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Viking men didn’t travel alone: Norsewomen helped colonize new lands, too

| | December 9, 2014

Vikings may have been family men who traveled with their wives to new lands, according to a new study of ancient Viking DNA.

Maternal DNA from ancient Norsemen closely matches that of modern-day people in the North Atlantic isles, particularly from the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

The findings suggest that both Viking men and women sailed on the ships to colonize new lands. The new study also challenges the popular conception of Vikings as glorified hoodlums with impressive seafaring skills.

“It overthrows this 19th century idea that the Vikings were just raiders and pillagers,” said study co-author Erika Hagelberg, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oslo in Norway. “They established settlements and grew crops, and trade was very, very important.”

Vikings hold a special place in folklore as manly warriors who terrorized the coasts of France, England and Germany for three centuries. But the Vikings were much more than pirates and pillagers. They established far-flung trade routes, reached the shores of present-day America, settled in new lands and even founded the modern city of Dublin, which was called Dyfflin by the Vikings.

Some earlier genetic studies have suggested that Viking males traveled aloneand then brought local women along when they settled in a new location. For instance, a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics suggested that Norse men brought Gaelic women over when they colonized Iceland.

Read full, original article: Genetics show Viking women colonized new lands, too

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