Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

John Douglas

Commitee Members

Anna Prentiss, Rachel Loehman


Southwest, ceramics, pottery, wildfire, prescribed burn, radiant heat effects


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Archaeological Anthropology


Archaeological assemblages in the American Southwest are currently subjected to periodic wildfires and prescribed burns, and have been exposed to fires in the past. Ceramics are a key constituent of these assemblages, leading to questions regarding the effects of post-depositional heat exposure on pottery. Alterations of ceramic surface appearance and other attributes have been observed following wildfires, and such changes are significant because intact ceramics provide important temporal context and social information. Over the past 150 years, southwestern wildfires have shifted away from the historical high-frequency, low-severity regime; thus, cultural resources can be exposed to fires that are potentially more damaging than have occurred in the past. The range of fire environments and the duration and intensity of heating that result in damages to ceramic artifacts have not been previously systematically assessed. Results from laboratory tests conducted as part of the Joint Fire Science Program-funded ArcBurn project demonstrate that radiant heat fire environments, sustained dose, and ceramic category are important determinates for predicting the patterns of alteration. Results can be used to identify fire environments that cause loss of cultural information from artifact assemblages in order to develop management treatments and procedures to guide archaeological preservation in fire-prone landscapes.



© Copyright 2015 Rebekah R. Kneifel