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4 year fully funded doctoral position in Geoarchaeology

  • September 1, 2022

Start date: 01/02/2023

The Maritime Cultures Research Institute (MARI) is a fundamental research center that explores how people in or close to a maritime environment created particular ‘fluid’ cultures and societies based on connectivity and transience.

Within the framework of the WEAVE project "Welcome to the Dark Side – disclosing the invisible stages of medieval urbanization through the integrated study of European Dark Earths" (host institutions: MARI-VUB and IPAS-University of Basel), MARI is opening a call for a 4 year fully funded doctoral position in geoarchaeology (micromorphology).

Dark Earths are a common phenomenon in European towns. Geoarchaeological research has demonstrated that Dark Earths contain highly valuable information impossible to access with traditional methods. For the Early and High Medieval Period, Dark Earths represent some of the least known aspects of town development. Micromorphological data from numerous case studies, primarily in Belgium and Switzerland, will be re-evaluated in an integrated study in order to answer fundamental questions about medieval towns, through characterization of human activities, natural processes, and taphonomical changes that shaped them. All data will be entered into a novel two-pillar database system – the first online standardized tool publicly accessible to the scientific community. The large amount of comparable data thus created will lead to a geoarchaeological synthesis of medieval urban Dark Earths in Europe. Moreover, thanks to this unique open access system and image reference collection, the project will have a significant and lasting impact on how Dark Earths are studied in the future, preventing further loss of irreplaceable information.

The successful PhD candidate will be involved in all aspects of the project, and will be encouraged to bridge the gap between archaeology, geoarchaeology and environmental archaeology together with the other team members.

Key Responsibilities

• Performing a geoarchaeological study of selected sites, using micromorphology in combination with other physico-chemical methods where applicable, in order to: -  distinguish natural formation processes and human-induced processes and activities, - establish their relationships and relative chronology, as well as distinguish long-term processes and single events.

• Entering and processing the data of previous and new sites into the newly created GEOARCHrec and GEOARCHive databases.

• Be ready to be (further) trained in geoarchaeology

• Take an active part in the project and in MARI (attend regular meetings) and work closely with all members of the MARI and IPAS team (PIs, PhDs, and Postdocs)

• Promote and publish the results of the project through outreach activities, publications, etc.

Selection criteria essential

• MA/MSc in archaeology, with preference given to degrees with a particular focus on geoarchaeology, or similar research experience gained through the thesis;

• Obtained a basic training in soil and sediment micromorphology and/or standard geoarchaeological methods, and be willing to undertake additional micromorphology training;

• Highly motivated and eager to cross the boundaries between humanities and science;

• Team spirit and excellent communication skills;

• Level B2 or higher in English.

Selection criteria desired

• Previous experience working with a petrographic microscope, preferentially on micromorphological soil and sediment thin sections;

• Excavation experience in urban contexts;

• Experience with entering data in Filemaker Pro;

• Driving licence.

Applications must include:

- Personal statement

- Detailed CV

- Portfolio detailing research experience (dissertation, reports, publications)

- Copy of diploma(s)

Applications are to be sent to Prof. Dr. Yannick Devos ( by 15 September 2022.

The selected candidates will be invited for a job interview at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel or via ZOOM on 23 or 29 September 2022. To be eligible, applicants must have obtained their Master degree by 1 October 2022.