Italian Anthropology 2

November 4, 2019

Google disabled my Italianthro account and locked me out of it. I think it might be related to this widespread issue (which Google isn't doing shit to fix) but I never found out for sure because there is no customer support. You can fill out forms to try to unlock or restore your account, but you only get auto-generated messages. You never get a reply from a real person you can talk or ask questions to.

I don't know if that account will ever be restored, so for now I've reposted everything to this account. All of the URLs should be the same as before (i.e. post title and date) except for one letter in the name: antro now has an Italian spelling with no 'h'.

Let me know if you find any broken links or other issues.

P.S. You can also access Wayback archives of the old blog (and comments), which should work forever no matter what else happens.

UPDATE 11/26/19: Italianthro Restored!


Latinus said...

The only problem regarding the archieve blog is that the comments can't be acessed.

Aitor said...

Hello, I was wondering what the blog author's views are concerning a recent genetic study on ancient Rome/central Italy:

It might be worth a post. The 11 pre-Imperial Roman/Etruscan samples apparently tend slightly more "north" or Spanish/French than modern Romans, and while discussion is centering around near eastern arrivals, the Greek element is likely at play.

Best regards

Sarah Nikas said...


If you read the supplementary material on that study the authors acknowledges elevating the african component in that study by 10 fold by choosing a poorer fitting source population for it than what the admiture software recommended. That study is highly dubious at best. Additionally the "Iranian" that they equate to middle eastern is almost certainly actually a caucasian component, and not in fact iranian. Other studies have confirmed no iranian admixture to be found in europe, including italy.

Aitor said...

Thank you, I didn't realize there had been methodological problems of that sort.

Is the near eastern element they assume to be Iranian the one present during the Iron Age-Republican period, or the Imperial period? I know Iosif Lazaradis considers the non-Steppe bit of the Yamnaya (entering Italy in the Iron Age) to not be Iranian, but Caucasian. In any case, if it were Iranian, all Europeans would have it (we're almost all partly Yamnaya).

The major shift during the Imperial period towards the Eastern med is, I assume, overridingly the result of an influx of Hellenes.

Sarah Nikas said...


It would be both. What the study shows is a drastic rise in this associated ancestry from iron age to the imperial period. After that there is a very slight decrease in it to modern italians, but it still remains quite elevated. It is most certainly caucasian, likely from around modern georgia, however this associated ancestry is thought to be similar to iranian neolithic, so many studies get them mixed up in terms of their classification. Even in the Roman sudy they acknowledge twice in their paper that it could be caucasian hunter gatherer and they have no way of knowing.

As is stated here by galligo llorente, "GD13a had little direct genetic input into later European populations compared to the Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers (its northern neighbours) as demonstrated using D-statistics. This lack of connectivity with neighbouring regions might have arisen early on, since we also find that hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus show higher affinity to Western Hunter-Gatherers and early Anatolian farmers; this result suggests the possibility of gene flow between the former and these two latter groups to the exclusion of GD13a"

GD13a was a neolithic Iranian pastoralist from the zagros mountains. The biggest difference I see between the imperial sample and modern citizens of Rome is an increase in steppe associated ancestry. In my opinion that more of suggests a repopulating from northern italy (as there wasn't much of a decrease in anatolian or CHG ancestry).

If you want more information you can email me at Same goes for the racial reality blogger if he's going to do a write up on this paper.

Sarah Nikas said...


I also agree that if you study the history of the Romans it would make sense the eastern component to be a likely result of greek or southern italian influence. There is not documented association of the romans with any iranian speaking people and whatever african admixture might have been introduced would've been so small it could just be statistical noise. (figure like half a percentage during the principate and only reducing from there onward.)

Aitor said...

Thank you for your detailed reply.

There are only two Republican samples, which makes it difficult to say whether that population was of a piece with the Iron Age or part of a trend from Iron to imperial, however:

If what we are seeing is a general increase of near eastern ancestry (actually CHG) from Iron Age to imperial times, it may add credence to the various accounts of east med peoples contributing to the founding of Rome (the Trojans, Plutarch’s talk of Sabines being Greek colonists, etc.), assuming these had less steppe than Yamnaya and more CHG (or some other component that the study’s authors could plausibly consider Near Eastern/Iranian).

Such an account would contradict commentary around this study that (spuriously, in my view) tries to treat “steppe” as a proxy for "northern European", and to ascribe it to the Republic’s rise, with latter imperial decline being owed to near eastern populations.

Sarah Nikas said...

The increase of Steppe from the imperial sample to the present day sample is almost certainly some sort of repopulating by local populations (I assume north or central italians). We know this because their associated CHG and Neolithic Anatolian practically remain the same as they recieve an increase in steppe ancestry. Their WHG ancestry doesn't increase much either, which would be typical for a germanic or northern european population (i.e. very low in CHG, intermediate in neolithic anatolian and relatively elevated Steppe and WHG.) The authors of the study don't mention it but I see a huge degree of continuity of ancient genetics from the imperial era to modern day - even if the original population fo the city of rome has been depopulated and replaced by more rural italians.

Additionally we know the barbarian migrations came in very small numbers in comparison to the rest of the pouplation of italy (think 100k vs 6.5 million). There is a study on specifically lombard gravesites in collegno which dated their remains to just 20-50 years after their invasion with the results showing about 1/3 of them to be mostly n. european, 1/3 to be halfway mixed between south and northern europeans and the last 1/3 to be nearly entirely southern european in origin. A study like that heavily implicates the lombards were mixing within the first or second generation of their arrival and that they likely would not have preserved enough numbers to repopulate areas in italy for hundreds of years like the study suggests.