Tuscans and Etruscans

Latest bit on the DNA front suggests there is no DNA link between the ancient Etruscans and their modern-day Tuscan counterparts. An excerpt from the ANSA coverage:

The current population of Tuscany is not descended from the Etruscans, the people that lived in the region during the Bronze Age, a new Italian study has shown.

Researchers at the universities of Florence, Ferrara, Pisa, Venice and Parma discovered the genealogical discontinuity by testing samples of mitochondrial DNA from remains of Etruscans and people who lived in the Middle Ages (between the 10th and 15th centuries) as well as from people living in the region today.

While there was a clear genetic link between Medieval Tuscans and the current population, the relationship between modern Tuscans and their Bronze Age ancestors could not be proven, the study showed.

”Some people have hypothesised 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,” said David Caramelli of Florence University and Guido Barbujani of Ferrara University.

”The most simple explanation is that the structure of the Tuscan population underwent important demographic changes in the first millennium before Christ,” they said.

”Immigration and forced migration have diluted the Etruscan genetic inheritance so much as to make it difficult to recognise”.

The scientific data does not necessarily mean that the Etruscans died out, the researchers said.

6 thoughts on “Tuscans and Etruscans

  1. My puzzlement is their regarding the Bronze Age inhabitants and the Etruscans as one and the same, when we still have no idea if even the Villanovian culture represents EIA Etruscans. If Barbujani truly sampled Bronze Age skeletons, he will have proven that the Etruscans came into Tuscany post-BA — which connects nicely with his work in Turkey. But is that what they mean, or is this a newspaper reporting error?

    Still puzzled,


  2. Oh sorry; I totally missed that … I suspect that’s a newspaper thing; it’s mentioned in the intro to the ANSA piece … I can’t find a reference to this new study in a journal to check more closely.

  3. Thanks for this, David. I’ve asked a friend at the University of FI, whose husband is a physicist, to get me a copy of the MBE paper. I’ll report back when I’ve read it.

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