Concept: Inca Empire
In 1985, a frozen mummy was found in Cerro Aconcagua (Argentina). Archaeological studies identified the mummy as a seven-year-old Inca sacrifice victim who lived >500 years ago, at the time of the expansion of the Inca Empire towards the southern cone. The sequence of its entire mitogenome was obtained. After querying a large worldwide database of mitogenomes (>28,000) we found that the Inca haplotype belonged to a branch of haplogroup C1b (C1bi) that has not yet been identified in modern Native Americans. The expansion of C1b into the Americas, as estimated using 203 C1b mitogenomes, dates to the initial Paleoindian settlements (~18.3 thousand years ago [kya]); however, its internal variation differs between Mesoamerica and South America. By querying large databases of control region haplotypes (>150,000), we found only a few C1bi members in Peru and Bolivia (e.g. Aymaras), including one haplotype retrieved from ancient DNA of an individual belonging to the Wari Empire (Peruvian Andes). Overall, the results suggest that the profile of the mummy represents a very rare sub-clade that arose 14.3 (5-23.6) kya and could have been more frequent in the past. A Peruvian Inca origin for present-day C1bi haplotypes would satisfy both the genetic and paleo-anthropological findings.
This study focuses on the descendants of the royal Inka family. The Inkas ruled Tawantinsuyu, the largest pre-Columbian empire in South America, which extended from southern Colombia to central Chile. The origin of the royal Inkas is currently unknown. While the mummies of the Inka rulers could have been informative, most were destroyed by Spaniards and the few remaining disappeared without a trace. Moreover, no genetic studies have been conducted on present-day descendants of the Inka rulers. In the present study, we analysed uniparental DNA markers in 18 individuals predominantly from the districts of San Sebastian and San Jerónimo in Cusco (Peru), who belong to 12 families of putative patrilineal descent of Inka rulers, according to documented registries. We used single-nucleotide polymorphisms and short tandem repeat (STR) markers of the Y chromosome (Y-STRs), as well as mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequences, to investigate the paternal and maternal descent of the 18 alleged Inka descendants. Two Q-M3* Y-STR clusters descending from different male founders were identified. The first cluster, named AWKI-1, was associated with five families (eight individuals). By contrast, the second cluster, named AWKI-2, was represented by a single individual; AWKI-2 was part of the Q-Z19483 sub-lineage that was likely associated with a recent male expansion in the Andes, which probably occurred during the Late Intermediate Period (1000-1450 AD), overlapping the Inka period. Concerning the maternal descent, different mtDNA lineages associated with each family were identified, suggesting a high maternal gene flow among Andean populations, probably due to changes in the last 1000 years.
The Inca Empire is claimed to have driven massive population movements in western South America, and to have spread Quechua, the most widely-spoken language family of the indigenous Americas. A test-case is the Chachapoyas region of northern Peru, reported as a focal point of Inca population displacements. Chachapoyas also spans the environmental, cultural and demographic divides between Amazonia and the Andes, and stands along the lowest-altitude corridor from the rainforest to the Pacific coast. Following a sampling strategy informed by linguistic data, we collected 119 samples, analysed for full mtDNA genomes and Y-chromosome STRs. We report a high indigenous component, which stands apart from the network of intense genetic exchange in the core central zone of Andean civilization, and is also distinct from neighbouring populations. This unique genetic profile challenges the routine assumption of large-scale population relocations by the Incas. Furthermore, speakers of Chachapoyas Quechua are found to share no particular genetic similarity or gene-flow with Quechua speakers elsewhere, suggesting that here the language spread primarily by cultural diffusion, not migration. Our results demonstrate how population genetics, when fully guided by the archaeological, historical and linguistic records, can inform multiple disciplines within anthropology.
More prehistoric trepanned crania have been found in Peru than any other location worldwide. We examine trepanation practices and outcomes in Peru over nearly 2000 years from 400 BC to provide a perspective on the procedure with comparison to procedures/outcomes of other ancient, medieval and American-Civil-War cranial surgery. . Data on trepanation demographics, techniques, and survival rates were collected through the scientific analysis of more than 800 trepanned crania discovered in Peru, through field studies and the courtesy of museums and private collections in the U.S. and Peru, over nearly 3 decades. Data on procedures and outcomes of cranial surgery ancient, medieval and during 19th-century through the American-Civil-war were obtained via a literature review. Successful trepanations from prehistoric times through the American Civil War likely involved shallow surgeries that did not pierce the dura mater. While there are regional and temporal variations in ancient Peru, overall long-term survival rates for the study series were about 40% in the earliest period (400-200 BC), with improvement to a high of 91% in samples from AD 1000-1400, to an average of 75-83% during the Inca Period (AD 1400s-1500). In comparison,the average cranial surgery mortality rate during the American Civil war was 46-56%, and short and long-term survival rates are unknown. The contrast in outcomes highlights the astonishing success of ancient cranial surgery in Peru in the treatment of living patients.
The analysis of ancient human DNA from South America allows the exploration of pre-Columbian population history through time and to directly test hypotheses about cultural and demographic evolution. The Middle Horizon (650-1100 AD) represents a major transitional period in the Central Andes, which is associated with the development and expansion of ancient Andean empires such as Wari and Tiwanaku. These empires facilitated a series of interregional interactions and socio-political changes, which likely played an important role in shaping the region’s demographic and cultural profiles. We analyzed individuals from three successive pre-Columbian cultures present at the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site in Lima, Peru: Lima (Early Intermediate Period, 500-700 AD), Wari (Middle Horizon, 800-1000 AD) and Ychsma (Late Intermediate Period, 1000-1450 AD). We sequenced 34 complete mitochondrial genomes to investigate the potential genetic impact of the Wari Empire in the Central Coast of Peru. The results indicate that genetic diversity shifted only slightly through time, ruling out a complete population discontinuity or replacement driven by the Wari imperialist hegemony, at least in the region around present-day Lima. However, we caution that the very subtle genetic contribution of Wari imperialism at the particular Huaca Pucllana archaeological site might not be representative for the entire Wari territory in the Peruvian Central Coast.
The Altiplano region of the South American Andes is marked by an inhospitable climate to which the autochthonous human populations adapted and then developed great ancient civilizations, such as the Tiwanaku culture and the Inca Empire. Since pre-Columbian times, different rulers established themselves around the Titicaca and Poopo Lakes. By the time of the arrival of Spaniards, Aymara and Quechua languages were predominant on the Altiplano under the rule of the Incas, although the occurrence of other spoken languages, such as Puquina and Uruquilla, suggests the existence of different ethnic groups in this region. In this study, we focused on the pre-Columbian history of the autochthonous Altiplano populations, particularly the Uros ethnic group, which claims to directly descend from the first settlers of the Andes, and some linguists suggest they might otherwise be related to Arawak speaking groups from the Amazon. Using phylogeographic, population structure and spatial genetic analyses of Y-chromosome and mtDNA data, we inferred the genetic relationships among Uros populations (Los Uros from Peru, Uru-Chipaya and Uru-Poopo from Bolivia), and compared their haplotype profiles with eight Aymara, nine Quechua and two Arawak (Machiguenga and Yanesha) speaking populations from Peru and Bolivia. Our results indicated that Uros populations stand out among the Altiplano populations, while appearing more closely related to the Aymara and Quechua from Lake Titicaca and surrounding regions than to the Amazon Arawaks. Moreover, the Uros populations from Peru and Bolivia are genetically differentiated from each other, indicating a high heterogeneity in this ethnic group. Finally, our results support the distinctive ancestry for the Uros populations of Peru and Bolivia, which are likely derived from ancient Andean lineages that were partially replaced during more recent farming expansion events and the establishment of complex civilizations in the Andes.
Ecuador’s economic history has been closely linked to Theobroma cacao L cultivation, and specifically to the native fine flavour Nacional cocoa variety. The original Nacional cocoa trees are presently in danger of extinction due to foreign germplasm introductions. In a previous work, a few non-introgressed Nacional types were identified as potential founders of the modern Ecuadorian cocoa population, but so far their origin could not be formally identified. In order to determine the putative centre of origin of Nacional and trace its domestication history, we used 80 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers to analyse the relationships between these potential Nacional founders and 169 wild and cultivated cocoa accessions from South and Central America. The highest genetic similarity was observed between the Nacional pool and some wild genotypes from the southern Amazonian region of Ecuador, sampled along the Yacuambi, Nangaritza and Zamora rivers in Zamora Chinchipe province. This result was confirmed by a parentage analysis. Based on our results and on data about pre-Columbian civilization and Spanish colonization history of Ecuador, we determined, for the first time, the possible centre of origin and migration events of the Nacional variety from the Amazonian area until its arrival in the coastal provinces. As large unexplored forest areas still exist in the southern part of the Ecuadorian Amazonian region, our findings could provide clues as to where precious new genetic resources could be collected, and subsequently used to improve the flavour and disease resistance of modern Ecuadorian cocoa varieties.
This study focuses on the genetic history of the Quechua-Lamistas, inhabitants of the Lamas Province in the San Martin Department, Peru, who speak their own distinct variety of the Quechua family of languages. It has been suggested that different pre-Columbian ethnic groups from the Peruvian Amazonia, like the Motilones or “shaven heads”, assimilated the Quechua language and then formed the current native population of Lamas. However, many Quechua-Lamistas claim to be direct descendants of the Chankas, a famous pre-Columbian indigenous group that escaped from Inca rule in the Andes. To investigate the Quechua-Lamistas and Chankas' ancestries, we compared uniparental genetic profiles (17 STRs of Q-M3 Y-chromosome and mtDNA complete control region haplotypes) among autochthonous Amazonian and Andean populations from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. The phylogeographic and population genetic analyses indicate a fairly heterogeneous ancestry for the Quechua-Lamistas, while they are closely related to their neighbours who speak Amazonian languages, presenting no direct relationships with populations from the region where the ancient Chankas lived. On the other hand, the genetic profiles of self-identified Chanka descendants living in Andahuaylas (located in the Apurimac Department, Peru, in the Central Andes) were closely related to those living in Huancavelica and the assumed Chanka Confederation area before the Inca expansion.
Santiago-Rodriguez et al.  report on the putative gut microbiome and resistome of Inca and Italian mummies, and find that Italian mummies exhibit higher bacterial diversity compared to the Inca mummies.[…].
The impact of health and disease has led many artists to depict these themes for thousands of years. Specifically, epilepsy has been the subject of many famous works, likely because of the dramatic and misunderstood nature of the clinical presentation. It often evokes religious and even mythical processes. Epilepsy surgical treatment has revolutionized the care of selected patients and is a relatively recent advance. Epilepsy surgery has been depicted in very few artistic works. The first portrait showing a potential surgical treatment for patients with epilepsy was painted in the 12th century. During the Renaissance, Bosch famously provided artistic commentary on traditional beliefs in “The stone of madness”. Several of these works demonstrate a surgeon extracting a stone from a patient’s head, at one time believed to be the source of all “folly”, including epileptic seizures, psychosis, intellectual disability, depression, and a variety of other illnesses. There are some contemporary art pieces including themes around epilepsy surgery, all of them depicting ancient Inca Empire procedures such as trepanning. This article reviews the most relevant artistic works related with epilepsy surgery and also its historical context at the time the work was produced. We also present a painting from the Mexican artist Eduardo Urbano Merino that represents the patient’s journey through refractory epilepsy, investigations, and ultimately recovery. Through this work, the artist intends to communicate hope and reassurance to patients going through this difficult process.