A 1,000-year-old tomb has been unearthed in Finland and a surprise awaits archaeologists: The remains may have belonged to a high-status non-binary person, pointing to likely acceptance and respect by their communities.
For decades, archaeologists have found that in the tomb – discovered in 1968 during construction work in the Finnish village of Suontaka – there were either two bodies (a man and a woman) or just one and it would be proof that there were female warriors. in medieval Finland, once there were women’s garments, jewels, and swords in the tomb.
Now, a DNA analysis revealed that it was really just one person and that he had suffered from Klinefelter syndrome, which occurs when a man has an extra copy of the extra X chromosome (instead of having an X and a Y chromosome, it has two Xs and a Y) and affects about one in 660 men, often without being noticeable. Genetically they are male, but the syndrome can manifest with a larger than normal breast, small genitals, low libido, and infertility.
According to the lead author of the study published in the European Journal of Archeology last month, Ulla Moilanen, an archaeologist at the University of Turku, Finland, “the buried individual appears to have been a highly respected member of his community” once he is over. the grave was “a blanket of soft feathers with furs and valuables.”
These data led researchers to question how gender divisions were made at the time and whether they were in line with those known today as “traditional”. “The general context of the tomb indicates that it was a respected person whose gender identity may well have been non-binary,” they said in the study.
According to Moilanen, due to the number of female objects buried in the grave, his condition was accepted and, “may not have been considered strictly a woman or a man in the community of the first Middle Ages”.
The idea that “in the ultra-masculine environment of medieval Scandinavia, men with feminine social roles and men dressed in feminine clothes were disrespected and considered shameful” can now be altered, based on this discovery. However, what is not known is whether the person was only accepted because he already had a “distinct or secure position in the community for other reasons”, explain the researchers.
This study, which is already supported by “archaeologists and historians”, managed to show, according to Leszek Gardeła, a researcher at the National Museum of Denmark, that the early medieval ones “had very nuanced approaches and understandings of gender identities”.
Source: with agencies