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Thread: The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

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    The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

    The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

    Cristiano Vernesi,1 David Caramelli,2 Isabelle Dupanloup,1,* Giorgio Bertorelle,1 Martina Lari,2 Enrico Cappellini,2 Jacopo Moggi-Cecchi,2 Brunetto Chiarelli,2 Loredana Castrì,3 Antonella Casoli,4 Francesco Mallegni,5 Carles Lalueza-Fox,6 and Guido Barbujani1

    1Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; 2Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Laboratori di Antropologia, Università di Firenze, Firenze, Italy; 3Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica e Sperimentale, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy; 4Dipartimento di Chimica Generale e Inorganica, Chimica Analitica, Chimica Fisica, Università di Parma, Parma, Italy; 5Dipartimento di Scienze Archeologiche, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy; and 6Unitat de Biologia Evolutiva, Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

    Received December 5, 2003; accepted January 28, 2004; electronically published March 10, 2004.

    The origins of the Etruscans, a non-Indo-European population of preclassical Italy, are unclear. There is broad agreement that their culture developed locally, but the Etruscans' evolutionary and migrational relationships are largely unknown. In this study, we determined mitochondrial DNA sequences in multiple clones derived from bone samples of 80 Etruscans who lived between the 7th and the 3rd centuries B.C. In the first phase of the study, we eliminated all specimens for which any of nine tests for validation of ancient DNA data raised the suspicion that either degradation or contamination by modern DNA might have occurred. On the basis of data from the remaining 30 individuals, the Etruscans appeared as genetically variable as modern populations. No significant heterogeneity emerged among archaeological sites or time periods, suggesting that different Etruscan communities shared not only a culture but also a mitochondrial gene pool. Genetic distances and sequence comparisons show closer evolutionary relationships with the eastern Mediterranean shores for the Etruscans than for modern Italian populations. All mitochondrial lineages observed among the Etruscans appear typically European or West Asian, but only a few haplotypes were found to have an exact match in a modern mitochondrial database, raising new questions about the Etruscans' fate after their assimilation into the Roman state.

    http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJH...935525054Guest

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    Re: The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

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    Re: The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

    Published online before print May 15, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0509718103




    Anthropology-Biological Sciences
    Serial coalescent simulations suggest a weak genealogical relationship between Etruscans and modern Tuscans
    ( ancient DNA | mtDNA | population genetics )

    Elise M. S. Belle *, Uma Ramakrishnan , Joanna L. Mountain , and Guido Barbujani *
    *Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Ferrara, Via Borsari, 46, 44100 Ferrara, Italy; and Department of Anthropological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305



    Edited by Robert R. Sokal, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, and approved April 5, 2006 (received for review November 8, 2005)


    The Etruscans, the only preclassical European population that has been genetically characterized so far, share only two haplotypes with their modern geographic counterparts, the Tuscans, who, nonetheless, appear to be their closest relatives. We modeled 10 demographic scenarios spanning the last 2,500 years and tested by serial coalescent simulation whether any are consistent with the patterns of genetic diversity observed within and between the Etruscan and the modern Tuscan populations. Models in which the Etruscans are the direct ancestors of modern Tuscans appear compatible with the observed data only when they also include a very high mutation rate and an ancient founder effect. A better fit was obtained when the ancient and the modern samples were extracted from two independently evolving populations, connected by little migration. Simulated and observed parameters were also similar for a scenario in which the ancient samples came from a subset, e.g., a social elite, genetically differentiated from the bulk of the Etruscan population. In principle, these results may be biased by factors such as gross and systematic errors in the ancient DNA sequences and failure to sample suitable modern individuals. If neither proves to be the case, this study strongly suggests that either the mitochondrial mutation rate is much higher than currently believed or the Etruscans left very few modern mitochondrial descendants.


    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0509718103v1

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    Re: The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Solar Wolff
    A purified sample size of 30 isn't very big, I wonder if it is big enough --but, the findings of similarity with the Eastern Med. is interesting in view of the commonly held view that the Etruscans were of Phoenician origin.
    Etruscans were probaly from Near eastern origins, but they were not Phoenicians. Phoenicians apeared later.Etruscans can be involved on the dinaricization of Italian peninsula and formation of ''classic roman '' type, with the Roman nose.

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    Re: The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

    the genetic gap between Etruscans and modern day Tuscanians is because the E. were basically a numerical small ruling elite who colonized Tuscany mostly in a cultural way while the large part of the pre-existent substratum was formed by Villanovian people. Is that a correct interpretation?

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    Re: The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study

    from dienekes blog:


    Mitochondrial DNA Variation of Modern Tuscans Supports the Near Eastern Origin of Etruscans

    Alessandro Achilli et al.

    The origin of the Etruscan people has been a source of major controversy for the past 2,500 years and several hypotheses have been proposed to explain their language and sophisticated culture, including an Aegean / Anatolian origin. To address this issue, we analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 322 subjects from three well-defined areas of Tuscany and compared their sequence variation with that of 55 Western Eurasian populations. Interpopulation comparisons reveal that the modern population of Murlo – a small town of Etruscan origin – is characterized by an unusually high frequency (17.5%) of Near Eastern mtDNA haplogroups. Each of these haplogroups is represented by different haplotypes, thus dismissing the possibility that the genetic allocation of the Murlo people is due to drift. Other Tuscan populations do not show the same striking feature; however, overall ~5% of mtDNA haplotypes in Tuscany are shared exclusively between Tuscans and Near Easterners and occupy terminal positions in the phylogeny. These findings support a direct and rather recent genetic input from the Near East – a scenario in agreement with the Lydian origin of Etruscans. Such a genetic contribution has been extensively diluted by admixture, but it appears that there are still locations in Tuscany, such as Murlo, where traces of its arrival are readily detectable.

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