Many people from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East settled in the city of Rome, with its famous Forum, during the imperial period.
People from the city's earliest eras and from after the Western empire's decline in the fourth century C.E. genetically resembled other Western Europeans. But during the imperial period most sampled residents had Eastern Mediterranean or Middle Eastern ancestry. At that time, "Rome was like New York City … a concentration of people of different origins joining together," says Guido Barbujani, a population geneticist at the University of Ferrara in Italy who wasn't involved in the study. "This is the kind of cutting-edge work that's starting to fill in the details [of history]," adds Kyle Harper, a Roman historian at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
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