Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Douglas H. MacDonald

Commitee Members

Anna Prentiss, Steven Sheriff


Paleoindian, Yellowstone


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Archaeological Anthropology | Geographic Information Sciences


The Greater Yellowstone Region was a destination for nomadic hunter-gatherers for at least 12,000 years. Archaeological sites representing the whole spectrum of time, cultures, and activities, have been found throughout the region. Within Yellowstone National Park a number of Paleoindian projectile points and other related cultural materials have been recorded, however, only a handful of buried Paleoindian sites have been identified and excavated. Considering the nature of the archaeological record in the area, some interesting questions surface about the value of the information recorded on the Paleoindian sites. In terms of Yellowstone National Park (YNP) Paleoindian archaeology, is it possible to use the existing Paleoindian sites to make inferences about the landscape choices of Paleoindian cultures? Can the relationship between the location of known Paleoindian sites and the environment be modeled using quantitative methods? If so, is it possible to use the information about land use patterns derived from a known set of sites to find additional, currently unknown, Paleoindian sites? This paper attempts to answer those questions through the development of an archaeological predictive model, focused on Paleoindian sites, for Yellowstone National Park. Utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and statistical software, a probability model has been created that relates the existence or nonexistence of Paleoindian cultural materials with sixteen selected environmental features. The model output classifies areas within YNP through a set of environmental characteristics favorable for finding Paleoindian cultural material.



© Copyright 2015 Matthew R. Nelson