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PhD Candidate on the project Elites and Towns in Merovingian Northern Gaul

Rural Riches - The bottom-up development of post-Roman north-western Europe (450-640) -Elites and centres in Northern Gaul The ERC funded project ‘Rural …

11 maanden geleden


J.H. Oortweg, Leiden, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


Rural Riches - The bottom-up development of post-Roman north-western Europe (450-640) -Elites and centres in Northern Gaul

The ERC funded project ‘Rural Riches’ invites applicants for a fully funded PhD on the subject of ‘Elites and Towns in Merovingian Northern Gaul’. Your PhD project is part of the project which aims to contribute substantially to the age-old debate on the origins of the European economy and to a general debate on the role of the mass of the population in economic processes in the past. You will closely work together with the members of the research group, conducting the research, discussing each other’s progress within the project and working with affiliated institutions and scholars.

The question of how Europe overcame the collapse of the Roman state in the West has been the subject of popular and academic debate for more than a century. The ‘fall of Rome’ and its societal consequences in the West are often perceived as one of the continent’s most severe crises. Whereas the focus of academic interest was on the understanding of this crisis and subsequent economic recovery through a consideration of the role of aristocrats, kingship and the church, the role of the rural population in the transformation from ‘Late Roman’ to ‘Medieval Europe’ has been given little consideration. In this project, the importance of the elite’s role vis-à-vis that of the rural population in the recovery of the early medieval economy is questioned.
The research question you project aims to address is: In what ways did an elite, the church and the ‘state’ (king) have control over and extract surplus from the rural population in the period and area under consideration?



  • (R)MA in early medieval Archaeology, preferably with a thesis on an early medieval subject;
  • Highly motivated with excellent communications skills (writing, presenting, discussing);
  • Team spirit, highly motivated to cooperate with the members of the research group;
  • Independent work attitude and ability to critically evaluate commonly accepted theories and concepts in archaeology on burial rites and urbanization;
  • English (B2 level or above);
  • Dutch (B2 level or above);
  • Skills in the reading of French texts (desired);
  • Skills in the reading of German texts (desired).


We offer a position for 38 hours per week. The PhD is based in Leiden, starts September 2018. The appointment as a PhD student will be for a period of four years (initially for a period of one year with an extension of three years after positive evaluation of progress and skills development) leading to the successful completion of a PhD thesis. The appointment will be under the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is set on €2,222 in the first year, increasing to €2,840 gross per month in the final year.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end- of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Additional information

Project description (continuation)
The research project consists of a core of five interrelated sub-projects: The lie of the land and community dynamics, Changing burial rites and rural riches, Exchange and the material culture of the rural population, Production as social and cosmological embedded practice and your project: Elites and Centres in Northern Gaul. The latter four deal with the sub-research questions and the first investigates the ‘societal format’ of northern Gaul, developing a picture of that society to serve as a background to the project as a whole.

Elites and Centres in northern Gaul
To understand the role rural populations may have had in the recovery of the early medieval economy, it is crucial to research the extend of elite presence and elite control in the research area and period under consideration. There has been an intense historiographical debate – with an unsatisfactory outcome – on the presence and nature of the (Roman and Frankish) aristocracy in early Merovingian (northern) Gaul, which often relied on evidence from more southern regions or made questionable use of archaeological evidence. This sub-project will investigate the genuine archaeological indications for the presence of elite groups and will evaluate the archaeological nature of the centres, most of which are late Roman episcopal towns and fortresses. This analysis will include a re-evaluation of so-called ‘privileged graves’ that have traditionally been identified as burials of aristocrats, since new theoretical perspectives on the nature of the burial rites allow for alternative interpretations of these graves.

Enquiries regarding the position be made to the project Rural Riches, prof. dr. Frans Theuws, email franstheuws@gmail.com.
Information on the advanced research qualification and research programmes of the Graduate School of Archaeology can be found on https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/archaeology/graduate-school-archaeology.

To apply for this vacancy, please send no later than 10 May 2018 an email to Josephine Say via j.a.say@arch.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • A short letter explaining your interest in the project and how you would propose to approach the PhD project Elites and centres in Northern Gaul;
  • CV;
  • The name and contact address for an academic referee or send in a letter of recommendation.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.