DNA analysis reveals the origin of Longobards
The first international study on graves of two Longobard cemeteries in Italy and Hungary has been published in Nature Communications.
The study, led by the University of Florence, in collaboration with Max Planck Institute in Jena, Stony Brook University in New York and Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, analysed for the first time the whole genome of individuals belonging to the barbarian Longobard populations, offering new insights into these communities and their interaction with local populations.
The study was conducted on 63 samples from two 6th century cemeteries, in Szólád, Hungary, and Collegno, Italy, and involved anthropologists, geneticists, historians and archaeologists, giving a new interpretation of the barbarian invasions, contributing to the historical reconstruction of the life of Longobard communities.
“The examination of the graves”, explained David Caramelli, Professor of Anthropology and head of the Italian team which also included researchers Stefania Vai, Martina Lari and Alessandra Modi, “suggests that both communities contained a mix of individuals with different genetic backgrounds”.
The DNA examined allowed the researchers to reconstruct the lines of descent of the individuals buried in these sites, as both cemeteries were organized around one or two large family groups.
“Our data”, commented Caramelli, “are consistent with the proposed long-distance Longobard migration from Pannonia to Northern Italy in the 6th century and confirm that the barbarians mixed not only culturally but also genetically with the Italic populations, a partial correction of a historical interpretation of the Longobard settlements, which underlined a clear separation between the Germanic and local populations”.