Emma Loftus


About Me

I am a researcher at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford. My doctoral thesis, completed in November 2016 and supervised by Prof. Julia Lee-Thorp and Prof. Judy Sealy (University of Cape Town), reconstructed Pleistocene and Holocene sea surface temperatures off the south coast of South Africa, from marine shells preserved in archaeological shell middens. My postdoctoral research will extend this approach to other regions to better understand early coastal hunter-gatherer behaviours across Africa.

Previously, I have investigated other aspects of climate and environmental change during the late Pleistocene and Holocene in southern Africa. 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. 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.

Selected publications

Loftus E, Sealy J, Leng M, Lee-Thorp J. A late Quaternary record of seasonal sea surface temperatures off southern Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews. 171:73-84. DOI:10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.07.003

Loftus E, Roberts P, Lee-Thorp JA. 2016. An isotopic generation: Four decades of stable isotope analysis in African archaeology. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 51(1): 88-114. DOI:10.1080/0067270X.2016.1150083

Loftus E, Lee-Thorp JA, Sealy J. 2016.New radiocarbon dates and Bayesian models for Nelson Bay Cave and Byneskranskop 1: implications for the South African Later Stone Age sequence. Radiocarbon.58(2):365-381. DOI:10.1017/RDC.2016.12

Loftus E, Rogers KD, Lee-Thorp, JA. 2015. A simple method to establish calcite:aragonite ratios in archaeological mollusc shells. Journal of Quaternary Science. 30(8): 731-735. 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 30(8): 805-816. 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.

Selected 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).


You can download my CV here.