The arrival of European explorers and colonists in the Americas in the 16th century caused the devastating collapse of the indigenous populations—tens of millions of people died within a generation or two.
A comparison of ancient and modern DNA starkly shows that “none of the genetic lineages we found in almost 100 ancient humans were present, or showed evidence of descendants, in today’s Indigenous populations,” according to the lead author of the study published recently.
Basically, the ancient lineages in North and South America “went extinct with the arrival of Spanish [and other] colonists.”
The study of DNA from 92 pre-Columbian skeletons and from living residents of both continents was conducted by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.
No one knows for sure how many indigenous peoples were alive in North and South America in 1492, but the estimates run up to 100 million. Almost all of those people died—mostly as a result of disease—during the decades following the first voyage of Columbus.
|Cahokia c. 1250|
p.s. The DNA study also confirmed that the first Americans arrived on the North Pacific coast about 16,000 years ago. They quickly spread and prospered throughout both continents in less than 1,500 years. These First Peoples created several sophisticated civilizations. For example, in the 13th century, a Mississippi River “mound” culture had its center at Cahokia, a city that was bigger than Paris at the time.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.