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"A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics" Topic

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255 hits since 8 Sep 2017
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Martin from Canada08 Sep 2017 11:12 a.m. PST




The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.
Materials and methods

Genome-wide sequence data was generated in order to confirm the biological sex, to support skeletal integrity, and to investigate the genetic relationship of the individual to ancient individuals as well as modern-day groups. Additionally, a strontium isotope analysis was conducted to highlight the mobility of the individual.


The genomic results revealed the lack of a Y-chromosome and thus a female biological sex, and the mtDNA analyses support a single-individual origin of sampled elements. The genetic affinity is close to present-day North Europeans, and within Sweden to the southern and south-central region. Nevertheless, the Sr values are not conclusive as to whether she was of local or nonlocal origin.

The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 4:24 p.m. PST

Makes sense. A true living Valkyrie of sorts. :)

PS. Tormund would have found the warrior woman irresistible:
YouTube link

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2017 1:14 a.m. PST

Tormound find most things irresistible!
YouTube link

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2017 3:27 p.m. PST

LOL. Is that why that actor is no longer doing the Wyndham Rewards commercials?

YouTube link


Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 1:11 p.m. PST

What would graves goods for a high ranking female look like, for a bellicose group of Vikings? I'm just thinking what would a queen, warlord's wife, or a hearthgaurds's wife would have in her grave? Cooking implements or hair care products?

Am I the only one who is a bit confused about:

Do weapons necessarily determine a warrior? The interpretation of grave goods is not straight forward, but it must be stressed that the interpretation should be made in a similar manner regardless of the biological sex of the interred individual. Furthermore, the exclusive grave goods and two horses are worthy of an individual with responsibilities concerning strategy and battle tactics.

The highlighted areas are pretty big assumptions, are they not?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 3:55 p.m. PST

Bowman: "Am I the only one who is a bit confused about:"

Nope. You're not the only one. That's why most of these should be crossposted to Humor.


Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 4:10 p.m. PST

I don't see it as funny.

I'm just not sure the only interpretation for the female in this one grave is "warrior woman". A socially advanced female from a warlike society, where martial prowess was all important would be expected to be buried with some weaponry, would she not? This is what a self respecting Norseman and Norsewomen would want with them in the afterlife of Valhalla. Oh, and a good beer stein.

Don't get me wrong. I sure that Dark Age Norse and Northern Europeans had their share of female warriors. The link provides a written example. That's not the issue.

Great War Ace Inactive Member11 Sep 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

Over on the Medieval Discussion board, this topic is getting some serious attention. Mainly the objection to the article's tone is the feminist slant: making this woman into a warrior seems to be the main goal. If she's a warrior then she is equal to a man. If she's just buried with weapons as a statement of her status, then she's somehow inferior. If she's an officer concerned with leadership and battle tactics, then she's equal to a male officer. If she's just the remaining occupant of a grave that contained a male corpse at one point, then she's inferior to a man. She must be presented as equal by being the same as a male warrior. The entire argument/campaign is pathetic, blatant feminism.

When did women ever gain anything by becoming men? Doing a "man's job" does not make a woman a man or make her equal to or superior to a man. A woman is already the equal of a man, and visa versa. We are male and female. Our differences suit us to different roles depending on circumstances. A man can be "Mr Mom". A woman can be the wage earner. The traditional roles are otherwise, for good reasons. But nothing is set in stone. Empowered men and women alter their roles to suit their present circumstances. We do hear of women taking up weapons in defence of themselves and their communities, in all ages of human history. That isn't their most suited role and never will be. To assert otherwise, alter the military's standards to take in feminists, and make women into men by assuming the most suitable roles for men, is just politicized Medía mongering.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2017 2:21 p.m. PST

This is a Monty Python sketch, right?

JSchutt13 Sep 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

Jumping to conclusions on a Science Board?….perish the thought…

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2017 5:09 a.m. PST

Jumping to conclusions on a Science Board?….perish the thought…

I don't see anyone here jumping to conclusions. I do see some of us questioning portions of the conclusions drawn up by the paper's authors. That's what a science board is for. Discussing science.

How about poor reading comprehension and incorrect conclusions?………now that's a staple here.

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