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Recent research published in “Genome Biology” sheds light on the genetic history of East-Central Europe during the first millennium CE. The study, led by Prof. Marek Figlerowicz, challenges long-standing hypotheses about the origins of Western Slavs in the Piast dynasty era.
An interdisciplinary team of biologists, archaeologists, and historians, under the guidance of Prof. Figlerowicz, conducted groundbreaking research. Contrary to the allochthonous and autochthonous theories, the study concludes that no major post-5th century migration shaped the genetic structure of the population in modern-day Poland. The team found that inhabitants in the X-XII century CE closely resembled those in neighboring regions like northern Germany, Denmark, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Migration and Mix
The researchers identified a minor migration from the north in the early centuries, which mixed with the local population as migrants journeyed southward from Gdańsk along the Vistula and Bug rivers. This fusion led to the formation of the group associated with the Piast dynasty. The genetic makeup of this group was remarkably similar to that of people living along the southern Baltic coast.
The study challenges notions of distinct groups like Goths and Slavs, emphasizing the genetic and biological unity among these populations. The shift from cremation to inhumation allowed for more comprehensive archeogenomic analysis.
By analyzing genetic data from two populations—the Wielbark culture representatives and the Piast dynasty society—the researchers provided evidence of genetic continuity in Central-Eastern Europe. The study reaffirms that fundamental demographic processes occurring by the 5th century CE shaped the genetic structure of the region, dismissing the need for significant additional migrations.