Ancient Mexican civilisation was ruled by women

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Ancient Mexican civilisation ruled by women

Experts have revealed how an ancient civilisation living in the desert was ruled by a powerful female elite.

Academics believe the society known as the Chacoans, who lived in north America, was "matrilineal" - meaning the women called the shots.

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A​​​​​ "maternal elite" past power from one female to another and kept the civilisation functioning for hundreds of years.

Genetic analysis has revealed how female power was passed on between Chacoans in modern day New Mexico, US, between the years of 800AD and 1130AD.

The Chacoans lived in giant stone mansions, sometimes containing hundreds of rooms.

Credits: Universal Images Group Editorial
The ancient society built large stone houses, sometimes containing hundreds of rooms

Credits: Universal Images Group EditorialScientists tested the DNA of nine ancient bodies found in an old Chacoan house

The largest - known as Pueblo Bonito - boasted 800 rooms and scientists from Pennsylvania State University collected DNA from nine bodies buried inside.

The decision to bury them in such a grand building suggests the nine were among the most important individuals in society.

The ancient bodies contained identical mitochondrial genomes - meaning that they all belonged to the same maternal family line.

Credits: Tribune News Service
It is now thought women ruled the society for hundreds of years

Professor Douglas Kennett, the lead author of the study, told MailOnline: "Studying how societies like the Chacoans passed power is central to our understanding of why complex societies rise and fall.

"There has been a long-standing debate about Chacoan society and whether leadership positions were based on matrilineal [female] or patrilineal [male] descent.

Credits: Getty
Pueblo Bonito - the grand, 800-room building where the nine bodies were found

"Our results are consistent with matrilineal foundations of leadership."

The findings suggest the Chacoans were a complex society living in north America as early as the 9th century.

It is thought females led the civilisation until its collapse in 1130AD.

The study was carried out in an area of New Mexico known as Chaco canyon - the epicentre of the society 1,000 years ago.

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