General information on the DN ArCHe

The Doctoral Network ArCHe ( will train 10 PhD fellows for increasing the scientific and public value of Europe’s archaeological coastal heritage, focusing on the legacy of Stone Age hunter-fisher-gatherers (c. 12,000–2000 calBC). Including some of the earliest remains of human activity, this fragile and very heterogeneous legacy is crucial for understanding human engagement with the coast. Today, it is embedded in a variety of geographic settings across Europe, differing in environmental development, which face massive environmental and human threats, and is approached in various ways in cultural heritage management. ArCHe addresses the challenges of this fractured field with an innovative past–present–future approach focused on connecting the legacy from the past, its present status as archaeological heritage and prospects for its future protection and integration into lived landscapes. With six beneficiaries and nine associated partners, ArCHe unites academic research centres and non-academic organizations (cultural heritage sector, specialist organisations, museums and media). Within this joint platform for research and training, customized PhD projects will allow for cross-fertilization of knowledge among researchers and partners through scientific courses, workshops, conferences, applied secondments and transferable skills tuition. Training in archaeology, anthropology, critical heritage studies, heritage management, bioarchaeology, geology, oceanography, coastal engineering/preservation and communication relevant to coastal heritage and environment will equip the ArCHe PhDs with advanced interdisciplinary and cross-regional knowledge and skills applicable to various academic and non-academic fields across Europe. Through best practices, the PhD projects will contribute to the visibility, preservation and sustainable integration of the vulnerable cultural heritage in coastal areas facing global environmental and development challenges.

Information on the PhD-position

Reference (ArCHe-Doctoral candidate no.) DC 6
Title of the project Geographical and seasonal patterns in marine mammal exploitation – ethnographic insights into prehistoric practices
Recruiting institution and place of work University of Latvia
Expected Start date August 2024
Length of the project 36 months
Salary: EUR 2576 per month (gross salary, not including employer's social security contribution)
- family allowance EUR 495 per month (only if eligible to these conditions: “Family” means persons linked to the researcher by marriage (or a relationship with equivalent status to a marriage recognised by the legislation of the country where this relationship was formalized) or dependent children who are actually maintained by the researcher)
Project description including «Objectives» and «Expected Results»


The doctoral candidate will pursue a novel approach in the study of prehistoric marine mammal exploitation, exploring the ways in which the life-cycles, behaviour and physiology of marine mammals (incl. seals, porpoises, dolphins, whales), along with the characteristics of coastal and marine environments and the technologies used by human communities have influenced catching methods and seasonal cycles in marine mammal hunting.

Archaeologically recovered remains will be interpreted through a biologically informed study of ethnographic accounts that deal with traditional marine mammal hunting, in order to further our understanding of the relationships linking particular mammal taxa, landscapes and seasonal conditions, and particular catching methods.

The study will encompass the diversity of prehistoric marine mammal exploitation across Europe, and will span life sciences (including biology and bioarchaeology with archaeozoology), archaeology and ethnography, forging new conceptual links between the study of human-animal relationships in prehistory, traditional lifeways of the recent past and present day, and concerns for the future of marine and coastal habitats and species.

Expected results: The project will gather and analyse archaeological data from the Baltic Sea coast and several other (contrasting) coastal areas of Europe:

1) data and previous analytical results on archaeologically recovered faunal assemblages of marine mammals (additional taxonomic/ anatomical identification or isotopic study is not envisaged in the project);
2) remains of prehistoric marine mammal hunting gear;
3) palaeoenvironmental and subfossil fish faunal data characterizing the aquatic habitats;
4) human bioarchaeological data obtained in previous studies that reflects subsistence on marine food resources.

For interpreting this data, the project will identify and study major ethnographic sources on traditional marine mammal hunting in Europe and beyond that provide detailed evidence on the human exploitation of the archaeologically represented animal taxa. Together, this will permit the first assessment of major biological, environmental and technological parameters relevant to marine mammal exploitation in prehistory on a European scale, identifying geographical and seasonal variation.

Building up an advanced capability for integrating and applying life science (biology, bioarchaeology), social science (ethnography) and humanities (archaeology) research data, the PhD will be equipped for a variety of potential academic/non-academic career paths involving interdisciplinary contributions to sustainable development.

Academic secondments

CNRS, France. Supervisor: Catherine Dupont, 2 months, for consultation on marine mammal exploitation at the Atlantic coast, study of ethnographic sources.

Tallinn University, Estonia. Supervisor: Lembi Lõugas, 4 months, to study faunal remains
Non-academic secondments Riga Stradiņš University, Latvia. Supervisors: Anda Rožukalne, Marta Herca, 1 month. Training in communication of research results through production of video on project-related topic
Main supervisor (including organisation) Valdis Bērziņš, University of Latvia
Co-supervisor (including organisation/s) Catherine Dupont, CNRS, France Lembi Lõugas, Tallinn University, Estonia

Eligibility criteria

The recruitment process for all Doctoral candidates in the HORIZON-MSCA-2022-DN ArCHe follows a common recruitment strategy, which is based on the European Commission’s Code of Conduct of Recruitment

MSCA-eligibility criteria


- MSCA Mobility Rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their date of recruitment

- All researchers recruited in a DN must be doctoral candidates (i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment)
necessary local eligibility criteria (specific for the host institution/beneficiary)

Academic recognition of master's degree (see "Documentation to be sent in by the applicants" below).

Enrolment in local PhD-programme University of Latvia: Doctoral Study Programme in History and Archaeology ( or other doctoral study programme offered by the university
Appropriate academic knowledge and skills Knowledge of marine ecology, mammal biology, marine mammals. Experience in archaeology or other humanities fields will also be useful. Crucially important is a readiness to cross disciplinary boundaries and combine data from the natural sciences and humanities.

Documentation to be sent in by the applicants

  • Letter of motivation
  • Project proposal (approximately 14,000 characters including spaces, references in addition) describing how the candidate would approach the given PhD-topic, including substantial reflections (not more than 4,200 characters including spaces) on how the specific PhD-project topic will contribute to achieving the general aims of the Doctoral network ArCHe as described on the ArCHe homepage ( A progress plan should be included.
  • CV (summarizing education, positions and academic work)
  • Complete list of publications and academic works
  • Proof of language proficiencies
  • Two reference persons to be contacted by the selection committee (name, relation to candidate, e-mail address and phone number)
  • Copy of master's degree diploma(s) and academic transcripts

Applicants may be asked to submit the master's thesis or further information later.

In the further course of the selection process, candidates will be required to submit a statement issued by Latvia's Academic Information Centre that the master's degree is equated to a master's degree obtained in Latvia (see

Assessment criteria

  • Scientific excellence to fit the PhD project including the comparative ArCHe-perspective: international, interdisciplinary, intersectoral and with a past-present-future perspective
  • Fluent (oral and written) English skills as the project operates in English language. Reading knowledge of multiple European languages will be considered a merit.
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge
  • Regarding the project proposal:          
    • Originality, independent thinking
    • Knowledge of the state of the art and how the applicant goes beyond this
    • Theoretical and methodological foundation
    • Scientific ambition and innovativeness
    • Feasibility and progress plan
    • Suitability of the proposal not least in terms of the Doctoral network thought, and specifically regarding to ArCHe
    • Ethics implications

All of the above are assessed based on submitted documentation and the interview. In addition, the following soft skills are assessed during the interview:

  • High motivation for doing their PhD in a MSCA-Doctoral network, and specifically ArCHe
  • Flexibility
  • Team-mindedness

Important additional information

ArCHe-recruitment timeline


PhD-positions to be announced concurrently at all beneficiaries and on the ArCHe-homepage: March 21st, 2024

Deadline for application: April 22nd, 2024

Job offer to candidate: May 2024

Start of employment (= recruitment): August 2024

Contact person/address/telephone number in case of questions on the position
Address for electronic submission of
application documents or questions on the position:


Dr Valdis Bērziņš

Institute of Latvian History, University of Latvia, Kalpaka bulvāris 4, Rīga, Latvia

+371 26481823