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18-Month Postdoc Position: Environmental Archaeology and the Ecological Dynamics of Pastoral Landscapes

University of Aarhus - School of Culture and Society

Location: Aarhus - Denmark
Salary: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 3rd October 2022
Closes: 31st October 2022

The School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University invites applications for an 18-month postdoctoral fellowship. The postdoc will be part of the research project ‘Anthropogenic Heathlands: The Social Organization of Super-Resilient Past Human Ecosystems’(ANTHEA) headed by Professor Mette Løvschal and funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The position is full-time and is expected to begin on 1 January 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The university wants its staff to reflect the diversity of society, and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of their personal background  

Research context 

More than 5,000 years ago, small-scale agropastoral communities of Northern Europe began the first fire-based management and expansion of naturally occurring heather. Pollen evidence suggests that there was an exceptional continuity of some of these enormous landscapes, covering thousands of hectares, until the 18th-19th century. Heathlands have traditionally been regarded as pristine, depleted landscapes, but their survival strongly suggests the existence of highly specialized human-nature entanglements and social organization based on grazing and controlled burning with a unique capacity to persist. This project envisages a new cultural history of past grazing and fire-management regimes by investigating how institutions of land use in prehistoric Northern Europe organized in order to establish and sustain large-scale permanent grazing areas.

The successful applicant will be co-responsible for the work package on the land-use organization of anthropogenic heathlands. The work package is based on case study areas in Northern Europe, including Western Jutland, Southwestern Norway, Southwestern Britain, Northwestern Germany, Northeastern/Central Netherlands and Western-Central Ireland (c. 3000 BC-AD 1000) and three chronological focus periods shared with the project team, pertaining to the earliest emergence and expansion of heathlands. By focusing on one or several of these areas and periods, the postdoc will investigate the ecological dynamics of anthropogenic heathlands. Potential questions to be explored include management and use practices, grazing intensity, burning frequency, succession patterns or questions of resilience.

The successful applicant will be part of the ANTHEA research team, which also consists of:  

  • Two other postdocs in landscape archaeology and social anthropology: Mark Haughton and Zachary Caple 
  • Four external experts in archaeology, quantitative research and nonlinear dynamics in big data, and modelling of pollen dispersal 
  • Professor Mette Løvschal, Aarhus University and Moesgaard Museum, expert on the organization of anthropogenic landscapes between 1500 and 50 BC. 

The successful applicant will be based in Aarhus at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, and will be expected to participate in teaching, activities at department level and in the Material Culture and Heritage research programme.

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