DNA Sequencing of Viking Skeletons

DNA Sequencing of Viking Skeletons


The world’s largest DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen.

About the News

  • The researchers claimed to debunk the modern image of Vikings as having blonde hair and reveal that not all of them were from Scandinavia.
  • The researchers carried out DNA sequencing on more than 400 Viking skeletons of men, women, children, and babies to understand the global influence of their expansion.
  • The study reveals that skeletons from famous Viking burial sites in Scotland were local people who could have taken on Viking identities and, therefore, were buried as them.
  • It was found that Viking identity was not limited to Scandinavian genetic ancestry and that Scandinavia’s genetic history itself was influenced by foreign genes from Asia and Southern Europe.

Key findings:

  • As per the DNA analysis, Vikings were hunter-gatherers, farmers, and populations from the Eurasian steppe.
  • The research also mentioned three major genetically diverse hot spots where people mixed with people from other regions during the era:
    • One in what is now Denmark, and one each on the islands of Gotland and Öland, in what is now Sweden.
    • All three locations are thought to have been hotbeds of trade at the time.
  • Vikings are not a homogenous group of people. A lot of the Vikings are mixed individuals with ancestry from both Southern Europe and Scandinavia, for example, or even a mix of Sami (Indigenous Scandinavian) and European ancestry.
  • The study also confirms the large-scale movement of the Vikings outside Scandinavia.

Viking Age:

  • The word Viking comes from the Scandinavian term “Vikingr”, which means pirate.
  •  Viking described groups of Scandinavian seafarers between A.D. 750 and 1050s (Viking era).
  • The Vikings played an important role in changing the political and genetic course of Europe. Further, the Vikings also exported ideas, technologies, language, beliefs, and practices to other places.
  • As of today, 6 % of people in the UK are predicted to have Viking DNA in their genes as compared to 10 % in Sweden.

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