Genetic evidence links Peru’s ancient Mochica culture to Japanese, Siberian and Taiwanese peoples

Long-term mitochondrial DNA analysis of remains recovered from well-preserved Moche sacrificial victims reveals close ties between the ancient culture and the populations of Ecuador, Colombia, Siberia, Taiwan and the Aino, an ethnic group indigenous to Japan’s Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin, El Comercio reported Thursday.

Samples taken from sacrifical victims and other mummies — including the Lord of Sicán — found in the Bosque de Pomac Historic Sanctuary, were painstakingly analyzed by Dr. Ken-Ichi Shinoda, an anthropologist specialized in ancient DNA testing, and affiliated to Tokyo’s National Science Museum.

The samples were compared with people living in Asian countries, after which it was discovered that genetic ties could be established between the Moche, who lived more than 1,100 years ago in Peru’s Lambayeque region, and peoples of Taiwan and Japan.

To take the research a step further, Shinoda and Sicán National Museum director Carlos Elera are to test Moche descendents living in the Bosque de Pomac Historic Sanctuary area.

“We take tissue samples from the mouths of living volunteers, thanks to whom we will obtain a lot of information about their genetic code,” said Elera. “The results will be compared to living descendants of ancient Asian cultures, and this will reveal the genetic ties between these geographically distant people that in ancient times established commercial relations by sea.”

Our objective is to learn more about how these Asian peoples first came to the Americas, added Elera, and what kind of relations they had with the Moche who preserve, to this day, a cultural and ethnic continuity.

The Moche civilization, or Mochica culture, flourished in northern Peru from about AD 100 to AD 800. They are particularly noted for their elaborate painted ceramics, goldwork, and irrigation systems.

The Sicán were most likely descendants of the Moche, and were involved in long-distance trade for emeralds and amber.

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