New research suggests that there is no genetic link between the inhabitants of modern-day central Italy and the civilised race who lived there well before the rise of the Roman empire. Despite the fact that the Etruscans were never physically wiped out by the Romans, experts have concluded that for some reason they are not the ancestors of the modern-day Tuscans.
Etruria spanned from south of Rome up to the Po River valley during the civilisation’s most powerful period, and the Etruscans inhabited the area of Rome before the city claimed its independence from the Etruscan kings in 509 BC. Etruria was then reduced to a series of city states, each of which was conquered in turn by the invading Romans as they
brought the whole Italian peninsular under their rule. However, in doing so, the Romans did not carry out one of their wholesale massacres, which were not uncommon as their territory expanded. Rather, the Etruscans were assimilated into the empire and continued to live in the area of modern-day Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria under Roman rule.
It is therefore surprising that researchers from several Italian universities have found that there is no genetic lineage whatsoever between the bronze-age Etruscans and modern-day Italians of Tuscany. However, there is shared DNA between Medieval Tuscans and those of today.
The Discovery Channel reports that the population in this area of central Italy have undergone significant demographic changes. The channel quotes two researchers, David Caramelli of Florence University and Guido Barbujani of Ferrara University, as saying: “Some people have hypothesized that the most ancient DNA sequences, those from the Etruscan era, could contain errors or have been contaminated, but tests conducted with new methods exclude this. Immigration and forced migration have diluted the Etruscan genetic inheritance so much as to make it difficult to recognise.
Photo by mdnicholson42.