PhD Studentship in The Archaeogenetics of Horse Domestication (UK/EU) ~

26 de febrero de 2007

PhD Studentship in The Archaeogenetics of Horse Domestication (UK/EU)

Dr Mim Bower, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research,

University of Cambridge

Prof Chris Howe, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge

Dr Ellen Nisbet, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge

We invite applications for a fully funded PhD studentship in

archaeogenetics. The project detailed below is a candidate for a

studentship, and applicants will be in open competition with others

applying both for this project and other candidate projects within

the Graduate School of Biological Sciences. In the event of a

successful application, the project will be supervised jointly by

Prof. Christopher Howe, Department of Biochemistry and Dr Mim Bower,

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

A good first degree in Biology, Genetics, Zoology or Archaeology (1st

class or 2:1 or equivalent) is essential and a Masters degree in a

relevant scientific or archaeological discipline will be an

advantage. Experience in the standard range of molecular biology

techniques is essential; experience with low-copy number methods

(ancient DNA) is desirable, but not essential.

Applicants should send a CV and a covering letter detailing their

suitability for the project and evidencing relevant experience, along

with two academic references, to Dr Mim Bower, McDonald Institute for

Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street,

Cambridge, CB2 3ER or by email to:

Applicants must be UK or EU citizens.

Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Mim Bower at

The closing date for applications is: Wednesday 7th March 2007

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview on Wednesday

21st March 2007.

The location and timing of the domestication of the horse is still a

contentious question in archaeology. The direct evidence for the use

of horses before the development of the chariot in the 2nd millennium

BC, i.e., for riding, is scarce and few archaeologists agree on its

interpretation, yet it is clear from the recurrent use of the horse

in imagery and ritual that the horse has been of great importance to

humans for a long time. But if archaeological evidence cannot be used

to understand the human-horse relationship through time, how are we

to investigate this question?

Archaegenetics, the use of modern population genetics coupled with

the analysis of ancient DNA from the archaeological specimens

themselves has proved a highly useful tool for understanding the

domestication of many of our other economically important plant and

animal species (pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, maize, wheat, barely

etc..). In the case of horses, a large amount of mitochondrial data

from living horse populations is now available, but it is proving to

be difficult to resolve a clear phylogeny with biogeographic

structure using this data. A more robust phylogeny will be possible

if a number of informative nuclear loci are used. This project

proposes to screen an extensive sample set of living horse

populations from central and east Asia for nuclear markers

(microsatellites and SNiPs) and develop methods for the analysis of

these same nuclear markers from archaeological horse skeletons from

across central and east Asia in order to resolve the biogeography of

horse domestication.

The successful applicant would be part of a growing team working on

the archaeogenetics of horse husbandry and adjunct to a new project

on the spread of the chariot across central Asia. There will be

opportunities for fieldwork, attending conferences and training both

here at Cambridge, and also in collaborating labs. The studentship is

BBSRC funded, covering both fees and subsistence, and for up to four


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