PhD Position: Spatial Analysis of Late Neolithic Settlements

Available from October 1st, 2009, closing date for applications: September 1st, 2009.


“Spatial analysis of Late Neolithic settlements in the province of Noord-Holland (The Netherlands) and interregional comparison.”

This PhD position is part of the project Unlocking Noord-Holland’s Late Neolithic Treasure Chest. This project is co financed by the the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and administered by the State Service for Cultural Heritage (RCE). The project comprises five studies. Two PhD’s are based at the Groningen University (spatial analysis, ceramics), one PhD at Leiden University (flint). The studies on archaeobotany and archaeozoology are carried out by researchers from the state service and private firms.


In the second half of the past century, and the 1970-1990’s in particular, excavations were conducted at a series of Late Neolithic settlements belonging to the Single Grave Culture (SGC) (c. 2900-2500 cal BC) in the province of Noord-Holland (Kop van Noord-Holland, De Gouw). These excavations have demonstrated the exceptional quality of the sites, especially thanks to the good preservation of organic materials. In significant contrast to the generally poor and heavily biased archaeological record of the SGC elsewhere in the Netherlands, the rich body of excavation data potentially permits the development of models about settlement variability, the use and role of material culture, as well as landscape use. So far, the excavation data from the various sites have never been analysed integrally. Hence, any ‘models’ of cultural dynamics in the SGC are based on very incomplete data. This project aims to unlock and integrate cultural/ecological information and research data in order to provide a sound basis for cultural modeling and development of heritage management strategies. We will thereby obtain a better understanding of site variability in relation to landscape use, subsistence strategies and the material world of the inhabitants. It provides an opportunity to study a micro-region within the wider SGC culture, so far largely known from its burial context. Its place in relation to the communities in the central and eastern parts of the Netherlands can be assessed and possible long-distance contacts with related Corded Ware groups elsewhere can be studied, addressing the debate on the apparent uniformity of the Corded Ware complex.

Research topics

The study of settlement variability focuses on the identification of functional differences between sites. For this it is necessary to characterise the sites in terms of settlement size, intra-site spatial organisation and functional variability, as well as the duration of occupation (permanent versus seasonal). Insight into these aspects will be obtained through the analysis of cultural and palaeoecological remains. Also, efforts will be made to draw inferences on group composition of settlement inhabitants (sex, age) from material remains and physical anthropological data. For the interpretation of spatial patterns in terms of behaviourally meaningful processes, data will be analysed in an interdisciplinary fashion, in relation to the spatially referenced excavation recordings of objects, features and lithological layers.

Spatial analysis will play a pivotal role throughout the project. The work will start with the digitising of excavation plans and linking of find numbers in order to provide for a spatially referenced environment for further analyses. The availability of such an environment is also of importance for the sampling of materials in other research modules. The analysis of spatial data will next focus on research at various levels: identification and characterisation of structures (e.g. house plans, barns, fences, pits, and wells), characterisation of spatial patterns in find distributions, and development of spatial models of site formation dynamics. This multi-level approach contributes to the evaluation and interpretation of research results in the other modules and provides a sound basis for syntheses at site level. It will also contribute to the compilation of models for site formation that are not restricted to the SGC sites in Noord-Holland, but extend to other Neolithic wetland sites in the Netherlands.

The candidate needs affinity with computer-based modelling, spatial analysis and site formation processes.

One thought on “PhD Position: Spatial Analysis of Late Neolithic Settlements

  1. hello dear sir /Madam,

    This is hamed farzin I am from Iran and I have master of GIS and back ground of Geomatic Engineering .is this position still available ,if yes how can apply ,

    sincerely yours,

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