Scholars have long debated whether the Chacoans, who lived in multistory buildings that were long the largest in North America, had an egalitarian—or equal—society or a hierarchical society with an entrenched elite.
To find out whether the bodies themselves could shed some light on the debate, a team led by archaeologist Douglas Kennett of Pennsylvania State University in State College analyzed their remains, found in room 33 of the Pueblo Bonito complex and now stored at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, using DNA sequencing.
First, the team determined the order in which the bodies were buried using radiocarbon dating, Kennett says.
They go over (table-top mountains), up and down vertical cliff faces, and along ways that make them utterly impractical for use by the casual or commercial traveler. Paul Devereux, a British scholar and writer in the so called "Earth Mysteries" field has suggested that these lines (and others he has studied around the world) are better understood as markings that represent the out-of-body spirit travels of ancient shamans.Archaeological research does indeed indicate that the lines often lead to small shrine-like structures where evidence of religious and shamanistic activity is common.Nowadays they are mostly visible only from the air in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun casts deep shadows.Inspecting these lines at ground level, it is evident that they have been acted upon by many hundreds of years of natural erosion, which has obscured all but scarce remains.Radiating out from the Chaco complex are an enigmatic series of straight lines that extend ten to twenty miles into the desert.
Conventional archaeological theories explain these lines as roads leading to outlying settlements, but this seems highly unlikely, as the lines are arrow straight regardless of terrain.
They found that nine of the individuals shared the same mitochondrial DNA, meaning they were related through the maternal line, the team writes today in .
Where preservation was sufficient, nuclear DNA studies also showed a mother-daughter relationship between two individuals and a grandmother-grandson relationship between two others.
The results show the timber came from two different mountains ranges.
Before AD 1020, most of the wood came from a previously unrecognized timber source – the Zuni Mountains, about 75 kilometers to the south of the site.
We do not actually know what these people called themselves; the word is a Navaho word meaning variously "the ancient ones" or "the enemies of our ancient fathers." The early Anasazi (100 BC.) were nomadic hunter-gatherers ranging over great expanses of territory; by AD 700 they had begun to live in settled communities, of which Chaco Canyon is the finest example.