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Picture of the Day

Analysis of ancient cemeteries sheds light on 6th-century barbarians

Applying a comprehensive analysis of genetic, historical and archaeological factors in two 6th-century barbarian cemeteries, researchers have gleaned new insights into a key era known as the Migration Period that laid the foundation for modern European society. Spanning the 4th to 8th centuries, this epoch followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and was a time of major socioeconomic and cultural transformation in Europe. However, despite more than a century of scholarly work by historians and archaeologists, much about the period still remains unknown or is hotly debated, as reliable written accounts are lacking. A new paper seeks to shed new light on how these communities were formed, how people lived, and how they interacted with the local populations they supposedly came to dominate. The international team of geneticists, historians and archaeologists have for the first time sequenced the genomes of entire ancient cemeteries -- one in Hungary and one in Italy. This research provides the clearest picture yet of the lives and population movements of communities associated with the Longobards, a barbarian people that ruled most of Italy for more than 200 years after invading from the Roman Province of Pannonia.

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