Making kin

The archaeology and genetics of human relationships




archaeogenetics, kinship, biogenetic determinism, relations, identity


Thanks to next generation sequencing (NGS), we can now access ancient biological relationships, including ancestry and parentage, with a startling level of clarity. This has led to recentering of kinship within archaeological discourse. In this paper, we argue that blood and biology are key elements of kin-making only in so far as they are contextualized and made sense of through social relations. We argue that the conceptions of kinship that underpin archaeogenetic studies are the product of a particular historical and political context. Archaeology, with its focus on the material remains of the past, provides opportunities to examine how other forms of material and technological intervention (including ritual, exchange, and the sharing of food) facilitated the creation of kinship links not solely rooted in the human body. Here, we consider the extent to which the social salience of biological relationships identified through ancient DNA analysis can be addressed without imposing contemporary forms of familial structure and gender ideology onto the past.




How to Cite

Brück J, Frieman CJ. Making kin: The archaeology and genetics of human relationships. TATuP [Internet]. 2021 Jul. 26 [cited 2022 Jan. 20];30(2):47-52. Available from: