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Postdoctoral position in eco-cultural niche modelling at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage...

The Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, School of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, invites applications for a three-year fixed-term postdoctoral position in eco-cultural niche modelling of prehistoric (Late Pleistocene/early Holocene) hominin populations. The appointment begins on 1 February 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The successful applicant will be based in Aarhus at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Moesgaard.

The university is keen for its staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified applicants regardless of their personal background.

Research context

We are looking for an innovative scholar with a background in palaeoecology, ecological modelling or quantitative archaeology, preferably with a specialisation in distribution modelling.

The position is part of two interdisciplinary projects: CLIOARCH (CLIOdynamic ARCHaeology: Computational approaches to Final Palaeolithic/earliest Mesolithic archaeology and climate change) and NeanderEDGE (Responding to a changing world: Neanderthal Extinction and Dispersal in Glacial Extremes), which are funded by the European Research Council’s Consolidator Grant scheme under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 817564) and the Independent Research Fund Denmark Sapere Aude DFF Starting Grant Instrument (grant agreement No. 9062-00027B) respectively.

The CLIOARCH project focuses on the Final Palaeolithic and earliest Mesolithic (15,000-11,000 cal BP) in Europe and aims to qualify and quantify the research history and cultural taxonomy of this period as well as the interplay between social transmission dynamics and environmental changes/events in relation to the material culture changes documented in the archaeological record. The project is grounded in cultural evolutionary theory, works across disciplinary boundaries and has a strong Open Science focus. One key research objective during the project’s core phase is to adopt and adapt palaeo-species distribution modelling approaches to archaeological datasets. CLIOARCH collaborates with BIOCHANGE (the Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World) at the Section for Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity at AU Bioscience and the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. For more information, please visit .

NeanderEDGE: The project focuses on the Late Pleistocene (115,000 to 60,000 years ago) and on latitudes above 50°N across western and eastern Eurasia (between c. -6°W and 40°E). This period represents a critical episode between a preceding and ensuing warm phase during which Neanderthals had established a presence in northern Eurasia. Special focus is on the subarctic-boreal climate zones transition (~55°N) as a potential dispersal boundary; southern Scandinavia serves as a detailed regional case study to investigate the distributional edge of the Neanderthal range. NeanderEDGE collaborates with BIOCHANGE (the Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World) at the Section for Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity at AU Bioscience and the Institute for Geoscience at AU.

The successful applicant is expected to participate in project activities (workshops, conferences and fieldwork), to actively build bridges across the two projects, and to participate in activities at the department such as lectures, seminars and teaching.

The position

The successful applicant and the PI will share responsibilities within Work Packages 3 and 4 in the CLIOARCH project and Work Package 3 in the NeanderEDGE project. The two projects have a shared methodological framework and thus the successful applicant will be offered unique data from different temporal case studies from which to develop their own research and comparative approach.

In the CLIOARCH the successful applicant should be prepared to collaborate with the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg and to use state-of-the-art climate models from this collaboration in conjunction with species distribution models to (a) reconstruct palaeodemographic dynamics in the period under study and to (b) better understand the patterns and processes of adaptions during this period as reflected in the various cultural taxa’s spatial distributions and their changes.

In the NeanderEDGE project, the successful applicant should be prepared to explore novel ways of modelling Neanderthal adaptation and distribution using spatial and behavioural data to (a) reach a better understanding of the response of northern Neanderthals to climate change in the period under study and (b) use the results to generate new evidence-based Neanderthal distribution maps that incorporate behaviourally graded and dynamic boundaries.

Both projects aim to further develop the application of distribution modelling to past human populations. The successful applicant’s main research task will therefore be to tackle issues such as sparse data, data biases and chronological uncertainty inherent in archaeological data in relation to distribution modelling methods. In addition, the successful applicant should seek to develop novel approaches to the definition of past hominin niche spaces as encoded in archaeological proxies, and to harness the predictive power of distribution models for associated fieldwork.

Applicants are asked to submit a research proposal (between three and five pages) in which they present a conceptual and methodological perspective on the niche dynamics of past hominins. In addition, applicants should submit:

  • a concise statement of motivation for applying for the position (maximum one page)
  • a maximum of five publications
  • The successful applicant will be expected to:

  • develop their research within the framework provided by the overarching projects, in cooperation with the PIs
  • assist in or lead data collection, data preparation and data storage according to FAIR principles
  • present their research at international meetings and publish results in peer-reviewed, international scientific journals
  • contribute to the organisation of research workshops and international conferences hosted by CLIOARCH and NeanderEDGE
  • teach at BA and/or MA level (maximum 20%, by agreement)
  • work both independently and collaboratively with the PIs, experts and other project members
  • Teaching

    The position will involve some teaching as agreed upon with the Head of the Department and the project PIs.

    Knowledge exchange

    The successful applicant will be expected to exchange knowledge with various sectors of society and to contribute actively to public debate in areas related to the position.

    Qualifications

    Applicants for this position must hold a PhD degree in ecology, palaeoanthropology, Palaeolithic archaeology, computational archaeology or a related field.

    Applicants must document:

  • doctoral-level experience of ecological modelling, preferably with focus on distribution models/eco-cultural niche models
  • an interest in human palaeoecology
  • knowledge of climate models and model downscaling
  • an international research profile
  • fluency in written and spoken English, and the willingness to acquaint themselves with Danish if they do not speak Danish
  • Robust knowledge of the programming language R would be an advantage, as would prior knowledge of the Late Pleistocene archaeological/palaeoanthropological record of Europe. Applicants should be interested in engaging in collaborative, interdisciplinary work.

    The application must be submitted in English.

    Please upload a maximum of five publications alongside your application and please note that only publications which are actually submitted alongside applications will be assessed; a list of publications is not sufficient.


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