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Una Faccia, Una Razza: The Bond and Similarities Between Modern Southern Italians and Greeks

A study published last year by open-access preprint biological sciences repository bioRxiv discovered that there is a “high similarity between Southern Italy and the Peloponnese.” Put simply, this means that the modern populations of Southern Italy, Greece, and Cyprus share DNA similarities, according to the Greek City Times, an online Greek newspaper. 

The study, titled “Assessing temporal and geographic contacts across the Adriatic Sea through the analysis of genome-wide data from Southern Italy,” was published on March 1, 2022. Its researchers reported that “cluster analysis showed that present-day South-Eastern Peloponnesian populations have a high genetic affinity with modern Apulians, Calabrians and South-Eastern Sicilians, all characterized by a cluster composition different from those displayed by other Greek groups.”According to the Greek City Times, the study added that individuals from Western Sicily share similarities with those inhabiting the Western part of the Peloponnese, a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece.

(Photo Credit: greekreporter.com)

The study confirming the similarities in DNA confirms what has already long been believed to be true. Greek colonists lived in Italy for centuries and were responsible for establishing some of its major cities, such as Naples, known as Neapolis, and Syracuse in Sicily.

Between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, a group of ancient Greek colonists settled along the coast of southern Italy. This region came to be known as the Magna Graecia. The people living in these areas were known as Italiotai by the Greeks, and as Graeci by the Romans, according to Britannica. 

The coast of southern Italy was chosen for the establishment of Greek colonies and city-states because of the fertility of the land and its strategic trade location, according to the World History Encyclopedia. The area was a meeting point for the Greek, Etruscan, and Phoenician civilizations.

Asia London Palomba

Asia London Palomba is a trilingual freelance journalist from Rome, Italy. In the past, her work on culture, travel, and history has been published in The Boston Globe, Atlas Obscura, The Christian Science Monitor, and Grub Street, New York Magazine's food section. In her free time, Asia enjoys traveling home to Italy to spend time with family and friends, drinking Hugo Spritzes, and making her nonna's homemade cavatelli.