Bob Hubner/WSU

This is one of the oldest tattooing needles in North America

Digging through material collected in Utah more than 40 years ago, an archaeologist discovered the oldest tattooing tool ever found in western North America, National Geographic reports. The artifact is about the size of a pen and its points are formed by a pair of cactus spines—tips stained black by ink some 2000 years old, researchers report in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Originally collected within Bears Ears National Monument, the tattooing needle is 1000 years older than the runner-up. The artifact went unstudied for decades inside a bag filled with bones, hair, and corn cobs stored at Washington State University in Pullman, where it was finally recognized for what it was. The needle helps researchers understand the history of tattooing and its connection to ancient Native American cultures.

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