The discovery of unusually shaped female skulls at burial sites in Germany’s Bavaria prompted the researchers to take a closer look at their origin. A genetic analysis showed the women traveled from what is now Romania, Bulgaria and northern Greece at a time when the continent was being reshaped by the collapse of the Roman Empire.
The women’s skulls were elongated because of binding that was done when they were infants. The newcomers had dark hair and skin and appear to have integrated with the mostly blond and fair local population at the time.
The study was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.