Last week, news broke about a grave marked “Bj 581” at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Birka, Sweden, that was long thought to be a high ranking Viking warrior amongst Nordic soldiers. Scientists discovered the warrior was, in fact, female!
Thanks to DNA analysis and Genomics, it has been confirmed that the grave, adorned with weapons, such as swords, lethally sharp arrows, shields, and two horses, belonged to a badass lady Viking. The gender of the warrior became quite the controversy among the archaeologists studying her remains. It was assumed that due to the volume of weaponry the Viking may have been male, although many researchers argued the opposite.
According to Discovery magazine, this might not be the first time a female Viking grave was found with weapons, however, none of the previous female remains found have ever been speculated to be at such a high rank. A game-board and set pieces was found buried with the remains. As published by the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, researchers suggest it is a game of "knowledge of tactics and strategy, stressing the buried individual's role as a high-ranking officer."
Scientists could not identify a specific geographic area from where the woman originated, but believe that the she was not born in the Birka area. According to DNA results, she was genetically most closely related to those presently living in the British Isles and Scandinavia, and to a lesser extent, the east Baltic area.
Hopefully, through further research, we can put a name and history to this fierce Viking lady warrior and she can join the ranks of Joan of Arc, Lozen, and Nakano Takeko on the lists of historically kick-ass women. Scientific discoveries like these are playing a big role in the feminist movement today as they are filling in the holes of history and challenging the ideas of what the roles of women were historically.
Top photo: "Warrior Queen," 2003
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Lianna Remigio is a twenty-year-old Editorial Intern at BUST and studies communications at City College in Harlem, currently living in the Bronx. You can find her on twitter @lillypads_ tweeting out dank memes and political news. In her free time, Lianna is a writer of short stories and essays as well as poems. Originally from Rockland County, her music taste can be described as a cross between a sad suburban, indie kid and a 30-year-old Bronxite. Tune in to WHCR 90.3 FM Mondays from 3 PM to 4PM to hear her talk about trending topics on "The Grey Area".