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Chronology and Changing Cultures on the Mongolian Steppe - QUADRAT

Project Description

Learn state of the art chronological tools in one of the most dynamic archaeological environments in Asia.


Mongolia has been the most rapidly developing archaeological territory in Eastern Eurasia. There are high-quality excavated data, cutting edge bioarchaeological approaches to mobility, diet and multi-species interaction, and collaborative international teams who develop and deploy anthropological models. The archaeological record of Mongolia is second-to-none for examining the emergence of nomadic pastoralism, the mobility of humans and animals in the past, and the development of complex societies rooted in landscapes of mobility.

Ultimately, a robust and detailed archaeological chronology must underlie all statements made about past cultures. Radiocarbon dating has come late to the Mongolian archaeology and it is only recently that the numbers of dates collected by field research projects has begun to grow. Still, the total number of dates run is only in the hundreds. As a result, typically used chronological periods are large, unwieldy and mostly typologically based. To date, no broadly productive synthesis and chronological model flexible and dynamic enough to critically examine these chronological periods and the attributes associated with them has been built. This PhD project aims to build such a model. It will use the existing corpus of dates and analyses plus many additional newly dated samples drawn from Northern and Southern Mongolia. The breadth of this project allows for both large scale regional synthesis and modelling as well as detailed examination of specific large sites or defined small local regions.

The project will also critically examine the tripartite relationship between chronology, subsistence and mortuary and ritual monuments. Traditionally in Eurasian archaeology diet and types of archaeological context are related i.e. humans and animals recovered from the same types of mortuary sites are considered to have the same social structures, interspecies relationships and the same diets. Data on carbon and nitrogen isotopes analysed independently or in tandem with radiocarbon dating are now routinely used to examine paleodiet in a broad sense. This data provides both basic dietary frameworks as well as the deep and broad models of dietary make-up and diversity that breathe life into reconstructions of past subsistence systems.

Research Training

During this Ph.D. project you will,

1) Collate and access existing radiocarbon dates from all past and ongoing research in Mongolia. In doing so access data published in a variety of languages (Russian, Mongolian, French, Korea, Chinese).

2) Collect, prepare and date samples of human and animal bone from archaeological contexts, particularly from un-examined excavations in Mongolia.

3) Carry out up-to-date synthesis and modelling of those dates in relation to the cultural processes demonstrated in the archaeological record (e.g. Oxcal)

4) Investigate aspects of palaeodiet revealed in isotopic analysis carried out in tandem with radiocarbon dating. Including the use of the Bayesian mixing modelling tool FRUITS.

5) Write both technically specific and synthetic papers on the methods, chronology, topics and region."

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Application closing date is 12:00pm (GMT) on 31 January 2019. Applications received after this time will NOT be considered. Additionally, incomplete applications will NOT be considered. When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:
• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• CV
• 2 References (Academic, where possible)

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr J Wright () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

The start date of the project is 1 October 2019

Funding Notes

To be eligible to apply for a fully-funded DTP studentship, you must:

1. be a UK or EU citizen or a non-EU citizen with permanent settled status in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’)


2. have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (this applies to all citizen categories)

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