The "Birka girl" is one of the big draws at the Museum of History. Photo: SVT

"Birka" girl not from Birka at all

New analysis of the so-called “Swedish Birka” girl, one of the big draws at the Viking exhibition in the Swedish Museum of History, suggests that she actually was not from Sweden at all.

The girl’s skeleton was found in the once thriving Viking market town Birka on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren. Scientists believe she died in the 10th century when she was around six-years-old.

The scientists took her skull and reconstructed her face. The reconstruction has become one of the signature pieces of the museum’s Viking exhibit.

The girl’s skeleton was surrounded by expensive items, so scientists believe she came from a well-off family, but her clothes and set of jewelry are not typical for the Mälardalen region.

“It’s unlikely that she comes from that region,” Charlotte Hedenstierna Jonson, a researcher at the Museum of History, tells news agency TT.

To determine her origin scientists have measured levels of sulphur, carbon, and nitrogen in the girl’s skeleton and teeth. They have matched the results against animals from the Birka region.

“The animals have a different sulphur profile than she does,” says Hedenstierna Jonson.

The scientists have concluded that the girl was not raised on local food.

In the 10th century, people came to Birka from many different places in Europe.

“My guess is that she comes from northern Germany or southern Denmark,” says Hedenstierna Jonson.

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