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One Archaeologist’s 35-year Struggle for Scientific Vindication

History By
This Archaeologist Waited 35-Plus Years to Be Vindicated
A valley near the Chilkoot Trail, south of Carcross, Yukon, Canada. (Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


From the late-’70s to the mid-’80s, French-Canadian archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars and his team researched the Bluefish Caves in Canada’s Yukon Territory. There, they made an astonishing discovery: carbon-dated, 24,000-year-old bones of long-extinct animals that appeared to have been butchered by humans and made into tools. The only problem? The scientific community at the time didn’t believe him.

Per Hakai Magazine, scientists had long believed that “… humans first reached the Americas around 13,000 years ago, when Asian hunters crossed a now submerged landmass known as Beringia, which joined Siberia to Alaska and Yukon during the last Ice Age.” The accepted theory held that these peoples then moved southward, and because of the Clovis spear they used, they became known as the Clovis people.

But Cinq-Mars wasn’t convinced, and between 1979 and 2001, he published a number of papers arguing for his original theory. He was viewed as a pariah in the archaeological community, and most ignored his claims.

Now, the Clovis people theory has been set aside, and in January, another archaeological team confirmed that Cinq-Mars had been right all along.