Judith Sealy

Judith Sealy
University of Cape Town | UCT · Department of Archaeology

PhD

About

158
Publications
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Publications

Publications (158)
Article
Globally, fire is a primary agent for modifying environments through the long-term coupling of human and natural systems. In southern Africa, control of fire by humans has been documented since the late Middle Pleistocene, though it is unclear when or if anthropogenic burning led to fundamental shifts in the region's fire regimes. To identify poten...
Article
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Reconstructing water availability in terrestrial ecosystems is key to understanding past climate and landscapes, but there are few proxies for aridity that are available for use at terrestrial sites across the Cenozoic. The isotopic composition of tooth enamel is widely used as a paleoenvironmental indicator and recent work suggests the potential f...
Article
Full-text available
The study explores the effects of environmental and climatic variables on the δ¹³C, δ¹⁵N and δ¹⁸O values of carnivores from modern C3 dominated environments in South Africa. Stable isotope ratios of carnivores may reflect large-scale environmental patterns better than those of herbivores because carnivores integrate variation seen at lower trophic...
Article
Full-text available
Cattle populations arrived in Southern Africa almost 2000 years ago, brought by farming communities migrating southwards. For centuries, cattle have been an integral component of livestock production to meet the animal protein needs of a growing population and they are also important in many cultural and religious events, as repositories of wealth...
Article
At the ancient Shona centre of Great Zimbabwe (1200–1700 CE ), cattle ( Bos taurus ) were centrally important for economic, social, and symbolic purposes. ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr for modern plants collected in southern Zimbabwe vary from 0.7054 to 0.8780 and ranges differ between some geological substrates. ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr in serial samples of Bos taurus tooth e...
Article
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We used palaeoproteomics and peptide mass fingerprinting to obtain secure species identifications of key specimens of early domesticated fauna from South Africa, dating to ca. 2000 BP. It can be difficult to distinguish fragmentary remains of early domesticates (sheep) from similar-sized local wild bovids (grey duiker, grey rhebok, springbok—southe...
Article
Despite advances in our understanding of the geographic and temporal scope of the Paleolithic record, we know remarkably little about the evolutionary and ecological consequences of changes in human behavior. Recent inquiries suggest that human evolution reflects a long history of interconnections between the behavior of humans and their surroundin...
Article
The oldest known shipwreck in southern Africa was found in Namibia in 2008. Forty tons of cargo, including gold and silver coins, helped identify the ship as the BomJesus, a Portuguese nau (trading vessel) lost in 1533 while headed to India. The cargo included >100 elephant tusks which we examined using paleogenomic and stable isotope analyses. Nuc...
Article
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We present isotopic and morphometric evidence suggesting the migration of farmers in the southern Andes in the period AD 1270-1420, leading up to the Inka conquest occurring ~ AD 1400. This is based on the interdisciplinary study of human remains from archaeological cemeteries in the Andean Uspallata Valley (Argentina), located in the southern fron...
Article
In April 2001, an intact human burial (UCT 579) was accidentally uncovered during diamond mining activity on the Somnaas farm in Namaqualand and was subsequently excavated by the Archaeology Contracts Office. This find presented a rare opportunity to record the burial style, as very few in situ burials have been encountered in the Namaqualand regio...
Article
The Pleistocene ungulate communities from the western coastal plains of South Africa's Cape Floristic Region (CFR) are diverse and dominated by grazers, in contrast to the region's Holocene and historical faunas, which are relatively species-poor and dominated by small-bodied browsers and mixed feeders. An expansion of grassy habitats is clearly im...
Article
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We analysed the isotopic compositions of bioavailable strontium (Sr) and lead (Pb) in 47 samples of animals and plants derived from the various geological substrates of southwestern South Africa, to explore the utility of these isotope systems as dietary tracers. Measurements were made using high-resolution multi-collector inductively-coupled-plasm...
Article
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Over several decades, human skeletal remains from at least twelve individuals (males, females, children and infants) were recovered from a small area (ca. 10 x 10 m) on the eastern shore of Table Bay, Cape Town, near the mouth of the Diep River where it empties into the sea. Two groups, each comprising four individuals, appear to have been buried i...
Article
The co-existence of megaherbivores in present-day ecosystems is uncommon. During the Early Pliocene, three large proboscidean taxa (Anancus capensis, Mammuthus subplanifrons and Loxodonta cookei) co-existed in the strongly C3-dominated Langebaanweg (LBW) environment, on the southwestern coast of South Africa. It is expected that this would have req...
Article
Full-text available
We measured δ¹³Cenamel and δ¹⁸Oenamel in 213 archaeological bovid teeth from Nelson Bay Cave (NBC), spanning the last 22 ka. We also recorded dental mesowear (occlusal relief [high versus low] and cusp shape [sharp, round, or blunt]) of all maxillary first and second molars from NBC. We use these values to explore glacial/interglacial shifts in bov...
Article
Objectives: The research explores whether the combined study of cortical bone histology, bone morphology, and dietary stable isotopes can expand insights into past human health and adaptations, particularly dietary sufficiency and life span. Materials and methods: Midthoracic rib cortices from 54 South African Late Holocene adult skeletons (28 M...
Article
Aims and Objectives This article reports on diet variability in the Dogon Country (Mali) through a bio‐archeological study of pre‐Dogon and early Dogon human remains (7th century to 19th century AD) from collective burial caves in the Bandiagara Escarpment. Materials and Methods Two hundred and twenty crania from collections curated in Leiden, Par...
Article
This study assesses the seasonal scheduling of shellfish harvesting among hunter-gatherer populations along the southernmost coast of South Africa, based on a large number of serial oxygen isotope analyses of marine mollusk shells from four archaeological sites. The south coast of South Africa boasts an exceptional record of coastal hunter-gatherer...
Article
Full-text available
An extensive ecological literature applies stable isotope mixing models to derive quantitative dietary reconstructions from isotope ratios of consumer tissues. While this approach works well for some organisms, it is challenging for consumers with complex, varied diets, including humans; indeed, many archaeologists have avoided the use of mixing mo...
Data
Bone collagen delta values from Late Holocene humans from the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. (XLSX)
Data
δ13C-CO2 values used to calculate Suess effect correction factors for plant and animal samples. (XLSX)
Data
Delta values of plant- and animal tissues included in models of Cape Peninsula human diet. (XLSX)
Article
Objectives Multi‐tissue stable isotope models to reconstruct past diets (Froehle, Kellner, & Schoeninger, 2012; Kellner & Schoeninger, 2007) have lacked data from a heavily C4‐dependent population. Using new data from southern African agriculturalists, published models are evaluated for accuracy in dietary reconstruction and applicability to isotop...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents distribution patterns and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope measurements of recently excavated faunal remains from two middens at Khami, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Zimbabwe. The middens are dated to c. AD 1475–1650. The results of the analysis indicate that food practices may have differed between high- and low-lying areas...
Article
The southern Cape coast of South Africa boasts an impressive suite of Plio-Pleistocene aeolian dune deposits (aeolianite). Previous research has shown that in this region onshore dune accumulation was generally focused around interglacial sea level highstands, with the locus of coastal dune accumulation shifting onto the adjacent continental shelf...
Article
The relationship between ungulate stable carbon isotope values and environmental variables (temperature, relative humidity, precipitation) remains poorly understood. In this paper, we evaluate this relationship for, predominantly, C3 ecosystems in the winter rainfall areas of southern Africa. In our dataset (290 individuals representing 23 species)...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The late Capitanian mass extinction (˜260 million years ago) represents one of the greatest biotic perturbations of the Phanerozoic and was the earliest mass extinction to affect terrestrial tetrapods and ecosystems. In the past, this extinction has been largely associated with taxonomic loss and ecological restructuring in marine environments but...
Article
In this paper, we use δ⁠13C and δ⁠15N of serial samples of dentine collagen from archaeological springbok teeth as a novel high-resolution but short-term palaeoenvironmental proxy. Two adult and seven juvenile springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) teeth from the archaeological site SK400 were analyzed. This site, located in the Namaqualand desert on t...
Article
Full-text available
The late Capitanian mass extinction (~260 million years ago) represents one of the greatest biotic perturbations of the Phanerozoic and was the earliest mass extinction to affect terrestrial tetrapods and ecosystems. In the past, this extinction has been largely associated with taxonomic loss and ecological restructuring in marine environments but...
Poster
Full-text available
Distinguishing sheep and goat remains from archaeological sites is sometimes difficult. Most of the comparative data in the literature is from Europe, and may not be applicable to southern Africa (Badenhorst & Plug 2003, Badenhorst 2006). Balasse and Ambrose (2005) studied dental morphology and stable carbon isotopes in sheep and goat teeth from C4...
Article
This study explores variation in δ¹³C and δ¹⁸O in tooth enamel carbonate along the tooth-row of wild African ungulate fauna from southwestern Africa. The study includes seven species (six bovids and a suid), all indigenous wild mammals from game parks and nature reserves, i.e. relatively undisturbed natural environments. Three to six teeth from eac...
Article
The well-known South African mid-Pleistocene site of Elandsfontein has yielded an abundance of fossil fauna and artifacts (ca. 1 to 0.6 million years ago) and has produced hominin fossils, specifically a calvarium and mandibular fragment often assigned to the species Homo heidelbergensis. Elandsfontein is located within the Greater Cape Floristic R...
Article
The southern Cape coastal region is important for understanding both the behavioural history of modern humans, and regional and global climate dynamics, because it boasts a long archaeological record and occupies a key geographical location near the intersection of two major oceans. The western boundary Agulhas Current, implicated in global heat ex...
Article
Diepkloof Rock Shelter (DRS) represents a site of major interest for reconstructing early human behaviours during the Middle Stone Age (MSA). Rock shelters such as DRS also potentially preserve information concerning the environmental context for such behaviours. In this respect the organic matter composition of rock shelter sediments has rarely be...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological evidence of the ancestral Huron-Wendat Nation of Southern Ontario, Canada, shows a population increase from the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries, suggesting high fertility. Birth timing and infant survival are influenced by mothers' decisions about weaning. This study explores trophic enrichment of δ ¹⁵ N in horizontal dentine...
Article
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KwaGandaganda, Ndondondwane and Wosi were major Early Farming Community settlements in what is today the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. These sites have yielded, among other remains, abundant evidence of ivory and ivory working dating to the seventh–tenth centuries ad, pre-dating by approximately 200 years the better-known ivory artefacts...
Article
We report on aspects of diet and subsistence patterns of late 1st and early 2nd millennium AD farmers from the Upemba Depression of Katanga, DRC, as reconstructed from stable isotopes and dental caries. While the archaeology of this region is well known from cemeteries, details of the subsistence base of these communities are not well known, becaus...
Article
The large marine gastropod Turbo sarmaticus was (and still is) an important food item for coastal foragers along the south coast of South Africa. Opercula of this species are well-preserved in both Holocene and Pleistocene archaeological sites, offering the opportunity to reconstruct past sea surface temperatures from δ¹⁸O of shell carbonate over m...
Article
In southern Africa, Middle Stone Age sites with long sequences have been the focus of intense international and interdisciplinary research over the past decade (cf. Wadley 2015). Two techno-complexes of the Middle Stone Age—the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort—have been associated with many technological and behavioural innovations of Homo sapiens . T...
Article
Pleistocene palaeoclimates and palaeoenvironments of southernmost Africa are important for understanding southern hemisphere climate dynamics and for reconstructing human evolution and early human settlement in this region. Measurements of d 13 C in tooth enamel of 136 faunal specimens from the archaeological site of Boomplaas Cave, South Africa, s...
Article
Understanding the mechanisms of species coexistence within local assemblages can play a crucial role in conservation of a species. There is little understanding of how large mammalian bovid species from West Africa partition diet resources, and to what extent they may vary their diet and habitat selection seasonally in order to coexist. Here we stu...
Article
Full-text available
Following the entry of Zea mays to northeast North America, Northern Iroquoian populations expanded their numbers and range. Isotopic values from bone collagen have shown fluctuations in reliance on this dietary staple. With permission of the Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake, Quebec, we measured δ¹³Cenamel, δ¹³Cdentine and δ¹⁵Ndentine from 167 perman...
Article
Following the entry of Zea mays to northeast North America, Northern Iroquoian populations expanded their numbers and range. Isotopic values from bone collagen have shown fluctuations in reliance on this dietary staple. With permission of the Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake, Quebec, we measured δ ¹³ C enamel , δ ¹³ C dentine and δ ¹⁵ N dentine from...
Conference Paper
Investigation into the links between paleoecology and paleoclimate can be achieved through stable isotope analysis of faunal dental remains. Isotope ratios were measured on springbok (Antidorcus marsupialis) dentition recovered from the archaeological site SK400 in order to examine this relationship and its influence on human behaviour during the L...
Article
Southern Africa's winter rainfall zone (WRZ) is sensitive to changes in the earth's atmospheric and oceanic systems. This region has the potential to provide valuable insight into both regional and global paleoenvironmental dynamics. d 13 C values of herbivore tooth enamel apatite reflect the proportions of C 3 and C 4 plants consumed. Here we pres...
Conference Paper
In recent times stable isotope analysis has been used to investigate diets of extant and extinct non-human primates, as well as early humans. In studies of omnivorous primates, interpretation of isotopic data requires prudence as patterns are complicated by physiological processes (e.g., protein routing) and different methodological approaches. We...
Article
The southern African Later Stone Age sequence is widely considered to be well dated based on radiocarbon dates from dozens of archaeological sites, and apparently shows more or less synchronous cultural shifts across an extensive area. Yet, closer examination reveals the inadequacy of many of the decades-old and uncalibrated individual site chronol...
Chapter
Recent research has highlighted the role of demography in cultural innovation and transmission . Some authors have suggested that changes in population size may be associated with the appearance and disappearance of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort , c. 75–60 ka, and that the advanced cognitive and behavioral skills attested by these industries un...
Conference Paper
Due to teeth’s incremental growth and inability to remodel they are able to provide a wealth of information about an individual’s diet, geographic origin, and migration patterns. In order to examine these topics within the scope of hunter-gatherer/animal interaction, analysis of springbok (Antidorcus marsupialis) dental remains recovered from a sit...
Article
The use of stable isotope ratio analysis in archaeology has exploded over the past few decades to the point where it is now an established tool that is routinely used to investigate questions relating to diet and mobility. Early applications focused mostly on the analysis of human skeletal tissues as a way to reconstruct major shifts in human diet,...
Article
The present report follows up on the findings of previous research, including recent bioarchaeological study of well‐dated Khoesan skeletal remains, that posits long term biological continuity among the indigenous peoples of South Africa after the Pleistocene. The Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System was used to record key crown, roo...
Article
Full-text available
We compare two methods of isolating bone collagen for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis. The older method (as practised at the University of Cape Town) demineralizes bone ‘chunks’, while the newer method (as practised at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig) involves demineralization, gelatinization and ultra-...
Conference Paper
Dental anthropological studies have demonstrated differences between the sub-Saharan African Dental Complex (Afridonty) and other broad-geographic populations. However, little research has looked at the differences among southern African populations over time and space and dental traits have been little used as a source of information about Souther...
Article
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Bioarchaeological research must balance scholarly commitment to the generation of new knowledge, descendants' interests in their collective past, and the now common practice of rapid re-interment of excavated human remains. This paper documents the first results of a negotiated protocol built on the retention of one tooth per archaeologically deriv...
Article
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Projectile weapons (i.e. those delivered from a distance) enhanced prehistoric hunting efficiency by enabling higher impact delivery and hunting of a broader range of animals while reducing confrontations with dangerous prey species. Projectiles therefore provided a significant advantage over thrusting spears. Composite projectile technologies are...
Article
Full-text available
Bovid diets have been studied for decades, but debate still exists about the diets of many species, in part because of geographical or habitat-related dietary variations. In this study we used stable carbon isotope analyses of faeces to explore the seasonal dietary preferences of 11 bovid species from a West African savanna, the Pendjari Biosphere...
Article
Full-text available
In order to calibrate radiocarbon ages based on samples with a marine carbon component it is important to know the marine carbon reservoir correction or ΔR value. This study measured the ΔR on both known-age pre-bomb marine shells and paired marine and terrestrial samples from two regions on the west coast of South Africa: the southwestern Cape and...
Article
Stable isotope analysis of skeletal tissues is widely used in archeology and paleoanthropology to reconstruct diet. In material that is poorly preserved or very old, the tissue of choice is frequently tooth enamel, since this is less susceptible to diagenesis. The relationships between carbon isotope ratios in tooth enamel (δ(13) C(enamel) ), bone...
Chapter
South Africa has a long history of coastal occupation, with numerous sites dating from the Holocene and a sizable number from the Late Pleistocene. Research in progress is now revealing evidence of coastal occupation, and the accumulation of shell middens, as far back as the Middle Pleistocene (Jacobs et al. 2006; Marean et al. 2007). These sites p...