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Monday, March 21, 2016

Scandinavians in medieval Poland


The genetic evidence presented in this paper is underwhelming; a single, low resolution mtDNA haplogroup I haplotype that appears to be of Scandinavian origin because it was also found in remains from Iron Age Denmark (sample B5 in Melchior et al. 2008). However, the authors' conclusions are also based on archaeological evidence, and they also match recent isotopic results (see here).

Abstract: Contemporary historical anthropology and classical archaeology are concerned not only with such fundamental issues as the origins of ancient human populations and migration routes, but also with the formation and development of inter-population relations and the mixing of gene pools as a result of inter-breeding between individuals representing different cultural units. The contribution of immigrants to the analysed autochthonous population and their effect on the gene pool of that population has proven difficult to evaluate with classical morphological methods. The burial of one individual in the studied Napole cemetery located in central Poland had the form of a chamber grave, which is typical of Scandinavian culture from that period. However, this fact cannot be interpreted as absolute proof that the individual (in the biological sense) was allochtonous. This gives rise to the question as to who was actually buried in that cemetery. The ancient DNA results indicate that one of the individuals had an mtDNA haplotype typical of Iron Age northern Europe, which suggests that he could have arrived from that area at a later period. This seems to indirectly confirm the claims of many anthropologists that the development of the early medieval Polish state was significantly and directly influenced by the Scandinavians.

Płoszaj T. et al., Analysis of medieval mtDNA from Napole cemetery provides new insights into the early history of Polish state, Ann Hum Biol. 2016 Mar 11:1-4., DOI:10.3109/03014460.2016.1151550

8 comments:

DavidM said...

I'm confused how was the Polish state influence by Scandinavians?
Can someone from Poland tell if they have any words attributed to the Scandinavians,have similar customs or did the medieval Poles worship their god's?

Davidski said...

These Scandinavians in early Poland were mostly mercenaries, and probably related to the Rus Vikings. Some may have been elites who married into Polish royal families.

But I'm not sure how that translates into a significant impact on early Poland?

Poles and other northwest Slavs also served as mercenaries in Denmark and maybe even Norway, and married into Scandinavian royal lines, so it was a two-way thing. But again, not sure what kind of lasting cultural impact it left, if any?

Rob said...

Certain types of Slavic ceramics made their way to Scandinavia, probably reflecting trade of commodities

And wasn't Canut the Greats's mother a Polish princess ?

Ireneusz Stolarek said...

Like Davidski said, and to extend this view: We probably won't find any significant evidence for Scandinavian presence in non-elite burials <- they were just mercenaries mainly. But the elites is a different story.
We have historical evidence of Sigrid the Haughty <- daughter of Mieszko I, first historical prince of 'Poland', who was kind of famous queen in nordic countries:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigrid_the_Haughty

So it might be possible, that there was a link between 'Poland' and Scandinavia on elites level. And to confirm this we will sequence aDNA from early medieval burials, which are with signs of belonging to elites <- this would provide evidence, whether elites were non-local.

If you know of more such papers, I am very keen on looking at them

Rob said...

Stolarek I suspect that there won't be marked Scandinavian aDNA in medieval Poland
But there is one distinct cluster of graves in Pomerania dating to 6th century CE which show unequivocal Scandinavian features- archaeologically- which can be used as a comparison group

batman said...

"The Gothic Corridor" was linking Fenno-Scandia and the Baltic countries to the Black Sea - along the rivers of Vistula and Dvina - during older and younger Iron Age.

Read "Inter Ambo Maria" 2011 and 2012, or
Igor Khrapunov "The Crimea in the Early Iron Age".

The realtions between Fenno-Scandia and (todays) Poland is well established already during Stone Age and Bronze Age, as they shared both agrigcultural, technological and artistic traditions - from stone-age art of amber to the iron-age craftsmanships, politics and mythologies.

Tacitus describe the 'meta-population' (gens) north of Rhine as "Germans" - up to northern Denmark. Among the 'german groups' he distinguish the "Sueones", who he place in the east end north-east of the "Germans". The ocean inbetween the Sueones and the Scandianvian *sueones' he calls "The Suevian Ocean". East of Vistula he places the "Sarmatian" meta-population - of which he names both Vends, Ests and Finns.

Compared with the notes surviving from the Norse mapmakers, all the areas east of Vistula was populated by "Vends" - from Samland to Estonia. Before the time of Rurik (862) this 'Vendland' (Vana-heim, Vanagard) included White-Russia, western Russia and Ukraine (Ouanagaria, later Könugard).


The original language of the Vends seem to have been fenno-ugrian and their capitol centras based in the NE Baltic.

The western region of the Vends/Sarmatians have obviously been a meeting-point and melting-pot between east and west, as the Orient meets the Occident, and Europe become Asia - at the Pont of the Baltic, i.e. the Gulf of Finland.

Here the main trade-routes in and out of the Baltic Dry came from all directions - exchanging goods from eastern Asia and the Atlantic facade as well as from the White Sea to the Black Sea and the Meds. Via their network along the Vistula/Wizla and Donau they could even trade via Vina-bona/Vienna and the Adriatic Sea. Here they became known as Vene-di/Veneti. Their re-constructed trade and trade-route is today known as "The Amber Road".

Looking at the main bulk of uralian speakers and its geographical extension it's reason to believe that the original language of the Baltic Vends, as well as the Russians ("Vene-jä"), have been fenno-ugrian - with their capitol centras in the NE Baltic.

Consequently we should expect some old vendic ('fenno-ugrian') substrate among todays Poles, between the later expansion of 'suenonic farmers'(R1a) and the 'gothic' traders, craftsmen and warriors (I2/I1).

Ireneusz Stolarek said...

many thanks Rob and batman, very useful information

Janko Raven Johnson said...

Dave,
When are you gonna start taking orders for testing/modeling again?
Thanks