Can the DNA technology of the millennium hanging coffin be glimpses the truth

  The editor has proved by modern science that DNA can exist for hundreds of thousands of years. Ancient DNA technology is to extract DNA from ancient fossils or ruins and sequence it, which is expected to reveal the mystery of human origin, evolution and migration. The two newest studies that this edition focuses on are the root-seeking journeys initiated using ancient DNA technology.

  Suspended coffin is a funerary custom that places the coffin of corpses high on the cliffs, caves, and fissures on the cliff facing the river and the sea, and is widely distributed in the Yangtze River Valley and the south of China. It can also be seen in Southeast Asia and even the Pacific Islands. Due to the large number of unsolved mysteries, this ancient and peculiar funeral practice is also wrapped in a thick layer of mystery.

  For a long time, the hanging coffin burial culture has been widely concerned by the archaeological community. Not long ago, the international authoritative journal "Science", a sub-journal, published a study by Chinese scientists, which opened up a new perspective for people to reveal the mystery of the hanging coffin.

  What specific ethnic groups are associated with hanging coffin burial customs

  Dousa Pass, Yanjin County, Zhaotong, Yunnan, is located along the Guan River in the Jinsha River Basin. Thousands of stone rocks standing on the wall were split by the Guanhe River to form a huge stone gate, which locked the ancient main road of Dianchuan. Zhu Xiaoyu, who works in Douzaguan Ancient Town, occasionally has to work as a part-time tour guide to explain the history of Qin Wuchi Road covered with deep concave hoof marks at the foot of the visiting guests, and in the seam of the cliff nest nearly 40 meters above Guanhe The legend of the hanging coffin.

  "Many people ask the same question: how did these coffins fit on the cliff? Was it really the'Boren'? How long has it been stored? Why did you put it on the cliff? There are many legends about this, but people have always been There is no scientific and authoritative answer." Zhu Xiaoyu told Sci-Tech Daily that there are more than 10 hanging coffins left at Dosha Pass. As for how these coffins were placed on the cliff, in the early years, there were the ascension method, the stacking method, and the scaffolding method. In 2015, expedition experts from Zhaotong City Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Yunnan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and Yunnan University made carbon 14 determinations on wooden specimens collected from the site. .

  The "Bao people" are ethnic minorities that have disappeared. The hanging coffin is buried in Zhaotong. The local people always think that this is the "Bao people" custom, but who is the earliest ethnic group of hanging coffins is still a long-term controversy. "The hanging coffin burial in southern Sichuan and the Jinsha River basin in northeastern Yunnan is the oldest hanging coffin burial culture in our country and the western pole of the hanging coffin burial site in China." said Ji Xueping, a researcher at the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology With the natural weathering and man-made destruction, there are fewer and fewer such relics. The earliest hanging coffin burial site is located in Wuyishan area, Fujian Province, my country, 3,600 years ago, equivalent to the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. The Wuyishan area in Fujian is considered to be the birthplace of the hanging coffin burial custom, which has since spread to other parts of southern China and Southeast Asian and Pacific islands.

  "Previously, according to the radiocarbon dating sequence, distribution characteristics and cultural connection patterns, some scientists speculated that the custom of hanging coffins had the distribution of "east to west" and "north to south" in southern China and Southeast Asia. Different shapes and sizes have different carving content, and most of them are placed in caves and supported by wooden frames, which is considered to be cultural adaptation to the local environment." Ji Xueping said, however, the origin of the burial custom, crowd The origins, cultural communication and diffusion patterns, as well as ethnic affiliation and its relationship with the modern population are still in doubt. It is necessary to borrow new scientific and technological means to study in order to solve the mysteries.

  The study found that there is a hanging coffin burial group located in the mountainous area of ​​high altitude in northwestern Thailand, from 2100 to 1200 years ago. Professor Lasmi Sukunde of the Thai Art University and others believe that compared with other Southeast Asian hanging coffin sites, the coffin style and burial objects of this site group have undergone important changes, which may be due to the climate and geographical environment of the area at that time. The result of adaptation. The custom of hanging coffins has been followed for more than 3,000 years. Although it has disappeared from the mainland of my country in the late Ming Dynasty, the Toraja community on Sulawesi, Indonesia still retains similar customs.

  "Regarding the ethnicity of the hanging coffins, physical anthropological research supports that the hanging coffins have a close relationship with the Dong and Dai people. From the analysis of the hanging coffins, the Mong Khmer ethnic group of the South Asian language family and The Miao Yao language group is an important implementer and inheritor of hanging coffin burial customs, and even involves a small part of the Central Plains Han culture." said Zhang Xiaoming, the first author of the paper and an associate researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

  What is the relationship between the ancestors in the hanging coffin and the current crowd

  Ancient DNA, as the name implies, is ancient biological DNA molecules obtained from archaeological materials, paleontological fossils, biological remains, remains and sediments. The main sources include museum specimens, as well as ancient biological tissues and their preservation under special conditions such as amber and permafrost. sample.

  Modern science proves that DNA can exist for hundreds of thousands of years. Through its research, it can gradually unravel the mystery of human origin, evolution and migration, and has an extremely important role in promoting the development of related disciplines such as anthropology, evolutionary genetics and population genetics.

  The Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and researchers from the Thai Art University have used ancient DNA analysis techniques to investigate In total, a total of 41 human remains samples from 13 hanging coffin burial sites from 2500 to 660 years ago were analyzed for the complete sequence of mitochondrial DNA.

  "Considering the same funeral customs, similar cultural heritage and similar geographical location, we divided the hanging coffin samples into two groups according to Yunnan and Thailand." Zhang Xiaoming said that they extracted ancient human remains from these hanging coffins DNA, and related technologies have been used to enrich the genetic material in the mitochondria; then the constructed ancient DNA samples were sequenced using an instrument set designed for population-scale whole-genome sequencing that can process tens of thousands of samples.

  The team of Zhang Xiaoming found that, based on haplotype analysis of genetic material in mitochondria, suspended coffin samples from Yunnan were highly diverse. In 9 individuals, 8 different mitochondrial genetic mass spectrums were detected; on the contrary, single samples from samples from northern Thailand The haplotype diversity was relatively low, and only 7 lineages were detected among 28 individuals.

  "This means that among the hanging coffin burial populations in northeastern Yunnan, the genetic diversity of the maternal genetic lineage is very high, while the genetic diversity of the hanging coffin burial populations in northern Thailand is relatively low." Zhang Xiaoming introduced, from Yunnan and southwestern Guangxi and Thailand The hanging coffins in the north have the same pedigree, which indicates that they have a close genetic relationship, which also means that the hanging coffin funeral customs are dispersed to different areas with similar ethnic origins in a relatively short period of time.

  The results of this study are also in line with the view that the custom of hanging coffins originated in southern China and spread southward to Southeast Asia. In addition, a small number of maternal genetic lineages are shared among hanging coffin burial populations in different regions of Asia, indicating that there is a very close relationship between different hanging coffin burial populations. The research team combined the results of genetic analysis with evidence from archaeology, physical anthropology, folklore, and history, and speculated that the hanging coffin burial customs originated in the Baiyue ethnic group in the Wuyishan area on the southeastern coast of China about 3600 years ago. They are the ancestors of the Dong and Dai ethnic groups with many ethnic groups today.

  Why did the hanging coffin custom spread to Southeast Asia

  The team of Zhang Xiaoming confirmed the close relationship between the southern population and the hanging coffin population by comparing the spectrum of the mitochondrial genetic mass spectrum components.

  "Despite the genetic link between hanging coffins from different geographic regions, we found significant differences between Yunnan and northern Thailand because only one haplotype among the 14 haplotypes detected They are shared between them." Zhang Xiaoming introduced that relevant research shows that the mass spectrum of mitochondrial genetics prevalent in the population of northern Thailand was rapidly expanding around 7,500 years ago. This time point was far from the 8th century to the 10th century. Before the migration to present-day Thailand, it was also the earliest burial of the coffin in 2200 years determined by the carbon 14 of the original coffin in northern Thailand. “Given that these mitochondrial genetic mass spectrums are also common among people in northern Thailand today, we speculate that these lineages may have originated locally. In other words, the custom of hanging coffins from northern Thailand may have originated from cultural assimilation, not hanging coffins Mass migration of the burial crowd." Zhang Xiaoming said.

  Relevant genetic data show that the haplotype diversity of mitochondrial genetic material from populations in hanging coffins in southern China and northern Thailand has a "north to south" declining characteristic, which is consistent with the assumed migration route of hanging coffin burial customs based on cultural heritage. After that, the custom of hanging coffins was widely spread in southern China by means of crowd migration and flow. However, around 2000 years ago, a handful of inheritors of hanging coffin burial customs spread this practice to a large number of indigenous groups in Southeast Asia, such as northern Thailand, through cultural diffusion.