Postdoctoral Research Associate in Southern African Lithic Technology

University of Cambridge McDonald Archaeological Research Institute

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 18 months in the first instance.

The McDonald Archaeological Research Institute, University of Cambridge, invites applications for an 18-month Postdoctoral Research Associate in southern African archaeology and Stone Age lithic technology, generously supported by the Pouroulis Foundation. The postholder will be based in Cambridge (UK), although extended research trips to South Africa will be required as part of the role, for which funds are available. The successful applicant is expected to take up the position from 1st April 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter, and will work under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Alastair Key, Professor Marta Lahr, and Professor Paul Lane at Cambridge, and Dr. Paloma de la Peña at Universidad de Granada, Spain.

The successful candidate will lead a research project during their tenure on Howiesons Poort technologies in southern Africa. There will be two core elements to this research, which, when combined will provide a deeper understanding of its uniqueness relative to other Southern African lithic traditions. The first line of research will utilise a combination of modelling approaches to understand how we define the tradition, while the second will exploit experimental and artefact-based approaches to investigate its technological exceptionality. As part of their work, the successful candidate will spend most of their time in Cambridge (UK), supplemented by extended research visits to South Africa studying archaeological collections and contributing to fieldwork. The successful candidate will be expected to produce two manuscript drafts during their tenure of the fellowship (with the support of the supervisory team) and, if they wish, will have the opportunity to gain teaching experience at the University of Cambridge.

In line with the project goals, we seek a lithic specialist with experience working on African Stone Age technologies. Applicants must be in possession of a Ph.D. in Archaeology or a closely related discipline and must have experience with the technological analysis of African lithic materials, from the Middle and/or Late Stone Age. They must also demonstrate experience of undertaking independent research leading to at least one peer-reviewed publication. Competence in communicating in English, including the ability to write academic publications and verbally communicate research to academic and lay audiences, is also essential, as is a willingness to travel to southern Africa for extended research visits lasting several months at a time. Previous experience or knowledge relating to the Howiesons Poort technological tradition will be an advantage.

For full details of the role, please see the Further Particulars in the link below.

Application details: Candidates should provide a Curriculum Vitae, a two-page cover letter describing their relevant expertise and motivation, a digital copy of their most relevant publication relating to the role and contact information of two referees.

Referees will only be contacted for shortlisted applicants.

We strongly support applications from candidates of any nationality, though the University must ensure that the successful post-holder has the right to live and work in the UK. We strongly encourage applications from female and minority candidates.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Informal enquiries may be sent to Dr Alastair Key ( or Dr. Paloma de la Peña (

Closing date is 14th December 2022.

Please quote reference JC34189 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.