Publication details

Phenotypic diversity of skulls in the Merovingian population (Norroy-le-Veneur cemetery, 7th century AD, Moselle, France) in the context of Early Medieval Europe



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords bootstrap two-choice tests; Central Europe; Early Middle Ages; human skulls; Migration Period cemeteries; traditional craniometrics; West Europe; winsorization
Description Western Europe underwent a major sociocultural and economic transformation from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. This so-called Migration Period is characterized by invasions of various western and eastern non-Romanized peoples, as well as by nomadic Huns. The Frankish state was the only Germanic state to successfully survive this period. Nevertheless, the arrival of unknown populations could have influenced the autochthonous Frankish population. Biological contacts between them are strongly reflected phenotypically in head/skull dimensions. The aim of this craniometric analysis of the Merovingian cemetery at Norroy-le-Veneur (NV), present-day France, is to contribute to an understanding of population changes during the Migration Period. The NV data were compared, using univariate statistical analysis adapted to the state of preservation of the skulls without the use of imputation techniques, with the current database of European burials. Intersexual and interpopulation differences were tested by bootstrap two-samplettest applied to winsorized measurements, indices and theirzscores. Overall, NV is similar in terms of skull shape to the other Merovingian cemeteries. Males have significantly longer ultradolichocephalic skulls than dolichocephalic females and greater biauricular width. NV is significantly different to burials in present-day Hungary, its individuals having significantly longer skulls, wider faces and wider skulls in the biauricular region. The NV individuals have significantly higher values of biauricular width than people from burials in Austria and Czechia-Bohemia and lower length-width index values than individuals from burials in Moravia (skulls are longer). The different shape of the skulls from Hungarian territory in the Early Middle Ages is due to the arrival of the Huns and Near-Eastern Sarmat-Alan populations, characterized by shorter and wider skulls, in the Carpathian Basin. The results suggest that they probably did not interfere too much genotypically in western European regions and did not significantly affect the Germanic Franks.

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