Croatian medical journal

Cultural inter-population differences do not reflect biological distances: an example of interdisciplinary analysis of populations from Eastern Adriatic coast.

PMID 26088847


To compare the population group from the Šopot graveyard with population groups from traditional Croatian medieval graveyards by using anthropological, craniometrics, and mitochondrial (mtDNA) analysis and to examine if the cultural differences between population groups reflect biological differences. We determined sex, age at death, pathological, and traumatic changes of skeletal remains from the Šopot graveyard and compared them with a cumulative medieval sample from the same region. We also performed principal component analysis to compare skeletal remains from Šopot with those from Ostrovica and other Central European samples according to 8 cranial measurements. Finally, we compared 46 skeletons from Šopot with medieval (Ostrovica) and contemporary populations using mDNA haplogroup profiling. The remains from Šopot were similar to the cumulative sample in lifestyle and quality of life markers. Principal component analysis showed that they were closely related to Eastern Adriatic coast sites (including Ostrovica and Šopot) in terms of cranial morphology, indicating similar biological makeup. According to mDNA testing, Šopot population showed no significant differences in the haplogroup prevalence from either medieval or contemporary populations. This study shows that the Šopot population does not significantly differ from other medieval populations from this area. Besides similar quality of life markers, these populations also had similar biological markers. Substantial archeological differences can therefore be attributed to apparent cultural influences, which in this case do not reflect biological differences.