Land of the Ice and Snow

Digs & Discoveries January/February 2019

(Sigtuna Museum)

The Vikings are renowned for having traveled great distances from their homeland in Scandinavia. A new study suggests that many residents of Sigtuna, a major Viking town in eastern Sweden, were themselves immigrants from afar. Researchers from Stockholm University sequenced the genomes and analyzed strontium isotopes from the remains of 16 people buried in Sigtuna between the tenth and twelfth centuries. Isotope analysis showed that eight of the 16 individuals had grown up in or near the town, and eight had grown up elsewhere. Of those who moved to the town, four had genetic features suggesting they had come from other parts of Scandinavia, while four appeared to have arrived from farther away, most likely Eastern Europe. Two of those who had grown up locally had unusual genetic profiles for the area, suggesting that they were second-generation immigrants. “We knew that Sigtuna had a lot of contact with other regions,” says researcher Maja Krzewinska, “but we didn’t know to what degree and we didn’t know whether the foreigners actually lived and stayed in Sigtuna. Now we can prove it.”

  • Artifacts January/February 2019

    Neo-Hittite Ivory Plaque

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    (Copyright MAIAO, Sapienza University of Rome/Photo by Roberto Ceccacci)
  • Around the World January/February 2019


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    (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Digs & Discoveries January/February 2019

    The Case of the Stolen Sumerian Antiquities

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    (© Trustees of the British Museum)
  • Features January/February 2019

    A Dark Age Beacon

    Long shrouded in Arthurian lore, an island off the coast of Cornwall may have been the remote stronghold of early British kings

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    (Skyscan Photolibrary/Alamy Stock Photo)