Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Kelly J. Dixon

Commitee Members

Anna Prentiss, Douglas MacDonald, Richard Sattler, Hipolito Rafael Chacon


University of Montana


This PhD dissertation focuses on several interrelated archaeological problems in Northwestern Plains and Intermountain prehistory. The dissertation is comprised of three articles that have been either accepted for publication in peer-reviewed regional or international archaeological journals or are in the process of being reviewed for publication. The articles focus on the following subjects: 1) radiocarbon dating and analysis of Late Prehistoric period perishable items from Pictograph and Ghost Caves in south-central Montana; 2) radiocarbon dating of lower cultural levels in Pictograph Cave to assess the accuracy of the chronology established by William Mulloy in 1958; and 3) an analysis of archaeological sites and features along the prehistoric/historic Buffalo Road Trail (commonly known as the Lewis and Clark Trail) in northwestern Montana. Results of these studies indicate perishable items were used at Pictograph Cave between 1371 and 250 years before present (B.P.) and that perishable items such as coiled basketry, show contact or trade with Eastern Great Basin people. Radiocarbon analyses on artifacts from the lowest levels of Pictograph Cave show that its earliest occupation dates to 3820 years B.P., far later in time than the cultural chronology proposed in 1958. Culturally modified trees, rock cairns, prehistoric campsites and unique stone features mark the Buffalo Road Trail and document its use for centuries by Columbia Plateau and Plains Indian groups and by later historic settlers, explorers, and missionaries. Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribal place names for the trail as it crosses the Continental Divide indicate that stone forts were built as defensive structures atop the pass for protection from warring tribes. From a landscape perspective, trails provide information relative to precontact travel, subsistence, trade, and warfare.



© Copyright 2014 Sara Alicia Scott