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Senior Research Assistant in Archaebotany

Institutionen för idé- och samhällsstudier




  • Typ av anställning Permanent position
  • Omfattning 100%
  • Ort Umeå

The Environmental Archaeology Lab, at the Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, is looking for an exceptional archaeobotanist to join our internationally acclaimed research and consultancy group. This position is part of a research infrastructure investment by Umeå University, and connected to an increasing demand for the high quality analysis of plant macrofossils from archaeological excavations.

It is a permanent position, full time, with 6 months trial period.

The Environmental Archaeology Lab undertakes research and development, consultancy and teaching on the theme of understanding past environments and human activities. Our staff are involved in a variety of national and international projects, including the development of digital research infrastructures for palaeoecology and new tools for the analysis of archaeological materials ( Although integrated into a larger department, the lab is a small and friendly group, consisting of two senior lecturers, three PhD students and three project/lab assistants (as well as external consultants and emeriti). We are looking to expand the scope of our research and consultancy, and look forward to welcoming new colleagues into the Environment!

Job description
The position includes an exciting combination of consultancy, research, methods and infrastructure development as well as teaching at the Environmental Archaeology Lab (MAL), Umeå University. You will work both independently and within a small team residing in modern laboratory and office facilities. Whilst most of your work will be lab and office based, occasionally opportunities for fieldwork will occur. A large part of your work will include the researching and authoring/co-authoring of research consultancy reports, and you will be given the opportunity to run projects of various sizes as well as work under the direction of other project leaders.

The position's core tasks include the flotation, sorting, identification, analysis, interpretation and reporting of archaeobotanical finds from archaeological investigation. Most of the material will consist of carbonised plant macrofossils from excavations in Scandinavia, but occasional waterlogged and non-seed samples from archaeological and natural sediments may occur. You will be expected to keep a systematic protocol during sample processing and analysis, using the lab's project management system and Excel templates, as well undertake measurements, photographs and the selection of material for 14C dating. All results will be made available through the SEAD-database ( and reports distributed as Open Access.

In addition to consultancy work, you will be engaged in the development of MAL as a research infrastructure. We are continually improving the lab's ability to provide a high quality analysis service as part of a national and international infrastructure for archaeological science. More specifically, these tasks will include varying proportions of:

  • General lab management, maintenance and methods development
  • Consultation with potential users/clients, including providing advice on project planning, budgets, sampling strategies and choice of methods etc.
  • Participation in the framing of research and development funding applications (as co-applicant or support staff)
  • Data entry, testing and quality assurance for SEAD
  • Teaching at undergraduate, postgraduate and professional levels
  • Other tasks as deemed necessary by the Director (Phil Buckland)

Teaching opportunities may be available within archaeology and environmental archaeology, including field, laboratory and lecture/seminar components. The amount will vary by year, up to a maximum of 20% of full time. Up to 20% of the position may be dedicated to your own independent research, or research within the lab's ongoing projects.


  • PhD in any relevant field (e.g. archaeology, environmental archaeology, geography, ecology, Quaternary science) or equivalent skills from professional experience
  • Experience of independent sample management, flotation, sorting, identification and interpretation of carbonised/waterlogged plant macrofossils from archaeological contexts
  • Documented experience of archaeological (or equivalent) consultancy projects
  • Ability to cooperate with other archaeologists and experts and discuss results and interpretations
  • Documented experience of authoring archaeobotanical reports
  • Species level knowledge of the north European flora (fossil and modern)
  • Experience of presenting archaeobotanical (or similar) results to small or large groups
  • Experience of working with stereo microscopes in a lab environment where chemicals are handled on a daily basis (incl. ethanol and acids) and no known allergies to these
  • Knowledge of theories and methods relevant for archaeological and environmental archaeology research
  • Excellent time management and ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously, work under pressure and work to deadlines
  • Attention to detail and ability to work with the systematic documentation and presentation of results
  • Basic statistical skills
  • Good general computing skills (especially Microsoft Office products)

Also desirable

  • Have published other types of archaeological consultancy reports
  • Fluency in written and spoken Swedish (or willing to try to learn within three years)
  • Teaching experience (field, lab and lectures)
  • Experience of working with charcoal and wood
  • Database management of development experience

The application should provide the following documents in English or Swedish: a cover letter describing your research interests and explaining how your qualifications match the requirements (max 2 pages), a curriculum vitae, a list of publications and digital copies of up to five publications, certified copies of grades and degree certicifates, contact details for two referees.

Further information
This position requires you to work on-site in Umeå and you will be expected to actively take part in the development of the Environmental Archaeology Lab and Archaeology unit's research and teaching environment.

Umeå University applies positive discrimination of underrepresented gender. There are currently fewer female than male archaeologists at the department, and we are therefore keen to receive applications from female applicants.


01.04.2018 or according to agreement


Phil Buckland, Director of MAL

+46 90-786 52 92

Jonas Nilsson, Head of Department

+46 90-786 99 90

Registration number

AN 2.2.1-1650-17


Monthly salary

Union representative


+46 90-786 53 65


+46 90-786 52 96


+46 90-786 54 31