Viking origins revealed by new DNA analysis

Viking origins revealed by new DNA analysis
Viking origins revealed by new DNA analysis

“We’ve even uncovered human remains buried in Scotland with Viking swords and fighting elements that are genetically not Scandinavian at all,” he adds.

Willerslev also indicates that the results prove that the Viking wave was not purely Scandinavian. “It has its origins in Scandinavia, but it has spread and become associated with other peoples around the world. »

Nor did the subjects studied have as much in common with modern Scandinavians as we might think. Only 15 to 30 percent of modern Swedes share genetic capital similar to the studied individuals who lived in the region 1,300 years ago, suggesting even more migrations and mixing of peoples after the Viking Age. The region’s inhabitants during the Viking Age also did not conform to the stereotypical Scandinavian appearance: the ancients studied, for example, had on average darker hair and eyes than a randomly selected group of modern Danes .

The new genetic data confirms what researchers and archaeologists have long suspected: The Vikings were a diverse group not linked by nationality or ethnicity. “It’s a wonderful study,” says archaeologist Jesse Byock, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who directs the Mosfell Archaeological Project in Iceland and was not involved in the current study. “It provides new information, but reinforces almost everything we already knew about the Viking Age. »

Joining him is Davide Zori, an assistant professor of history and archeology at Baylor University, who was not involved in the study. “We’re starting to think that the Vikings weren’t a group of blond, bearded men who all looked the same,” he says. “We already knew that in a way. »

Miguel Vilar, former head of programs at the National Geographic Society, said it’s no surprise that the findings paint such a complex picture of Viking heritage, one that runs counter to modern notions of nationalism and cultural identity. . “DNA does not always fit well in boxes [préconçues] “, he said.

If we understand that the Vikings had diverse and mixed origins, the study also revealed close kinship links between some of the individuals studied. In a grave in Salme, Estonia, where 41 Swedish individuals were excavated with two boats and their weapons, four brothers were identified, lying side by side. Researchers also discovered a second-degree family connection between a Viking in a Danish cemetery and another in Oxford, England, evidence of the mobility of members of the same family at the time.

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