Those ferocious seafaring warriors that explored, raided and traded across Europe from the late eighth to the early 11th centuries, known as the Vikings, are typically thought of as blonde Scandinavians. But Vikings may have a more diverse history: They carried genes from Southern Europe and Asia, a new study suggests.
“We didn’t know genetically what they actually looked like until now,” senior author Eske Willerslev, a fellow of St. John’s College of the University of Cambridge, and director of The Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said in a statement. The research “debunks the modern image of Vikings.”
For the study, which took six years to complete, an international group of researchers analyzed the DNA taken from the remains — such as the teeth and bones — of 442 people who lived sometime between about 2400 B.C. to A.D.1600 found in archaeological sites across Europe and Greenland. These people lived, for the most part, during the Viking Age, which lasted from about A.D. 750 to A.D. 1050. The researchers then compared these ancient people’s DNA with already published DNA sequences from 3,855 modern-day individuals and from 1,118 other ancient individuals. [Continue reading…]