Genetic research to reveal true origin of Piast dynasty

The genetic research thanks to which it may be possible to verify hypotheses regarding the actual origin of the first Polish rulers from the Piast dynasty is being carried out by a team led by Prof. Marek Figlerowicz from the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań.

The geneticists took DNA samples from the remains of over 30 representatives of the Piast dynasty buried in various places all over Poland.

In recent years, theories about the foreign origin of the Piast dynasty have become popular. The allegedly Norman, Scandinavian or Greater Moravia origins of the founders of the Polish state have been the subject of debate.

Genetic analyses of representatives of the Piast dynasty may shed new light on these concepts. It may go some way to establishing the degree of kinship between the individuals and entire groups, as well as providing some understanding of their migration history, health and even appearance.

According to Marek Figlerowicz, researching the Piast dynasty DNA is a very difficult task - due to the fact that their burial sites are mostly desecrated or completely destroyed.

For geneticists, it is crucial to obtain the standard Y chromosome that determines male sex, from the genome. Men belonging to one family have the same Y chromosome. By acquiring it - scientists will be able to determine whether graves examined in the future contain the remains of the Piasts or other dynasties. Further analyses will also allow them to learn about the origin of dynasty progenitors by comparing samples with chromosomes that are available from other European houses’.

The preliminary results obtained from several out of over 30 samples obtained so far are inconclusive. It transpired that various Piasts possessed different Y chromosomes, which means that in some cases, their father came from outside the family. "It seems that the history of the Piast dynasty may have been more confusing than we thought. Perhaps we have noticed the infidelity of the wives. We do not know, however, at what stage it could have happened and whether the matter concerns only one of the branches of the dynasty. We are still examining samples,” said Professor Figlerowicz.