Skip to page content

A Journey to a New Land

Caribou
Post secondary Level Resources

Bluefish Caves

The Bluefish Caves site consists of three small caves located in the northern Yukon. Excavations at the site have uncovered stone and bone tools as well as butchered animal remains. The stone tools include microblades, burins, and wedge-shaped cores, all made of imported high-quality stone. Thousands of tiny flakes, the remains of tool-making, were also found. These artifacts were found in context with the bones of extinct horse species, suggesting an occupation before 10,000 years ago. Further excavations uncovered material dated to between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago.

Bone artifacts found at the site include a split caribou long bone that may have been used as a tool, and a mammoth bone flake that dates to about 23,500 years ago. Animal bones with butchering marks were also found at the site, and were dated to between 25,000 - 10,000 years ago. Not all archaeologists accept that humans were occupying Bluefish Caves by 25,000 years ago. Some say that the cut marks on the bone objects could have been caused by natural events such as rock falls or carnivore gnawing, rather than by human actions. The stone tools were definitely created by humans, but could not be dated and so cannot provide evidence that humans were at the site 25,000 years ago.

Further Reading:

Ackerman, R.E. 1996. Bluefish Caves. In American Beginnings, The Prehistory and Paleoecology of Beringa. F.H. West (ed). University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Il. pp 511-513.

Cinq-Mars, Jacques. 1979. Bluefish Cave I: a late Pleistocene eastern Beringian cave deposit in the northern Yukon. Canadian Journal of Archaeology. 3: 1–32.

Cinq-Mars, Jacques and Richard E. Morlan. 1999. Bluefish Caves and Old Crow Basin: A New Rapport in Ice Age Peoples of North America. Environments, Origins, and Adaptations of the First Americans, edited by Robson Bonnichsen and Karen L. Turnmire, pp. 200-212. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press for the Center for the Study of the First Americans.