The Foundation for Modern Europe was placed during the Middle Ages by a group of mysterious barbarians

The scientists extracted DNA from dozens of skeletons in two former cemeteries in Austria and Italy (left). The tombs contained members and funerary elements (in the image) of one of the most powerful barbarian tribes that migrated across the continent, called the Longobards.

The foundations of modern Europe were established during the Middle Ages, according to new research.

Scientists have shed new light on this mysterious period, and the fall of the Roman Empire, extracting DNA from dozens of skeletons in two ancient cemeteries.

The tombs contained members of one of the most powerful and devastating barbarian tribes that migrated across the continent, called Longobards.

The men were buried with beautiful swords, shields and spearheads that they would have used in battle, and women with necklaces and clasps of beads.

The researchers said the Longobards were an important group during a key era known as the Migration Period, which began during the decline of the Roman Empire around the fourth century AD.

The period saw the widespread migrations of peoples within or in Europe, largely in the spaces left by the Romans, and helped form the basis for the continent as we know it today, they added.

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The scientists extracted DNA from dozens of skeletons in two former cemeteries in Austria and Italy (left). The tombs contained members and funerary elements (in the image) of one of the most powerful barbarian tribes that migrated across the continent, called the Longobards.

The scientists extracted DNA from dozens of skeletons in two former cemeteries in Austria and Italy (left). The tombs contained members and funerary elements (in the image) of one of the most powerful barbarian tribes that migrated across the continent, called the Longobards.

An international team mapped the complete genomes of 63 individuals unearthed in Szolad, Hungary, and Collegno, Italy.

It provides the clearest picture yet of the lives and movements of people, also known as the Lombards, who ruled most of Italy for more than two centuries.

The study's lead author, Dr. Krishna Veeramah, said: "Our current results are consistent with the idea that barbarians migrate from the northern Danube and east of the Rhine, which would suggest that we are observing invasions previously described by the Romans

"It is also likely that the social organization was based on large male groups of high status biological kinship, and these were key to establishing communities after the migration to Italy."

The study said that this was the "Migration Period" that "laid the foundations of modern European society."

The Longobards invaded Hungary today, at the time of the Roman province of Panonia in 568 AD.

This was more or less when the legend of King Arthur was born.

The Dark Age lasted from the end of the fifth century, when the 400-year rule of Rome over the ancient world ended, until the Norman conquest in the second half of the eleventh century.

The "dark" refers to the fact that very little was written about those centuries or, if it was, it has not survived.

The data from the new study almost doubled the number of ancient genomes obtained from a single old site.

It allowed the international team to examine the relationship between the genetic background of the community and the archaeological material left behind.

An international team mapped the complete genomes of 63 individuals unearthed in Szolad, Hungary, and Collegno, Italy.

An international team mapped the complete genomes of 63 individuals unearthed in Szolad, Hungary, and Collegno, Italy.

An international team mapped the complete genomes of 63 individuals unearthed in Szolad, Hungary, and Collegno, Italy.

The lead author, Professor Patrick Geary of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, said: "Before this, we would not have expected to see such a strong relationship between genetic background and material culture.

"This seems to suggest that these particular communities contained a mixture of individuals with different genetic backgrounds, who were aware of these differences and likely to influence their social identity."

In Szolad, the cemetery seems to be organized around a high status, a predominantly male family of three generations.

Collegno probably reflects a community that was satisfied with multiple generations.

Interestingly, in both cemeteries, individuals buried with elaborate funerary objects tended to have a genetic background associated with modern Europeans in northern and central Europe.

They also tend to have more protein-rich diets.

Meanwhile, those with more of southern Europe, were much less likely to rest with good possessions.

The Longobards invaded Hungary today, at the time of the Roman province of Panonia in 568 AD. They were one of the many barbarian tribes (the artist's impression) of migrating through Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire

The Longobards invaded Hungary today, at the time of the Roman province of Panonia in 568 AD. They were one of the many barbarian tribes (the artist's impression) of migrating through Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire

The Longobards invaded Hungary today, at the time of the Roman province of Panonia in 568 AD. They were one of the many barbarian tribes (the artist's impression) of migrating through Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire

Professor Geary said: "What we have presented is a unique interdisciplinary framework for the future, bringing together experts from different disciplines to reinterpret and reconcile historical, genomic, isotopic and archaeological evidence to improve our knowledge of the past.

"This allows us to gather new information about how populations move, how culture is transmitted, how to better understand identity and new ways of understanding the complexity, heterogeneity and malleability of Europe's population in the past and the present" .

The researchers also reconstructed comprehensive genealogies of people who were buried in these cemeteries for the first time, and discovered that family relationships spanning several generations were probably key to establishing these communities.

The corresponding author, Dr. Veeramah, of Stony Brook University, New York, said: "It seems that both cemeteries were organized around one or two large groups of biologically related relatives, and the vast majority of these individuals were men.

"In addition, these related individuals tended to share the north / central genetic ancestry associated with the rich funereal goods."

The team concluded that it was unusual to see this type of genetic ancestry in Hungary, and certainly in Italy, in the 6th century.

Stock photo of Lombardo funeral goods dating from the VI-VII centuries. The men analyzed in the new study were buried with beautiful swords, shields and spearheads that they would have used in battle, and women with necklaces and bill clasps.

Stock photo of Lombardo funeral goods dating from the VI-VII centuries. The men analyzed in the new study were buried with beautiful swords, shields and spearheads that they would have used in battle, and women with necklaces and bill clasps.

Stock photo of Lombardo funeral goods dating from the VI-VII centuries. The men analyzed in the new study were buried with beautiful swords, shields and spearheads that they would have used in battle, and women with necklaces and bill clasps.

The Lombards reached their apogee of expansionist power when they ruled a kingdom that consisted of most of present-day Italy from the end of the sixth century until the end of the eighth century.

Its origin goes back to a certain area in the south of the Scandinavian region.

They began to migrate in search of new lands.

They were followed by numerous other tribes, including the Thuringians, Bulgarians, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Gepids or Heruls.

Once there, they found the one that once dominated Roma exhausted and sparsely populated, mainly from the cause of the war between the Goths, who ruled these lands before the arrival of the Lombards and the Byzantines.

After taking power over the local population, the Lombards established their own kingdom in the north and center of the peninsula.

Subsequently, they were conquered by the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne.

But other lombardos nobles continued governing on some provinces of the south of Italy before being, in turn, conquered by the Normans in century XI.

Its legacy continues to this day mainly when it comes to the name of Lombardy, one of the northernmost regions of Italy.

Western Europe experienced a great sociocultural and economic transformation from the third to the tenth century, which included the collapse of the Roman Empire and the migration of barbarian groups throughout Europe.

Professor Geary said: "It could be that we look at some new cemeteries 50 km away or that they are 100 years old or less and that they find very different patterns of social organization.

"People are complicated now, and almost certainly they were during the Migration Period.

"There are thousands of medieval cemeteries that we can see, we hope that this is just the beginning of our work."

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

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