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. 2018 Mar;165(3):536-553.
doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23380. Epub 2018 Jan 18.

Detection of Mitochondrial Haplogroups in a Small Avar-Slavic Population From the Eigth-Ninth Century AD

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Detection of Mitochondrial Haplogroups in a Small Avar-Slavic Population From the Eigth-Ninth Century AD

Lukáš Šebest et al. Am J Phys Anthropol. .

Abstract

Objectives: In the sixth century AD, Avars came to Central Europe from middle Eurasian steppes and founded a strong Empire called the Avar Khagante (568-799/803 AD) in the Pannonian basin. During the existence of this empire, they undertook many military and pugnacious campaigns. In the seventh century, they conquered the northern territory inhabited by Slavs, who were further recruited in Avar military and were commissioned with obtaining food supplies. During almost 200 years of Avar domination, a significant influence by the Avar culture (especially on the burial rite) and assimilation with indigenous population (occurrence of "East Asian"cranial features) could be noticed in this mixed area, which is supported by achaeological and anthropologcal research. Therefore we expected higher incidence of east Eurasian haplogroups (introduced by Avars) than the frequencies detected in present-day central European populations.

Materials and methods: Mitochondrial DNA from 62 human skeletal remains excavated from the Avar-Slavic burial site Cífer-Pác (Slovakia) dated to the eighth and ninth century was analyzed by the sequencing of hypervariable region I and selected parts of coding region. Obtained haplotypes were compared with other present-day and historical populations and genetic distances were calculated using standard statistical method.

Results and discussion: In total, the detection of mitochondrial haplogroups was possible in 46 individuals. Our results prooved a higher frequency of east Eurasian haplogroups in our analyzed population (6.52%) than in present-day central European populations. However, it is almost three times lower than the frequency of east Eurasian haplogroups detected in other medieval Avar populations. The statistical analysis showed a greater similarity and the lowest genetic distances between the Avar-Slavic burial site Cifer-Pac and medieval European populations than the South Siberian, East and Central Asian populations.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the transfer of Avar genetic variation through their mtDNA was rather weak in the analyzed mixed population.

Keywords: PCA; SNP; ancient DNA; haplotype; medieval population.

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