900-Year-Old Warrior Could Have Been Non-Binary, According To Study

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Veronika Paschenko

A study says that the 900-year-old warrior might not have been binary.

There may be a person buried in Finland whose social identity doesn’t fit into the usual gender roles.

A Finnish warrior was buried almost a thousand years ago, and new research shows that this person may have been non-binary.

It’s great to see how much LGBTQ+ people are portrayed and how much more comfortable people are becoming with their non-binary identities in just the last five years.

Veronika Paschenko

However, we have a long way to go before we can fully accept and understand each other.

A grave find in Finland is interesting because it suggests that people in the Iron Age and early Middle Ages may not have closely followed gender norms as much as we thought.

A study in the European Journal of Archaeology shows what was found in a warrior’s grave that was found in 1968 in Suontaka Vesitorninmäki, Hattula, Finland.

A sword with a bronze handle was found inside. This led experts to a grave that was full of things that suggest the person who was buried may have been a woman or someone “whose gender identity may well have been non-binary.”

The University of Turku said in a statement, “The jewellery found in the grave shows that the person who was buried was wearing typical female clothing from that time.”

“Yet, this person was also buried with a sword – possibly two, according to some interpretations – which has traditionally been linked to masculinity.”

Since the grave was found more than fifty years ago, ongoing arguments have existed.

People have been arguing about whether the site was the single grave of a woman with a weapon or whether it was a double burial of a man and a woman.

This difference could make it clearer that there were powerful women leaders or fighters in Late Iron Age Finland.

The Finnish Heritage Agency (CC BY 4.0)

However, this new study makes it clear that the grave only held one person, who was dressed in period-appropriate women’s clothes and had a sword without a handle on their left hip.

A study of ancient DNA shows that the warrior may have had Klinefelter syndrome, which is marked by an extra X chromosome (XXY).

Ulla Moilanen, a doctoral student in archaeology at the university, said that this grave “may be an example of a person whose social identity settles outside the traditional division of genders.”

A press statement from the university says, “Should the symptoms of the Klinefelter syndrome have been obvious, this person may not have been strictly seen as female or male by their Early Middle Ages community.”

“The grave’s rich assortment of items evidences that this individual was not only accepted but esteemed and honoured.”

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