Mobility and Migration of the Langobards

The interdisciplinary “Langobard project”, supported by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) aims to reconstruct the migration and mobility patterns of the Lombards during the early medieval before their arrival in Italy in the sixth century AD.   BMBF-Logo

The research focuses on eight early Medieval cemeteries in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary, each of which provided a large number of individuals to study. The isotopic composition (87Sr/86Sr, δ18O, δ13C and δ15N) of the human remains will be analyzed in order to investigate both the dietary habits and the geochemical signature of the ecosystem in which the individuals lived. Then, the isotopic signature will be compared to the regional isotopic variability as determined by isotopic mapping, i.e. the analysis of modern geological and biological materials collected in different geological provinces surrounding the cemeteries (water, mollusk shells, leafs etc.). Results of the isotope analyses will end up in the generation of isocapes, i.e. GIS referenced maps displaying isotope landscapes. Isotope mapping provides the basis to interpret the mobility and migration of ancient populations, to discriminate between local populations and migrants, to determine the possible origins of the latter, and to characterize the regional mobility in the vicinity of the cemeteries. The combination of the results obtained from the geochemical and archaeological studies (grave goods, spatial analysis and inter-regional connections) will help to better understand the mobility of the Lombards and the trade of goods.

Project Partners:

Institute of Anthropology (Prof. Dr. K. W. Alt)

AG Paleontologie, Institute of Geosciences (Prof. Dr. B.R. Schöne) of the University of Mainz

Department of Prehistory and Archaeology of the University of Bonn (Prof. Dr. J. Bemmann)

the Roman-Germanic Commision, Frankfurt a.M. (Prof. Dr. F. Lüth, Dr. U. von Freeden)


Max Planck Instituts for Chemistry, Mainz (Dr. S.J.G. Galer)

Curt-Engelhorn Zentrum, Mannheim (Prof. Dr. E. Pernicka).

Work Packages:

Anthropology: Dr. Corina Knipper, Prof. Kurt W. Alt (Anthropology Mainz)

Geology: Dr. Anne-France Maurer, Prof. Dr. Bernd R. Schöne (Paleontologie Mainz)

Archaeologie: Dr. Daniel Peters, Prof. Dr. Friedrich Lüth, Dr. Uta von Freeden (RGK Frankfurt), Prof. Dr. Jan Bemmann (Bonn)

Radiogenic isotope tracers: Dr. Stephen J.G. Galer (MPI, Mainz), Prof. Dr. E. Pernicka (Mannheim)