Mario Novak

Mario Novak
Institute for Anthropological Research · Center for Applied Bioanthropology

PhD, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb

About

144
Publications
105,827
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Introduction
I am a bioarchaeologist working as a senior research associate at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, Croatia. My research is focused on the reconstruction of lifestyles of past people through multidisciplinary analysis of their remains involving (bio)archaeological, isotopic and genomic data.
Additional affiliations
October 2015 - present
Institute for Anthropological Research
Position
  • Research Associate
October 2013 - September 2015
University College Dublin
Position
  • PostDoc Position
May 2002 - September 2013
Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Position
  • Researcher

Publications

Publications (144)
Article
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The study of the development of human bipedalism can provide a unique perspective on the evolution of morphology and behavior across species. To generate new knowledge of these mechanisms, we analyze changes in both internal and external morphology of the growing human talus in a sample of modern human juveniles using an innovative approach. The sa...
Article
Osteochondroma or osteocartilaginous exostosis is one of the most common benign tumors of the bone. Causes for the disease are yet unknown, but there are indications that they may be linked to abnormality in the growth plate and possibly mutation in EXT1, EXT2 and EXT3 genes. Cases of reported osteochondromas range from prehistoric to contemporary...
Preprint
Ancient DNA research in the past decade has revealed that European population structure changed dramatically in the prehistoric period (14,000-3,000 years before present, YBP), reflecting the widespread introduction of Neolithic farmer and Bronze Age Steppe ancestries. However, little is known about how population structure changed in the historica...
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Significance Subsistence shifts from hunting and gathering to agriculture over the last 12,000 y have impacted human culture, biology, and health. Although past human health cannot be assessed directly, adult stature variation and skeletal indicators of nonspecific stress can serve as proxies for health during growth and development. By integrating...
Article
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This article presents outcomes from a Workshop entitled “Bioarchaeology: Taking Stock and Moving Forward,” which was held at Arizona State University (ASU) on March 6–8, 2020. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (ASU), and the Center for Bioarchaeological Research (CBR, ASU), the Workshop...
Article
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Present-day people from England and Wales harbour more ancestry derived from Early European Farmers (EEF) than people of the Early Bronze Age¹. To understand this, we generated genome-wide data from 793 individuals, increasing data from the Middle to Late Bronze and Iron Age in Britain by 12-fold, and Western and Central Europe by 3.5-fold. Between...
Article
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Probnim arheološkim istraživanjima na nalazištu Gorica u Domašincu pronađeni su ravni paljevinski grobovi iz mlađe i kasne faze kasnog brončanog doba. Prema pogrebnom ritualu i pokretnim nalazima, spomenuti grobovi pokazuju sličnosti s grobljima ruške grupe sa susjednog područja slovenskog Podravja. Bioarheološka analiza pokazala je da su u naveden...
Article
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The paper provides a detailed overview of new radiocarbon dates, stable isotopes, and anthropological information obtained on prehistoric human remains (mostly Neolithic) from the Balkans and southwestern Carpathian Basin. It covers a large chronological sequence from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age (9746–2628 cal BC), which encompasses different...
Article
Objectives To provide a comprehensive analysis of perimortem cranial injuries found on human remains from the Eneolithic (ca. 4200 BCE) mass grave discovered at Potočani, Croatia, to test if the assemblage is a result of a deliberate violent episode on a massive scale. Materials and Methods Standard bioarchaeological analysis, including inventory...
Article
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Ancient DNA studies have revealed how human migrations from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age transformed the social and genetic structure of European societies. Present-day Croatia lies at the heart of ancient migration routes through Europe, yet our knowledge about social and genetic processes here remains sparse. To shed light on these questions,...
Article
Vučedol is a site of major importance in the Carpathian Basin that provides valuable insight into daily life from the Early Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age. During the first archaeological excavations at the Vučedol–Streim Vineyard site in 1897, a total of 15 graves were excavated. Today eight skulls from this field campaign are curated at the Arc...
Preprint
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Human culture, biology, and health were shaped dramatically by the onset of agriculture ~12,000 years before present (BP). Subsistence shifts from hunting and gathering to agriculture are hypothesized to have resulted in increased individual fitness and population growth as evidenced by archaeological and population genomic data alongside a simulta...
Article
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Paleogenomic and bioanthropological studies of ancient massacres have highlighted sites where the victims were male and plausibly died all in battle, or were executed members of the same family as might be expected from a killing intentionally directed at subsets of a community, or where the massacred individuals were plausibly members of a migrant...
Article
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Paleogenomic and bioanthropological studies of ancient massacres have highlighted sites where the victims were male and plausibly died all in battle, or were executed members of the same family as might be expected from a killing intentionally directed at subsets of a community, or where the massacred individuals were plausibly members of a migrant...
Article
In this paper we present the results of the bioarchaeological analysis of skeletal remains retrieved from a mass burial dated to the 16th-17th century AD from Umag in Istria, Croatia. Numerous written historical documents indicate that Umag was hit by several outbreaks of bubonic plague between the 15th and 17th centuries that had a tremendous effe...
Article
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During systematic research in Ludbreg (Roman Iovia-Botivo) in 2011, a 5th century grave built of tegulae was discovered within the Roman stratum. The deceased has a trepanation on his skull and was accompanied by a single object, a silver ring buckle. The newfound grave has undergone radiocarbon and radiological analysis. The discovery of this grav...
Article
Introduction: Blepharitis is a common chronic inflammatory process of the eyelid margin that may be associated with several systemic conditions. Symptoms associated with blepharitis include burning sensation, irritation, tearing, photophobia, blurred vision, and red eyes. Moreover, red eye and conjunctivitis-blepharitis are among the most common oc...
Article
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Caves and other speleological features as archaeological sites can contain the remains of human bones. Most of these caves can be assumed to be a burial site, or a sort of a necropolis, but they can also contain single chance finds. The surrounding archaeological contexts or additional radiocarbon analyses of the bone samples lead us to conclude th...
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Dogs were the first domestic animal, but little is known about their population history and to what extent it was linked to humans. We sequenced 27 ancient dog genomes and found that all dogs share a common ancestry distinct from present-day wolves, with limited gene flow from wolves since domestication but substantial dog-to-wolf gene flow. By 11,...
Article
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Dogs were the first domestic animal, but little is known about their population history and to what extent it was linked to humans. We sequenced 27 ancient dog genomes and found that all dogs share a common ancestry distinct from present-day wolves, with limited gene flow from wolves since domestication but substantial dog-to-wolf gene flow. By 11,...
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In limestone caves, environmental processes often cause alterations of human or animal skeletal remains, complicating classical analytical methods. Exemplary, a proximal femoral skeletal fragment, enclosed by a thick layer of speleothemic calcite deposits, was discovered during the exploration of the Bedara cave in Žumberak, Croatia. An examination...
Article
In various prehistoric periods, the territory of Vojvodina became the target of the migration of steppe communities with eastern origins. The oldest of these movements are dated to the late Eneolithic and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age. There are at least two stages among them: I – dated to the end of the fourth millennium BC / beginning of...
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
We report genome-wide DNA data for 73 individuals from five archaeological sites across the Bronze and Iron Ages Southern Levant. These individuals, who share the “Canaanite” material culture, can be modeled as descending from two sources: (1) earlier local Neolithic populations and (2) populations related to the Chalcolithic Zagros or the Bronze A...
Article
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This paper presents the results of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses on human remains uncovered from Potočani, a Copper Age (Eneolithic) mass burial site in continental Croatia. The remains of at least 41 individuals were uncovered in a pit in 2007 during rescue excavations in Požeško‐Slavonska county. Skeletal evidence of violence and th...
Article
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Changes in potential regulatory elements are thought to be key drivers of phenotypic divergence. However, identifying changes to regulatory elements that underlie human-specific traits has proven very challenging. Here, we use 63 reconstructed and experimentally measured DNA methylation maps of ancient and present-day humans, as well as of six chim...
Article
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Steppe-pastoralist-related ancestry reached Central Europe by at least 2500 bc, whereas Iranian farmer-related ancestry was present in Aegean Europe by at least 1900 bc. However, the spread of these ancestries into the western Mediterranean, where they have contributed to many populations that live today, remains poorly understood. Here, we generat...
Article
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Archaeological excavations at the Early/Middle Neolithic site at Smilčić‐Barice in 2016/2017, revealed skeletal remains of four people. Of particular interest is the skeleton from Grave 2, directly dated to 5616 and 5485 cal BCE, i.e. to the Early Neolithic Impresso Pottery Culture. The skeleton was positioned on its left side, in a crouched positi...
Article
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In this paper we present three prehistoric cases (two previously reported and one recently discovered) of trepanation from Croatia: Rudine, Bezdanjača and Jagodnjak, all dated to the Bronze Age. By using a detailed macroscopic analysis as well as radiographic imaging (x-ray and CT scanning) of the skulls, we provide a new assessment and interpretat...
Preprint
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Regulatory changes are broadly accepted as key drivers of phenotypic divergence. However, identifying regulatory changes that underlie human-specific traits has proven very challenging. Here, we use 63 DNA methylation maps of ancient and present-day humans, as well as of six chimpanzees, to detect differentially methylated regions that emerged in m...
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By sequencing 523 ancient humans, we show that the primary source of ancestry in modern South Asians is a prehistoric genetic gradient between people related to early hunter-gatherers of Iran and Southeast Asia. After the Indus Valley Civilization’s decline, its people mixed with individuals in the southeast to form one of the two main ancestral po...
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Three individuals dating to the Great Migration Period (5th century CE) were discovered in a pit at the Hermanov vinograd site in Osijek, Croatia. We were inspired to study these individuals based on their unusual burial context as well as the identification of two different types of artificial cranial deformation in two of the individuals. We comb...
Preprint
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A series of studies have documented how Steppe pastoralist-related ancestry reached central Europe by at least 2500 BCE, while Iranian farmer-related ancestry was present in Aegean Europe by at least 1900 BCE. However, the spread of these ancestries into the western Mediterranean where they have contributed to many populations living today remains...
Article
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In 1579 and 1580, Bishop Agostino Valier visited Istrian dioceses. This visitation is described in yet unpublished records, written originally in Latin and Old Italian. Among them, we find a record of a divorce case of Ivan Cinkopan and Dorotea Jašić from Labin that brought to light accusations of adultery, theft, and marital violence. This paper i...
Article
Southeast Asia is home to rich human genetic and linguistic diversity, but the details of past population movements in the region are not well known. Here, we report genome-wide ancient DNA data from eighteen Southeast Asian individuals spanning from the Neolithic period through the Iron Age (4100–1700 years ago). Early farmers from Man Bac in Viet...
Article
Southeast Asia is home to rich human genetic and linguistic diversity, but the details of past population movements in the region are not well known. Here, we report genome-wide ancient DNA data from eighteen Southeast Asian individuals spanning from the Neolithic period through the Iron Age (4100–1700 years ago). Early farmers from Man Bac in Viet...
Preprint
Full-text available
The genetic formation of Central and South Asian populations has been unclear because of an absence of ancient DNA. To address this gap, we generated genome-wide data from 362 ancient individuals, including the first from eastern Iran, Turan (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan), Bronze Age Kazakhstan, and South Asia. Our data reveal a complex...
Preprint
Full-text available
Southeast Asia is home to rich human genetic and linguistic diversity, but the details of past population movements in the region are not well known. Here, we report genome-wide ancient DNA data from thirteen Southeast Asian individuals spanning from the Neolithic period through the Iron Age (4100–1700 years ago). Early agriculturalists from Man Ba...
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European farmers' first strides from the south The early spread of farmers across Europe has previously been thought to be part of a single migration event. David Reich and colleagues analyse genome-wide data from 225 individuals who lived in southeastern Europe and the surrounding regions between 12000 and 500 BC. They analyse this in combination...
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Childhood stress, using both subadult and adult remains from early mediaeval (8th-11thc. CE) sites on the eastern Adriatic coast is analysed in this report. A total of 242 individuals (83 subadults, 69 adult females, and 90 adult males) were assessed for the presence of linear enamel hypoplasia, cribra orbitalia, sub-periosteal new bone formation,...
Article
Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of plague, is a bacterium associated with wild rodents and their fleas. Historically it was responsible for three pandemics: the Plague of Justinian in the 6th century AD, which persisted until the 8th century [ 1 ]; the renowned Black Death of the 14th century [ 2, 3 ], with recurrent outbreaks until the 18th c...
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Ancient DNA (aDNA) research involves invasive and destructive sampling procedures that are often incompatible with anthropological, anatomical, and bioarcheological analyses requiring intact skeletal remains. The osseous labyrinth inside the petrous bone has been shown to yield higher amounts of endogenous DNA than any other skeletal element; howev...
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Molecular signatures of Yersinia pestis were recently identified in prehistoric Eurasian individuals, thus suggesting Y. pestis caused some form of disease in humans prior to the first historically documented pandemic. Here, we present six new Y. pestis genomes spanning from the European Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age (LNBA) dating from 4,800 to...
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Farming was first introduced to southeastern Europe in the mid-7th millennium BCE - brought by migrants from Anatolia who settled in the region before spreading throughout Europe. However, the dynamics of the interaction between the first farmers and the indigenous hunter-gatherers remain poorly understood because of the near absence of ancient DNA...
Article
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During archaeological rescue excavations carried out in 2007 at Potočani in continental Croatia, a pit containing numerous human skeletal remains (MNI = 41) was discovered. The remains were mostly articulated but also commingled and showed no clear pattern of organization. There were no associated artifacts, just a few pottery fragments probably be...
Article
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Thomas Kent was an Irish rebel who was executed by British forces in the aftermath of the Easter Rising armed insurrection of 1916 and buried in a shallow grave on Cork prison’s grounds. In 2015, ninety-nine years after his death, a state funeral was offered to his living family to honor his role in the struggle for Irish independence. However, ina...
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Extract: Dear Editor, Pituitary gigantism is caused by chronic growth hormone (GH) hypersecretion by a pituitary lesion before epiphyseal fusion. Genetic causes have been identified in nearly 50% of patients with pituitary gigantism, with germline mutations in the AIP gene being the most frequent cause (Rostomyan et al. 2015). Recently, a new form...
Preprint
Full-text available
Thomas Kent was an Irish rebel who was executed by British forces in the aftermath of the Easter Rising armed insurrection of 1916 and buried in a shallow grave on Cork prison's grounds. In 2015, ninety-nine years after his death, a state funeral was offered to his living family to honor his role in the struggle for Irish independence. However, ina...
Article
Full-text available
The appearance of people associated with the Lapita culture in the South Pacific around 3,000 years ago marked the beginning of the last major human dispersal to unpopulated lands. However, the relationship of these pioneers to the long-established Papuan people of the New Guinea region is unclear. Here we present genome-wide ancient DNA data from...
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Barice-Gređani group was first defined on a basis of cemetery finds from cemetery Barice near Gornja Orahovica and it was long known in literature as a group of Barice-Gređani type cemeteries. That was supported by a number of excavated and published cemeteries and lack of settlement research in Slavonian and Bosnian Posavina was present at that ti...
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We report genome-wide ancient DNA from 44 ancient Near Easterners ranging in time between ~12,000 and 1,400 BCE, from Natufian hunter–gatherers to Bronze Age farmers. We show that the earliest populations of the Near East derived around half their ancestry from a ‘Basal Eurasian’ lineage that had little if any Neanderthal admixture and that separat...
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