Genetics revealed the history of the war between the Inca Empire and «warriors of the clouds»

© Photo : Chiara BarbieriПогребальные sarcophagi of Indians of the province of ChachapoyasGenetics revealed the history of the war between the Inca Empire and «warriors of the clouds»© Photo : Chiara Barbieri

. DNA analysis of the inhabitants of the mountainous areas of Peru showed that many of the tribes of the highlanders long war with the Inca Empire in its heyday and did not obey them even after the conquest of their territories, according to a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.

«The genomes of the inhabitants of the province of Chachapoyas contain large inclusions of the DNA of the ancient Indians, despite the fact that this region was conquered and conquered by the Spaniards. Moreover, their structure is radically different from how the genes of the inhabitants of Central and southern Peru, where the centre of the Inca Empire and where the genomes of all Nations were evenly them «mixed». It seems that part of the genetic heritage of the highlanders of Chachapoyas has experienced «attacks» of the Incas and has survived to the present day,» said Chiara Barbieri (Chiara Barbieri) from the Institute for the study of human history in Jena (Germany).

The Inca Empire was the largest and most powerful state in the New world before the coming of the Spanish conquistadors there, covering the territory that today is Peru, large parts of Chile and Ecuador, as well as small parts of Argentina and Bolivia. It originated around the beginning of the 13th century, and only after 200 years, it covered an extensive area and approximately 10 million people.

The Inca state is interesting from a historical point of view the fact that it did not have the typical features of all ancient and modern empires of the Old world – the Incas was not familiar to us writing, code of laws, currency, metallurgy and system accounts, as well as «classic» feudal or despotic relations between the Supreme rulers and ruled.

In its territorial structure, the Inca Empire resembled the Federal government – it consisted of 4 major regions and about 86 provinces in the territory of which they lived separate Nations with their own culture and characteristics of local government. Many of them had joined the Union voluntarily, and the other conquered the army of the Inca, however, and in that and in other case, they gradually assimilated the «big culture» of the Empire.

A special place in the history of the Inca Empire, says Barbieri, is their war with the «warriors of the clouds», Indian tribes of the highlanders from the region of Chachapoyas in the North of modern Peru, which took place in the late 15th century, shortly before the outbreak of civil war in the Empire and her death under the blows of Francisco Pizarro and his army of conquistadors.

As he wrote the Chronicles of the Spanish, the Indians-Chachapoyas so long and so stubbornly resisted the invasion of the Incas, that their armies had to evict and disperse throughout the Empire conquered the remnants of the highlanders, and to settle near their former territories loyal to the peoples from other regions of the country, forming a kind of «cordon Sanitaire». Their language, chacha, completely disappeared, as most traces of their culture, and now the inhabitants of Chachapoyas speak Quechua, the dialect of their conquerors.

Genetic traces of the erased past

Barbieri and her colleagues tested whether «warriors of the clouds» has completely disappeared from the face of the Earth by deciphering the DNA of several hundred current residents of this part of Peru and other regions of the country, and comparing them with the genome of the Incas, whose remains have been preserved a sufficient amount of «scraps» of DNA.

This comparison revealed several unexpected features in the structure of the DNA of the inhabitants of the province Chachapoyas, which led scientists to doubt the validity of the notes of the Spanish chroniclers.

For example, it was found that for the modern highlanders was characterized by a much higher level of genetic diversity than residents of other regions of Peru, and they often were carriers of the «Indian» versions of genes than other inhabitants of Central America, considered today the descendants of the inhabitants of the Inca Empire.

In addition, the scientists found that the inhabitants of the region were not close relatives of the neighboring peoples who speak Quechua, as well as more distant peoples in Ecuador and other peripheral sites of the former Inca Empire. Moreover, the analysis of «male» Y chromosome shows that many residents of the region have not been interrupted for more than 20 generations.

All this, as scientists believe, suggests that the Incas failed to completely evict the «warriors of the clouds» from their mountain valleys and replace them with other Nations, and that the inhabitants of the valley of the Chachapoyas did not mix nor with the Incas, and Spaniards. This makes their DNA is a real treasure for historians comparing it with the genomes of other Indians, and genetics can reveal the early history of settlement of their ancestors in South and Central America.