PhD: Artefact biographies of archaeological adhesives Delft University of Technology, Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering Netherlands

PhD: Artefact biographies of archaeological adhesives

Department/faculty: Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

Level: University Graduate

Working hours: 38.0 hours weekly

Contract: 4 years

Salary: 2972 euros monthly (full-time basis)

Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering


The 3mE Faculty trains committed engineering students, PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers in groundbreaking scientific research in the fields of mechanical, maritime and materials engineering. 3mE is the epitome of a dynamic, innovative faculty, with a European scope that contributes demonstrable economic and social benefits.

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the 3mE Faculty, aims to provide internationally recognised, high quality research of benefit to industry and society, addressing lifecycle, structure, properties and functionality from a physicochemical perspective. Within the Department, the Materials in Art and Archaeology Section develops and applies ground-breaking, analytical concepts for studying (pre)historic objects. Our expertise centres on the elemental, structural and molecular characterisation of materials for technical art history and conservation. We have close collaborations with (inter)nationally leading partners in art, archaeology and science. We bridge the gap between the sciences and the humanities in both education and research.


‘Ancient adhesives: a window on prehistoric technology’ is funded by the ERC through a Starting Grant. The team comprises the project investigator, 3 postdocs, 1 PhD student and 1 technician. At Leiden University you will work with Prof dr Annelou van Gijn, traceology expert. You will be based in Delft.


Job description

The ERC Ancient Adhesives project at TU Delft, the Netherlands, addresses the most crucial problem in Palaeolithic archaeology: How to reliably infer complex behaviour in the deep past. In this project we do this by computer modelling glue technology and the artefact biographies of archaeological glues. We are looking for an enthusiastic team player to unravel how prehistoric glues were made, (re)used and discarded.


As a project PhD candidate you will describe the life histories of glue containing archaeological, ethnographic and experimental objects. For this you will use traceology: the analysis of production and wear traces and residues on archaeological objects. The Palaeolithic materials encompass three European Neandertal stone tool assemblages, and four stone and bone tool assemblages made by modern humans in Europe and South Africa. You will also study a collection of ethnographic Bushman arrows (mixed materials). Experimental reference material is created with fellow team members. To expand the archaeological dataset youwill first inspect the tool assemblages with a stereomicroscope for additional adhesive finds. In the subsequent traceology study you use light microscopy and 3D scanning. You are expected to set-up and execute this material studies component, and work closely with the other team members who rely on your data. As part of this position, you will be affiliated both with TU Delft and Leiden University (Material Culture Studies).

Other tasks include:

Travel to Germany, Spain and South Africa to analyse collections (3-6 weeks).

Assist to create a project web presence and co-organise workshop in year 4.

(Co) author scientific articles and thesis.

Required qualifications and qualities:

MA/MSc in:
- Archaeology, or
- Anthropology, or
- A relevant adjacent field with a significant material science aspect, such as conservation and museum studies.

Intimate knowledge of (pre)historic materials and material properties

Proven ability to finish projects in time.

Excellent communication skills in English (written and spoken).

The ability to work in an open and cooperative team.

Desired qualifications and qualities

Traceology expertise is a plus

Experience/affinity with Palaeolithic archaeology is a plus.


Personal development
You will specialise yourself in traceology of adhesive objects, for which you will be the only expert. You are encouraged to develop your own (current) expertise/interest further within the Ancient Adhesives’ project. In collaboration with the project partners you will receive (additional) traceology training. During your contract you will be part of the 3mE Graduate School (more information below). There are opportunities to guest lecture in existing BA and MSc courses, and you are expected to supervise MSc students.


Conditions of employment
TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.


Information and application
For more information about this position, please contact Dr Geeske Langejans, project investigator, e-mail:
For information of the selection procedure you can contact Dr Hilma Bleeker, HR advisor, e-mail:

Applications should include a letter of motivation, CV, contact details of three referees, two examples of written work (e.g. thesis, essays, published papers), and one A4 page in which you develop a research line (with relevant questions) that could be applied to your project.
All required documents should be combined to a single pdf file (5MB max), and submitted to Deadline 31 March 2019. Interviews are expected to take place 17 April 2019, preceded or followed with skype interviews. Start date job negotiable from 1 June 2019.

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