The remains of a female warrior from Finland belonged to a man with an extra X chromosome

The remains of a female warrior from Finland belonged to a man with an extra X chromosome
The remains of a female warrior from Finland belonged to a man with an extra X chromosome

Genetic analysis showed that the remains in a medieval Finnish burial, which were believed to be female, belonged to a man. Moreover, the warrior had an additional X chromosome, or Klinefelter's syndrome.

In 1968, a burial was found in Suontaka Vesitorninmäki, Hattula, Finland, which dates from the late 11th - early 12th century AD. Several artifacts were found in it: a knife, a sickle, brooches and two swords. Scientists decided that the grave belonged to a female warrior. Since then, she has been hailed as proof that Finnish women could have been part of the warrior class in the Middle Ages.

Other researchers denied this hypothesis and said that, most likely, the burial was double. After all, the presence of weapons indicates that a man was buried in the grave, and brooches were associated with a female burial, although the second body was never found.

Now a team of Finnish and German scientists have performed a genetic analysis of the body that was buried in the tomb. In addition, they studied the burial context and analyzed the soil. Details of the work were published in the European Journal of Archeology.

Artifacts Found in a Burial / Ulla Moilanen et al. / European Journal of Archeology, 2021

Initially, the researchers confirmed the approximate burial time. Radiocarbon analysis has shown that it dates from 1040-1074 AD.

Then the scientists examined the grave. It was a burial pit with a flat floor, where the body of a warrior was laid - without a coffin. The size of the pit was only suitable for one person, the second would have to be placed on top of the first. However, archaeologists did not find traces of decomposition of the second body - so they proved that the burial could not be double.

The team also examined human remains. The scientists had at their disposal two badly damaged fragments of the femur, so they were able to determine only the sex of the buried warrior. With a probability of 99.75 percent, it was a male of the XXY karyotype.

Finally, scientists extracted fragments of wool and bird feathers from the soil from the warrior's thighbone. Analysis showed that most of the hairs are sheep's wool, dyed in different colors. Other fragments may have been of a fox and a hare.

Most likely, the burial belonged to a man with Klinefelter's syndrome. According to the authors of the work, he could live to puberty, and his physical characteristics were pronounced. “The general context of the grave indicates that this was a respected person, whose gender identity could well be non-binary,” the researchers concluded.

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