> The Modern day Etruscans of Murlo
a noble fairytale
"Etruscans" from Murlo...
This time I will tell you about the Etruscans of Murlo. I realize
that I am introducing the topic rather abruptly, but I want
to get right to the point. About thirty kilometers from Siena,
towards Rome, there is a little village in the hills isolated
from major roadways where it is still possible to encounter
Etruscans (about 35) in flesh and blood: the inhabitants of
But before going into the story too much, just a little note
on the Etruscans: the Etruscans were the inhabitants of the
greater part of central Italy between the second and ninth centuries
B.C. They had come to Italy as exiles from a region of the Middle
East (possibly from modern-day Turkey) and in the end became
subjects of the Roman Empire. From the very first centuries
of their allocation in Italy, they had already developed a form
of social organization, culturally and commercially unique to
Although it is not certain that the Etruscans themselves founded
Rome, it is certain that they were among the first Kings of
Rome. They left behind works of art inestimable in value. Chimera
comes to mind, the frescos of the prince-like tombs and the
magnificent pieces of gold which have been conserved today in
archeological museums all over the world. It is also certain
that the offspring of the Roman aristocracy were educated in
Etruscan schools. It would be the same Roman aristocracy which
would later rob the Etruscan population of their ethnic identity
and impose upon them the Roman culture. The Etruscan population
was enterprising even in business.
The remains of Etruscan ships have been found all over the Mediterranean
Sea. They produced oil and wine and exported it to half of Europe
(the most ancient wine container ever found in France is Etruscan!).
Etruria (the land of the Etruscans) was a confederation
of 12 cities, the so-called "dodecapoli". Many of these cities
are very famous: Volterra, that still conserves its Etruscan
walls and also an exceptional archeological museum; Populonia,
one of the most beautiful archeological parks in all of Tuscany,
and also: Pitigliano, Fiesole, and Pisa. One could practically
say with confidence that almost all of the Tuscan hill cities
have an Etruscan origin.
In the past few years, the quest for the Etruscans has attracted
more and more scholars and passionate historians all over the
world and the the phenomenon continues to grow. Getting back
to Murlo- A few years ago a group of researchers from the Institute
of Genetics of the University of Torino arrived in Murlo. After
a historical investigation was conducted there and also in other
cities of Tuscany, they concluded that Murlo had remained in
tact and untouched by war and invasions throughout history.
It was far enough away from major roadways and communication
to guarantee total isolation to its inhabitants to the point
that the genetic heritage remained almost uncontaminated.
The research compared the DNA taken from ancient Etruscan bone
samples with the actual DNA of modern-day residents of Murlo.
The result was that the people of Murlo have conserved several
genetic characteristics of the Etruscan population, such as:
the facial features (the distance between the eyes, a straight
and short nose, rather pronounced cheekbones) and the structure
of their feet. We also know through other sources that the Etruscans
passed on other important legacies: culinary recipes such as
the Tuscan ribollita, and lasagna, and also the aspirated "C"
sound of the Tuscan dialect which turns "coca-cola" into "coha-hola".
When the media found out that it was possible to interview an
actual descendant of the Etruscans in flesh and blood, they
invaded Murlo and its inhabitants at an international level.
One of the most prestigious and well-known French weeklies,
"Le Figaro", dedicated an entire insert to this finding.
But even today the question of the true heredity of the people
of Murlo remains under speculation and many researchers, journalists
and crowds of onlookers continue to bombard the small town every
year. From the precious words of Camilla and Luciano, the Etruscans
that told me every minute detail of this story and all its particulars,
one can see that they have lived this experience like a game.
Naturally, there are some that like to brag about their new-found
roots but I also recall of another who when asked by a news
journalist how he felt to be Etruscan, he responded, somewhat
bothered, "Well, I feel normal"...