Emma Loftus


About Me

I am a graduate student in Archaeological Science at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, supervised by Prof. Julia Lee-Thorp and Prof. Judy Sealy (University of Cape Town). My research focuses on climate and environmental change during the late Pleistocene and Holocene, with a view to better understanding aspects of modern human evolution. To explore these past environments, I analyse the stable isotope ratios of materials found in archaeological sites. My doctoral thesis aims to reconstruct Pleistocene and Holocene sea surface temperatures off the south coast of South Africa, from marine shells preserved in archaeological shell middens.

I completed my Masters degree (2013) at the University of Oxford, researching environments around the Middle and Later Stone Age site Sehonghong, in the Lesotho highlands. For this project, I analysed the carbon and oxygen stable isotope ratios in sediments and faunal enamel to reconstruct shifting altitudinal vegetation zones during the Pleistocene and Holocene.
As part of my Honours degree at the University of Cape Town, I researched the variability in carbon isotope ratios between different tissues of Later Stone Age hunter-gatherer skeletons from the Western Cape, South Africa.


Loftus E, Rogers KD, Lee-Thorp, JA. 2015. A simple method to establish calcite:aragonite ratios in archaeological mollusc shells. Journal of Quaternary Science. DOI:10.1002/jqs.2819

Loftus E, Stewart BA, Dewar G, Lee-Thorp, JA. 2015. Stable isotope evidence of late MIS 3 to middle Holocene palaeoenvironments from Sehonghong Rockshelter, eastern Lesotho. Journal of Quaternary Science. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2817

Loftus E, Sealy JC. 2012. Interpreting stable carbon isotopes in human tooth enamel: an examination of tissue spacings from South Africa. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 147 (3): 499 - 507.

Conference presentations

An archaeological marine shell record of seasonality along the southern coast of Africa. INQUA, Nagoya, Japan (August, 2015).

A record of Holocene sea surface temperatures from archaeological shell middens along the southern coast of Africa. AfQUA, Cape Town, South Africa (February 2015).

Seasonal temperature records from archaeological Turbo opercula - methods and implications.African Archaeology Research Day, Bristol (November 2014).

Turbo sarmaticus stable isotope sampling strategies. Joint PAA/SAfA conference, Johannesburg (July 2014). Winner of the student poster prize.

Stable isotope evidence for Late Pleistocene environmental conditions at Sehonghong, Lesotho. ASAPA conference, Gaborone. Poster (July 2013).

Dietary analysis of Holocene individuals from the Cape coast of South Africa -- bone collagen and enamel apatite isotope values compared. Langebaanweg conference, Cape Town. Poster (November 2010).


You can download my CV here.