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Everything you thought you knew about Vikings may be wrong

September 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

An artistic reconstruction of 'Southern European' Vikings emphasising the foreign gene flow into Viking Age Scandinavia. CREDIT Jim Lyngvild

In the biggest study of its type, researchers claim they have "debunked" the modern image of Vikings.

We thought we knew everything about the Vikings.

In the biggest study of its kind, published in the journal Nature Wednesday, researchers found that many Vikings actually had brown hair.

In a six-year study, archaeologists and academics used DNA technology to analyze more than 400 Viking skeletons from sites in Scandinavia, Greenland and the UK.

They discovered that Vikings didn't just hail from Scandinavia -- they also had genes from both Asia and Southern Europe in their bloodline.

The study, by academics at the University of Cambridge in the UK and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, found that Viking burial sites in Scotland contained local people who may have taken on "Viking identities. "

Researchers say their findings shatter a lot of the preconceptions surrounding Vikings.

He said the new research "debunks" the traditional image of blond Vikings, as "many had brown hair and were influenced by genetic influx from the outside of Scandinavia. "

The study also revealed genetic differences between the various Viking populations within Scandinavia, which suggests different groups were more isolated than previously thought.

And the research also indicated that Viking identity wasn't something exclusive to Vikings themselves.

This suggests they may have taken on Viking identities, researchers say.

The word "Viking" comes from the Scandinavian term "vikingr," meaning "pirate," and the Viking Age refers to the period of the Middle Ages between 800 and the 1050s, the researchers explained.

Vikings are known to have traveled across Europe and beyond by sea.

He said the data "allow us to disentangle how selection unfolded before, during and after the Viking movements across Europe," with the potential to "begin to infer the physical appearance of ancient Vikings and compare them to Scandinavians today. "

The genetic legacy of the Vikings is still present today, the researchers said, with an estimated 6% of people in the UK and 10% of people in Sweden carrying Viking DNA in their genes.

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