Which countries have Viking heritage

Gene study clarifies the origin and legacy of the Vikings in Scandinavia

Using genetic analyzes, researchers are exploring the Viking era in Scandinavia for the first time. The picture that the large genetic study shows is surprisingly differentiated. It refutes many a cliché.

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Blonde giants who spread fear and terror on their raids along coasts and rivers in the Middle Ages - that's it Cliché about the Vikings. A large genetic study now provides an essential more differentiated picture of the populationScandinavia during that period between the years 750 and 1050.

It shows that there are different groups depending on the Scandinavian region of origin very different from each other and also outside of Scandinavia completely different spheres of influence had.

The international team also reports in the journal "Nature" how much Viking genome is in today's Scandinavians and people from neighboring countries.

Vikings are notorious for their raids

"The events of the Viking Age changed the political, cultural and demographic map of Europe in a way that is still visible today," writes Eske Willerslev's team from the University of Copenhagen.

So they would have spread technology, language and cultural practices in parts of Europe and as far as Asia. In addition, the following applies Leif Eriksson as the first Europeanwho entered America - 500 years before Christopher Columbus. And Canute the Great ruled in the early 11th century an empire that stretched from southern Sweden via Norway and Denmark to England.

They are notorious Vikings for their raids, during which they repeatedly advanced across the Rhine and Moselle to far into the Rhineland at the end of the 9th century.

Other rivers in Eastern and Western Europe also offered Routes of incidence for the savvy seafarerwho were also traveling in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The word "Vikings" goes on that Scandinavian name for "pirate" back.

Surprisingly inconsistent picture

In order to clarify the identity of the Vikings, the researchers now sequenced Genomes from 442 human remains with reference to Vikings, which not only come from Scandinavia, but from an area that extends from Greenland to Poland and Russia.

The results were similar to those already available Genetic data from a good 1,100 people from the past and mor more than 3,800 from the present from.

The results give a surprisingly inconsistent picture - both for groups in Scandinavia and for their respective spheres of influence. Basically, the team differentiates between three groups according to their rough geographical origin: Sweden-like, Norway-like and Danes-like.

However, the boundaries between them ran along natural barriers and not along today's state borders. For example, the people in the south-west of today's Sweden were more like the Danish Vikings.

Scandinavia's genetic landscape changed over time

The Sweden-like group - especially on the eastern Swedish island of Gotland - therefore has strong family ties to Eastern Europeans.

This also reflects that Trade relations since the Bronze Age reflected in the Baltic Sea region. The influence of the Norwegian group, on the other hand, extends to Ireland, Iceland and Greenland, while the Danish group is more oriented towards England.

Indeed changed the genetic landscape Scandinavia over time: "We found that the gene flow within Scandinavia runs roughly from south to north and was dominated by movements from Denmark to Norway and Sweden," the team writes.

In addition, people have been coming since at least the Iron Age, which began around 500 BC from southern Europe and Asia to Scandinavia. The islands of Gotland and Öland were important trading centers as early as Roman times.

Many Vikings tended to have brown hair

"So far we didn't know what the Vikings looked like genetically," Willerslev is quoted in a press release. "We found genetic differences between different Viking populations in Scandinavia, which shows that the groups in the region were much more isolated from one another than previously known."

Lots Vikings are more likely to be brown-haired as been blond what on Influences from outside Scandinavia go back.

The analysis of the earliest known Viking expedition Middle of the 8th century - almost half a century before the first written record of a Viking raid in 793 in Lindisfarne, England.

Off the coast of what is now Estonia, the Place Salme 41 men from Swedenwho died violently, buried with weapons in two ships. Analysis of 34 of them shows that four brothers and a third-degree relative were buried in a ship.

The researchers believe that the other men probably came from the same area as well, based on that genetic similarities. Such expeditions would usually have been made up of men from one locality, the team concludes.

Vikings are not necessarily of Scandinavian descent

The analysis of a grave from Orkney, Scotland, also shows that Vikings not necessarily of Scandinavian descent were. The two dead men buried there are genetically similar to today's Irish and Scots, but were buried in the Viking style with swords and other accessories.

According to the study, people in Scandinavia today are still very similar to those who lived in the region at the time. The exception is Sweden, where only around 15 to 30 percent of the genetic make-up can be traced back to the population at the time.

In Poland, Scandinavian influences now make up up to 5 percent of the genetic make-up, in England a maximum of 6 percent. (ff / dpa)

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