Monday, October 25, 2010

The Etruscans and Arthur Kemp

This is in response to an entry on the Arthur Kemp blog entitled 'Etruscans: DNA Evidence Proves March of the Titans Correct Once Again'.

The article is based on a 2006 DNA study on native Tuscans. The conclusion was that modern Tuscans are not related to the ancient Etruscans, as had long been thought.

One of the problems with "geographical categorizations" is that racial stocks in certain regions of the world change over time. Therefore a DNA test might show, for example, that a person of Indo-European descent has genetic links to Iran. In reality, it would much more likely be to ancient Persia, and perhaps even thousands of years ago when the demographics were different. The same could be said for many other regions.

When members of the British National Party voluntarily underwent DNA tests, most showed a somewhat significant genetic link to the Middle East. In reality, that link was to the ancient Mediterraneans of that region, long before massive numbers of people of a different racial stock migrated out of the Saudi Peninsula and spread the Islamic faith there. All it meant was that the English and the Middle Easterners shared some common ancestry, despite the fact that those ancestors went in entirely different genetic directions. The ancient Middle Easterners largely became, for all intents and purposes, Saudis. The ancient Mediterranean Britons became basically Germans. Therefore, for someone to state that Englishmen and Iraqis of today, are genetic cousins, would not be intellectually honest.

The article goes on to the hypothesis that the Langobards displaced the mixed-race Roman population. In reality, at least throughout most of the northern half of the Italian peninsula, the population was made up of culturally "Romanized" Gauls as the historical record is absolutely crystal clear on. In Tuscany, Kemp's hypothesis is closer to the truth, and down onto the southern Langobard duchies of Benovento and Spoleto. Still, the wild sweeping generalization seems to show his lack of historical understanding of at least most of the north.

Now, as far the Tuscan DNA study, the article accurately summed up the results:

"DNA testing on Etruscan bones recovered from graves showed that they were completely unrelated to modern Tuscan people.

"DNA testing on the modern Tuscan people showed that their genetic origin was in Anatolia, which is located in modern Turkey, bounded by the Black Sea to the north and the Caucasus to the northeast — smack bang where it should be."

The only problem is that Arthur Kemp wants his cake and eat it too. Up to, and during the Roman period, there was no "Turkey," and there were no "Turks." Using his logic, one could conclude that the Iroquois built New York City, that Aborigines constructed Sydney, or that England was originally settled by immigrants from Iraq.

The region that is now Turkey was the hub of the Eastern Roman Empire. Before that, much of it was part of Greece. A good portion of it was settled early on by Celtic tribes. According to the 'History of Turkey' Wikipedia page:

"The history of Turkey refers to the history of the country now called Turkey. Although the lands have an ancient history, Turkic migration to the country is relatively new. The Turks, a society whose language belongs to the Turkic language family started moving from their original homelands to the modern Turkey in the 11th century. After the Turkic Seljuq Empire defeated forces of the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert, the process was accelerated and the country was referred to as 'Turchia' in the Europe as early as the 12th century.[1] The Seljuq dynasty controlled Turkey until the country was invaded by the Mongols following the Battle of Kosedag. During the years when the country was under Mongol rule, some small Turkish states were born. One of these states was the Ottoman beylik which quickly controlled Western Anatolia..." [Source: 'Turkey'; James Bainbridge].

Arthur Kemp can't have it both ways. If Tuscans are really Turks, then Iraqi immigrants were the original settlers of England. In reality, both of those Mediterranean peoples had no genuine link to modern Turks or Iraqis outside of the very "limited shared ancestry" concept, by which entirely different racial stocks could easily have "some common ancestors." It can't be "heads I win, tails you lose." YOU CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

Modern Tuscans, which we consider OUR folk, are not culturally or genetically similar to modern Turks. Although the study showed some strong evidence to support Kemp's politics, his final conclusion was intellectually dishonest. Some years back, someone was poking around a Roman graveyard and found some surnames consistent with Byzantine origins, and Kemp concluded that this meant that the native inhabitants were actually Turks. That was junk science. First of all, the Byzantines were not "Turkish." Even then, how do we know that the graveyard wasn't specifically a Byzantine cemetery? Were other cemeteries from that period studied? How do we know that the twenty seven ancient Etruscans, from which the DNA was obtained, were not atypical individuals; perhaps from elsewhere?

In the British Isles, remains of Roman legionnaires have been discovered. Some of those soldiers had identification documents showing that they were natives of Syria, Carthage, and elsewhere. Although they probably were basically Phoenician or ancient Mediterranean, which would for all intents and purposes would still place them within the range of "Indo-European," one could easily slant the evidence to the contrary. One BNP official, whose DNA was tested, showed 8% historically recent Sub-Saharan African mtDNA markers; likely originating from the importation of West African slaves. Again, someone could very easily slant that evidence. In reality, one would probably need to take a dozen tests to get an accurate reading of various genetic stocks. A single DNA ancestry test will occasionally blow up the admixture of any particular genetic stock, so 2% could read as perhaps 10% of whatever racial stock was being analyzed.

It's probably safe to say that England is probably more purely "Indo-European" than, say, Spain or Sicily. However, when studying data, an intellectually honest researcher can't decide for themselves, depending on their own ideology, that "heads I win, tails you lose." In other words, you can't use one set of rules to come to a conclusion in one area; and an entirely different set of rules to come to a conclusion in another area.



Anonymous said...

You have, of course, misinterpreted what Arthur Kemp actually said. He did NOT say that the Etruscans were "Turks" as you falsely allege. He said that the DNA evidence showed that the modern Etruscan people's origins came from the region (now) known as Turkey, from where much of the the "Indo-European" genetic component of Europe originated.
His thesis is not in conflict with yours, and it appears that you have misread what he said.

Camun said...

He said "modern Turkey," which at least implies Turks since he made no mention of the fact that the region was massively overrun by Turkic tribes starting in the 11th century. This severed it from the European world.

Also, I don't think that any mention was ever made by Kemp regarding the Gallic population of the regions north of Etruria. This ethic stock wasn't significantly altered by the Romans or Langobards.

In fact, the pre-Roman native dialects were predominant in most places right up to the 20th century. For example, an old Gallic village named Grömèl, becomes Italianized after 1860 to Grumello.