Understanding 6th-Century Barbarian Social Organization and Migration through Paleogenomics

Carlos Eduardo G. Amorim, Stefania Vai, Cosimo Posth, Alessandra Modi, István Koncz, Susanne Hakenbeck, Maria Cristina La Rocca, Balazs Mende, Dean Bobo, Walter Pohl, Luisella Pejrani Baricco, Elena Bedini, Paolo Francalacci, Caterina Giostra, Tivadar Vida, Daniel Winger, Uta von Freeden, Silvia Ghirotto, Martina Lari, Guido Barbujani, Johannes Krause, David Caramelli, Patrick J. Geary, Krishna R. Veeramah

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Received: 19th February 18

Despite centuries of research, much about the barbarian migrations that took place between the fourth and sixth centuries in Europe remains hotly debated. To better understand this key era that marks the dawn of modern European societies, we obtained ancient genomic DNA from 63 samples from two cemeteries (from Hungary and Northern Italy) that have been previously associated with the Longobards, a barbarian people that ruled large parts of Italy for over 200 years after invading from Pannonia in 568 CE. Our dense cemetery-based sampling revealed that each cemetery was primarily organized around one large pedigree, suggesting that biological relationships played an important role in these early Medieval societies. Moreover, we identified genetic structure in each cemetery involving at least two groups with different ancestry that were very distinct in terms of their funerary customs. Finally, our data was consistent with the proposed long-distance migration from Pannonia to Northern Italy.

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