STATES CHRONICLE – A new study reveals a maternal hierarchy in an ancient civilization in New Mexico, inside the Chaco Canyon. There lies the richest burial site in the US Southwest. Specialists uncovered the skeleton of a 40-year-old man surrounded by 11,000 turquoise beads and pendants. Due to the fact that there are no written records of this civilization, scientists have wondered how this society which dates back at least a thousand year back was organized here in Chaco.
After using some ancient DNA collected from the remains of the man and 13 other people who were buried by his side, specialists concluded that elite status was transmitted through a maternal hierarchy, maternal line. It was passed on from mothers to their daughters and sons. However, we knew that most ancient societies were based on a parental line, meaning that status or leadership was passed through to children through their father’s line.
Nevertheless, there are some exceptions when it comes to matrilineal societies. For instance, in ancient societies like the Lycians of ancient Turkey, kinship and elite status is passed from mothers to daughters and sons. This does not mean that such societies were ruled by women. However, it does suggest that women had a significant role in passing over the family line.
Researchers have been discussing this issue for a while now, and they were wondering whether the Chacoans who lived in the largest buildings in North America has an equal society or a hierarchical one with an established elite. Thus, scientists decided to analyze the bodies to reveal whether they indicate something about the organization of their community.
A team of researchers conducted by archaeologist Douglas Kennett of Pennsylvania State University in State College examined the remains found at Chaco Canyon, in room 33 of the Pueblo Bonito complex. Now, these were stored at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, by using DNA sequencing. Firstly, the team of scientists established the order in which all the bodies were buried by making use of radiocarbon dating.
The oldest ones dated back 800 C.E., from the very beginning of the Chacoan era. The youngest ones pertained to people from Chacoan societies which lived there in 1130. Scientists used genetic analysis to examine mitochondrial DNA which can only be passed through the maternal line. Nine of the bodies there indicated the same mitochondrial DNA.
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