PhD Studentship: Early Neanderthal Social and Behavioural Complexity during the Purfleet Interglacial

Durham University

Funding amount: The funding covers UK fees and stipend in line with MRC rates

Project Title:

Early Neanderthal social and behavioural complexity during the Purfleet Interglacial: the evidence from the stone tool record.

This is a fully funded* 3-year Studentship, including fees and stipend, to start in October 2017.

Project Description

This studentship will support a full-time PhD student to undertake research into the archaeology of the Purfleet Interglacial (MIS9, ca 350-290,000 years ago) in Britain. This period saw several transformations in archaic human technology, behaviour and social life, a series of thresholds that ultimately led to the ‘classic’ Neanderthal way of life. Sites belonging to the Purfleet Interglacial have, however, only recently been recognised within the British Pleistocene record. As a result, beyond a few ‘flagship’ sites that have helped define (or indeed create) our impression of the period, the archaeology of MIS9 is very poorly understood. It is, however, a very rich archive, with over 192 sites and find-spots in the middle Thames Valley alone (most in the BM). This project aims to examine a series of key yet under-researched set of materials, mostly held in the British Museum, to gain a better understanding of human groups during this period and to develop a more nuanced and fuller picture of the transformations that took place, in both space and time.

Further Details

The student will be primarily based at Durham University, but will divide their time between Durham and the British Museum. The British Museum will provide at least £1000 a year for three years, and up to £500 in the fourth year cover the cost of the student's travel and accommodation when they visit the Museum for meetings, to research the collections or attend training. The British Museum will also offer the student desk space in their supervisor's department where they will have access to computing and telephonic resources. The student will receive a staff pass and full access to facilities available to other British Museum staff, including its excellent libraries. The opportunity to work alongside the British Museum's staff will provide the student with a highly sort after chance to experience working in a national museum. Given its profile and reputation, such placements at the British Museum are highly sought-after, and there is a long waiting list for volunteering opportunities.

The Student

We are seeking a student who can provide evidence of a developed knowledge, ability and potential in the analysis and interpretation of earlier Palaeolithic stone tools, in their regional and temporal context. An understanding of British Palaeolithic sites and sequences, and their interpretation, is essential.

The student must hold a first class or upper second class undergraduate degree (a 1st or a 2.1) in Archaeology or related discipline, and/or a Masters degree in Archaeology at Merit or Distinction level.

EU applicants must demonstrate a relevant connection to the UK through ordinary residence. As a UK public funded body, we cannot fund applicants from outside the EU.

Further Information:

Formal applications should be made on-line via the Durham University’s web pages ( When completing the on-line form, you are requested to provide a 1000-word (maximum) statement in which you describe your suitability for the studentship and to upload a current CV.

When asked to specify the field of study on the application, please insert ‘Purfleet Interglacial - White-AHRC-CPD’


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Northern England