Main article: History of Bosniaks
The earliest (genetic) roots of the Bosniak people can be traced back to the ancient populations that expanded into the Balkans following the Last Glacial Maximum 21 thousand years ago. Indeed, recent studies have indicated that the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup found in Bosnian Bosniaks is I - and specifically its sub-haplogroup I-P37 - which are associated with these paleolithic settlers. In the 13th century BCE, the old European cultures that developed from them were overrun and assimilated by the Illyrians, the earliest inhabitants of the region of whom we have any historical detail. They would remain the dominant group in the west Balkans until the Roman conquest of the area in 9 CE, which led to the arrival of Latin-speaking settlers and the Romanization of the native population.
The earliest cultural and linguistic roots of Bosniak history, however, can be traced back to the Migration Period
of the Early Middle Ages
. It was then that the Slavs
, a people from northeastern Europe, invaded the Eastern Roman Empire
with their Avar
overlords and settled in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and the surrounding lands. The Serbs
came in a second wave, invited by Emperor Heraclius
to drive the Avars from Dalmatia
. As a distinct political entity, Bosnia presumably originated sometime during the Dark Ages with the collapse of the traditional tribal social structure and advent of feudalism
The name of the country was probably derived from Illyrian language and established by ancient Illyrian tribes who inhabited the lands surrounding Bosnia’s central river - Illyrian: Bosona (Bosnian: Bosna); a testament to the significant influence of Illyrian element and heritage on the region.
Slavs settled in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the surrounding lands, which were then part of the Eastern Roman Empire
, in the seventh century. The Slavic Serbs
settled sometime after the first wave of Slavs. The Croats established a kingdom in what is northwestern Croatia
. The Serbs settled in what is now southcentral Serbia
. The Slavic Bosnians
established the first form of a state between Croatia and Serbia in ninth century under the rule of local bans with the strong Bosnian Church
, an indigenous Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The High Middle Ages
political circumstance led to the area being contested between the Kingdom of Hungary
and the Byzantine Empire
. After some centuries of rule by the Byzantine Empire, an independent Bosnian kingdom
flourished in central Bosnia between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries.