Were they of Asian origin, as was believed? Let us remember that this is the great civilization of the first millennium B.C. Apparently, there is much to be explained about their history. One clue is the rediscovered origin of the Etruscans.
The DNA that doesn’t lie
DNA was analyzed from 82 individuals from southern Italy who lived between 800 B.C. and 1000 A.D. The origin of the Etruscans was found in the center of the Apennine peninsula. They were a different culture and a different language. But this people were genetically very close to the Italians. In the Iron Age and the Roman Republic, the Etruscans remained genetically homogeneous. Then began the influx of people from the eastern Mediterranean during the Roman Empire. The results of the study are published in the magazine Science Advances.
The oldest inscriptions in Etruscan are from the 8th century B.C. This people never formed a single state. But between the 7th and 5th centuries BC 12 Etruscan cities established leadership over a vast territory. It stretched from the Po river valley to Magna Graecia. Only at the end of the first millennium BC the Roman expansion caused the decline of the Etruscan cities. And Etruria was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 27 BC.
The origin of the Etruscans remained controversial. Herodotus pointed to the northern Black Sea. Dionysius of Halicarnassus said that the Etruscans were of native origin. That is, northern and central Italy.
The Etruscans “share a genetic background with the Latins around Rome. These are descendants of the inhabitants of the Eurasian steppe”, says the University of Florence. The missing language of the Etruscans has no Indo-European origin. Its origin is a mystery.
“It is intriguing. It points to a more complex process of formation of the Italian population.” So say researchers at the University of Florence. The rediscovered origin of the Etruscans only opens more doors.
The ancient Romans borrowed heavily from the Etruscans. Their descendants were the first kings of Rome. Gladiator fights are believed to have Etruscan roots. So did chariot racing. The Etruscans completely lost their dominant position with the expansion of Rome.