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Thread: The largest early medieval cemetery in Europe - can we expect aDNA samples from it?

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    The largest early medieval cemetery in Europe - can we expect aDNA from it?

    Gnezdovo, near Smolensk:

    The Gnezdovo complex of the archaeological monuments

    The Gnezdovo complex of archaeological monuments is a unique cultural landscape dated to the time of the formation of the Ancient Rus’. It covers an area of 207.4 hectares (about 5300 acres). Gnezdovo has the largest early medieval cemetery known today in Europe, with an extent of studied sites greater than such well-known Viking-period sites such as Birka in Sweden and Hedeby in northern Germany. In terms of its original scale and scientific significance, the Gnezdovo complex could be compared to ancient centres such as Kiev on the Middle Dnepr or Great Novgorod in northern-western Russia. Just as the latter sites, Gnezdovo reflects the process of formation of the Ancient Rus’ state, people and culture. The population of ancient Gnezdovo was formed by the members of different ethnic groups: Slavs, being incomers from Central Europe and the Middle Dnepr region; the next incomers from Northern Europe and local tribes “Krivichy”. The archaeological finds reflecting all features of the site of Gnezdovo are in the State Historical Museum in Moscow, the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and the Smolensk State Museum. Evidence and results of the archaeological studies of Gnezdovo have been presented in numerous scholarly and popular publications. (...)

    (...) Gnezdovo was located on the portage between the Kasplya and Dniepr rivers on the Varangian Way, the great trade route from Scandinavia through the Kievan Rus to the Byzantine Empire. This was the last portage on the route and the ships might have been caulked here before heading to Constantinople. The name Smolensk is related to the Russian verb meaning ‘caulk’, which is probably not a coincidence. These lands were inhabited by Krivichs, a tribal union of early East Slavs. Krivichs constituted the majority of the population in Gnezdovo, but up to a quarter of the inhabitants were Varangians. (...)
    Last edited by Tomenable; 05-27-2016 at 07:09 PM.

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