Viking Graves: Clarified Viking Gender Roles?

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Viking Graves: Clarified Viking Gender Roles?

We often assume that the Vikings differentiated gender roles very clearly in their time. But whether it was historically true or not has been always remaining a mystery. Recently, a group of archaeologists think that what we always believe about Viking society is not precise. 

Common belief is that the Viking women literally lived within the threshold while the men were more active in battle and over the waves. The women would stay in their house to make food, clothes, take care of the children while the men would be somewhere out there to find food and provide their family with sustenance. However, archaeologists have gone through 218 Viking graves in Vestfold and the grave goods inside the graves made them rethink.

Viking women role in their time

Viking women's role was believed to be within the threshold  

Whether the graves belonged to men or women, nearly all of them included the cooking gear. In Viking culture, the Vikings would bury personal goods of the deceased with them so that the deceased could continue to live in their afterlife.

So if this had been true in the Viking Age, the Viking men would have cooked in their time. Some archaeologists believed that Viking men cook for themselves during their voyage and that was the reason why cooking gear appeared in Viking graves.

Yet, not everyone agrees with this. Some point out that that cooking gear appeared inside the grave doesn't mean that deceased ones cooked for himself. Just like the women inside the Oseberg ship, a huge ship appeared in their burial mound; but during their lifetime, they probably didn't sail the ship themselves. 

Another artifact was the keys that the archaeologists often found from the Viking graves. Originally, the archaeologists believed that these keys were the best symbols for Viking women's roles in the family. Yet, Vestfold graves showed that keys appeared in Viking men's graves, too. 

Key appeared in both graves for men and women

Viking key appeared in graves for women and men.

Graves for both men and women included things like jewelry and toiletry. This vividly presented the Viking love for jewelry as well as their hygiene in their time. 

Overall, it seems Viking grave goods are not enough for the archaeologists to conclude the identity of the deceased and the gender roles in Viking age. What might remain a mystery forever is how the Vikings historically differentiated their gender roles.

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