PhD Studentship, pollen records/land-cover change in Japan - Cambridge, UK

Applications are invited for a three-year funded PhD studentship at the University of Cambridge, UK, as part of the ERC-funded project "ENCOUNTER: Demography, Cultural change, and the Diffusion of Rice and Millet during the Jomon-Yayoi transition in prehistoric Japan".


The project starts in Aprl 2019 and the PhD starts in October 2019, under the supervision of Dr Enrico Crema.

The studentship will provide a stipend covering maintenance and fee costs at the current Home rate. Non-EU students and those from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may be eligible for a stipend covering fees-only and are advised to apply for Cambridge scholarships in the application process.


The ENCOUNTER project seeks to investigate the transition from the Jomon to the Yayoi period, a major demic and cultural diffusion event that led the predominantly hunting, gathering, and fishing-based communities of the Japanese islands to adopt rice and millet farming during the 1st millennium BC. The reception to the new subsistence strategy and the associated cultural package was highly diverse and ultimately resulted into cultural, linguistic, and genetic clines that are still tangible today.

The aim of the ENCOUNTER project is to determine why indigenous inhabitants responded so differently to the arrival of the new cultural package. It will examine the dynamics of this transition by synthesising one of the richest archaeological records available in the world and by employing a wide range of techniques, including but not limited to, organic residue analysis, summed probability distribution of radiocarbon dates, macro-evolutionary analysis of material culture, archaeobotanical analysis, computational and statistical modelling, and pollen-based reconstructions of vegetation cover.

The University is looking for a highly motivated PhD student to join the project. The selected student will be jointly supervised by the PI of the project (Dr Enrico Crema, University of Cambridge) and by Professor Akihiro Yoshida (University of Kagoshima, Japan), and will analyse pollen records to reconstruct vegetation and land-cover change in the Japanese archipelago during the Jomon and Yayoi periods and explore its relation to subsistence and demographic changes.


The successful student will possess intellectual independence, have ability to work as part of a team and, and willing to spend part of their doctoral training at the University of Kagoshima under the supervision of Professor Yoshida.

Candidates must meet the requirement for a PhD application in archaeology (see details here:, and have (or expect to obtain) a Master's degree in archaeology, geography, environmental sciences, or related fields, with specialisation in one or more of the following: computational modelling & GIS, pollen-based land-cover modelling, and archaebotany.

Applicants with experience in pollen-based land-cover reconstruction are particularly encouraged to apply. Ideally, candidates will have knowledge of Japanese archaeology, however, students with interests in other areas that share the methodological scope of the project are welcome. In order to conduct the research, applicants will need relevant linguistic skills in Japanese or demonstrate a willingness to acquire such skills during the course of the PhD.


Applications close 22 February 2019.

Applications should be submitted for the PhD in Archaeology via the Applicant Portal (

In addition to the standard application materials, you must state that you are applying for the "ENCOUNTER-ERC Studentship" in your 'Statement of Research Interest' and upload a cover letter (no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for this project and what you will bring to the team. Dr Enrico Crema should be identified as your preferred supervisor. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted via email to arrange interviews in person or on the phone in early March.

Further information

Read the full position description here:

Informal enquiries can be emailed to Dr Enrico Crema: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please quote reference JC17400 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.