By using DNA tests, Norwegian scientists found out that Vikings were not the blood thirsty warriors and plunderers we all have imagined. They actually brought their families with them when colonizing new lands, and trade was a very important occupation to them.
The new study shows that Vikings were not bloodthirsty warriors; actually, they were family men that sailed with their wives to new regions.
“It overthrows this 19th century idea that the Vikings were just raiders and pillagers,”
Erika Hagelberg, co-author of the study and Norwegian evolutionary scientist said about the study.
Dr Hagelberg also said that Vikings established settlements, cultivated land and trade was an extremely important activity in their daily lives.
In the popular conception, Vikings were mostly raiders and pirates that terrorized the peaceful population living on the coasts of England, Germany and France for three centuries. However, new DNA tests revealed that they established trade routes, they settled in new lands (Dublin was founded by the Vikings who called it Dyflin) and reached by ship the shores of America.
Previous genetic studies showed that Viking males traveled alone and they used local women to colonize new places, such as the Norse men that colonized Iceland by bringing along Gaelic women.
The new study shows that they were traveling with their women and even children when exploring for new lands.
For the Viking genetic study, the Norwegian researchers used DNA samples from 45 Norse skeletons found in several places around Norway. These skeletons were carbon-dated to between 796 and 1066 BC.
The researchers analyzed maternal DNA in these bones and compared it with mitochondrial DNA from more than 5.000 Europeans and 68 ancient Icelanders.
The maternal DNA of ancient Norse and Icelanders matched the maternal DNA in North Atlantic populations, i.e. English, Scots and Swedes. However, the ancient Norse (Vikings) were more closely related to the people living on the Scottish isles that are closest to Scandinavia, Vikings’ original home.
So, scientists now believe that they brought their women along when colonizing these isles.
“It looks like women were a more significant part of the colonization process compared to what was believed earlier,”
Jan Bill, an archaeologist and the curator of ancient Viking relics at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, said.
Scientists also say that the new findings confirm past historical documents which suggested that the Norse men, but also Irish, British and Scottish, brought their women and children when colonizing new islands.
Next, the researchers plan to do some extra DNA tests and find out how exactly the ancient Norse are related to the ancient populations from the British, Scottish and North Atlantic isles.