Thursday, December 04, 2008

Another Etruscan DNA Study...

David Meadows at rogueclassicism points us to yet another article studying the DNA of those ever-enigmatic (sigh) "Etruscans" and attempting to show links to Anatolia:

F. Brisighelli et al., The Etruscan timeline: a recent Anatolian connection
European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 3 December 2008; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2008.224

I will make just a couple of comments on the short report. They sampled the mitochondrial DNA of 258 modern Tuscans (from Arezzo, Chiusi, Collevecchio, Elba, Magliano Sabina, Monte Fiascone, Pitigliano, Tarquinia, Tuscania, and Vulci), of which 63 were "compatible with typical Near Eastern haplogroups," "show[ed] ambiguous haplogroup affiliation," or could provide "some phylogeographic information at the control region level." Only in the title and the historical introduction, referencing Herodotus, do the authors draw any specifically Anatolian connection; the science simply indicates the presence of haplogroups with generally Near Eastern counterparts. I guess Anatolia is an inference from the Father of Lies?

Brisighelli et al. point out a relatively high frequency of "the typical Near Eastern U7 haplogroup" in the samples from Elba. Within these samples they identify a new sub-branch of the U7a2 haplogroup, which haplogroup is known from only two other individuals, a Pakistani and an Andalusian. The amount of variation in this new sub-branch, U7a2a, is then used to calculate the arrival of a single founder on the island in the range 1.1plusminus0.1 to 2.3plusminus0.4 kya B.P., that is, 450 BCE plusminus400 years to 850 CE plusminus 100 years. This elicited David's comment, "... not sure about the dating there; even on the 'outside' end, it seems a bit short, no?" The authors suggest that this is "compatible with the Etrurian culture (9th-1st century BC)." Intensive working of the Elban mines began in the 6th century BCE; I don't know much about the earlier history of the island. But with a time span as wide as that, it seems just as probable that the haplogroup founder on Elba was a Byzantine or a Saracen... and that's all I'm going to say about that.


Gioiello said...

Dear Diffendale, if you are a Latinist, can you give me some explications on the "Tombstone of Siddin and Peregrinus,
sons of Siddin and Marcia, Larino (CB), Italy"? Not everything is perspicuous.

Dan Diffendale said...

Sure... I translate it as,
"To the shades of the departed. Siddin and Marcia made this for their most sweet and deserving children, Siddin and Peregrinus, who died on July 20 and August 14 in their first year."

Anonymous said...

Modern Tuscans? Magliano Sabina, Monte Fiascone, Tarquinia, Tuscania, and Vulci are in Latium region, not in Tuscany.