The Etruscans’ origins and legacy are revealed by genomic research.

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The Etruscans’ origins and legacy are revealed by genomic research.

Before the Roman Empire, another sophisticated confederation, the Etruscans, ruled the Italian peninsula for several centuries.

After centuries of discussion, new genomic research has shed new light on the mystery Italic civilization’s origins.

During the Iron Age, the Etruscan civilisation came to prominence in central Italy, forming alliances with other Mediterranean nations and leaving a perplexing archaeological legacy.

The Etruscans were distinguished from their neighbors by their art and social structure, their pre-Indo-European language, and their exceptional metallurgical talents.

Since the Roman Empire annexed the last of the Etruscan settlements in the first century B.C., historians, ancient and contemporary, have debated who the Etruscans were and where they came from.

Now, new genomic evidence published in the journal Science Advances on Friday reveals that, despite their cultural differences, the Etruscans were more like their Italic neighbors than previously imagined.

Early Etruscan histories, such as those written by the Greek writer and historian Herodotus, acknowledged the Etruscans’ great influence on Ancient Greek culture in their art and cultural customs.

According to Herodotus and other historians, the Etruscan culture was formed by migrants from Anatolia or the Aegean. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, another Greek historian, said that the Etruscans arose locally, growing from Bronze Age Villanovan culture.

Most modern archaeologists agree with Dionysius, but until today, scientists lacked the genetic evidence to back up an autochthonous origins theory.

Scientists studied DNA collected from remains discovered at 12 archaeological sites for the current study. The genetic information covered a period of 2,000 years in Italic history. The Etruscans’ genetic profile was found to be very similar to that of Latins living in the neighboring city of Rome, according to genomic study.

The Etruscans and steppe-related origins — people who came in central Italy during the early Bronze Age – were likewise linked genetically, according to the researchers.

Despite the fact that these steppe-related migrations most likely introduced Indo-European languages to the region — the ancestral languages of those now spoken by billions around the world – the Etruscans’ pre-Indo-European language survived the Iron Age.

“This linguistic endurance, along with a genetic turnover, calls into question the simplistic premise that genes equal languages, and suggests a more complex scenario including the assimilation of early Italic speakers by the Etruscan speech community, possibly over a lengthy period of time…” Article Summary from Nokia News

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