Power may have passed via women in ancient Chaco Canyon society | Science News

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Power may have passed via women in ancient Chaco Canyon society

Mitochondrial DNA from skeletons in elite burial room shows familial relationship spanning three centuries

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5:15pm, February 21, 2017
Pueblo Bonito

DYNASTIC CENTER  Recovered DNA suggests that nine people buried in a huge structure called Pueblo Bonito (shown), located in northwestern New Mexico, belonged to a maternal dynasty that lasted for 330 years during the heyday of ancient Chaco society.

A maternal dynasty ruled one of the earliest and most mysterious civilizations in the Americas, centered in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, for more than three centuries, researchers say.

DNA extracted from the bones of individuals buried inside a massive Chaco stone pueblo or great house, along with new radiocarbon dates for interred bones, indicate that royal status ran through a particular maternal lineage from 800 to 1130, say Penn State archaeologist Douglas Kennett and colleagues. Chaco society flourished in what’s now the U.S. Southwest during that stretch (SN Online: 3/17/11). Recovered DNA provides the first direct evidence that Chaco civilization started out with stratified social classes in a system that had surprising staying power, the scientists conclude February 21 in Nature

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