According to new research being conducted on remains found in the Viking town of Sigtuna, a good proportion of the town was actually immigrants rather than traditional Vikings or Swedes. From the remains of 38 individuals located in Sigtuna, researchers from Stockholm University found that approximately half of them were migrants and not of Swedish descent.
According to Archaeology, around half of the human remains belonged to people from the nearby Lake Malaren area. However, the other half came from different locations such as Ukraine and the British Isles. As a result of this, Anders Gotherstrom of Stockholm University likened the Viking town of Sigtuna to present-day London or Shanghai on account of its diversity.
In addition, he said that people were forced to migrate to Sigtuna in order to succeed in areas such as politics.
“Anyone who wanted to do something, to work their way up in the church or in politics were first forced to come to Sigtuna,” Gotherstrom said.
According to The Local, Sigtuna is considered to be one of Sweden’s first cities. It was founded in 980 AD by King Olof Skotkonung, who was the country’s first Christian king. The town grew to over 10,000 people and was considered comparable in size to Anglo-Saxon London at the time.
This new study is the largest of its kind to be conducted so far in Sweden, according to The Local. DNA analysis and strontium analysis of teeth were used to help identify from where the human remains found in Sigtuna originated.
Half of the Vikings were immigrants https://t.co/fW0mvc8fZb— Mårten Mickos (@martenmickos) August 23, 2018
Maja Krzewinska, a researcher at Stockholm University and the principal author of the study, says that the results show that Vikings were not just emigrants and invaders.
“We’re used to thinking of the Vikings as a traveling kind, and can easily picture the school books with maps and arrows pointing out from Scandinavia, as far as Turkey and America, but not so much in the other direction,” she said in a press statement.
The study also found that while people may have felt compelled to migrate to Sigtuna, many stayed.
“I especially like that we find second-generation immigrants among the buried,” Gotherstrom, said. “That kind of migratory information has never been encountered before as far as I know.”
The new study also showed that there was no such thing as an “ethnic Swede” and that people who consider themselves Swedish were actually a result of immigration many years ago.
“The Swede doesn’t exist genetically,” Gotherstrom explained. “We’ve pieced ourselves together from parts taken from the whole world, and the more we study this genetically, the more we see that people have been moving around the place the whole time.”
The full results of this study have been published in Current Biology.