Genetic origin of the Etruscans deciphered

Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2022 09:07 am
These people were once the most powerful in the territory of modern Italy - and completely different from their neighbours in language and culture.
Who were the Etruscans and where did they come from?
A new study sheds light on the darkness of history.

The Etruscans did not reveal their secret, which had been guarded for thousands of years, so easily. To get at the genes of the people who still puzzle science today, an international team of researchers spent years identifying skeletons, sawing teeth from root tip to crown, drilling into their pulp chambers, and sawing up the hardest bone in the human body for further samples: the petrous bone that surrounds the cochlea in the skull.

But the sawing and drilling and the many days, weeks and years spent in laboratories and analyzing data on computers were worth it from the young scientist's point of view: the bone and tooth powder finally provided the DNA that solved the biggest mystery yet surrounding the Etruscans - that of their origins.

(Full) Research Article: The origin and legacy ofthe Etruscans through a 2000-year archeogenomic time transect (PDF)

The origin, development, and legacy of the enigmatic Etruscan civilization from the central region of the Italian peninsula known as Etruria have been debated for centuries. Here we report a genomic time transect of 82 individuals spanning almost two millennia (800 BCE to 1000 CE) across Etruria and southern Italy. During the Iron Age, we detect a component of Indo-European–associated steppe ancestry and the lack of recent Anatolian-related admixture among the putative non–Indo-European–speaking Etruscans. Despite comprising diverse individuals of central European, northern African, and Near Eastern ancestry, the local gene pool is largely maintained across the first millennium BCE. This drastically changes during the Roman Imperial period where we report an abrupt population-wide shift to ~50% admixture with eastern Mediterranean ancestry. Last, we identify northern European components appearing in central Italy during the Early Middle Ages, which thus formed the genetic landscape of present-day Italian populations.
The origin and legacy of the Etruscans through a 2000-year archeogenomic time transect (Science Advances)
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