The Genetic Origin of Daunians and the Pan-Mediterranean Southern Italian Iron Age Context.

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Montinaro, Francesco 
Solnik, Anu 
Molinaro, Ludovica 

The geographical location and shape of Apulia, a narrow land stretching out in the sea at the South of Italy, made this region a Mediterranean crossroads connecting Western Europe and the Balkans. Such movements culminated at the beginning of the Iron Age with the Iapygian civilization which consisted of three cultures: Peucetians, Messapians, and Daunians. Among them, the Daunians left a peculiar cultural heritage, with one-of-a-kind stelae and pottery, but, despite the extensive archaeological literature, their origin has been lost to time. In order to shed light on this and to provide a genetic picture of Iron Age Southern Italy, we collected and sequenced human remains from three archaeological sites geographically located in Northern Apulia (the area historically inhabited by Daunians) and radiocarbon dated between 1157 and 275 calBCE. We find that Iron Age Apulian samples are still distant from the genetic variability of modern-day Apulians, they show a degree of genetic heterogeneity comparable with the cosmopolitan Republican and Imperial Roman civilization, even though a few kilometers and centuries separate them, and they are well inserted into the Iron Age Pan-Mediterranean genetic landscape. Our study provides for the first time a window on the genetic make-up of pre-Roman Apulia, whose increasing connectivity within the Mediterranean landscape, would have contributed to laying the foundation for modern genetic variability. In this light, the genetic profile of Daunians may be compatible with an at least partial autochthonous origin, with plausible contributions from the Balkan peninsula.

Dauni. Iron Age, Southern Italy, ancient DNA, DNA, Mitochondrial, Europe, Italy
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Mol Biol Evol
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Oxford University Press (OUP)