Archaeology Magazine

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Physical Diversity of Ancient Mexican Populations Measured

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mexican-skullRALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA—Forensic anthropologist Ann Ross of North Carolina State University and her team have examined pre-Columbian skulls from different regions in Mexico, including Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the remains of people from the Tarascan culture from the central state of Michoacán. They then compared their statistical analysis of the facial landmarks on the ancient skulls with those of people of Spanish origin, African Americans, and contemporary Mayans. “There has long been a school of thought that there was little physical variation prior to European contact. But we’ve found that there were clear differences between indigenous peoples before Europeans or Africans arrived in what is now Mexico,” Ross said. She hopes that the information can help identify the origins of those who die crossing the Mexican-American border, or are killed in acts of violence near the border.