PhD position in Archaeological Biogeochemisty

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

About the Research Group

The Geology & Geochemistry (G&G) group consists of ~30 research and technical staff. Research addresses a diverse set of questions that range from the formation and differentiation of the terrestrial planets to the environmental impact of human activity. This vibrant and internationally renowned group has consistently obtained major EU and national funding, including infrastructure investment and runs state-of-the-art geochemical facilities.

Recently, a Dutch National Research Agenda grant (€4.1M) was awarded for the project “Constructing the limes. Employing citizen science to understand borders and border systems from the Roman period until today”, short “C-LIMES” ( C-LIMES addresses the urgent question of how we can construct the Roman limes as living history, by formulating interlocking research questions (work packages). Researchers at the Utrecht University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Radboud University, Saxion and many other partners will collaborate in a multidisciplinary approach that includes the development and application of state-of-the-art techniques (e.g., isotope geochemistry, aDNA, eDNA, bioinformatics) to answer:

▪ How can archaeological artefacts be reconceptualized to understand the functioning of the Roman border as divider or connector?
▪ How did the limes affect border communities and human mobility?
▪ Which factors determined the genealogy of the limes as a heritage object?
▪ How can we synthesize these longitudinal insights from our deep past to better understand the contemporary challenges of migration, borders, and cultural interaction?

These interconnected work packages will offer a new understanding of the specific dynamics of the Roman limes, not only archaeologically, but also how it has textured contemporary engagements with borders, cross-border movement, and the meeting of cultures. Moreover, C-LIMES is innovative in that it builds on the burgeoning collaboration between academic professionals and the community-based research of citizen scientists to systematically assess large archaeological collections. In doing so, C- LIMES will form the conceptual baseline for the limes nomination as UNESCO World Heritage and bring new history to the identity of the Netherlands.


Job description

In the framework of C- LIMES, which will officially start June 1st 2021, 11 research positions are available. One of the five vacancies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, is a PhD position at the Faculty of Science:

PhD position 1 – Mobility patterns and associated dietary changes in the Roman limes borderscape in the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and western Germany.
You will determine the Sr-O-C-N isotope composition of inhumed and cremated human individuals to quantify the role of mobility in the limes borderscape and to determine major changes in social and cultural networks. Working closely within the C-LIMES team, you will contribute to establishing the direct impact the limes had on the social and political composition of human populations and obtain insight into the changing exploitation of the environmental resources.

  • Preferably you have a MA/MSc degree with a strong background in (Roman) archaeology. Practical laboratory experience, ideally in clean laboratories and with mass spectrometric techniques (TIMS/MC-ICP-MS), will be an advantage. Furthermore, you must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, the ability to speak and understand written Dutch would be highly advantageous. We expect a keenness to actively reach out to national and international partners, such as archaeological excavation companies, depots, the Cultural Heritage Agency and the Geogenetics Laboratory in Copenhagen (Denmark), for sample collection and data contextualisation. Moreover, we expect active participation in the public dissemination of scientific results.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2.395 per month during the first year and increases to €3.061 per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
•    a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP), optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the department

The Department of Earth Sciences studies the Earth with emphasis on the interactions between the geo-, hydro-, bio-, cryo-, and atmosphere. Our main goal is to improve our understanding of the processes (including anthropogenic) that ultimately shape our planet and affect our daily lives. We offer high-class teaching and carry out our ambitious and innovative research in a dynamic academic environment, supported by excellent research facilities.

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until April, 30 2021.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: prof. dr. Gareth R. Davies / dr. Lisette M. Kootker
E-mail: /
Telephone: +31 (0)20 5987329/ +31 (0)20 5981500 or +31 (0)6 24752297

No agencies

View or Apply

Similar Positions