The study shows how the Viking Age left a mark on Scandinavian genetics

The Viking Age, which ran from the eighth to the eleventh century CE, left a permanent mark on the genes of today’s Norse, according to scholars who have also documented the huge genetic influence of women who arrived in the region amid the Norman conquests in Europe.

A study published Thursday explored the genetic dynamics of people in Norway, Sweden and Denmark dating back 2,000 years based on 297 genomes from ancient human remains and data from 16,638 modern Scandinavian men and women. The findings provided insight into migration patterns and gene flow during the Viking Age, when Norsemen traveled from Scandinavia on long wooden ships, conducting monastic raids and pillaging across a wide area and even reaching North America.

The study found that females from the eastern Baltic region and to a lesser extent from the British and Irish Isles contributed more to the gene pool in Scandinavia than males from these regions during this period. “We have no way of knowing how many women participated or whether these women had voluntary or involuntary East Baltic and British-Irish ancestry in Scandinavia,” said molecular archaeologist Ricardo Rodriguez-Varela of Stockholm University’s Center for Paleogenetics. Author of the study published in the journal Cell.

Historians have documented the Viking slave trade when sailors conquered many areas and developed extensive trade networks. “Slaves are one group, out of several, that can explain the patterns. We simply don’t know exactly who these people were,” added molecular archaeologist at the Center for Paleogenetics and study co-author Anders Gutherström.

The Viking Age spanned from about 750 to 1050 AD. An important early event was a devastating Viking raid in 793 on a Christian monastery on the English island of Lindisfarne, with subsequent attacks on many locations including Paris, Constantinople, and trade connections all the way to the Middle East. The study showed that Anglo-Irish ancestry was prevalent in Scandinavia starting in the Viking Age. The ancestry is found from the eastern Baltic region – modern-day Lithuania, parts of western Russia and possibly Ukraine – concentrated in central Sweden and on Gotland, Sweden’s largest island. The ancestry from regions of southern Europe such as Sardinia centered in people in southern Scandinavia.

“The Viking Age is associated with a significant increase in the flow of goods, customs, technology and people to and from Scandinavia,” said Rodríguez-Varela. Gutherstrom added, “It was the Norse societies, pagan at first but Christian at the end, that based their economy on small farms, internal and external trade, and plunder. The Vikings were the first to visit the four continents.”

The genetic contribution of outsiders has been found to have waned in Scandinavia after the Viking Age. Their findings, the researchers wrote, provided “tentative evidence that genes flowing into Scandinavia of eastern Baltic ancestry and, to a lesser extent, Anglo-Irish ancestry were female-biased.”

“The increase in East Baltic ancestry in these regions during the Viking Age is consistent with historical sources attesting to contacts such as tributary and treaty relationships. Therefore, we see no evidence with current data to support the abduction and bringing of women,” said Rodríguez Varela. The researchers added that men who work As Christian missionaries or monks they may also have arrived in Scandinavia during this period, but they may not have contributed much to the gene pool.

The oldest ancient genomes used in the study date from the 1st century AD and the most recent from the 19th century. Some ancient genomes came from people who died aboard the large Swedish warship Kronan, which sank in battle in 1676. Others came from Sandby Borg, a castle on the Swedish island of Öland where a massacre took place in the fifth century, as well as from human remains inside ceremonial burials of Viking ships . “The Vikings were an interesting group of people, who lived for two and a half centuries, and who had an impact on the world in ways we still need to understand,” Gutherstrom said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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