Monday, 10 September 2012
Vikings were “first to begin criminal profiling”, historian says
The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson tells the story of a tenth-century Viking warrior who took part in raids in Europe and often fought with his own neighbours in Iceland. When his life’s story was written in the thirteenth-century, was the author using him as an example of the type of man that society had to worry about?
Tarrin Wills, a researcher from the University of Aberdeen, believes that Viking societies themselves were deeply concerned about these violent and unpredictable individuals – so much so that they took on the role of early criminal profilers – drafting descriptions of the most likely trouble-makers.
Wills presented his research yesterday to the British Science Festival, one of Europe’s largest science festivals. It is being held this year in Aberdeen and is expecting to attract over 50,000 people for its talks, discussions and workshops.
After examining the Icelandic sagas, Wills believes that its authors pinpointed physical characteristics of high testosterone levels – known to cause violent behaviour – creating some of the earliest ‘criminal mugshots’.