DNA Reveals Viking Remains Are of Female Warrior Commander

Viking warrior found in Sweden was a woman, researchers confirm

Viking warrior found in Sweden was a woman, researchers confirm

"The Viking warrior female showed genetic affinity to present-day inhabitants of the British Islands (England and Scotland), the North Atlantic Islands (Iceland and the Orkneys), Scandinavia (Denmark and Norway) and to lesser extent Eastern Baltic Europe (Lithuania and Latvia)".

A team of researchers just confirmed that the remains of an old Viking warrior found more than a century ago in Sweden actually belonged to a woman, not a man.

Researchers from Stockholm University and Uppsala University uncovered new DNA evidence proving that female Viking warriors existed.

Uppsala University archaeology and ancient history professor Neil Price said, "Written sources mention female warriors occasionally, but this is the first time that we've really found convincing archaeological evidence for their existence".

Artist's reconstruction of the grave's original condition. Since then, we made huge technological advances, and a DNA analysis revealed the Viking grave belonged to a woman.

The morphology of some skeletal traits have long suggested that she was a woman, but since this grave has been the type specimen for a Viking warrior for over a century, it has always been assumed to have belonged to a male Viking. Last year, a similar analysis came to the same conclusion, prompting the Uppsala researchers to solve the mystery once and for all using genomic technologies. The individual carried two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome, demonstrating that the women warriors in Viking poetry and art were no myth.

The authors wrote in their study that the image of the male warrior in a patriarchal society "was reinforced by research traditions and contemporary preconceptions", so the biological sex of the individual was generally taken for granted. The presence of the horses as well as a gaming board and game pieces indicate a high-ranking leader who was likely involved with strategy and battle tactics.

"It was probably quite unusual [for a woman to be a military leader], but in this case, it probably had more to do with her role in society and the family she was from, that carrying more importance than her gender", Hedenstierna-Jonson said.

Hedenstierna-Jonson and her colleagues say it's possible that a second skeleton belonging to a male may be missing from the grave, and that the relics found in the grave belonged to this hypothetical person, but "the distribution of the grave goods within the grave, their spatial relation to the female individual and the total lack of any typically female attributed grave artefacts disputes this possibility". However, the tell-tale sign that the skeleton is female is the obvious nature of the hip bones. A study like this also exposes our sexist biases.

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