PhD Studentship, human-climate interactions - Newcastle, UK

A PhD Studentship in human-climate interactions is available at Northumbria University, in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Project title: Exploring human-climate interactions in the wider Caucasus region during the Mid-to-Late Holocene (Ref: OP202010).

Research Themes: Climate & Climate Change; Earth System Processes; Anthropocene; Environmental Informatics.

Lead Supervisor: Dr. Vasile Ersek.

The position would start in September 2020.


Why was the Caucasus such a hotbed of development in early human society? When did the first metallurgical activity occur in the region, and how does it compare to Europe? Is there a link between societal development and climate in the region?


The Caucasus Mountains and neighbouring Anatolia are thought to be one of the key localities in the development of modern human societies. Some of the earliest evidence for farming, metallurgy and conjectural achievement leading to the establishment of complex societies has been discovered in this region.

However, our understanding of the region’s socio-economic development is based upon disparate archaeological finds, which are often poorly dated. One of the best ways to fill these gaps is to use natural archives of anthropogenic pollution to reconstruct the history of the region’s technological development.

The project will focus on the reconstruction of metallurgical technology in the region via the analysis of heavy metal concentrations and lead isotopes. In addition, the interplay between societal development and climatic change in the region is also uncertain. This is largely due to the lack of high-resolution, multi-proxy studies of palaeoclimate in the region.

As such, the second aim of the project will be to reconstruct the region’s climate, using a range of elemental and isotopic methods including Sr and Nd isotopes to investigate changing levels and sources of dust, a proxy for droughts.

This project will be multi-disciplinary, providing the opportunity to work with geochemists, archaeologists and climate scientists. The project will be linked to ongoing work into the history of eastern European societal development being carried out by Dr Jack Longman (University of Oxford) and Dr Daniel Veres (Romanian Academy) who will be co-supervisors.

Excellent opportunities will be available for research training on geochemical analysis (elemental and isotopic) and data analysis.


The project is suitable for a student with a background in geoscience, chemistry and and/or archaeology, and will involve fieldwork in Georgia.

Some experience in geochemistry is desirable, but training can be provided.


Applications close 31 January 2020.

Read the full job description here:

For more information on the application requirements and restrictions, please visit:

Further information

Informal questions about the job can be emailed to Vasile Ersek: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.