(ORDO NEWS) — A new study sheds light not only on the origins of the indigenous population of Uruguay, but also on the diversity of ways in which South America was settled.
An international team of researchers led by John Lindo from Emory University (USA) analyzed the genomes of two ancient representatives of the people who lived in Uruguay before the arrival of Europeans. The corresponding work is published in the journal PNAS Nexus .
Scientists took DNA samples from a man who lived about 800 years ago, and a woman who lived 1500 years ago – that is, long before the arrival of Europeans. The bones from which the DNA was obtained were found during archaeological excavations in eastern Uruguay.
The analysis showed that the indigenous inhabitants of those places that today belong to the territory of Uruguay had an unusual haplogroup that had not previously been found in South America.
In general, the once existing hypothesis about a single race of the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America has long been recognized as incorrect. And the new discovery only confirms that no genetic monolith existed. On the contrary, the origin of the local pre-Columbian population was quite diverse.
Although the haplogroup of the Uruguayan Indians does not have a complete identity with other known ones, both DNA samples showed a relationship between their carriers and the ancient people who inhabited the territory of modern Panama – a land bridge connecting North and South America.
And certain features of the genome turned out to be similar to the DNA of people who inhabited the eastern part of Brazil. At the same time, scientists did not identify any matches with the DNA of the inhabitants of the Amazon.
All this confirms the hypothesis proposed by some archaeologists of at least two separate migrations to South America, one of which gave rise to the populations of the Amazon, and the other to the populations of the eastern coast of the continent.
The work of Lindo and his co-authors is another genetic confirmation of such an assumption, which was previously based only on archaeological evidence.
Judging by archaeological finds, the territory of modern Uruguay was inhabited by people more than ten thousand years ago (perhaps even earlier). But the first acquaintance with the European colonialists happened at the beginning of the 16th century. And it did not pass in a friendly atmosphere.
In early 1516, an expedition led by the Spanish traveler and explorer Juan Diaz de Solis reached the shores of South America in La Plata Bay. Then Solis with part of the team went up in a boat to the confluence of the Parana and Uruguay rivers and landed on the shore. Where was immediately attacked by the locals.
In a skirmish with the Charrua Indians, only one member of this landing party survived, who, for some unknown reason, was not touched. He later said that some of the dead Spaniards were eaten by the Charruas. There is no evidence of cannibalism – except for this, frankly, not very reliable evidence – there is.
The Spaniards were not ready for such stubborn resistance and tried to establish peaceful relations with the charrua. There were skirmishes from time to time, but in general the coexistence was relatively calm.
In 1828, as a result of the conflict between Brazil (then the Brazilian Empire) and Argentina, the buffer state of Uruguay appeared on the map of South America, in which, as is usually the case, political squabbles began.
The country’s government decided to clear the land from the indigenous population – they allegedly interfered with plans for large-scale livestock breeding (for which large-scale deforestation was supposed).
A campaign to exterminate the Charrois began, ending in 1831 with a massacre at the Salsipuedes stream. Almost all the men of the tribe were killed, women and children were given into slavery, where they did not live long.
The four charrois (three men, including a priest and chief, and one pregnant woman) were taken to France “for study”. The study consisted of demonstrating the charrua to a venerable public as an “unusual breed”, and then selling them to the circus altogether.
All four died within a year. Only a newborn girl remained alive – the last of the Charrua.
And the main avenue of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, is named after José Fructuoso Rivera, who massacred at Salsipuedes and received the nickname “winner of the Indians” for this.
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