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Flatfish and the origins of European marine fishing (SeaChanges ESR 4)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Alexander
    Dr D Orton
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Department of Archaeology at the University of York has been awarded funding for an innovative programme of training and research with the universities of Groningen, Copenhagen, Bologna, Olso, Cambridge, and the Marine Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council. The project “SeaChanges: thresholds in human exploitation of marine vertebrates” is funded by the European Commission under its Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. As part of the project the University of York is offering two fully-funded positions in marine zooarchaeology.

This vacancy offers a 3-year, fully-funded, salaried PhD position under the title “Flatfish and the origins of European marine fishing” (ESR 4). You will be supervised by Dr. Michelle Alexander, co-supervised by Dr. David Orton, and will also work with network partners at the University of Groningen and at the Spanish National Research Council. The project is supported by a dedicated programme of training workshops hosted across the seven network partners.

Sea fishing was apparently rare in much of western Europe until a rapid expansion in exploitation of marine taxa, particularly herring and gadids, in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. Pleuronectid flatfish are amongst the earliest potentially marine taxa to be found in large numbers on medieval sites, often pre-dating this ’fish event horizon’, but have largely been excluded from the debate due to (a) difficulty distinguishing the key species, particularly plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) and flounder (Platichthyes flesus), and (b) potential for flounder to be caught in estuarine as well as marine waters. Identification difficulties also hinder construction of taxon-specific time-series that might reveal changing exploitation patterns and/or the impact of fishing pressure on these species.

In this project you will explore morphological, geometric morphometric, and ZooMS protocols for identifying flatfish bones, and a stable isotope method for distinguishing marine and estuarine catches. These will be applied to samples from key medieval and early medieval sites in eastern England, northern France, and the Netherlands, to (a) refine understanding of the historically highly significant transition to marine fishing, and (b) produce taxon- and habitat-specific time series of metrical and capture age data (the latter from annuli in vertebral centra via secondment at CSIC-Vigo), which can be used to track potential early impacts of fishing pressure on growth rates prior to industrialisation.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded by the EU, including a competitive salary, and is open to students from anywhere in the world. To be eligible you must, at 1 October 2019:

1. Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience, not including taught degrees) of your research career and not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

2. Not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the preceding 3 years. Short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.



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