University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Biological Anthropology Seminar Series > Huns and Romans: relationships between pastoral and agricultural populations on the late Roman frontier

Huns and Romans: relationships between pastoral and agricultural populations on the late Roman frontier

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Late Roman authors created a dichotomy between the settled Roman population and the nomadic lifestyle of Huns and other barbarians and they described the relationships between these populations as adversarial and destructive for the late Roman population. I conducted a multi-isotope study of five fifth-century AD cemeteries in modern-day Hungary to determine relationships between nomadic-pastoralist incomers – the historically documented Huns and other nomadic groups – and the sedentary agricultural population of the late Roman province of Pannonia. Rather than being characterised only by violence, the influx of nomadic populations appears to have led to widespread changes in subsistence strategies of populations in the Carpathian basin. Nomadic-pastoralist groups may have switched to smaller herds and more farming, and, conversely, local populations may have integrated with a new economic system based on animal herding. Quite possibly lifeways and subsistence practices were more important than ethnic distinctions in providing a sense of identity.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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