PRI Speaks to Professor Anthony Tuck about Origins of Ancient Etruscan Civilization
By Sarah Gibbons | Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
A recent story in PRI's The World discussed the contended origins of "a powerful clan with an alien tongue and strange customs" who emerged in Italy sometime around the 6th century BC: the Etruscans. There are different theories about the origins of this lost civilization. One suggests that "Around 800 BC, there was a famine in Lydia (in what is now western Turkey). Eventually the king, 'divided the people into two groups, and made them draw lots, so that the one group should remain and the other leave the country.'" The group that left, it's supposed, became who we now know as the Etruscans.
In 2007, DNA evidence supporting this theory was discovered—news that delighted immigrants living in Italy. Here's where Professor Anthony Tuck of UMass Amherst's Department of Classics comes in:
“It was amazing,” Tuck recalls. “Serbs and Kosovars, and North Africans who live in Vescovado di Murlo were clapping and honking horns.”
Tuck says the Tuscans had “kind of a scratchy” relationship with these immigrants. All of a sudden, Tuscans discovered they too were immigrants.
But all isn't exactly settled. Unlike the more recent arrivals, Tuck is not convinced the Etruscans really were from Turkey.
“As an archeologist, I look at and think about material culture,” he says. “The architecture of the Etruscans, the language of the Etruscans — virtually every aspect of the physical and material behavior of the Etruscans — doesn't look anything like that which we see in Lydia.”
Tuck just doesn’t see any hard proof that the Etruscans weren’t simply members of an ancient indigenous culture.
That’s the thing about the Etruscans mystery; few clues remain and they can be interpreted many different ways.
Read or listen to the full story on www.pri.org to find out more about what Professor Tuck says about this intriguing, ancient civilization.