Signs of cooperation between Huns and Roman settlers

Archaeologists found clues that point to cooperation between Hun nomads and Roman settlers in Pannonia, modern Hungary, on the frontier of the Roman Empire.

Skull from Győr (by Erzsébet Fóthi, Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest)

Analysis of isotopes in bones and teeth from fifth-century cemetery sites in Hungary, including at Keszthely-Fenékpuszta, Hács-Béndekpuszta, Győr-Széchenyi Square, Mözs and Szolnok-Szanda, suggests that nomadic Huns and Pannonian settlers on the frontier of Roman Empire may have intermixed. Archaeological evidence shows high levels of hybridity among these groups of people, indicating that more complex relationships between nomads and settlers may have occurred, despite tales by ancient historians of Huns and other nomads attacking settlements on the edge of the Roman Empire. Isotopes in bone collagen, dentine and tooth enamel from individuals from five fifth-century cemeteries revealed significant levels of range in strontium and oxygen isotopes which might reflect a nomadic lifestyle, while nitrogen and carbon isotopes could distinguish pastoral and agricultural diets. The researchers found that diets were highly variable both among populations and within individuals, which suggests that populations used a range of subsistence strategies, and that many individuals changed their diets significantly over their lives. The research, according to the scientists behind it, may suggest that rather than being characterized only by violence, the end of the Roman Empire may also have included cooperation and coexistence of people in the frontier zone as nomads may have switched to smaller herds and more farming, while settlers may have integrated animal herding.

(after Erzsébet Fóthi, Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest & EurekAlert!)

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