Genetic study tracks warriors from Mongolia to Hungary

LEIPZIG, GERMANY—Scientific journal reports that a genetic study by an international team of researchers revealed that a group of warriors known as the Avars traveled rapidly from Mongolia to Europe around 1,500 years ago. The scientists, including Guido Alberto Gnecchi-Ruscone of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, analyzed the genomes of Avar elites whose remains were found at 27 sites in present-day Hungary. The study found that the DNA of the oldest of these burials was nearly identical to that of an individual who had been buried in eastern Mongolia decades earlier. “The DNA is so close that it must be a generation away, or less,” said Choongwon Jeong of Seoul National University. DNA samples from elite Avar graves dated 200 years later retain a strong East Asian signature, although without signs of inbreeding, indicating the population was large, or that additional migrants from Mongolia continued to arrive in Europe, added the University’s Walter Pohl. from Vienna. The study also suggests that non-elite living far from the Avar capital likely mixed with the local population. The Avars were finally defeated by Charlemagne at the end of the 8th century. Read the original scientific article on this research in Cell. To learn more about the canoe boats discovered in a Serbian open-pit mine that were of a type used by the Avars, go to “Roman River Cruiser”.

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