The medieval and modern life style, health and ethnic composition of the local population from Bucharest region is the result of a long historical process partly described by historical chronicles and archeological and anthropological sources.

This project will undertake an extensive comparative study of the history of Bucharest viewed from the perspective of cross-population changes in genetic structure, health, quality of life, adaptation to the external stress factors and lifestyle evolution based on the analysis of the skeletons discovered in the recently excavated Piata Universitati archaeological site, one of the biggest medieval cemeteries from Romania. The project integrates archaeological and historical data with the precise anthropological and genetic results that can bring more objectivity to historical anthropology in a promising way to investigate and validate over four centuries of local history.

The research will yield the construction of the biggest Romanian online database of skeletal and molecular information which will reveal the cultural and biological changing patterns of the medieval and modern Bucharest population. These data will have enormous potential to address large problems including: long-term trends in patterns of trauma and violence, biological difference, aging and health, health after lethal epidemics, pathology and work, analysis of population genetics and local migration patterns using ancient DNA. The methods of analysis will include age estimation and sex determination, evaluation of standard health indicators, identification of specific diseases (presence of lesions associated with infections, cancer, dental pathology and degenerative joint disease), biomechanics and molecular genetics analysis. Application of molecular genetics methods in human osteoarchaeology could retrieve new types of information and help the paleodemographical interpretation, past migrations pathways and population history. When population history reconstruction is based strictly on the analysis of contemporary human DNA material rather than ancient DNA samples significant information regarding replacement, admixture and minor migration events could be lost.

The project concerns the bioanthropological study of population buried in Piata Universitatii


Ancient population studies may yield interesting results in cases where are indications from archaeology and history that a population demographic modification, like depopulation or replacement, has taken place and shaped the gene pools of contemporary populations.

The impact of lethal epidemics, wars, religious and cultural changes in historical periods would significantly reduce the genetic diversity via bottleneck effect. For example, the waves of bubonic plague fundamentally affected the development of populations as well as imposed a reduced genetic variation of populations exposed. It is necessary to admit the possible impact of epidemics on genetic diversity because numerous bones from Piata Universitati are undoubtedly dated in the years when the plague spread.

Interpreting potential genetic signature left by the effects of such phenomena on population is important because may aid in the reconstruction of the real historical events which affected the Bucharest region during centuries.

The archaeogenetics analysis relies on the study of ancient mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome genetic markers (Y-SNPs biallelic markers and Y-STR). The analysis of rapidly evolving Y-chromosomal short tandem repeat loci (Y-STRs) reveals a signature of more recent historic events, not previously detected by other genetic markers. When high - resolution binary lineages are coupled to more rapidly mutating microsatellites than, the combination of linked polymorphic markers becomes a powerful tool for understanding diversity across different time frames.

Genetic analysis of human remains from different centuries in Piata Universitati archeological site provides the opportunity to sample the same population at different points in time. The comparisons of the frequency of the various sequence haplotypes or haplogroups found within medieval and contemporary population genetics data could reveal strikingly different frequencies.


Developed by NETVision System