December 03, 2008

mtDNA haplogroup U7a2a: a recent Anatolian signal in Tuscans

This paper uses a mutation rate of 1.008 base substitutions/nucleotid/billion years. See some discussion of mtDNA mutation rates here and here.

European Journal of Human Genetics doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2008.224

The Etruscan timeline: a recent Anatolian connection

Francesca Brisighelli et al.


The origin of the Etruscans (the present day Tuscany, Italy), one of the most enigmatic non-Indo-European civilizations, is under intense controversy. We found novel genetic evidences on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) establishing a genetic link between Anatolia and the ancient Etruria. By way of complete mtDNA genome sequencing of a novel autochthonous Tuscan branch of haplogroup U7 (namely U7a2a), we have estimated an historical time frame for the arrival of Anatolian lineages to Tuscany ranging from 1.1 ± 0.1 to 2.3 ± 0.4 kya B.P.



pconroy said...

Have you ever thought about the fact that after the fall of Constantinople (aka Istanbul), a great many Byzantines settled in Northern Italy - their descendants would be exactly where Etruscans supposedly settled, Northern Italy and surrounding areas?!

They especially settled in Florence. Here's a link to some more info on this:

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Renaissance gained a further impetus because of a number of Greek humanists who moved from Byzantium to Italy. In 1462 the Platonic Academy was opened in Florence under the patronage of Cosimo de' Medici.

Antigonos said...

Etruscans were not native!!!
Not only the modern Genetics prove that but even good old biological anthropologists and archaeologists had figured that out.
See for example the seeded Sir Leonard Wooley, a well known Archaeologist, who has supported based on artifacts that Etruscans were Minorasians. Later, K.R. Marxwell Hyslop in a research [Iraq, XVIII, 2, (1956), page 150] proved that Etruscans descend form Minor Asia because he found Urartian-like artifacts inside the tombs of the elit of the Etruscans along with similar burial customs!!
He became famous with his article "Urartian Bronzes in Etruscan Tombs". Thus the linguistic relationship between the names of some of the deities of the Hurrians and the Etruscans were then put to the light!!!
It is well known that Etruscan language descends from the Northwestern Caucasian linguistic group, the so called Circasian. It is descended from the Diakonof's Alarodian family of Urarto-Hurrian languages (Hurrian and Urartian are so closely related that they were either one language or at least two extremely similar languages in the past). Some others say that it is descended from the Northeastern Caucasian group (the so called Dagestani). Anyway both groups are very similar and quite different from the Southern Caucasian linguistic group (the Cartvelian, the group from which the Hattians occured) at which Georgians constitute the greatest nation in numbers.
The Hurrians had expanded in Northern Syria, Caucasus, Zagros (where in addition with other tribes formed the Mittani and the Kassites) and when the original Hittites (the Nesites of Kanesh) were weakened due to internal political strife, the Hurrians took the opportunity and entered Minor Asia. That's why we have Later Hittite royal names of Hurrian origin, like Urshi-Teshub, taking over. Only latter with the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna and the Luwians coming to power were the Hurrians pushed south and southwestern to the Aegean and the Mediterranean shores of Anatolia, where they created people of mixed origin like the Cilicians, the Lycians, the Pisidians, the Sidites etc. by merging with the Luwian original stock that was settled there!!! After the Greeks sacked Troy, new peoples entered Anatolia from the West. These where the Phrygians and proto Armenians, both Indoeuropean ( as the Luwians were too). That forced Hurrians and the other neighboring peoples to evacuate their lands and to become thieves, pirates and to give birth to the phenomenon of the Sea Peoples who traveled across all Mediterranean and reached even to Italy. There they conquered Proto Italian tribes and formed the Villanova culture. That culture gave birth to the nation of Etruscans who in later times was separated in northern and southern Etruscans. The southern were destroyed by Roman conquest, but the northern still survive (racially speaking) in Raetia, a canton of Switzerland, where they speak the Raetoromanic language, a mix of some Etruscan with Latin. For example they have the word Zinake and the Etruscans had it too (it's the equivalent of Tinake in Hurrian). They also have words with Etruscan suffixes even nowadays.
Finally Anthropologists even from the 50s had understood that Etruscans were Minorasians. Look for example the French "Revue des Arts", No 3, (1955), an article by Sir Gavin de Beer named "Sur les Origines des Etrusques".

eurologist said...

...but the northern still survive (racially speaking) in Raetia, a canton of Switzerland, where they speak the Raetoromanic language, a mix of some Etruscan with Latin. For example they have the word Zinake and the Etruscans had it too (it's the equivalent of Tinake in Hurrian). They also have words with Etruscan suffixes even nowadays.

That I find interesting - never heard it before. I thought that in Roman times, what is now northwestern Italy and surrounding France and Switzerland was essentially the "Celtic"-speaking cis-alpine Gallia - albeit with a Celtic that may have been closer to old Latin than to e.g. insular Celtic. Do you believe that these northern Etruscans had a wide geographic distribution and cultural/language impact, or just a few northern settlements?

pconroy said...


What you say is true about the Etruscans, but this specific mtDNA haplogroup is much YOUNGER than the historic Etruscans, it more properly matches post-Etruscan, post-Roman immigrants, like Byzantines.

Antigonos said...

Dear Eurologist,

Northwestern Italy and surrounding France and Switzerland were Romanized as did Veneto but their inhabitants were not Italians or Celts initially!
The Lepontini Celts came very late in the area. Before them the Ligurians lived in "Narvonitis France" which is Northeastern France and Ertuscans lived in Italy, Lemnos and Raetia. Veneto was inhabited by an Indoeuropean people, the Veneti, who spoke a language close to Germanic and Italian but not equivelant with them!
Although the Veneti, the Ligurians and the Picentini (another non Italian indigenous tribe of Central Italy) left no trace of their language, the Etruscans left some!
The word Zinake which became Tinake in Raetoromanic is not the only indication!
Suffixes in -enna, e.g. Cevenna, Vienna, Taruenna, Arduenna, etc. have an Etruscan origin.

Ligurian for example is today preserved in suffixes like -asc, -osc, -isc, -usc, and can be found in Lombardy, Bavaria, Switzerland and other places.
Although Ligurian did not left significant traces in todays languages, Etruscan seems to have done so in the isolated mountainous cantons of the Alps.

For more:

M. Pallotino, Etruscologia.
J. Whatmough, The Foundations of Roman Italy.

Antigonos said...

"The word Zinake which became Tinake in Raetoromanic is not the only indication!"

I meant to write the word Tinake in Hurrian which became Zinake in Etruscan and Raetoromanic.

Crimson Guard said...

By Byzantine you mean Greek?

Anyhow from what I understand the Etruscans are said to be akin to the Lydians. If so, then they were Indo-Euroepeans.

eurologist said...

Thanks, Antigonos.

As to the Etruscans' language, I wouldn't be surprised if it was some type of Creole: several tribes were pushed out of Anatolia at the time, among them some originating from the Caucasus, some were likely IE. First they were marginalized at the coast, where they could have picked up some Semitic, before finally escaping on boats with much live stock, plants, and seed material.