In DepthArchaeology

Ancient DNA tracks Vikings across Europe

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Science  18 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6510, pp. 1416-1417
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6510.1416

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Summary

A massive new study of DNA sequences from Viking Age burials around Europe presents the story of the Vikings written in genes. The results, published this week in Nature, trace how the Vikings radiated across Europe from their Scandinavian homeland, and how people with roots elsewhere also took up Viking ways, making "Viking" a job description, not a matter of heredity. Researchers gathered human remains from burials in Europe, Iceland, and Greenland dating between about 750 C.E. to 1000 C. E. The results tell dramatic family stories, such as that of four Scandinavian brothers buried shoulder to shoulder with their swords, hundreds of kilometers from home in Estonia. The genetic details also hint at Viking traits: Viking Age Scandinavians were more likely to have black hair than people living there today, for example.

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