Skip to page content

A Journey to a New Land

Mammoths and tundra
Post secondary Level Resources

Archaeology in Siberia

Despite the best efforts of archaeologists and other researchers, the Siberian archaeological record has yet to yield compelling evidence to link the first American settlers with Siberia. One of the ways to establish such a link would be to find evidence in Siberia of the Clovis points that are found at most early American sites.

Excavation at the Dyuktai Cave site in north eastern Siberia revealed an assemblage that included stone spear points similar to Clovis points, as well as small stone tools known as microblades, and the remains of large mammoth and musk-ox. A series of similar sites were later found in the region, and some archaeologists have suggested that it was the people of the Dyuktai culture who crossed the Bering Land Bridge and settled the Americas.

However, although both the Dyuktai and Clovis sites exhibit evidence of big-game hunting, there are significant differences between them. For example, the Dyuktai points do not display the characteristic Clovis "flute". In addition, the microblade tools which are common at the Dyuktai sites are not found at early archaeological sites in the Americas.

Supporters of the coastal route hypothesis suggest that ancestral Clovis tool technology is not found in Siberia because Clovis point technology was not developed there. Rather, it originated in North America after maritime-adapted coastal groups moved inland and developed their own hunting toolkits.

Archaeologist Frederick Hadleigh West has suggested that the microblade tool technology from the Denali complex in southwestern Alaska shared similar traits with the Dyuktai culture from Siberia. Paleontologist Dale Guthrie has interpreted the use of microblades to the hunting of reindeer, and further asserts that the spread of technology represents an adaptation to tundra-like environmental conditions.

While links between the Alaskan and Siberian microblades are yet unproven, we do know that the use of microblade technology was wide-spread in the far east of Asia. For example, sites from the Japanese archipelago and the Korean peninsula demonstrate the clear presence of these tools as early as 20,000 years ago, and other sites from both Mongolia and western China have similar technological traits.

The archaeology of the vast Siberian region is still little known, but so far no definitive archaeological evidence has been found that firmly demonstrates a link between the early people of Siberia and those who first settled the Americas.

Excavations at Dyuktai Cave

More photographs

Excavations at Dyuktai Cave

Other Evidence
Archaeology in Siberia
Bering Land Bridge


QuickTime videos:

Dr. Roy Carlson

Dr. Roy Carlson
Department of Archaeology
Simon Fraser University

Alexander Gnes

Alexander Gnes
Russian Academy of Science
Siberian branch