Faculty Profile

Anna Prentiss

Anna Prentiss

Regents Professor of Anthropology

Fax: 406-243-4918
Email: anna.prentiss@umontana.edu
Office: Social Sciences 205
Personal Website
Curriculum Vitae

Current Position

Regents Professor of Anthropology



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 500 Contemporary Anthropological Thought

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 ancient history of the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, and Arctic regions of North America.  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 co-editor of the scholarly journal, Hunter-Gatherer Research.

Dr. Prentiss is actively engaged in a long term study of the evolution of complex hunter-gatherer-fisher 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 1000 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.   Recent research (2012-2018) at Bridge River was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and focused on excavation of Housepit 54, a long-lived pithouse occupied briefly during the Fur Trade period and most intensively at dates spanning approximately 1000-1500 years ago.  Field and lab studies at Bridge River will continue under a new grant from the National Science Foundation with field seasons planned for 2022 and 2023.  This will provide an exceptional opportunity to further examine indigenous history and proceses of demographic, socio-economic, and political change. 

Dr. Prentiss remains an active scholar in Northwestern Plains and Rocky Mountains 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.  In 2017 and 2018 Dr. Prentiss conducted new field research at site 48PA551 in the Sunlight Basin of northwestern Wyoming.  This research emphasized the development of winter sedentism, subsistence intensification, and changes in human sociality during the Middle Holocene (ca. 4000-4500 years ago).

Dr. Prentiss has a long standing interest in the Arctic region.  She conducted field research on the Old Togiak site in southwest Alaska in partnership with the community of Togiak during 2015.  She is now pursuing new directions in Arctic archaeology with an emphasis on identification and mitigation activities on sites most threatened by climate change factors.

Dr. Prentiss teaches courses on anthropological and evolutionary theory, lithic technology, proposal preparation, and the archaeology of hunter-gatherers.  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, Pacific Northwest, and Arctic 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, archaeology and ethnology of the Great Plains, Northwestern North America, North Pacific Rim, and Arctic.



Currently active field and laboratory research projects:

Bridge River Archaeological Project, British Columbia, Canada


Field of Study


Selected Publications

Recent articles in peer-reviewed journals:

Prentiss, Anna Marie 2021. Theoretical Plurality, the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, and Archaeology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 118(2): e2006564118.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Matthew J. Walsh, Thomas A. Foor, Ashley Hampton, and Ethan Ryan 2020.    Evolutionary Household Archaeology: Inter-Generational Cultural Transmission at Housepit 54, Bridge River site, British Columbia. Journal of Archaeological Science 124: 105260 (issue and page numbers forthcoming)

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Thomas A. Foor, Ethan Ryan, Ashley Hampton, and Matthew J. Walsh 2020.   A Multivariate Perspective on Lithic Technological Organization at Housepit 54, Bridge River Site (EeRl4), British Columbia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 33 (Issue and Page numbers forthcoming).

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Matthew J. Walsh, Thomas A. Foor, Kathryn Bobolinski, Ashley Hampton, Ethan Ryan, and Haley O’Brien 2020.   Malthusian Cycles among Semi-Sedentary Fisher-Hunter-Gatherers: The Socio-economic and Demographic History of Housepit 54, Bridge River Site, British Columbia.  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 59 (Issue and page numbers forthcoming).

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Thomas A. Foor, Ashley Hampton, Ethan Ryan, and Matthew J. Walsh, 2018. The Evolution of Material Wealth-Based Inequality: The Evidence from
Housepit 54, Bridge River, British Columbia. American Antiquity 83(4):598-618.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Thomas A. Foor, and Ashley Hampton, 2018. Testing the Malthusian Model: Population and Storage at Housepit 54, Bridge River, British Columbia.  Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 18: 535-550.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Matthew J. Walsh, and Thomas A. Foor, 2018. Evolution of Early Thule Material Culture: Cultural Transmission and Terrestrial Ecology. Human Ecology 46:633-650.

Kohler, Timothy A., Michael E. Smith, Amy Bogaard, Gary M. Feinman, Christian E. Peterson, Alleen Betzenhauser, Matthew Pailes, Elizabeth C. Stone, Anna Marie Prentiss, Timothy J. Dennehy, Laura J. Ellyson, Linda M. Nicholas, Ronald K. Falseit, Amy Styring, Jade Whitlam, Mattio Fochesato, Thomas A. Foor, and Samuel Bowles, 2017. Greater Post-Neolithic Wealth Disparities in Eurasia than North America and Mesoamerica.  Nature 551:619-622.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, 2016. What have we learnt at CHAGS XI? Hunter-Gatherer Research 2.2:185-198.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Kristen D. Barnett, and Matthew J. Walsh, 2016. The Coarse Volcanic Rock Industry at Rio Ibáñez 6 west, Chilean Patagonia: Assessing Geogenic versus Anthropogenic Processes.  Lithic Technology 41:130-138.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Matthew J. Walsh, Thomas A. Foor, and Kristen D. Barnett, 2015. Cultural Macroevolution among High Latitude Hunter-Gatherers: A Phylogenetic Study of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition.  Journal of Archaeological Science 59:64-79.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Matthew Walsh, Kristen D. Barnett, Mary-Margaret Murphy, and Justin Kuenstle, 2015 The Coarse Volcanic Rock Industry at Rio Ibáñez 6 west, Aisén Region,
Patagonian Chile. Lithic Technology 40:112-127.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, Hannah S. Cail, and Lisa M. Smith, 2014. At the Malthusian Ceiling: Subsistence and Inequality at Bridge River,  British Columbia.  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 33:34-48.

Prentiss, Anna Marie, James C. Chatters, Matthew J. Walsh, and Randall R. Skelton, 2014. Cultural Macroevolution in the Pacific Northwest: A Phylogenetic Test of the Diversification and Decimation Model. Journal of Archaeological Science 41:29-43.

Recent peer-reviewed books:

Prentiss, Anna Marie (editor), 2019. Handbook of Evolutionary Research in Archaeology. Springer, New York.

Prentiss, Anna Marie (editor),  2017. The Last House at Bridge River: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Household in British Columbia during the Fur Trade Period. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

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.






Helen and Winston Cox Educational Excellence Award 2003

Regents Professor of Anthropology 2018

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; Archaeology and ethnology of the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest and Western Arctic Regions of North America.

Area of Specialization

Anthropological archaeology, evolutionary archaeology, human ecology; North America, Pacific Rim; lithic technology

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.  She is a member of the research team "Lives of Bronze Age Women" at the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark.  She is also a research team member on the project, "Emergency Monitoring of CLimate Change Impacts upon Archeological Degredation and Cultural Heritage in Northeast Greenland" based at Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. She was visiting scholar at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge during 2018. 


Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research

Society for American Archaeology

Alaska Anthropological Association

Archaeologial Institute of America