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A Journey to a New Land

Post secondary Level Resources


Despite the tremendous efforts of geologists, archaeologists and paleontologists, the specifics of the first journey to the New World continue to elude us. What we do know is that, sometime ago- likely 14,000 years ago or so- human beings began the colonization of the last habitable continents in the world. To the best of our knowledge these explorers took only a few thousand years to spread out between two continents, adapting to different environments while negotiating dramatic shifts in climate. The relatively short time it took these people to spread out across the Americas is even more remarkable when one remembers that it humans spent over a 100,000 years to reach the eastern edges of the Old World.

It is this incredible feat that drives archaeologists to delve deeper into the past in an attempt to uncover the story of this great voyage. We have seen, in the previous pages, attempts to identify clues of this journey, both inland and on the coast. Other researchers have suggested alternative routes, both from the east and west, crossing the Atlantic, Pacific or Arctic oceans.

Some researchers have even suggested a combination of a coastal and inland route, commonly referred to as the “three-wave” model, with different populations crossing to the New World at different times and taking different routes. Though the ‘three-wave’ model remains unproven, it is an example of how researchers attempt to explain the past by creating models, then testing them against all sources of data, and changing them with the introduction of new information. It is the discovery of new sites, the development of new techniques and the willingness of researchers to evaluate new data that allow us to understand more and more about the amazing journey that these early people undertook.

With more interested researchers, more data and more critical evaluations, we come closer to an understanding of the last large act of prehistoric settlement in human history. This quest for understanding is far from over; it needs new minds, new research and new archaeologists willing to fill the gaps in our understanding. There is plenty of work yet to be done on this subject. The answers to some of our most pressing questions are still out there, waiting to be discovered.