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Not all of these various peoples are linguistically or ethnically closely related. Some of them spoke Italic languages, others spoke Greek because of the arrival of Hellenic colonists, while others spoke languages that belonged to another Indo-European branch or, like the Etruscan language, were not Indo-European. The classification of a few of these linguistic designations are unknown or disputed.
In the absence of any knowledge of ethnicity in Italy before the introduction of writing, its introduction in the 7th century BC must serve as the only certain terminus post quem for assigning ethnic groupings, which must be defined primarily on the basis of language. Other criteria: shared descent, customs, religion, etc., remain without evidence in any historical document. Mention of cultural heritage in mythology is uncertain and equivocal at best. It can only be used to support or contradict facts already known by the methods of history.
In Italy, the scholar who initiated the end of Kossinna's Law was Massimo Pallottino. He noticed that the archaeological cultures of Italy around the time of the invention of writing did not on the whole correspond to the documented ethnicons. He argued that terms such as "the Terramare culture" or "the Apennine culture" have no ethnic or linguistic significance. And yet he himself used these distinctions partially in some cases in attempting to trace the supposed entry of Italic peoples or their ancestors into Italy. More recently, even the assumption of "migrations" in the diffusion of cultures and languages has been called into question, notably by Colin Renfrew.,
Stone age 
The presence of the Homo neanderthalensis has been demonstrated in archaeological findings dating to c. 50,000 years ago (late Pleistocene). There are some 20 such sites, the most important being that of the Grotta Guattari at San Felice Circeo, on the Tyrrhenian Sea south to Rome. Others are the grotta di Fumane (province of Verona), grotta San Bernardino (province of Vicenza) and the Breuil grotto, also in San Felice.
Ages of metals 
Remains of the later prehistoric age have been found in Liguria and Lombardy (stone carvings in Valcamonica) . The most famous is perhaps that of Ötzi the Iceman, the mummy of a mountain hunter found in the Similaun glacier in South Tyrol, dating to c. 3000 BC (Copper Age).
During Copper Age, at the same time of the appearance of metalwork, Indo-European people migrated to Italy. Approximatively four waves of population from north to the Alps have been identified by archeological evidence:
- Around the mid-3rd millennium BC, from populations who imported copper smithing. The Remedello culture (ca. 3400 - 2800 BC) took over the Po Valley.
Bronze age 
- From late-3rd to early-2nd millennium BC, with tribes coming both from the north and from the Franco-iberian area identified with the Beaker culture (ca. 2400 – 1800 BC) and by the use of bronze smithing, in the Padan Plain, in Tuscany and on the coasts of Sardinia and Sicily.
- In the mid-2nd millennium BC, associated with the Terramare culture (ca. 1700-1150 BC.). The Terramare culture takes its name from the black earth (terremare) residue of settlement mounds, which have long served the fertilizing needs of local farmers. The occupations of the terramare people as compared with their Neolithic predecessors may be inferred with comparative certainty. They were still hunters, but had domesticated animals; they were fairly skillful metallurgists, casting bronze in moulds of stone and clay, and they were also agriculturists, cultivating beans, the vine, wheat and flax. The later Latino-faliscan people have been associated with this culture.
Iron age 
- From the late 2nd millennium to the early 1st millennium BC, the Iron Age Proto-villanovan culture (ca. 1100 - 900 BC), related to the Central European Urnfield culture, brought iron-working to the Italian peninsula. Proto-villanovans practiced cremation and buried the ashes of their dead in pottery urns of distinctive double-cone shape. Generally speaking, Proto-villanovan settlements has been found in almost all the Italian peninsula from Veneto to eastern Sicily (Milazzo), although they were most numerous in the northern-central part of Italy. The most important settlement excavated are those of Frattesina in Veneto region, Bismantova in Emilia-Romagna and near the Monti della Tolfa, north of Rome . Campania, a region where inhumation was the general practice, proto-villanovan cremation burials have been identified at Capua, at the "princely tombs" of Pontecagnano near Salerno (finds conserved in the Museum of Agro Picentino) and at Sala Consilina.
The later Osco-Umbrian, Veneti (and possibly the Latino-Faliscans too) have been associated with this culture. In Tuscany and in part of Emilia-Romagna the proto-villanovan culture was followed by the Villanovan Culture, often associated with the non-indoeuropean Etruscans.
In the 13th century BC proto-Celts (probably the ancestors of the Lepontii people) coming from the area of modern day Switzerland, eastern France and south-western Germany entered in Northern Italy (Lombardy and eastern Piedmont) starting the Canegrate culture whom not long time after, merging with the indigenous, and originally Pre-Indo-European, Ligurians, produced the mixed Golasecca culture.
About this time, Illyrians tribes migrated from the Balkan coasts to Apulia.
Italic people 
The term Italic people is used in various meanings, indicating one or more groups of people in Ancient Italy. In the strict and narrow meaning, the term refers to all the people who spoke Osco-Umbrian Indo-European languages and had settled along the Apennines, from Umbria to Calabria.
Italics as Osco-Umbrians 
Within the narrower meaning, "Italics" are regarded, especially by linguists, as those belonging to the Osco-Umbrian or Sabellian people, characterized by the use of Osco-Umbrian languages, an Indo-European language family attested in the Italian peninsula between the 2nd millennium BC and the first centuries of the 1st millennium A.D. This is the general term used in specialized historiography.
Italics as Osco-Umbrians and Latino-Faliscis 
In a larger sense, "Italic" means the set of two ancient similar Indo-European groups: next to Osco-Umbrian, this set also includes Latino-Faliscis (or "Latino-Venetis" if also the membership of the ancient Veneti is accepted). It is therefore the set of all Indo-Europeans present exclusively in Italy in antiquity, and excludes Indo-European people that were present also in other areas of Europe, such as the Cisalpine Gaul Celtic family or the Messapians (related to the Illyrians).
Italics as people of Ancient Italy 
In improper sense, the term "Italics" is sometimes used, especially in the non-specialized literature, to refer to all pre-Roman people of Italy, including therefore (definitely or supposedly) not Indo-European lineages as the Etruscans, Ligurians or Raetians. The ancient Greeks designated this kind of people, at least limitedly to the areas of Magna Graecia where they were in contact with them, with the term "Italiotes" also resumed later with a different meaning.
Evolution of the concept of "Italic" 
Initially, the Indo-Europeanist scholars were inclined to postulate for the various people speaking Indo-European Italic languages, namely those belonging to Indo-European language families attested exclusively in Italy in antiquity, a separate unitarian branch of the Indo-European languages, parallel for example to the Celtic or Germanic ones, and this was identified under the common label of "Italic". The founder of this hypothesis is considered Antoine Meillet (1866–1936).
However, this unitarian pattern was radically critiqued starting with the work of Alois Walde (1869–1924). Arguments by Vittore Pisani (1899–1990) and Giacomo Devoto (1897–1974) suggested that there were two distinct branches of Indo-European Italic languages and people who spoke them. This idea was variously reformulated in the years after World War II, and eventually received general acceptance by the majority of scholars.
See also 
- Genetic history of Italy
- History of Italy
- Nuragic civilization, about Sardinia
- Prehistoric Italy
- List of ancient peoples of Italy
- Pallottino 1975, pp. 57–58.
- Renfrew, Archaeology and Language: the puzzle of Indo-European origins1987.
- p144, Richard Bradley The prehistory of Britain and Ireland, Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-521-84811-3
- Pearce, Mark (December 1, 1998). "New research on the terramare of northern Italy". Antiquity.
- Francisco Villar, Gli Indoeuropei e le origini dell'Europa, pp. 474-475.
- Ermanno A. Arslan, "Dimenticati dalla storia: i gruppi celtici minori della Cisalpina. Una rilettura di Plinio, Naturalis historia, e di Livio, Ab urbe condita" 
- Gianna G. Buti e Giacomo Devoto, Preistoria e storia delle regioni d'Italia, Sansoni Università, 1974
- Giacomo Devoto, Gli antichi Italici, 2a ed. Firenze, Vallecchi, 1951.
- Sabatino Moscati, Così nacque l'Italia: profili di popoli riscoperti, Società editrice internazionale, Torino 1998.
- Vittore Pisani, Lingue preromane d'Italia. Origini e fortune, 1978.
- Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli, Italia, omnium terrarum alumna, Officine grafiche Garzanti Milano, Garzanti-Schewiller, 1990
- Francisco Villar, Gli Indoeuropei e le origini dell'Europa, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1997. ISBN 88-15-05708-0
- Pallottino, Massimo; J. Cremona (Translator); David Ridgway (Editor) (1975). "1 Italy at the Dawn of History". The Etruscans (Revised and Enlarged ed.). Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press. pp. 37–63. ISBN 0-253-32080-1.
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