Unravel the mystery of the origin of the essence of Avar

Social empire centered on the Carpathian Basin and existed for more than 200 years. Archaeologists Unravel the Mysteries of the Avar Empire.

The Mysteries of the Avar Empire.

They are known mainly from Byzantine historical sources, who recorded and questioned the sudden arrival of the Avars in Europe. Modern historians have wondered if they were a migrant group with social organization or just a mixed group of defectors.


Archaeological research has shown many similarities between the Carpathian Basin and Eurasian nomad artifacts (weapons, ships, horse harnesses), for example a gold lunula-shaped chest used used as a symbol of power. We also know that the Avars introduced the brooch in Europe. However, so far we have not been able to trace their origin in the vast Eurasian steppes.

In this case study, a multidisciplinary team – including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, ELTE University and the Institute of Archeology of Budapest, Harvard Medical School in Boston, the Academy of Sciences Austria and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton – analyzed 66 individuals from the Carpathian Basin.

The study included eight of the richest Avar tombs ever discovered, brimming with gold objects, precious stones as well as other personal items from the area before and during the Avar era. “We solve a question that has been a mystery for over 1400 years: who are the wealthy elites of Ava, the mysterious founders of an empire that almost crushed Constantinople and for more than 200 years of rule. the lands of present-day Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia and Serbia? ,” explains Johannes Krause, senior author of the study.

The longest but fastest migration in human history.

The Avars have left no written record of their history, and this first whole-genome data provides solid clues to their origins. “The historical contextualization of the phylogenetic results allowed us to narrow the timing of the proposed Avar migration. They covered more than 5000 km in a few years from Mongolia to the Caucasus, and in ten years settled in what is now Hungary. This is the fastest long-distance migration in human history that we have been able to reproduce to this point,” explains Choongwon Jeong, co-author of the study.


Guido Gnecchi-Ruscone, lead author of the study, added: “Besides their obvious relationship with Northeast Asia and possible origins with the fall of the Rouran Empire, we also find that 7th-century Avar elites show between 20 and 30 percent non-local ancestry, likely related to the North Caucasus and West Asian Steppe, possibly suggestive of migration more from the Steppe after their arrival in the 6th century.”

East Asian ancestry is found in individuals from several locations in the core settlement between the Danube and Tisza rivers in present-day central Hungary. However, outside the main settlement area, we found a high variation in additive levels among individuals, particularly in the Kölked area, southern Hungary. This suggests that an immigrant Avars class ruled over a diverse population with the help of a heterogeneous local class.


These exciting results show how much potential there is in an unprecedented collaboration among geneticists, archaeologists, historians and anthropologists to study the ‘Migratory Period’ of the millennium. first century AD.

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