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Postdoc project (1.0 fte, 12 months), University of Groningen

Title: ‘Anchoring Social Change: Body and Grave technologies at the onset of the Mycenaean era’ (Anchoring Work Package 5: Technology, Science and Material Culture)


Prof. Dr. S. Voutsaki (Groningen Institute of Archaeology)

Job description

The southern Greek mainland undergoes a deep transformation in the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age, or Mycenaean era (i.e. the period Middle Helladic III – Late Helladic I, 1800-1600 BC). The relatively egalitarian, conservative and materially austere Middle Helladic village communities gradually develop into the highly competitive, expansionist and acquisitive early Mycenaean polities – the world whose distant echoes are preserved in the Homeric epics. The changes become particularly clear in the mortuary domain with the parallel introduction of multiple burials and complex rites, and larger and deeper tombs.

This project combines the study of changing technologies of the body (the change from single, contracted, unfurnished inhumations to multiple, richly furnished and adorned burials, accompanied by the commingling of earlier remains) with changing technologies of grave construction (the change from small graves used once to large, deep graves with complex roof structures, especially designed to be re-opened and re-used over longer periods).

The project will consist primarily of a biodistance analysis of the human remains in order to reconstruct kinship relations among multiple burials in the same tomb, or among clusters of tombs. The post-doctoral researcher will carry out, in the first instance, the biodistance analysis of the assemblage from the early Mycenaean North Cemetery at Ayios Vasileios, Laconia, Greece (the site which later became the palatial centre of Mycenaean Laconia). The analysis may be extended to include a restricted number of other Mycenaean assemblages to which the post-doctoral researcher has, or can arrange access. The post-doctoral researcher will also contribute to the study of the mortuary practices in the North Cemetery by integrating the results of their analysis with an investigation of the changing architectural design of the graves, focusing on technological solutions for the roof and entrance to the graves. The ultimate aim is to investigate how emerging social divisions between age, gender and status groups arise out of the traditional kinship structures, through which mobilisation of labour and the allocation of resources are channelled. The project therefore anchors social change as well as innovations in mortuary and construction practices in the traditional kinship structures of the Middle Helladic period.

The project will be carried out under the Anchoring Innovation Program of the Dutch scholars of the ancient world, in particular Work Package 5: Technology, Science and Material Culture. For a full description of the Anchoring Innovation Program, see:

Host institution

University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, Groningen Institute of Archaeology. For more information see and

The Groningen Institute of Archaeology engages in fundamental archaeological research in Northwest Europe, the Mediterranean and the Polar Regions. The Institute stimulates and integrates fundamental research on past human societies and their environments, from Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers to complex urban societies. The Institute facilitates research and fieldwork through its laboratories, drawing facilities, documentation, GIS and technical support. The Greek Archaeology research group consists of three academic staff and 11 postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. The group has an international reputation in the areas of Aegean prehistory, mortuary archaeology and bioarchaeology.

Terms and conditions

Postdoc project, 1 year (1.0 fte, 38 hours per week), starting date to be agreed with a preference for 3 January 2022.

Salary range from € 3.746,- to € 5.127,- gross per month for a fulltime appointment depending on prior education and working experience (pay scale 11, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • To carry out a biodistance analysis of the skeletal assemblage in the North Cemetery, Ayios Vasileios;
  • To integrate the results of the biodistance analysis from the North Cemetery with the results from the architectural analysis of graves, jointly with other members of the North Cemetery project team;
  • To carry out a biodistance analysis of skeletal assemblages from other Mycenaean cemeteries for comparative purposes;
  • To present research results at national and international conferences and workshops as required by the project leader (individual and/or co-authored);
  • To submit research results for publication in peer-reviewed journals (individual and/or co-authored) as required by the project leader;
  • To assist with the organisation of workshops and the writing of grant proposals
  • To participate in the national research school OIKOS, and the wider Anchoring Innovation program.


The project seeks to employ a highly motivated and proactive candidate who will need to work both independently and as part of a larger team. They must be willing to travel between the Netherlands and Greece, and to stay for periods in Greece in order to study the human remains.

A successful PD candidate should preferably have:

  • A PhD in Osteoarchaeology, held by time of appointment;
  • Excellent research and publication record relative to stage of career in osteoarchaeology and bioarchaeology;
  • Experience with acquisition of funding;
  • Research interest in Aegean prehistory and Greek archaeology;
  • Good knowledge of the principles of biodistance analysis;
  • Good knowledge of mortuary practices in the Bronze Age Greek mainland;
  • Very good oral and written skills in English;
  • Strong writing and analytical skills;
  • Strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research, including writing papers and grant proposals together with other members of the project team.


The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


In order to be considered, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

o Letter of motivation;

o CV, including list of publications and contact information of two referees;

o Transcript of records (i.e. list of BA and MA grades);

o Research proposal of 1500 words; excluded are the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4). The proposal should present the biodistance and statistical techniques to be employed, any comparative material which can be included in the analysis, and suggestions as to how the results of the biodistance analysis can be integrated with aspects of the grave architecture in the North Cemetery, and in early Mycenaean mainland in general.

o Copy of relevant diploma.

Please submit your complete application to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring programme, via before Sept 1, 2021.

Interviews will be held online in the week of 27-31 sept.


Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Prof. Dr. Sofia Voutsaki, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort,