This Ancient Civilization's DNA Has Scientists Stunned

Where many ancient civilizations have left behind a decent amount of information on themselves, others have baffled archaeologists and historians. The history of the Minoans for instance is to this day locked away behind their undecipherable writing system, with knowledge of their culture coming from archaeological finds and descriptions of them by neighboring civilizations. This was also the case with the Etruscans of Italy. They were one of many cultures to inhabit the Italian peninsula, dominating it at a time when the Latins had little more than the city of Rome itself to call their own. 

Yet their reign ended in 509 B.C., when they became another domino in the lineup of cultures to come under Roman control (via Daily History). While Etruscan culture and technology were heavy influences on the ancient Romans, the former's own history has been lost to time as their surviving writings are not of Indo-European origin like Latin or Celtic (via World History Encyclopedia). It was only with recent DNA analysis that their geographic origins could be narrowed down after centuries of speculation.

The Etruscans likely came from modern-day Ukraine

Many DNA tests have been conducted in the past to verify the identity of the Etruscans. Per current findings, the theory is that the Etruscans settled in northern Italy 8,000 years ago, long before even the Bronze Age (via Smithsonian Magazine). Over the following millennia, they gradually intermixed genetically with locals, yet managed to largely avoid cultural assimilation with later people groups. Anatolia was a strong contender for their point of origin, but new evidence points to them having instead arrived from regions bordering the Black Sea (i.e., modern-day Ukraine), according to Live Science

This discovery has necessitated changes in how cultural development at the time is framed, since the Etruscans' origins were almost always envisioned by anthropologists as having been local or Mediterranean (via SYFY). While the new discovery was by no means an obvious conclusion to reach, in terms of the physical distance traveled, it is far from an unprecedented journey for the ancient Etruscans to have undertaken. The later migrations of the Roma people, who originated in northwestern India, brought them several thousand miles from their homeland to various parts of the Middle East and Europe (via Indian Express).