Integrating Research and Education > Impacts on Native Lands > Pribilof Islands > Beringia


This page was written by Jeanette Wolak and Erin Klauk as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

Beringia today.
Beringia today. Details
Beringia 20,000 years ago.
Beringia 20,000 years ago. Details

Beringia is named for the Danish explorer, Vitus Bering, and is also referred to as the Bering Sea Land Bridge. This 'bridge' existed during the last glacial maximum, approximately 14,000 years ago, when sea level was much lower and present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia were connected. The rise and fall of sea levels throughout the Pleistocene would have alternately exposed and submerged the low-lying landmass.

Exposure of the Bering Sea Land Bridge is significant for several reasons. Many archaeologists and anthropologists believe that the Americas were populated by people who migrated across the land bridge. In addition, many land animals may have been able to migrate through Beringia, including mammoths, muskox, and lemmings.

To further investigate the history of Beringia, check out the links below:

Resources about Beringia

Resources containing information about the history of Beringia.

  • Bering Land Bridge National Preserve . This resource presents a brief overview the glaciation that created the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Links are provided to maps of the region, information about coastal geology, glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, and recommended reading. (more info)
  • Bering Land Bridge Virtual Visitor Center. This resource contains information about the location, geology, flora, and fauna of the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, located on the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska. (more info)
  • Postglacial Flooding of the Bering Land Bridge: A Geospatial Animation . This resource features an animation that illustrates the flooding of the Bering Land Bridge over the last 20,000 years. (more info)
  • Prehistoric Beringia. This web site contains information about the migration of early peoples across the Bering Sea Land Bridge, including possible inland and coastal routes of travel and crossing dates. (more info)
  • What is Beringia?. This brief article by the National Park Service describes the history and location of the Bering Sea land bridge. (more info)
  • Historical Ecology in Beringia: The South Land Bridge Coast at St. Paul Island. [Colinvaux, 1981] This paper discusses the environmental history of the south coast of the Bering Sea Land Bridge. Information on the geography, climate, limnology, and vegetation of St. Paul Island is provided. (citation and description)
  • The Last Giant of Beringia: The Mystery of the Bering Land Bridge. [O'Neill, 2004] This book provides a history of the study of Beringia, focusing specifically on the research of David Hopkins. Information is provided on the geological and archaeological history of the Bering Land Bridge region. (citation and description)

For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.