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Rott, Andreas; Turner, Nils; Scholz, Ulrike; Heyking, Kristin von; Immler, Franziska; Peters, Joris; Haberstroh, Jochen; Harbeck, Michaela (2017): Early medieval stone-lined graves in Southern Germany: analysis of an emerging noble class. In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 162, No. 4: pp. 794-809
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Objectives: Stone-lined graves, which first appear in Bavarian territory during the 7(th) century AD, are assumed to be tombs of emerging nobility. While previous research on stone-lined grave goods supports their status as elite burials, an important factor defining nobility-kinship-has not been examined so far. Materials and methods: Morphological analysis of the commingled skeletal remains of 21 individuals from three archaeological sites was carried out. Radiocarbon dating was conducted on these individuals to gain information on usage intervals of these graves. To test whether stone- lined graves can be considered family graves, analyses of mitochondrial HVRI, Y-chromosomal and autosomal STRs were carried out. Results: Morphological examination revealed a surplus of males buried in stone- lined graves and radiocarbon dating points to usage of the tombs for several generations. According to aDNA analysis, kinship can be assumed both between and within stone- lined graves. Discussion: Taken together, these results hint at burials of family members with high social status being inhumed at the same site, in some cases even the same grave, for several generations. They also suggest, for the first time, that an early medieval linear cemetery was structured according to biological kinship.