The peopling of Sardinia (Italy): history and effects
- Cite this article as:
- Vona, G. Int. J. Anthropol. (1997) 12: 71. doi:10.1007/BF02447890
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Over the last ten years the population of the Mediterranean island of Sardinia has been object of numerous studies in the fields of anthropology and population genetics. Its insularity, central position in the Mediterranean area and rich historical past have made the island a veritable laboratory for the study and understanding of those interacting evolutionary mechanisms which determine a population's genetic structure. Indeed, from work performed at different levels on genetic structure analysis there emerges an extremely complex picture of the relationships between Sardinian and other Italian and Mediterranean populations, but also of relationships within the Sardinian population itself The diversification from Mediterranean and Italian populations can be explained by Sardinia's historical and demographic past. Internal heterogeneity can be attributed, in part, to strict isolation and the accompanying high levels of endogamy and inbreeding, and in part to the endemic presence of malaria which exerted a strong selective pressure on some characteristics; determining, for example, the differentiation between the plains and the mountain areas. Finally, an influence on Sardinia's biological history not to be neglected could be attributed to the demographic events, which triggered off phenomena of genetic drift and to cultural factors.