Ancient Pueblos Traced Descent Through Moms

Artifacts are lined up on a studio backdrop, from left, turquoise beads, a mosaic cylinder basket, shells, shell bracelets and more beads.
These symbolically important artifacts—haliotis shells, a shell trumpet, shell bracelets, and turquoise beads, pendants, and a mosaic cylinder basket—were found in a crypt of Pueblo Bonito along with 14 human bodies. 
© AMNH/R. Mickens

New DNA analysis of ancient Pueblo remains suggests that the complex society that once existed at Chaco Canyon in the southwestern United States traced family relationships through the mother’s line, confirming long-held contentions of modern Pueblos that the matrilineal system is centuries-old. Studies of the genomes of 9 individuals found buried along with a trove of ceremonial offerings at Pueblo Bonito reveal a matrilineal dynasty that lasted for about 330 years. [Full Text]