Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forensic science used to determine who's who in pre-Columbian Peru

Date:
April 22, 2012
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been used to establish migration and population patterns for American indigenous cultures during the time before Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas. New research has used more detailed DNA analysis of individuals from Arequipa region to identify the family relationships and burial traditions of ancient Peru.

The community of pre-Columbian llama and alpaca herders at the Tompullo site in Peru was (genetically) an extended patriarchal society, living in ayllu-based communities, who used chullpas as family graves.
Credit: Mateusz Baca

Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been used to establish migration and population patterns for American indigenous cultures during the time before Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Genetics has used more detailed DNA analysis of individuals from Arequipa region to identify the family relationships and burial traditions of ancient Peru.

The social unit (ayllu) of Native South Americans is thought to be based on kin relationships. The establishment of ayllu-based communities is also associated with funereal monuments (chullpas) which are thought to be important social sites not only because of their religious importance but because they housed the venerated ayllu's ancestors. Ancestor worship and a belief in a common ancestor, central to the ayllu, still exists in the traditions of the Q'ero community.

Researchers from University of Warsaw, in collaboration with Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria, used DNA analysis to reconstruct the family trees of individuals buried in six chullpas near the Coropuna volcano is southern Peru. Despite prior looting, the unique nature of this site, 4000m up the Cora Cora mountain, allowed an extraordinary preservation of human remains and of DNA within both teeth and bone.

mtDNA analysis showed that the groups were of Andean origin and indicated a 500 year continuity, up to modern Andeans, without any major impact by European colonisation.

The social structure of an aylla was established using Y (male) chromosome and autosomal microsatellites analysis, in conjunction with the mtDNA. Family connections were clearly strongest within each chullpa, since individuals buried in the same chullpa were more closely related than those buried in different chullpas, and all males buried together shared identical Y chromosome profiles. In two of the chullpas several generations of related males were found. This matches current thought that the ancient Andians would swap women between families -- so called 'sister exchange' while the men retained the ancestral land.

The combinations of DNA analysis used allowed for an unprecedented level of detail in social behaviour to be discerned. In one chullpa three different Y chromosome lineages were found. Comparison of mtDNA within this chullpa suggests that two of the males had the same mother but different fathers, and the third male was related to one of the females, probably a half brother.

Mateusz Baca explained, "Our results show that this community of llama and alpaca herders was (genetically) an extended patriarchal society. The use of chullpas as family graves is consistent with the idea of ayllu-based communities based around strong kinship relationships. However, the chullpa with mixed male heritage shows that this social structure could also be flexible and the strict rules governing marriage and family could be intentionally, or unintentionally, relaxed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mateusz Baca, Karolina Doan, Maciej Sobczyk, Anna Stankovic and Piotr Weglenski. Ancient DNA reveals kinship burial patterns of a pre-Columbian Andean community. BMC Genetics, 2012 (in press)

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "Forensic science used to determine who's who in pre-Columbian Peru." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120422231826.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2012, April 22). Forensic science used to determine who's who in pre-Columbian Peru. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120422231826.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "Forensic science used to determine who's who in pre-Columbian Peru." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120422231826.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Newsy (Apr. 12, 2014) Archeologists have found many fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits, including those of saber-tooth tigers and mammoths. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins