Paleogeneticists reveal genetic traces of the first raids of the Scandinavian Vikings

(ORDO NEWS) — European and Chinese paleogeneticists have found that the genomes of the ancient Vikings contain significant inclusions of DNA from the inhabitants of three regions of Europe far from Scandinavia, including the Eastern Baltic, the British Isles and the Mediterranean.

These DNA segments are a kind of genetic traces of the first Viking raids, scientists write in an article published in the journal Cell.

“Initially, we simply conducted three different studies related to the genomes of the ancient Vikings and medieval Scandinavians.

As a result, we combined them into one project dedicated to the genetic history of Scandinavia in the last two thousand years.

This study showed that representatives of several peoples entered Scandinavia at once different periods of its history,” said Professor of Stockholm University (Sweden) Anders Göterström, quoted by the press service of the journal.

Professor Heterstrom and his colleagues came to this conclusion as part of a large-scale project to study the genetic history of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Scientists analyzed 48 samples of ancient DNA extracted from the bones of ancient Vikings and medieval Scandinavians, as well as over 16,000 genome samples of modern inhabitants of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

As the researchers note, the remains belonged both to the “pre-Viking era” in the medieval history of Europe, and to later time periods, including the heyday of the Viking culture in 750-1100 AD, as well as the Middle Ages and even the New Age time.

Comparison of the genomes of different generations of the ancient Scandinavians, as well as their modern descendants, has brought a lot of interesting and unexpected discoveries.

In particular, paleogenetics found that the genome of the first Vikings contains significant inclusions of DNA from three groups of peoples who lived at a great distance from Scandinavia – the ancient inhabitants of modern Ireland and Lithuania, as well as the inhabitants of the island of Sardinia.

All these regions of Europe, according to scientists, were among the first victims of the Viking raids, which explains the presence of traces of the DNA of their inhabitants in the genomes of the ancient Scandinavians.

In particular, this is supported by the fact that most of these sites were inherited by the Vikings on the maternal line, and their ratio is noticeably different for medieval Scandinavians from different regions of Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

This potentially reflects what parts of Europe were penetrated by the first Vikings who lived in these areas of Scandinavia, the scientists concluded.

About Vikings

It is traditionally believed that the inhabitants of Europe first encountered the Vikings at the end of the 8th century, when the western shores of England began to be raided by “pagan” robbers in bizarre boats-drakkars.

On the other hand, scientists recently discovered during excavations in Denmark that the Vikings were not only sea robbers, but also active merchants.

It turned out that in many cases, Scandinavian merchants penetrated into different regions of Europe hundreds of years before bands of Norman “barbarians” appeared on their shores.

The Vikings were especially active in trading furs, which contributed to their transportation from the north of Europe to other regions of Eurasia.

Such discoveries have increased the interest of researchers in studying the history of the emergence and genetic evolution of the Vikings.

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