Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Dr Val Steele

PositionHonorary Researcher
LocationL20b/c Richmond building
DepartmentSchool of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 233549

Research Interests (key words only)

organic residues, pottery residues, food, diet, trade, fats, resins, soil lipids, stable isotopes

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

  • Chemical prospection of soils
  • Chromatography and molecular mass spectrometry
  • Detection of dairying and lipids from human remains


Employment has included a post-doctoral research position at Bradford and two years in Conservation and Scientific Research at the British Museum.

Study History

Val has a BSc in Physics from Bristol University (1976) and an MSc in Scientific Methods in Archaeology from Bradford (2004).

PhD (Bradford, 2009) for a thesis on Organic residue analysis of Red Lustrous Wheelmade Warefrom the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean (Bradford 2009).

Professional Activities

Reviewer for Journal of Archaeological Science

Research Areas

  • Analysis of amorphous organic materials from the past
  • Residues from ancient pottery
  • Diet and food culture in the past
  • Analysis of soil organic traces in soil left by past activity
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • Stable isotopic analysis
  • Degradation of organic residues


  • Steele V. (2013) Organic residues in archaeology – the highs and lows of recent research. In (eds) Ruth Ann Armitage and James Burton, Archaeological Chemistry VIII. American Chemical Society: 89-108. DOI: 10.1021/bk-2013-1147
  • Carl Heron, Søren Anderson, Anders Fischer, Aikatarina Glykou, Sönke Hartz, Hayley Saul, Val Steele, Oliver Craig (2013) Illuminating the Late Mesolithic: residue analysis of ‘blubber’ lamps from northern Europe. Antiquity 87(335): 178-188
  • Oliver Craig, Richard Allen, Anu Thompson, Rhiannon Stevens, Valerie Steele, Carl Heron (2012) Distinguishing wild ruminant lipids by gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 26(19): 2359-2364
  • Oliver Craig, Val Steele, Anders Fischer, Sönke Hartz, Søren Andersen, Paul Donohoe, Aikaterina Glykou, Hayley Saul, D Martin Jones, Eva Koch, Carl Heron (2011) Ancient lipids reveal continuity in culinary practices across the transition to agriculture in Northern Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(44): 17910-17915
  • Valerie Steele, Ben Stern, Andy Stott (2010) Olive oil or lard?: distinguishing plant oils from animal fats in the archaeological record of the eastern Mediterranean using gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 24(23): 3478-3484

Share this