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Understanding 6th-century barbarian social organization and migration through paleogenomics.

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Amorim, Carlos Eduardo G  ORCID logo
Koncz, István 


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 are consistent with the proposed long-distance migration from Pannonia to Northern Italy.



Archaeology, Cemeteries, Genomics, Geography, History, Medieval, Human Migration, Humans, Paleontology, Phylogeny, Principal Component Analysis, Social Behavior, Strontium Isotopes

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Nat Commun

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
This work was supported by National Science Foundation award #1450606, the Anneliese Maier Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Max Planck Society, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the Swedish Riksbankens Jubieleumfond, the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study Director’s Office, and the Italian Ministry for University and Research Department of Excellence Program.