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A lineage is a
unilineal descent Unilineality is a system of determining descent groups in which one belongs to one's father's or mother's line, whereby one's descent is traced either exclusively through male ancestors (patriline), or exclusively through female ancestors (matrilin ...
group that can demonstrate their common descent from a known
apical ancestor Common descent is a concept in evolutionary biology applicable when one species is the ancestor of two or more species later in time. All living beings are in fact descendants of a unique ancestor commonly referred to as the last universal comm ...
. Unilineal lineages can be
matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – and which can inv ...
or
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact ...
, depending on whether they are traced through mothers or fathers, respectively. Whether matrilineal or patrilineal descent is considered most significant differs from culture to culture. Matrilineal descent is associated with certain characteristics such as
matriarchy Matriarchy is a in which hold the primary power positions in roles of political leadership, , and control of property. While those definitions apply in general English, definitions specific to the disciplines of and differ in some respect ...
,
matrilocality In social anthropology, matrilocal residence or matrilocality (also uxorilocal residence or uxorilocality) is the societal A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a ...
and
consanguinity Consanguinity ("blood relation", from Latin '':wikt: consanguinitas, consanguinitas'') is the characteristic of having a kinship with another person (being descended from a common ancestor). Many jurisdictions have laws prohibiting people who ar ...

consanguinity
. However a system can be matrilineal without possessing such characteristics.


References

* Kuper, A. (1982). "Lineage Theory: A Critical Retrospect". ''Annual Review of Anthropology'', 11, 71–95. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2155776 Kinship and descent {{anthropology-stub