Apennine Culture - Imputations of Ethnicity

Imputations of Ethnicity

In the 19th and early 20th centuries various theorists made various imputations of ethnicity concerning the Apennine culture. In the 20th century, the Italian scholar, Massimo Pallottino, who specialized in Etruscan civilization, rejected them as oversimple. At least with reference to Italy, he discarded Kossinna's Law, which states languages and ethnic groups are to be identified with archaeological groups. Therefore, Pallottino argued that terms such as "the Terramare culture" or "the Apennine culture" have no ethnic or linguistic significance.

The Apennine drew to an end with the spread of the Proto-Villanovan culture from the north. It pervaded all of Italy and introduced cremation; however, in Italy cremation existed side-by-side with continued inhumation. By the start of the Villanovan regional cultures had evolved along two main lines: those that practiced both cremation and inhumation and those that practiced inhumation only. The Tiber river was the dividing line. It also divided the two main language groups: Etruscan and Italic. Whatever the Proto-Villanovan represents culturally it cannot have been a uniform language or ethnic group; hence, an "Italic" invasion at that time is to be excluded.

Pallottino's presentation of the contemporaneous view of how the Indo-European languages on the left bank of the Tiber and southward and eastward arrived is as follows. Three waves of Indo-European language speakers, speaking closely related languages, arrived in small groups over time across the Adriatic sea and moved inland. The first occurred in the Middle Neolithic starting with the Square-necked Pottery Culture and prevailed for the remaining Neolithic and the Proto- and earlier Apennine. The Latin language evolved ultimately from their speech, in Italy. The second wave is associated with Mycenaean civilization of the Late Bronze Age and brought the ancestors of the Italic language speakers into central and south Italy. They prevailed during the remainder of the Apennine. The third wave came with the Proto-Villanovan Culture and is ultimately responsible for the Venetic language speakers. Pallottino admits that this is a tentative and unproven interpretation of the linguistic and archaeological evidence, but he profers it as being better than the previous view of an invasion of Italic people from the north in the Terramare culture, which was distinct from and parallel to the early Apennine.

The Apennine culture was in this theory always practiced mainly by speakers of unknown languages in the Italic branch of Indo-European, from which the historical languages later came. The term "Proto-Italic", in Pallottino's view, is less useful because there was no single proto-language in Italy. Such a language would have existed on the other side of the Adriatic (Illyria) in the Neolithic. The way of life of the population in the Apennine range also is consistent with an etymology of Italia as "land of young cattle" (see under Italy).

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