Sardinian people

Sardinian people
The Sardinian people or Sardinians are the people from or with origins in Sardinia, a mediterranean island and autonomous region of Italy.

Origin and influences

The Sardinian people are originally from the island of Sardinia, which was populated in waves of emigration from the Paleolithic period until recent times. Sardinia was first colonized in a stable manner during the Upper Paleolithic by people from the Iberian peninsula or the Italian peninsula. During the Neolithic period, people from Italy, Spain and the Aegean area settled in Sardinia. In the Eneolithic-Early Bronze age the "Beaker folk" from the Franco-Iberian area and from Central Europe settled on the island, bringing new metallurgical techniques and ceramic styles and probably some kind of Indo-European speech.

The Nuragic civilization arose during the Middle Bronze Age. At that time the island was divided into three or more major ethnic groups, the most important being the Iliensi, the Balari and the Corsi. Nuragic Sardinians have been connected by some scholars to the Shardana, a tribe of the Sea Peoples, which appear several times in ancient Egyptian records, but this hypothesis has been discredited by most historians.

The language (or the languages) spoken in Sardinia during the bronze age is unknown . According with some reconstructions the "Proto-Sardinian language" was a derivate of the Basque language with similarities with the ancient Iberian . Other scholars believe that there were various linguistic areas (two or more), possibly pre-indoeuropeans and indoeuropeans.

In the 10th century BC, the Phoenicians founded cities and ports along the coast, such as Caralis, Bithia, Sulki and Tharros.

The south of the island was partially conquered by the Carthaginians in the 6th century BC and was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. Sardinia, with the exception of the central mountainous area, was heavily "Latinized" during the Roman period, and the modern Sardinian language is considered the most conservative Romance language. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Sardinia was ruled in rapid succession by the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Ostrogoths and again by the Byzantines.

During the Middle Ages, the island was divided into four "Giudicati" (Kingdoms) who came under the influences of the Genoese and the Pisans. Genoa founded the cities of Alghero and Castelgenovese (Castelsardo) while the Pisans founded Castel di Castro (Cagliari) and Villa di Chiesa (Iglesias), who become with Sassari a commune. From the 12th century in the northwestern Sardinia, mainly in Nurra and Anglona, trades and immigration from Tuscany, Corsica and Liguria led to the birth of Sassarese language, still spoken in many centers.

From 1324 to 1420, Sardinia came under the rule of Kingdom of Aragon who repopulated the cities of Castel di Castro and Alghero with colonists, mainly Catalans. Catalan is still spoken today in the city of Alghero.

The Spanish era ended in 1720 when the whole island came under the control of the Dukes of Savoy, who assumed the title of "Kings of Sardinia". During the period, Savoy ruled Ligurian and Piedmontese families settled on the island of San Pietro and in Sant'Antioco, in the south-west area of Sardinia, bringing with them a Ligurian dialect called "Tabarchino", spoken today in that area. The Kingdom of Sardinia annexed the whole peninsula and Sicily in 1861 after the Risorgimento, becoming the Kingdom of Italy. There was extensive emigration from the mainland during the Fascist government when people from Veneto but also from Lombardy, Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily came to Sardinia to populate the new mining town of Carbonia and the villages of Mussolinia (now Arborea) and Fertilia. Venetian and Friulan are still spoken today in Arborea by the elderly. Istriot and Venetian are spoken in Fertilia.

Geographical distribution

Most Sardinians are native to the island but a sizable percentage have settled outside Sardinia, mostly in mainland Italy; for example, between 1955 to 1971, over 70,000 Sardinians emigrated to Piedmont. There are also sizable Sardinian communities in Liguria, Lombardy, Tuscany and Lazio. It had been estimated that always between 1955 and 1971 308,000 Sardinians have emigrated in other Italian regions. Sardinians and their descendants are also numerous in Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland and mainly in Argentina. Small communities with Sardinians ancestors, about 5000 people, are also found in Brazil (mostly in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo), the UK and Australia.


The languages spoken by Sardinians are:

    * Italian (Italiano), includes its regional variety;
    * Sardinian (Sardu), divided into the standardised varieties of Campidanese Sardinian (Sardu Campidanesu) and Logudorese Sardinian (Sardu Logudoresu);
    * Sassarese (Sassaresu), language born as a lingua franca of Tuscan-Corsican origin, with minor Ligurian, Catalan and Spanish influences and major Logudorese Sardinian influence;
    * Gallurese (Gaddhuresu), Corsican dialect with Logudorese Sardinian influence.

In Sardinia there are examples of language islands:

    * Algherese (Alguerés), Catalan dialect spoken in Alghero, with Logudorese Sardinian and Italian influences;
    * Tabarchino (Tabarchin), Ligurian dialect spoken in Carloforte and Calasetta;
    * Istriot spoken in Fertilia and Maristella, neighborhoods of Alghero;
    * Venetian and Friulian, spoken in Arborea, Tanca Marchese and Fertilia.


The vast majority of the Sardinians are Roman Catholic.

Genetic peculiarities of the population

Sardinians are one of the most genetically isolated population in Europe and, according with some studies, together with the Basques represents an example of pre-indoeuropean population survived in Europe from the Paleolithic.

Haplogroup I Distribution in Europe

Though Sardinians do not constitute a homogeneous population from a genetic point of view, in comparison to other European and Mediterranean populations, Sardinians are distinguished by genetic characteristics.


About 42% of the Sardinians belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup I, which is otherwise frequently encountered only in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Serbia area.

Furthermore, the I haplogroup of the indigenous Sardinians is of the I2a1 subtype (I-M26), which is almost unique to the island, though it takes origin in the Pyrenees region. The I2a1 haplogroup also has a low distribution around the Pyrenees, the Basque Country, Castile, the department of Béarn and Brittany in France, England, Sweden and Corsica. The second most common Y-chromosome haplogroup among Sardinian male population is the haplogroup R1b (22% of the total population) mainly present in the northern part of the island . Sardinia also has a relatively high distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup G (15%), which is also found in the Caucasus, the Pyrenees and the Switzerland Alps . Other haplogroups show lower frequencies.


The most common mtDNA haplogroups in Sardinia are H (H1 and H3) and V who are also particularly common in the iberian peninsula. Some subclades typical of Sardinia and rare in the rest of Europe are:

The subclade U5b3a1 of Haplogroup U (mtDNA) came from Provence to Sardinia by obsidian merchants, as it is estimated that 80% of obsidian found in France comes from Monte Arci in Sardinia reflecting the close relations that existed at one time for these two regions. Still about 4% of the female population in Sardinia belongs to this haplotype.[16] One other interesting anomaly is the presence of H13a of Haplogroup H (mtDNA) is present in the island at around 9.2%. As this is an extremely rare subclade normally present in the Caucasus, its worthy of further investigation.
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