The DNA of Aztec conquest

The decline of one group of Mexico’s Otomí people is an anthropological cold case. In the fifteenth century, the population of the city state of Xaltocan all but vanished, replaced by the growing Aztec culture. But the ultimate fate of the Otomí in the region is known only as an outline pieced together from conflicting historical documents and archaeological evidence. A genetic study recording the biological comings-and-goings of the Otomí now deepens the mystery.

In the fifteenth century, what is now Mexico was made up of warring city states with separate cultural identities. In 1428, several of these city states joined together to form the Triple Alliance, which spread and became the Aztec empire. Xaltocan in central Mexico was among the city states that were assimilated. But the fine details of what happened there are unknown. Read more.