Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Anna Prentiss

Commitee Members

Ashley McKeown, David Dyer


Bison Jump, Bison kill, Buffalo, Great Plains, Late Prehistoric, Tongue River, Taphonomic, Northwestern Great Plains, Bison, Late Archaic


University of Montana


The Tongue River Buffalo Jump Site (24RB2135), located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana, was excavated during the summer of 2005 by a team of University of Montana anthropology students under the supervision of Dr. Anna Marie Prentiss and Dr. Thomas Foor. This site yielded 20,359 faunal remains, 2 of which were radiocarbon dated in order to assess the time frame of the bone beds discovered and well as to reconstruct the activities that created the bone bed(s). The radiocarbon dates suggest multiple kill events, ranging from Late Archaic to Late Prehistoric. A variety of data were collected, including taxon, osteological element, side, orientation within skeleton, portion, color, size, weathering, and taphonomic or cultural modifications. The taphonomic observations included root etchings, rodent gnawing, carnivore chewing, and beetle burrowing marks. Cultural observations included evidence of original processing via cut marks and markings due to excavation of the remains. My focus is on how recorded element frequencies, human modifications and taphonomic factors from the faunal assemblages inform us about traditional practices of Late Archaic and Late Prehistoric hunters. Taphonomic analysis examines rates and forms of bone alteration to determine if, where, and why differential preservation existed. The goal of this project is to use the human, animal, and natural markings recorded on the assemblages as a means of strengthening the information already assessed by others who have studied and interpreted the cultural context of this site. Information on bison evolution, paleoenvironment, and bone size and weathering will be explored in order to refine the theory that the site contains multiple kill events over time and which time frames these events encompass.

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© Copyright 2009 Blair Elizabeth Logan