Viking Warrior Discovered in Sweden Was a Woman, Researchers Confirm
by Emily Shugerman
Scientists had long assumed the skeleton belonged to a man
Swedish scientists have revealed that the body of a Vikingwarrior long presumed to be male is, in fact, female.
A team of researchers from Stockholm University conducted a DNA analysis of the skeleton and confirmed that it belonged to a woman. The 10th-century skeleton, the researchers concluded, is the first confirmed female high-ranking Viking warrior.
Scientists had long assumed that the skeleton was male – despite early indications that she may have been female – largely because of the status symbols buried alongside her.
Early archaeologists uncovered a sword, an axe, a spear, armour-piercing arrows, a battle knife, two shields, and two horses in the grave, signifying the buried individual’s status of as a “professional warrior”.
A set of gaming pieces found in the grave indicates the individual’s “knowledge of tactics and strategy” and role as a high-ranking officer, the scientists said.
Because of this – and because no such high-ranking female Viking has been discovered before – most researchers assumed the body was male. When early analyses indicated the body was female, some suggested that the objects buried alongside her belonged to someone else.
“This type of reasoning takes away the agency of the buried female,” the researchers write. “As long as the sex is male, the weaponry in the grave not only belong to the interred but also reflects his status as warrior, whereas a female sex has raised doubts.”
To quash those doubts, the researchers took a DNA sample from the skeleton’s arm and tooth. The sample revealed a lack of Y chromosomes, signalling that the individual was female.
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