Saturday, January 02, 2016

A Whole Lot More Savage Than Noble in California

Notable paper: Eerkens J et al. 2016. Isotopic and genetic analyses of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159:116–125.

Synopsis: Jelmer Eerkens and colleagues examined a mass burial of seven men from the Amador Valley of California around 850 AD. The people in the area at this time were sedentary hunter-gatherers living in small villages, and these seven men appear to have been killed in a violent event. Eerkens and colleagues were able to investigate stable isotopes in the bodies to show that the men came from outside the Amador Valley, and mtDNA established that the men were not close maternal relatives. Further, a slight contrast in the carbon and strontium stable isotopes between bone and teeth shared by the men suggest that they all changed residence locations, possibly together, some time after their third molars finished enamel deposition.

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