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Ancient DNA Discloses Dynastic Connections With German Prehistory

Image Source: Stock Unit / Shutterstock

Genetic examinations of prehistoric interment sites in Germany disclose close familial relationships between two royal graves, indicating inherited ruling authority among Iron Age Celts, with widespred familial ties spanning across Europe. Rendering of the predominant grave at the Hochdorf burial mound.

Genetic analysis of Celtic burial locations from 500 BCE unveils intimate familial links, casting new light on the social structures of archaic Celtic royalty.

The Fürstengräber, located at Eberdingen-Hochdorf and Asperg-Grafenbühl, recognized as some of the most luxurious interments in German prehistory featuring golden adornments and complex bronze receptacles, have undergone recent DNA scrutiny. The examination disclosed that the pair of princes laid to rest about 10 kilometers apart shared a close genetic affinity.

“The hypothesis that the two princes from the burial mounds at Eberdingen-Hochdorf and Asperg ‘Grafenbühl’ were kin has been long-standing,” states Dirk Krausse of the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments, “yet it is only now, with the recent analyses, that this assumption has been validated.“

In the course of the current studies, the latest protocols were applied for sampling teeth and petrous bones at MPI-EVA in order to sequence the DNA and reconstruct the genetic profiles of a collective of 31 individuals. The two pivotal interments distinguish themselves from the remainder due to their familial bond.

The two royalties are closely related

Upon cementing a genealogical link between the individuals, the researchers scrutinized all feasible familial ties, including siblings, half-siblings, grandparent and grandchild, as well as uncle and nephew. “Given the fairly precise dates of decease, calculations of lifespan and genetic congruity of the princes, the scenario that stands out is that of uncle and nephew, to be precise: the Hochdorf prince’s sister was the mother of the Asperg prince,” elucidates Stephan Schiffels from MPI-EVA.

“These findings suggest that political dominance in this culture was in all likelihood hereditary, akin to a royal lineage,” posits Joscha Gretzinger from MPI-EVA. This inference is also reinforced by the documentation of kinship among other

People from both hills, alongside those from the significantly older and farther Magdalenenberg hillock, which dates back approximately a century prior, are included. Gretzinger notes, “In essence, it appears we are observing an extensive network among the Celtic communities in Baden-Württemberg, whereby political influence was supported by familial bonds.”

Yet, what was the connection between the Celts and other populations in Iron Age Europe outside of Baden-Württemberg? An exhaustive examination of the genetic lineage of these individuals suggests a lineage most commonly associated with what’s now France, though it was pervasive across southern Germany during that era. Additionally, a number of individuals exhibit genetic ties to Italy, corroborating well with the artifacts discovered in the tombs, which display many Mediterranean influences.

This investigation provides a crucial element in deciphering the history of Europe during the Middle and Late Iron Age, a period that, unlike the Roman and subsequent Early Medieval times, is seldom explored through documentary evidence.</ your>

Reference: “Confirmation for inherited power patterns among ancient Celtic nobility in Central Europe” by Joscha Gretzinger, Felicitas Schmitt, Angela Mötsch, Selina Carlhoff, Thiseas Christos Lamnidis, Yilei Huang, Harald Ringbauer, Corina Knipper, Michael Francken, Franziska Mandt, Leif Hansen, Cäcilia Freund, Cosimo Posth, Hannes Rathmann, Katerina Harvati, Günther Wieland, Lena Granehäll, Frank Maixner, Albert Zink, Wolfram Schier, Dirk Krausse, Johannes Krause and Stephan Schiffels, 3 June 2024, Nature Human Behaviour.

Image Source: Stock Unit / Shutterstock

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