With 442 bones, from Greenland to Italy, and from the Bronze Age to the XVIe century, it is an understatement to say that the study carried out by a hundred researchers is exhaustive. Published on September 16 in the journal Nature, the results of six years of work combining archeology, genetics and anthropology paint a mixed portrait of the Vikings, far from the united people of Nordics with blond hair.
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“The Viking populations of Scandinavia were not genetically homogeneous, Eske Willerslev, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. Many were brown and their origins were influenced by non-Scandinavian populations. “ The Vikings of present-day Denmark and the Swedish coast, particularly the islands of Öland and Gotland, exhibited high genetic diversity, suggesting that the towns along the seafront and along the river mouths formed important trading centers. and trade, where populations from southern Europe rubbed shoulders with those from the North during the golden age of the Vikings, the VIIIe au XIe century.
The Vikings of more genetically homogeneous lands
Conversely, the Vikings inland, present-day Norway and the open Atlantic coast were genetically more homogeneous. For Fernando Racimo, from the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the study, “Geographical obstacles or barriers of languages and cultures can explain this situation”. Atlantic-oriented and peerless navigators, these Vikings conquered the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, even sailing as far as the American continent. On the contrary, the “Danish” and “Swedish” Vikings instead extended their raids around the North Sea, towards the British Isles, and the Baltic Sea, towards Russia.
More surprisingly, a Viking tomb in the Orkney Islands, in the north of Scotland, actually concealed Pictish skeletons, members of Scottish tribes who faced the onslaught of the Vikings. “This suggests that during the Viking Age, Picts may have been integrated into the Scandinavian populations”, estimates the study. As Fernando Racimo sums it up, “The Vikings undoubtedly had a deep cultural relationship with their neighbors, beyond looting”.