Viking women were warriors, genetic analysis reveals

A genetic analysis of remains from a well-known, 10th century Viking grave in Sweden is providing the first confirmation that Viking women became warriors.
By Alex Bourque | Sep 11, 2017
A genetic analysis of remains from a well-known, 10th century Viking grave in Sweden is providing the first confirmation that Viking women became warriors.

"This is the first formal and genetic confirmation of a female Viking warrior," said Matttias Jakobsson, a professor at Uppsala University's Department of Organismal Biology, and co-author of a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, in a statement.

The grave, which was excavated in the 1880s, contains the skeletal remains of a warrior surrounded by a variety of weapons, two horses, gaming pieces and a gaming board.

Until now, archaeologists assumed the grave site in Sweden's Viking Age town of Birka belonged to a man.

"It's actually a woman, somewhere over the ago of 30 and fairly tall too, measuring around 170 centimeters," said archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Upsalla University, in a report by The Local. "Aside from the complete warrior equipment buried along with her a sword, an axe, a spear, armor-piercing arrows, a battle knife, shields, and two horses she had a board game in her lap, or more of a war-planning game used to try out battle tactics and strategies, which indicates she was a powerful military leader. She's most likely planned, led and taken part in battles."

Although ancient written sources sometimes mention female warriors, this is the first time archaeologists have found concrete evidence of their existence.

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