Sunday, February 2, 2014

Scholars Finally Apply Some Logic (Not Mythology) To Etruscan Origins

If you read the old Roman and Greek historians, you will notice that they mix their religions and mythology into their writing.  For example, a casual perusal of Suetonius will reveal detailed historical facts and stuff about how talking cows portended the eventual rise of this Emperor or that.  Even the most serious historians will pass along foundation myths, for example, how Hercules visited this German tribe or that, or how some random tribe of Spaniards or Gauls claimed descent from Troy.

No one takes these other facts seriously, except with respect to the Etruscans.

It's been well-documented that the Etruscans (and the Romans) both embellished ties to the older civilizations of the east, only upon an uptick in contacts with the East. 

The Romans invented ties with Troy to beef up their bona fides when faced with older, Hellenistic cultures.  The Etruscans did this too.

When the Etruscans were battling the Greeks for cultural supremacy, they constantly faced snobbery because the Greeks were "older" than them.  So the Etruscans, who also wanted increased trade with Asia Minor, invented ties with the Lydians there.  One or two ancient historians reported this, and enshrined the myth.

If knowledge of Ancient History ain't your thing, just consider how many modern rappers of African-American heritage (to establish their bonafides) call themselves "Gotti" or some variation of the Italian Godfather theme. 

The problem is that certain modern armchair historians, due to lack of perspective, or some animus toward how much of Western Civ originated in Italy, or due to some notion that Northern Italians racially superior, welcome and embrace the exotic Etruscans hypothesis.  They have done so for a while, despite absolutely ZERO evidence of any invasion or cultural shift in Etruscan areas in pre-Etruscan times.  In fact, there is nothing but continuity between Villanovans and their Etruscan successors in the region!

Anyway, now we have genetic studies that finally shut the door on the dummies. 

The link can be found here. 

The study basically found that there are no more ties with Etruscans to the Near East than there are for other Mediterranean cultures, and that any such links are due to the very first farmers migrating to populate Europe at the dawn of post-Ice Age history.

This has been been confirmed by other evidence too, summarized here.

Can we finally put this "Exotic Etruscans" myth to bed, alongside the other ancient myths, like that Aeneas carried the founders of Rome to Italy from Troy on his back, and that eagles pooping caused Vespasian to become Emperor?  Those also appear in ancient histories, after all.

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