Andrew Martindale


Research Classification

Research Interests

Indigenous Archaeology
Northwest Coast
Oral Traditions
Spatial Analyses
Archaeology and the Law
Political economy
Radiocarbon Dating
Indian Residential Schools

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

Radiocarbon chronologies and statistics
Indigenous oral and archaeological records
Percussion coring
Ground penetrating radar
Historical Archaeology
spatial analysis


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!

Check requirements
  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
  • Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
Focus your search
  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
Make a good impression
  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
Attend an information session

G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.



These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Long-term human-environment interaction on dynamic coastal landscapes: examples from 15,000 years of shoreline and settlement change in the Prince Rupert Harbour area (2018)

This dissertation explores the intersections of past human settlement and the dynamism of coastal landscapes in the Prince Rupert Harbour area, in Tsimshian territory on the northern Northwest Coast, British Columbia. Taking relative sea level (RSL) and shoreline change as a major physical force in coastal people’s lives, both past and present, I explore how coastal fisher-hunter-gatherers occupied this transforming landscape and ultimately consider ways in which people’s engagement with the shores they lived upon may have been generative of new relationships to place and people. A reconstruction of the history of RSL change over the last 15,000 years is developed and presented. This is used to design a predictive model for landforms ideal for human habitation associated with raised paleoshorelines. A field survey of several of these targets identified three archaeological sites dating between 9500 and 6000 BP, pushing the archaeologically-recorded occupation of the area back 3000 years. These early Holocene sites indicate persistent use of places into the later Holocene as shoreline positions shifted with regressing RSL; it is proposed that this is associated with notions of territorial proprietorship acquired through historical precedence of use. The second half of the dissertation presents a study of the developmental history of several large late Holocene village sites associated with massive anthropogenic shell-bearing components. It is argued that these sites themselves are significant anthropogenic transformations to shorelines, and it is demonstrated that there are instances where shell was very rapidly accumulated to raise, extend, or level landforms, and likely to buffer against foreshore erosion. I contend that many of the landscapes of the Northwest Coast are ‘fisher-hunter-gatherer built environments’, and argue that increased physical investments in modifying coastlines may be associated with a transformation in the way territorial proprietorship is conceived. Specifically, I suggest it is associated with the formalization of institutionalized proprietorship systems similar to the rigid systems observed ethnographically for the Tsimshian, and that this may have resulted from the arrival of large numbers of newcomers to the region over the last 3000 years. The institutionalization of systems governing access to territory and resources enhanced social inequalities.

View record

Rock art of Nlaka'pamux: Indigenous Theory and Practice on the British Columbia Plateau (2016)

The ethnographic and archaeological data on Nlaka’pamux Interior Salish rock art is among the richest of its kind in North America and offers a rare opportunity to study indigenous rock art in the historical and cultural context of its production. Direct historical and cultural continuity offer the advantage of foregrounding indigenous taxonomy and interpretation. With multiple sources available (ethnographic texts, historical texts, archaeological data and localized indigenous knowledge) Nlaka’pamux rock art can be detached from western theory and studied empirically (temporally and spatially) as a material signature of practice within a circumscribed territory. Nlaka’pamux rock painting, according to oral tradition, is an ancient practice. Many rock paintings visible today appeared on certain landforms after the arrival of Europeans and pathogens (smallpox) on the east coast of North America. Oral traditions state that Nlaka’pamux knew of European presence prior to face to face contact and took active measures to mitigate the impact using culturally prescribed means —speeches, dances and rock painting which occurred at 50 or so locations throughout the territory along travel corridors as early as the 16th century and into the 20th century. In all its phases, Nlaka’pamux rock painting is a pro-active historically contingent act of intervention with protection, demographic revitalization and intergenerational memory in mind.

View record

Tracing Colonial Animal Trade and Husbandry Using Stable Isotope Analyses (2016)

Domestic animals, particularly cattle and pigs, were a cornerstone of European colonial projects around the globe (ca. 1500-1900 AD). Livestock husbandry and trade provided not only a source of food, labour, and raw materials for daily life, but also held symbolic significance as a factor in establishing colonial group identity. This dissertation uses stable isotope analyses to reconstruct domestic animal trade and husbandry practices associated with the global expansion of European colonial activities into the New World between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Research has been divided into three standalone projects, each designed to make a significant contribution to the current literature in the field of isotopic-zooarchaeological analyses. These projects are unified through a common theme of exploring the social roles of animal husbandry and trade and, together, provide a cohesive demonstration of how historical and isotopic faunal records can be integrated to advance archaeological interpretations of human-animal interactions. Paper 1 presents the first stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope study of faunal remains from the unique archaeological context of a shipwreck (the William Salthouse, sunk in 1841), which provides an outstanding opportunity to assess how faunal isotopic patterns at archaeological consumption sites would be influenced by inclusion of animal products acquired through long-distance transportation. Paper 2 presents a stable carbon and nitrogen isotope study of domestic livestock and meat trade in nineteenth-century Upper Canada (now Ontario). This is the first large-scale isotopic analysis of historical faunal remains in North America and shows how consumption of foreign and local animal products can be linked with different groups of people to reveal social dimensions of meat trade in urban settings. Paper 3 presents stable carbon and nitrogen analyses of faunal remains for the seventeenth-century shipwreck La Belle, associated with La Salle’s famous attempt to colonize the mouth of the Mississippi River. This study reconstructs pig husbandry practices in the context of detailed firsthand historical accounts to show that for La Salle’s colonists, domestic animal husbandry likely reflected significant cultural importance, rather than economic and subsistence factors.

View record

An archaeology of food and settlement on the Northwest Coast (2014)

This dissertation examines multiple scales of Indigenous history on the Northwest Coast from the disciplinary perspective of archaeology. I focus on cultural lifeways archaeologically represented in two key domains of human existence: food and settlement. The dissertation consists of six individual case studies that demonstrate the utility of applying multiple spatial and temporal scales to refine archaeological understanding of cultural and historical variability on the Northwest Coast over the Mid-to-Late Holocene (ca. 5,000-200 BP). The first of three regionally scaled analyses presents a coast-wide examination of fisheries data indicating that Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) exhibit a pervasive and previously under-recognized importance in Northwest Coast Indigenous subsistence practices. Next, I use zooarchaeological data from the southern British Columbia coast to identify a pattern of regional coherence in Coast Salish and Nuu-chah-nulth hunting traditions reflecting the scale of intergenerational cultural practice. The third study re-calibrates the settlement history of a small and historically significant locality in Coast Tsimshian territory (Prince Rupert Harbour) to clarify the temporal resolution of existing radiocarbon datasets and test inferences about social and political change. Following this regional exploration of scale, I document site-specific temporal variability in archaeological fisheries data from a Nuu-chah-nulth ‘big-house’ reflecting climatic and socio-economic change. I examine Indigenous oral histories and archaeological datasets to evaluate these parallel records of settlement in the neighbouring territory of an autonomous Nuu-chah-nulth polity before and during the occupation of a large defensive fortress. Finally, I demonstrate how everyday foodways are archaeologically expressed and reflect ecological differences and active management strategies within several spatially associated sites over millennial timescales. These linked case studies offer new clarity into long-standing debates concerning archaeologically relevant scales of cultural-historical variability on the NWC. They collectively demonstrate an enduring regional and temporal coherence for key aspects of indigenous resource use and settlement and a historical dynamism at finer scales. I argue this has cultural, historical, and archaeological significance as well as relevance for contemporary understandings of the Northwest Coast environment. I conclude that a focus on the pervasive aspects of the everyday over millennia offers insight into individual actions across broader patterns of history.

View record

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

An 11,000 year fire history of a coastal temperate rainforest in Prince Rupert Harbour, British Columbia (2021)

This thesis utilizes high resolution charcoal analysis and charcoal morphology to reconstruct fire history for Prince Rupert Harbour (PRH), British Columbia between ~13,200 and 3500 cal BP. Home to the North Coast Tsimshian, PRH is an ideal study location for evaluating demographic and related environmental patterns for its extensive and well-studied archaeological record yet it lacks local paleoenvironmental data. I use this fire history to: produce one line of localized palaeoecological data, assess variation in charcoal accumulation rates (CHAR) compared against regional and semi-local paleoclimate records, determine whether or not the presence of an anthropogenic signal exists in the charcoal record, and test the relationship between natural charcoal accumulation rates and demographic models for the PRH region between 6000 and 3500 cal BP. Results indicate that fire frequency and intensity were low with just fourteen potential fire events in the DIL CHAR record, 9 in Zone 2 (13,200-6000 cal BP) and 4 in Zone 1 (6000-3500 cal BP). Zone 2 peaks could not be confidently separated from the background signal and are interpreted with caution. Peaks charcoal morphology in Zone 1 in suggest local, low intensity fires. The data suggests that no extreme fluctuation in climate as seen through fire regime occurred over the 11,000-year record, and while there is no correlation between demography and CHAR such that an anthropogenic driver could be posited, the only fire events confidently identified occurred after the earliest known villages formed. I suggest that additional fire histories capturing the past 3500 years when PRH saw significant demographic growth will be necessary and fruitful for understanding the human impact, if any, on the fire regime of the Prince Rupert Harbour region.

View record

Women and hide-working at the Little John Site (KdVo-6), Yukon Territory: a feminist application of use-wear analysis (2020)

Amongst the Indigenous peoples of northern North America, hide-processing is dominated by female labour. The toolkit used is technologically variable and frequently expedient in nature. Indigenous groups from throughout northern North America were reviewed that demonstrate this gendered division of labour. This thesis examines whether archaeological hide-working toolkits are also characterized by variability and expediency, and whether detailed analyses of hide-production activities using stone tools as proxies can illuminate the roles and contributions of women in the deep past. I examined an assemblage of 219 stone artifacts from the Little John site (KdVo-6), Yukon Territory, Canada, recovered from the Chindadn component, dating from the Late Bølling Allerød Interstadial to the Younger Dryas (14,300-11,900 RCYBP). A multi-stage lithic functional analysis was conducted to isolate hide-working tools. This analysis proceeded through: Stage I—application of ethnographic analogy to inform the sample selection and provide functional inference, Stage II—use-wear analysis to identify used tools, and deduce the use motion and worked materials of those tools, and Stage III—macroscopic analysis to attain additional functional reasoning and classify the identified toolkit. A hide-working toolkit consisting of two formal and seven expedient tools was identified. The results support the ethnographic observation that lithic hide-working toolkits can be characterized by both variability and expediency. Consistencies between the ethnographic record and the Little John Chindadn assemblage support the argument that regionally, women were likely responsible for hide-production activities in the distant past. Using a feminist-approach to use-wear analysis, this thesis was able to uphold inferences depicted and derived in the ethnographic record of northwestern North America by isolating a hide-working toolkit while also illuminating the roles and contributions of women in eastern Beringia from approximately 14,300-11,900 RCYBP.

View record

Inter- and intra-site heterogeneity as sources for faunal assemblage variability: an analysis of fish taxa from Northern Tsimshian archaeological sites (2019)

This thesis examines archaeological faunal assemblages of fish taxa from Northern Tsimshian village sites in the Prince Rupert Harbour (PRH) and surrounding area on the northern coast of British Columbia. Previously, the PRH has shown evidence for salmon dominated faunal assemblages which has led researchers to deem the region as an area of “extreme salmon specialization” (Coupland et al., 2010: 189). This thesis asks how representative this trend is within the study region by exploring the relationship between the three most prevalent fish species: salmon, herring, and smelt/other fish. When 45 faunal samples from 34 sites within the region were examined, 11 samples from nine archaeological sites are not dominated by salmon. Species variability within and between faunal assemblages was examined through the use of relative abundance and density calculations. Patterning due to variability in sampling methodology (column versus auger samples) and in the historic (i.e., representative of what is ‘in the ground’) spatial and temporal variables of inter-site location, re-occupation status, sample depth, intra-site sampling location, and site type were investigated through exploratory data analysis and statistical tests. This analysis found that all non-salmon dominated faunal assemblages came from two distinct contexts: sites from the Dundas Island Group and the Chatham Sound region. The density of fish was significantly larger in back midden samples than shell terrace and house floor samples, and camp sites had lower densities of faunal material than village sites. This research concludes with a call for action to validate subsistence patterns with substantial data before inferring regional patterns of subsistence. Archaeological investigations in the study region should take into consideration the effects of spatial and temporal heterogeneity on both vertical and horizontal planes when excavating, examining, and interpreting fauna.

View record

Ground penetrating radar applied: a model for quantifying interpretation of human burials in historical contexts (2015)

This thesis explores the applied use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology in conducting comprehensive burial survey work in historic period, post-contact cemeteries. These results are based on research conducted from 2008 to 2011 within several First Nations post-contact cemeteries along with work done in other less-defined burial sites in Southwestern British Columbia. My research has been informed by other types of GPR surveys conducted during that period and through 2015, that have added experience in GPR project management, data collection, trace signal analysis, interpretation and reporting. I have developed a recursive, interpretive model that creates a simple, direct and more objective process for evaluating any single or group of potential burial locations situated in a variety of physical contexts. The basic analysis is done by linking GPR signal results obtained from over 300 cases with either prior historical or field-work based knowledge of related ground surface, physical, ethnographic and documentary evidence. The model developed here quantifies the interpretative analysis of these data and develops what I refer to as a Burial Confidence Index (BCI) from a set of parameters or variables that reflects the full extent of our knowledge of any specific location. This allows for testing and statistical comparison of known versus previously unknown locations where GPR evidence is recovered. Other important aspects of GPR-related work in the community are also addressed in brief to provide more complete coverage of the many contexts involved, including professional, academic and social considerations.

View record

Archival Archaeology of the Scelexw Village site, DhRt-2 (Musqueam East) (2011)

This paper is an archaeological analysis of archival data relating to the sćəlexw village site, DhRt-2 (Musqueam East), located on the Musqueam IR 2 Reserve in Vancouver. DhRt-2 is the type-site for the Stselax Phase (approximately 1200 years ago to 1808 AD) in Charles Borden’s Fraser Delta Sequence. Despite being the subject of various research projects since the 1950s, with major excavations carried out from 1950-1961, a comprehensive site report was never written. Instead, Borden’s (1950; 1971) publications contained brief summaries of artifact types related to the Stselax Phase. The aim of this thesis is to collate and analyze the archival data from these excavations, focusing on stratigraphy and architectural features. This is supplemented by data from more recent research projects to provide a clearer understanding of settlement patterns and the site’s occupational history through time. Most importantly, the intention is to provide a comprehensive report of the early excavations that will be of value to archaeological researchers and to the descendant Musqueam community. This paper includes a history of the archaeological research at the site, as well as a presentation of the existing archival materials and analysis of the archaeological data. Three distinct occupational zones (related groups of layers and associated features) are identified and discussed: a wetland/river estuary, shell midden/terrace, and a village zone. Variations in the sequence of zones between excavation areas (Trenches 1, 2, and 3; Charles House; Units A-D) are considered as they relate to village development through time. Together, these analyses and data provide the first comprehensive view of this important archaeological site since excavations began in 1950.Supplementary materials:

View record

Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.

Membership Status

Member of G+PS
View explanation of statuses

Program Affiliations

Academic Unit(s)


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Read tips on applying, reference letters, statement of interest, reaching out to prospective supervisors, interviews and more in our Application Guide!