Postdoctoral Research Associate in Archaeology, Endangered Archaeology

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £40,322 per annum
07 Jan 2021
End of advertisement period
04 Feb 2021
Academic Discipline
Arts & Humanities, Archaeology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Archaeology

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £40,322 per annum Fixed Term - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date : 04-Feb-2021, 7:59:00 AM 

Durham University  

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department  

Durham University’s Department of Archaeology is one of the UK’s best Departments of Archaeology with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. We are regularly ranked one of the top three Archaeology departments in the UK (e.g. 2nd Research Excellence Framework [REF] 2014, 3rdThe Guardian University Guide 2020 and Complete University Guide 2020) and one of the top four globally (World University QS rankings 2020). Our expertise covers a broad chronological and geographical span, from the Palaeolithic to the present-day, and from South Asia to the Mediterranean, Europe and the British Isles, We have a strong research presence in the Middle East, that embraces fieldwork, visual and material culture studies and bioarchaeology.  We have a range of cutting-edge laboratories, including well-developed facilities for isotopic research, extensive commercial infrastructure, and a network of heritage-sector collaborators. The Department of Archaeology works closely with staff in two Durham University museums, the Oriental Museum and the Museum of Archaeology. These house some outstanding archaeological collections, including East Asian and Middle and Near Eastern antiquities. For further information on our current projects, research and teaching see www.dur.ac.uk/archaeology

The Role  

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Archaeology.  Reporting to Prof. Graham Philip, project director in Durham, the postholder will work on the project entitled ‘Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa’ (EAMENA) which is funded by Arcadia. EAMENA is idenitifying and documenting archaeological sites in the Middle East and North Africa (from Mauretania to Iran), using satellite imagery and aerial photography, to improve understanding and enhance their future protection and management. The post holder will work within a Durham University team that is collaborating in the EAMENA project, with partner teams at the Universities of Leicester and Oxford. The Durham component of the project is focused upon Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, western Iran and the Caucasus.  The post holder will be a member of a project group with responsibility for the interpretation of satellite imagery and aerial photographs, record creation, management, analysis and archaeological research in support of the aims of the project. The Durham-based PDRA will also contribute to the creation of a digital archive of historic satellite and air-photographic imagery, including liaison with external collaborators. 

The postholder will also engage in research, project-related administration and other activities supporting the work of the project. As the project team is required to operate flexibly, the candidate may be required periodically to support training activity in partner countries, including the delivery and preparation of materials and by travel to the region.


  • The candidate must be able to make a significant contribution to the following priority areas of EAMENA research activity at Durham which are focused on the archaeological heritage of the northern Levant and Mesopotamia:
  • Analysis of large-scale patterns of damage to heritage attributable to a range of threats
  • Diachronic analysis of regional and inter-regional change in settlement and demography 
  • Exploiting the potential of new developments in remote sensing platforms and sensors, and automated approaches to site identification and change detection through digital elevation models and machine-learning methods. 

In addition the candidate must

  • Manage own work programme (within defined objectives) for the interpretation of satellite imagery and aerial photography for selected areas of the Middle East, and undertake record creation using standard terminology to a specified database.
  • Undertake analysis and research on the archaeological sites discovered in terms of distribution, period, archaeological significance, assessment of threats and potential threats. Oversee finding solutions for the future management of the most significant sites.
  • Contribute to the creation of key datasets within the EAMENA framework specific to the national archaeological services of Lebanon and Iraq. This will involve compilation of data from published surveys and site gazetteers, creation of lists of key sites for each country (watch lists) 
  • Work with team members on the creation of a digital archive of historic satellite and air-photographic imagery.
  • Supervise students and volunteers assisting the project to meet deadlines and contribute to the overall management of the project.
  • Undertake such specific departmental roles and administrative duties as may be reasonably required by the Project Leader.
  • Engage in continuous professional development, for example though participation in relevant staff development programmes.
  • Be able and willing to travel to, and undertake research and fieldwork in, MENA countries, including Lebanon and Iraq, as required by the project.
  • Ensure compliance with health and safety requirements in all aspects of work.

This post is fixed term ending on 30th June 2024 which is the end-date of the current project funding. 

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st February 2021. 

How to Apply  

For informal enquiries please contact the Principal Investigator, Prof Graham Philip  (graham.philip@durham.ac.uk).  All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University .

What to Submit  

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and
  • covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above. In the covering letter you should explain briefly your ideas for developing research as outlined above; these will be explored in greater detail at the interview.

Next Steps  

The assessment for the post will include a formal interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in early 2021.

The Requirements  



  • A good first degree in Archaeology or a related subject.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Archaeology or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national or international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience of undertaking archaeological survey work in the Middle East
  • Experience of working successfully with local partners in the MENA region 
  • Experience of independent management of a discrete area of a research project
  • Successful track record of team-working, including participating in research meetings.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Excellent knowledge of archaeological survey and field techniques, especially in Mesopotamia and adjacent areas.
  • Excellent knowledge of GIS software including ability to take analysis in innovative directions 
  • Excellent knowledge of image processing techniques as applied to satellite and air-photographic imagery in archaeological research 
  • Must understand and be able to exploit the potential of recent developments in remote sensing, including the extraction of digital elevation models
  • Familiarity with automated approaches to site identification and change detection and some knowledge of machine-learning methods 
  • Excellent communication skills including ability to present research proposals and results, represent the research group at meetings, and engage effectively with funding agencies and in-country partners.



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 
  • Familiarity with Arches database systems.
  • Some knowledge of, and ability to communicate, in Arabic.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.