December 06, 2013

Merovingian mtDNA

From the paper:
Our approach clearly identified six different mitochondrial lineages (corresponding to five distinct haplogroups: J, H, K, X2 and W) among eight human remains, indicating noticeable mitochondrial diversity. During this period, the site might have been the cemetery for a social group with significant genetic diversity. 
Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 41, January 2014, Pages 399–405

Ancient DNA and kinship analysis of human remains deposited in Merovingian necropolis sarcophagi (Jau Dignac et Loirac, France, 7th–8th century AD)

M.F. Deguilloux et al.

The analysis of ancient DNA recovered from archaeological remains can be used to reconstruct kinship among the occupants of a necropolis and provide a more detailed portrait of the community considered. Such palaeogenetic analyses have been conducted on sarcophagi excavated from the Merovingian necropolis in Jau-Dignac et Loirac (7th–8th century AD, Aquitaine, southwest France). The genetic study consisted of the analysis of mitochondrial DNA and nuclear STRs (Short Tandem Repeats) from nine skeletons deposited in three grouped sarcophagi. Only data concerning the mitochondrial genomes could be obtained, and six different mitochondrial lineages were retrieved from eight samples. Our analyses permitted a high confidence characterisation of maternal relationships between individuals deposited in the same sepulchre. These results are important and novel for the period and region and argue that individuals were grouped inside sarcophagi according to relationship criteria. The presence of perinatal remains in one sarcophagus was particularly striking because access to this type of funerary structure during this period was generally reserved for older children. Moreover, we demonstrated genetically that the perinatal remains were not related maternally to two women found in the same sarcophagus (whereas the maternal relationship between the two young women could be determined), and we proposed different possible explanations for this unexpected observation. Overall, archaeological, anthropological and genetic data suggest that the Jau-Dignac et Loirac necropolis groups together the closely and distantly related members of a High Middle Ages familia. Our ancient DNA analyses note the important contribution of palaeogenetic analyses to archaeological kinship studies.

Link

9 comments:

andrew said...

It is a fascinating story, but given the date in the Middle Ages, likely isn't very informative of larger issues of historical genetics.

sblog said...

The interest of this paper is to see the relationship between the different skeletons in each sarcophagi. In the first sarcophagi two skeletons are maternally related: they are of the same haplotype of haplogroup J. In the second sarcophagi two young women are maternally related: they are of the same haplotype of haplogroup K. Oddly, the third skeleton: a baby is not maternally related to these two women. In the third sarcophagi, the skeletons are not maternally related.

Unknown said...

This actually does address an important issue in historical European genetics. The Merovingians are the first real instance in northern Europe where one finds the concept of lineage and inherited rule emerge out of essentially pre-history and myth.

Recorded history suggest the family ruled most of the Franks for almost 300 years, and were a model for inherited succession for the rest of northwestern Europe for centuries afterwards.

It's a bit of a shock to see such wide diversity in the mtDNA. Partly because these Frankish rulers were so novelly dynastic in the north. And partly because some historians have put some emphasis on their homogeny.

A lot of people speak of the Early Bronze Age as a time of change in northern European genetics. But results like this perhaps suggest that the Roman and the early middle ages may have been as much or more of a change in the genetic heritages of modern Europeans.

Unknown said...

This actually does address an important issue in historical European genetics. The Merovingians are the first real instance in northern Europe where one finds the concept of lineage and inherited rule emerge out of essentially pre-history and myth.

Recorded history suggest the family ruled most of the Franks for almost 300 years, and were a model for inherited succession for the rest of northwestern Europe for centuries afterwards.

It's a bit of a shock to see such wide diversity in the mtDNA. Partly because these Frankish rulers were so novelly dynastic in the north. And partly because some historians have put some emphasis on their homogeny.

A lot of people speak of the Early Bronze Age as a time of change in northern European genetics. But results like this perhaps suggest that the Roman and the early middle ages may have been as much or more of a change in the genetic heritages of modern Europeans.

mooreisbetter said...

Has anyone seen the J sequence? Does it by chance match Richard II's? He had Continental royal ancestry on his mother's side.

sblog said...

The mtDNA haplotypes are available on my blog: http://secherbernard.blog.free.fr/index.php?post/2013/09/23/Tests-d-ADN-ancien-sur-les-restes-humains-d-une-n%C3%A9cropole-m%C3%A9rovingienne-de-Gironde

Annie Mouse said...

"The mtDNA haplotypes are available on my blog: http://secherbernard.blog.free.fr/index.php?post/2013/09/23/Tests-d-ADN-ancien-sur-les-restes-humains-d-une-n%C3%A9cropole-m%C3%A9rovingienne-de-Gironde"

I am truly impressed by the quality of those stone caskets.

Casket 1
Male 60
Female 15-19
Both J.
(siblings?, cousin marriage?)

Casket 2
Female 15-19 H/K
Female 20-39 K
perinatal H
(first wife who died in childbirth and second wife?)

Casket 3
Male 50+ X2
Male 50+ W
Female 20-29 Unknown.
(half brothers and someone's wife?)

There is nothing weird here that I can see. Typical random mix.

Unknown said...

"There is nothing weird here that I can see. Typical random mix."

Well, there certainly were some people who expected special genetic identity from European upper class lineages. Certainly the Merovingians have generated a lot of claims about bloodlines for a long time. Nowadays just google "Merovingian bloodlines." The random mix messes with an idea of northerners not "intermixing" with others that goes back to Tacitus. At least as far is maternal DNA, this finding severely contradicts some expectations.

Creative said...

In regard to noble bloodlines, I think if there was something to gain from any sort of bond between families or individuals; I see no reason why it should not have happened. For instance, it is said that Augustus II the Strong had 267 children with numerous mistresses.One of his mistresses was a Turkish prisoner of war, resulting in 2 children that he recognized as legitimate and declared them Counts.
"Frederick Augustus Rutowsky& Maria Anna Katharina Rutowska"

I think a smaller house would be pickier in regard to ancestry as a result to maintain status, than an omnipotent ruler or house.