Italian Diversity

28 May 2020

At ... during the Laste Glacial Maximum, when an ice sheet covered a goodly portion of Britain and Swiss mountain glaciers were at maximum extent, southern Europe became a refugia from humans pushed south by the expanding ice sheet across NW Europe. Now, researchers are able to show the extraordinary diversity of Italy's genetic history with a full genome analysis of a sample of the population. There are, to put it mildy, big differences between the people of northern and southern Italy, as one might suspect. It seems that northern Italians retain an affinity with the Late Palaeolithic period. For example, the Magdalenians of 19,000 to 14,000 years ago and the Gravettians, of 14,000 to 9,000 years ago (the Mesolithic goes unmentioned). They also show an ancestry even older, similar to hunter gatherers of eastern Europe over 30,000 years ago. These people subsequently expanded out fo the refugia to colonise NW Europe after the ice sheet receded. It turns out the gene pool in southern, peninsular Italy, is more akin to Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples who migrated through the Mediterranean, introducing farming as they went, and establishing trading colonies along the way. These had an origin in the Levant and Anatolia it would seem. The genes of the older population was less in evidence the furher south the samples were taken.