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Judith Sealy

Judith Sealy holds the South African Research Chair in Stable Isotopes, Archaeology and Palaeoenvironmental Studies, based in the Department of Archaeology at UCT. She also holds overall academic responsibility for the Stable Light Isotope laboratory, used by researchers from a range of disciplines at UCT and other universities nationally and internationally. Sealy and her research group measure naturally occurring variations in the ratios of stable light isotopes (mainly carbon, nitrogen and oxygen) to investigate past diets and environments. Isotopic studies of human remains enable inferences about the diet and economic base of human societies, from the emergence of modern humans to the development of hunter-gatherer, herder and farmer societies in southern Africa, and the impact of European colonization. The research group also studies ancient animal remains to reconstruct past environments, helping us to understand the context/constraints within which humans evolved and lived.  Sealy is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Archaeological Science, and serves on the editorial boards of Azania and Southern African Humanities; she is a former Editor of the South African Archaeological Bulletin and Associate Editor of Archaeometry. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and of the University of Cape Town.

Selected publications:
Makarewicz, C.A. & Sealy, J. 2015. Dietary reconstruction, mobility, and the analysis of ancient skeletal tissues: Expanding the prospects of stable isotope research in archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science 56: 146-158.

Irish, J.D., Black, W., Sealy, J. & Ackermann, R.R. 2014. Questions of Khoesan continuity: Dental affinities among the indigenous Holocene peoples of South Africa. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155: 33-44.

Sealy, J., Johnson, M., Richards, M. & Nehlich, O. 2014. Comparison of two methods of extracting bone collagen for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis: comparing whole bone demineralization with gelatinization and ultrafiltration. Journal of Archaeological Science 47: 64-69.

Pfeiffer, S., Williamson, R.F., Sealy, J.C., Smith, D.G. & Snow, M.H. 2014. Stable dietary isotopes and mtDNA from Woodland period southern Ontario people: results from a tooth sampling protocol. Journal of Archaeological Science 42: 334-345.

Sahle, Y., Hutchings, W.K., Braun, D.R., Sealy, J.C., Morgan, L.E., Negash, A. & Atnafu, B. 2013. Earliest stone-tipped projectiles from the Ethiopian Rift date to >279,000 years ago. PLoS One 8(11): e78092. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078092

Hare, V. & Sealy, J. 2013. Middle Pleistocene dynamics of southern Africa’s winter rainfall zone from δ13C and δ18O values of Hoedjiespunt faunal enamel. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 374: 72-80.

Dewar, G., Reimer, P.J., Sealy, J. & Woodborne, S. 2012. Late-Holocene marine radiocarbon reservoir correction (ΔR) for the west coast of South Africa. The Holocene 22(12): 1481-1489.

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

Sealy, J. & Galimberti, M. 2011. Shellfishing and the interpretation of shellfish sizes in the Middle and Later Stone Ages of South Africa. In: N.F. Bicho, J.A. Haws & L.G. Davis (eds) Trekking the Shore: Changing Coastlines and the  Antiquity of Coastal Settlement: 405-419. New York: Springer. ISBN 978 1 4419 8218 6

Codron, J., Codron, D., Lee-Thorp, J.A., Sponheimer, M., Kirkman, K., Duffy, K.J. & Sealy, J. 2011. Landscape-scale feeding patterns of African elephant inferred from carbon isotope analysis of feces. Oecologia 165: 89-99.
Sealy, J. 2010. Isotopic evidence for the antiquity of cattle-based pastoralism in southernmost Africa. Journal of African Archaeology 8(1): 65-81.

Hine, P., Sealy, J., Halkett, D. & Hart, T. 2010. Antiquity of stone-walled tidal fish-traps on the Cape coast, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 65: 35-44.

Styring, A.K., Sealy, J.C. & Evershed, R.P. 2010. Resolving the bulk δ15N values of ancient human and animal bone collagen via compound-specific nitrogen isotope analysis of constituent amino acids. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74: 241-251.

Chase, B.M., Meadows, M.E., Scott, L., Thomas, D.S.G., Marais, E., Sealy, J. & Reimer, P.J. 2009. A record of rapid Holocene climate change preserved in hyrax middens from southwestern Africa. Geology 37(8): 703-706.  

Stynder, D.D., Ackermann, R.R. & Sealy, J.C. 2007. Craniofacial variation and population continuity during the South African Holocene. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 134(4):489-500.

Sealy, J. 2006. Diet, mobility and settlement pattern among Holocene hunter-gatherers in southernmost Africa. Current Anthropology 47:569-595.

Clayton, F., Sealy, J. & Pfeiffer, S. 2006. Weaning age among foragers at Matjes River Rock Shelter, South Africa, from stable nitrogen and carbon isotope analyses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 129:311-317.

Corr, L.T., Sealy, J.C., Horton, M.C. & Evershed, R.P. 2005. A novel marine dietary indicator utilizing compound-specific bone collagen amino acid δ13C values of ancient humans. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:321-330.

Sealy, J., Maggs, T., Jerardino, A. & Kaplan, J. 2004. Excavations at Melkbosstrand: variability among herder sites on Table Bay, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 59:17-28.

Henshilwood, C.S., D’Errico, F., Yates, R., Jacobs, Z., Tribolo, C., Duller, G.A.T., Mercier, N., Sealy, J.C., Valladas, H., Watts, I. & Wintle, A.G. 2002. Emergence of modern human behaviour: Middle Stone Age engravings from South Africa.  Science 295:1278-1280.

Henshilwood, C.S., Sealy, J.C., Yates, R., Cruz-Uribe, K., Goldberg, P., Grine, F.E., Klein, R.G., Poggenpoel, C., van Niekerk, K. & Watts, I. 2001. Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa: preliminary report on the 1992-1999 excavations of the Middle Stone Age levels. Journal of Archaeological Science 28:421-448.

Cox, G., Sealy, J., Schrire, C. & Morris, A. 2001.  Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analyses of the underclass at the colonial Cape of Good Hope in the 18th and 19th century.  World Archaeology 33:73-97.