Skin Deep: Prehistoric Beauty

Would you like to be as beautiful as someone who died thousands of years ago? I thought so!

How do you define your look? Do you know where your style of tattoo originated? logoWould you REALLY have that haircut (if you lived in the distant past)?

This year Guerilla Archaeology invites you into our prehistoric beauty parlour: the ‘Bog Body Shop’.

Explore the ancient arts of makeup, mirrors and tattoos, ‘tashes and top knots used by our image conscious ancestors. Immerse yourself in our hands-on, interactive workshops and explore the materials, methods and meaning of bodily adornment across time and place.

Lunar 080

Looking good @Lunar 2016


From the earliest times looking good was a central part of life. Humans developed lotions and potions from basic chemicals, used tools to cut, comb and style hair, marked their skin with dyes and created mirrors to primp and preen, and that’s just the ones that seem normal to us.


Ancient Mexican tooth decoration


There were more extreme forms of body modifying including: Scarification, drilling, piercing, and tooth decoration and sharpening (which we, luckily for everyone, will not be performing). From bog bodies to ice men, artefacts to images we allow you to reach skin deep into the past.



Iceman tattoos (Samadeilli et al 2015)

Yet aesthetics was not the only reason to ‘get dressed up’. Showing social status, age and gender, hoping for protection, being a part of something, and medicine, are a few influences among many, although even if it’s not the main reason why not look good? There were a multitude of reasons to decorate yourself, and all these reasons, although changing, are still in use today.

Evidence for ancient adornment can be found in: cave paintings, statues, preserved bodies, and literary accounts. But to look ethnographically at people from differing regions can be equally useful in learning about the reasons for changing your appearance.

chachet canyon

Big Petroglyph Canyon, USA

Everyone dresses up, whether it is rebelling society, like the bright spikey haired punks of the late 70’s, or a sports fan showing support by painting a flag on their check. This all seems normal to us. However if you look further into the imagery of non-western cultures; from the beauty of the Wodaabe tribe in west Africa to the strength of the Maori you can see the incredible, contrasting, reasons of adornment throughout the world.

We will be hosting talks on Bog Bodies: Grooming and Glamour and the Archaeology of Beauty. In our daily workshops, themed around face, hair and body, we will be encouraging you to get hands on with the ancient art of looking good. We offer bespoke activities for both gentlemen and ladies; you can try out early tattooing, styling and shaving, create new cosmetics using old technologies, inspect ancient tools for looking good, and treat yourself to a prehistoric makeover. Find out how our attitudes to beauty have changed over time and speculate on what the future may hold.

Visit us at Deer Shed Festival, Wilderness Festival, and Green Man Festival this summer.

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