NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at 6:00 PM, at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City, New Mexico. No potluck dinner but refreshments provided. Featured speaker: GCAS's own Joseph A. Bryce, Assistant Curator of History and Exhibitions at the Silver City Museum, will discuss "The Fremont Culture in Utah."

NEXT FIELD TRIP: By tradition there is NO field trip in January, but watch this space for future info on one or more possible work parties at the GCAS's library room at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site. Inventory and organizing opportunities galore!

Science

DNA Sequencing Applied to Non-Human Remains

This final post in our DNA trilogy concerns how the genetic analysis of non-human remains enhances the archaeologist's understanding of the past human culture they are investigating. And sometimes opens more and unexpected avenues of research to pursue.

image from upload.wikimedia.orgArchaeologists have studied the remains of 14 scarlet macaws recently unearthed from five different New Mexico sites including Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres region. Macaws' feathers were highly valued not just by the macaws themselves, but by Ancestral Puebloans and other cultures throughout the US Southwest.

Continue reading "DNA Sequencing Applied to Non-Human Remains" »


DNA Sequencing in Chaco Canyon

This article via Western Digs is a year-and-a-half old, but it discusses the application of DNA technology image from www.pnas.org to burials that are much closer to the GCAS's home than Denisova cave.

The burials were found in Room 33, aka the Gambler's House, of Pubelo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. [Figure on right via Stephen Plog and Carrie Heitman, Hierarchy and Social Inequality in the American Southwest, A.D. 800-1200.]

From the Western Digs article: "They were interred in what’s been described as “the richest burial known in the Southwest” — 14 men and women buried over the course of 330 years in the same crypt, some accompanied by pieces of pottery and pendants, others lavished with thousands of turquoise and shell beads....And new analysis of DNA from the 14 sets of remains shows that these elites weren’t merely members of the same influential class — indeed, they were all members of the same extended family, a “dynasty” that traced its ancestry to a single woman...."

Webmaster says check it out!

/s/ webmaster


Current Issues in DNA Sequencing

image from d1o50x50snmhul.cloudfront.netOrdinarily 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]

Continue reading "Current Issues in DNA Sequencing" »