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Thread: Ancient Rome: A genetic crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    Proto-Villanovian is a great example of a culture that is likely not a simple ethnic type thing. It appears to be multi-ethnic and have swept a wide area and apparently included both Italics and Etruscans. I think urnfield in general is similar and is impossible to infer much from. Its frustrating not having a clearer idea of the origins of the Italics though. There doesnt seem to be a decent enough time slice of Italy in ancient DNA samples c. 2500-1000BC to understand the origins of the Italic peoples. I do like the linguistic model that Italic was located north of the Alps for a long period and crossed into Italy at least twice though with the Latins among the early wave. I find this aspect much more interesting than the rise of Rome itself but not many people seem to have posted about this.
    The extension of the Proto-Villanovan Culture over most of Italy does suggest that it was indeed multi-ethnic.

    There were at least 2 linguistic waves for "Italic"...Latin-Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian.

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    Its an obvious point to make retrospectively but if (as appears to be the case) that Italics are similar to Italian bell beaker both in yDNA (U152) and in autosomal DNA and of course have yDNA links with west central Europe too, then they had to have come from a time and/or place where such a population existed.

    So, this has a bearing on the time/place that the Italics arrived in Italy from. It is apparent in general post-beaker DNA that some areas of central and western Europe experienced much greater beaker continuity deep into the bronze age than others. The sampling is not good enough to draw a perfect border between the continuity zone vs the zone of significant post-beaker change. However, there appears from both ancient DNA evidence that the zone of beaker continuity included what was later Gaul and probably SW Germany too. It did not include central Germany, Czech-Slovak area, Austria, Holland etc.

    In addition we know that the beaker groups around Hungary etc on the middle Danube did not conform to typical western beaker as they had other yDNA like Z2103 etc. So, it seems likely that that area can be ruled out too. I am not aware of P312 as a significant ylineage in bronze age south-central or SE Europe beyond the former beaker zone.

    This is important as the Italics seem to have come from a U152 beaker type DNA carrying group very similar to Italian bell beaker itself. That is not to say Italic HAD to derive in situ from Italian bell beaker although its possible. But if we are considering a post-beaker era source north of the Alps as the origin of Italics then I think we must conclude the Italics came from the zone of strong beaker continuity, especially on the yDNA lines. So, I would tend to rule out the Danube except its upper stretch, the Balkans and pretty well anywhere in central Europe east of south Germany/western Austria as an possible post-beaker origin zone for Italics before moving to Italy. It seems to me that, whatever the date, the Italics entered Italy broadly in a north to south direction through the central Alps on the tradjectory of South-Germany to Italy via Alps of the west of Austria/east of Switzerland. I cannot see any rational in ancient DNA for seeking their origins in the Adriatic Balkans, any other part of the Balkans or anywhere east of southern Germany.

    Obviously the sample is far too small to be 100% certain but it seems the Latins (and from comments made by Davidski the Umbrians) have the sort of origin I describe in what you could broadly call the genetically conservative area of post-beaker central Europe which included all of what became Gaul and apparently south Germany.

    This doesnt tell us WHEN of course. The when of it all can still range from beaker times itself to as late as Urnfield. But if it was urnfield it must have come from a subset of west urnfield that was genetically conservative and still closely matched the beaker era. The total U152 dominance looks more like the upper Danube/Alpine zone than anywhere further east or south-east. Further west France looks rather varied in P312 subclades in the bronze age so I doubt it was from that far west. There are of course periods between beaker and urnfield in Italy that are seen as invasive by many including the immediate post-beaker era Polada and others too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cascio View Post
    The extension of the Proto-Villanovan Culture over most of Italy does suggest that it was indeed multi-ethnic.

    There were at least 2 linguistic waves for "Italic"...Latin-Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian.
    I do find the two waves of Italic theory very plausible. With the 2nd wave being effected more by languages that encouraged a Q-P shift. Its interesting that in the case of Celtic some linguists explain the Q-P shift as possibly relating to Etruscan-Rhaetian type languages effecting Hallstatt D Celts in the north Alpine zone who were closely in contact with both. It kind of make me wonder if the same languages didnt also cause the Q-P shift in the P-Italic branch and somehow due to chronology, speed of movement or the particular route into Italy, the Q forms avoided this. Problem is we dont know for sure the age or locations of any of the languages in Italy prior to the Iron Age. Some accounts and theories would suggest major shifts in extents and locations of languages through the bronze age so its very hard to reconstruct what happened. Although a far better sample of ancient DNA across Italy c. 2500-800BC would make a huge difference. It seems totally inadequate at present. They kind of need a lot of samples for every c. 300 year time-slice across the whole of Italy to fully understand what happened. Something as detailed as the recent paper on Ireland for instance.

    But what little we have (a small amount of Latin iron age samples and some comments on the Umbrians being similar from Davidski) does IMO point to an origin in a pretty genetically conservative U152 beaker-derived population from no further east than the north Alpine/upper Danube zone while and no further west than Switzerland. Personally I tend to think that both proto-villanovian and Urnfield look like they were not major consistent linguistic or genetic changers so suspect earlier periods may be when the ancestors of the Italics entered Italy. The way those Latin and Umbrian samples seem to be v similar to Italian beaker on both yDNA and autosomal DNA is a strong parallel to the way the Gauls also seem to emerge out of a beaker population with beaker yDNA lines and much of their autosomal DNA too.
    Last edited by alan; 07-26-2020 at 12:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cascio View Post
    The extension of the Proto-Villanovan Culture over most of Italy does suggest that it was indeed multi-ethnic.

    There were at least 2 linguistic waves for "Italic"...Latin-Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian.
    Is multi-ethnic the right word for two similar people of the same background?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nino90 View Post
    Is multi-ethnic the right word for two similar people of the same background?
    Yes.
    We refer to,say, the French or Belgians (at least the Walloons) as different ethnicities, or the Spanish and Portuguese, though they are respectively West European and SW European.
    Last edited by Cascio; 07-30-2020 at 11:03 AM.

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