Integration of ancient DNA with transdisciplinary dataset finds strong support for Inca resettlement in the south Peruvian coast

Jacob L. Bongers, Nathan Nakatsuka, Colleen O'Shea, Thomas K. Harper, Henry Tantaleán, Charles Stanish, Lars Fehren-Schmitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis provides a powerful means of investigating human migration, social organization, and a plethora of other crucial questions about humanity's past. Recently, specialists have suggested that the ideal research design involving aDNA would include multiple independent lines of evidence. In this paper, we adopt a transdisciplinary approach integrating aDNA with archaeological, biogeochemical, and historical data to investigate six individuals found in two cemeteries that date to the Late Horizon (1400 to 1532 CE) and Colonial (1532 to 1825 CE) periods in the Chincha Valley of southern Peru. Genomic analyses indicate that these individuals are genetically most similar to ancient and present-day populations from the north Peruvian coast located several hundred kilometers away. These genomic data are consistent with 16th century written records as well as ceramic, textile, and isotopic data. These results provide some of the strongest evidence yet of state-sponsored resettlement in the pre-Colonial Andes. This study highlights the power of transdisciplinary research designs when using aDNA data and sets a methodological standard for investigating ancient mobility in complex societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18359-18368
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - 4 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank the Peruvian Ministry of Culture for granting us permits (206-2013-DGPC-VMPCIC-MC, 218-2015-DGPA-VMPCIC-MC, 107-2016-VMPCIC-MC, and 032-2018-VMPCIC-MC) that allowed us to conduct this study. We also thank the Institute of Field Research, the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and the Provost Office of the University of South Florida for their support. We are grateful to Maria Cecilia Lozada Cerna, Brittany Jackson, and Susanna Seidensticker for collecting teeth samples; and to Kelly J. Knudson for conducting isotopic analysis. Alexis Rodríguez Yábar and all other students and staff of the Chincha Archaeological Field School provided help at every step of the research process. We thank Christopher Donnan and Cathy L. Costin for examining photos of ceramics from the middle Chincha Valley, Ioana A. Dumitru for her assistance in producing a map for this paper, and Beth K. Scaffidi for her comments and suggestions. The research was funded by a University of California Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives Catalyst Grant (UC-17-445724). J.L.B. is grateful for support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under DGE-1144087, the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, the National Geographic Young Explorers Grant Program under Grant 9347-13, and the Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid Research Program. C.S. acknowledges NSF Grant BCS-1523293 and a University of California, Los Angeles Vice Chancellor for Research Transdisciplinary Grant for the isotope analysis. N.N. is supported by a National Institute of General Medical Sciences (GM007753) fellowship. C.O. gratefully acknowledges support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the SUNY Buffalo State Art Conservation Department.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Ancient DNA
  • Andes
  • Inca
  • Mobility
  • Transdisciplinary approach


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