Remains of a warrior found in Finland may have Klinefelter syndrome: NPR


A reconstruction drawing of a 1,000-year-old Suontaka tomb which is now believed to be the final resting place of a non-dual warrior.

Veronika Pachinko / University of Turku

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Veronika Pachinko / University of Turku

A reconstruction drawing of a 1,000-year-old Suontaka tomb which is now believed to be the final resting place of a non-dual warrior.

Veronika Pachinko / University of Turku

Analysis of ancient DNA found in Finland revealed a surprise a century later – perhaps the remains of an early medieval warrior thought to be a non-binary female.

In their study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal, the researchers concluded European Journal of ArcheologyAnd

The findings are a reminder that “biology does not directly dictate a person’s self-identity,” First said Moylanin, lead author of the study and an archaeologist at Finland’s University of Turku.

Archaeologists first discovered the tomb in 1968. The remains, located in Suontaka Vesitorninmäki, southern Finland, were buried along with a sword and jewelry such as brooches and were found in parts of woolen clothing – which was “typical female attire of the era,” the researchers said.

But the use of DNA analysis decades later found chromosomes that did not match what would be expected for males or females. The researchers – based in Finland and Germany – concluded that the person buried likely had Klinefelter syndrome and was an anatomically male.

Females are usually born with two X (XX) chromosomes and males are born with one X and one Y chromosome (XY). Males born with Klinefelter syndrome are born with an extra X chromosome (XXY), according to UK National Health Service.

The syndrome affects about 1 in 660 males. Those with Klinefelter may have low testosterone levels, a smaller penis, drooping testicles, enlarged breasts, and infertility. Many people are not diagnosed until they are older and have tested their fertility levels; Others are never diagnosed.

In their findings, the researchers noted that the remains were “severely damaged” and that they only had a small sample to test. But through the use of modeling, they said they “found compelling evidence that the genetic data of the Suontaka individual is very similar to the XXY karyotype.”

The honorable manner of burial of the warrior led researchers to conclude that the remains were of “a respected person whose gender identity may be non-binary”.

“If the characteristics of Klinefelter syndrome were evident on a person, it might not have been considered strictly female or male in early medieval society,” Moylanen said. “The abundant collection of objects buried in the grave is evidence that the person was not only accepted, but also valued and respected.”

The new research notes that even in a “highly masculine environment in early medieval Scandinavia” where men with “female social roles and [who] The researchers concluded that wearing female clothing was seen as insulting and disgraceful, “Perhaps there were individuals who did not fit gender norms and were still admired.

Other archaeologists and historians who were not involved in these new discoveries said Life Science They find the work exciting, as it draws attention to conversations about sex, body, and identity.

“It’s a well-researched study of an interesting cemetery,” said Leszek Gardella, a researcher at the Danish National Museum. “It shows that early medieval societies had a very nuanced approach and understanding of gender identities.”

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