Prehistoric Plant Use at Beaver Creek Rock Shelter, Southwestern Montana, U.S.A.

Darla Florence Dexter, Kathleen Martin, Lauri Travis


The 2011 Carroll College Archaeological Field School conducted an exploratory excavation within the Beaver Creek Rock Shelter in southwestern Montana, U.S.A. The excavation exposed four cultural occupation layers dat-ing to over 2,500 years ago. Pollen retrieved from the pa-leoenvironmental record included a wide variety of plants. Seven plant families were found in three of the occupa-tion layers and in only one natural layer. This research reviewed the traditional Native American ethnobotanical uses of those seven plant families. They were used pri-marily for medicinal purposes. Although archaeologists have traditionally viewed botanical remains as evidence of prehistoric subsistence, this research demonstrates ar-chaeologists’ need to use caution in assuming plant re-mains in the archaeological record are predominately tied to subsistence.

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