Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Douglas H. MacDonald

Commitee Members

John Douglas, Julie A. Baldwin


Knife River flint, Lithic Raw Material, Ultraviolet, Montana, Exchange


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology | Indigenous Studies | United States History


An examination of the spatial, temporal, and functional distribution of Knife River flint in Montana, and a study in misidentification of Knife River flint in archaeological assemblages. Lithic sourcing has the potential to provide a plethora of information to archaeologists: resource procurement strategies, mobility patterns, trade networks, and the preferencing of particular lithic material types. However, without proper identification it is impossible to study the distribution of lithic materials from their source. Knife River flint, a brown chalcedony, is a particularly fascinating material, geologically occurring in a small area, but culturally distributed over a large area. I analyze the distribution of Knife River flint at prehistoric archaeological sites in Montana and conduct an experiment to measure the accuracy of Knife River flint identification in prior studies. I find that archaeologists have applied the term Knife River flint with variable accuracy, with a tendency to under identify the material and assume lithic materials are of a more local origin. The use of ultraviolet light fluorescence to differentiate Knife River flint from look-alike materials is a valuable resource for archaeologists, and the technique’s worth is further proved in this thesis.



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