make no mention of them.


Mars Ultor Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2018 8:22 p.m. PST

I hope not. I have 100+ to paint. But seriously, why would GJC specifically mention the Britons as having tatoos and say nothing of the Gauls having tatoos in the part of Gallic Wars where he talks about their customs? (though I don't recall him talking about the Gauls' appearance). He seems to be almost drawing a distinction between what he has shown his reader thus far (the Gauls) and what is new (the Britons). Of course, even if you accept this reasoning, there's nothing to say that some Gauls didn't have tatoos (maybe just maybe more widespread amongst the Britones??), and no one can prove your wrong because they can't prove a negative.

Winston Smith27 May 2018 10:02 p.m. PST

Mine did.
Go for it if you want to.
Or don't, if you don't.

JimDuncanUK28 May 2018 1:22 a.m. PST

All my Gallic Celts have tattoos, all 150 of them.

Easy enough done with a lining pen.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2018 3:16 a.m. PST

There is a widely held view that the Britons and Gauls were pretty much the same people with very similar cultures. Or at any rate the tribes living in lowland Britain and Northern Gaul were.

Several of the tribal names seem to be the same, or very similar, on both sides of the Channel and there is evidence of quite highly developed cross-Channel trading links.

A good case can be made, should you wish, for British and Gallic wargames figures to look the same. It is equally possible to make them look different to each other and be just as plausible!

So, yeah. Go for whatever you want….

rvandusen28 May 2018 7:37 a.m. PST

They're your figures, so add tattoos if you want. I would think there is no real evidence for Gallic tattooing, but maybe the practice was ancient and had fallen out of favor with most Gauls, but still maintained by those who fought nude for religious reasons, etc.

No time machines yet so one can't know with absolute certainty.

You also have the option of adding tattoos here and there to represent adventurous types that have crossed the Channel to fight alongside their cousins.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP28 May 2018 8:19 a.m. PST

I'd have thought that it was less common than we usually assume because they called the tribes in the north of Britain Pictii – meaning painted men – why do that if the whole island was crawling with them ?

Bowman28 May 2018 12:53 p.m. PST

There is a widely held view that the Britons and Gauls were pretty much the same people with very similar cultures

That begs the question of the Gauls and Germans being being even more similar.Did the ancient Germans tattoo themselves?

rvandusen28 May 2018 4:00 p.m. PST

I never read anything suggesting the Germans tattooed themselves. The closest skin art that comes to mind is dated much earlier from the early Bronze Age – that Iceman guy from the Alps. I don't even think he would have spoken an Indo-European language that far back.

wmyers28 May 2018 4:26 p.m. PST

There is a difference between being "fully sleeved" and having even a dozen tattoos on one arm. A big difference.

If the Picts tattooed to that extent then that would certainly set them apart from those who did tattoo all over their bodies, just not to the extent that all skin is inked.

(Knowledge – working in a tattoo shop, riding a Harley)

wmyers28 May 2018 4:28 p.m. PST

@JimDuncan: Thank you for the lining pen suggestion!!!

wmyers28 May 2018 4:44 p.m. PST

"In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old."

Herodotus c. 450 B.C., who stated that amongst the Scythians and Thracians "tattoos were a mark of nobility, and not to have them was testimony of low birth."

"Accounts of the ancient Britons likewise suggest they too were tattooed as a mark of high status, and with "divers shapes of beasts" tattooed on their bodies, the Romans named one northern tribe "Picti," literally "the painted people.""

"Ptolemy IV (221-205 B.C.), was said to have been tattooed with ivy leaves to symbolize his devotion to Dionysus, Greek god of wine and the patron deity of the royal house at that time. The fashion was also adopted by Roman soldiers and spread across the Roman Empire."

From: link

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