Believe it or not but most scientist believe the origins of tattoos date back to about 3300 B.C. They believe that certain marks found on the skin of the origins of tattoos, a mummified body of an iceman found in the italian alps, were considered tattoos back in his days. If their acceptance is true, these marks on his body represent the earliest known evidence for tattoos in history. All we know for sure up until now is, there are tattoos found on Egyptian and Nubian mummies dating from about 2000 B.C. Classical authors also mention the use of tattoos in ancient societies like the old Greeks, Germans, Britons, Romans and Gauls.
The tattoos we know nowadays were discovered by Europeans while exploring north america and the south seas of the pacific ocean. Their first contact with cultures like the American Indians and Polynesians also were the first contact of so called "civilized" people with tattoos. The word tattoo was first mentioned in James Cook's records from his 1769 journey to the south seas. The natives of Tahiti, this is were Cook's expedition went to, called the marks on their bodies TATTAU which was translated into TATTOO by Cook. Due to their exotic appearance, tattooed Indians and Polynesians where showcased at circuses and fairs during the 18th and 19th century all over Europe and the US.