Directed and Hosted by Niobe Thompson

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Directed and Hosted by Niobe Thompson

Unlocking the secrets of humankind’s last great migration – a journey of scientific discovery with anthropologist Niobe Thompson.

They are the First Nations of the Americas. But what does science tell us about their origins? Until now, scientists believed a mammoth-hunting people called Clovis swept across the Bering Land Bridge and down an ice-free corridor to found a human presence in the New World. But new discoveries are overturning the Clovis paradigm. At this critical turning point, anthropologist Niobe Thompson takes us a fascinating journey, from Siberia, to the Bering Strait, to the world’s most advanced ancient-DNA laboratories, in search of the true “first peoples” of the New World.


Is human culture in the Americas thousands of years older than we thought? Did the first humans reach the New World by foot at the end of the Ice Age? Or did they come thousands of years earlier, by sea?

Science may finally have the answer.

Code Breakers follows Arctic anthropologist Niobe Thompson on a fascinating journey, from Siberia to the Bering Strait, from Brazil to the world’s cutting-edge DNA laboratories, searching for the secrets of prehistory’s last great migration. A major discovery seems within reach, but promising evidence keeps falling short. Until a remarkable discovery in an Oregon cave.

For decades, scientists believed humans waited for the Ice Age to end, 11,000 years ago, before entering the Americas across the Bering Land Bridge. Until then, a sheet of ice 4 kilometers thick covered the northern half of the continent, blocking the route into North America. But in recent years, tantalizing but inconclusive evidence of earlier humans living during the Ice Age has begun to emerge.

Now, in his own journey from Siberia into the Americas, anthropologist Niobe Thompson takes us inside the incredible scientific discovery that has finally solved the mystery.

In this multiple award-winning documentary, the ancient world of the first peoples of the Americas comes to life in gorgeous recreations shot in Arctic Russia. As the mystery of the Ice Age migrations is finally solved by science, Thompson takes us to the modern ice people of the Bering Strait, whose way of life completes our understanding of how their ancestors conquered the New World.

  • Winner Best Sound AMPIA 2011
  • Winner Best Photography AMPIA 2011
  • Winner Best Documentary AMPIA 2011
  • Winner Best Photography Gemini Awards 2011
  • Winner Best Science and Nature Gemini Awards 2011


  • Producer & Host Niobe Thompson
  • Directors Niobe Thompson & Tom Radford
  • Cinematography Daron Donahue
  • Editor Adam Kidd
  • Production Manager Sandra Tober
  • Production Coordinator Emma Radford
  • Executive Producers for CBC Bob Culbert & Caroline Underwood