The Hauteville family was one of the greatest mercenary families in history, and probably the most successfull one. Tancred of Hauteville together with 9 sons all went to Italy, first as mercenaries for Lombard lords in Southern Italy, then they took on themselves to drive the Muslims out of Sicily. After more than 30 years of fighting out of their stronghold in Melfi, the Hauteville family became so powerful in Southern Italy that they not only conquered Sicily, but also the mainland up to Napoli and beoynd. Robert Guiscard, one of the brothers in the tomb, and his younger brother King Roger I are the most famous of the brothers. The Hauteville's created the Kingdom of Sicilia and Apulia which lasted for close to 800 years until Garibaldi's unification of Italy in the 19th century.
Our quest is to find out more about the mythical father of these brothers by looking at the DNA and bones of four of the brothers in a tomb in the Abbey of the Santissima Trinità in Venosa, Italy. The father Tancred came from the western part of Normandy, where many Norwegian Vikings settled. Our goal is to be able to trace his family origins and learn more about him and his eldest sons. We'll be using some of the most advanced DNA technology in the world, in the DNA laboratory at the Centre for Geogenetics in Copenhagen, Denmark. And we will also conduct isotype analysis and C13 and C14 analysis. On the anatomy side in our team is Professor Emeritus Per Holck from the University of Oslo, who has been very valuable in previous projects. And we are working closely with the local authorities in Basilicata. In total we have spent 7 years preparing for the opening of the tomb.
Now, the date is set: Friday January 26th, 2018. But we have run out of money, as there hasn't been much funding in this project from the start. All costs this far has been voluntarily, expenses out of our own pockets, idealists and nerds for history as we are. We need to pay workers in the abbey and insurance costs to make sure all goes well on this day, and we need to pay for a necessary georadar survey which the local authorities have conducted. The budget is not a big one for a project of this size, but now we need about 50.000 Norwegian kroners, around 5.150 Euros, to see this through. The costs of the DNA, isotope, C13 and C14 analysis will be covered by our collaborators in Denmark and in Norway.
We will attempt to establish the mtDNA and Y-DNA haplogroups of the brothers, and this will of course be shared with everyone.
For photos of the tomb and a little bit more information on the Normans, see this link: (copy/paste)
So we hope you will help us seeing this project through. The day of the opening will be exciting in it self, but also the DNA lab work in the following months. Wish us luck, and thank you!