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Keywords:

  • ancient mtDNA;
  • Lajia Site;
  • Chinese people

Abstract

Ancient DNA analysis was conducted on the dental remains of specimens from the Lajia site, dating back 3,800–4,000 years. The Lajia site is located in Minhe county, Qinghai province, in northwestern China. Archaeological studies link Lajia to the late period of the Qijia culture, one of the most important Neolithic civilizations of the upper Yellow River region, the cradle of Chinese civilization. Excavations at the site revealed that the inhabitants died in their houses as the result of a sudden flood. The Lajia site provides a rare chance to study the putative families, all of whom died at the same instant. Possible maternal familial relationships were investigated through mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence analysis. Twelve sequences from individuals found in one house were assigned to only five haplotypes, consistent with a possible close kinship. Results from analyses of RFLP typing and HVI motifs suggest that the Lajia people belonged to the haplogroups B, C, D, M*, and M10. This study, combined with archaeological and anthropological investigations, provides a better understanding of the genetic history of the Chinese people. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.