PhD-Fellowships in Biological Archaeology/Archaeomety and Archaeogenetics at Max Planck Harvard Project on the Ancient Mediterranean

The Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, and the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard University are launching a collaborative program that, at Harvard, draws on the Departments of Anthropology (Archaeology Program), History, Human Evolutionary Biology, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

The new program is a long-term cross-disciplinary collaboration involving these various departments at MPI and Harvard’s FAS and HMS, as well as other interested scholars and scientists at Harvard University.

In the framework of its multi-disciplinary investigation of the Ancient Mediterranean, the Max Planck Harvard project announces:
Up to
Three 5-year Full Fellowships
in Biological Archaeology/Archaeometry and Archaeogenetics

to sponsor graduate study leading to a PhD in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The first fellowship(s) will be available to students admitted by Harvard for the academic year 2017-2018.

Students interested in being considered for the new fellowships and program should apply to present their work at a preliminary workshop to be held at Jena on 31st of October 2016.
Application Deadline 4th of October 2016
Scientific orientation of eligible research projects
In order to study human mobility and intercultural encounter and the associated exchange of genes, objects, practices and ideas, funded PhD projects should focus on the early history and/or archaeology of the Mediterranean. This region is crucial due to 1) the particular richness of its archaeological and historical sources, 2) its relevance for the formation of present-day European identities and 3) its crucial role in present-day migrations due to societal upheavals and transformations in the Near East and Africa.

Due to the existence of best possible evidence and sources for individual mobility as well as group migration in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Max Planck Harvard project activities will focus on three distinct historical topics, i.e., 1) the early historical globalization of the Eastern Mediterranean in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age (ca. 1600-1000 BCE), 2) the so-called “Phoenician” and “Greek” migrations in the early 1st millennium BCE throughout the Mediterranean and 3) the link between human mobility and the spread of pandemics in Antiquity.

These three historic topics will be approached by integrating 1) archaeology, 2) ancient history and 3) genetics. The Max Planck Harvard collaboration consists of three methodologically-based research groups that will work closely together to solve present interdisciplinary challenges.

In order to reach the objectives of the three research themes, PhD projects will be favored which cover two or more of the following aspects:
1) study of relevant burials of human individuals of the respective time-frame in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean from an archaeological point of view (including contextual analyses of associated objects, the context of the burial – e.g. within a settlement or necropolis etc.) and identify relevant material for scientific analysis.
2) Analysis of relevant environmental data (e.g. pollen profiles, speleothems near the relevant settlements; the new Harvard-Maine historical ice core).
3) genetic analyses and isotope ratio analyses (Sr, O) in order to trace individual mobility and genetic homogeneity within mobile groups and local societies.
4) genetic and pathologic/anthropologic analyses on the human remains, especially from mass burials, in order to identify the reason for the death of the individuals.
5) exhaustive and rigorous identification and computationally-assisted philological analysis of the previously identified written sources and the even more important set of newly identified written sources that document antiquity’s great pandemics.
6) Correlation of the results of the scientific analyses with the archaeological analyses and with historical data from literary sources, along with the environmental data where relevant.
7) relations between different kinds and degrees of mobility at a particular settlement and local societal transformations, e.g. changes in material culture, architecture, consumption practices etc.

The Max Planck Harvard project doctoral tracks: program details
These three new PhD fellowships are open for recent Bachelor or Master’s degree holders with an excellent record and research experience in two or more of the fields delineated above. The new program ordinarily includes two years of coursework at Harvard and fulfillment of the standard requirements for the PhD in the relevant Departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University, where candidates will acquire expertise in the topics and methods covered by the Max Planck Harvard project. After this period, doctoral students will ordinarily conduct substantial research for their PhD at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.

Funding will be granted to doctoral candidates for the entire duration of their PhD. Satisfactory fulfillment of all research and other requirements will lead to a doctoral degree awarded by Harvard University.

Given that coursework and the doctoral examination will be fulfilled at Harvard, applicants to this doctoral track necessarily need to possess all qualifications and documents required for admission by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) within the deadlines stipulated by GSAS. These include, for example, the Harvard application form, transcript of records, proof of language proficiency (e.g. TOEFL), GPA, GRE, a writing sample, and all other relevant materials as specified by each individual department in FAS mentioned above. Further information at:

Please note that the Max Planck Harvard project can only accept PhD candidates who are also eligible for admission as Harvard doctoral candidates.

Please apply online at
The Max Planck Harvard project is committed to employing individuals with special needs, and especially encourages them to apply. For further information about the recruitment symposium held in Jena, please visit the website:

How to apply:
Please apply online at
Send application to
Further information at:
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About Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

The overarching goal of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is to explore the history of humans using state-of-the-art analytical and genetic methods. Scientists from different disciplines, such as genetics, linguistics, archeology, anthropology and history are working together  to answer fundamental questions about the biological and cultural evolution of man from...

More about Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

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