Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Herbert Covert

Second Advisor

Matthew Sponheimer

Third Advisor

Dennis Van Gerven


This paper will propose a project analyzing the biological distance of 9th to 12th century cemeteries at Zalavár, Hungary. The area became especially significant in the eighth century, when it stood as the eastern part of the Frankish Carolingian Empire. Only in 895, when the Magyar tribes from the East invaded the Carpathian Basin, did the Frankish people of Zalavár flee westward. In the year 1000 AD, the area was again Christianized upon the formation of Hungary. After this transition it is obvious that people returned to Zalavár, evidenced by the rebuilding of churches near the sites of older church ruins. The question remains as to whether the area was repopulated by the descendants of those Franks who fled westward just 100 years earlier, the invading Magyar tribes, new populations of Slavic people, or some combination of these three possibilities. Biological distance studies can help estimate the number of genetically interbreeding groups present during these two periods, namely the period before the Magyar conquest and the period after 1000 AD. This analysis will utilize dental morphology and dental metrics to draw estimations of genetic relatedness. A statistical comparison of the samples from these two time periods can help to determine whether the original populations later returned to the area. The study will be aided by comparing these samples to known Carolingian and Árpád period sites.