• Ancient DNA;
  • Peru;
  • Wari;
  • cultural change;
  • molecular genetics;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • y-chromosomal Haplogroups


This study examines the reciprocal effects of cultural evolution, and population dynamics in pre-Columbian southern Peru by the analysis of DNA from pre-Columbian populations that lived in the fringe area between the Andean highlands and the Pacific coast. The main objective is to reveal whether the transition from the Middle Horizon (MH: 650–1000 AD) to the Late Intermediate Period (LIP: 1000–1400 AD) was accompanied or influenced by population dynamic processes. Tooth samples from 90 individuals from several archaeological sites, dating to the MH and LIP, in the research area were collected to analyse mitochodrial, and Y-chromosomal genetic markers. Coding region polymorphisms were successfully analysed and replicated for 72 individuals, as were control region sequences for 65 individuals and Y-chromosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for 19 individuals, and these were compared to a large set of ancient and modern indigenous South American populations. The diachronic comparison of the upper valley samples from both time periods reveals no genetic discontinuities accompanying the cultural dynamic processes. A high genetic affinity for other ancient and modern highland populations can be observed, suggesting genetic continuity in the Andean highlands at the latest from the MH. A significant matrilineal differentiation to ancient Peruvian coastal populations can be observed suggesting a differential population history.