Migration and Ancestry in the Vandal and Byzantine Population of Carthage (20 min)


Reed Johnston Morgan, Harvard University/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Najd Chalghoumi, Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisie; Susan Stevens, Randolph College; John Humphrey, Journal of Roman Archaeology; Jeremy Rossiter, University of Alberta


The early medieval history of Carthage saw the western Mediterranean’s second largest city change hands numerous times, between Vandals, Byzantines, and Arabs. Up to the time of its destruction, it remained a vital port at the center of Mediterranean trade routes, and historical sources portray it as a hub of cosmopolitan activity. Carthage was a crucible of encounter for a wide array of cultural, linguistic, and religious groups, connecting the interior of North Africa with the wider Mediterranean world. Up until now, North Africa as a region has remained a major lacuna in ancient DNA research. A new collaboration between historians, archaeologists, and archaeogeneticists examines biological ancestry and kinship patterns in light of our current understanding of social identities in the early medieval city. We present new genomes from fifth-to-seventh-century burials, representing a wide range of social identities from around the city, including extramural cemeteries, intramural cemeteries, elaborate basilicas, and isolated burials. This paper will integrate the new genetic insights into migration, ancestry, demography, and kinship in early medieval Carthage together with burial context to revaluate the long-standing historiography of migration and identity formation in post-Roman North Africa.