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A Journey to a New Land

First people
Multimedia Library

Dr. Roy Carlson

Department of Archaeology, SFU

Siberian Archaeology

Siberia – the Russian Far East is one big, big place. Some 17,000 or 18,000 years ago when the ancestors of the Native peoples of the Americas were living there, it really would have been cold, even colder than today. It had stretches of tundra and grasslands and patches of forest. However, this was a time of change. It was warming up and the glaciers were melting.

The people of Siberia at that time were small bands of nomadic hunters and fishers. They had tailored skin clothing so they could adapt and live in that climate. They had an arctic tool kit - tools that were adapted to survival in that place and a nomadic way of life dependent upon killing various herbivores such as the mammoths that have been found at Berelekh.

The stone tools of this time are generally similar to those of the earliest stone tools found in the Americas; bifacial points for tipping spears, cutting and piercing implements, scrapers for working hides, drills and things of that sort, but they do not exactly duplicate the earliest styles of chipped stone tools found in the Americas.

The stone tool technology that dominates Siberia at that time is microblade technology. The earliest stone tool assemblages we find in the New World do not have microblade technology, so what archaeologists have been looking for in Siberia is some ancestral culture that has projectile points and scrapers similar to those in the New World but does not have microblade technology. So far, they haven't found it. The Dyuktai sites were for a while considered really to be ancestral to New World populations, but they are dominated by microblades. So why aren’t microblades found in the very earliest material in the New World.