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Half the population of the Viking-town Sigtuna were migrants

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Republication from Stockholm University

New analysis of the remains of 38 people who lived and died in the town of Sigtuna during the 10th, 11th and 12th century reveals high genetic variation and a wide scale migration. The study is the largest of its kind so far in Sweden and a combination of several methods, including DNA analysis and Strontium isotope analysis of teeth. The results are published in a new article in Current Biology.

Sigtuna is well known as one of the earliest actual cities in the area and was formally founded around 980 AD. More unknown is the fact that the picturesque town, which today is home to around 10 000 people, was a distinctly cosmopolitan place back then.

Researchers at Stockholm university, in cooperation with Uppsala University, Middle Eastern Technical University in Turkey, the British Geological Survey in the UK, and Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie in Germany, have analyzed the remains of 38 individuals from six different burial sites in Sigtuna. The analysis is based on a combination of methods from archeology and osteology, including DNA analysis and Strontium analysis of the teeth (isotope and level of Strontium in teeth varies depending of where the individual lived in their youth). The results are clear: around half the population of Viking age Sigtuna originated from outside Mälardalen.

– We´re used to thinking of the Vikings as a travelling 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, says Maja Krzewinska, researcher at the Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University and primary author behind the study.

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