Piercing is an ancient form of body modification. Almost all the cultures have practiced it at some time and nowadays piercing is extremely widespread in Western Europe and America and is rather popular in other countries.
Ancient Egypt is recorded to be the first place where pierced mummified body was found. The ear piercing it has is said to be done more than 5000 years ago. There were large gauge plugs in the ears of this body. Certain types of body piercing in ancient Egypt were restricted and even the royal family followed those rules. The interesting fact about navel piercing is that only Pharaoh had the right to have his navel pierced. And any man who got or was going to have his navel pierced would be executed. Egyptians from the higher class had the right to wear earring, displaying in such way their wealth.
Even in the Bible there are some words about the piercing. In Biblical times piercing was a sign of attractiveness and status.
Romans pierced their body not for the sake of beauty but for practical purpose. They had their nipples pierced in order to signify their virility and strength. Pierced navel of men symbolized patient dedication to the Roman Empire and courage and even Julius Caesar had pierced nipples. Gladiators had genital piercing through the head of the penis to prevent serious injury in the combat. They tied the organ back to the testicles with leather stripe that was hold by the ring in the penis.
In the ancient tribes of Maya, Aztecs and American Indians tongue piercing was a part of their religious rituals. They believed the blood-letting ritual of piercing of the tongue bring them closer to their gods. Septum piercing in the Maya and Aztec warrior tribes was done to frighten the enemies. They also wore gold or jade labrets in their lips to show their attractiveness and to enhance sexuality. In the Solomon Island and New Guinea septum piercing was also widespread. They used bone, feather and tusks for that purpose. So did women in Central and South America. The holes in their lips were stretched to incredible sizes and that was believed to be very attractive.
During Dark Ages Medieval church restricted piercing and this type of body modification died down. But during the Renaissance piercing was back. It was widespread among the sailors to pierce one of the ears. Firstly, it showed their long-distant adventures and secondly the gold earring was the price for the proper Christian burial of a sailor who died in the shipwreck and was found on the shore. Noble men during Elizabethan era had at least one ear pierced. Pierced nipples with sparkling rings and chains joining both nipples were common with royal women. The upper crust of society in Europe at that time and later pierced their nipples and genitals both for aesthetic purpose and delightful pleasure.
The Victorian age piercing was the time when piercing began to become popular with new strength. Prince Albert piercing is named after the husband of Queen Victoria Prince Albert who had his penis pierced in order to wear the tight-fitting trousers that was very popular at that time. Later other types of genital piercing became popular both with men and women. At the end of the 19th century almost all women had their nipples pierced. During the first half of the 20th century ear piercing as well other piercings almost died out and piercing regained its popularity in the 1960th when hippies began to wear nose rings. Later the interest in body piercing grew and celebrities, singers and sport stars began to do and to show their piercings. And nowadays all imaginable types of piercing are available.