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Ancient tribe Italic peoples - Ancestry and origin

What were the peoples of Italy?

Most of the peoples who populated the Apennine Peninsula in Roman times were Indo-Germanic. Due to their linguistic affinity, two Indo-Germanic populations can be distinguished: Italian and non-Italian peoples (Messapians, Sikeler, Veneti, Lepontii).
Apart from the Indo-Germanic peoples (Italians and others), there lived in Italy some non-Indo-Germanic peoples (ancient Mediterranean peoples), of which the Etruscans were the most important politically and culturally. The Italic peoples can be grouped according to the close relationship of their cultures and languages as follows:
- Latins and Falisci;
- Osker and Umbrians and peoples closely related to them (Aequer, Marser, Samnites, Sabeller, Pikener, Volsker).


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What was the ethnogenesis of the Italics?

The ethnogenesis of the Italians is related to the migration of Indo-Germanic populations who immigrated to Italy between 3500 and 2500 B.C.

The ethnic separation into individual peoples from an originally Italian "whole people" took place in pre-Roman times, between 1500 and 900 BC.

The diversity of the Italic peoples and cultures dissolved in a long lasting process in which the Italians assimilated to the dominant culture of the Latins and their language. Most Italians - like the non-Italians and non-Indo-Germanic people in Italy - had already assimilated in the time of classical antiquity. They had become Romans and spoke Latin.



Who were the Etruscans?

The language of the Etruscans is not Indo-Germanic and before its disappearance as a spoken language it left clear traces in Latin.

According to some scholars, the immigrants who arrived in Italy during the 11th and 10th centuries B.C. were probably a group from the Asia Minor-Aegean area, who, although not very numerous, were bearers of a highly developed urban culture. In any case, the archaeological legacy of Etruria in the late 9th and early 8th century B.C. shows revolutionary changes (Villanova culture). As the Etruscan cultural heritage is based on the foundation of this culture, the people of Villanova can rightly be identified as Proto-Etruscans. The Etruscans as the historical people are the result of an ethnic-cultural transformation process, which began with the Proto-Etruscan or Villanova culture and from whose continuous development the Etruscan civilisation flourished. In Etruria an equivalent fusion took place, the final result of which was a real cultural amalgam with both Italian and Proto-Etruscan elements.

The political power of the Etruscans emanated from local city-states, which joined together to form a federation. The city of Rome also belonged to the sphere of power of the rulers of Tarquinii. Rome was ruled by kings from the house of Tarquinii.

The Etruscans waged numerous wars with the Greeks of the south and with their Italian neighbours. After the defeat of Capua (424 B.C.) the Etruscan League of Cities dissolved. Between 396 and 264 BC the Romans conquered one Etruscan city after the other. Afterwards, the long process of acculturation of the Etruscan population began. After a few generations, the Etruscans adopted Roman ways of life and later also changed their language to Latin. Only in some ritual functions Etruscan apparently managed to survive for a long time.

It is assumed that the genetic material of the Etruscans - as a genetic substrate, so to speak - is still concentrated in Tuscany and here again in a specific place, in Murlo. But one would not therefore speak of the Etruscan people still being alive today.



Who were the Oscians?

The Osker immigrated to Campania in the 8th century BC. Linguistically, the Osker are the closest related to the Umbrians. Oskian, which belongs to the Italian branch of the Indo-European language family, was written from about 400 BC to about 75 AD. In 290 B.C. the Osker settlement area finally came under Roman control.



Who were the Umbrians?

Since the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C. the Umbrians settled in the landscape named after them Umbria in central Italy. There they had organized themselves into small city-states.

Umbrian was written from the 5th to the 1st century BC. In the Battle of Mevania (308 BC) the Umbrians were defeated by the Romans. The establishment of Roman colonies and the construction of the Via Flaminia encouraged the acculturation and assimilation of the Umbrian population.



Who were the Samnites?

The Samnites were a loose union of various Italian tribes, including the Caraceni, Caudini, Frentani and Sidcini.



Who were the Faliscans?

The main settlement area of the Falisci was between the Monti Cimini and the Tiber, where they are attested since the 8th century BC. The Falisci are the closest relatives of the Latins. In 241 BC their cultural centre Falerii was conquered and destroyed by the Romans. This marked the end of the era of political independence.

From the time between the end of the 7th century and the end of the 2nd century B.C. a sparse body of literature in Faliscan has been preserved. These are about 300 inscriptions in a variant of the Etruscan alphabet.



Who were the Latins?

The Latins belonged to the Indo-Germanic Italics. Their closest relatives are the Falisci. From the history of the settlement it can be seen that these two peoples were pushed westwards to the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea by the other Italic peoples. Rome is an Etruscan foundation and was under Etruscan rule until around 470 BC, but the majority of the city's inhabitants were Latins during the time of the Republic. Their language, Latin, became the language of education of the Romans and the official language of the Roman Empire.

As a result of a war (340-338 B.C.) Rome disempowered the Latin cities and from now on determined the political fate of Lazio and its Latin inhabitants. Initially, the Latins were only granted limited Roman civil rights, but only in 89 BC were they granted full Roman citizenship.



Who were the Romans?

The Romans never existed as a people in the ethnic sense. In antiquity, terms such as "Romans" (Romanus) and "Romanity" (Romanitas) were used to refer to different circumstances:

- Roman = native Roman: resident of the city of Rome, who was born there and lived there. In the beginning, the inhabitants of Rome were Latins, ruled by an Etruscan elite.

- Romans = Citizens of the city of Rome with civil rights.

- Roman = free citizen of the city.

- Roman = free citizen of the Roman Empire, regardless of ethnicity.

Being Roman as a citizen of the Roman Empire was a question of lifestyle and the habit of speaking Latin and being a "citizen of the world", and ethnicity or the origin of religious traditions that were cultivated did not play a significant role.



What was the Romanization?

Italia is the result of a process of Romanization of different peoples through alliance or conquest.



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