The Ancient Beringians are the earliest known population of Alaska, who migrated from Beringia and into Alaska during the lithic stage sometime prior to 11,500 years ago. They diverged from other Paleo-Indians about 20,000 years ago, consistent with the model of the peopling of the Americas via Beringia during the Last Glacial Maximum.
The discovery of an "Ancient Beringian" genome from the remains of two infants dated to 11,500 years ago was announced in January 2018. The Ancient Beringians remained in the Arctic until they either became extinct or amalgamated with the Dene approximately five to six thousand years ago.
Upward Sun River siteEdit
The two infants were both female, and were named Xach’itee’aanenh T’eede Gaay (sunrise girl-child) and Yełkaanenh T’eede Gaay (dawn twilight girl-child) by the local indigenous people. Genetic data suggested that the two girls were likely first cousins.
The genomic analysis of nuclear DNA from both individuals was conducted by Eske Willerslev’s team, led by J. Victor Moreno-Mayar, at the Centre for Geogenetics at the University of Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum of Denmark. Results from the team's genetic analysis were published in January 2018 in the scientific journal Nature.
In their analysis, Moreno-Mayar and his colleagues compared the infants found at USR's genomes with both ancient and contemporary genomes. Their results suggested that Ancient Beringians and other Native American groups diverged from a common East Asian ancestor around 36,000 years ago. The researchers were not certain whether Ancient Beringians and other Native Americans diverged from eaach other in Alaska, or somewhere in Asia.
At the USR site, archaeologists uncovered stone tools including unifacial and bifacial knives, hand axes, scrapers and organic tools, such as antlers used to make spears and darts for hunting. While not discovered at the USR site, other Denali sites, like Gerstle River, Mead and Broken Mammoth produced other organic tools like bone awls, which were probably used by the Ancient Beringians. The tools found at the USR site demonstrated significant similarities to tools used in Northeast Asia, specifically in Japan, Korea, and parts of northern China and Siberia.
The Ancient Beringians were hunter-gatherers and their diet would have consisted of the plants and wildlife they could obtain in their region. The archaeologists at USR discovered salmon bones, the remains of ptarmigan, arctic ground squirrels and other small animals.
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