(LIVE SCIENCE) – A medieval grave in Finland that was thought to hold the body of a female warrior or ruler has revealed a surprise — the person buried there may be non-binary.
An archaeologist excavated the 900-year-old grave in 1968, finding inside the remains of an individual wearing oval brooches on top of woolen textiles — a style of dress that is "a typical feminine costume of the era," a team of researchers wrote in a paper published online July 15 in the European Journal of Archaeology. A sword was found on the left side of the individual, and another sword, likely deposited sometime after the person was buried, was buried above the burial.
"Since then, the grave has been interpreted as evidence of powerful women, even female warriors and leaders in early medieval Finland," the researchers wrote. However, new DNA tests have revealed that the person is anatomically male and had Klinefelter syndrome, a condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome. Each cell normally holds a pair of sex chromosomes — XX for female and XY for male — that determines a person's sex. A person with Klinefelter syndrome has cells with XXY chromosomes, according to the Mayo Clinic. This condition can cause breast enlargement, infertility and a small phallus. After finding this genetic surprise, the researchers said it's possible that the person may have identified as non-binary, they wrote in the study.
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