July 3, 2009

No DNA link between Etruscans, Tuscans

Modern Tuscans show no genetic relationship to the Etruscans who occupied the area during the Bronze Age, Italian researchers have found.

While there is a genetic link between Medieval Tuscans and the current population, no link could be found to inhabitants from the Bronze Age, David Caramelli of Florence University and Guido Barbujani of Ferrara University said.

Immigration and forced migration have diluted the Etruscan genetic inheritance so much as to make it difficult to recognize, the researchers said in a release. The most simple explanation is that the structure of the Tuscan population underwent important demographic changes in the first millennium before Christ.

The research team tested DNA from the remains of Etruscans, Medieval Tuscans -- those who lived between the 10th and 15th centuries -- and people living in the region today.

The researchers have yet to determine whether traces of the Etruscans' genetic inheritance still exist in people living in very isolated locations in the region, ANSA reported Friday.

The Etruscans primarily lived between the Tiber and Arno rivers near the modern-day cities of Florence, in Tuscany; Perugia, in Umbria and Rome, in Lazio.