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An interdisciplinary research collaborative
investigating the pasts, presents, and futures of
forager & mixed-subsistence children's lives
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Check out this new review in Phil B from FCS members Adam Boyette, Sheina Lew-Levy and colleagues of genetic, palaeoclimatological, linguistic and historical data on the peopling of the Congo Basin.


Investigating past and present human adaptation to the Congo Basin tropi- cal forest can shed light on how climate and ecosystem variability have shaped human evolution. Here, we first review and synthesize genetic, palaeoclimatological, linguistic and historical data on the peopling of the Congo Basin. While forest fragmentation led to the increased genetic and geographical divergence of forest foragers, these groups maintained long- distance connectivity. The eventual expansion of Bantu speakers into the Congo Basin provided new opportunities for forging inter-group links, as evidenced by linguistic shifts and historical accounts. Building from our ethnographic work in the northern Republic of the Congo, we show how these inter-group links between forest forager communities as well as trade relationships with neighbouring farmers facilitate adaptation to eco- regions through knowledge exchange. While researchers tend to emphasize forager–farmer interactions that began in the Iron Age, we argue that foragers’ cultivation of relational wealth with groups across the region played a major role in the initial occupation of the Congo Basin and, consequently, in cultural evolution among the ancestors of contemporary peoples.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Tropical forests in the deep human past’.

The Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies and Interacting Minds Centre School of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University invite applications for a three-year fixed-term postdoctoral position in social transmission modelling. The appointment begins on September 1 or as soon as possible thereafter. 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.Research context We are looking for an innovative scholar with a background in the modelling of social transmission preferably with a specialisation in agent-based modelling or related techniques. The successful candidate would be associated with the project PLAY | OBJECT | PLAY (P|O|P), funded by the Aarhus University Research Foundation’s NOVA scheme. P|O|P aims to develop an integrative child-centred model of material culture change. Both narrative and quantitative archaeological models aimed at explaining technological change have primarily focused on the role of adults as innovators and transmitters of tool manufacturing skill. Drawing on existing cross-cultural datasets (eHRAF), the project will explore differences in object play behaviour and play objects across individual life-history and in different socio-ecological constellations (foragers, horticulturalists, agriculturalists), and on this basis develop an agent-based model for how societal factors may predict children’s acquisition and innovation of tools. These predictions will then be tested against the existing archaeological data from published and unpublished records to infer children’s material culture contributions in the deep past. Our particular aim is to explore cross-culturally to what degree play-based social learning may have contributed to adaptive/non-adaptive responses during times of environmental stress. The successful applicant is expected to participate in project activities such as workshops and conferences, to collaborate closely with the project team, which includes collaborations with both Durham University and at University College London. The P|O|P project is associated with the ERC-funded CLIOARCH project ( and the successful candidate would join a growing, dynamic and interdisciplinary research group concerned with cultural evolution and adaptation at different temporal and spatial scales. In addition, the P|O|P project is also associated with the Interacting Minds Centre (IMC;, a lively transdisciplinary platform at AU for the study of human interaction. The IMC involves researchers from the humanities, social sciences, cognitive sciences, biology and clinical research. Several researchers at the IMC are specifically concerned with play.The position The successful applicant is expected, in collaboration with the project team, to

  • further develop and conduct a cross-cultural analysis of object play and play objects based on already established datasets (eHRAF) and coding schemes, and to

  • build agent-based models that explore the effects of object play-based learning on adaptability.

Applicants are asked to submit a short research proposal of <5 pages in which they present their ideas of how to model play-based social learning strategies and their population-level impacts on adaptability. In addition, applicants must submit:

  • a cover letter offering a concise statement of motivation for applying for the position;

  • a maximum of five publications;

  • a CV;

  • a list of publications.

The successful applicant will be expected to:

  • develop their research within the framework provided by the P|O|P project;

  • work closely with the project team in all aspects of data generation, analysis and write-up;

  • present their research at international meetings and publish results in peer-reviewed,

international scientific journals

  • contribute to the organisation of research workshops and international conferences related to the project;

  • teach at BA and/or MA level (maximum 20%, by agreement).

Teaching The position will involve some teaching as agreed upon with the Head of the Department and the project PIs.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.Qualifications Applicants for this position must hold a PhD degree in cultural evolution, quantitative social science, anthropology, archaeology or a related field. Applicants must document:

  • doctoral-level experience within a relevant discipline;

  • expertise in agent-based modelling or related techniques in NetLogo, Python or R;

  • experience in cross-cultural analysis;

  • an interest in play and social learning;

  • an international research profile;

  • fluency in written and spoken English, and the willingness to acquaint themselves with Danish if they do not already have the necessary Danish skills.

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. Please upload a maximum of five publications alongside your application. Only submitted publications will be assessed; a list of publications is not sufficient. As a result, applications without submitted publications will not be assessed. Professional references or recommendations should not be included. Applicants who are selected for an interview may be asked to provide professional references. The application must be submitted in English For further information about the position, please contact Felix Riede, e-mail For more information about the application, please contact HR supporter Marianne Birn, e-mail work environment At the Department of Archaeology and its associated research programme known as Materials, Culture and Heritage (MCH), we are concerned with people and the environment and culture and society from the earliest to modern times, with a focus on studies of material culture. On the basis of fieldwork and library and laboratory studies – including methods from anthropology, history and a variety of natural science approaches – the programme investigates and challenges our understanding of past societies seen in a deep historical perspective. The MCH research programme at Aarhus University has an international profile and strong research networks. A dynamic research environment provides the framework for large research projects, international conferences and a variety of visiting researchers. The environment is versatile and cross-disciplinary, and the academic staff’s research competences span topics ranging from war and power, mobility and globalisation, family and individual, religion and rituals, landscape and settlement, palaeo-demography and evolution, trade and networks, technology and knowledge exchange to (in particular) quantitative analysis methods, field methodology and digital representation. For a more detailed description, please visit: In addition, the successful candidate would also be associated with the Interacting Minds Centre (IMC). For more information, please visit: 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

Qualification requirements Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.Formalities Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities (the Appointment Order).

  • Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations.

  • Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities .

  • Further information on the application and supplementary materials may be found in Application Guidelines.

  • The application must outline the applicant's motivation for applying for the position, attaching a curriculum vitae, a complete list of published works, copies of degree certificates and examples of academic production (mandatory, but no more than five examples). Please upload this material electronically along with your application.

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: shortlistingFaculty 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. Read more at The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.

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