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NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship: Biomolecular and zooarchaeological approaches to the detection of aquatic resource processing in prehistoric Central Europe.


About the Project

The project:
The onset of farming in the Near East ca. 12,000 years ago and its spread to mainland Europe completely reshaped the subsistence strategies of prehistoric communities. However, despite this profound shift towards domesticates, and away from hunting-fishing-gathering, detailed knowledge about this Neolithic trajectory in Central Europe remains fragmentary, including the possibility for a continued role of aquatic resources alongside livestock-keeping.

This multidisciplinary PhD project will assess the use of aquatic resources by the earliest farmers from Central Europe. It will use zooarchaeological and biomolecular approaches applied to archived collections of faunal bones and pottery lipid extracts, respectively. These complementary approaches will allow assessment of aquatic resource use by the earliest farmers of Central Europe for the first time. Selected lipid extracts will be 14C-dated at the new Bristol Radiocarbon AMS facility using our novel method for the dating of lipids in pottery sherds. This will directly date patterns of subsistence at sites where other dateable materials are poorly preserved.

Project keywords: Neolithic, archaeology, zooarchaeology, ancient diet, freshwater / marine resources, lipids, molecular biomarkers, mass spectrometry, 14C dating.

For more information see the PhD advert online:

The student will become a member of the Organic Geochemistry Unit (OGU), School of Chemistry, and Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, at the University of Bristol, and of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. Training on analytical methods (GC-FID, quadrupole GC-MS, GC-q-TOF, GC-C-IRMS, prep-GC, 14C dating) will be provided at the University of Bristol (Professor Richard P Evershed, Dr Melanie Roffet-Salque, Dr Lucy JE Cramp). Training on the characterisation and integration of faunal evidence will be provided at the University of Exeter (Professor Alan K Outram), which has a dedicated research centre for Human-Animal-Environment Bioarchaeology (HumAnE) and an extensive fish bone reference collection. Close collaboration with archaeologists and zooarchaeologists from the region of study is to be expected.

Funding Notes

NERC GW4+ DTP View Website . Full Scholarship including fees and stipend.

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