ISSN: 2074-8132
ISSN: 2074-8132
En Ru
Methods of kinship analysis in fossil populations

Methods of kinship analysis in fossil populations

DOI: 10.55959/MSU2074-8132-24-1-11

Recieved: 01/09/2024

Accepted: 01/15/2024

Published: 02/21/2024

Keywords: kinship analysis; non-metric traits; fossil populations; bioarcheology; paleophenetics

Available online: 21.02.2024

To cite this article

Movsesian Alla A. Methods of kinship analysis in fossil populations. // Lomonosov Journal of Anthropology 2024. Issue 1. 124-133

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). (
Issue 1, 2024


Introduction. Identifying kinship relationships fr om skeletal remains is among the various objectives of bioarchaeological studies. This article focuses on reviewing the methods used to analyze biological kinship in human fossil populations through non-metric traits.

Methods. Since direct molecular-genetic analysis of kinship is often highly challenging due to the poor preservation of ancient DNA, special attention in such studies is given to nonmetric phenotypic traits.

Results. Research with osteological samples that have been documented provides compelling evidence that the level of morphological similarity between individuals is directly related to their degree of biological kinship. In cases wh ere the pedigrees of osteological materials are fully or partially known, phenotypic data can be effectively used in lieu of genetic information.

Discussion. The methodology developed for kinship analysis depends on the internal spatial structure of the cemetery being studied. When analyzing small burial sites, the aim is to determine if the people buried there are close relatives. Various methods are used in these analyses, including different techniques for determining the likelihood of kinship, cluster analysis, and correlation coefficients. Identifying kinship is most promising in burial sites where archaeological or historical indicators of biological relationships are present. Kinship analysis in spatially structured cemeteries is aimed at identifying families or social groups. The analysis of uniformly distributed cemeteries focuses on identifying closely related individuals in large burials without clearly defined subgroups. This involves spatial correlation analysis, which tests for significant correlation between the matrix of spatial distances and the matrix of phenotypic distances; various counting methods to test for non-random clustering of traits; the nearest neighbor method; and a non-spatial block search procedure that simultaneously identifies presumed relatives and the traits that indicate the degree of their kinship.

Conclusion. Many problems in establishing kinship can be overcome with the availability of skeletal material accompanied by verified genealogical data. Unfortunately, skeletal remains with preserved documentation are quite rare, limiting the opportunities to study the inheritance of non-metric traits and the morphological similarity of biologically related individuals.

© 2024. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license


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