Aurore Val

Researcher, ICArEHB

Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour (ICArEHB)
FCHS, University of Algarve
Campus de Gambelas
8005-139 Faro

(+351) 289 800 988

ORCID: 0000-0001-5350-186X

Research Interests

I am a zooarchaeologist and field archaeologist interested in prehistoric human/animal interactions and I work primarily on Pleistocene southern Africa fauna. I am involved in the taphonomic and zooarchaeological analyses of mammalian, reptile and bird assemblages from Middle Stone Age sites. These include the coastal and near-coastal sites of Diepkloof Rock Shelter, Sibhudu Cave, and Holley Shelter (South Africa); and several sites in the interior, including Bushman Rock Shelter, Heuningneskrans, Olieboomspoort (South Africa), and Pomongwe Cave (Zimbabwe). Since my PhD work, I have also retained a keen interest on cave taphonomy in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa, where I continue to explore questions related to fossil accumulations at Early Pleistocene sites such as Cooper’s Cave. 

One of the objectives of my research is to understand the processes that led to the accumulation and preservation of fossil animal remains in palaeontological and archaeological deposits. Through the study of animal remains consumed by human groups and collected from these deposits, I explore the ways in which hunter-gatherers living in southern Africa during the Late Pleistocene interacted with the animal world. This work documents important aspects of the subsistence of these groups, from their diet to the techniques used to capture these animals. It also sometimes allows us to touch on certain practices belonging to the spiritual sphere.

In parallel to my analytical work as a zooarchaeologist and a taphonomist, I am actively involved in fieldwork. I am co-directing field-based projects with colleagues in Europe and South Africa, at the Middle and Later Stone Age sites of Bushman Rock Shelter, Heuningneskrans, and Olieboomspoort (Limpopo Province, South Africa), and in southwestern Namibia (Arimas Farm).

Short Bio

I completed my MSc in 2009 on Upper Palaeolithic European fauna at the University of Bordeaux, France. In 2010, I moved to the Evolutionary Studies Institute (formerly Bernard Price Institute) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg for my PhD. My PhD focused on the taphonomy of the Australopithecus sediba fossils and associated faunal assemblage from the Early Pleistocene cave site of Malapa in the Cradle of Humankind of South Africa. In parallel to my PhD work, I analysed faunal assemblages from other fossil localities in the Cradle of Humankind, including Coopers’ D and Sterkfontein (Name Chamber). After completing my PhD in 2013, I decided to stay in South Africa, and to expand my research into the subsistence strategies of anatomically modern humans. I became a National Research Foundation post-doctoral fellow until 2018, at the University of the Witwatersrand (2013-2016) and the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria (2016-2018). During this time, I started to analyse Late Pleistocene, Middle Stone Age vertebrate remains from the sites of Sibhudu Cave, Bushman Rock Shelter and Diepkloof Rock Shelter. In 2018, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany awarded me a post-doctoral fellowship to continue conducting research on Middle Stone Age human subsistence at the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology of the University of Tübingen. In 2021, I obtained a post-doctoral fellowship from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia in Portugal, which allowed me to join in 2022 the research team of ICArEHB in Faro.