<p>Ongoing research excavations at the medieval village of Tashbulak in the Pamir Mountains of Uzbekistan, representing an ongoing research collaboration between the Max Planck Institute and Washington University in St. Louis.</p> Zoom Image

Ongoing research excavations at the medieval village of Tashbulak in the Pamir Mountains of Uzbekistan, representing an ongoing research collaboration between the Max Planck Institute and Washington University in St. Louis.

Your application

Deadline: October 1, 2017!

Please submit your application in English providing us with:

  • Cover letter, indicating topic(s) of interest
  • Proposal (maximum 2 pages, not including references, figures etc.)
  • CV
  • Academic transcripts (Undergraduate and Masters)
  • Names of 3 referees Please note that when submitting your documents in our application portal you'll be asked for contact information of your referees. Your referees will receive an email containing a link where they can upload their letter of recommendation. Please note that the deadline for submission of these letters is the same as the one for the applications.

Please submit your application via this link by October 1, 2017.

Further information

For questions, please contact:

Dr. Robert N. Spengler III

Deadline for this call: October 1, 2017!

PhD position on the "Archaeobotany of Exchange and Migration in Asia or eastern Africa"

The Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is offering a 3-year funded PhD position relating to one of several ongoing research agendas. The laboratory research will entail macrobotanical studies of flotation samples from research sites in Central Asia/Mongolia or eastern Africa. The student will work closely with a larger team of scholars at the institute, and partake in a cross-disciplinary research agenda. While the student will focus on botanical studies, our students gain experience working across a range of archaeological sciences, and the research could also draw on isotopic, proteomic, or other methods. The opportunity to analyze data from several different sites and to draw upon different scientific methods under the mentorship of top scholars in the field provides a particularly strong career foundation. The Department of Archaeology has ongoing collaborative excavation projects in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and is initiating new work in eastern Africa (including Kenya and Zambia). The project will focus on either the peak periods of trans-Eurasian exchange or the Bantu expansion, both processes that shaped cuisines across the ancient world. The goal is to study what cultivated plants were moving along the trade and migration routes of Africa or Eurasia and how this exchange shaped cuisines across the ancient world.

The student will work in the newly formed Archaeobotany Laboratory at the Institute, under the supervision of Drs Robert N Spengler III and Alison Crowther, as well as other institute staff depending on the region studied and archaeological science methods drawn upon. The laboratory is part of a larger laboratory consortium that includes facilities for microbotanical, stable isotopic, proteomic, genetic, and material culture studies. These wide-ranging research facilities and the collaborative nature of the research agenda at this institute provide graduate students a unique learning experience, laying the foundation for a future career. The position will begin in January of 2018 and the deadline for applications is October 1, 2017.

This PhD position will explore the spread of many of our familiar fruit, nut, and grain crops across the Old World. The student is expected to:

  1. Partake in field excavations at one of our ongoing research sites. This will include supervising sediment sampling and flotation in Central Asia, Mongolia, or eastern Africa.
  2. Collect comparative material and press herbarium specimens in the field.
  3. Analyze macrobotanical samples in the laboratory at the Max Planck Institute under the supervision of a director.
  4. Undertake statistical analysis of the archaeological crop remains with morphometrics and statistical processing.
  5. Draw on other archaeological science methods, including methods for analyzing microfossils, stable isotopes or proteins, as relevant.
  6. The student is expected to follow their research project to the publication stage and write up the final results. PhD is by publication rather than thesis.

Your qualifications


  • Have or are about to obtain a Master’s degree or qualification equivalent to the German diploma (essential) in Anthropology, Archaeology, or a related subject.
  • Training and experience in anthropological or archaeological field or laboratory research.
  • Applicants are expected to be enthusiastic about learning and exploring research topics in the archaeological sciences. They must also be willing to work as part of a research team, while simultaneously running their own research agenda.


  • Experience with laboratory techniques in the biological sciences or archaeological sciences, whether in archaeobotany or another methodological areas.
  • Experience working in Central Asia, China, Mongolia, or anywhere in the ex-Soviet regions, or experience in archaeological investigations in northeastern Africa.
  • Experience writing scientific peer-reviewed publication and research reports.
  • Knowledge in relevant languages.
  • Familiarity with the history and archaeology of Central Asia or eastern Africa.

We offer

  • Opportunities to learn new skills in the archaeological sciences
  • Integration into our interdisciplinary research group at the Max Planck Institute
  • Support for field and laboratory research
  • Cutting-edge facilities and equipment
  • An excellent research environment
  • An English language working environment
  • Full funding for top applicants (3 years)

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more handicapped individuals and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in the sciences and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Submit, by October 1st, 2017, a cover letter expressing your experience and interest in the topic, a proposal (2 pages max., not including references and figures), your CV, and your undergraduate and master’s transcripts. Three referees should also submit reports by the deadline and it is the candidate’s responsibility to request these. Submissions will only be accepted if they are sent through the online application and are received in full by the first of October.

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