DNA Sequencing of Viking Skeletons

DNA Sequencing of Viking Skeletons

Context:

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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