Under the direction of Dr. James O'Connell, Mr. Shawn Carlyle will collect data for his doctoral dissertation. He will extract MtDNA from ca. 75 Anasazi skeletons which derive from key sites. The remains span the whole period of Anasazi prehistory as well geographic range covered by this group. Using established protocols mtDNA will be extracted and cleaned. PCR will be employed to amplify target fragments. Appropriate mtDNA fragments will then be digested with four different restriction enzymes at six locations and screened for a 9bp deletion in haplogroups hypothesized to be the `founding` haplogroups of all North and South Amerindians. These data will be used to resolve issues associated with the general genetic structure of the Anasazi peoples and, in combination with other comparable data, shed light on questions relating to the origins of the group and their relations with other similar entities. Anasazi peoples inhabited the Southwestern US prehistorically and are likely the direct ancestors to Pueblo societies present in the region today. The Anasazi are well known archaeologically for the large multistory dwellings they constructed at sites such as Chaco Canyon and the road system which linked far-flung villages. With only a simple technology Anasazi populations flourished for centuries in an arid and unpredictable environment in a system which linked people and distributed food over hundreds of miles. While Anasazi peoples shared more traits in common with each other than with other prehistoric groups and thus stand distinct, a significant amount of internal variation existed and it is not clear how many subgroups may have existed. Likewise the origins of the Anasazi themselves are poorly known. Because aspects of their culture have closest counterparts in Middle America many prehistorians postulate that they moved into the Southwest USA from Mexico. However it is also possible that traits rather than people moved. The genetic data which Mr. Carlyle collects will increase our understanding of these issues. This research is important for several reasons. It will shed new light on the most important prehistoric Native American group in the U.S. Southwest. When set in a broader comparative context it will provide new information on the larger population structure of prehistoric North and Middle America. The project will also assist in training a promising young scientist.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Mark L. Weiss
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University of Utah
Salt Lake City
United States
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