Aarhus Universitet

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Research assistant (fixed-term contract) – Circular Economy and Urban Sustainability in Antiquity at Aarhus Universitet

The research project Circular Economy and Urban Sustainability in Antiquity, funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and the Augustinus Foundation and affiliated with the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, is looking to recruit a full-time (37 hours/week) research assistant for the period 1 October 2020 – 31 January 2022, with the possibility of an extension.

Place of employment: Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej, 8000 Aarhus C. As the project is affiliated with UrbNet at AU Campus Moesgård, the successful applicant is also expected to spend some time in Højbjerg.

The position

The successful applicant is expected to contribute to researching and publishing papers related to the project’s main research question (Under what conditions can a circular economy develop, be sustained, thrive and collapse?) and assist the project leader in pushing the publication work forward.

Tasks also include

  • supporting publication projects (including copyediting)
  • data collection
  • facilitating processes in connection with funding applications
  • reporting to funding agencies
  • training student helpers.


  • a Master’s degree in classical archaeology or a related discipline (this is a minimum requirement)
  • familiarity with the extensive research on Palmyrene funerary sculpture and the work undertaken within the framework of the Palmyra Portrait Project
  • knowledge of archaeological and antique source material
  • a professional level of English(spoken and written) and reading skills in French and Italian; experience with Semitic languages is an advantage but not a requirement
  • excellent attention to detail
  • a methodological and structured approach to work and good organisational skills
  • good time-management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • good interpersonal and collaborative skills

Applicants who can document experience gained in similar roles will have an advantage, but this is not a requirement.

The application must be uploaded in English.

About the project

  • Circular economy and urban sustainability in Antiquity aims to provide new perspectives on the ancient economy of Palmyra, Syria and to shed light on long-term mechanisms and developments in human societies. The project is based on data collected in the Palmyra Portrait Project (funded by the Carlsberg Foundation) and is affiliated with the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre of Excellence for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet).
  • A circular economy is a regenerative economic system aiming at reducing resource input and waste to a minimum. Although cities are usually classified as “consumer cities”, most urban centres in the past relied on their own resources and were forced to manage the resources based on regional self-sufficiency. As such, they constitute perfect models of circular economies sustained throughout centuries, and Palmyra is an ideal example of a well-defined centuries-long case study of a complex circular economy.
  • Through a full-quantification approach to the collected data, we can use the data proxies as indications of the economic, social and cultural evolution of the city, and pinpoint how ancient societies dealt with sustainability and resource management. At the same time, these changes in material culture enable us to identify challenges and threats as well as opportunities generated by this economic system and, moreover, to investigate them within a multi-causal formal simulation model. By combining the rich corpus of empirical evidence with modern computational techniques (simulation), we will be able to generalise our findings on the circular economic systems and the mechanisms that drive them to current socio-political situations.
  • The project focuses on analysing primary sources that reveal economic patterns in Palmyra, including coins (degrees of monetarisation versus other non-monetary economies), sculptural production, monuments, inscriptions and materials such as pottery, glass, metal and agricultural installations around the city, which also reveal information about the fluctuation of the size of Palmyrene society. These resources were all reused and recycled over centuries and thus shed light on the economic patterns of the city – regarding both internal and external developments.
  • The project will apply methods from the humanities and high-definition methods drawn from the natural sciences, and will contextualise the results within culture-historical contexts. Thanks to refined stylistic chronologies of the city’s portraiture, its general development (and associated evidence) and its inscriptions (including the famous Tax Tariff from the second century CE), we will be able to map the circulation of materials and their degree of reuse over time. The results of this study will be used in conjunction with a study of the monetarisation process of Palmyra. Furthermore, through computation modelling, the data gathered from the study will be integrated and used to test and validate more generalist models about circular economies.

The Department of Culture and Society deals with the interaction between culture and society in time and space

  • From the traditional disciplines of the humanities and theology to applied social research
  • From antiquity to the issues facing contemporary societies
  • From familiar Danish cultural forms to other very different worlds
  • From local questions to global challenges.

The department’s goal is to produce compelling research with an international resonance, as well as offering teaching and talent development of high quality. The department is closely linked to society, both in Denmark and abroad, and contributes to social innovation, research communication and further and continuing education.


  • Appointment shall be in accordance with the .
  • Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the.
  • Further information on the application and supplementary materials may be found in .

Faculty of Arts

  • The Faculty of Arts is one of five main academic areas at Aarhus University.
  • The faculty contributes to Aarhus University's research, talent development, knowledge exchange and degree programmes.
  • With its 550 academic staff members, 275 PhD students, 9,500 BA and MA students, and 1,500 students following continuing/further education programmes, the faculty constitutes a strong and diverse research and teaching environment.
  • The Faculty of Arts consists of the School of Communication and Culture, the School of Culture and Society and the Danish School of Education. Each of these units has strong academic environments and forms the basis for interdisciplinary research and education.
  • The faculty's academic environments and degree programmes engage in international collaboration and share the common goal of contributing to the development of knowledge, welfare and culture in interaction withsociety.

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