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Photos: Pueblo Society Chose Rulers Based on Mother's Line

Intro

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: George Perry/Penn State University)

The prehistoric rulers at Chaco Canyon's Pueblo Bonito had their mothers, but not their fathers, to thank for their high positions. That's because elite rulers were chosen based on their mothers' family, making the society a matrilineal one.

Researchers made the discovery by studying the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA of nine individuals buried in an elaborate crypt in Pueblo Bonito, a multilevel settlement built in what is now New Mexico. The results show that a matrilineal dynasty ruled the area from about A.D. 800 to 1130, when the society collapsed.

Read the full story on the prehistoric, matrilineal culture.

Pueblo Bonito

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: Douglas Kennett/Penn State University)

Pueblo Bonito, as seen from the northern rim of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.

Prehistoric rooms

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: George Perry/Penn State University)

Room blocks within Pueblo Bonito.

Turquoise and shells

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: Roderick Mickens/Copyright American Museum of Natural History)

An archaeology team sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History excavated Pueblo Bonito in 1896. Here's a sample of the vast amounts of turquoise and shell artifacts they found in the elaborate crypt there.

Grave goods

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: Roderick Mickens/Copyright American Museum of Natural History)

Pottery and a wooden flute found in the graves of the elite individuals at Pueblo Bonito.

Chaco Canyon map

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: Kennet et al. Nature Communications. (2017))

Images and maps of Pueblo Bonito and the surrounding Chacoan sites.

Family tree

chaco canyon pueblo society

(Image credit: Graphical layout: T. Harper; Kennett et al. Nature Communications. (2017))

A family tree showing the inferred relationships for the individuals buried in the elite crypt. Matrilineal descent is highlighted in red. The blue shows the grandmother-grandson relationship and the mother-daughter relationship.

Read the full story on the prehistoric, matrilineal culture.