Sponsor: Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS-UEFISCDI.

Project number: PNII-ID-PCCE-2011-2-0013.

Contract number: 12/27.09.2012

Project title: Revealing Bucharest's past: an integrative study of ancient DNA and osteoarchaeological data of late medieval population.

Project abstract:
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 Universitatii archaeological site, one
of the biggest medieval cemeteries from Romania. The project will integrate 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 field of ancient DNA experience a new era after new technologies and methodological approaches became available and large-scale population genetic studies are now possible. 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 local minor migration events could be lost. 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 and fundamentally affected the development of populations. Interpreting potential genetic signature and osteoarchaeological data 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.

Research teams:
Institute of Anthropology: Andrei Soficaru, Mihai Constantinescu, Mihaeal Culea, Luminita Andreica, Claudia Radu, Elena Gavrila, Dragos Ungureanu.
Laboratory of Genetics: Florina Raicu, Relu Cocos, Laurenţiu Camil Bohiltea, Sorina Schipor, Livia Cret, Silvia Elena Popescu.

The project’s goal is to establish the health profile, the size of the populations, the bio-cultural adaptation to the stress factors and the genetic profile of 150 out of 900 skeletons and correlate all data with historical and archaeological information. Bioarchaeological data will help us evaluate social, cultural and economic changes that affected the population of Bucharest from the 16th to the 19th century. The study of ancient human populations from different centuries will rely on comparisons of the frequency of the various sequence haplotypes or haplogroups studied by a complex analysis based on Y-SNP, Y-STR and mtDNA markers with contemporary population genetics data. We will analyze both stable and fast-mutating polymorphisms, which respond differently to different demographic events at different time scales. The late medieval genetic composition of the local population of the
Bucharest region could reveal strikingly different frequencies induced by short-term historical Balkan processes (population replacement, admixture and minor migrations events due to lethal epidemics, wars, religious and cultural incidents) that are partly described in historical chronicles, archeological and anthropological sources.

Reports for 2012-2014, project number PNII-ID-PCCE-2011-2-0013

Reports 2012-2014

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