April 04, 2007

Nicholas Wade on Etruscan Origins

Nicholas Wade has an article in the New York Times summarizing the recent research ib Etruscan origins (click on the label below for more) and giving some interesting background on the dispute between 'indigenist' and 'migrationist' views of Etruscan origins:
“The overwhelming proportion of archaeologists would regard the evidence for eastern origins of the Etruscans as negligible,” said Anthony Tuck, an archaeologist at the University of Massachusetts Center for Etruscan Studies.

Because Italians take pride in the Roman empire and the Etruscan state that preceded it, asserting a foreign origin for the Etruscans has long been politically controversial in Italy. Massimo Pallottino, the dean of modern Etruscan studies in Italy who died in 1995, held that because no one questioned that the French, say, developed in France, the same assumption should be made about the Etruscans. “Someone who had a different position didn’t get a job in archaeology,” said Antonio Torroni, a geneticist at the University of Pavia.


In Tuscany as a whole, part of the ancient Etruscan region of Etruria, the Torroni team found 11 minor mitochondrial DNA lineages that occur nowhere else in Europe and are shared only with Near Eastern people. These findings, the teams says, “support a direct and rather recent genetic input from the Near East, a scenario in agreement with the Lydian origin of the Etruscans.”

Dr. Torroni said he had data awaiting publication that are based on Y chromosomes and point to the same conclusion.

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