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Stolbovoy Island, it would have been connected to the mainland. Source: Ilya Kravchenko (via Siberian Times)

Are These Tools Left by Paleolithic Travelers on the Beringia Land Bridge?

By The Siberian Times reporter

Excavations are to be made after the discovery of evidence indicating the world’s most northerly paleolithic site on this remote island off the Arctic coast of Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic. 

An expedition to Stolbovoy in the eastern Laptev Sea, some 184 km (114 miles) from the mainland, found implements believed to belong to ancient humans at the time when there was a land bridge between modern Siberia and North America, known as Beringia. 

The implements at the new Palaeolena site are consistent with being up to 300,000 years old but further research must be conducted, say experts.

'The idea to check Stolbovoy came two years ago, when we made the map of the surface of the Laptev part of Beringia.'

Stolbovoy will be the most northerly settlement if proven. (Image: Siberian Times)

Stolbovoy will be the most northerly settlement if proven. (Image: Siberian Times)

The new site lies some 877 km (545 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, some 1,776 km (1104 miles) south of the North Pole. 

It was across the land bridge that the American continent was first settled, it is now believed. 

Until now, the most northerly known human settlement in paleolithic times - Yana Site - has been 370 km (230 miles) to the south, dating back some 32,500 years, according to archaeologists.

Sheer cliffs of the arctic island. (Siberian Times)

Sheer cliffs of the arctic island. (Siberian Times)

At that time, Stolbovoy would have been connected to the mainland, and the site now being examined was on commanding 150 meter (492 foot) sheer cliffs - ‘majestic and breathtaking’ - above deep water close to the estuary of the giant Paleo-Lena river.

Searching for evidence on the recent expedition. (Image: Ilya Kravchenko)

Searching for evidence on the recent expedition. (Image: Ilya Kravchenko)

Image: Ilya Kravchenko

Image: Ilya Kravchenko

Flooding began to submerge Beringia some 15,000 years ago. As it did so, Stolbovoy became disconnected from modern mainland Russia.  

Researcher Tomas Simokaitis told The Siberian Times: ‘We suppose the site is Paleolithic. We suppose these implements we have found are hundreds of thousands of years old, but so far we have no iron proof.’

A range of tests will be conducted on the finds, he said.  

‘If, with time, we prove that it is Paleolithic, this will be the first clear evidence of humans on the Beringia land.’

Furthermore, if confirmed, this will be ‘the world’s northernmost site, where ancient people stayed, currently known by science’.

He sees it as potentially a ‘world scale discovery in that this site gives the first tangible confirmation of human presence on the territory of legendary Beringia’.

Some of the lithic items that have been found by the surface search. (Image: Ulas Media)

Some of the lithic items that have been found by the surface search. (Image: Ulas Media)

‘We suppose these implements we have found are hundreds of thousands of years old, but so far we have no iron proof.’ Image: Ilya Kravchenko

‘We suppose these implements we have found are hundreds of thousands of years old, but so far we have no iron proof.’ Image: Ilya Kravchenko

He announced: 'We do plan the further research. If not this year, then definitely the next year, we will gather samples. We will try to dig into the permafrost and open the surface. For now, we have just collected material from the surface.’

Simokaitis is from the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North (IHRISN), Siberian Branch of RAS, Yakutsk.

The expedition to the New Siberian archipelago was organized by Yakutia Academy of Sciences, and the Yakutia branch of the Russian Geographical Society. 

He said: 'The idea to check Stolbovoy came two years ago, when we made the map of the surface of the Laptev part of Beringia - the surface of the part of the Laptev Sea which turned to the shore in ancient times. 

Excations at the Yana site. (Image: Institute of the History of Material Culture)

Excations at the Yana site. (Image: Institute of the History of Material Culture)

Until now, the most northerly known human settlement in Paleolithic times - Yana Site - has been 370 km to the south, dating back some 32,500 years, according to archeologists.

‘We noticed that big depths are around Stolbovoy, the fault is up to 44 meters (144 foot) deep. That means that was obviously a river channel. And we imagined how it looked like in Paleolithic times - 150 meter sheer cliffs, so majestic and breathtaking. And besides, only one source of stone. So I suggested there must be something here.’

Top image: Stolbovoy Island, it would have been connected to the mainland. Source: Ilya Kravchenko (via Siberian Times)

The article, originally titled, ‘ Suspected first trace of Beringia people on the land bridge - now mostly sunken - joining Russia and North America ’ originally appeared on The Siberian Times and has been republished with permission. 

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