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Anna KjellströmUniversitetslektor


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Elucidating recent history by tracing genetic affinity of three 16th century miners from Sweden

    2018. Maja Krzewinska (et al.). Journal of Archaeological Science 19, 651-657


    Objectives: Sala Silver Mine in central Sweden was an important manufacturer of silver from at least the 16th till the early 20th century, with production peaking in the 16th, mid 17th and 19th centuries. The job opportunities offered by the mine attracted people to the area resulting in the development of a small township with an associated cemetery in the vicinity of the mining center. People affiliated to the mine were buried on the cemetery for around 150 years. Written sources reveal that common criminal convicts from Sweden-Finland and war prisoners from the numerous wars fought by Sweden during the time were exploited in the mine, and some of them were likely buried on the cemetery. The cemetery has been excavated on several occasions and the recovered human remains were divided into two different groups based on burial custom, demography and biochemical results. One group was believed to contain war prisoners; the aim of this study was to produce and interpret genomic data from these individuals to test if their genetic ancestry is consistent with the hypothesis that they were non-locals. Materials: Teeth from seven different individuals were sampled for dentine. Results: Three of the analyzed teeth contained sufficient amounts of endogenous human DNA for the generation of genomic sequence data to a coverage of 0.04, 0.19 and 0.83, respectively. Discussion: The results show that despite seeming heterogeneity the three individuals grouped within the range of genetic variation of modern and contemporary Swedes, yielding no statistical support to the hypothesis that they were foreign captives. However, due to the lack of contemporary or modern Danish genomic data we cannot refute these individuals originated in Denmark which was suggested as one of possible sources of the 17th century Swedish prisoners of war.

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  • Genomic and Strontium Isotope Variation Reveal Immigration Patterns in a Viking Age Town

    2018. Maja Krzewińska (et al.). Current Biology 28 (17), 2730-2738


    The impact of human mobility on the northern European urban populations during the Viking and Early Middle Ages and its repercussions in Scandinavia itself are still largely unexplored. Our study of the demographics in the final phase of the Viking era is the first comprehensive multidisciplinary investigation that includes genetics, isotopes, archaeology, and osteology on a larger scale. This early Christian dataset is particularly important as the earlier common pagan burial tradition during the Iron Age was cremation, hindering large-scale DNA analyses. We present genome-wide sequence data from 23 individuals from the 10th to 12th century Swedish town of Sigtuna. The data revealed high genetic diversity among the early urban residents. The observed variation exceeds the genetic diversity in distinct modern-day and Iron Age groups of central and northern Europe. Strontium isotope data suggest mixed local and non-local origin of the townspeople. Our results uncover the social system underlying the urbanization process of the Viking World of which mobility was an intricate part and was comparable between males and females. The inhabitants of Sigtuna were heterogeneous in their genetic affinities, probably reflecting both close and distant connections through an established network, confirming that early urbanization processes in northern Europe were driven by migration.

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  • Keep your head high

    2018. Sara Gummesson, Fredrik Hallgren, Anna Kjellström. Antiquity 92 (361), 74-90


    The socio-cultural behaviour of Scandina-vian Mesolithic hunter-gatherers has been difficult to understand due to the dearth of sites thus far investigated. Recent excavations at Kanaljorden in Sweden, however, have revealed disarticulated human crania intentionally placed at the bottom of a former lake. The adult crania exhibited antemortem blunt force trauma patterns differentiated by sex that were probably the result of interpersonal violence; the remains of wooden stakes were recovered inside two crania, indicating that they had been mounted. Taphonomic factors suggest that the human bodies were manipulated prior to deposition. This unique site challenges our understanding of the handling of the dead during the European Mesolithic.

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  • A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics

    2017. Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson (et al.). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 164 (4), 853-860



    The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.

    Materials and methods

    Genome-wide sequence data was generated in order to confirm the biological sex, to support skeletal integrity, and to investigate the genetic relationship of the individual to ancient individuals as well as modern-day groups. Additionally, a strontium isotope analysis was conducted to highlight the mobility of the individual.


    The genomic results revealed the lack of a Y-chromosome and thus a female biological sex, and the mtDNA analyses support a single-individual origin of sampled elements. The genetic affinity is close to present-day North Europeans, and within Sweden to the southern and south-central region. Nevertheless, the Sr values are not conclusive as to whether she was of local or nonlocal origin.


    The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies.

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  • Skärningspunkt Sigtuna – en första presentation av ett forskningsprojekt

    2017. Torun Zachrisson, Cecilia Ljung, Kjellström Anna.


    This article presents a new research project: Skärningspunkt Sigtuna – de första människorna i Sveriges äldsta stad (Intersection Sigtuna – the first inhabitants of Sweden’s oldest town), which runs from 2017 to 2020 and is sponsored by  the Swedish Research Council. The project aims to understand cultural transformation in the town’s earliest periods by studying the people who lived and died there. The main source material comprises c. 330 excavated graves dating from the town’s foundation in AD 970/80 until AD 1100. These derive both from five early churchyards as well as so-called “graveyards” (Sw. gravgård) – where individuals were buried in accordance with Christian practice, but not in the proximity of a church building. These early “graveyards” are unique to Scandinavia, but the phenomenon has yet to be subjected to in-depth analysis. Different kinds of burial grounds were partly in use simultaneously in Sigtuna and it is unclear how the interred individuals relate to one another, or what kind of social, cultural and religious communities they represent.

    The project combines archaeological and osteological data with regard to burial-place topography and location, burial custom including grave goods and relation to rune-inscribed stone monuments, isotopic analysis and ancient DNA-analysis of selected individuals. Sigtuna’s material culture in general indicates that it was a cosmopolitan town. The project will extend our knowledge in this regard by focusing on the backgrounds of the  first generations of town dwellers. Our main objective is to understand urbanization, migration, cultural interaction between groups and individuals, early church organization, networks and transnational relations.

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