Bible, Leviticus chapter 19
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
Exodus 21:6 - then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.
Deuteronomy 15:17 - then you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your bondman for ever. And to your bondwoman you shall do likewise.
A slave bore an identification mark, removable only by a surgical operation, that later consisted of his owner's name tattooed or branded on the arm.
Slaves often sought freedom by escape. Historian Moses Finley remarked, "fugitive slaves are almost an obsession in the sources". Rome forbade the harbouring of fugitive slaves, and professional slave-catchers were hired to hunt down runaways, with advertisements being publicly posted which provided precise descriptions of escaped slaves, and with rewards offered. If caught, fugitives could be brutally punished and branded on the forehead with the letter F, for fugitivus. Sometimes slaves had a metal collar riveted around the neck. One such collar was preserved at Rome and states in Latin, "I have run away. Catch me. If you take me back to my master Zoninus, you'll be rewarded."