Experience / Events / The Bones of Birka: Unraveling the Mystery of a Female Viking Warrior Book Launch

The Bones of Birka: Unraveling the Mystery of a Female Viking Warrior Book Launch

How many female Viking warriors does it take to make a fact?

When archaeologist Dr. Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson discovers that the bones contained in the most significant Viking warrior grave ever opened are in fact female, she and her team upend centuries of historically accepted conclusions and ignite a furious debate around the reality of female Viking warriors and the role of gender in both ancient and modern times.

In The Bones of Birka, author C. M. Surrisi introduces young readers to the events that led up to this discovery and the impact it has had on scientists’ and historians’ views of gender roles in ancient societies and today. This is the inside account of the Birka warrior grave Bj 581 archaeological endeavor, including all of the dreams, setbacks, frustrations, excitement, politics, and personalities that went into this history-changing discovery.

The finding has raised crucial questions about research bias, academic dialogue, and gender identity.

Surrisi will be joined in conversation with Neil Price and Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University.

Neil Price holds the Chair of Archaeology at Uppsala University, Sweden, where he has also been appointed Distinguished Professor by the Swedish Research Council. A leading expert on the Viking Age, his fieldwork, teaching, and research have taken him to more than forty countries. Neil is a Fellow of numerous learned academies in Britain and Scandinavia, including Sweden’s oldest, the Royal Society of Sciences. In 2017, they awarded him the Thuréus prize for his lifetime achievements in Viking studies. His publications have appeared in twenty languages, and he is a frequent consultant and contributor to television and film.

Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson is a researcher and part of the Viking Phenomenon research project. She studied at the Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University, and presented a Ph.D. thesis in 2006 on the Birka Warrior – the material culture of a martial society. With a background in field archaeology and as senior curator at the Swedish History Museum (SHM), she has held research fellowships at SHM, Stockholm University, and the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) in Mainz. Previous research projects have focused on warfare, identities, mobility, and material culture in Late Iron Age – Viking Age societies. Most recently, she was part of the interdisciplinary ATLAS-project aiming at unraveling human prehistory within present-day Sweden by combining archaeology, physical anthropology, and genetics.