Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project 2019, Germany


May 24, 2019


Opportunity Cover Image - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project 2019, Germany

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project

The Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) is a leading global centre for archaeology that combines expertise in field and laboratory methods. Our research is focused on developing and implementing cutting-edge new methods for exploring our species’ past. To do this, we work at the interface of multiple disciplines, including archaeology, ecology, biology, and evolutionary studies. We are interested in how a deep time perspective can shed new light on contemporary issues ranging from climate change and anthropogenic environmental impacts to migration, inequality, and food security.

Our community and working environment

Our student and post-doctoral community is international and diverse. We are a lively, friendly, and active department that hosts a broad variety of projects, workshops, conferences, meetings, speakers and other events. We prioritise training students and postdoctoral researchers not only in research methods and skills, but in all aspects of academic life, providing professional development training to ensure our students and postdoctoral researchers reach their best potential, and are fully prepared for the job market, for applying for funding, and for dealing with the challenges of academic life. The success of this approach is reflected in our placement rates. Although we are a young department, we have a strong record of placing postdoctoral researchers in tenure-track and other academic positions.

We are committed to encouraging diversity and actively challenging biases based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and other components of identity.  We strive to undertake ethical research, and to foreground training and capacity building as a core part of our international research. To this end, we have established the International Application of Archaeological Science training programme, which is held annually in our Department, and welcomes scholars from around the world for intensive training in archaeological science methods.

Our working language is English.

Our facilities

We have world-leading facilities for archaeological science. These include extensive facilities for bulk and compound-specific stable isotope studies, lipid and alkane analyses, Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), proteomics, SEM and light microscopy, and microfossil studies, as well as laboratories for archaeobotany and zooarchaeology. We are in the process of expanding our laboratory facilities to include amino acid and metabolite capabilities, and AMS radiocarbon dating. We also have extensive equipment for digital field archaeology, as well as laboratory facilities for 3-D scanning and analysis, photography and geospatial modelling. We additionally have access to the extensive laboratory facilities of the Institute for Geosciences at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Our work is supported by expertise in database management, statistical analysis and bioinformatics, as well as central facilities for media outreach and third party funding applications. Our institute is home to an International Max Planck Research School that supports student activities and teaching.

We have active projects around the world, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Our offer

We are currently offering a 2-year funded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship on our Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project. The suitable candidate will develop a programme of research in collaboration with their supervisors, will take leadership of that programme, and will see the research through to publication. Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in the Department of Archaeology are extendable in exceptional circumstances, such as when postdoctoral researchers demonstrate significant success in terms of their research programme, publication output and commitment to the building and success of the department.

We offer a flexible start date, ideally between 1 July 1 and 1 October, 2019. The successful applicant will be provided with intellectual, technical and resource support for the development of world-leading research, and will have the opportunity to work with a multidisciplinary team of PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and group leaders. The pay scale is according to the German pay grade system for public employees (TVöD).

Our expectation

The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History provides a research-focused environment for scholars to develop innovative, world-leading projects. We seek Postdoctoral Research Fellows with a passion for cross-disciplinary, team-oriented research, and an ability to work efficiently and complete projects in a timely manner. Postdoctoral researchers are expected to publish findings in top-tier, international research journals, and to support media interest in their research. Candidates should demonstrate an ability to finish projects to the publication stage, and to formulate research articles that fill key gaps and answer central questions in their fields of study.

The successful candidate will play a central role in the Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project, working collaboratively with supervisors in the Department of Archaeology as well as with project partners elsewhere.

We expect our postdoctoral researchers to play an active role in department life, and to contribute to supporting the department in a variety of ways. Our postdoctoral researchers help teach, train and supervise students, run committees, organise research, professional development and social events, and create a supportive environment for all staff members and visitors.

Position-specific details: Global Markers of the Anthropocene Fellowship

A Postdoctoral Research Fellow is sought to join the Department of Archaeology’s new Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project. The project seeks to develop globally comparative datasets of post-Pleistocene human impacts, drawing on field archaeological and laboratory science methodologies. The successful candidate will undertake field excavations in various global locations, and coordinate a major programme of interdisciplinary sampling and analyses, working closely with laboratory scientists in the Department of Archaeology and partner institutions.

The Global Markers of the Anthropocene Project is in its pilot phase, and the Postdoctoral Researcher will help to further develop the project’s research design, test project methodologies, develop sampling strategies at various scales, work with project partners, and see the pilot studies through to publication. Research will involve investigation of numerous sites of diverse chronologies and contexts. The Postdoctoral Researcher will also organise a major project workshop at the Max Planck Society’s Ringberg Castle in Bavaria in May, 2020.

The successful candidate will have a strong record of fieldwork and publication, and be able to demonstrate experience of conducting archaeological and/or palaeoenvironmental field research. Applicants should be able to independently plan and undertake field research, coordinate research teams, and work in a variety of environmental and cultural contexts. A central component of the position will involve working closely with cross-disciplinary specialists to coordinate the analysis of field samples, and the dating of sites.  The Postdoctoral Researcher will bring diverse archaeological and environmental datasets together, and develop statistical methods for optimising data analysis and comparison.

The position is ideal for candidates who can work independently as well as collaboratively, organise and synthesise large amounts of information, and coordinate with multiple research partners. The demonstrated ability to bring projects to fruition in a timely manner is essential, as is a track record of publication. The ability to undertake statistical methods of data analysis is desirable. The successful applicant will work in concert with supervisors and diverse site teams.

When applying for this position, candidates are asked to consider how they would design a project that would enable the sampling and analysis of markers of human impact in diverse environments. 

Your qualifications


  • Have or be about to obtain a PhD degree or qualification equivalent in archaeology, geoarchaeology, archaeological science, palaeoenvironmental research, or a closely related field.
  • A strong record of peer-reviewed publication.
  • Experience of fieldwork, especially fieldwork oriented at broad-scale landscape studies and analyses.
  • Strong organisational and time management skills, and the ability to efficiently see research analyses through to publication.
  • The ability to coordinate with multiple research partners, and to work both independently and collaboratively, managing analyses across multiple institutions.
  • Absolute reliability and a strong sense of responsibility.
  • Ability to multi-task, find creative solutions to problems when necessary, and meet tight deadlines.


  • Capabilities in statistical and/or computational analysis.
  • Experience in working with interdisciplinary scientists to obtain field samples, including for diverse chronometric and environmental analyses.
  • Experience working in cultural resource management (contract archaeology).
  • Knowledge of archaeological science methodologies, including their different potentials and flaws.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

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Publish Date
April 22, 2019