Origin of the Etruscans

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Origin of the Etruscans

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Apr 17, 2004 2:50 pm

Salvete,

All of you probably know the two main theories about the origin of the Etruscans (many others, of recent making exist though, linking them to almost any known civilisation in a range of a few thousands of kilometers around Etruria) : Herodotos' version tells that they emigrated from Lydia in Asia Minor, Dionysios of Halikarnassos claims they are autochtonous Italia. In the recent past, unanimity among historians was increasing that the latter theory was right, especially as many characteristic traits of the Villanova civilisation, which preceded the Etruscans, also showed in the Etruscan civilisation itself, thus establishing that Etruscan culture would simply be a more advanced continuation of Villanova culture.

The documentary on France 2 that I just saw however (it was also broadcasted at noon) introduced yet another theory, very recently authored by an Italian geneticist, Alberto Piazza. After a genetical analysis of the population of Murlo, a secluded village in present day Tuscany (=Etruria), which has strong Etruscan biological roots (this appears to be established not only by their own claims, but also by comparison with fossile Etruscan DNA), Piazza concluded that the genetical link with Asia Minor is real, and thus, that, contrary to the consensus of the archaeologists that had just been established, Herodotos' theory would be right...

Before passing any judgment on this new theory though, I would like to look up Piazza's books or article(s) published on the subject, and the reviews/criticisms (if any yet, seen the recent announcement of it) his theory has already received. Unfortunately, I did not find any additional information related to his research on the net. Anyway, speculations and discussions can once again begin :wink:

Valete,

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:19 pm

Salve

Genetic link when? We all originated in Africa and passed through Asia Minor at some time. What has in the past been identified as Indo-Europeans, Gimbusta's theory that they were the horsemen of the Asian steppes, is probably wrong. The core of the Indo-Europeans were the agriculturalists of Syria, who first appear in the historical record with the Hittites as those tribes in western Asia Minor speaking an Indo-European languages, and have been connected genetically by Bryan Sykes to about 17% of modern Europeans. Their movement into Europe would coincide with the spread of Neolithic cultures such as the protovillanovans that eventually gave rise to the Etruscans and other Italic tribes. Neolithic agricultural villages spread from the Balkans into Apulia Italy first, and from there along the coast lines beginning around 6,000 BCE. But there is nothing like the Villanovans outside of Italy and so any theories of a later emigration from the east is unlikely.

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Origin of the Etruscans

Postby A Ambrosius Celetrus on Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:05 pm

Salvete Pomnponi attice et Moravi Horati,

Are either either of you familiar with the French historian and Indiologist Alain Danielou's theory of a loosely related Indo-Mediterranean culture existing prior to the Indo-European incursions? I gather some recent linguistic work is suggesting that Elamite, Etruscan, Pelasgian, Ligurian and other anomalous Mediterranean languages share roots with Dravidian.

Moravius, I am aware that there much controversy about Gimbutas' conclusions about the matrifocal nature of the Neolithic Old Europeans, but have not yet run into the assertion that the Indo-Europeans (Indo-Aryans and Indo-Iranians) did not originate from a central Asian homeland. Am I misreading your post?

Vale

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:53 pm

Salve Ambrosi Celetre,

Are either either of you familiar with the French historian and Indiologist Alain Danielou's theory of a loosely related Indo-Mediterranean culture existing prior to the Indo-European incursions? I gather some recent linguistic work is suggesting that Elamite, Etruscan, Pelasgian, Ligurian and other anomalous Mediterranean languages share roots with Dravidian.


Never heard of the man and his work, I must confess, but always eager to hear about his theory. Do you recall the title of that book you mention ?

Vale,

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Postby A Ambrosius Celetrus on Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:19 pm

Salve Pomponi Attice,

The book I read was "A Concise History of India," and I'm embarrassed to admit that it was the title that led me to believe that he was an historian. I just looked him up on the web and actually he was a musician and artist (quite honored and renowned I take it) who devoted himself to bringing the Hindu culture west. Sorry about that.

Still, I have read other works suggesting trade links (certainly) and cultural links (probably) between the Indus and Mediterranean civilization prior to Indo-E, I , A and Semitic incursions.

Anyway, I was just asking 'cause I wanted to know myself :oops:

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Jun 05, 2004 6:05 pm

Salve iterum,

The book I read was "A Concise History of India," and I'm embarrassed to admit that it was the title that led me to believe that he was an historian. I just looked him up on the web and actually he was a musician and artist (quite honored and renowned I take it) who devoted himself to bringing the Hindu culture west. Sorry about that.


Never mind. Although a vigorous Latin Inquisition is functioning in this society, we do not (yet?) have a Historical Inquisition, checking out members' sources and revealing their sins in source-criticism :lol:

Still, I have read other works suggesting trade links (certainly) and cultural links (probably) between the Indus and Mediterranean civilization prior to Indo-E, I , A and Semitic incursions.


Do enlighten us about this. I'm curious.

Vale,

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Postby Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus on Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:46 am

Salvete!

Not to speak ill of the dead, but hasn't Gimbusta has been debunked as a feminist who presented data to conform to her notion of the 'goddess cult'?
At any rate I'm weary of genetic data as individuals of the same ethnic group show just as much genetic variation as the differences between the races themselves and sometimes more.
Also, how do we know that the ancestors of the residents of Murlo did not migrate during, e.g., the late Empire - after Etruscan culture died? Or the Middle Ages? Or sometime after and the historians simply failed to notice?

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Origin of the Etruscans

Postby A Ambrosius Celetrus on Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:49 pm

Salve Tyrrhene Garrule,

From 1946 to 1971, Gimbutas published nearly 20 books and over three hundred articles on European prehistory. A Fellow at Harvard's Peabody Museam and Stanford's Center For Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, it is unfair, I think, to simply dismiss her as a "debunked feminist."

Her last three books were controversial and they were attacked by the mainstream archeological community, but much of that was because they crossed over from strict archeological reporting to, what she called, archeomythology. In other words, she committed the sin of interpreting prehistoric societies.

It is important to realize that 19th century male archeologists originally wanted to label the Neolithic societies Gimbutas focussed on as matriarchal. They abandoned this, no doubt with a sigh of relief, because they could not find evidence that women dominated men. I've read her last book (as well as some of her earlier technical papers), The Civilization of the Goddess. Eighty percent of it is a dry presentation of the evidence supporting the notion that, prior to the arrival of the Indo-Europeans, the religion of the Neolithic centered around Goddess worship, and that women were not marginalized and played an important role in society. Yes, she argued that the cultures were endogamous, matrilineal and matrilocal, but that does not constitute feminism.

However, there is absolutely no doubt that feminists have used and misused her data to support their own ideologies - Riane Eisler, and her The Chalice and The Blade, immediatly come to mind. I think Gimbutas' ideas have suffered form this "adoption." Unless some indisputable refutation of her archeology has been published in the last ten years (and if it has, I'd love to know), I don't think her archeomythological interpretation can be dismissed as mere feminist ranting. I did not read a feminist work, but that is only my humble opinion.

I know none of the above has anything to do with the topic, except perhaps that I suspect Theopompus of Chios would have hated Gimbutas too, and that the Etruscan women he wrote about with such hostility would have made her their own.

Vale

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Origin of the Etruscans

Postby A Ambrosius Celetrus on Wed Jun 09, 2004 4:11 pm

Salve Pomponi Attice,

Still, I have read other works suggesting trade links (certainly) and cultural links (probably) between the Indus and Mediterranean civilization prior to Indo-E, I , A and Semitic incursions.

Do enlighten us about this. I'm curious.

Vale,

Atticus


Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I cannot find one of my notebooks, where most of my sources on proto-Indo-Mediterranean studies are. I will keep looking. A History of India, Kulke, H. and Rothermund, D. of the Universties of Kiel and Heidelburg, has some information on the relations between the Harrapan civiliztion and Mesopotamia. You may also find this link interesting:

http://www.xlweb.com/heritage/skanda/dionysus.htm#Faces

Vale

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diluted evidence

Postby C Moravius Laureatus on Thu Jul 22, 2004 10:55 pm

Salvete,

I would echo my gensmate's doubts about evidence based on DNA technology...
Did you know for instance that humans and bananas share 34% of their DNA ? Can we infer that we did in the past share some common culture ?

Hope that helps, and it's good to visit every so often :D Life in the city can be tiring at times 8)

Valete

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Re: diluted evidence

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Jul 23, 2004 1:02 am

C. Moravius Laureatus wrote:Salvete,

I would echo my gensmate's doubts about evidence based on DNA technology...
Did you know for instance that humans and bananas share 34% of their DNA ? Can we infer that we did in the past share some common culture ?


Most people misinterpret procentual differences.

For example, in a world differing only 1% of ours, this 1% could be, for instance, that all people named Mohammed are called Mohommod instead.

But, since percentages don't govern items in terms of importance to human beings, this 1% difference may also be the following: the majority of the US citizens does not speak English, but German (so, again, only one item is different). But it's clearly one with vastly different implications.

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Re: Origin of the Etruscans

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sun Jul 25, 2004 2:53 pm

Salve Ambrosi Celetre

Ambrosius Celetrus wrote:Moravius, I am aware that there much controversy about Gimbutas' conclusions about the matrifocal nature of the Neolithic Old Europeans, but have not yet run into the assertion that the Indo-Europeans (Indo-Aryans and Indo-Iranians) did not originate from a central Asian homeland. Am I misreading your post?


Nice job on Gimbustas. I recall from anthropology classes some matrilineal societies in West Africa and among American plains Indians. Their social structure was somewhat different than patrilineal societies, but definitely not the ideal feminists would appreciate. Matrilineal and matrifocal does not equate with female dominance or even equality.

To distinguish her Old Europeans from the crowds, Gimbustas posed the IE as Asian horsemen. A problem with that is that the common IE root words have more agricultural terms than animal husbandry terms, and there is a split, east and west, within IE language groups over the terms of animal husbandry. There was once an assumption that all IE languages, stemming from one common source, implied a single ethnic origin of IE peoples. Language is something that can pass from one group to the next through cultural transmission rather than by migration or conquest, and I think that is the case we see with IE language groups. I think it is becoming clearer that there were different ethnic and cultural groups that adopted IE languages, those who brought horses to Europe being one of these. Instead of saying Indo-Europeans maybe we should use Indo-European peoples to distinguish that there were different cultural groups interacting and forming hybred languages. But for the original language from which IE language developed, I think you have to look for an agricultural group in southwestern Asia. The earliest identifiable IE language, which is also the closest to the root IE language, are those found in the western portion of the Hittite Empire. They may have originally migrated there from northern Syria as Sykes suggests, o they originated in western Turkey/Balkans and adopted agriculture. At any rate, straddling the Bosporus, they were at a crossroads where diverse people intermingled. Perhaps IE arose as the first international language in those parts. Certainly when it spread from there it was by diverse peoples and not any single group.

We can better trace the spread of agriculture. In Italy agriculture first spread to Apulia from the Balkans, as in Gimbustas' studies. From Apulia it then spread along the Italian coasts some time shortly after 6000 BP. The peoples who gave rise to the Etruscans adopted agriculture, but not an IE language. That is, Iron Age Villanovan material culture is found among peoples speaking three distinct languages - Etruscan, Latin, and Novilari. But there is continuity between Villanovans and Bronge Age Protovillanovans, and continuity between Protovillanovans and earlier Neolithic cultures. That suggests one of two things. The language distinction existed prior to the introduction of agriculture, or that one group adopted IE language along with agriculture while another group did not. I don't recall now if Novilari is thought an IE language, but the same applies there. There was a crescent of Protovillanovan culture, stretching from the Adriatic along the Po and then down the Tyrrhennian coast. Elsewhere there were other agricultural societies in Italy, some which later we know had IE languages, and others that we don't know anything about.

Multiplicity seems to be the case whether you are speaking of material cultures or language groups, and one would suspect ethnicity as well. These overlap one another. The old assumptions I do not think apply. Language alone does not equate with culture, material culture, social structure or ethnicity. You cannot assume that if a group of agriculturalists had horses that they were IE's or spoke an IE language. Or if they were agriculturalists and didn't have horses that they did not speak an IE language. By the time we can distinguish out one group from the next, it is too complex a situation to make simple assertions or rely on simple assumptions.

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Re: Origin of the Etruscans

Postby A Ambrosius Celetrus on Sun Jul 25, 2004 4:57 pm

Ave Moravi,

M Moravi Horati Piscine wrote: Multiplicity seems to be the case whether you are speaking of material cultures or language groups, and one would suspect ethnicity as well. These overlap one another. The old assumptions I do not think apply. Language alone does not equate with culture, material culture, social structure or ethnicity. You cannot assume that if a group of agriculturalists had horses that they were IE's or spoke an IE language. Or if they were agriculturalists and didn't have horses that they did not speak an IE language. By the time we can distinguish out one group from the next, it is too complex a situation to make simple assertions or rely on simple assumptions.


I couldn't agree more, but I'll need more time to draft an in-depth reply. For now, I must say that I still cannot come up with this Western Turkey/Syria origin for the Indo-European language. My understanding of current scholarship is that Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, and Indo-Aryan languages all derive from a common Central Asian ancestral language, but that their dissemination amongst autochthonous Neolithic peoples did not occur in temporally isolable "invasions" or mass migrations, but rather through successive incursions over thousands of years.

Rembember, Gimbutas wrote her controversial last three books between 30-13 years ago, and even then was building on the an Indo-European theory that has existed since the late 1700's. A lot has changed, and is changing in the archeology surrounding the Neolithic/Bronze Age transition. I cannot offer any thoughts on your informative discussion about the Italian Peninsula, but I can offer this parallel.

When I was at university, about 5 years after Gimbutas began publishing her theories regarding Old Europe and the Indo-European invasions, the Harappan culture of the Indus valley was still taught to be an oupost of the Sumerians. This even though its origins were traced in 1974 to Baluchistan 8000 bp. From there it spread into the river valley, and its language was of Dravidian base (incidentally, you don't have to go to the Plains Indians or West Africa to find matrilineal culture. Contemporary, thoroughly modern Dravidians in southern Indian are just such peoples). It was thought that the Harappan culture died out before the arrival of the Indo-Aryans. Since the late 90's it has been shown that the Harappan culture was not confined to the Indus Valleys (an outpost of this civilization existed in the vicinity of Kabul), and that contact with Indo-Aryan tribes did occur long before the main thrust of their incursion across the Hindu Kush into the sub-continent.

Shoot, I was going to make this short! The point of this rambling is that I agree that multiplicity is the case, and the cultural, linguistic and genetic mingling was far too complex and temporally dispersed for a simple "along came the big bad Kurgans from the steppes with their Sky Gods, out went the peaceful Goddess worshipping indigenes" to explain what happened, but neither are Gimbutas' theories "debunked feminism."

Oh yeah, and the Indo-Europeans didn't originate in Syria. :)

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 2:58 am

Salve Ambrosi

There are different theories about where the Indo-Europeans may have originated. Gimbustus placed them north of the Caspian Sea. Others claimed they started in Europe. Hodge had them as far south as the area around the Sinai, and another posed they started as far north as the North Pole. I am not referring to modern Syria but to ancient Syria, which extended a little further north. Renfrew placed the IE origin in what today would be central and southeastern Turkey, while Gamkrelidze and Ivanov place them further east around Armenia. I tend to agree with these views rather than the Central Asia theory. That is, the northern area of what has been called the Fertile Crescent, or the mountainous area just north of it. Anyway J. P. Mallory discusses some of the theories in his [i]In Search of the Indo-Europeans[/i}, 1989. There is probably newer theories by now, but there is no agreement on what we mean by IE, let alone where they originated.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Aug 01, 2004 1:11 am

Salvete Ambrosi et Piscine,

First a quick comment about changes in the world of archeology: this is not true for the study of reconstructed proto-languages. Very few scholars work in this field, and it's a discipline that requires the mastering of at least four or five other disciplines. So I wouldn't take theories on language as a good complement to theories of archeology, but rather the other way around.

M Moravi Horati Piscine wrote:There are different theories about where the Indo-Europeans may have originated. Gimbustus placed them north of the Caspian Sea. Others claimed they started in Europe. Hodge had them as far south as the area around the Sinai, and another posed they started as far north as the North Pole. I am not referring to modern Syria but to ancient Syria, which extended a little further north. Renfrew placed the IE origin in what today would be central and southeastern Turkey, while Gamkrelidze and Ivanov place them further east around Armenia. I tend to agree with these views rather than the Central Asia theory. That is, the northern area of what has been called the Fertile Crescent, or the mountainous area just north of it. Anyway J. P. Mallory discusses some of the theories in his [i]In Search of the Indo-Europeans[/i}, 1989. There is probably newer theories by now, but there is no agreement on what we mean by IE, let alone where they originated.


Actually, Gamkrelidze and Ivanov make a very strong case on linguistic evidence.

The theory posed by Grimm and his followers in the 19th century and later (and this is still being taught at most universities) make Aramaeic and Georgic languages, along with Germanic languages, the farthest evolved languages from the "source", that is to say, the original proto-IE, with older languages like Latin and ancient Greek being closer to the core language (and thus, the core area of expansion of the IE people, whatever that may mean).

Now, the problem with this theory is that there is no single language on this planet that actually reflects the phonemic and typological inventory for the reconstructed proto-IE by Grimm. So Gamkrelidze and Ivanov have reversed the entire system, claiming that Germanic and Georgic languages are actually much more conservative, while Latin, ancient Greek et al went through more significant evolutions. This reconstruction would be typologically correct, and would raise even more questions about the area of origin of the original speakers of proto-IE.

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Postby A Ambrosius Celetrus on Mon Aug 02, 2004 4:48 pm

Salvete Omnes!

I would certainly agree that linguistic evidence is of somewhat limited value and there are many cases of widely differing cultures sharing similar languages. Most modern Jamaicans for example would not appear to be of primarily Indo-European extraction!

I've come across a couple of things recently that may not add much to the arguement but I found interesting anyway. Apparently the Northern theory of Etruscan origins was supported by the presence of people in the Alps (Raetia, I think it was) speaking a form of the Etruscan language. In ancient times this was seen as a debased outpost of that civilisation but now it's widely felt that it was just a remaining pocket of people still speaking a pre-Indo-European language related to Etruscan. Either way these people were the most tenacious in maintaining their mother tongue in the face of cultural and migratory pressures. I found it interesting that in this same approximate region now the people retain the old Romansch language which descends directly from the Latin that presumably displaced their Etruscan language. Their tenaciousness seems to be hereditary!

The other thing was that there seems to be a link between the language and culture of ancient Sumer and those of modern Finns and Hungarians. If this is true, and it seems to be a popular theory on Magyar based websites, it would seem to raise some interesting questions about the movements of languages/cultures/peoples given the very earliness and sophistication of Sumer and the apparent late arrival of the Magyars in Europe and the apparent 'primitiveness' of many Finno-Ugric steppe and forest dwellers well into historical times.

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etruscans

Postby turancllancath on Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:23 pm

Hello i,m new :) :) :) From the Netherlands.
I,m very interested ( long years already ) in Etruscan history.
I hold an MA in history.
As usual we spent our summer holidays in Lazio at Tarquinia.( at the seaside )
Hope to discus a lot about Etruscans etc.
Greetings from rainy Holland .
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:04 pm

Salve Turan!

Glad to see you arrived. There is at times too many of us Romani in SVR, and those Hellenes, too. We could use a great deal more on the Etruscan in SVR. I am looking forward to reading your posts.

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Etruscan history.

Postby turancllancath on Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:28 pm

Thanks for the friendly welcome :):):)
Seemsthat some of you know me ?
I greatly enjoyed the articles by Moravius about Archaic Italy and by Dionysius about Etruria.

My opinions at the moment ( more scientific arguments will follow )are that The eastern origins theory of the Etruscans doesnt hold anymore.
At the beach i did read ( its true no joking ) Herodotus .
And did read much other books at the caravan about Etruscans.
And had time to reflect .
I did read also an older weltempered welbalanced book by Wilhelm von Vacano.
Very prudent not flying to high book.
His wel balanced opinions are very interesting.

So at this moment i,m more pro Pallotino an development from protovillanova to villanova to Etruscan.
But that doesnt exclude theinflux of small groups from the East.

Compare it to Normendy 911 ac.
The war bands of Rollo who settled were a small group.
But had an stimulating effect on the development there.

So perhaps some ships with adventurers in the 9th century had an stimulating extra effect.
As the greeks in the 8 century had also a stimulating effect.
But the civilization of etruria was around 800 bc well under steam already was taking shape already.
The ferment internally was the richness in metals.
They had something important to offer to traders and became traders themself.

The regio around Tolfa , Monte Metalliferro and Elba were very rich in all kind of ores even the rare Tin !!!.

So what we see in the 8 century is that traders from Greece and Phunicia appear in the Tyrrenian and by there interest for metals stimulate the Etruscan Economy in fool bloom by there demand .
We see rich aristocrats emerging with fabulous grave treasures around circa 700 ( Barberini Tomb and Regolini Galassi tomb etc )

so as Pallotino and others said a long long development with very diverse elements ( a kind of mixture ) who matured into Etruscan civilisation.

Of course you can counter my arguments by pointing to the very eastern ( Lydia Hittites ) elements with the Etruscans like liver divination, the tombs themself, the headdress and shoe forms (both long pointed ) and many other things.

And to tackle my hypothesis : the Lemnos Stele.

Perhaps the influx of small groups 1 or 2 ships not one time but in the flow of time more, is responsible for this eastern bias ?

After all the Etruscans were like a sponge absorbing foreign cultures like Greek culture so that they perhaps absorbed and refined and altered eastern elements is plausible.

Seeing the Greek elements in Etruscan culture you could argue they were migrants from Greece!!
But noboddy holds that.
But helas due to Herodotus people seing eastern elements in their culture argue an Lidian origin.
With the same arguments you could try to prove an Greek origin.

A picant detail Herodotus writes the Etruscans settled in UMBRIA.

As Herodotus himself was living in panhellenic Thurii after migrating he must have known were Umbria was ,so that is interesting what he means by Umbria.

A last remark forgive me my many typing and spelling erors.
I enjoy it here
Turan :):):)
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