Job: Two-year postdoctoral position at Aarhus University: Past social networks

Dear member of the HNR community,

The Centre for Urban Network Evolutions at Aarhus University is currently offering an interesting postdoctoral position with a focus on network science. For more information: Two-year postdoctoral position: Past social networks, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions – Ledig stilling på Aarhus Universitet (



Two-year postdoctoral position: Past social networks, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions

The School of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral position at the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions. The position is full-time and is expected to begin on 1 January 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter and will be of limited duration until 31/12/2024.

Place of employment: Aarhus University, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Campus Moesgaard, Denmark.


Research context
The post.doc. will be part of the research project ‘The Past Social Networks Project: The first open online repository for network data of ancient social relationships’, headed by Principal Investigator Associate Professor Tom Brughmans and funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.The Past Social Networks Project is an interdisciplinary project that draws on classical archaeology, network science, history and computer science. How do present-day social networks differ from those in the past, and how have these structures changed over centuries? The key to these important questions lies with archaeological and historical network research, offering the material and textual sources that document interactions between past individuals. But answering such questions is currently hampered by a number of challenges: past social network data are rarely being made open access and a methodological pipeline for comparative studies of centuries-long change in past social networks is missing. The Past Social Networks Project aims to address these challenges.


The position
We are looking for an intellectually flexible and dedicated researcher with a background in digital humanities, computer science, archaeology, classics, ancient history, or classical archaeology, preferably with a specialisation in network science or data management, and with strong interests in computational methods in the humanities.


The successful applicant and the PI will share responsibility for the project’s work package concerning the development of a computational modelling framework for centuries-long changes of social networks, and uncertainty quantification of fragmentary archaeological and historical sources. This work package will develop computational models informed by empirical past social network data, that describes past social networks and explores how they evolve over long time periods. It also concerns the application to empirical past social networks of statistical techniques to represent uncertainties and unknowns in the data, and the sensitivity of data analysis results on these uncertainties. The applicant will review literature and computer code on these models and statistical techniques. They will design computational simulation experiments to explore the plausibility of theories of the long-term evolution of human social networks. This work will be supervised by the PI and Prof. Tim Evans (Complexity Science, Imperial College London). She/he is expected to collaborate on disciplinary and interdisciplinary publications with project team members on the topic past social networks. The successful applicant needs good social and communication skills in order to engage in cross-disciplinary cooperation with project team members.

The successful applicant will be expected to:

  • Develop their research within the framework provided by The Past Social Networks Project, in cooperation with the PI and other project members
  • Develop the project’s computational social network models and hypothesis testing, in cooperation with the PI
  • Develop uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis frameworks for past social network data
  • Lead code development for simulation and statistical modelling, as well as their documentation and deposition following Open Science principles
  • Work both independently and collaboratively with the PI, experts and other postdocs from other disciplines, in particular classical studies, archaeology, computer science and history, with a view to presenting and discussing simulation models, empirical data, ideas and results
  • Present their research at international meetings and publish results in peer-reviewed, international scientific journals
  • Contribute to the organisation of networking events, research and educational workshops and an international conference hosted by the project
  • Teach at BA and/or MA level (maximum 20%, by agreement, in English or Danish)


The position will involve limited teaching (maximum 20%), as agreed upon with the Head of the Department and the project PI.


Knowledge exchange
The successful applicant will be expected to exchange knowledge with various sectors of society and to contribute actively to public debate in areas related to the position. In particular, he/she will be encouraged to contribute to knowledge exchange opportunities at Aarhus University (in particular UrbNet and Classical Archaeology), and to present at international inter-disciplinary conferences.


Applicants must hold a PhD degree or equivalent qualifications in digital humanities, computer science, archaeology, complexity science, ancient history, classical archaeology, history, geography, network science, or similar subject fields.

Applicants must be able to document a relevant research profile of high research quality.

Applicants must also document:

  • Research experience of network studies, preferably in the humanities or social sciences, and specifically classics, history, or archaeology.
  • Experience of independent code development for computational or statistical modelling (e.g. using either Python, R, Netlogo, Java, or C++)
  • A strong interest in or expertise with humanities or social sciences
  • Experience of the open publication and detailed documentation of computational methods
  • Experience of publication of simulation-based or data analysis research
  • Familiarity with data management, data analysis and statistics
  • Familiarity with critically approaching empirical data in the humanities
  • An interest in uncertainty quantification
  • An interest in developing humanities skills (including humanities data collection and critique, literature review, theory development, results publication)
  • An interest in collaborative, interdisciplinary work. Applicants need good social and communication skills in order to engage in cross-disciplinary cooperation with project team members and establish external collaborations
  • Fluency in written and spoken English

Applications must be uploaded in English.

Applicants must submit:

  • A concise statement of their motivation for applying for the position (maximum two pages)
  • A CV (maximum four pages)
  • A maximum of five publications. Please note that only submitted publications will be assessed: a list of publications is not sufficient. Applications to which no publications are attached will not be assessed
  • Teaching portfolio

The research activities will be evaluated in relation to the actual research time. We therefore encourage applicants to specify any periods of leave they may have had without research activities (e.g. maternity/paternity leave), so we can subtract these periods from the span of their academic career when evaluating their productivity.

Professional references or recommendations should not be included. Applicants who are selected for an interview may be asked to provide professional references.

For further information about the position and project MINERVA, please contact the Principal Investigator Tom Brughmans by email:

For more information about the application, please contact HR supporter Marianne Birn, e-mail

The university is keen for its staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified applicants, regardless of their personal background.


The work environment
The Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) directed by Prof. Rubina Raja was founded in 2015 as a groundbreaking archaeological research initiative exploring the evolution of urbanism and urban networks from the Hellenistic Period to the Middle Ages. The centre is based at Aarhus University, School of Culture and Society, and is funded as a Centre of Excellence by the Danish National Research Foundation.

UrbNet aims to compare the archaeology of urbanism from medieval Northern Europe to the ancient Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean World, and determine how – and to what extent – urban networks catalysed societal and environmental expansions and crises in the past. The centre is firmly rooted in the humanities but enjoys close, collaborative ties with the natural sciences.

UrbNet aims to advance the understanding of the historical process of urban evolution, and it does so by developing the ability of archaeology to characterise the scale and pace of events and processes. Recently developed scientific techniques afford the potential for archaeology to refine the precision of dates, contexts and provenance ascribed to excavated materials. UrbNet’s key ambition has been to integrate these new forms of data as a new, high-definition approach to the study of global and interregional dynamics.

UrbNet’s work comprises projects that intersect questions and problems concerning urban development and networks in the regions from Northern Europe via the Levant to the East Coast of Africa. It involves elaborate work on empirical material from a number of existing excavation projects, and the centre aims to make substantial contributions to theoretical and methodological developments in the field.
Read more (UrbNet).


School of Culture and Society
At the School of Culture and Society the object of research and teaching is the interplay 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 local questions to global challenges

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

For further information about the school, please see


International applicants

International applicants are encouraged to check  family and work-life balance and attractive working conditions for further information about the benefits of working at Aarhus University and in Denmark, including healthcare, paid holidays and, if relevant, maternity/paternity leave, childcare and schooling. Aarhus University offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including a relocation service and career counselling for expat partners. For information about taxation, see Taxation aspects of international researchers’ employment by AU


Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.


Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities (the Appointment Order).

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here:

If nothing else is noted, applications must be submitted in English. Application deadline is at 11.59 pm Danish time (same as Central European Time) on the deadline day.Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

Shortlists may be prepared with the candidates that have been selected for a detailed academic assessment. A committee set up by the head of school is responsible for selecting the most qualified candidates. See this link for further information about shortlisting at the Faculty of Arts: shortlisting

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 with society.


The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University’s website.

Published by Ingeborg van Vugt
June 7, 2022

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