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

This job offer has expired

    Aarhus University
    Cultural studies
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    Leading Researcher (R4)
    27/11/2020 22:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Denmark › Højbjerg


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 https://cas.au.dk/en/ERC-clioarch/.

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


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.


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. Applications which are not accompanied by such publications will not be assessed.

Professional references or recommendations should not be included. Applicants who are selected for an interview may be asked to provide professional references.

For further information about the position, please contact Professor MSO Felix Riede by telephone +45 8716 2083 or by e-mail f.riede@cas.au.dk or Associate Professor Trine Kellberg Nielsen by telephone +45 2336 5729 or by e-mail tkn@moesgaardmuseum.dk. If contact is made by e-mail, please consider contacting both PIs at the same time.

For more information about the application, please contact HR supporter Marianne Birn, tel. +45 21 66 58 13, e-mail mbb@au.dk.

The work environment

At the Department of Archaeology and on its associated research programme known as Materials, Culture and Heritage (MCH), we are concerned with people and the environment and culture and society from the earliest to modern times, with a focus on studies of material culture. On the basis of fieldwork and library and laboratory studies – including methods from anthropology, history and a variety of natural scientific approaches – the programme investigates and challenges our understanding of past societies seen in a deep historical perspective.

The MCH research programme at Aarhus University has an international profile and strong research networks. A dynamic research environment provides the framework for large research projects, international conferences and a variety of visiting researchers. The environment is versatile and cross-disciplinary, and the academic staff’s research competences span topics ranging from war and power, mobility and globalisation, family and individual, religion and rituals, landscape and settlement, palaeo-demography and evolution, trade and networks, technology and knowledge exchange to (in particular) quantitative analysis methods, field methodology and digital representation.

For more information about the department and the MCH research programme, please visit http://cas.au.dk/en/about-the-school/departments/archaeology/



School of Culture and Society

At the School of Culture and Society the object of research and teaching is the interplay between culture and society in time and space:

  • From the traditional disciplines of the humanities and theology to applied social research
  • From Antiquity to the issues facing contemporary societies
  • From familiar Danish cultural forms to other very different worlds
  • From local questions to global challenges.

The school’s goal is to produce compelling research with an international resonance, as well as offering teaching and talent development of high quality. The school has a broad cooperative interface with society, both in Denmark and abroad, and contributes to social innovation, research communication and further and continuing education. 

Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.


Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities (the Appointment Order).

  • Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations.
  • Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities .
  • Further information on the application and supplementary materials may be found in Application Guidelines.
  • The application must outline the applicant's motivation for applying for the position, attaching a curriculum vitae, a teaching portfolio, a complete list of published works, copies of degree certificates and examples of academic production (mandatory, but no more than five examples). Please upload this material electronically along with your application.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here: https://talent.au.dk/junior-researcher-development-programme/

Faculty of Arts

The Faculty of Arts is one of five main academic areas at Aarhus University. The faculty contributes to Aarhus University's research, talent development, knowledge exchange and degree programmes. With its 550 academic staff members, 275 PhD students, 9,500 BA and MA students, and 1,500 students following continuing/further education programmes, the faculty constitutes a strong and diverse research and teaching environment. The Faculty of Arts consists of the School of Communication and Culture, the School of Culture and Society and the Danish School of Education. Each of these units has strong academic environments and forms the basis for interdisciplinary research and education.

The faculty's academic environments and degree programmes engage in international collaboration and share the common goal of contributing to the development of knowledge, welfare and culture in interaction with society.

Read more at arts.au.dk/en

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s  recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.

University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at www.international.au.dk/

More Information

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Aarhus University
Moesgård Allé 15

EURAXESS offer ID: 571469


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