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. H. Rafael Chacón


Bridge River Village, St'at'imc, cultural transmission, cognitive archaeology, postcolonial archaeology, British Columbia


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Archaeological Anthropology


Inherent in all tool-making traditions is the necessity of teaching the next generation of toolmakers. The learning process, although crucial to our understanding of past societies, is difficult to study archaeologically, due to its intangibility. However, some technologies leave visible traces of their production. Key among these are chipped stone tools, known as lithics, which leave distinct archaeological traces of each part of the creation processes. Modern experimenters have recreated these processes, and as a result, have revealed archaeologically-visible differences between novice and expert knappers. These can be identified in archaeological lithic assemblages, and serve as a starting point for identifying the potential presence of novice knappers at archaeological sites.

The Bridge River site, a pithouse village site in British Columbia, has yielded a collection of stone projectile points ranging from expertly crafted to crude and unfinished. Using these projectile points, this project seeks to piece together the social context within which novice toolmakers learned to knap. In order to do so, the project examines the points themselves, but also places them in the context of ethnographic depictions of the St’át’imc, the village’s builders and inhabitants, and of the broader literature on craft learning. From these three lines of evidence, a model of the transmission process at the Bridge River village is suggested, one dominated by an informal, perhaps observation-based learning environment.



© Copyright 2019 Anne V. Smyrl