Real-Life ‘The Goonies’: Archaeologists Discover 14,000-Year-Old Treasure

Professional archaeologists rarely spend their time digging land based on stories and speculation, but this team of experts that excavated this virtually unreachable spot near the Canadian Coast had no solid reason to dig below the pine trees and layers of mud. They acted on a hunch and unraveled something that went down to be the most significant discoveries in the archaeological history of North America. Read on to know more:

Amidst the Great Bear Rainforest

Away from the Canadian coast, within the Great Bear Rainforest, a group of expert archaeologists was trying to test the authenticity of a folktale. They had no idea what they were really looking for, and they were knee-deep in cold mud.

Source: (Hakai Institute)

This was the first time any team had ventured here to look for something, because, well, nobody really thought they’d find anything. However, this enthusiastic lot believed that the world never ceases to amaze us, and they weren’t wrong.

Never-Seen-Before Artifacts

After a few hours of digging, the team couldn’t believe their eyes when they laid hands on what looked like the remains of a hearth. They continued digging, and the Earth continued to unravel more secrets for them.

Alisha Gauvreau holds a 6,000-year-old hand drill (fire-lighting tool). Photograph By Vancouver Sun

They found some sort of medieval weapons, tools that could be used for fishing, hunting and even igniting fires. Since everyone believed this island was never also inhabited by mankind, these finds were a huge revelation, but there was more to come.

The Folklore That Defied Belief

The current locals of the rainforest, the Heiltsuk People, are believed to be the first people to ever live there. They had always claimed that the very first members of their tribe hailed from the Ice Age and lived in the same place.

Credit: Keith Holmes/Hakai Institute

However, researchers and archaeologists never believed this claim, because it defies rational belief, and seems preposterous. Why? Because during the Ice Age, most of Western Canada was covered by glaciers and since the island is not far off the coast of Canada, admittedly, it’d be covered too.

The Heiltsuk Weren’t Wrong

The Heiltsuk were written off for many years, but after the team’s discoveries, it looked as if they were right all along. Before the team ever came, their presence on the island could only be proven till around 7190 BC, but with the help of the team, they were hoping to rectify that and claim ownership of the extended land.

Josh Vickers, of the Heiltsuk First Nation and the archeological team, holds up a rare 6,500-year-old carved wooden bi-point. (Joanne McSporran)

The Heiltsuk had been dwelling in the mountains, forests, and islands present in the central coast of British Columbia for thousands of years, eating mostly fish. But the new findings revealed that they were eating something else.

You Don’t/Can’t Hunt Fish with These Spears

As the team kept on excavating and recovering, new clues kept on appearing. They discovered many tools, most of them were giant spears. The team believed that these spears were impractical to hunt fish with. Moreover, there weren’t even any land mammals that could be hunted.

Alisha Gauvreau and Larissa Dixon prepare to take measurements of a worked wood artifact from the Triquet Island village site. The measurements will be used in Dixon’s independent class paper which Gauvreau will later reference for her Ph.D. thesis. Source:

So, what were these spears really for? The team concluded that whoever these ancient people were, they must be hunting large sea mammals like the sea lion, walruses, and seals, etc. But how far does their history go? Were they really here during the Ice Age?

Tools That Required Fancy Raw Materials

Among other things, the team also recovered plenty of wood-carving tools. These tools seemed to have been made from obsidian, a type of glass that can only be obtained from volcanoes. But the strangest bit was that there were no volcanoes nearby.

Alisha Gauvreau, a University of Victoria Ph.D. student, takes notes as archeologist John Maxwell searches for artifacts in an excavation site on Triquet Island, where evidence of human habitation 14,000 years ago has been uncovered. Photograph By KEITH HOLMES, HAKAI INSTITUTE

That meant that the ancient people were voyaging far away from home, to places with volcanoes, to fetch the glass to make their tools. They could have used boats or traveled by land for these expeditions.

Remnants of Tsunamis

According to the team, they also found evidence that led them to believe that two massive tsunamis must have hit the Triquet Island, thousands of years ago. According to the sediment deposits on the beach, one must have come around 5,600 years ago, and the other, 6,700 years ago.

Archaeologists from UVic, Hakai Institute and local First Nations carefully sift through archaeological materials excavated on Triquet Island. Their findings reaffirm the Heiltsuk Nation’s oral history of an ice-free refuge on the coast during the last Ice Age over 14,000 years ago. Photo: Grant Callegari/Hakai Institute.

This could mean that the first group of people were wiped out by the tsunami and later, another group of people, who had different eating habits, came to occupy the island.

Carbon Dating Results

The moment of truth finally came when the carbon dating test results were back from the laboratory. In November 2016, the team realized that according to the results, the ancient civilization was far older than they had ever thought.

UVic Ph.D. student Alisha Gauvreau takes detailed notes during the excavation of village site on Triquet Island. Photo: Grant Callegari/Hakai Institute.

A bunch of charcoal flakes led them to this discovery, but it was proof enough to substantiate the claims of the indigenous tribe. These results shook the Canadian history and the Heiltsuk history to their core.

14,000 Years Back

There was a civilization inhabiting the Triquet Island, at least 14,000 years ago. That might not seem too high a number in the context of documented history, but to put things in perspective, consider this: these ancient relics point to a time before the wheel was ever invented.

Source: (Hakai Institute)

This was many thousand years before the Pyramids of Giza were ever made. This was also during the Ice Age which lasted for another 2,000 years; Ergo, this island was one of the few places between US and Canada that remained ice-free during the Ice Age.

Humans and Giant Animals Together?

Up until now, we believe that the giant land mammals like mammoths went extinct before human civilization ever came to be on the American continent, but according to these numbers, a different conclusion was made.


Since the island was inhabited by humans 14,000 years ago, it means that they must have come across giant animals, because they didn’t go extinct for another few thousand years. But how could that be possible? Were the giant spears used to hunt down these animals? Some of these answers, we may never get.