Egyptian Tattoo Ideas

Updated February 21, 2017

Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years, according to "Smithsonian Magazine." The earliest example of human tattoos used to be Egyptian, where archaeologists and anthropologists discovered tattoos on the thighs of Egyptian females which dated back to around 2000 B.C. The Iceman, discovered in 1991, however, wore 5,200-year-old tattoos. Wearing an Egyptian tattoo pays homage to the ancient civilisation and celebrates the beauty of their symbols and gods.


Think of words, terms, objects or a person valuable to you and your life. Consider tattooing an idea or word in hieroglyphs on your body. A hieroglyphic alphabet consists of 24 symbols each representing a consonant. A "logographic" understanding of the symbols dictates that each symbol represents a whole word. Speak with a hieroglyphic scholar, consult a book, or try an online hieroglyphic translator to help you decide on a word or phrase. Dribble the tattooed symbols down your arm or wrap them around your ankle or back for high visibility.

Anubis and Other Gods

According to the website Free Tattoo Designs, a tattoo of Anubis--god of death--symbolises protection from death. Anubis has the body of a man and the head of a jackal; in one hand he clutches an ankh cross, and holds a staff with the other. Consider getting a tattoo of Anubis--or another god--in silhouette form. Or, add details to the god with personal features like eye and hair colour and physique. If you're serious about Egypt, think about creating an entire scene on your body--pyramids and all--where the god can stand in context.

Scarab Beetles

Scarab beetles--colourful, hard-shell dung beetles--embodied the god Khepri in ancient Egypt. Create a scarab beetle tattoo design in colour. Emerald green, deep purple, blue and gold make ideal colours. Tattoo the beetle in a visible area, like a forearm, neck or lower back. Egyptians believed the scarab-beetle god, Khepera, pushed the setting sun along the sky like a beetle did with a ball of dung. Consider adding a sun or sunset as a background for the beetle.

Find a Symbol

Research ancient Egyptian texts, hieroglyphics and artwork. Look through resource books, research websites or visit an ancient Egypt exhibit at a museum. While researching the culture, religion and artwork, identify a symbol or image that strikes your interest. Concentrate on this symbol and learn all there is to know about it. If you are an artist, sketch a few tattoo design ideas. Or contact a tattoo artist you can commission to create a tattoo using the symbol. Wearing the tattoo, educate people about the history of the symbol or object. You will feel permanent connection with it each time you see it in a book or ancient artefact.

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About the Author

Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.