February 17, 2007

More evidence for the origin of the Etruscans

The recent articles on Etruscan origins argue in favor of the non-indigenous theory of Etruscan origins.

In the same light, I was looking at the other recent paper on Y chromosome variation in Italy, and I was struck by the elevated frequency (7%) of J*(xJ2) in Central Tuscany. J*(xJ2) occurs at higher frequencies in the Near East than in Europe. For example, in Cinnioglu's study of Anatolian Y chromosomes it occurred at a frequency of around 9%, while the frequency in Greece (pdf) is 2%.

The fact that J*(xJ2) reaches its Italian maximum in Central Tuscany, approaching the Anatolian figure, and being higher than that of Greece is consistent with the emerging consensus. Let's hope that Y chromosome analysis of Etruscan remains will be feasible to directly test for the presence of J*(xJ2) in them.

PS: Interestingly, Sicily and Cyprus also show an elevated frequency of J*(xJ2) (pdf). The Phoenician presence or other historical events could explain this, but as far as I know (?) there is no documented substantial presence of Phoenicians in Tuscany, making the alternative Anatolian origin more likely.

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