Master en études africaines A noter / Autour de la Préhistoire Eveha recrute un responsable de secteur (Protohistoire)

PhD Candidate on Micromorphology of southern Africa Pleistocene rockshelter deposits

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Leiden University



The Section Human Origins of the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University has a vacancy for a PhD Candidate on Micromorphology of southern Africa Pleistocene rockshelter deposits (1.0 FTE).
Project description
We are looking for a PhD-candidate to join  the project Finding resolution for the Middle to Later Stone Age transition in South Africa, sponsored by NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) with a Vidi grant.


The archaeological record of southern Africa is world-renowned and presents evidence spanning early hominins to the putative emergence of modern humans (Dusseldorp et al. 2013). A fundamental transition in this record is from the Middle Stone Age (MSA ~300 ka to ~30 ka) to the Later Stone Age (LSA). The chronology and causes of this transition are poorly understood. The transition takes place during the Late Pleistocene, when major global climatic re-organisations impacted southern African climates and ecologies. This project deals with the crucial question of if and how climatic developments correlated with technological changes and human adaptations (e.g. Ziegler et al. 2013; cf. Chase et al. 2017). Within the project, two rock shelters in eastern South Africa - Shongweni Caves and Umhlatuzana – will be investigated. The project focuses on: 1) changes in lithic technology and adaptation; 2) improved chronological control for this transition, and 3) environmental proxy data in direct stratigraphic/temporal relation to evidence for occupation.
The PhD is responsible for subproject (3), combining detailed analysis of site-formation processes with environmental proxies to derive a robust, multi-proxy occupational context.  The successful candidate will focus on the genesis of two sites using micromorphology. This study will develop new insights into the taphonomy of the sites’ deposits and their occupational histories.


Key responsibilities
- Conducting archaeological fieldwork with the project team
- (Micro)stratigraphic sampling of the excavation profiles
- Preparing micromorphological slides (periodical travel to Amersfoort required)
- Conduct micromorphological analysis, determining:
    -- Degree of mixing between stratigraphic levels
    -- Occupation intensity
    -- Presence and character of anthropogenic features such as hearths and bedding
- Undertake chronological modelling
- Conduct bulk sampling and analysis of light stable isotopes (δ13C)
- Publish the results in peer-reviewed papers that will comprise the PhD-thesis


Training and skills
The candidate will become highly proficient in micromorphology and will receive training from Prof Hans Huisman (RCE, University of Groningen). He/she will learn how to sample site profiles, prepare thin sections, use polarization microscopy and identify micromorphological features (e.g. sediments, deposition phases, ash deposits, sediment mixing). The candidate will join a large collaborative team working closely to “Finding resolution for the Middle to Later Stone Age transition”, providing a wide collaborative network to support the PhD and her/his career. The candidate will gain additional skills and competences concerning: 1) OSL and 14C dating and 2) light stable isotope analysis (e.g. δ13C) in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Carr. This varied application of methods in a wider project will provide a unique set of skills.


Selection criteria
- A completed MA/MSc in Archaeology or Physical Geography/Geology/Geochemistry;
- Demonstrable affinity with taphonomic and/or palaeoenvironmental research;
- An excellent command of the English language, both spoken and written;
- Proficient in academic writing;
- A team player who can liaise independently with co-supervisors/collaborators across different institutions;
- Proficiency in micromorphological analysis;
- Demonstrable affinity with research into Pleistocene Archaeology of South Africa;
- Knowledge of the key principles underpinning the reconstruction of palaeoenvironments.


Plus d'infos

Enquiries regarding the position be made to the project PI, Dr Gerrit Dusseldorp.

Closing date : 31 January 2018


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