Alberto Palmucci





This essay follows and adjourns for the actual purpose a part of that I said already  in the number 62/63, 2007 of “Aufidus” (University of Bari, Department of Classical Studies; University of Roma Tre, Department of the Ancient World)



Excuse me for my incorrect English

 Datated 06/02/2013 the magazine Plos (University of Wisconsin, USA) has published on Internet the essay compiled in English language from a team of geneticists coordinated by Guido Barbujani and by David Caramelli. The team has examined both the DNAmt of the actual “Etruscans” that today live in central tyrrhenian Italy and the DNAmt of the actual inhabitants of the Anatolia (Turkey). From this it says that at the time of the formation of Etruscan nation no migration happened from the Anatolia in Italy.

But, from the reading of the results of the scientific examinations published in the text it do not deduce at all that in the last centuries of the second millennium before Christ one or more migrations of groups of people (Trojans, Mysians, Lydians and Pelasgians) were not able to happened from Anatolia into central Tyrrhenian Italy constituting so the external contribution to the formation of the ethnos of that nation that the Romans will call Etruria. From the relationship of the team of the geneticists, the autochthonian of the Etruscans (how the media have shown off it) it is not at all evident. Rather you can infer the contrary. To explain this it would not be correct to produce a series of emphatic affirmations or negations as the media do; but because we would like to try to understand what the origin or the formation of the Etruscans was, I prayer you to have the goodness and the patience to read the whole detour that I introduce you.

To start from 1987 we have conducted a prolonged study on the Virgil’s Aeneid and on the mythical-historical antecedents. In particular way, we have examined the tradition of the consanguinity of the Etruscans of Corito Tarquinia with the Trojans. The results were published above all in the “Accademia Nazionale Virgiliana di Mantova”, in the University of “Innsbruck”, of “Genova” and of “Bari and Roma Tre”.

 In 1994, the geneticists Luigi Cavalli Sforza and Alberto Piazza, together to the ecologist Paolol Menozzi, have made known that the genetic characteristics of those people that today live in the region of the ancient Etruria, they are notably different from those of other Italians. With this, the geneticists held possible that the Etruscans were a immigrant people, as proposed by the tradition of the relations with the Trojans. The geneticists also concluded that more reliable data could come from the genetic examination of the inhabitants of the  presumed native regions.

 At the International Congress Anatolisch und Indogermanisch (Anatolico ed Indo-Europeo University of Pavia in 1998), I brought a contribution entitled “Tarconte, a  mythical-historical bridge between Tarquinia and Troy”, where I introduced a long series of documents in order to show that the Etruscams, rightly or wrongly, but perhaps to reason, believed to be related with the Trojans. In that same occasion I did note that the name of Tarconte (eponymous anatolian founder of Tarquinia “etr. Tarchuna”), finds comparison in that of the anatolian god Tarui or Tarhui or Tarhun or Tarhunt. From the Hittite texts results that this god was the protector of Taruisa or *Tarhuisa (Troy), and that from him the city had taken the name. The names of Troy and Tarquinia would derive therefore from that same divinity.

With regard to that intervention, Robert Beekes (teacher at the University of Leiden “Holland”), wrote: <<A. Palmucci argues that there is evidence that the story of Aeneas in Italy was preceded by a version where the journey from Troy went to Etruria. If this is correct, it is of great importance: the Romans will not have made such a story, so it will be an Etruscan story, telling that they came from Troy…>>”[1].

In one subsequent my work on The Origin of the Etruscans in the Etruscans Sources[2], I also hoped that, sooner or later, the geneticists gave a significant confirmation. And at last the geneticists have given it, so that, in America, Christopher Wilhelm (Mayfield Senior School of California, U.S.A), said that the work of the geneticists “point to a genetic affinity between populations in Tuscany and Anatolia”, and then he concluded that “such evidence substantiates in large meas­ure the dizzying variety of legendary traditions among the Etruscans listed by Palmucci, unearthed by archae­ology or recorded by Classical commentators and docu­mented from as early as the sixth century BCE, asserting origins in Asia Minor and specifically in Troy, traced back to Aeneas or to Paris among others[3].

 In 2004, in fact, a prestigious American magazine of genetics, followed in 2006 from an equally authoritative English magazine, published the data obtained by geneticist team of Guido Barbujani during an investigation conducted on the comparison both of DNAmt of the ancient Etruscans and DNAmt of those people that today live in Italy, in Europe, in the North of Africa and in the Near East. I must thank Barbujani to have furnished me the original English texts of the publications, and to have me so freed by the advertising informations that I had received from the media.

 At the end of the investigation, the team found that the DNAmt of the ancient Etruscans has some similarity with that of the actual inhabitants of those parts of Italy that correspondent to the old Etruria. Both the Dna (the ancient one and the modern one) didn’t showed significant similarities with that of the other Italian and European regions (Sardinia included). They resembled however from a side to that of some actual populations of Germany and Cornwall, and from the other to that of the actual populations of the southern coasts of the Mediterranean and the Near East. The 28 investigated skeletons had been taken from Tarquinia, Magliano, Castelfranco, Castelluccio, Volterra, Capua and Adria. They come from different places, but they do not show among them meaningful genetic differences.

 From this homogeneity, Barbujani deduced that the various people that had composed the Etruscan Federation had ethnically constituted a homogeneous nation. Then, the fact that their genetic characteristics didn’t have a great correspondence with those of the actual “Etruscans” it made him think that the DNA of the ancient investigated skeletons exclusively belonged to the dominant class derived by the invading people. This class would also have introduced the language; and after the Roman conquest, it would have disappeared together with the language. Nevertheless, in a job (“Aufidus” 2007 “62-63”), published by the l’Università of Bari and Rome Tre, I did present that the similarity of the DNAmt of the Etruscans with that of the today’s Germanic and oriental people could be also due to unity of race with the one or the other people or with both separately, and that unity of race and migrations could be also compatible the one with the other.

 In April 2007, the geneticists of Anthony Torroni’s team published in the above quoted American magazine the results of a new search. The team had studied the DNAmt of 322 Tuscans that live from at least three generations in Murlo, Volterra and Valley of the Casentino. They compared then it with that of other 15,000 subjects of 55 populations of Italy, of Europe, of the northern Africa and of the near East.

 I thank Torroni to have sent me the text English of the publication.

  His team found a connection up to 17,5% between the DNAmt of the actual Tuscans and that of the actual inhabitants of the near East (Turkey, Jordan and Syria), of the coasts of North-Africa and of the Aegean Islands (Rhodes and Lemnos). This last island is in front of Troy. As the same team says, It is particularly interesting that the modern population of   Lemnos has two important particularities. From a side it has genetic similarities with the Tuscans, but from the other side “it is an outlier in the genetic landscape, with particular features distinguishing it from both modern European and Near Eastern populations”.

 We observed that Lemnos is too much a small island because an its possible emigration in to Italy could have determined the genetic characteristics of the Etruscans. The genetic similarities made instead possible the hypothesis of an emigration from Etruria in to Lemno and the other Aegean islands, without excluding a migration of return. This brought me to reconsider the affirmations of certain Greek historians according to which the Etruscans colonized Lemnos and other Aegean islands among which Samotracia. From here, then, according to the Virgilian tradition, Dardanus brought the Etruscans of Corito Tarquinia on the western coasts of north of Anatolia, and here they even founded Troy. This last news can arouse wonder because the Trojan civilization is by far more ancient than that etruscan. Troy, nevertheless, was destroyed more times and more times reconstructed, before and after the Homeric events, and until the XI sec. a.C. 

 According to Blegen, the town was destroyed by an earthquake in ca. 1,300 a.C. It was then reconstructed, end then again destroyed by Achaei in ca. 1,180 a.C. while Priamos was its king. According to Greek an Latin tradition, five generations  pass between Dardanus (Founder of Troy) and Priamos, just the time that elapses between the 1,300 and the 1,180 a.C. To day the archaelogical records show that In the middle of these two dates, pottery of Italian model  appear in Greece, in all Oriental Mediterranean Sea, and even in Troy. For example, cups with handles which finish with sticks or with horns of smail. Particularly those with stick appear for the first time at  “Luni sul Mignone” (next Tarquinia), in Italy, and later they appear in island of Lesbo and in Troy. And if we wanted to give a possibility of credit to the Virgilian tradition we should leave the door open to the fact that a people from central Tyrrhenian Italy (maybe the Twrwsha or Peleshet of the Sea’s People) could have participated to the reconstruction of Troy. 

 In my quoted essay of year 2007, I did present both to Barbujani and to Torroni that not it may be at all pacific that there is been an only migration and in an only time. The migration could have been spaced out in various periods, or it could have happened for groups of people as it happened for those from Europe to America; not only, but each could have had tails. And as the migrations in to America departed from different States of western Europe, as it have happened for those coming in Etruria from the Near East. This also because the traditions speak of various people emigrated in Etruria as Trojans, Mysians, Lydians, Lemnians and Pelasgians. This way, the Etruscan Federation could also have been composed from various groups of different city for origin, but with slightly different genetic characteristics..

The genetic characters of the Tuscans with that of some inhabitants of Aegean island of Rhodes and Lemnos (the latter in front of Troy) appear instead more circumscribed because the Torroni’s team found  that the population of Lemno is “an outlier in the genetic landscape, with particular features distinguishing it from both modern European and Near Eastern populations”.

I recall that Lemnos is an island placed about 25 miles in front of Troy, and that really in Lemnos we have been found inscriptions  in a language similar to that Etruscan.

 To make this evidence productive in historical field I suggested to insert it in the study of the recent archaeological finds, of the characteristics of the language, of the ancient historical and literary sources that related the Etruscans with the oriental people  both on line ascendancy and descending. I have made this study. It is of next press, and I will also publish it on Internet. It is enough long, and I won’t be here to sum up it to don’t  become  excessively long and pedantic. I recall only that all oriental Mediterranean sea present ceramics of Italian model, and I recall also that cups with handles which finish with sticks or with horns of smail have found even in Troy VII. Particularly those with stick appear for the first time at “Luni sul Mignone” (next Tarquinia), in Italy, and then they appear in island of Lesbo and in Troy. Central Tyrrheniamn Italy (but only in the region near Tarquinia) in its turn shows mycenaenan ceramics and manufactured from the Near East and even of Trojan tipology. The Trojans could have followed the course that the Miceaneans had already opened from the fourteenth century before Christ to approach themselfs in the Valley of the River Mignone (future region of Tarquinia).

 At this moment, the old sites “origini etruschi” and “etruschi-dna.” are partially valid still. 

 My essay of 2007 was also very known because republished and adjourned more times in Internet. With regard to my works, Valeria Forte, teacher to the University in Dallas (Texas, U.S.A.), in her study[4], said to include “the opinion of today’s renowned contemporary etruscologists such as Pallottino, Palmucci, Munzi and others” (p. 4). Among the other things, she explained: “Alberto Pal­mucci, a prominent Etruscologist living in Italy,” opened “a dialogue with European and American scholars in both academic papers and electronic blogs (p.42). In es­sence, Palmucci argues that although genetic testing on both humans and bovines has revealed similarities between ancient Etruscan DNA and the DNA of people and cattle found today in eastern regions, this study does not conclusively determine Etruscan origins. Pal­mucci introduces a very intriguing element to the debate of Etrus­can origins when he argues that we should not as­sume that a common genetic DNA between Etruscans and Near Eastern populations proves the origin of the Etrus­cans in Asia Minor. Palmucci states that Etruscans may have moved from the Italian penin­sula toward the eastern lands, and this migration may have taken the form of a cir­cular pattern of departing from and returning to the Italian coasts. To validate this hypothe­sis Palmucci provides toponymical data, linguistic analysis, and references to the most spectacular archaeological artifacts left by the Etrus­cans (p. 43). After having remembered “the writing of Virgil, ac­cording to whom the Etruscans departed from Còrito (later called Tarquinia) sailing east and then returning to etrus­can shores” (p. 49), Valeria Forte finally concluded that “Palmucci is one of the most active classicists … and one who en­gages in the Etruscan debate at many levels: his com­ments and opinios are supported by his impressive knowl­edge of the Etruscan civilization and he expresses them in the form internet blogs in which he debates experts from around the world” (p. 50).

  Let us go now on the relationship published in date 06/02/2013 from the team coordinated by Barbujani and by Caramellli.

  The team collected 30 specimens  of bones belonging above all from different  individuals of central and northern Etruria, and it has examined their DNAmt. It examined then the DNA of 370 modern Tuscans (from Casentino, Volterra, Murlo and Florence), and it found that the ancient Etruscan DNA has similarities with that of the actual inhabitants of Casentino and Volterra, but not with that of Murlo and Florence. The team so concluded that the rest of the today’s Tuscan population doesn’t generally have connection anymore with the ancient Etruscan Dna. However I think that to support a similar thesis the team would not have had to limite itself to examine only the Dna of the today’s inhabitants of Casentino, Volterra, Murlo and Florence, but it would have had to extend the test at least to inhabitants of the regions of Tarquinia, of Vulci and of Cerveteri. And here we enter into the heart of the matter because just Tarquinia, Vulci and Cerveteri are the greatest and ancient centers of the ancient Etruria. And it is from their regions that the Greek and Roman traditions made to depart both the mythical migrations toward east (above all Virgil and Strabon) and those as many mythical toward the Etruria (above all Lycofron, Varro and Virgil). And Tarquinia (Corneto-Còrito) besides is the epicentro of the mythical italic diaspora toward the Aegean islands and Troy (Virgilio, Eneide, passim), and it is also the center of the mythical return of the Trojans into Italy (Lycofron, Alessandra 1240 ss.; Virgilio, Eneide, passim).

 We already said that, in the past, both Barbujani that Torroni had noticed a certain similarity between the Dna of the actual Turks and that of the actual Tuscans, and with this they had hypothesized that to the origins of the Etruscan nation had been a migration from the East in Italy.

I don’t know if Barbujabi read my article. Today, however, he is among the authors of the relationship published on PLOS (06/02/2013).

On page 5, the geneticists textually write:


back to the issue of the Etruscans’ origin, if the genetic resemblance between Turks and Tuscans reflects a common origin just before the onset of the Etruscan culture, as hypothesized by Herodotus and as considered in some recent studies, we would expect that the two populations separated about 3,000 years ago. To discriminate between the potentially similar effect of remote common origin and recent gene flow, we ran four independent analyses based on the IM method. In the model we tested, the two populations originate from a common ancestor, and may or not may exchange migrants after the split. Assuming an average generation time of 25 years and no migration after the split from common ancestor, the most likely separation time between Tuscany and Western Anatolia falls around 7,600 years ago, with a 95% credible interval between 5,000 and 10,000”. 


More after, on page 6, they say then:


“The likely separation of the Tuscan and Anatolian gene pools must be placed long before the onset of the Etruscan culture, at least in Neolithic times.”


Even more after, on page 7, they repeat:


“Contacts between people from the Eastern Mediterranean shores and Central Italy date back to a remote stage of prehistory, possibly to the spread of farmers from the Near East during the Neolithic period … At any rate, these contacts occurred much earlier than, and hence appear unrelated with, the onset of the Etruscan culture”.  


Reported In Italian words, the members of the team say that if the genetic similarity between Turks and Tuscans reflects a common origin that dates from a time that is before the beginning of the Etruscans civilization, we would expect that the two populations separated about 3,000 years ago. They assert that Instead, from the champions of examined DNA, it emerges that the two populations originated from a very more ancient common ancestor. The geneticists say also that  those two populations “may or not may exchange migrants after the split”, but  that “Assumingno migration after the split from common ancestor” and an generation time of 25 years, the most likely separation time between Tuscany and Western Anatolia falls around 7,600 years ago, with a 95% credible interval between 5,000 and 10,000”. Here, the negation of second migration is assumed at first glance, but it is not denied.

 According to the team, the split from common ancestor would be happened during the Neolithic, perhaps at the time when some contacts happened between the oriental Mediterranean and Italy and central Europe: in every case these contacts happened before of the born of Etruscan civilization.

 I have no objections to be to that both today’s Turks (as partly descending of the ancient anatolians) and the today’s Tuscans can go up again to a commune ancient ancestor of 7.600 years ago. Scientifically however this doesn’t implicates that after that time following moves of people have not happened from the one and on the other side. Rather really the ancient relative can have favoured them.

 If finally it is admissible that in neolithic epoch a migration happened from the oriental coasts of the Medterranean sea in Europe and in Italy, this should implicate that today for the most part of Europe we should find a value of genetic similarity with the Turks more or less equal to those today we find between Tuscans and Turks. But that is not. The value of the Dna of the Tuscans is clearly superior to that of the other Europeans. Therefore, without denying the native migration from the Anatolia to Europe at the times of the Neolithic, it would also need however to admit that the most greater similarity that the Tuscan Dna has with that of the Turks today should be due to one or to more following immigrations, just as  the ancient Greek and Latin traditions allow to suppose. It is clear that these contacts between people of the oriental Mediterranean and the population of Apennian civilization of the Tyrrhenian coasts of central Italy had to happen before the born of Etruscan nation. In fact, in Etruria, the territory that then in historic epoch will belong to Tarquinia shows contacts with the mycenaean world and generally with the oriental Mediterranean that  go up again up to the XIV century a.C.

By this intention it would have been very interesting to analyse the DNA both of those people that  lived in central Tyrrhenian Italy during the last centuries of the second millennium before Christ and both of those people that there lived  in the first centuries of the first millennium a.C. and then to compare it with that of the populations that at that time lived in Anatolia (Troade, Misia, Arzawa, etc.) and in the islands Egeee (Lemno, Imbro, Samotracia, Lesbo, etc.). Barbuiani and the members o his team sustain that


“As for the Etruscans’ origins, ancient Dna is of little use, because pre-Etruscan dwellers of Central Italy, of the Villanovian culture, cremated their dead, and hence their genetic features are unknown”.


 But not all the Etruscans of central Italy, (of culture improperly called Villanovian)  cremated their corpses. In their necropolises the most greater part of the tombs have  cremations, but there are also tombs with burials. And since, at least in ancient, to be cremated or interred it was not an any option, but it implicated a different religious conception of the world and the thereafter, the co-presence difference  in the burials of the epoch could be indicative of the difference of two cultures that were met.         


         Alberto Palmucci   

[1] R. S. P. Beekes, The Origin of the Etrurians, Koninklijke Nederlands Akade­mia van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam, 2003, p. 56.

[2] Alberto Palmucci , Le Origini degli Etruschi nelle FontiEtrusche, “Bollettino Società Tarquiniense di Arte e Storia”, 2002

[3] C. Wihlelm, The Aeneid and Italian Prehistory, pp- 1-2.

[4] V. Forte, Archaeology and Nationalism: the Troian Legend in Etruria, The Univerity of Texas at Arlington, dicembre 2008. dspace.uta.edu/bitstream/handle/10106/…/Forte_uta_2502M-10074.pdf?…1

DNA ETRUSCANS AND TROYultima modifica: 2013-03-13T11:07:23+01:00da palmucci1
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