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On the origin of the Etruscans

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  • Francesco Brighenti
    Dear List, The theory about the Anatolian origin of the Etruscan people *and* language appears to have been strenghtened by a new genetic study of cattle in
    Message 1 of 33 , Feb 21, 2007
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      Dear List,

      The theory about the Anatolian origin of the Etruscan people *and*
      language appears to have been strenghtened by a new genetic study of
      cattle in the Tuscan region:

      "One of anthropology's most enduring mysteries -- the origins of the
      ancient Etruscan civilisation -- may finally have been solved, with a
      study of cattle. This culturally distinct and technologically
      advanced civilisation inhabited central Italy from about the 8th
      century BC, until it was assimilated into Roman culture around the
      end of the 4th century BC. The origins of the Etruscans, with their
      own non-Indo-European language, have been debated by archaeologists,
      geneticists and linguists for centuries. Writing in the 5th century
      BC, the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the Etruscans
      had arrived in Italy from Lydia, now called Anatolia in modern-day
      Turkey. To try and discover more about the Etruscans' movements,
      Marco Pellecchia at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in
      Piacenza, Italy, and colleagues have analysed mitochondrial DNA in
      modern herds of Bos Taurus cattle in the north, south and central
      regions of Italy. This genetic material is passed down the female
      line from mother to offspring. The team found that almost 60% of the
      mitochondrial DNA in cows in the central Tuscan region of the
      country -- where the Etruscan civilisation is thought to have arisen -
      - was the same as that in cows from Anatolia and the Middle East.
      There was little or no genetic convergence between cows from the
      north and south of Italy and those from Turkey and the Middle East,
      the researchers say. Pellecchia notes that no archaeological or
      genetic traces of Etruscan culture have been found elsewhere between
      Turkey and Italy. This, combined with the Etruscans' famed nautical
      prowess leads Pellecchia to conclude that the Etruscans and their
      cattle arrived in Italy by sea, and not by land. Mark Thomas, a human
      geneticist at University College London in the UK, says that European
      cattle tend to be genetically very similar, so the study's conclusion
      is plausible."

      The results were published in the Feb. 6, 2007 issue of the _American
      Journal of Human Genetics_; the abstract of the paper is available at


      Cf. also a 2004 population-genetic study on the Etruscans at

      http://tinyurl.com/2a555d ,

      whose authors conclude that "genetic distances and sequence
      comparisons show closer evolutionary relationships with the eastern
      Mediterranean shores for the Etruscans than for modern Italian
      populations," and that "the similarity between the Etruscan and
      Turkish gene pools may indeed reflect some degree of gene flow."

      A recent longish publication by R.S.P. Beekes arrives at the same
      conclusions on linguistic and historic grounds:

      R.S.P. Beekes, _The Origin of the Etruscans_, Amsterdam, Koninklijke
      Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2003; the booklet, which
      seems to be a fundamental philological study in my profane eyes, can
      be downloaded in PDF format at


      With kindest regards,
      Francesco Brighenti
    • tgpedersen
      ... BTW Swedish PN Sixten would then be an exact cognate of Segestes. Torsten
      Message 33 of 33 , May 2 1:04 PM
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        > But
        > https://ep.eur.nl/bitstream/1765/7686/1/Woudhuizen+bw.pdf
        > (beware, takes long time to load while seemingly nothing happening)
        > uses archaeological evidence to link Proto-Villanovan and Villanovan
        > (try searching for those terms) to the Urnfield culture of (oh
        > horror!) Thuringia and Southern Scandinavia, the same place where
        > all these names in -ste- also appears, which Kuhn mentions
        > (he misses Andst near Seest near Kolding in southern Jutland,
        > perhaps Gesten, if his theory is true that -sten, -steen, -stein
        > names are reinterpreted -st names; interesting for me, I always
        > wondered what Thor needed that stone for, and there is an old side
        > form Tosti occurring also in -thorp placenames (Carolingian times),
        > but not in -lev (-löv, -leben) placenames (early first millenium)).
        > Woodhuizen has Adrastos (Phrygian(?), Linear B), Orestes (descendant
        > of Pelops, an Anatolian), realm of Acestes, and Segesta (where the
        > population consists of kinsmen from Troy), Segestazie (from that
        > town, cf. Etruscan Karthazie "of the Carthaginians"), Aulestis.

        BTW Swedish PN Sixten would then be an exact cognate of Segestes.

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