The onetime Etruria region located in present-day Central Italy gave birth to one of the first European civilizations. The origins of the Etruscan civilization have long been a subject of debates among scholars. Most of the known information has been gathered from ancient texts, archaeological findings, and, in the last few years, through genetic analyses.
A recent study aiming at the investigation of the biological origins of the Etruscans revealed migration from the Armenian Upland into Tuscany (Central Italy) at ca. 850 BC. This study demonstrated that the people of Tuscany feature a considerable amount of genetic traces from the Middle East and the Armenian Highlands in particular.
“Admixture analysis indicates the presence of 25–34% of Middle Eastern component in modern Tuscans. …genetic distances point to Eastern Anatolia/Southern Caucasus as the most likely geographic origin of the main Middle Eastern genetic component observed in the genome of modern Tuscans.”
Among the examined Mid-East populations, Armenians appear to differ from the people of Tuscany the least. They also show the highest genetic affinity.
“IBS values were also computed for each TSI (Tuscan) individual against each population. This analysis very clearly indicates the highest values for TSI individuals when compared against ARM (Armenians). The populations showing the lowest IBS values with TSI are UZB (Uzbeks), YMN (Yemenis), and EGP (Egyptians).”
Together with their immediate neighbors, Armenians are thereby more closely related to the Etruscans, compared to other Mid-East populations. This fact concentrates the Near-Eastern components of the Etruscans in the Armenian Highlands.
Additionally, the experts attempted to identify the date of the mentioned Near Eastern genetic inflow. The study reads:
“The data indicates that the admixture event between local Tuscans and Middle Easterners could have occurred in Central Italy about 2,600–3,100 years ago. On the whole, the results validate the theory of the ancient historian Herodotus on the origin of Etruscans.”
So, the migration from the Armenian Highlands into Tuscany occurred at around 850 BC, which corresponds to the establishment of the Etruscan civilization. This implies that while the Kingdom of Van (Urartu) was forming, a group likely from this exact area moved to Central Italy. Moreover, these results match with the records of some ancient historians, for example, Herodotus, who assumed that the Etruscans had emigrated from Asia Minor at around 1,200 BC due to a famine.
Another study published previously in Science Magazine (Hellenthal et al., 2014) has already demonstrated a sizable Armenian genetic component in the population of Tuscany. The Armenian-Etruscan connection has also been investigated by a number of scholars. For instance, British academic Dr. Robert Ellis writes in his book “The Armenian Origins of the Etruscans”:
“The Armenians, like the Celts, are now few in number. They belong once to a longer extent of a country where they spread westward from Armenia to Italy under the names of Phrygians, Thracians, Pelasgians, Etruscans, and also spread to other locations.”
Norwegian scholar Dr. Bugge theorized that the Etruscan language had been derived from the Armenian. Other scholars like Vahan M. Kurkjian identified Urartean art, architecture, language, and cultural evidence of the Armenian-Etruscan connection. And now, Armenian genetic traces within the populations of Tuscany further reinforce the Etruscan-Armenian theory.