21 July 2024
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Uncovering Avar Society Through DNA Analysis

In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Nature, an international team of archaeologists and archaeogenetics specialists, in collaboration with the Hungarian National Museum, has shed light on the social practices and familial structures of the ancient Avar people through DNA analysis of cemetery remains. The Avars, a group that inhabited what is now Hungary from the mid-sixth century, have long been shrouded in mystery due to the absence of written records about their civilization. This study represents a significant step towards understanding their society and reproductive practices.

Genetic Discoveries and Pedigree Networks

Through the analysis of genetic sequences from 424 skeletons found in four Avar cemeteries, the research team uncovered a network of large pedigrees within the community. Surprisingly, they found that 298 of the individuals studied were biologically related, providing insights into the kinship relationships among the Avar people. Using specialized software called yHaplo, the researchers were able to determine the degree of relatedness among the remains, revealing patterns that indicated a male-centered line of burial practices.

Revealing Social Practices Through DNA

One of the most striking findings of the study was the observation that women in Avar society often left their villages to partner with men from other villages, likely to prevent inbreeding. This movement of women across villages facilitated genetic diversity within the population. Additionally, the researchers discovered evidence that women frequently had children with multiple members of the same family, such as a father and son or two brothers. These reproductive practices mirrored those of other early Eurasian steppe populations, suggesting a shared cultural heritage among these ancient groups.

Related Video

Published on: April 30, 2023 Description: Prof. Walter Pohl on “Huns and Avars in a Eurasian context". The lecture and following discussion were held as part of the Israeli ...
Prof. Walter Pohl on “Huns and Avars in a Eurasian context".

Implications for Understanding Avar Civilization

The identification of these intricate familial connections and social practices offers valuable insights into the structure of Avar society. The presence of large pedigrees and the strategic movement of women to avoid inbreeding highlight the sophistication and complexity of Avar kinship systems. By combining genetic analysis with archaeological evidence, researchers can piece together a more complete picture of the Avar civilization and its cultural practices.

The DNA study of Avar cemetery pedigrees represents a significant advancement in our understanding of this enigmatic ancient population. By unraveling the genetic relationships and social practices of the Avar people, researchers have provided a glimpse into the intricacies of their society and shed light on the dynamics of kinship and reproduction among early Eurasian populations. This research not only enriches our knowledge of the past but also underscores the power of interdisciplinary approaches in uncovering the mysteries of ancient civilizations.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-31531-w 2. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X22001604 3. www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2200879119

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Avars (people), Archaeogenetics, Kinship networks

Avars (Caucasus)
The Avars, also known as Maharuls (Avar: магӀарулал, maⱨarulal, "mountaineers"), are a Northeast Caucasian ethnic group. The Avars are the largest of several ethnic groups living in the Russian republic of Dagestan. The Avars reside in the North Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Alongside other ethnic...
Read more: Avars (Caucasus)

Archaeogenetics is the study of ancient DNA using various molecular genetic methods and DNA resources. This form of genetic analysis can be applied to human, animal, and plant specimens. Ancient DNA can be extracted from various fossilized specimens including bones, eggshells, and artificially preserved tissues in human and animal specimens....
Read more: Archaeogenetics

In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox says that the study of kinship is the study of what humans do...
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