A Paleogenomic Reconstruction of the Deep Population History of the Andes

Cell. 2020 May 28;181(5):1131-1145.e21. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.015. Epub 2020 May 7.


There are many unanswered questions about the population history of the Central and South Central Andes, particularly regarding the impact of large-scale societies, such as the Moche, Wari, Tiwanaku, and Inca. We assembled genome-wide data on 89 individuals dating from ∼9,000-500 years ago (BP), with a particular focus on the period of the rise and fall of state societies. Today's genetic structure began to develop by 5,800 BP, followed by bi-directional gene flow between the North and South Highlands, and between the Highlands and Coast. We detect minimal admixture among neighboring groups between ∼2,000-500 BP, although we do detect cosmopolitanism (people of diverse ancestries living side-by-side) in the heartlands of the Tiwanaku and Inca polities. We also highlight cases of long-range mobility connecting the Andes to Argentina and the Northwest Andes to the Amazon Basin. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: Andes; ancient DNA; anthropology; archaeology; population genetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology / methods*
  • Central America
  • DNA, Ancient / analysis*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Gene Flow / genetics*
  • Gene Flow / physiology
  • Genetics, Population / methods
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • South America


  • DNA, Ancient
  • DNA, Mitochondrial