Contrary to the depiction of Viking raiders in popular culture as mostly fair-haired warriors, many of them were not blond, and their genetic makeup was far more diverse, a new study has revealed.

A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen has studied the remains of 442 humans found in archeological sites across Europe and Greenland. The majority of the materials analyzed were from the so-called Viking Age, which stretched from around 750 AD to 1050 AD.

The scientists compared the genetic data with more than a thousand individuals living in other historical periods and with 3,855 people living today.

They found that Vikings were more diverse than was previously thought. In particular, “the Viking period involved gene flow into Scandinavia from the south and east,” the scientists wrote in a paper published in the Nature magazine.

It was also found that, contrary to their depiction in movies and art, dark hair was relatively common among the raiders from the north. “Vikings were not genetically pure Scandinavians. From the end of the Iron Age and into the Viking Age, there was a large influx of DNA from Southern Europe and Asia. This also probably means that very few of them were fair-haired,” Eske Willerslev, one of the geneticists behind the study, told the Danish media.

Willerslev told the Guardian that being a Viking was “not a pure ethnic phenomenon,” but rather a “lifestyle” anyone could adopt.

Commenting on the study, historian Kasper Andersen said that many modern myths about the Vikings were actually “invented” in the 19th century, when Danish nationalism was on the rise and blond hair “may have fitted in well.” However, it is not possible to say anything about the Vikings’ hair color based on historical sources, he said.

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