Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Anna M. Prentiss

Commitee Members

John E. Douglas, Donald Winston


diversity, lithic raw materials, prestige


University of Montana


New excavations at the Bridge River Site were conducted over two seasons (2003, 2004), collecting over 16,000 artifacts, of which about 4,000 were from dated contexts. These dated materials were used for a materials study to look at settlement patterns, trade and prestige. The Bridge River Site is located in an area of complex geology that contains many unique and valuable resources for the prehistoric and the present. The accreted terranes are a series of land extensions created by buoyant rocks (island arcs) carried by the subduction zone and accreted or added to the main continent. These accreted terranes collided with the continent and were not subducted below ground because of their lighter rocks. They also caused mountain building and complex faulting and folding. They are the source of many different useful materials, some quite rare. Nephrite jade and steatite are some of the rare minerals common in the Bridge River area and are part of a groundstone industry. These are important prestige materials, but it appears that salmon was the principal industry, providing food for the inhabitants all year around, with a surplus for trade. The growth of the village from Bridge River 1 (1797-1614 cal. B.P.) through Bridge River 3 (1275-1261 cal. B.P.), and then the abandonment and final occupation during Bridge River 4 (610-145 cal. B.P.) was demonstrated by the radiocarbon dating of the housepits. It is also supported by the increase and decline in the number of artifacts recovered at the site, which follows the pattern of growth and decline. The diversity of the occupation periods is uncertain. Richness indicates that diversity may have followed the growth and decline of the village, but the evenness could not be determined. Large pithouses were thought to be occupied by higher status individuals and groups, and should reflect that with greater prestige materials and items (Hayden 1996), but the data shows medium sized houses as having the greatest amount of prestige materials. That may be the result of the greater number (23) of medium sized houses than the large ones (6). Since no housepits were fully excavated, small sample sizes can make results suspect. More excavations will give us larger, more reliable sample sizes, but the growth and decline of the village will probably be supported.



© Copyright 2007 Darrell Albert Austin