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Genetic Evidence of Female Viking Warrior

A skeleton unearthed among a grave of Viking warriors from the 10th century was found through genetic analysis to have been a woman, Gizmodo reports.

The gravesite was first excavated in the 1880s, Gizmodo says, and this skeleton, buried with the accouterments of a high-ranking officer, which included a gaming set, was assumed to be a man. But it adds that in the 1970s, a morphological analysis led some archeologists to suspect that the skeleton might have belonged to a woman, but couldn't confirm it.

Researchers from Sweden have now analyzed DNA isolated from the skeleton. As they report in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Stockholm University's Jan Storå and his colleagues isolated DNA from the skeleton for sequencing. From this, they found that the skeleton lacked a Y chromosome. The researchers additionally say that she appears closely related to modern-day Northern Europeans, particularly southern and south-central Swedes.

"The gaming set indicates that she was an officer, someone who worked with tactics and strategy and could lead troops in battle," first author Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson from Stockholm University tells Gizmodo. "What we have studied was not a Valkyrie from the sagas but a real-life military leader, that happens to have been a woman."