PhD position Finding Suitable Grounds: Multi-proxy Archaeobotany (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Arts


University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 36,000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international centre of knowledge: it belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

The Graduate School for the Humanities is the home to all PhD candidates of the Faculty of Arts (circa 250), and is committed to creating and maintaining excellent conditions for PhD research in all fields of the humanities. In addition to organising local courses, the GSH works closely with 16 national research schools which offer regular courses and seminars by national and international top researchers.

The GIA (Groningen Institute of Archaeology) is a leading international research institute with a strong interdisciplinary research tradition in the archaeology of north-western Europe, bioarchaeology and Classical and Mediterranean archaeology. GIA engages in fundamental archaeological research in Northwest Europe, the Mediterranean and the Polar Regions. GIA stimulates and integrates fundamental research on past human societies and their environments, from Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers to complex urban societies.

Job description

Applications are invited for a PhD candidate in the area of multi-proxy archaeobotany. This position is embedded in the NWO-funded project “Finding Suitable Grounds”, which is due to start in October 2021 in collaboration with Utrecht University (UU), the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona and several archaeological companies.

The project’s consortium brings together experts in geoarchaeology, geology and archaeobotany to study the introduction of crop cultivation in the low-lying areas of the Netherlands, with a special focus on buried and submerged levees of river systems and creeks. The selected PhD candidate will investigate human subsistence-related changes in the vegetation of the Rhine-Meuse Delta and the Swifterbant/IJsselmeer regions in the period 6000 – 4000 BCE. Focus will be on evidence for the introduction of crop plants (esp. cereals) and the development of vegetation associated with anthropogenic activities within a landscape, including arable farming, but also vegetation management – e.g. by burning – for grazing.

The candidate will work closely with a PhD candidate in geoarchaeology/soil micromorphology at UU, whose focus is on reconstructing the physical landscape and evidence for soil cultivation in the same areas. Both PhDs will work on buried soils, potentially cultivated horizons, and well-dated sediments in sediment cores from the two research areas.

The candidate will work with specialists in pollen, plant macro-remain, microcharcoal and phytolith analyses; the project includes a research internship at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) for training and support on phytolith analysis.


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic student with a Master degree in Archaeology or Biology, a specialization in at least one of the relevant archaeobotanical disciplines, and a clear interest in human-environment interaction. Experience with wetland settings, Neolithic contexts or crop plants is a plus. Furthermore, an excellent knowledge of English and good academic writing skills are essential.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the final year (based on full-time employment, for 4 years); the position requires residence in Groningen, and must yield to a PhD dissertation based on peer-reviewed journal publications.
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• initially an appointment for 12 months; towards the end of the first year, an assessment of the candidate's progress and results will take place to decide whether the employment can be continued.

You will be enrolled in the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen. The GSH offers the organisational infrastructure within which PhD candidates participate in advanced training and supervised research:

You will be carrying out your research in the context of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA).

Start date: 1 Januari 2022 (a somewhat earlier starting date can be discussed)

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

1. A motivation letter in which you describe why you wish to do this research, and why you are the right person to do it
2. A full curriculum vitae, demonstrating academic excellence, including publications and presentations (if applicable)
3. A one-page proposal (1 page A4, single spacing, font 12), indicating how you would plan and execute the archaeobotanical research in this project. For background information, see: and[…]/get-pdfd1fe.pdf?c=jalc;idno=0501a03
4. Certified copies of your Bachelor and Master degrees and grades belonging to your Bachelor and Master degrees (in case of an on-going Master degree, please include your current grades and a certifying letter from your institution or thesis supervisor)
5. Contact details of two academic referees.

You can submit your application (in English) until 21 July 11:59 pm / before 22 June 2021 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. D.J. Huisman (questions regarding the project)

Prof. R.M. Esser (questions regarding the Graduate School for the Humanities)

Flip Kramer (questions regarding the application procedure)

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221371

Digital application form