Viking burials yield uncontaminated Viking DNA for important analysis  

Vikings are well known in mythology and stories for wearing their famous helmets and being buried with their treasures. Archeaology has discovered some of these helmets, which has provided much detail about the lives of Vikings. Now scientists have now used the human teeth and tissue from the Viking skeletons that have lain undisturbed, buried with their artefacts for over 1000 years, to extract pure Viking DNA to tell us more...

The researchers overcame problems that have plagued previous studies - that of contamination. All living things have DNA and examining archeaological finds always leads to investigators DNA being left on the finds. Danish researchers planned this excavation carefully. They took samples from teeth and bones for DNA testing moments after the ancient skeletons were first unearthed, before any DNA could contaminated the area.

Tests on DNA that can still be extracted from the tissue that remains on ancient skeletons can tell us a lot about how ancient civilisations operated. DNA testing of Viking remains can provide important information about how genetic disease originated and have developed over time, how our ancestors migrated and what sort of society and culture they lived in.

The researchers used freshly sampled DNA from ten Viking skeletons dating back one thousand years. All were buried in a non-Christian burial site on the Danish island of Funen, Dissing. The techniques worked and the analysis shows that the ancient DNA was recovered without any contamination from modern DNA.

The researchers donned protective suits and gloves as they started work removing the teeth from the ancient Viking jaws at the moment the skeletons were uncovered. Every step in the analysis that followed was carried out under very carefully controlled conditions to prevent any DNA contamination.

Links to more Viking information

Read the original research article

History of the vikings from the BBC



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