The Bones of Birka: Unraveling the Mystery of a Female Viking Warrior (Hardcover)

The Bones of Birka: Unraveling the Mystery of a Female Viking Warrior By C.M. Surrisi Cover Image
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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.

About the Author

C. M. Surrisi is author of the middle-grade novels The Unofficial Lola Bay Fan Club, The Maypop Kidnapping, Vampires on the Run, and A Side of Sabotage as well as the picture book The Best Mother. She lives in Minnesota.

Praise For…

“This engaging nonfiction book for young adults offers an impartial discussion of the controversial DNA findings for the person in Viking grave Bj 581, and all of the archaeological, historical, and literary fallout that followed it, including long-overdue discussions of Viking women, gender, and our biases about people of the past.” —Sebastian Peiter, executive producer and writer of Viking Warrior Women

The Bones of Birka by C. M. Surrisi opens up a thousand-year-old Viking grave site and allows us to peer into a mystery. Who was in grave site Bj 581 and why does it matter? Surrisi starts us off with traditional assumptions of the male Viking warrior and his wide-ranging exploits and travels. Given that, the Viking skeleton in Bj 581 surrounded by ancient weapons must be male. More than a hundred years later, a female team of archeologists, anthropologists, osteologists, and geneticists open the world’s eyes and our own to a new finding. The skeleton in Bj 581 was female. Surrisi’s in-depth and timely research turns Viking narratives into questions and doing so challenges our own biases about our history and ourselves. Anyone young or old fascinated by archaeology, bones, and what they reveal will want to read this book.” —Caren Stelson, author of Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story and Stars of the Night:The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport 

“This fascinating exploration of a high-profile Viking Age burial and its place in research history offers its readers a plethora of different dimensions to explore and contemplate. Touching on the archaeological process and research history, it asks important and interesting questions about how we create and sustain our knowledge of past cultures and identities. Crucially, it manages to do so by being both entertaining and informative. I have no doubt it will inspire its audience to continue exploring the questions it raises about our relationship with the past.” —Dr. Marianne Moen, University of Oslo, and author of The Gendered Landscape

The Bones of Birka is a stunning book! It explores what happens when the ancient bones of a Viking warrior are analyzed using the latest technology and turn out to be female. You’ll question everything you thought you knew about Vikings, archaeology, gender roles, and gender fluidity.” —Elizabeth Partridge, author of Seen and Unseen

“C. M. Surrisi’s accessible, impeccably researched account seamlessly weaves history, archaeology, and modern scientific methods to create a real page-turner sure to fascinate readers. This is long form nonfiction at its finest.” —Deborah Hopkinson, author of Race Against Death

"... An eye-opening and informative look at changing history" — Booklist

"A worthwhile account of a provocative find" — Kirkus Reviews

"A worthwhile account of a provocative find" — Kirkus Reviews

"...riveting historical detail paired with commentary surrounding preconceived notions and their effect on analysis makes for a thought-provoking telling" — Publishers Weekly

A great recommendation for history lovers, but also an important addition to society’s current discourse on gender expression, roles, and identity. — School Library Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9781641607063
ISBN-10: 1641607068
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Publication Date: April 18th, 2023
Pages: 190
Language: English