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RACE Genetic Study Reveals Exactly Who ‘The Romans’ Were
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  1. #1
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    Genetic Study Reveals Exactly Who ‘The Romans’ Were

    https://www.ancient-origins.net/news...romans-0012832

    8 November, 2019 - 15:43 ancient-origins
    Genetic Study Reveals Exactly Who ‘The Romans’ Were

    Scholars have been studying Rome for hundreds of years, but it still holds some secrets - for instance, relatively little is known about the ancestral origins of the city's denizens. Now, an international team led by researchers from Stanford University, the University of Vienna and Sapienza University of Rome is filling in the gaps with a genetic history that shows just how much the Eternal City's populace mirrored its sometimes tumultuous history.

    Historic DNA of The Romans
    The study, published Nov. 8 in Science, focuses on the ancient DNA of individuals from Rome and adjacent regions in Italy. Those genetic data reveal at least two major migrations into Rome, as well as several smaller but significant population shifts over just the last few thousand years, according to Jonathan Pritchard, a professor of genetics and biology and one of the paper's senior authors.

    Notably, DNA analysis revealed that as the Roman Empire expanded around the Mediterranean Sea , immigrants from the Near East , Europe and North Africa pulled up their roots and moved to Rome. This significantly changed the face of one of the ancient world's first great cities, said Pritchard, who is also a member of Stanford Bio-X.

    "This study shows how dynamic the past really is," said Hannah Moots, a graduate student in anthropology and co-lead author on the new study. "In Rome we're seeing people come from all over , in ways that correspond with historical political events ."

    The genetic study showed influences that mirrored historical and political events. ( Freesurf / Adobe Stock)

    Genetic Contact
    In the last decade or so, an increasing number of studies have used DNA sampled from ancient skeletons to fill in important details of human history. Rome presented an interesting opportunity to use the same ancient DNA techniques to fill in details left out of the historical record. "The historical and archaeological records tell us a great deal about political history and contacts of different kinds with different places - trade and slavery, for example - but those records provide limited information about the genetic makeup of the population," Pritchard said.

    To find out what that makeup looked like, the Stanford team partnered with a host of European researchers, including senior authors Alfredo Coppa, a professor of physical anthropology at Sapienza University, and Ron Pinhasi, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Vienna, to gather 127 human DNA samples from 29 sites in and around Rome dating from between the Stone Age and medieval times.

    An analysis of some of the earliest samples more or less comports with what has been found around Europe - they represent an influx of farmers primarily descended from early agriculturalists from Turkey and Iran around 8,000 years ago, followed by a shift toward ancestry from the Ukrainian steppe somewhere between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago. By the founding of Rome , traditionally dated to 753 BC, the city's population had grown in diversity and resembled modern European and Mediterranean peoples.

    Republic, Empire and Beyond
    But for Pritchard, Moots and co-first authors Margaret Antonio, a graduate student in biomedical informatics, and Ziyue Gao, a postdoctoral fellow in Pritchard's lab, the most interesting parts were yet to come. Although Rome began as a humble city-state, within 800 years it had gained control over an empire extending as far west as Britain, south into North Africa and east into Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

    As the empire expanded, contemporary accounts and archaeological evidence indicate there were tight connections between Rome and other parts of its domain built through trade, military campaigns, new roads and slavery -- and the genetic history corroborates but also complicates the story. There was a massive shift in Roman residents' ancestry, the researchers found, but that ancestry came primarily from the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East, possibly because of denser populations there relative to the Roman Empire's western reaches in Europe and Africa.

    The next several centuries were full of turmoil: the empire split in two, diseases decimated Rome's population and a series of invasions befell the city. Those events left a mark on the city's population, which shifted toward western European ancestry . Later, the rise and reign of the Holy Roman Empire brought an influx of central and northern European ancestry.

    Migration is Nothing New
    The lesson, Pritchard said, is that the ancient world was perpetually in flux, both in terms of culture and of ancestry. "It was surprising to us how rapidly the population ancestry shifted, over timescales of just a few centuries, reflecting Rome's shifting political alliances over time," Pritchard said. "Another striking aspect was how cosmopolitan the population of Rome was, starting more than 2,000 years ago and continuing through the rise and dissolution of the empire. Even in antiquity, Rome was a melting pot of different cultures."
    In future studies, the researchers hope to expand the geographic range of ancient DNA they can sample. Among other things, that would allow them to say with more certainty how ancient populations mixed and moved around. In the long run, they're also hoping to study more than ancestry and migration. For example, the group also plans to study the evolution of traits like height, lactose tolerance and resistance to diseases such as malaria that may have changed over time, Moots said.

    The article, originally titled ‘ Researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome ’ by Nathan Collins, was released on Science Daily.

    Source: Stanford University. "Researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2019.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1107160611.htm
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  2. #2
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    Hmmm. So tell us who were the “sea people”, who migrated from “somewhere else” to land on the western coast of Italy, and became the Etruscans, quickly thereafter laying out a grid (think surveying...) to form the layout of their colonies, and in particular, eventually, Rome. Whoever, “they” were, those are the founding stock of what became an empire building nation.
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  3. #3
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    So tell us who were the “sea people”

    Well, we could ask the Ancient Egyptians …
    The wonder of our time isn’t how angry we are at politics and politicians; it’s how little we’ve done about it. - Fran Porretto
    -http://bastionofliberty.blogspot.com/2016/10/a-wholly-rational-hatred.html

  4. #4
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    We have done so much, with so little, for so long....We can now do anything, with nothing, forever.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jed turtle View Post
    Hmmm. So tell us who were the “sea people”, who migrated from “somewhere else” to land on the western coast of Italy, and became the Etruscans, quickly thereafter laying out a grid (think surveying...) to form the layout of their colonies, and in particular, eventually, Rome. Whoever, “they” were, those are the founding stock of what became an empire building nation.
    I don't have the link but I saw an article a few months ago that was a similar study involving "The Sea Peoples" and the Phoenicians and the main genetic results so far have suggested that most of them were Greek (and Greek areas) as far as their genetics is concerned.

    It is still early days, as the Roman study there is a lot more work to be done.

    But anyone that really studies Ancient Rome even on a superficial level is likely to find the results so far, totally in line with what you might expect from a Southern Mediterranean Empire that eventually grew to have fully-fledged colonies and some continuity of culture from the Scottish Border to North Africa (and Palestine/Judea).

    When the first started getting accurate genetic testing a huge surprise for a lot of folks in the UK was how many of them were part African, and it wasn't from the 18th-century slave trade, the genetics were older.

    Consulting old records showed a lot of Roman Legionnaires assigned to Britania were from North Africa.

    Rome preferred to station soldiers from DIFFERENT parts of the empire in their distant colonies because local folks would be more likely to rebel or refuse to fire on their own people (something often seen in military forces today as well).

    On the other hand, during the Empire period, a lot of work was put into making "locals" who qualified (family wealth, aristocratic backgrounds, military veterans, etc) into "Good Roman Citizens."

    More than one historian has pointed out that towards the end of the Empire Period (but before things fell apart) you could easily have almost the same meal and after dinner discussions, inside of similar upper-class homes from Hadrians Wall to Turkey and then down into North Africa.

    I don't think there has been a published study on the Etruscans yet, a lot depends on what DNA is available - Romans tended to cremate their dead which until recently made DNA collection difficult but not impossible.

    This sort of science is great at solving some historical questions but often creates as many as it solves, which is kind of fun and keeps things interesting.
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  6. #6
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    I wonder if they are taking into account the population variance of Slaves to Romans?

    Estimates for the prevalence of slavery in the Roman Empire vary. Estimates of the percentage of the population of Italy who were slaves range from 30 to 40 percent in the 1st century BC, upwards of two to three million slaves in Italy by the end of the 1st century BC, about 35% to 40% of Italy's population.
    When the Roman Empire finally lapsed into history, I seriously doubt all those slaves just packed up and left Italy and went home. Has the study taken that into consideration? To say Rome was diverse is somewhat ludicrous when upwards of 40% of the population were slaves.....most from elsewhere in the Empire. How do you weed out the slave DNA from pure Roman DNA? Can it even be done this far into the future?
    We have done so much, with so little, for so long....We can now do anything, with nothing, forever.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowMan View Post
    I wonder if they are taking into account the population variance of Slaves to Romans?

    When the Roman Empire finally lapsed into history, I seriously doubt all those slaves just packed up and left Italy and went home. Has the study taken that into consideration? To say Rome was diverse is somewhat ludicrous when upwards of 40% of the population were slaves.....most from elsewhere in the Empire. How do you weed out the slave DNA from pure Roman DNA? Can it even be done this far into the future?
    I don't know about this particular study but I know that YES, they often can tell the difference between slaves and free or at least people who were slaves when they were younger.

    That is because at least in Pompi, the marks of over-work and malnutrition are pretty easy to spot in the teeth (which often survive cremation) and as the technology improves it is easier to tell the diet, etc.

    A huge number of the slaves during the empire period were actually Northern Europeans, the Germans and later the British tribespeople who fought against Rome and sometimes were sold by their own folks into Roman slavery during their own wars, etc.

    Basically, there doesn't seem to be any "pure" Roman DNA, which is what you would expect from an Empire (or even a city-state) located towards the South of a Penisula on a big "lake" (the Mediterranean) near the "crossroads" of every area of the "known" world at that time - easy sailing distance from both Spain to most of North Africa, walking distance from the modern Middle East (and from North Africa by the same route) and by caravan route even trading with CHINA.

    One skeleton found in Roman Britain was CHINESE! That got a lot of press for about three days and then like most of these stories dropped right off the radar.

    The guy was from the height of the empire period so the only surprise is that he was that far from home at the edge of the "other" great empire of his day and he died there without getting to go home again.

    Again, Roman genetic studies were held up for years by their tendency, especially the non-slave classes, to cremate their dead.

    Slaves, by the way, tended to have their own cemeteries and/or markers areas within the Cemetary.

    One of the sweetest (and saddest) grave markers from the period was one I saw for a two-year-old child who was listed as the child of two slaves; who loved their child enough to spend their own money to erect the marking stone (instead of saving the money towards buying their freedom or something else they might have wanted).

    I bring that one up when some people (usually academic historians) try to suggest that people in the past didn't love their children the way we do now because they lost so many of them before age five.
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  8. #8
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    Many political or property/title type marriages with Europeans, too. I find them in my Germanic roots, English and Nordic. A Norskie or European/British Isles woman married to a Roman named man.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by WalknTrot View Post
    Many political marriages with Europeans, too. I find them in my Germanic roots, English and Nordic. A Norskie or European/British Isles woman married to a Roman named man.
    Yes, that was also common, and often done with "higher ranking" families aka a member of the Roman Senate might marry their son to a British Princess for political or personal reasons.

    There is a great series of books called "Medicus" where the hero is a Roman military doctor who marries a local woman, at first she is a slave until it is discovered she was actually sold into slavery illegally and not only that is from a fairly important family.

    In one of the books, they even move to Rome for a time but decide they are happier back in Britain.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013TX7NY...ng=UTF8&btkr=1

    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  10. #10
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    immigrants from the Near East , Europe and North Africa pulled up their roots and moved to Rome.

    Explains a lot....

    Texican....

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Texican View Post
    immigrants from the Near East , Europe and North Africa pulled up their roots and moved to Rome.

    Explains a lot....

    Texican....
    It was "the" place to be at the time...
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  12. #12
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    So, who were the Trojans?
    "Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we will all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy."
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    “During the course of your life you will find that things are not always fair. You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted. But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up!”

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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Cardinal View Post
    So, who were the Trojans?
    I haven't seen any studies on that one yet, it is located in modern Turkey which is "iffy" these days for a lot of archeology.
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  14. #14
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    Thanks, Mel - ordered Downie's first in the series.
    The wonder of our time isn’t how angry we are at politics and politicians; it’s how little we’ve done about it. - Fran Porretto
    -http://bastionofliberty.blogspot.com/2016/10/a-wholly-rational-hatred.html

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Dozdoats View Post
    Thanks, Mel - ordered Downie's first in the series.
    Great, I think you will enjoy it.

    One of the things I've noticed over the years and my major professor used to advocate as well is that while nothing is ever "perfect" one of the best ways to get a "feel" for any historical period is to read well researched and well-plotted/written fiction set in that period.

    The Falco novels are also good for this with the caveat that Falco (and later his daughter) while well researched and highly entertaining are also written from a kind of modern "genre" fiction (in this case detective stories).

    That said, ancient Rome DID have police, investigators, fire-fighters, trained medical doctors, antique dealers, effective birth control and even carriages you could rent that figured out your "millage" with a click and gears system that sounds amazingly modern.

    Personally I love the kind of "Sam Spade" quality that Falco brings to the table but I also have to remind myself (or students using the books for a feel of "living in the Empire) that there is an unavoidable modern overlay there.

    I see less of it in Medicus, although as Nightwolf said when he read them there is something about being military doctors, especially in a professional military, that probably doesn't change very much no matter what era the story is set in.


    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...2Aentries%2A=0

    Oh, and in case anyone is interested in Ancient Greece, in my mind, you just can't beat any of the novels of Mary Renault for getting a glimpse of that period of history.
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

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