BackgroundSomething I never see mentioned in these papers attempting to make inferences about the origins of Etruscans based on genetic variation in modern Tuscans:
Genetic analyses have recently been carried out on present-day Tuscans (Central Italy) in order to investigate their presumable recent Near East ancestry in connection with the long-standing debate on the origins of the Etruscan civilization. We retrieved mitogenomes and genome-wide SNP data from 110 Tuscans analyzed within the context of The 1000 Genome Project. For phylogeographic and evolutionary analysis we made use of a large worldwide database of entire mitogenomes (>26,000) and partial control region sequences (>180,000).
Different analyses reveal the presence of typical Near East haplotypes in Tuscans representing isolated members of various mtDNA phylogenetic branches. As a whole, the Near East component in Tuscan mitogenomes can be estimated at about 8%; a proportion that is comparable to previous estimates but significantly lower than admixture estimates obtained from autosomal SNP data (21%). Phylogeographic and evolutionary inter-population comparisons indicate that the main signal of Near Eastern Tuscan mitogenomes comes from Iran.
Mitogenomes of recent Near East origin in present-day Tuscans do not show local or regional variation. This points to a demographic scenario that is compatible with a recent arrival of Near Easterners to this region in Italy with no founder events or bottlenecks.
Until recently, slaves have been invisible in the literature on medieval Tuscany, leading scholars to overlook them as a means of contact with the east. Historians abandoned this assumption when Giulio Prunai and Iris Origo documented the importation of hundreds of slaves to the region, conclusively demonstrating that the institution was widespread in medieval Tuscany.THE DOMESTIC ENEMY: THE EASTERN SLAVES IN TUSCANY IN THE FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH CENTURIES:
[Michael P. Kucher. The Water Supply System of Siena, Italy: The Medieval Roots of the Modern Networked Cities.]
Introduction. Among the unfamiliar minor episodes of history - those shadowy backwaters which so often repay exploration - there is one that is little known even by students of mediaeval Florence: the story of the slaves brought to Tuscany from the Black Sea and from Africa, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, who came to form no inconsiderable proportion of the Florentine population. A traveller arriving in Tuscany at this time might well have been startled by the appearance of the serving-maids and grooms of the Florentine ladies. Mostly small and squat, with yellow skins, black hair, high cheek-bones and dark slanting eyes, many of them deeply marked by smallpox and by scars or tattooed patterns on their faces, they certainly seemed to belong to a different race from the Florentine. Sometimes, too, a lady would be attended by a negro, or by a taller, fair-haired woman, white-skinned, but also unmistakably foreign; and if the traveller had friends in one of the Florentine palazzi and went to call, he found several other exotic figures there, too: swarthy or yellow little girls of eleven or twelve, and sometimes a small Moorish boy, acting as nursemaids or playmates for the little Florentine merchant-princes.
All these were slaves: most of them Tartars, but some also Russian, Circassian or Greek, Moorish or Ethiopian. Every prosperous noble or merchant had at least two or three of them; many had more. Even a notary's wife, or a small shopkeeper's, would have at least one, and it was far from uncommon to find one among the possessions of a priest or nun. [. . .]
Where had they all come from? Who were they? And - we may add - what was the part they played in the domestic life of Tuscany? The answer to these questions forms a curious story. It may be pieced together from deeds of sale and enfranchisements and wills, from the ledgers of foundling hospitals, from the bills of lading of trading-ships, from court records and judgments and city stat- utes, from private letters and diaries and account-books. Out of all these docu- ments a picture emerges of a whole underworld of alien, uprooted creatures - the "displaced persons" of their time. Sometimes a few of them succeeded in escaping from servitude - but often only to form the dregs of the predatory population of outlaws who lived by robbery on the Tuscan roads, or who swelled the crowd during bread riots or political tumults. And by far the greater number of them remained (often even after enfranchisement), in their masters' houses, the necessary background of every domestic scene, speaking a curious half-in- comprehensible jargon, waiting at every table, listening at every door, and mingling (as to this, the records leave us no doubt) their blood with that of their Tuscan hosts. Domestici hostes, domestic enemies - that was Petrarch's name for these inmates of every household, so alien and yet so close, and the author of a treatise of domestic economy in Sicily, Caggio, held the same opinion. "We have," he wrote, "as many enemies as we have slaves."
The interest of this forgotten episode of history is a double one - social and ethnical. On the one hand it is curious to discover that Florentine society during the last centuries of the Middle Ages depended, even if to a lesser degree than that of Athens and Rome, on services of men who were un-free. Beneath the co- operative associations of the guilds - the Arti Maggiori e Minori - beneath even the oppressed, hungry rabble of the popolo minuto, the Tuscan cities held another class- made up of men and women without human or legal rights, without families of their own, without any recognized ties between them, with- out even a name, save that given to them by their master: the slaves.
Moreover, and perhaps this is the most interesting point- they came to form a sufficiently large proportion of the population to affect, by this strong alien infiltration, the Tuscan stock- and, perhaps, the Tuscan character. Many widely different strains had already contributed to the formation of the Tuscan people: Etruscan, Roman, Lombard, Frankish. And now there came this new blood from the East and, later on, from Africa - vigorous and vital, di genteferigna.* From the cities it spread - since slaves, as we shall see, were kept even in remote country villages - throughout the whole of Tuscany. We may see their features in many of the pictures of the time. To this day, if you watch a group of children squatting in a semicircle in the dust of a village street, their voices and hands upraised in the old Mediterranean game of morra, you will some- times see among them the crisp black curls, the dark skin and flashing eyes of an Arab boy, or the high cheek-bones and slanting eyes of a little Tartar.
[Iris Origo. The Domestic Enemy: The Eastern Slaves in Tuscany in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. Speculum / Volume 30 / Issue 03 / July 1955, pp 321-366.]