No signature of Y chromosomal resemblance between possible descendants of the Cimbri in Denmark and Northern Italy

Authors


Abstract

Two European populations are believed to be related to the ancient Germanic tribe Cimbri: one living in Northern Italy, the other living in Jutland, Denmark. The people called Cimbri are documented in the ancient Roman historical record. Arriving from the far north their movements can be tracked from successive battles with the Romans. The Cimbri finally entered Italy from the northeast and were defeated at Vercellae (present day Vercelli) in 101 BC by Gaius Marius and his professional legions. Classical sources from the first centuries AD relate the homeland of the Cimbri to the coasts around the Elb estuary (northern Germany) or specifically towards the north (Himmerland in northern Jutland). In the alpine parts of Veneto, northeast of the historical battlefield, local traditions dating back to late medieval time, identify a local population as Cimbri living in Terra dei Cimbri. They are considered the descendents of the Germanic combatants that fled the battlefield at Vercelli. As the defeated Cimbri that possibly fled to the mountains of Northern Italy most likely would have been male (warriors), the present study investigated the possible Y chromosomal diversity of the two present populations using microsatellite markers and single nucleotide polymorphisms. While Cimbri from Himmerland resembled their geographical neighbors from Denmark for the Y-chromosome markers, Cimbri from Italy were significantly differentiated both from Cimbri from Himmerland and from Danes. Therefore, we were not able to show any biological relationship for uniparentally transmitted markers. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007 © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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