Friday, March 24, 2006

Ancient Peoples of Italy by Jeff Matthews


Ancient Peoples of Italy: "The future of the Italian peninsula was shaped by the different peoples who inhabited it between the years 800 and 200 BC. These include the Etruscans, Greeks and the many Italian tribes such as the Latins, Campanians, Samnites, Sabines, etc. Such tribes had spread out much earlier into Europe from the east and southeast both as invaders and, more gradually, as farmers, giving up hunting and gathering for the more efficient process of tilling the soil. In the process they developed towns, government and written language. This slow diffusion started before 6,000 BC.

By 1000 BC most of the peoples in Italy were ?Indo-European,? a term that declares common origin (at least 10,000 years ago) of people as different as Swedes and Iranians or Punjabis and Spaniards. Work in both linguistics and molecular genetics supports this idea of common Indo-European origin. In Italy this meant that the speakers of Latin (hence ?Lazio,? the area around Rome) spoke a language like Oscan, the language of their neighbors the Sabines, Samnites and Campanians (Naples is in ?Campania?). Though no modern descendant of Oscan exists, it was to Latin as, say, modern Italian is to Spanish. An additional sister language of Latin was Umbrian, spoken by inhabitants of central Italy."
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