Clovis Rummells Maske


Anzick-1, Anzick Boy, is a Paleo-Indian male child. His remains were found at a Clovis Culture site. He was one of two children found in 1968, at the site in south central Montana, USA. His death and remains date to between 12,707 and 12,556 years ago. The dates come from radio-carbon dating methods.

Anzick Boy’s remains were dusted with red ocher. This is a type of red dirt. It is used to decorate bones in ceremonial burials. He was also found with more than 115 tools. The tools were made with both stone and antlers. Together, these suggest his was an honorary burial. So far, his are the only human remains found in and dated to the Clovis Complex. His was also the first ancient Native American genome to be fully sequenced.

Anzick Boy’s discovery and scientific study have caused conflict.

The burial was found on private land. Thus, the scientists did not break the law. Some Native American tribal members object to the research, because the scientists did not check with them first.

Shields River Montana
Shields River, Montana

DNA testing of the Anzick Boy showed Siberian ancestry. The testing also showed a close link to modern Native Americans. This includes those from Central and South America. The results support the idea that modern Native Americans come from Asian peoples who crossed the land bridge from Asia to North America.

The Anzick Boy was buried again on June 28, 2014. It was an inter-tribal ceremony. His second burial is in the Shields River Valley. The Clovis culture tools from the first burial are not with him. They are kept at the Montana Historical Society. That is in Helena, Montana.


The Anzick site was found by accident. A construction worker found it in a collapsed rock shelter. This took place near Wilsall, Montana. The site is on private land owned by the Anzick family. It was their ranch. The remains take their name from this family.

Anzick – Overview

The Anzick-1, Anzick Boy’s, remains were found buried under numerous tools. These were 100 stone tools and 15 remnants of tools made of bone. The site had hundreds of stone projectile points, blades, and bifaces. Some of the artifacts were covered in red ocher. The stone points were matched to the Clovis Complex because of their distinct shape and size.

There were also the remains of two children.

One of these children was Anzick Boy.  At first, the two children were both thought to be the same age as the the Clovis Complex stone points. Later carbon dating revealed that only one of the children, Anzick-1, was from the Clovis period. Anzick boy is over 2,000 years older than the remains of the other child. That means the other child was buried at the grave site later.

Ownership and Ethics

Some think studying Native American remains is unethical. They say it questions the ownership and interpretation of the past. One such person is Larry Echo-Hawk. He is a member of the Pawnee Nation. He is also a legal scholar. He has said, “Regardless of the motive for expropriating Indian graves, the impact of this activity upon the affected Indians is always the same: emotional trauma and spiritual distress.”

When the Anzick Boy was found in 1968, scientists studied his remains. Years later, the scientists returned him to the Anzick family. By then, a daughter of the Anzick family was a genetic researcher. This was Sarah Anzick. She wanted to do DNA research on the Anzick Boy. She was careful though. That was because of another set of ancient remains.

Kennewick Man - Natural History Museum Karlsruhe
Kennewick Man – Natural History Museum Karlsruhe, Germany

This was Kennewick Man.

His remains caused much conflict. In the USA, there is a law to protect Native artifacts and burials. This law is NAGPRA. It protects what is found federal lands. It also covers items kept at research centers that get federal money. The law says these must be returned to the right modern tribes. Kennewick Man’s remains were kept at a museum. The right modern ownership was argued in court. Only recently were they returned and buried again.

The Anzick Boy was discovered on private property.

Thus, the law did not apply. Sarah Anzick did not need to ask local tribes before DNA testing. To be considerate though, she spoke with elders from several Montana tribes. She knew that getting DNA meant damaging a part of the skeleton. She could not get uniform agreement from all tribes. For a time, she put her plans on hold. In the end, she decided to do DNA testing anyhow.

Clovis Rummells Maske
Clovis Rummells Maske

The first DNA test results showed a link to modern Native Americans. Based on that, scientists again talked with local tribes. One of the scientists was Eske Willerslev. He is a Danish researcher. Dr. Willerslev visited several native tribes in 2013. He met with Shane Doyle. Dr. Doyle is a member of the Crow tribe. He works in Native American studies at Montana State University.

Feelings about research were mixed. Many said they should have been asked before testing was done.

It was agreed that the Anzick Boy should be reburied following tribal rituals.

Skeletal findings

The Anzick Boy’s remains included 28 skull pieces, a left shoulder bone, and several ribs. When they were found, the bones were badly broken. Scientist worked to peace them back together. This helped them to estimate the boy’s age when he died. It also allowed them to find out about his health and cultural ways of his people.

When they first studied his shoulder bone, they thought he was cremated. This proved to be water damage. They also found that his bones were stained with a red tinted dirt, ocher.

Age estimation

Scientists can tell the age of a skeleton several ways. Cranial suture closure is one way. Babies are born with separated skull bones. These separate bones fuse together along suture lines. This happens in early childhood. Anzink Boy’s skull bones were not all fused. Only the front of his skull was fused. This told researchers he was between 1 and 2 years old.

Skeletal markers of health

Skull bones sometimes show evidence of illness. Scientists looked at Anzink Boy’s skull for signs of sickness or poor diet. They did not find evidence of either.

Skull shape modification

Many cultures use boards and wrapping to change a baby’s skull shape. This is a practice in many Native American cultures. Scientist checked for signs of this being done to the Anzink Boy. They did not find evidence of it.

Genetic Testing

With Sarah Anzick’s help, scientists from the USA and Europe got DNA from Anzick Boy’s bones. They tested the DNA for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), autosomal DNA, and Y-chromosome DNA. They compared the results to DNA from around the world.

The DNA showed that Anzick boy was related to Native American people. He was closest to Central and South America peoples though. This was a shock. Scientists thought he would be closest to Canadian Arctic peoples. He also had links to Siberia and Central Asia. These two places may be the source of the first American peoples. Together, the links agree with the Bering land-bridge theory. That states that early people came to the Americas from Asia across the Bering Strait. Scientists have argued this theory for over 20 years.

Autosomal DNA analysis

Human autosomal DNA is stored in the nucleus of every cell. It is the main part of the human genome. People get half of this DNA from each parent. Over human history, small changes have happened to our autosomal DNA code. Scientists use these small changes to unlock our ancient history. Thus the DNA variants mark the history of all people.

The Anzick Boy’s DNA autosomal DNA was tested. Scientists compared it to over 50 modern Native American autosomal DNA samples. They found it was more like Native Americans than like Eurasians. It was closer to the 44 samples from Central and South American than the 7s North American samples. However, North American samples were limited. This is because tribes in the USA are reluctant to DNA test.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis

Mitochondria provide human cells with power. There are hundreds of mitochondria in every human cell. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is mitochondria’s DNA code. All men an women get their mtDNA from their mother. Small changes in mtDNA over time mark branches of the maternal tree. Scientists call these branches haplogroups. Thus, scientists use mtDNA and mtDNA haplogroups to explore our maternal origins.

Sarah Anzick and the other scientists tested the Anzick Boy’s mtDNA. The child belongs to the haplogroup D4h3a. This branch is rare in most of today’s Native Americans in the USA and Canada. It is much more common in native people of South America.

D4h3a is a Native founder mtDNA haplogroup. It is between 10,400 and 15,500 years old. This line might be from people who took an early coastal migration route into the Americas.

D4h3a being part of a Clovis site in Montana shows a complex ancient migration. There may be an early split in this line about 13,000 years ago. One idea is that after crossing into North America from Siberia, a group with D4h3a, moved south along the Pacific coast. Over time, they reached Central and South America. Meanwhile, another group with D4h3a may have moved inland. They traveled east of the Rocky Mountains. This second group become part of the Clovis culture in Montana.

Another option is that a group with D4h3a moved south along the Pacific Coast. A small subset of them turned back north into inland North America. Descendants of this small subset would then become part of Clovis culture in Montana.

Y-chromosome analysis

Like autosomal DNA, Y-chromosome DNA is stored inside the nucleus of cells. The Y-chromosome is the human male sex chromosome. All men get their Y-chromosome from their father. Women do not have a Y-chromosome. Like autosomal and mtDNA, Y-chromosome DNA accumulates small changes over time. These small changes mark branches on the paternal tree. Scientists call these branches Y-chromosome haplogroups. The Y-chromosome and Y-chromosome haplogroups help us understand our paternal origins.

Anzick Boy (Anzick-1) on the Y-Chromosome Tree
Anzick Boy on the Y-Chromosome Tree

The researchers tested the Y-chromosome of the Anzick Boy. They compared it to the known paternal tree at the time. Using that tree, they found he was part of the Q-L54 branch. However, he was not part of the Q-M3 branch. Q-M3 is the branch that is common to over 80% of Native American male lineages.

In time, other researchers looked again at these Y-chromosome results.

They found that the Anzick Boy belonged to the Q-Z780 branch. This is the second most common male lineage in Native American peoples.

More recently, another group of scientists has linked the Anzick boy to the Q-FGC47595 line. The Q-FGC47595 line is between 11,300 and 14,500 years old. The researchers who found this connection also linked it to at least two living people in North and Central America today.

Impact on First Peoples Theories

The Anzick Boy’s DNA shows a close link to modern Native peoples. They also show a link to Asian peoples. Some assert that the two links support the Beringia Hypothesis. They then refute the Solutrean Hypothesis. Those who support the second theory do not agree.

Beringia Hypothesis

The Beringia Hypothesis is the mainstream model for the peopling of the Americas. It suggests a migration of early peoples from Siberia across a land bridge that spanned the Bering Strait. This hypothesis is supported by genetic and archaeological evidence that places the migration no earlier than 32,000 years ago. Ancient Native Americans could have entered the New World across the Beringian land bridge. They would then have moved south from Alaska. They would have traveled through an ice-free corridor in Canada.

Another Beringia related idea is that first peoples used boats to sail along the coast of Siberia, the Beringia land bridge, and the Pacific coast of North America. There is little Archeological evidence at the former area of the land bridge. Nor is there strong evidence of a coastal path. Both have been lost because of the rise in sea levels.

The DNA of the Anzick Boy supports the Beringia Hypothesis. It shows that humans reached Montana almost 13,000 years ago.

Solutrean Hypothesis

The Solutrean Hypothesis is a model for the peopling of the Americas. It is controversial.

This theory suggests a migration of early people from Europe. People would have crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The theory states the journey was possible due to a proposed climatic event. This event raised glacier levels. This in turn formed a land-bridge between Europe and North America. These early travelers to the New World would have left evidence of their presence. Some see this in cave paintings in both places. Some people also feel these migrants created the distinct tools linked to Clovis culture.

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