The Housepit 54 Project at Bridge River, British Columbia: Archaeological Perspectives on Demography, Cultural Inheritance, and Household History

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

The Bridge River Archaeological Project is a long-term research partnership between The University of Montana, Department of Anthropology and Xwisten, the Bridge River Indian Band. The project seeks to understand the long-term history of the Bridge River housepit village with a focus on demographic change, technological evolution, socio-economic variability, and household sociality. This research permits us to develop studies that impact discipline-wide discussions of the evolution and organization of complex forager-fisher communities. The current phase, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, focuses on Housepit 54, deeply stratified house feature at the north end of the village. With at least 14 anthropogenic floors dating ca. 1100 to 1450 cal. B.P. and excellent preservation of faunal and macrobotanical remains, Housepit 54 provides us with the remarkable opportunity to examine persistence and change in household traditions on an intergenerational basis. This poster session presents results of ongoing research developing from our 2012 through 2014 field seasons. Presentations examine dating and stratigraphy, cultural inheritance, demography, food collection and processing, technological traditions, social relationships, and approaches to artistic interpretation.

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  • Documents (14)

  • The Ancient Floors of Housepit 54, Bridge River site: Stratigraphy and Dating (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anna Prentiss. Kristen Barnett.

    The Bridge River Archaeological Project is a long-term partnership between The University of Montana and X’wisten, the Bridge River Indian Band. The focus of the project is on understanding the historical development of this large housepit village, located near Lillooet, British Columbia. Previous research has emphasized village-wide demographic, technological, and socio-economic and political change during the Bridge River 2 (1600-1300 cal. B.P.), 3 (1300-1000 cal. B.P.), and 4 (post 600 cal....

  • Continuity and Change Between Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Periods: Visually Reconstructing Two Successive Occupations of Housepit 54 at the Bridge River Village Site, Mid-Fraser Region, British Columbia, Canada (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric Carlson.

    The use of reconstruction illustrations, or artist’s renderings of the past, offers a unique and informed method of communicating continuity and change between two successive occupations of Housepit 54 at the Bridge River Village site, located in the Mid-Fraser Region of British Columbia, Canada. Based on archaeological data and analysis from recent excavations of the large, multifamily housepit, visual representations can effectively integrate a variety of information and interpretation...

  • A Demographic History of Housepit 54, Bridge River site, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Howerton. Anna Prentiss. Thomas Foor. Kristen Barnett. Matthew Walsh.

    Demographic change can have significant impacts on socio-economic and political strategies employed by complex foraging and fishing peoples. Recent research at the Bridge River housepit village, located near Lillooet, British Columbia, has demonstrated that two short periods of rapid demographic growth followed by a period of decline led to significant changes in food acquisition and storage, settlement arrangements, and social relationships. While these patterns are well understood on a...

  • Dog coprolites as a source of dietary and genetic information at the Bridge River Site, BC (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Antonia Rodrigues. Camilla Speller. Anna Prentiss. Dongya Yang.

    DNA recovered from ancient coprolites can provide an important source of dietary and host information. In this study, ancient DNA techniques were applied to dog coprolites recovered from two pithouses at Bridge River, a complex hunter-gatherer village on the Fraser River, British Columbia. Dog mitochondrial DNA was targeted to assess the genetic relationship between the domestic dogs of Bridge River and other ancient and modern dog populations both locally and worldwide. Multiple Canis...

  • The Dogs of Housepit 54: A Taphonomic Analysis of Recovered Canine Remains at Bridge River, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emilia Tifental. Hannah Cail.

    Since 2003 the excavations at the Bridge River site have exponentially expanded our understanding of the communities that inhabited the Fraser River Canyon over 1,000 years ago. The most current excavations at Housepit 54 have provided further evidence of the many facets of Fraser River life, among these is the role of dogs. The possession and use of dogs in the Fraser River Canyon is well documented through excavations and traditional knowledge. Remains of domesticated dogs in Bridge River...

  • The Groundstone Artifacts of Housepit 54, Bridge River Site, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Molly Eimers.

    The people of the Middle Fraser Canyon traditionally used groundstone to accomplish a wide range of tasks spanning food processing to weaponry and ornamentation. Excavations of Housepit (HP) 54 at the Bridge River Site, British Columbia, in 2014 revealed an unexpectedly large sample of groundstone tools. Many items were apparently used, broken, and recycled as cooking rocks on select floors. This study draws from multiple data sources to define variability in the nature of groundstone tools...

  • Household Hearth-Centered Activity Areas at the Bridge River Site, British Columbia: Formation Processes and Site Structure (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ethan Ryan. Thomas A. Foor. Kristen D. Barnett. Pei-Lin Yu. Matthew Schmader.

    Archaeological investigations at Housepit 54 within the Bridge River site have identified approximately 15 discrete floors dating between 1500 and 100 years ago. In this poster we draw data from a Bridge River 3 (ca. 1300-1000 cal. B.P.) period floor to examine the formation of activity areas with a larger goal of reconstructing "site structure" in a constrained space. We address questions specifically directed at formation processes as well as potential relationships between at least two...

  • Housepit 54 through an Indigenous Framework: A Holistic Interpretation of an Ancient Traditional Home (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kristen Barnett.

    Data collection and analysis at Housepit (HP) 54 Bridge River Site, British Columbia, has provided an opportunity for a range of studies emphasizing (but not limited to) questions of subsistence, inheritance, lithic technological adaptations and spatial organization of the ancient occupations of this household during the BR3 period (ca. 1300-1000 cal. B.P.). This poster draws upon data acquired through the systematic analysis of artifacts and ecofacts and is further enhanced through the use of...

  • Linking Geochemistry and Geology in Interpreting Anthropogenic Sediments at Bridge River, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kevin Castro. Nathan Goodale. David Bailey. Anna Prentiss. Alissa Nauman.

    Previous research utilizing energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectroscopy and isotope ratio mass spectroscopy (IRMS) identified geochemical patterns in Housepit 54 sediments that might be attributable to human occupation. In this study we conduct additional geological analysis of Housepit 54 sediments in order to more fully understand the observed geochemical variation. In addition to grain size analysis, detailed mineralogical analysis of fourteen sediment samples from a single...

  • Lithic Raw Materials Procurement and Exchange at Housepit 54, Bridge River Site, British Columbia: What a Diachronic Perspective Reveals (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lorena Craig.

    While the Bridge River settlement in the Middle Fraser Canyon of British Columbia is located in one of the richest salmon producing areas on the Fraser River, occupants of the site had limited direct access to many sources of raw material critical for production of chipped stone tools. Current excavations by Dr. Anna Prentiss at Bridge River Housepit 54 focus on an estimated 15 housepit occupation floors dating in the range of 1000 to 1500 cal. B.P. This allows for a unique study of...

  • One Group or Many? Cultural Inheritance at Housepit 54, Bridge River Site, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathaniel Perhay. Anna Prentiss. Thomas Foor. Nathan Goodale. Matthew Walsh.

    The Bridge River housepit village, located in south-central British Columbia, features 80 housepits with radiocarbon dates spanning the past 2000 years. Many of these house structures include stratigraphic records indicating multiple generations of household re-occupation. Housepit 54 offers a particularly impressive record with an estimated 15 superimposed anthropogenic floors, the majority of which date to the period of ca. 1100-1500 cal. B.P. Extensive excavations undertaken in 2013 and...

  • Plant use practices of an ancient St’át’imc household, Bridge River, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Natasha Lyons. Anna Marie Prentiss. Naoko Endo. Dana Lepofsky. Kristen Barnett.

    This poster focuses on the interpretation of archaeobotanical macroremains from Housepit 54 occupations at the Bridge River site, on the British Columbia Plateau, dating 1100-1500 cal. B.P. Recent excavations have revealed living floors spanning a critical period when this village reached peak size and then began to decline during a period of climate transition. Previous research at Bridge River suggests that access to salmon and deer may have declined after ca. 1200-1300 cal. B.P., triggering...

  • Variation in Animal Predation and Processing Strategies at the Bridge River Winter Pithouse Village (EeRl4) Thru Time: A Zooarchaeological Analysis of Subsistence Change (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Walsh.

    Late Holocene occupants of Housepit 54 at Bridge River participated in complex strategies of food acquisition that were much more varied than the oft-cited reliance on storable anadromous fish resources practiced throughout much of the Pacific and inland/riverine Northwest of North America. While acquisition and storage of fish, particularly salmon, was (and is) a vital part of aboriginal subsistence, permeating many aspects of Native life, seasonal and spatial variations in animal procurement...

  • Variation in the Lithic Technological Organization Accompanying Household Expansion at Housepit 54, Bridge River site, British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Nowell. Anna Prentiss.

    The degree of preservation of Housepit 54 at the Bridge River site located in south-central British Columbia provides a rare look at a long series of intact occupational floors within a single pithouse. As data collection continues, a vast number of opportunities emerge to examine behavioral variation at the household level. During the 2014 field season, excavation revealed a household transition that reflected shifts in the organization of space within the household. Changes included...