Archaeologists made an important discovery regarding the ancient Chaco civilization in New Mexico. A DNA analysis performed on nine people buried in a crypt near Pueblo Bonito revealed that they passed leadership through their mothers.
The Chaco dynasty was the most powerful and influential Native American culture from the American Southwest more than 1,200 years ago. A huge, labyrinth-like house in the Pueblo Bonito archaeological site hosted a few bodies buried in its crypt who were later identified as rulers in the dynasty in question.
This is the first time when the archaeologists discovered clear evidence on the social hierarchy in the ancient American Southwest. Steve Plog, archaeologist at University of Virginia, declared that they could now confirm that a particular kinship was in charge of Pueblo Bonito for more than 300 years.
In 1986, they discovered the enormous house in Pueblo Bonito that hosted the crypt where they found 14 people buried. Together with their bodies, they found necklaces, bracelets, and other pieces of jewelry that made the archaeologists dub the place the richest burial ground they found in the Southwest.
The luxurious house with 650 rooms that the crypt was placed in and the jewelry led the researchers to the conclusion that the buried people must have been leaders in the area somewhere between 800 and 1250 AD.
After they performed a genetic analysis on nine of the bodies they found in the crypt, they discovered that they all belonged to the same maternal line, so they constituted a “matrilineal” dynasty that ruled for over 300 years. This is quite peculiar, since the majority of dynasties are paternal and kings and nobles usually come from the father’s line.
It was clear that these 14 were venerated in their Chacoan society, given to their special place of burial and the riches that were found with them, but it was not clear what relationship was between the individuals.
Now, they have discovered that the Chaco civilization had a hierarchical society where females were the leaders. However, it is a bit hard to reach a clear conclusion with such ancient societies that did not let any written records.
Some other experts are still skeptical about the hypothesis of the archaeological team, since this is the first time when DNA analysis is used to determine social hierarchies and structures. Hopefully, the ancestors of the Chaco civilization will be eager to cooperate with the researchers and find out more about the ancient history of the Native Americans.
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