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Integrating genetic, archaeological and historical perspectives on Eastern Central Europe, 400-900 AD

  • Runtime: 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2025
  • Supporter: European Research Council HistoGenes
  • Partner: Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte und Eötvös Loránd Universität

The centuries between Roman times and the arrival of the Hungarians, from 400 to 900, were a turbulent time in East-Central Europe: Huns and Goths, Longobards and Avars, Franks and Slavs alternated in their rule. Knowledge about this comes from sparse written sources and numerous cemeteries – archaeologists have already discovered over 100,000 graves, often with rich grave goods. And yet, we hardly know where these people came from and what traces the many imigrations and emigrations left in the population. This is now to be investigated in a granted large-scale EU project.

Participants: Antragsteller: Prof. Dr. Walter Pohl (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, Österreich), Prof. Dr. Johannes Krause (Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte, Jena, Deutschland), Dr. Tivadar Vida (ELTE-Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Ungarn), Prof. Dr. Patrick J. Geary (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA)

The Synergy-Grant of the European Research Council HistoGenes is endowed with 10 million Euros and will enable research over 6 years. It is coordinated by the Director of the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Dr. Walter Pohl.

The project opens up a new dimension of ancient DNA analysis and the historical interpretation of the results. Genome-wide analyses provide insights into the population history, but also into kinship relations between individuals in the same cemetery. In addition, all samples are examined for genetic evidence of pathogens. HistoGenes will analyse 6000 individuals from the region and thus also provide a solid basis for further comparative research. A number of other scientific methods will also be applied: Isotope analyses will help to identify people who are non-local to the region and provide insights into people’s dietary habits and their changes over time. Physical anthropology will provide information on the age and sex of the individuals, as well as their diet, physical activity or injuries.

CEZA will cary out 14C dating and stable isotope analyses of carbon and nitrogen for the project and is closely involved in the evaluation and interpretation of the analytical results.