Lombards on the move - austria/hungaria

What did you learn about them. I don't have time to read this.

for the lazy one:

[h=2]Abstract[/h]In 2005 to 2007 45 skeletons of adults and subadults were excavated at the Lombard period cemetery at Szólád (6th century A.D.), Hungary. Embedded into the well-recorded historical context, the article presents the results obtained by an integrative investigation including anthropological, molecular genetic and isotopic (δ15N, δ13C, 87Sr/86Sr) analyses. Skeletal stress markers as well as traces of interpersonal violence were found to occur frequently. The mitochondrial DNA profiles revealed a heterogeneous spectrum of lineages that belong to the haplogroups H, U, J, HV, T2, I, and K, which are common in present-day Europe and in the Near East, while N1a and N1b are today quite rare. Evidence of possible direct maternal kinship was identified in only three pairs of individuals. According to enamel strontium isotope ratios, at least 31% of the individuals died at a location other than their birthplace and/or had moved during childhood. Based on the peculiar 87Sr/86Sr ratio distribution between females, males, and subadults in comparison to local vegetation and soil samples, we propose a three-phase model of group movement. An initial patrilocal group with narrower male but wider female Sr isotope distribution settled at Szólád, whilst the majority of subadults represented in the cemetery yielded a distinct Sr isotope signature. Owing to the virtual absence of Szólád-born adults in the cemetery, we may conclude that the settlement was abandoned after approx. one generation. Population heterogeneity is furthermore supported by the carbon and nitrogen isotope data. They indicate that a group of high-ranking men had access to larger shares of animal-derived food whilst a few individuals consumed remarkable amounts of millet. The inferred dynamics of the burial community are in agreement with hypotheses of a highly mobile lifestyle during the Migration Period and a short-term occupation of Pannonia by Lombard settlers as conveyed by written sources.
This is the link to the Supplementary Data:

The paper is basically a confirmation of the historical record: the Lombards were a migratory group who spent some time in Pannonia before continuing onward and eventually reaching Italy.

It is the details that I find most interesting. In terms of mtDna, it was extremely heterogenous:
The reproduced data of 28 individuals exhibited a high variability of mitochondrial haplotypes (78.6%). Twenty-two different lineages were identified that belonged to the haplogroups (hg) H (n = 9; 32.1%), U, J (both n = 4; 14.3%), HV, T2, I, N1b, K (each n = 2; 7.1%), and N1a (n = 1; 3.6%). This composition includes a large number of hgs that commonly occur in present-day European populations [43], while N1a and N1b are very rare in Europe today and increase in frequency towards the Near East [44], [45]. The detected frequency of hg H at Szólád was lower than it is in modern European populations (c. 45%) but higher than it is in the Near East and Caucasus today (c. 20%) [43], [46][48]. Hgs U4 and J at Szólád occurred twice or three times as often as in present-day Europe, while the frequencies of K and T were very similar to modern rates. Haplogroup HV makes up approximately 2% in extant north-western and northern European populations and increases to ca. 3.5% in south-eastern Europe and in the Near East [43]. Haplogroup I is most abundant in Scandinavia and north-western Europe, where it represents approximately 2.5% of the population, while it decreases to 1.5% towards southern and south-eastern Europe and the Near East [45].

The exact resolution can be found in Table L of File S1. I find it very interesting that there is still a presence of mtDna "N1a" (3.6%) in a sample from this area, and N1b as well (7.1%), when it is now long gone.* Also interesting is the fact that there was 2 to 3 times more mtDna U than there is today. All of it is U4 except for one U*, which perhaps indicates a north eastern origin? While the higher frequency of mtDna U might indicate their ultimate origins, I think that it might indeed also be the fact that positive and negative selection has been at work over the centuries with regards to mtDna, which would make sense given the many health implications connected to various mtDna mutations. Also, the mtDna "H" is still lower than current levels despite the theory that there was a movement from western Europe to Central Europe which carried much more mtDna "H". Or perhaps it was localized to certain areas and this group just didn't happen to incorporate many women from that area? Most of the "H" is unresolved, but there is one H2a2b and one H1c1.

Unfortunately, no y Dna.

There are signs of a lot of violence, more so than in some of these migratory groups. "Four skull fractures and eight traumata on the postcranial skeleton were identified in a total of eight adults and one juvenile individual (Table E in File S1). The skull injuries were exclusive to male remains and included three cases of sharp-force trauma (Ind. 4, 13, 27) as well as one case of a depressed fracture (Ind. 43). Three skull fractures bore traces of healing, whilst one had occurred around the time of death." [There seems to be a typo, as the supplement indicate sharp forcce trauma in the case of number 37, not 27.]

It's also clear that they were a heavily militarized group, with a lot of wealth, as exhibited in the grave goods. So much for the fantasy promulgated in recent years in certain parts of Europe that they were just a bunch of peaceful farmers wandering around trying to find good land.

In terms of height they weren't particularly tall by modern standards. The "health" results were less clear in terms of comparisons to other places in that time period.The indices of malnutrition and infectious diseases were about average for other such groups at the time. "Periosteal lesions on the postcranial skeleton occurred in four adults and four subadults, which represents approximately 50% of the children and 20% of the adults." About 43% of them died before adulthood. The authors conclude that:

"The child mortality rate of 22.7% exhibited by the age group infans I (0–6 y.) appears higher than that of contemporaneous cemeteries in south-western Germany [26], for instance, but may be a reflection of different burial customs. While the risk of contracting infection and complications generally increases at the end of the nursing period due to the introduction of solid food, many active periosteal lesions of children at Szólád point to additional chronic infectious and deficiency diseases or anaemia which led to a number of infant deaths. Because these findings primarily occur among children with Sr isotope ratios in range II, who, we assume, were born at Szólád, the increased child mortality rate is unlikely to have been caused by a mobile lifestyle. Malnourishment, however, due to the fact that the farming economy had not yet been fully established in the new place of residence, could possibly explain the phenomenon."

The authors don't seem to be aware that nursing gives the infant all of the mother's immunity and most of the nutrition she consumes, and so that is also a factor.

Strangely, although there seems to have been malnourishment among the children and some of the adults (lower status ones?), no attempt was made to access the fresh water fish in a near by lake. If their ultimate origin was around the Baltic Sea, doesn't that seem a little peculiar?

The sex ratio male to female was about equal, so no obvious signs of raiding for excess women. Of course, the women died earlier than the men, and had less access to high quality food.

In terms of cephalic indexes: Biological diversity is also supported by the apparent differences in the length-breadth indices of the cranial vaults. Especially noteworthy are three females (Ind. 9, 19, 30) with remarkably short head lengths and very similar strontium isotope ratios in their early formed teeth of around 0.7086±0.0001. Moreover, individuals 19 and 30 share very short body heights of about 154 cm and almost identical δ15N values of 9.3 and 9.5 ‰ respectively, while individuals 9 and 19 have above average δ13C values of −18.6 and −18.4 ‰.

The mtDna of these three women are J1b1a, HV* and H, respectively.

I was interested in the three individuals who seemed to be "outsiders" in terms of their burials:
Number 37, a male 14-16, indeterminate cranial index, mtDna H, had a sharp force trauma to the parietal area, as well as fractures to the patellae and high levels of stress markers related to malnutrition and infectious disease load.

Number 43, a male 35 to 45, dolicho, mtDna H, showed blunt force trauma to the parietal bone healed and similar stress indicators.

Number 44, a female 18-25, also dolicho, indeterminate mtDna, showed no injuries, but signs of stress from malnutrition and infectious disease load.

Number 4 and 5, who were buried together within a rectangular enclosure, were two males. Four was dolicho and mtDna "H", and number 5 was brachy and J2b. Number 5, in particular, seemed pretty healthy.

Someone who wants to spend the time doing it could try to correlate skull shape, disease load, mtDna etc. for all the samples, but given the above, and the small sample size I don't know if this would be very definitive.

This is their conclusion from all the data:
"The biological evidence suggests that the residents of Szólád were not a close reproductive community. This is in agreement with the notion of a partnership of convenience that resembled Germanic tribe formations with people of different cultural backgrounds maintaining regular contact with other contemporary gentes. Influence from several different European regions is supported archaeologically by the grave constructions that included ledge graves and graves with straight walls, some of which were surrounded by rectangular or circular ditches. The stylistic analysis of the grave goods, such as brooches and weaponry, revealed parallels to south-western and central Germany, Moravia and the middle Danube as well as to Italy. The latter also indicates the possible presence of members of the Roman population of Pannonia, who had settled the area prior to the Lombard period."

I would only quibble that we don't know the variation in the y-Dna lines.

Oh, and should time travel become possible, remind me not to go back to this period.

*Ed. To correct frequency figures.
Last edited:
looks like Vikings that never returned home?

seems like you favour a Scania, sweden origin for the lombards , while others favour an Old east german origin.
Someone who wants to spend the time doing it could try to correlate skull shape, disease load, mtDna etc. for all the samples, but given the above, and the small sample size I don't know if this would be very definitive.
I compared their mtDNA to corpses of same time period from Wielbark and Przeworsk Cultures (Poland), to see if they were one of Germanic tribes who lived there.
They had similar level of mtDNA H, overall. Similarities with J, T2 and U. A big difference is presence of hg U4 and I in Lombard samples, and complete lack of these in Iron Age Przeworsk and Wielbark, or medieval Poland (41 samples). I'd say, it is not East Germanic tribe.

Oh, and should time travel become possible, remind me not to go back to this period.
Surely, these times look much better on the silver screen, especially when done by Hollywood.
seems like you favour a Scania, sweden origin for the lombards , while others favour an Old east german origin.

didn't all Germanic tribes ultimately originate from Scania or thereabout?

600 BC climate became colder and Norsk tribes started moving south

This thread has been viewed 7171 times.