11 Mar 2019

Tattoo history challenged by Tongan discovery

11:49 am on 11 March 2019

The use of traditional tattooing combs may have been invented in Tonga, according to new scientific research.

Ancient Tongan tattoo combs.

Ancient Tongan tattoo combs. Photo: Griffith University

Australian archaeologists made the discovery after looking at artefacts found on the island of Tongatapu in 1963.

Researcher Michelle Langley from Griffith University said they found the tattooist's toolkit was 2700-years-old, the oldest set of its kind ever found.

"That's interesting because people only got out to Tonga and the islands maybe 3500 or 3000 years ago so either they brought that technology with them or they invented it when they arrived in Tonga very early on," she said.