Archaeogenetics and Palaeogenetics of Southeast and Eastern Europe

  • Simão Moreira Rodrigues

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The Balkan Peninsula has been historically a gateway into Europe as seen during the arrival of anatomically modern humans, the Neolithic expansions and later during the Bronze Age, when the expansions from the Steppe drastically changed the cultural and genetic landscape of Europe. Romania due to its geographical proximity to the Pontic-Caspian Steppe was one of the first places to observe this epochal shift, but presently, little is known of its genetic evolution, particularly during the Bronze Age.
To investigate how the Romanian genetic makeup evolved, 33 ancient genome-wide sequences were generated from individuals archaeologically assigned to cultures spanning from the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic to the Late Bronze Age: Globular Amphora (n=3) and Horodiştea (n=3), Monteoru (n=7), Otomani (n=2), and Noua (n=18) cultures. Very importantly this is the first genetic data generated for these cultures in Romania.
The newly generated data was analysed in the context of published data from modern (n=958) and ancient samples (n=6758), and 15 out of 33 newly generated samples were also carbon dated. The results showed that Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age cultures are similar to Late Neolithic populations, e.g., TRB and Baden, showing little or no Steppe ancestry in their genetics, despite the fact that Steppe influences appear in the material record. However, by the Middle Bronze Age, the genetic landscape appears to have shifted dramatically and two almost antithetical genetic makeups seem to co-exist even at the same site level. One represents a continuation of the earlier Bronze Age, albeit showing a slight increase in Steppe ancestry. The second one displays predominant Steppe ancestry similarly to Steppe populations. In the Late Bronze Age, the two seem to finally fully merge.
Overall, the Romanian Bronze Age seems to be characterised by a slow integration of the Steppe ancestry, only showing more significant signs during the Middle Bronze Age while maintaining older Neolithic Ancestry.
Date of Award10 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMaria Pala (Main Supervisor), Martin Richards (Co-Supervisor) & Ceiridwen Edwards (Co-Supervisor)

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