Did Vikings Have STDs

Did Vikings have STDs? The truth about Viking STDs  

Did Vikings have STDs? It may seem like an unusual question at first, but the absence of many comprehensive records into Viking health has left some people wondering whether these ancient warriors were somehow immune to certain ailments.  

While we don’t know much for certain about which diseases the Vikings were exposed to over the years, most scientists believe they were just as susceptible to infections and venereal diseases as modern-day folk.  

However, the presence of STDs may have been less common during the Viking age, simply because many diseases weren’t as widespread as they are today.  

Archeological excavations have shown Vikings were victim to everything from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases to parasitic worms obtained via infected foods. It only makes sense to assume there was also a handful of Vikings with STDs too.  

Did Vikings have STDs? An introduction 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, or “STDs” have been around for thousands of years. Most have records dating back at least 20 thousand years. However, in the early days of humanity, many people didn’t associate STDs with sex.  

Rather, before the Greco-Roman period, STDs were simply thought to be another form of infection, or a blight caused by the Gods.  

It wasn’t until the medieval age when most people came to realize some diseases were being transmitted sexually, while others were transmitted through food, human contact, and airborne pathogens.  

Currently, scientists haven’t found any official record outlining the experience Vikings might have had with STDs. However, this doesn’t mean they weren’t present.  

Many symptoms of STDs aren’t preserved by human bone, which means archeological professionals wouldn’t be able to say whether a Viking once had chlamydia or gonorrhea just by looking at the fragments of bone left behind in a burial site.  

For the most part, we’re left to make assumptions about Viking STDs, and whether they were commonplace or not. Since we know Vikings were human beings, susceptible to death and disease just like the rest of us, we should also assume they experienced STDs too.  

In fact, STDs may have been particularly probably among Vikings known for raiding different lands and seducing foreign strangers wherever they went.  

Did Vikings Have STDs

Is there any proof of Viking STDs? 

As mentioned above, it’s difficult to find clear proof of Viking STDs from a scientific perspective. First, the Vikings didn’t record their own history for the most part. This means our perceptions of this group are largely shaped by the records of other communities who encountered Viking invaders.  

While many records of Vikings shared over the centuries depict them as dirty, disheveled people with poor hygiene, this doesn’t mean they were necessarily more prone to infection.  

It’s also worth noting archeologists and specialists have begun to negate the belief that Vikings were unhygienic, based on emerging evidence of their grooming and bathing habits.  

We do know Vikings were well-known for seducing women from the towns, cities, and countries they visited during their raids. Since STDs were common in many parts of Europe where Vikings invaded, there’s a good chance these infections were passed along to Viking warriors over time.  

A lack of skin and flesh to analyze from Viking times also makes it difficult to find the answer to the question “did Vikings have STDs?” directly. However, recently, one damaged skull believed to come from a Viking was found to be affected by syphilis.  

This skull may show syphilis actually began to emerge among the human population a lot earlier than originally assumed.  

Did STDs exist during Viking times? 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases were certainly a threat during Viking times. During the “medieval times”, the most common STDs were syphilis and gonorrhoea.  

These infections were prevalent throughout Europe, and scientists believe they were carried to different parts of the world by travellers on ships, such as the Vikings themselves.  

The adventurous nature of the Vikings could mean not only did these individuals fall victim to STDs, like anyone else, but they also helped to support the spread of various infections around the world.  

Scientists already believe Vikings helped to spread the world’s deadliest virus (smallpox) by bringing it to different communities via the sea.  

Unlike most sexually transmitted diseases, strains of small-pox can be detected within Viking skeletons, which proves just how susceptible to ailments these ancient warriors really were.  

While the evidence of small pox in Vikings doesn’t necessarily mean they also had STDs and sexually transmitted infections, there’s a good chance these groups were just as likely to spread sexual infections as any other form of ailment. 

Did Vikings Have STDs

Were STDs common among Vikings? 

A sheer lack of information about Viking STDs makes it difficult to determine exactly how prominent these infections may have been.  

While the answer to the question “did Vikings have STDs” is likely to be “yes”, at least to some degree, we don’t know which diseases they carried, or how often they were likely to pass the infection along.  

Since we have only limited evidence of syphilis in a Viking skull, and no evidence of other diseases written in Viking bones, we’re left to make educated guesses about the situation. The chances are Vikings did have STDs, and they may even have died as a result of some of these infections.  

After all, the medicines available to treat venereal diseases today didn’t exist in the Viking age. 

There’s also a good chance Vikings fell victim to STDs much earlier than most people would today, as Viking children matured a lot faster than modern individuals. Many Viking children were already married by the age of 12, and may have begun pillaging and fighting by the age of 16.  

Despite this, there’s also a good chance the likelihood of catching an STD was somewhat lower in Viking times than it is today. This is simply because there were fewer infections and mutated diseases available to catch several thousand years ago.  

These days, more new infections are beginning to emerge, and more people are catching infections which are asymptomatic and incurable.  

Additionally, it’s worth noting that for most sexually transmitted diseases, a condom isn’t a sure method of protection. The fact that Vikings and people in the medieval ages didn’t have condoms may not have had as much of an impact on the prevalence of these diseases as some would think.  

Understanding Viking STDs 

So, did Vikings have STDs?  

The answer is probably a yes, but we don’t know much about the nature of these infections, or how common they were. The health and lives of the Vikings is still something archaeologists and scientists are struggling to understand.  

We have limited records of Viking history to work from, and only a handful of skeletal remains capable of telling us much about Viking infections.  

Since there aren’t any preserved skin or flesh samples to work from, the number of diseases we can reasonably identify in Viking remains is limited. However, just because the evidence isn’t available, doesn’t mean Viking STDs didn’t exist.  

The adventurous nature of the Vikings, their bold and confident ability to seduce women, and a range of other factors all contribute to the idea Vikings probably did have STDs, and they probably helped to spread them across Europe too.  

Of course, this doesn’t mean Vikings were more prone to venereal diseases than any other ancient civilization. Indeed, many older communities throughout the medieval times may have been less likely to encounter sexually transmitted diseases than people in the modern world.  

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