Archaeology / Cultural Heritage / History

[Archaeology] [twocolumns]

Anthropology / Human Evolution / Linguistics

[Anthropology] [twocolumns]

Palaeontology / Palaeoclimate / Earth Sciences

[Palaeontology] [twocolumns]

Evolution / Genetics / Biology

[Evolution][twocolumns]

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior


A controversial set of remains that has long sparked debate among archaeologists does, in fact, represent a female Viking warrior, a new study has concluded.

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
Illustration of what the female warrior may have looked like
[Credit: Tancredi Valeri; Antiquity 2019]
The 10th century skeleton unearthed from the Swedish Viking town, Birka in 1878 was initially assumed to be male due to its decorated burial.


But, morphological traits suggested otherwise, and a DNA study published in 2017 determined the bones were of a woman.
10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
The burial, known as Bj.581, was found in Birka, a Viking settlement that flourished from about AD 750 to 950
in what is now central Sweden [Credit: Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson; Antiquity 2019]
Following up on the recent research, the same authors have now doubled down on their findings that the high-ranking warrior buried at Birka is ‘biologically female.’

Though Viking lore is rife with tales of mythological Valkyries and women who fought side-by-side with men on the battlefield, little concrete evidence of their presence has ever been found.

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
The burial was originally found by archaeologist Hjalmar Stolpe in 1878 [Credit: Harald Olsson,
 redrawn from Hjalmar Stolpe's field records; Antiquity 2019]
So, in the 2017 study published to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, researchers set out to confirm the sex of the Viking remains.


By analyzing DNA collected from the skeleton’s left canine and left humerus, the team found that the individual had two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome – or, in other words, the warrior was female.

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
The deceased was buried with a number of weapons. Those shown here include a sword, ax, fighting knife, two lances,
two shields and 25 armour-piercing arrows [Credit: Christer Åhlin/Swedish History Museum; Antiquity 2019]
This discovery, however, sparked international controversy and a slew of counter-arguments.

The Birka skeleton was buried with an array of offensive weapons, including a sword and armour-piercing arrows, leading many experts to insist the deceased Viking was male.

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
Three antler dice and gaming pieces found in a bag placed on the woman's lap
[Credit: Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson; Antiquity 2019]
Inside the grave, excavators also found two horses (one mare, one stallion) and a full set of gaming pieces.


The inclusion of the latter stood as evidence that the warrior had a knowledge of tactics and strategy, according to the researchers. And, it emphasized that person’s role in life as a high-ranking officer.

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
The ancient woman wore a silver-trimmed cap of samite silk, that had an "unusual granulated silver tassel,
from which hung four plum-shaped, granulated silver balls," the researchers wrote in the study
[Credit: Christer Åhlin/Swedish History Museum; Antiquity 2019]
In a detailed re-analysis published to Antiquity, the researchers behind the 2017 study pick apart the grave and its contents to support their findings, which they say remain unchanged.

While the skeleton was initially recorded as male after its discovery, at the time, ‘warriorhood was presumed to be an exclusively masculine pursuit,’ the researchers write. But, the DNA evidence shows otherwise.

10th century high-status burial from Sweden found to be female Viking warrior
This map shows a number of excavated burials in Birka, including Bj.581 (circled in red). In fact,
Bj.581 was located near other richly decorated graves and was a stone's throw from the so-called
garrison hall (the other red marked area), a 65-foot-long (20 meters) hall that contained a unique
 assemblage of weaponry. The fact that Bj.581 was buried near this hall denotes warrior status
[Credit: Figure by Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson incorporating material courtesy of Lena
Holmquist, overlain on the 1888–1889 base survey by J.J. Nordstrand/Antiquarian
Topographical Archives, Stockholm; Antiquity 2019]
‘The simple and secure conclusion is that we have the right individual, who was buried alone, and that this person has been proven to be biologically female,’ the authors write.

‘It is worth stating that, despite the controversy following our 2017 article, the human and artefactual contents of grave remain entirely unchanged since their excavation in 1878.

‘The buried person has always carried two X chromosomes, even if this was unknown before our recent work; the occupant of [the grave] will never be biologically male again.’

Author: Cheyenne MacDonald | Source: Daily Mail [February 22, 2019]

TANN

Post A Comment
  • Blogger Comment using Blogger
  • Facebook Comment using Facebook
  • Disqus Comment using Disqus

No comments :


Exhibitions / Travel

[Exhibitions] [bsummary]

Natural Heritage / Environment / Wildlife

[Natural Heritage] [list]

Astronomy / Astrobiology / Space Exploration

[Universe] [list]