Faculty Profile

Anna Prentiss

Anna Prentiss


Email: anna.prentiss@umontana.edu
Office: Social Sciences 205
Office Hours:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Personal Website
Curriculum Vitae

Current Position



ANTY 101 Introduction to Anthropology

ANTY 251H Foundations of Civilization

ANTY 351H Archaeology of North America

ANTY 454 Lithic Technology

ANTY 457 Archaeology of the Pacific Northwest

ANTY 458 Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers

ANTY 459 Archaeology of the Arctic and Subarctic

ANTY 553 Seminar in Evolutionary Archaeology

ANTY 601 Proposal Preparation and Research Design

Personal Summary

Dr. Anna Marie Prentiss is an archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, and Western Arctic regions of North America and Chilean Patagonia.  She has a methodological specialty in lithic technology and theoretical interests in the archaeology of villages and towns, social inequality, hunter-gatherer mobility and technological organization, and the cultural evolutionary process. She is currently editor of the SAA Archaeological Record, the magazine of the Society for American Archaeology.

Dr. Prentiss is actively engaged in a long term study of the evolution of complex hunter-gatherer societies on the interior of British Columbia.  The current focus of this research is a multi-year excavation at the Bridge River archaeological site conducted in a partnership with Xwisten, the Bridge River Indian Band.   Bridge River is one of several exceptionally large and well preserved ancient housepit villages, located near the town of Lillooet, British Columbia.  The site was initially occupied between 1800 and 1100 years ago and then during the past 500 years.  With funding from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Prentiss, along with her students and colleagues conducted major excavations during 2008 and 2009 to examine socio-economic and political changes that occurred during the occupation span of the village.   Current Bridge River research is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and focuses on excavation of Housepit 54, occupied briefly during the Fur Trade period and most intensively at dates spanning approximately 1000-1400 years ago.  It provides an exceptional opportunity to examine proceses of demographic, socio-economic, and political change in a complex fisher-forager context.

Dr. Prentiss remains an active scholar in Montana archaeology.  During 2006 and 2007, Dr. Prentiss directed archaeological excavations in the Bear's Paw Mountains of Montana with sponsorship from the Water Resources Department of the Chippewa-Cree tribe.  The focus of these studies was to collect data from prehistoric sites, threatened by reservoir construction.  Results of the research provide significant new insight into ancient land use practices of aboriginal groups in north-central Montana, spanning the past 6000 years.   Recent (2010-2012) investigations centered on the Jasper site, a 2500 year old bison processing camp in the Kevin Rim locality, located near Shelby, Montana.

Dr. Prentiss has initiated a long-term field research project in the Bristol Bay area of southwestern Alaska.  This work is funded by the National Science Foundation and is expected to emphasize paleoecology, demography, and change in foraging practices and social relationships in an ancestral Yup'ik village known as the Old Togiak site during the past 1000 years.   This is a community archaeology and paleoecology project and this means that we work directly with indigenous stakeholders and partners in Togiak and the greater Bristol Bay to develop research directions of mutual interest.   Field research at the Old Togiak site will be initiated in July, 2015.

Dr. Prentiss teaches courses on lithic technology, proposal preparation, and the archaeology of hunter-gatherers in the greater Pacific Northwest, Great Plains, and Arctic regions.  She supervises graduate students conducting research into such topics as archaeological stratigraphy and radiocarbon dating, spatial analysis, lithic technology, zooarchaeology, and tribal history in the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest regions.  Her former students are now employed in colleges, universities, federal and state agencies, and private consulting firms.


BA Anthropology, University of South Florida

MA Anthropology, University of South Florida

Ph.D. Archaeology, Simon Fraser University

Research Interests

Archaeological method and theory, evolutionary theory, hunter-gatherers, lithic technology, prehistory of the Great Plains, northwestern North America, North Pacific Rim, Chilean Patagonia

Bridge River Report 2009 - Lithics: [Access Database (zipped)(NSF Grant #0713013)

Report of the 2008 Investigations of the Bridge River Archaeological Site (EeRl4): [PDF] (NSF Grant #0713013)

Bridge River Archaeological Report 2008:[ Access Database (zipped)(NSF Grant #0713013)

Report of the 2007 Investigations of the Bridge River Archaeological Site (EeRl4): [Word] [PDF] (NSF Grant #0713013)


Currently active field and laboratory research projects:

Bridge River Archaeological Project, British Columbia, Canada;


Field of Study


Selected Publications

Recent Books and Monographs

Prentiss, Anna Marie, 2012.  Field Seasons: Reflections on Career Paths and Research in American Archaeology.  The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Prentiss, Anna Marie and Ian Kuijt, 2012.  People of the Middle Fraser Canyon: An Archaeological History. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver.

Recent Journal articles:

Prentiss, Anna Marie, James C. Chatters, Matthew J. Walsh, and Randall R. Skelton, 2013. Cultural Macroevolution in the Pacific Northwest: A Phylogenetic Test of the Diversification and Decimation Model. Journal of Archaeological Science (in press).

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Thomas A. Foor, Guy Cross, Lucille E. Harris, and Michael Wanzenried, 2012. The Cultural Evolution of Material Wealth Based Inequality at Bridge River, British Columbia.  American Antiquity 77:542-564.

Specialized Skills

Archaeology; Lithic technology; Evolutionary analysis

Home Department

Department of Anthropology 

Area of Expertise

Archaeological Method and Theory; Evolutionary Theory; Hunter-Gatherers; Lithic Technology; Prehistory of the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest and Western Arctic Regions of North America and Chilean Patagonia

Teaching Experience

Have taught college level classes since 1990.  Teaching at 100-600 levels at The University of Montana since 1996.

International Experience

Dr. Prentiss is engaged in archaeological research in British Columbia, Canada and Patagonian Chile.


Society for American Archaeology

Alaska Anthropological Association