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The Codebreakers

For years scientists thought they knew when the first humans entered the New World. Now with exciting archaeological discoveries, it looks like humans were here far earlier than we ever thought possible.
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For decades, scientists believed that humans were forced to wait until the end of the last Ice Age before they could enter the Americas.  Evidence suggests that 11,000 years ago they crossed the Bering Land Bridge by foot, into what is now modern-day Alaska.  Those peoples were called the Clovis, and their arrival and hunting practices were blamed for the sudden disappearance of many large mammals, from mastodons and woolly mammoths to giant ground sloths and sabre-toothed tigers.

In recent years however, tantalizing – but often frustratingly inconclusive – evidence of an earlier human migration into the Americas has begun to emerge.  It is an incredible revelation – to think that ancient humans could somehow have managed to get past a sheet of ice four kilometres thick.  At the time, the ice covered the entire northern half of the continent, effectively blocking the land entrance to North America.  Is it possible that they found a way around it?  And if so, how did they do it?  In this fascinating documentary, Canadian anthropologist and adventurer Niobe Thompson takes us inside the incredible scientific discoveries that are finally unraveling these mysteries.

For many scientists, the "Clovis-first" theory was an unimpeachable and widely acknowledged scientific truth.  Now decades of advances in dating techniques and DNA analysis, combined with the discovery of startling new evidence from archaeological sites, are changing the picture dramatically.  Many researchers now find themselves working with the remains of humans that seem to have arrived in North America thousands of years before the end of the last Ice Age!

From Brazil to Siberia and into the Americas, and finally to Oregon's Paisley Caves, remarkable discoveries are being uncovered.  And the stakes are high, as new revelations threaten years of research, and scientific reputations.  Working in co-operation with these "code breaker" scientists, who are studying everything from human coprolites to forgotten fossils to ancient DNA, Niobe Thompson provides us with a window into the breakthrough research that North American archaeology has been waiting for.

Engaging and visually stunning, Code Breakers is shot in vibrant HD, featuring gorgeous re-creations of the world of ancient first peoples, brought to life with the help of modern ice people from Arctic Russia's Bering Strait. 

Code Breakers is directed and produced by Niobe Thompson and Tom Radford for Clearwater Productions.


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