First genetic proof that women were Viking warriors

September 8, 2017 by David Naylor
First genetic proof that women were Viking warriors
Illustration by Evald Hansen based on the original plan of the grave by excavator Hjalmar Stolpe, published in 1889. Credit: Uppsala University

New DNA evidence uncovered by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University shows that there were in fact female Viking warriors. The remains of an iconic Swedish Viking Age grave now reveal that war was not an activity exclusive to males – women could be found in the higher ranks at the battlefield.

The study was conducted on one of the most well-known graves from the Viking Age, a mid-10th century grave in Swedish Viking town Birka. The burial was excavated in the 1880s, revealing remains of a warrior surrounded by weapons, including a sword, armour-piercing arrows, and two horses. There was also a full set of gaming pieces and a gaming board.

The morphology of some skeletal traits have long suggested that she was a woman, but since this grave has been the type specimen for a Viking warrior for over a century, it has always been assumed to have belonged to a male Viking. Now, geneticists, archaeogeneticists and archaeologists have worked together and solved the mystery. DNA retrieved from the skeleton demonstrates that the individual carried two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome.

"This is the first formal and genetic confirmation of a female Viking warrior," says Professor Mattias Jakobsson at Uppsala University's Department of Organismal Biology.

Isotope analyses confirm a travelling life style, well in tune with the martial society that dominated 8th to 10th century Northern Europe.

Reconstruction of what the grave may have looked like to begin with. Credit: Uppsala University

"The gaming set indicates that she was an officer, someone who worked with tactics and strategy and could lead troops in battle. What we have studied was not a Valkyrie from the sagas but a real life military leader, that happens to have been a woman," says Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, Stockholm University, who led the study.

"Written sources mention female warriors occasionally, but this is the first time that we've really found convincing archaeological evidence for their existence," says Neil Price, Professor at Uppsala University's Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.

Explore further: Major Viking Age manor discovered at Birka, Sweden

More information: Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics, American Journal of Physical Anthropology (2017). DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23308

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rrwillsj
1.3 / 5 (3) Sep 08, 2017
Approx 900/1000 AD? That was when Sweden was being christianized. I wonder if there are any records of this woman from the Bishopric of Hamburg, since Scandinavia was their baliwick. Perhaps by Adam of Bremen?

There is no mention of christian burial items found. Though as a warleader, she may have been a mercenary. Paid to protect the church's missionary efforts?

Her own beliefs are unimportant. You send a wolf to catch a wolf.
leetennant
2.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2017
It's funny because I already thought we had evidence the ratio of men to women Viking warriors was 50/50. Or maybe that wasn't DNA evidence?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 09, 2017
I dunno this could also be the grave of a male warrior buried with all his favorite things, and his body disappeared. There seems to be room for 2 and there are 2 horses and 2 shields... and a gaming board takes 2 to play...

Could an axe- and sword-wielding female ever last for long on a battlefield full of men?
Zzzzzzzz
3.9 / 5 (10) Sep 09, 2017
I dunno this could also be the grave of a male warrior buried with all his favorite things, and his body disappeared. There seems to be room for 2 and there are 2 horses and 2 shields... and a gaming board takes 2 to play...

Could an axe- and sword-wielding female ever last for long on a battlefield full of men?


In the face of empirical evidence, Otto formulates his personal bias based delusion and begins to shop it around, looking for others to invest in it. Otto, you are practically indistinguishable from the religion trolls at this point.

How long would Otto last on a battlefield full of Venus Williamses, Joan of Arcs, and women like the one found in this grave? Less than 10 seconds.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
Hey don't forget Xena. I'm just pointing out a few questions the researchers hopefully already considered. Your reaction makes me think you're already a little biased yes?

BTW stirrups are for support while swinging weapons on horseback. Concubines dont need them.

Re Venus williiams

"Venus and Serena Williams had claimed that they could beat any male player ranked outside the world's top 200, so Braasch, then ranked 203rd, challenged them both. ... He first took on Serena and after leading 5–0, beat her 6–1."

"A girls got to know her limitations.'
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
Also consider

"Earlier this summer, an unnamed woman stepped up as the first female candidate to become a Navy SEAL officer. But, a Navy special warfare official confirmed Friday that the only woman in the Navy SEAL training pipeline has dropped out."
Zzzzzzzz
4 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
Point stands - evidence points one direction, delusion another. Which does the human choose? Scientific methodology points in a direction that our bias does not favor. Rather than examine the bias, question the evidence that suggests it is wrong, then double down.. That is the first choice made by the investor in delusion.

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2017
So rather than blustering, provide some evidence that women can hold their own on a battlefield with swords and axes. Put your money where your mouth is.
ThomasQuinn
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 09, 2017
So rather than blustering, provide some evidence that women can hold their own on a battlefield with swords and axes. Put your money where your mouth is.


The evidence is that there were female warriors, one of whom was confirmed through DNA from the grave this article deals with. It's really silly to ask for evidence of a thing when the article you are responding to *is about* evidence of said thing.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2017
2 issues here; whether the grave was meant to hold another body, and whether women can typically stand against against men in melee combat wielding axes, swords, and shields.

The second informs the first; female graves of this sort are exceedingly rare. And I know that speculating on photos and pr releases in physorg articles is rather pointless.

But in this case, fun. I've offered alternate explanations for what I see. YOU guys have offered absolutely nothing but politically correct apings.

No examples of amazons at troy? No mention of rhonda rousey? You really think posturing is a valid form of discourse?

Or perhaps you did some research and found out I was right and it makes you angry boohoo.
PTTG
3 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
Who the hell takes one corpse out of a grave, but doesn't steal the grave goods?
ThomasQuinn
3 / 5 (6) Sep 09, 2017
2 issues here; whether the grave was meant to hold another body, and whether women can typically stand against against men in melee combat wielding axes, swords, and shields.

The second informs the first; female graves of this sort are exceedingly rare. And I know that speculating on photos and pr releases in physorg articles is rather pointless.

But in this case, fun. I've offered alternate explanations for what I see. YOU guys have offered absolutely nothing but politically correct apings.

No examples of amazons at troy? No mention of rhonda rousey? You really think posturing is a valid form of discourse?

Or perhaps you did some research and found out I was right and it makes you angry boohoo.


Like you'd accept any fact that countered your misogynist views. You drag in tennis players when any pre-1900 farmer, male or female, would have been physically stronger than pretty much any modern athlete. There's no point arguing history with you like that.
rrwillsj
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
Another thought, this woman was buried in an area of Sweden which was the center of christian infestation. Perhaps she would show up in the church's shameless plagiarism of local characters as new saints and martyrs?

Also, her body//skeleton should show signs of intense physical conditioning and combat injuries accumulated over her career.

Women as professional soldiers would usually have been born to the aristocracy. Joan of Arc being one of the important historical exceptions.

"God made Man and Mr.Samuel Colt made men equal." Most women fighters, pirate leaders, partisans, gangsters were made possible by gunpowder.

The woman in the grave probably was born into a noble family. Who, for whatever reason, (allowed? encouraged? grudgingly permitted?) her the early training and access to expensive weapons and destriers.

As for the possibility that she was a warleader? Fighting smart often defeats brute strength.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2017
Who the hell takes one corpse out of a grave, but doesn't steal the grave goods?
Perhaps his body disappeared before burial. Perhaps an imposter was buried and later discovered. Perhaps he was a notable figure who's corpse was found to have ritual significance. Perhaps it was a fraternity prank. Perhaps it involved intertribal rivalries and taking the body of this officer was an insult. Etcetcetc.
Also, her body//skeleton should show signs of intense physical conditioning and combat injuries accumulated over her career
You made this up. Most of your post is made up.

And sorry Tommy I'm not a misogynist. Why don't you make some effort and try a real argument?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2017
You drag in tennis players when any pre-1900 farmer, male or female, would have been physically stronger than pretty much any modern athlete
Well you give your ignorance away. First off, people today are about a foot taller than a century ago. Second, you're making stuff up just like willis. Third, athletic records have constantly improved since then. Are you saying farmers were more physically capable than athletes were? Are they more capable today?
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (5) Sep 09, 2017
I don't know the researchers, but key people work at Evolution Biology Center of Uppsala University where I am studying. So here is my 2p after reading the national newspapers:

- There is *of course* little previous evidence of female Viking warriors outside tales, and now movies. But as it happens, 2 were found in Norway already a century ago.

- But a) this was an iconic status grave and b) people today are less accepting of the idea of women in new positions. The researchers expects, and gets. more scrutiny than usual.

- Women in new positions were not uncommon back then as widows took on family responsibilities, and is never uncommon among elite where women in general take those on.

[ tbctd]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
[ctd]

- There are two points the "scrutineers" zero in on, that the old find has lost some labels - but corresponds to the old drawings - and that it has no battle damage - but the grave was that of a strategist (with a chess board). But really the only thing that would make people hesitate is precisely that it is an unexpected female.

www.dn.se/nyheter...-kvinna/

https://www.svt.s...r-kvinna

Of course this is the sum of what the researchers and national media claims. But unless they have messed up, likely the find should be taken at face value.
leetennant
5 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
I just find it so weird that the modern world that prides itself on its progressiveness is so blinkered about women's role in history. Women were frequently warriors (and still are). There were also scientists, writers, politicians, strategists, as well as artists and musicians. Just because the Church tried to scrub history clean of women doesn't mean we have to accept it.

Don't you find it ironic that there are female Muslim fighter pilots and special forces soldiers but we try to limit women's role in the military and remove all knowledge of women in war? Aren't we supposed to be the progressive ones? Go tell a Kurdish or Chinese women that they aren't physiology capable of being warriors? Then hope you make it out alive.
Shakescene21
4.8 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2017
I also doubt that most women were suited for the stereotypical face-to-face Viking combat with swords and battleaxes. Unfortunately, the article tells us nothing about the physique of this particular woman.

However, her grave contains a bow with armor-piercing arrows. She may have been a skilled archer, perhaps mounted on horseback, and could have been deadly from a position just behind the front lines.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2017
"First genetic proof that women were Viking warriors"
Hot.
ThomasQuinn
2 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2017
You drag in tennis players when any pre-1900 farmer, male or female, would have been physically stronger than pretty much any modern athlete
Well you give your ignorance away. First off, people today are about a foot taller than a century ago. Second, you're making stuff up just like willis. Third, athletic records have constantly improved since then. Are you saying farmers were more physically capable than athletes were? Are they more capable today?


I'm going to make this incredibly simple for you. How many archers are there today who can pull 150+ lbs? Five hundred years ago, there were literally THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS throughout Europe.

Yes, farmers from before mechanization of agriculture were physically stronger than modern athletes. And those wonderful 19th and early 20th century records you refer to were set by upper class and upper middle class athletes, as the working classes were excluded from gentlemanly sports competitions.
ThomasQuinn
2 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2017
I also doubt that most women were suited for the stereotypical face-to-face Viking combat with swords and battleaxes. Unfortunately, the article tells us nothing about the physique of this particular woman.

However, her grave contains a bow with armor-piercing arrows. She may have been a skilled archer, perhaps mounted on horseback, and could have been deadly from a position just behind the front lines.


Actually, medieval archery requires more physical strength than wielding a sword or battle axe. A viking-era sword, while thicker and heavier than later, more refined European swords (due to the inferior steel used) would not have been more than about 2kg, and usually less. The skeletons of archers are easily identifiable from clearly enlarged bones on the left half of the body and the fingers of the right hand (assuming a right-handed archer), swordsmen and the likes - not so clearly identifiable.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
Yes, farmers from before mechanization of agriculture were physically stronger than modern athletes
Thats just not true. Rubbish. Idiocy. Tommy is saying that athletes scientifically trained to be strong aren't as strong as cow milkers and tomato pickers.

How many Amish people you see winning medals at the Olympics tommy? Farmer
http://teva.conte...89/rec/1

-vs athlete
https://www.googl...er-throw
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
medieval archery
Women arent capable of draw weights men typically use.

"So it's no stretch to think of these athletes as the strongest Olympic recurve archers in the world. That is, they are the archers who have the most finely-tuned archery muscles... roughly 40-48 pounds for the women, and 45-55 pounds for the men."
A viking-era sword, while thicker and heavier than later, more refined European swords
"Viking era... the total weight of the sword ranging from 2-4 lbs (1-2 kg)... Medieval Swords are neither unwieldably heavy nor all alike - the average weight of any one of normal size is between 2.5 lb. and 3.5 lbs. Even the big hand-and-a-half 'war' swords rarely weigh more than 4.5 lbs."

-What makes you think you can make shit up and get away with here tommy?
ThomasQuinn
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2017
Do you even understand the difference between pre-mechanized agriculture and modern agriculture? Even the Amish don't have it as physically hard as day laboring agricultural workers in, say, the year 1800. To name just one essential element: do they use pre-18th century ploughs? Nope. Big, big difference.

I'm not disputing that there might be the odd athlete who is stronger than the average early modern farmer, but comparing average to average: yes, pre-mechanization agricultural laborers were the stronger group. Skeletal remains clearly show this. The thing is, modern athletes aren't content to grow excessively strong in such a way as to be physically ruined by the time they're 35.

The fact that you come up with "cow milkers" and "tomato pickers" show that either a) you know very little about the actual work done by pre-mechanization farmers or b) you are keen to deflect to the mildest of physical activities undertaken by farmers in the past.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
Actually, medieval archery requires more physical strength than wielding a sword or battle axe
Of course it doesnt.

"You cannot shoot a bow of effective strength to kill somebody without some muscle training. And the second you start adding clothes, padding and effective ranges it has to be an impressive amount.

"The reason a front line warrior needs strength is because of almost everything OTHER than using his sword. Taking blows, running in armor, endurance, climbing, running, wrestling, pulling and pushing heavy things [including a shield]. With a SWORD the work is done by the speed of the impact point, which can be achieved by flailing your arm like a moron. The skill in a sword comes from the aim, tactics and alignment in use. Not from your ability to muscle the blade."
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
Do you even understand the difference between pre-mechanized agriculture and modern agriculture? Even the Amish don't have it as physically hard as day laboring agricultural workers in, say, the year 1800. To name just one essential element: do they use pre-18th century ploughs? Nope. Big, big difference
Amish are 18th century people. I have watched them plow fields.
http://www.playle...KDL67161

Keep making shit up and I will keep making you look like an ass.
yes, pre-mechanization agricultural laborers were the stronger group. Skeletal remains clearly show this
More bullshit. Provide your source please.
ThomasQuinn
3 / 5 (6) Sep 10, 2017
A viking-era sword, while thicker and heavier than later, more refined European swords
"Viking era... the total weight of the sword ranging from 2-4 lbs (1-2 kg)... Medieval Swords are neither unwieldably heavy nor all alike - the average weight of any one of normal size is between 2.5 lb. and 3.5 lbs. Even the big hand-and-a-half 'war' swords rarely weigh more than 4.5 lbs."

-What makes you think you can make shit up and get away with here tommy?


Your source says "2-4 lbs (1-2kg)", I say "no more than 2kg, usually less".
For later swords, you come up with 2.5-3.5lbs. Which is *slightly less* weight than the viking swords, BUT for swords roughly 10-20% longer (Viking sword: ~80-90cm incl. handle, arming sword ~95-105cm incl. handle). It also names 4.5lbs as near the upper limit for hand-and-a-half swords, which are about 110-130cm incl. handle.

I get that you're really desperate to find something wrong with what I say, but your source matches my remarks.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
Amish baling hay
http://www.horsen...st-time/

Amish barn raising
http://800liveabo...html?m=1

Amish athlete shoeing a horse
http://www.playle...KDL68914

My god you're dumb
ThomasQuinn
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2017
Well Otto, you clearly believe in your own superiority to an amazing extent, and you obviously believe that you are disproving my "bullshit" and making me "look like an ass", but if you did a little more close reading of what you are posting, you'd find you are simply corroborating what I have written here.

I write: "Actually, medieval archery requires more physical strength than wielding a sword or battle axe "

You try to disprove this. So you post a quote which opens with: "The reason a front line warrior needs strength is because of almost everything OTHER than using his sword." It goes on to say "The skill in a sword comes from the aim, tactics and alignment in use. Not from your ability to muscle the blade". Here's the thing: I never said anything about the skill required, or other combat factors, merely the using of a bow and the using of a sword/axe.

(cont'd)
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
get that you're really desperate to find something wrong
Uh looks like your crude Viking swords weigh the same? And we didn't look at claymores and broadswords did we?
viking-era sword, while thicker and heavier than later, more refined European swords
-is the shit tommy made up.
ThomasQuinn
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2017
I say the Amish don't use pre-18th century plows. You say "Amish are 18th century people."

First, note the "pre" part. Improved plough design came into a rush from the 1730s on. Second, and I've had to look this up, I can only find evidence of STEEL ploughs, meaning post-1837 designs, and certainly no pre-18th century designs. If you can provide me with evidence of the Amish using, say, mild iron mouldboard ploughs, I will gladly reconsider, but I sincerely doubt you can.

You can keep yelling "my god you're dumb" (ironic, as you are a professed atheist and I am an agnostic) and deflecting in all directions, but the central point remains: you cannot accept that women can have, and especially *used to have* the physical strength from their day-to-day occupations to be suitable for combat. History is not on your side there, or practically anywhere else.

Don't worry, the alt-right will take your side over mine anyway.
ThomasQuinn
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2017
get that you're really desperate to find something wrong
Uh looks like your crude Viking swords weigh the same? And we didn't look at claymores and broadswords did we?
viking-era sword, while thicker and heavier than later, more refined European swords
-is the shit tommy made up.


Sure buddy. A 100cm sword that weighs the same as an 80cm sword does not suggest the 80cm sword is thicker and heavier. And all improvements in metallurgy in the course of the high and late middle ages don't come into the picture. Right.

You know what Otto? I'm done. You just tell yourself you 'won' and enjoy it, you clearly need it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
Here's the thing: I never said anything about the skill required, or other combat factors
Here's how tommy bullshits. The poster posted
I also doubt that most women were suited for the stereotypical face-to-face Viking combat with swords and battleaxes
to which tommy answered
Actually, medieval archery requires more physical strength than wielding a sword or battle axe
- as if swinging a sword or drawing a bow was all there was to combat. Its not tommy. I showed you that in my post and 1) its obvious that axe and swordsman have to be stronger than archers because they are melee fighters and 2) women can't match men in melee combat.
You know what Otto? I'm done. You just tell yourself you 'won' and enjoy it, you clearly need it.
Sayonara quitter.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
Here's how tommy bullshits. We were talking about the strength of farmers and tommy seemed to think the amish farmed with international harvesters and Massey Fergusons. Some do of course. But otto posted pics of Amish farming traditionally.

So to disprove this tommy submits that modern plows are -what?- lighter than old plows?

Do the horses know this?

Bwahaahaaaaaa

Actually I think 21st century horses are bigger than 18th century horses (Just like the farmers) and so it's mooooo-t.

Get it? Moooooo-t?

Bwahaahaaaaaa
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
"Actually, medieval archery requires more physical strength than wielding a sword or battle axe..."

If you were talking about the famous medieval longbow, I would agree that those archers were strong men (or women?) who were trained from childhood. Their skeletons would show the adaptations of archers who could launch an "arrow cloud" to a distance of 200 yards (180 m) as did the English archers at Agincourt in 1415.

But the bow shown in the illustration is clearly not a longbow. It is a shorter bow suitable for a horse-mounted archer. In the stereotypical Viking combat I described earlier, a mounted archer would only need to hit opponents 5 to 30 yards away (5 to 27 m). In this situation, accuracy and target-selection would be more important than strength, and a skilled woman archer (of relatively normal physique) could be very effective.

Unfortunately, the article doesn't tell us much about the warrior's skeleton other than it is female.
ThomasQuinn
2.4 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2017
@Shakescene21:

With regards to the strength required for a longbow in contrast to the regular bow: you're right. I was thinking of the longbow, some examples of which have also been discovered in Norse archeological sites. A bit too much of a digression, I admit.

With regards to the bow in the grave, your suggestion about less strength being required in the archery role you describe seems reasonable, but has two associated problems that I can see: first, the presence of a number of other weapons, especially a sword, makes it a leap to assume that she was a dedicated archer - the weapons might well symbolize the different arms of the warriors she commanded, for instance, or one of each weapon which she was known to have used in battle, or simply such arms as could be spared for her burial. Second, from what I have read about Viking warfare, which is admittedly limited, I am not aware of dedicated archers at all - but of bows being used opportunistically as basically a 'side arm'.
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2017
@ThomasQuinn
Regarding your second problem with my theory that she was an archer, I also am not an expert in Viking warfare, although I know a lot about the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The accounts of Clontarf describe thousands of Vikings with axes, swords, hammers, spears, and knives, but no mention of bows and arrows. So it's tempting to think that Vikings used the bow for hunting rather than warfare.

However, the article specifically describes the arrows in her grave as "armour-piercing", so they must have been for war. My theory that she was a mounted archer would also fit with the study's conclusion that she was a military leader (based on the size of her grave and the chess set): As a mounted archer just behind the lines, she would be in a better position to observe the course of battle than a swordsman in the middle of the melee. So she might have been a leader more than an archer, and perhaps only used her bow sparingly against crucial targets and for "cred" .
michael_frishberg
1 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2017
Says she was an officer. Perhaps her strategic senses were what made her in charge, never having to wield a sword/string a bow...
NoWorldOrder
2.5 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2017
The recent publishing on this grave is all about the genetics methodology. Can anyone find the scoop on this grave before it became "proof" that girls are actually tough just like the boys and can do everything they can? Like was the sword used, were the stirrups worn, did the skeleton show signs of injury, anything like that?

Also, lol, at farmers being stronger than athletes.
drrobodog
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2017
2) women can't match men in melee combat.

This statement is to generalised to be true.

In any case, you're not substituting the men for women, but adding them. I would hedge my bets in favour of the army with women, because all things being equal, they are fielding significantly more soldiers.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2017
This statement is to generalised to be true
We're talking about Viking melee with axes, swords, shields, bows, and spears. Women on the whole can't match men.
In any case, you're not substituting the men for women, but adding them. I would hedge my bets in favour of the army with women, because all things being equal, they are fielding significantly more soldiers
This statement is too generalized to be true.
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2017
"Says she was an officer. Perhaps her strategic senses were what made her in charge, never having to wield a sword/string a bow..."

@michael_frishberg: Technically she would not have needed any weapons if she was the commander of a large force. But this was the height of the Viking age, and it would seem that these brutal warriors would expect to be led by someone who could wield a weapon in battle. (But I admit I'm not a Viking expert.)
Joker23
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2017
Are the Scandinavians suffering regrets over the actions of their forefathers ( and Mothers) for their pillaging, murderous Viking raids and terrorizing everyone in their past like the American People are to supposed to do about the past deeds of slaveholders? Will they rewrite their history removing that period and erase the past? Will they burn and destroy the artifacts?
Shakescene21
not rated yet Sep 11, 2017
"... this could also be the grave of a male warrior buried with all his favorite things, and his body disappeared. There seems to be room for 2 and there are 2 horses and 2 shields... and a gaming board takes 2 to play..."

@GhostofOtto: Although I still think she was an archer warrior, I think your theory is very valid and should be investigated. This woman could possibly be the wife of a Viking chieftain who died abroad or in a sea battle and/or was lost at sea.

The most scary possibility is that this woman was sacrificed for the Viking chief to enjoy in the afterlife. I'm not a Viking expert, but I did look up Wikipedia info about Viking funerals and found quite a bit of information, including an account by an Arab trader of the funeral (circa 950 AD) of a Viking chieftain. In this description a slave girl is sacrificed in order to accompany the chieftain in the afterlife, in a process that is so horrifying that I hope the Arab is exaggerating wildly.
rrwillsj
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2017
Everybody making lots of points. Loudly! Hell, maybe some of the assumptions are correct? Accidents happen, a broken clock is correct twice a day.

If there was a man's corpse in the grave, that was removed? Wouldn't there be some sign of the grave being previously disturbed? Unless you're accusing the archeology team of removing it for ideological reasons?

If she had been a sacrifice,generally are found curled up at the feet of the major body. Displaying signs of their throat cut or strangulation.

Among the Western European warrior caste in this period, hunting was done with large spears. Fighting was done with large swords or axes. They sneered at archers as base-born.

It makes sense for this woman to use a bow as an equalizer. On horseback, able to view and support from behind a shieldwall, she would have been a formidable commander.

I suggest, that her DNA should be compared to that recovered from tombs of Royals and Nobles. May find her family?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2017

@GhostofOtto: Although I still think she was an archer warrior, I think your theory is very valid and should be investigated. This woman could possibly be the wife of a Viking chieftain who died abroad or in a sea battle and/or was lost at sea
Its A very big grave with 2 of many things.

Many cultures dig up relatives and display their parts after a few years. A Viking leaders relics could have held special value. Even to those he had defeated. Ritual resurrection or pillage - Who knows?
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2017
"...It makes sense for this woman to use a bow as an equalizer. On horseback, able to view and support from behind a shieldwall, she would have been a formidable commander..."

@rrwills: This is an appealing picture, and I hope it's true. But I wonder why the woman is not wearing any armor, not even a helmet or shirt of mail.

The Wikipedia article on Norse Funerals is pretty scary when it comes to human sacrifices as part of the funeral of a Viking chieftain. I hope this woman was not a human sacrifice.
https://en.wikipe..._funeral

The article leaves out numerous facts about this woman, such as her age at death, possible cause of death, her height, or any unusual features. Hopefully all this publicity will result in a much more thorough report in the near future.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2017
Or maybe it already exists in the link at the bottom

"More information: Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics, American Journal of Physical Anthropology (2017). DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23308"

-You've been here long enough yes?
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2017
@GhostOtto: Thanks for the lead. The full paper has additional info, but not nearly enough.

** She was at least 30, but not old.
** She probably grew up in Sweden, but not in the neighborhood of the gravesite.
** She had no sign of any wounds or physical trauma.
** No cause of death given.
** She had slender, typically female leg bones. No estimate of her height.
** The burial mound was monumental in nature, in a prominent site near the military part of town.

Author says the layout of the weapons indicates the weapons were associated with her rather than a missing male.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2017
Author says the layout of the weapons indicates the weapons were associated with her rather than a missing male
Yah and also see the related article on spin and political correctness in science.
https://phys.org/...ent.html

-just say'n-

Chimps are as smart as toddlers wow did you know it?
drrobodog
1 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2017
We're talking about Viking melee with axes, swords, shields, bows, and spears. Women on the whole can't match men.

A better rephrasing.
Still, this doesn't mean much unless we have some actual stats. Additionally it could be that only the most suited women enlisted as soldiers, or possibly religious beliefs encouraged individuals not suited for battle to take the risks.

This statement is too generalized to be true.

How so? Maybe you can give a case example where the statement fails?
Shakescene21
1 / 5 (1) Sep 12, 2017
@GhostofOtto: I'm about 75% certain that she really was a warrior, and probably a leader. And since the most likely interpretation is also the most politically correct, then it's a waste of time studying this further until political fashions change.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2017
Additionally it could be that only the most suited women enlisted as soldiers
The most suited of women would still be no match for a typical male melee soldier with axes, swords, shields, bows, or spears.

Javelin throw
mens - 90.57 m Andreas Thorkildsen
womens - 80.00 m Petra Felke (lighter javelin)

Let me repeat; the only female to try, crapped out of the navy seals program. Serena williams couldnt beat the 208-seed male tennis player. No amateur woman ever beat andy kaufman in the ring.
https://www.youtu...oRVzjSIg
rrwillsj
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 12, 2017
More questions than answers.

An autopsy could show if she had borne children. If not, that would, in my opinion, give credence to my guess that she was an aristocrat (most likely cadet branch or even born illegitimate) leader of a mercenary warband.

The lack of armor is not too surprising. It was an expensive use of scarce resources and profit-gouging expertise to produce.

Fighting as a horse-archer, mobility and ease in getting on and off the horse in a hurry are key issues. As long as she avoided enemy archers and slingers, speed and dexterity was queen!

One important point to me? Someone, friend or foe? Had such respect for this woman, that they gave her a warriors burial. Including personal weapons and sacrificing two horses to carry her into the afterlife.

Or, a speculative perhaps? They were frightened of the consequences of her rising from the dead as an avenging spirit if they had despoiled her corpse.
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (1) Sep 12, 2017
According to the full article this grave and mound were among the largest and most prominent on the Viking settlement at Birka, which had more than a thousand graves. If this woman was as important as her grave, then why not even a helmet?

Also, she apparently had no jewelry. Maybe a warrior would disdain jewelry, but in the Wikipedia article describing the sacrifice of a slave-girl at a Viking chieftain's funeral, they removed her rings and jewelry before they put her body on the pyre.

The Wikipedia article also had an observation on Viking funerals that I had not considered before: these expensive funerals and mounds had a function beyond fulfilling their religious customs -- they were monuments that served to raise the prestige of the departed chief's kin-group and probably gave them a greater claim to power.
drrobodog
1 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2017
The most suited of women would still be no match for a typical male melee soldier with axes, swords, shields, bows, or spears.

Javelin throw
mens - 90.57 m Andreas Thorkildsen
womens - 80.00 m Petra Felke (lighter javelin)

Is that a typical throw distance for sportsmen?

No amateur woman ever beat andy kaufman in the ring.

What about an amateur woman and andy kaufman vs andy kaufman?
rrwillsj
2 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2017
Unlike many fiction authors, I make no claim for women in general being able to slug it out, face to face with males in general.

Some women are physically stronger than some males. A woman trained in warfare or experienced in violence undoubtedly has an advantage over untrained males.

My mother's mother was Finn and grew up doing heavy labor as a peasant. Years later living in Hell's Kitchen, there was a bar brawl. During which Grandmama pugilistics took out two thugs trying to reach her women friends. Injuring both men so seriously, she had to leave NYC in rather a hurry.

I remember as a kid, you never wanted to piss Grammy off twice. Cause when she'd hit, you'd swear a mule had kicked you.

As a horsewoman my wife had years of bucking bales of wet and dry hay and fodder. Shoveling manure and brushing down her stallion. She had shoulder muscles a weightlifter would envy.

The woman in the grave gets my respect as a horse archer until proven otherwise.
Shakescene21
not rated yet Sep 13, 2017
"The Wikipedia article on Viking funerals also had an observation that I had not considered before: these expensive funerals and mounds had a function beyond fulfilling their religious customs -- they were monuments that served to raise the prestige of the departed chief's kin-group and probably gave them a greater claim to power."

This could explain a scenario in which a large tomb is built for a Viking chief even though his body is not in it: If the chief was killed abroad or lost at sea, his kin-group would have a worldly incentive to build a monumental mound for him in a prominent place, to boost their own prestige. In this case the woman in the grave would probably be one of the chief's wives or a slave woman.

I'm not arguing that this is the most likely scenario, but I think there are enough uncertainties to contradict the article's title that this is "proof" that women were Viking warriors. ("evidence" yes, "proof" no.)
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2017
Is that a typical throw distance for sportsmen?
What kind of sportsman? One who hunts with a spear? What are you talking about?
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2017
Proof is such a misused word...

"New evidence of Viking warrior women might not be what it seems

"The only evidence we have linking an undeniably female skeleton to the warrior grave is the fact that identification material on the bag fits "the original 19th-century drawings and descriptions."

"Even archaeologists who believed this bag of bones was associated with the sword and armor were dubious that it meant we'd found a female military officer. Archaeologist Søren Sindbæk of Aarhus University told Science News she was skeptical. "Have we found the Mulan of Sweden or a woman buried with the rank-symbols of a husband who died abroad?" she wondered. Her question isn't rhetorical. Archaeologists have found many graves of men buried with the oval brooches that women used to fasten their cloaks, and these grave goods have always been interpreted as keepsakes from a beloved wife or female relative."

...oh dear.
Shakescene21
not rated yet Sep 14, 2017
"...Archaeologist Søren Sindbæk of Aarhus University told Science News she was skeptical. "Have we found the Mulan of Sweden or a woman buried with the rank-symbols of a husband who died abroad?" she wondered..."

@GhostofOtto: Thanks for digging up this quote from an expert. I hope feminists don't denounce her as a traitor to her gender, for suggesting that there are other possibilities besides this woman being "the Mulan of Sweden".

Right now it's politically correct for the woman in the grave to be labeled a Viking leader -- because that would "prove" women were strong enough and tough enough to be accepted as battle leaders by these violent brutes. But in a few years the PC crowd might decide that Vikings were white rapist murdering plundering scum, and only straight men could be so despicable, and therefore the woman in the grave must have been a victim sacrificed by these male Viking scum.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2017
Right now it's politically correct for the woman in the grave to be labeled a Viking leader -- because that would "prove" women were strong enough
I don't get it. That a quote is from a whole article. Aren't you curious enough to drop it into Google and READ IT?

They can't even say what was even in that grave, let alone man or woman.
drrobodog
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2017
What are you talking about?

Your statement was most suited woman vs typical male.
Your example was most suited woman vs most suited male.

Unless Andreas Thorkildsen's 90.57 m throw was a typical Olympic male javelin throw distance?
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2017
My example was male vs female. Males throw farther than females, typically.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (3) Sep 15, 2017
DNA testing of the body in the grave was female. Does anyone have evidence contradicting this?

If this corpse was a sacrifice? Based upon all the other apparent sacrifices previously discovered. The methods used were slitting the the throat, strangulation or hanging. Those all leave very apparent damage to the neck of the person killed.

The generic term lance seems to be confusing the majority of commentators.

The javelin, light-weight for throwing, usually by young adolescent men. Still growing to be strong enough for melee weapons.

Medieval lances used by by destrier riding armoured knights. Were very long and heavy.

Pig-stickers, which are between the above two weapons in length and mass. Were used (into this century) by light cavalry and for hunting from horseback. If face-on, generally held one-handed. For hunting, a skilled rider would wield it with both hands for a power thrust.

On foot, aristocrats used heavy spears, swords or axes. Period!
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2017
DNA testing of the body in the grave was female. Does anyone have evidence contradicting this?
No, the DNA was in the BONES in a bag which may or may not have come from the grave.

You STILL didnt read the article did you?

And yet you continue to speculate as if you know what you are talking about.

How come?
Shakescene21
not rated yet Sep 16, 2017
"...The woman in the grave gets my respect as a horse archer until proven otherwise."

@rrwillsj: It's fine if you want to believe that theory. I proposed that theory myself, and nothing in the evidence would contradict that theory.

However, as a matter of science, the evidence is not strong enough to "prove" that theory to the exclusion of some alternative theories. Aside from the test that showed the skeleton in question to be female, most of this paper shows very sloppy scientific method. Sensationalism over Science.

rrwillsj
1 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2017
TGTO1 and Ss2, you both make good points about my assumptions and how high I can jump to a conclusion. Specifically, that I could be wrong in my comments about this corpse.

However, reading your comments brings me to the conclusion that, for the both of you, your assumptions are just as speculative as my own.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2017
TGTO1 and Ss2, you both make good points about my assumptions and how high I can jump to a conclusion. Specifically, that I could be wrong in my comments about this corpse.

However, reading your comments brings me to the conclusion that, for the both of you, your assumptions are just as speculative as my own.
You didnt read the article. Youre an idiot. Thats a pretty fair assumption.

Heres an actual link for the not-so-lazy
https://arstechni...r-women/
Shakescene21
not rated yet Sep 17, 2017
"...However, reading your comments brings me to the conclusion that, for the both of you, your assumptions are just as speculative as my own."

@rrwillsj: Yes, there is so much unknown here, so that all the theories are based on "speculative" assumptions and none can be proven to a scientific standard. The three principal theories that have been mentioned in this discussion thread:

1. She is a Viking warrior, probably a leader.
2. She is the wife or slave of a Viking leader who was killed abroad.
3. This skeleton has been misidentified in storage and is not the skeleton that was in the tomb when it was excavated.

All of these theories (plus others) seem plausible to me, and none of them can be proven or disproven. The article cited by GhostOtto makes a much more scientific presentation of this story than the sloppy paper summarized by Physorg.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2017
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Sep 21, 2017
...
The three principal theories that have been mentioned in this discussion thread:

1. She is a Viking warrior, probably a leader.
2. She is the wife or slave of a Viking leader who was killed abroad.
3. This skeleton has been misidentified in storage and is not the skeleton that was in the tomb when it was excavated.

SS21,
I think they are more supposition (a guess) than theory...
jloohunret
1 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2017
What is the point of this article? Social justice for women in ancient societies for posterity sake? What can this study be applied to other than further understanding of the past? How can this study be applied today? The woman found is just a wife because the evidence is not substantial enough.

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