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  • New Product Idea

    Italian-Americans are one of the largest ethnic groups in the US. It would be fascinating for FTDNA to come up with a test for "Roman Modal Haplotype" that would track the genetic signatures of the Romans.

    How? Easy. Geneticists have already mapped the various regions of Italy on a micro-ethnic level. We see regional varieties around Tuscany, for example, that reveal the area's unique, Etruscan past.

    A little history: On the way to being an Empire, Rome was a fairly homogenous place, despite what you may think. From 300 BCE to approximately 50 BCE, Rome was really a city-state of one Italian tribe, the Latins, that kept expanding and expanding. First Italy, then Spain, then France, etc.

    Rome would reward their soldiery and relieve their urban poor by settling colonia (colonies) of Latins in these various lands. The highest settlement period was during that time where Rome had not felt the consequences of its slave trade and was mostly Latin-dominated.

    Rome would typically take 20,000 families (how's that for Founder Effect) and place a colony around a rebellious Italian town, or in Spain, France, etc. I imagine these Latins (as the Roman army in that period was composed almost entirely of Central Italians) had quite an effect on the local gene pools, on a micro level.

    So, one would think the testers could type the DNA of the towns in old Latium (modern Lazio), the state around Rome, that were known to be the most Ancient Latin towns, that were backwater places even at the height of the Empire, eliminating a genetic influence of Hellenistic or Germanic slaves.

    You could then type the genetics of the colonies that were also largely untouched by the later invasions of Visgoths, Saracens, etc. For example: Venusia in S. Italy, Gades in Spain, etc.

    Given the different genetic types in most Spaniards, Central Italians and Calabrians, a coincidence among the backwoods Latin towns and a town known to be a Roman colony in Spain would reveal a Roman modal haplotype.

    Well, one would think so...

    And just like Sykes at Oxford profits from the English' curiosity about Vikings, and how this site has wonderfully isolated the CMH, putting to rest the pseudo-science that we have had to put up with over the years about Ashkenazi origins, I think a Roman test would be quite popular among Spaniards, Italians, Romanians, Londoners, S. Germans, etc.

    Just a thought.

  • #2
    Consider this: before the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean basin was heavily settled by Phoenicians (aka Carthaginians) & Greeks. These would have a quite distinct haplogroup from native Latins. The original Latins, being Italic speakers, may have been R1b, since linguists have long contended that Celtic & Italic languages are more closely related to one another, than either is to the rest of the Indo-European language family.

    I think it would be interesting to develop haplotypes for all of these distinct populations in the Mediterranean basin. The challenge is to make sure you have found the real haplotype.

    My patriline is R1b (NORSK) from Root, canton Luzern, Switzerland. The town was called Rota during the Roman days. I contend that the R1b designation makes me most likely Helvettii, the Celtic founders os Switzerland. They were conquered by the Romans in 58 BC. Ironically, when the "Romans" were occupying Britain in later centuries, many of these so-called Romans may in fact have been Helvetii, or any other continental Celtic tribe the Romans had conquered.

    Timothy Peterman
    Kansas City, MO

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mikey

      So, one would think the testers could type the DNA of the towns in old Latium (modern Lazio), the state around Rome, that were known to be the most Ancient Latin towns, that were backwater places even at the height of the Empire, eliminating a genetic influence of Hellenistic or Germanic slaves.
      Hi Mikey,

      This is a great idea,.....but,......

      Are you thinking about a Y-DNA test ?
      On archaeological remains?
      Because,..if you are, the bad news is that Y-DNA doesn't survive long enough in human remains for any of it to be tested. I'm pretty sure that the chances of any Y-DNA being obtainable from bones etc. that have been in Italys climate for the last few hundred years is quite low,..let alone several thousand years.

      If you are thinking about testing modern people, - I think that there would have been too much genetic mixing over the last 2000+ years for any of populations in the old town regions to be representative of the haplotypes of the original inhabitants.

      Now,...If you can invent a time machine...then "we'll be in business"..... (I'm kidding!!)

      Angela.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by AngelaCP
        Hi Mikey,

        This is a great idea,.....but,......


        Now,...If you can invent a time machine...then "we'll be in business"..... (I'm kidding!!)

        Angela.

        any good peat bogs there ?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jim Denning
          any good peat bogs there ?
          I don't think so,...I think the parts of Italy that they'd want to sample are too dry for peat bogs.
          Besides,...it might mess up the DNA (I can't remember what peat bogs do to DNA,... it either preserves it or really messes it up)

          Comment


          • #6
            Angela!

            Good point! I forgot that Y is not really extractable from old bones. And, to make matters worse, how could someone who studied Ancient History (me) forget that the Romans cremated their dead. Yep, it'd be a rare skeleton from which to extract Y dna.

            mtDNA presents a problem because the great colonizers were the Roman armies. However, in the real Latin Age that I referred to, the Roman Armies did not settle with natives, but rather their own brides from back home.

            I still do think there are areas in the mountains behind Rome that would still bear a relatively unadulterated Latin genetic "signature" because of their lack of importance in the Ancient World as a farming or garrison center.

            I KNOW there are towns in other parts of Italy that were settled entirely by Romans (PRE-Empire) Romans, and that these towns escaped Vandal, Hun, Saracen, Norman, etc. domination.

            Likewise for a few places in Spain and France. A comparison of the mtDNA in those regions would have to yield something... Heck, it's the best we can do.

            And, remember, the Cohen Modal Haplotype was taken from live men. I see no reason why we could forget about testing whatever Roman skeletons we have, and still come up with some male lines from these un-invaded towns that have to represent the original Roman military founders.

            It's either that, or we start work on that time machine.

            P.S. Tim, I agree with your Helvetii analysis. So many people forget Switzerland was originally Celtic!

            Comment


            • #7
              I think what is really needed is:

              1. A province by province, or county by county, survey of western Europe, determining the y-DNA for populations that show by paper trail pre-industrial roots in that province or county. Get a lot of samples. Classify by subclades deep within the major haplogroups.

              2. Determine subclades nested deep within R1b, R1a, I, E3b, J, others?? so that the above analysis would be meaningful.

              Cladistics would probably determine that some counties were ancient seats of a particular sub-sub clade of a haplogroup. The Roman Modal haplotype might just come "leaping out of the map".

              Same goes for the Minoans, Myceneans, Dorians, Etruscans...

              I have a similar question about the founding population of ancient Germans. Were they R1b, R1a, or I. If they were R1b, I would like to know which Modal haplotype.

              Timothy Peterman
              Kansas City, MO

              Comment


              • #8
                Great idea. I hope some university or foundation shares our ambition. Althought the costs would not be THAT great...

                For what its worth, Cavalli-Sforza has already done a survey of Italy like you described, and he claims to easily detect the old Etruscan substrata. I do not know details, but a map appears in his book (The Great Human Diaspora) showing a very detailed cladistic analysis of Italian genes.

                It is not quite county by county - or city by city with a specific subgroup in mind as I have suggested, but it does show an Etruscan influence in the states of modern Tsucany and 1-2 others.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mikey
                  And, remember, the Cohen Modal Haplotype was taken from live men. I see no reason why we could forget about testing whatever Roman skeletons we have, and still come up with some male lines from these un-invaded towns that have to represent the original Roman military founders.

                  It's either that, or we start work on that time machine.
                  Hi Mikey,

                  I think that Time Machine's our best bet

                  The difference between the Cohanim & your putative descendants of Italics,..is the surety of descent. The Cohanim are a hereditary Priestly caste (to be a Cohanim, your father has to be a Cohanim). In the situation of your "uninvaded towns", - in the last 1500 years I suspect there has been significant admixture so that we will not have any scientific certainty about what is Native Italic compared to what is Celtic, & what is Greek.

                  The problem is that over centries (& millennia) people intermix, blurring what patterns there might have been in the past,...& the best examples we have which create a clearer "snapshot" of past gene frequencies are hereditary descent groups, be they Cohanim, or Hindu castes........

                  Angela.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    a different history of city states

                    the eldest son of judea was zarah [sp?] he had the right to inherit the throne from joseph in eygpt .after joseph dies his sons ruled eygpt. when the pharaoh that knew not joseph came the rulers did what they always did they took off. they left by sea which is recorded in secular history. when they did they founded some of the city states of the mediteranian. in virgil it speaks of the trojans being relatives of the romans,hiberians. so dont be supprized if they too have judea genetic markers and brutus eventually founding new troy which became london

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Tracking the Italici or Latini

                      Angela,

                      So sad!


                      You don't think there is a chance? I still do.

                      Some of those towns in Italy (I've been there 5 times) are SO isolated and have largely escaped incursions over the years. Furthermore, the Roman colonists were often the first to really populate that given stretch of land.

                      I'm not saying they could be identified with any certainty (and by the way, CMH is not accepted as gospel - pardon the mixed metaphors - by some people) but I do think that it would be a HUGE coincidence if say,

                      7 isolated towns known to have been

                      1) Founded by a pre-empirical Roman/Latin colony population
                      2) With a small or non-existent native population
                      3) That have largely escaped invasions over the years
                      4) That are geographically isolated within their home countries

                      and lastly

                      5) spread apart and isolated from each other (say - North Italy, South Italy, South France, Spain and South Germany or South England)

                      showed the same strains of any Y haplotype. Wouldn't that be a pretty powerful argument for these people to be the descendants of Roman soldiers?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        i forget which channel it had to be the history or the discovery [sci] but they found a grave of a romam of some high staus in a sealed coffin and with many lessers in england . maybe something like that could be an answer but..... whose to say they are what they said they are. and you need alot more then one

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                        • #13
                          Mikey

                          There is plenty to be hopeful for, in that surprising patterns can emerge when a lot of refined data is analyzed.

                          We need to be able to classify patrilines by SNPs that are a lot more highly refined than simply R1b.

                          Timothy Peterman

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                          • #14
                            I'm not a stick in the mud honest!!

                            Hi Mikey,

                            Sorry to seem like such a stick in the mud. Sometimes the parts of my brain that learned about biometrics and research design take over. Honestly,..I'm all for original & innovative research!!!

                            A research design looking at finescale genetic variation & haplogroup/haplotype percentages would be a good idea, - provided you didn't ONLY survey the putative genetically pure descendants of the old Roman/Italic towns, & you realised that you might not get clear answers (because, as isolated as those villages are, some degree of population mixing would still have occcurred over the last 1500 years).
                            When I say finescale, I mean in the context of geographical sampling, and also finescale SNP screening (SNP's are far more objective in an anthropological sense than STRs I think).
                            You would need to sample in locations other than the Roman Villages to rule out the putative "common haplotype" being common everywhere else as well. Having said that, if the haplotype was ONLY found in those old towns & nowhere else,.....then we don't have to worry about inventing that timemachine.

                            You also have to remember that studies like these need to be funded, & certain types of study design would be taken more seriously by funding people than other study designs. If you presented the potential study as "sampling old Roman towns to get the Roman Modal haplotype", then the funding people would be even bigger sticks in the mud than me....(....just don't get me started about how the conservative nature of funding reviewers potentially stifles true innovative research )

                            Angela.

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                            • #15
                              All of you might be interested in reading nan article in the latest National Geographic that deals with the pre-Roman origins of Italic people.

                              Timothy Peterman

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