Anthropology, Department of



Anne M. Cafer

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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 25 (2010). Copyright © Anne M. Cafer; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


This paper examines the use of both mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomal DNA in the study of kinship groups, particularly those from ancient burial sites. The characteristics of both types of DNA that make them suitable for such endeavors as well as methods of application to kinship studies will be outlined. Additionally, specific examples from modern, ancient, and other non-human primate research will be discussed along with the implications of these studies. Finally, ethical concerns and areas of further study will be addressed. This paper is designed to assess the utility of a specific scientific method of analysis that can augment traditional approaches to the study of human and primate social structure, specifically the use of genetics in kinship analysis, rather than to suggest the superiority of biology or sociology in the study of human and primate social structure.

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