Discovering who was a leader, or even if leaders existed, from the ruins of archaeological sites is difficult, but now a team of archaeologists and biological anthropologists, using a powerful combination of radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA, have shown that a matrilineal dynasty likely ruled Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico for more than 300 years.
“We are not saying that this was a state-level society,” said Douglas J. Kennett, head and professor of anthropology, Penn State. “But we don't think it was egalitarian either.”
Photo of Pueblo Bonito taken from the northern rim of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, U.S.A. (Douglas Kennett / Penn State University)
Archaeologists have described the Chaco Phenomenon as anything from an egalitarian society without any rulers at all, to a full-fledged state-level society or kingdom. The researchers now think that Chaco Canyon was much more than a leaderless conglomeration of people, but a hierarchically organized society with leadership inherited through the maternal line.
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