Over 1000 years ago, in what is now southeastern Sweden, a well-established, highly ranked Viking warrior was buried. A new DNA test now proved that this Viking was a woman.
When her body was found in the 1880’s, archeologists thought that the warrior was a man based on what she was buried with. Her grave was filled with swords, arrowheads, and two sacrificed horses.
Baylor University archaeologist David Zori, said, “It was held up before as kind of the ‘ideal’ Viking male warrior grave.”
He went on to say that this new information, goes to the heart of archaeological interpretation: “we have always mapped on our idea of what gender roles are.”
“It seems as if history has reversed on us, where over 1000 years ago these Viking women were these strong and independent warriors, while we here in the present are fighting for the right to stand in high leadership positions (like those of a warrior).”
It seems as if history has reversed on us.
Funny thing about this whole study, was it took one person (Stockholm University bioarchaeologist Anna Kjellström ) to actually look at the bones and recognize that the hip bone was typical of a female.
When researchers were brought this information, they disputed it and made claims that there could be no way that a grave of this importance could be that of a woman.
They argued this despite there being written text from the Vikings and other evidence that there were female warriors.
In the early 10th century, there was a written story of Inghen Ruaidh (“Red Girl”), a female warrior who led a Viking fleet to Ireland. In the 13th century there were also stories of “shield-maidens” who fought alongside men in battles.
Viking lore has been telling us the truth for years and someone finally decided to look into it.
Researchers knew that their have been other Viking women that have been buried with weapons, but because of how important and vast this grave was, they didn’t even consider it was that of a woman.
Other archeologists argued that the bones Kjellström were looking at were the incorrect ones, that bones had been jumbled and misplaced and pretty much mansplained to her that she was incorrect.
Because of all of this, a DNA sample was tested to see what the warrior’s actual biological gender was and alas absolutely no y-chromosone was found.
The National Geographic said that some archaeologists had “considered these female warriors to be merely mythological embellishments—a belief colored by modern expectations of gender roles.”
While the note that perhaps the woman was just buried with those items and they mean nothing, experts like Zori says that it’s possible, but incredibly unlikely, that she would have been buried with warrior’s equipment without that having been her role in life.
“This is something that has generated a lot of interest through time, because of some of the texts of female warriors and now we’re getting new technologies that can bring those texts and that archaeology into closer contact,” he says.
I’m sorry but…excuse me?
While we are all celebrating this fantastic woman finally getting the respect that she deserves and showing her true legacy, I think we really need to be questioning the head space our archaeologists are in.
Their job is to be unearthing history and showing us our true roots as humans and civilizations. It is absolutely ridiculous that it took one woman, over 130 years after the Viking was found to realize, “hey, maybe this is a female?”
We need to hold these scientists up to a higher standard and demand the truth and due research when it literally affects how history is told.
All I can say is that this female Viking warrior is my official #WCW this Wednesday, next Wednesday and everyday. You go Viking girl, slay those gender roles and a couple grown men while you’re at it.
Photo Courtesy of National Geographic