Ordinarily this GCAS blog emphasizes topics that are directly related to our particular geographic area. However, this article via The Atlantic, about recent anthropological discoveries in the Denisova cave in Siberia, is relevant to us because it illustrates how DNA technology is impelling scientists to change their assumptions about how archaic and modern humans migrated, and how they interacted with the groups they encountered.
[Above photo: Excavation works in the East Chamber of Denisova Cave, Russia; by Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology]
One of the scientists involved in the Denisova cave project explained how the team's initial assumptions in their excavation of the cave had to change completely after the DNA results became known. Paraphrasing Svante Pääbo, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology: the way scientists and we devoted amateurs speculate about the past says much more about our own ideas about humans and how they must have lived, than does anything about what may have actually occurred. That is a concept that holds as true in archaeological study in the Mimbres Valley as it does in Siberia.