For more than a century, archaeologists had assumed the remains of a high-ranking Viking warrior discovered in Birka, Sweden belonged to a man. Now, researchers have used DNA testing to confirm that the warrior, who had been buried with military honors, was actually a woman. The study by a team at Stockholm University, which was published on Friday in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, confirms that women held high roles in the Viking military and demonstrates the impact that sexist preconceptions can have in scientific research. As the authors observe, since the grave site was first excavated in the 1880s, researchers never considered that the warrior might not be a man: “This image of the male warrior in a patriarchal society was reinforced by research traditions and contemporary preconceptions. Hence, the biological sex of the individual was taken for granted.”
Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, an archaeologist at Uppsala University, described the grave site, which contained all of the trappings of a high-ranking Viking officer: “Aside from the complete warrior equipment buried along with her – a sword, an axe, a spear, armor-piercing arrows, a battle knife, shields, and two horses – she had a board game in her lap, or more of a war-planning game used to try out battle tactics and strategies, which indicates she was a powerful military leader. She’s most likely planned, led and taken part in battles." The researchers added that these new findings "provide a new understanding of the Viking society, the social constructions and also norms in the Viking Age."
The researchers also note that archaeologists and historians'’ attitudes towards the sex of the remains reveal a lot about our own culture: “As long as the sex is male, the weaponry in the grave not only belong to the interred but also reflects his status as warrior, whereas a female sex has raised doubts,” they write. “This type of reasoning takes away the agency of the buried female... The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies." They further hope that the confirmation that there were high-ranking female warriors in Viking society will encourage more research using modern techniques aimed at creating a more accurate picture of historic cultures: “This study shows how the combination of ancient genomics, isotope analyses and archaeology can contribute to the rewriting of our understanding of social organization concerning gender, mobility and occupation patterns in past societies.”
To read more about this new discovery in Smithsonian, visit http://bit.ly/2f0BHDB
For books for children and teens about sword-wielding women, check out our blog post, "16 Books Starring Sword-Wielding Girls and Women," at https://www.amightygirl.com/blog/?p=9960
For a few of our favorite books about sword-loving Mighty Girls, we recommend the picture book "Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure" for ages 5 to 9 (https://www.amightygirl.com/brave-margaret), the award-winning "The Blue Sword" for ages 9 and up (https://www.amightygirl.com/the-blue-sword), the fantasy classic "Alanna: The First Adventure" for ages 11 and up (https://www.amightygirl.com/alanna-the-first-adventure), and the graphic novel "Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant" for ages 13 and up (https://www.amightygirl.com/delilah-dirk)
And, for books about women's diverse role in history, from ancient times to the modern world, visit our "History & Biography" section at https://www.amightygirl.com/books/history-biography
found @ 2578 likes ON 2017-09-12 19:22:50 BY ME.ME