Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Other Degree Name/Area of Focus


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Anna Prentiss

Commitee Members

Dr. John Douglas, Dr. Christiane von Reichert


Bridge River, lithic analysis, feasting, household archaeology, ethnoarchaeology


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Canadian History | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Social and Behavioral Sciences



Nowell, Sarah, M.A. Spring 2017 Anthropology

Drivers of Demographic and Socioeconomic Shifts Regarding the Bridge River II – Bridge River III Transition at the Bridge River Village (EeRl4), British Columbia

Chairperson: Dr. Anna Marie Prentiss

The Bridge River site is located near the confluence of the Bridge and Fraser Rivers in the Mid-Fraser canyon near Lillooet, British Columbia. This region has long been popular for archaeologists seeking to understand the emergence of wealth-based inequality in complex hunter-gatherers. Housepit 54 is one of over 80 pithouses or s7ístken that was continuously occupied throughout most of the village history. It contains 17 intact anthropogenic or manmade floors, allowing archaeologists to address many types of cultural variation over time at the household level.

This thesis seeks to understand the underlying processes that drive socioeconomic and demographic growth as evidenced by variation in lithic technology as well as feature contents and distribution as they relate to the structural expansion that occurred between two occupational floors. It draws heavily on ethnographic record, ethnoarchaeology, household archaeology, and past studies of complex hunter-gatherers to determine whether this expansion might have resulted from a demographic spike that necessitated the structural addition, or whether members of the household held feasting events or other social activities designed to increase household status and attract new members.

While access to prestige and non-local lithic materials does not change in a way that indicates an increase in production related to feasting and social events, analysis of feature types and locations in either occupational floor does show that the changes that occur in storage strategy as well as hearth density and placement indicate that there was a shift to a more centralized or communal household organization. This thesis finds that the feasting hypothesis is the most likely scenario and discusses ways in which to expand this line of inquiry in future studies.



© Copyright 2017 Sarah Nowell