It was once believed that the Etruscans migrated to central Italy from Anatolia. However, a new analysis of the genomes of representatives of an ancient civilization sheds light on their origin. The results of the research are published in the journal Science Advances.
A genetic study of DNA recovered from ancient Etruscan skeletons seems to have solved a mystery that has occupied the minds of scientists for over 2,000 years: the origins of an ancient civilization. It appears that this complex pre-Roman civilization that flourished in central Italy did not migrate from the Middle East at all, as previously thought.
Paleogeneticists analyzed the DNA of 82 individuals from Etruria and southern Italy who lived between 800 BC. and 1000 AD, and found out the origin of the Etruscans. It turned out that, despite the different culture and isolated language, this people is genetically close to the Italians. During the early Iron Age and the Roman Republic, representatives of the ancient civilization remained genetically homogeneous. This continued until, during the Roman Empire, an influx of people from the Eastern Mediterranean began.
According to Professor Cosimo Post, an archeogenetics from Tübingen, the DNA of the ancient Etruscans, which made up about half of the sample, turned out to be closely related to the DNA of other local Italic populations, including their sworn enemies, the Romans. This contradicts the long-standing theory pioneered by Herodotus, the 5th century BC Greek writer considered the “father of history,” that the Etruscans were in fact Greeks who migrated to Italy from Western Anatolia.
In the 1st millennium BC, the Etruscan culture developed on the territory of Central Italy. The Etruscans are known for creating an advanced culture that predated and influenced the Roman culture. The ancient Romans borrowed construction technology from their culture, in particular the construction of arched and vaulted structures (in turn, borrowed from the peoples of the Near and Middle East). Gladiator fights, chariot races and many funeral rites are also Etruscan.
The question of the origin of the Etruscans has long been the subject of controversy in the scientific community. Some researchers are sure that this people was formed thanks to several waves of migration from the Eastern Mediterranean, from Central Europe and the Northern Black Sea region. Other experts believe that the Etruscans were of autochthonous origin. In this case, archaeologists associate the people with the most ancient culture of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age on the territory of Northern and Central Italy. The discussion really lasts thousands of years: for example, Herodotus adhered to the version of migration, and the historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus adhered to the autochthonous theory.