Reconstruction of the grave of the Kemathen warrior, who is believed to have been a Bavarian
Map of the extent of the Bavarian, also known as Austro-Bavarian, dialects of the German language

The Baiuvarii, Bavarii, or Bavarians (German: Bajuwaren) were a Germanic people who lived in or near modern-day Bavaria (which is named after them), Austria, and South Tyrol. They began to appear in records by the 6th century AD, and are considered to be the ancestors of modern-day Bavarians, Austrians and South Tyroleans. It is believed that they spoke an early version of the Bavarian language.


The name of the Baiuvarii is also spelled Baiuvari.[1] It probably means "men from Bohemia".[1] The placename Bohemia is believed to be connected to that of the Boii, a Celtic people who partly left the region before the Roman era and then were dominated by Germanic peoples. The Baiuvarii gave their name to the region of Bavaria.[2]


The language of the Baiuvarii is classified as Germanic.[3][4] It is uncertain whether they originally spoke an East Germanic or West Germanic language.[5] Early evidence on the language of the Baiuvarii is limited to personal names and a few Runic inscriptions. By the 8th century AD, the Baiuvarii were speakers of an early form of the Austro-Bavarian language within the West Germanic family.[3][2]


The name is first attested in Latin sources in the 6th century AD.

Evidence from the etymology of their name implies that the Baiuvarii, being named after Bohemia, can not have existed under that name before the 1st century AD. During this period Maroboduus, king of the Germanic Marcomanni, lead his people into their area which had previously been inhabited by the Celtic Boii.[2] Whether the Baiuvarii settled Bavaria in a specific later migration, after Maroboduus, either from the north (Bohemia) or from Pannonia, is uncertain.[2]

According to Karl Bosl, Bavarian migration to present-day Bavaria is a legend.[6] The early Baiuvarii are often associated with the Friedenhain-Přešťovice archaeological group, but this is controversial.[1] During the time of Attila in the 5th century, the entire Middle Danube region saw the entry of many new peoples from north and east of the Carpathians, and the formation and destruction of many new and old political entities.

It is thus more probable that the Baiuvarii emerged in the provinces of Noricum ripense and Raetia secunda following Odoacer's withdrawal of population to Italy in 488, and the subsequent expansion of Italian Ostrogothic, and Merovingian Frankish influence into the area.[1][6] They are believed to have incorporated elements from several Germanic peoples, including the Sciri, Heruli, Suebi, Alemanni, Naristi, Thuringi and Lombards. They might also have included non-Germanic Romance people (romanized Celtic people).[1]

The region was under the influence of the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Theodoric the Great. During this period, the Frankish king Theudebert I (died 548) claimed control from the North Sea to Pannonia. After his death, his uncle Chlothar I appointed Garibald I as dux of Bavaria.[6] He established the Agilolfings dynasty with his power base at Augsburg or Regensburg.[1] By the 8th century, many Baiuvarii had converted to Christianity.[8]

Through their ruling Agilolfings dynasty, they were closely connected with the Franks.


A collection of Bavarian tribal laws was compiled in the 8th century. This document is known as Lex Baiuvariorum. Elements of it possibly date back to the 6th century.[1] It is very similar to Lex Thuringorum, which was the legal code of the Thuringi, with whom the Baiuvarii had close relations.[9]

The funerary traditions of the Baiuvarii are similar to those of the Alemanni, but quite different from those of the Thuringi.[9]

Exogamy and migrant women

The Baiuvarii are distinguished by the presence of individuals with artificially deformed craniums in their cemeteries. These individuals were predominantly female; there is no undisputed evidence of males with artificially deformed skulls in Bavaria.[10] Genetic and archeological evidence shows that these women were migrants from eastern cultures, who married Bavarii males, suggesting the importance of exogamy within the Bavarii culture.[11] The migrant women were fully integrated in to Bavarii culture.[12]

In 2018, genomic research showed that these foreign women had southeastern European and East Asian ancestry. The presence of these women among the Bavarii people indicates that men from the Bavarii culture practiced exogamy, preferentially marrying women from eastern populations.[13][a][14]


Further information: Lombards § Genetics, Goths § Genetics, Visigoths § Genetics, and Alemanni § Genetics

A genetic study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2018 examined the remains of 41 individuals buried at a Bavarian cemetery ca. 500 AD. Of these, 11 whole genomes were generated. The males were found to be genetically homogeneous and of north-central European origin. The females were less homogeneous, carried less Northern European ancestry, and were found to combine Southeast European and East Asian ancestry.[13]

There were significant gender differences in skin, hair and eye pigmentation in the sample. While 80% of the Bavarii males had blond hair and blue eyes, the women had much higher rates of brown eyes and darker hair colors. The local women with East Asian and Southern European-related ancestry, generally had brown eyes, and 60% were dark haired.[b][c]

No significant admixture with Roman populations from territories further south of the area was detected.[d] Among modern populations, the surveyed male individuals didn't have modified skulls and were found to be most closely related to modern-day Germans.[e]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Diesenberger 2018, p. 195.
  2. ^ a b c d Fries-Knoblach & Steuer 2014, p. 3.
  3. ^ a b Haubrichs 2014, p. 23.
  4. ^ Fries-Knoblach & Steuer 2014, pp. 1, 3.
  5. ^ Green 2014, p. 11.
  6. ^ a b c d e Goffart 2010, p. 219.
  7. ^ Getica in Latin:; in English:
  8. ^ Fries-Knoblach & Steuer 2014, p. 8.
  9. ^ a b Fries-Knoblach & Steuer 2014, p. 2.
  10. ^ Velte, Maren; Czermak, Andrea; Grigat, Andrea; Haas-Gebhard, Brigitte; Gairhos, Anja; Toncala, Anita; Trautmann, Bernd; Haberstroh, Jochen; Päffgen, Bernd; Heyking, Kristin von; Lösch, Sandra; Burger, Joachim; Harbeck, Michaela (5 April 2023). "Between Raetia Secunda and the dutchy of Bavaria: Exploring patterns of human movement and diet". PLOS ONE. 18 (4): e0283243. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0283243. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 10075417. PMID 37018190. "In Bavaria, ACD is mainly observed in women, and there is only disputed evidence for ACD in men or children"
  11. ^ Depaermentier, Margaux L. C. (16 March 2023). "Isotope data in Migration Period archaeology: critical review and future directions". Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 15 (4): 42. doi:10.1007/s12520-023-01739-y. ISSN 1866-9565. S2CID 257537106. "Further studies based on other archaeobiological proxies supported the hypothesis that female exogamy played an important role at the time (Knipper et al. 2017; Stewart 2022; Veeramah et al. 2018)."
  12. ^ Hakenbeck, Susanne. (2011). Roman or barbarian? Shifting identities in early medieval cemeteries in Bavaria. Postclassical Archaeologies. 1. p. 49. "Both the manner of their burial and the positions of their graves indicate that the different life-histories suggested by their modified skulls and possibly foreign childhood was subsumed into the local group identity by the time of their death. Regardless of whether these women may have had a foreign identity during their lifetime, in death they were treated as local women with no evidence of their possible migration other than that which was inscribed on their bodies during childhood."
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Veeramah, Krishna R. (March 27, 2018). "Population genomic analysis of elongated skulls reveals extensive female-biased immigration in Early Medieval Bavaria". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115 (13). National Academy of Sciences: 3494–3499. doi:10.1073/pnas.1719880115. PMC 5879695. PMID 29531040.
  14. ^ Frieman, Catherine J.; Hofmann, Daniela (8 August 2019). "Present pasts in the archaeology of genetics, identity, and migration in Europe: a critical essay". World Archaeology. 51 (4): 530–531. doi:10.1080/00438243.2019.1627907. hdl:1956/22151. ISSN 0043-8243. S2CID 204480648. "Medieval blue-eyed and blond ‘Bavarians’, meanwhile, seem to have fancied brown-eyed women from south-east Europe (Veeramah et al. 2018)"


  1. ^ Veeramah et al: "A much more diverse ancestry was observed among the females with elongated skulls, as demonstrated by a significantly greater group-based FIS (SI Appendix, Fig. S35). All these females had varying amounts of genetic ancestry found today predominantly in southern European countries [as seen by the varying amounts of ancestry inferred by model-based clustering that is representative of a sample from modern Tuscany, Italy (TSI), Fig. 3], and while the majority of samples were found to be closest to modern southeastern Europeans (Bulgaria and Romania, Fig. 4C), at least one individual, AED_1108, appeared to possess ~20% East Asian ancestry (Fig. 3)[13]
  2. ^ Veeramah et al: "Based on the HIrisPlex system (13), the majority (~80%) of individuals with normal or intermediate skulls (and thus northern/central European ancestry) showed high probabilities for blue eyes and blonde hair (SI Appendix, Fig. S7 A and B); in contrast, the majority of women with deformed skulls had a high likelihood for brown eyes (80% of individuals), and both brown and blonde hair (~60% and 40% of individuals, respectively) were represented in the sample."[13]
  3. ^ Veeramah et al: "While the immigrant females would have been clearly distinguishable physically among the local population based on the combination of their enlarged crania as well as their different eye, hair, and perhaps even skin pigmentation patterns, it is noteworthy that their assemblies of grave goods appear to reflect both local customs and more distant material cultures (10)."[13]
  4. ^ Veeramah et al: " It is perhaps surprising that no local individual was found to share recent common genetic ancestry with a Roman soldier living in the same area ~200 y earlier. The analysis of his genome identifies him to be of southwest European origin. Thus, our results, though only based on one sample, argue against significant admixture between any Roman populations from more southern parts of the former Roman Empire and our individuals buried in Bavaria around 500 AD."[13]
  5. ^ Veeramah et al: "A population assignment analysis (PAA) at the level of individual modern nation states suggested greatest genetic similarity of these normal-skulled individuals with modern Germans, consistent with their sampling location (Fig. 4 A and B and SI Appendix, Table S35)."[13]


Further reading