There’s no question about it: the Vikings were amazing warriors. However, there’s still plenty we do not know about these people. In fact, the latest DNA sequencing of Viking bones will undoubtedly change the way historians look at the people forever!
New DNA Sequencing Method
A recent DNA sequencing of more than 400 Viking bones has revealed just how little we know about the warrior clans. When analyzing skeletons from Scotland, scientists uncovered that not all Vikings were tall, blonde men, as previously believed. Instead, they were a diverse group of people, with many of their ranks coming from local populations from the lands they raided. Meanwhile, most of them were, in fact, not blonde – they had brown hair!
“The Vikings have an image of being fierce raiders, and they certainly were. What was more surprising is how well they assimilated other peoples,” Dr. Daniel Lawson, a co-author of the study, which took six years, said. “Scottish and Irish people have integrated into Viking society well enough for individuals with no Scandinavian ancestry to receive a full Viking burial, in Norway and Britain..We studied two Orkney skeletons from Viking graves with Viking swords who share ancestry with present-day Irish and Scottish people, who could be the earliest Pictish genomes ever studied.”
Fellow co-author Professor Eske Willerslev, a Fellow of St John’s College at the University of Cambridge and director of the University of Copenhagen’s Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, explained that previously, people had no idea how Vikings looked. So, the media created it! Now, they realize just how wrong the movies got it!
“The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was. The history books will need to be updated,” concluded Professor Willerslev. However, believe it or not, the team found much, much more…
Analyzing Viking Bones
To conduct the study, a team of international academics sequenced DNA from 442 Viking Age men, women, children, and babies from teeth and bones found in Viking cemeteries. Of course, they also discovered a lot of other things about Vikings! Some facts are simply interesting – for instance, four Viking brothers died the same day in Estonia. Others, like the wealth of weapons discovered, will help historians better understand Vikings in the years to come. As you have already seen, there’s still so much to uncover about these people.
One thing remains true: no matter who the Vikings were, they changed history forever. “Scandinavian diasporas established trade and settlement stretching from the American continent to the Asian steppe,” said professor Søren Sindbæk. Sindbæk, an archaeologist from Moesgaard Museum in Denmark, also worked on the team that made the discoveries. “They exported ideas, technologies, language, beliefs, and practices and developed new socio-political structures. Importantly our results show that ‘Viking’ identity was not limited to people with Scandinavian genetic ancestry.”
Strangely, throughout history, few have looked into the DNA of Viking bones. Hopefully, this study will encourage more to do the same. Only time will tell!