Reconstructing biographical and paleoenvironmental data from human dental calculus in Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene populations


This PhD offers an opportunity to join an inter-disciplinary team investigating the use of pre-agrarian plant use. You will join a world-class international team and develop an exceptional set of skills and networks to help you take the next step in your career. 

This PhD will focus on the analysis of dental calculus samples from prehistoric human populations in Eurasia.

Dental calculus is a biofilm that adheres to teeth during life.  Material passing through the mouth as food, medicines, airborne environmental materials and when the mouth is used as a third hand, can become embedded. This PhD will focus on the structure of dental calculus and extraction and identification of physical remains and will involve collaboration with specialists recovering other biomolecular evidence.

This position is part of the UKRI ERC Advanced Grant replacement fund project Powerful Plants:  The Power of Plants as Food, Medicine and Raw Materials Before Agriculture.  This new project will use archaeological evidence, supported by experimental archaeology and ethnographic data, to investigate the social, cultural and behavioural roles of the human use of plants before farming.  Plants are essential to our physical, psychological and physiological well-being today as they were in the past. They provide us with energy, nutrients, medicines and raw materials. Yet the role of plants before the emergence of agriculture around 10,000 years ago, is virtually unknown largely due to low survival rates on archaeological sites. This project will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to investigate three areas - food, medicine and technology - in which use of plants was pivotal in shaping human trajectories with implications that are still evident today. The candidate with work with a multidisciplinary, international team including other PhD students and researchers based in Glasgow and other leading European institutions. 




Open to UK and international applicants.

Applicants should normally have a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) and should have completed or be completing at the time of application a Masters degree in a relevant discipline in archaeology, biology or a related subject and have interests in the Palaeolithic and in developing skills in microscopy and analysis of microfossil materials such as pollen, phytoliths and fibre. 

Applicants without a Master’s qualification (awarded or pending) are invited to provide information about relevant professional experience, skills and knowledge. 



To apply, please email Prof. Karen Hardy ( by midday on Friday 16th December, 2022 with:

  • a CV
  • covering letter (max. two pages)
  • writing sample (max 3,000 words)
  • scans of qualification certificates/transcripts
  • two written references

Shortlisted candidates will be informed by 13th January 2023 and invited to interview on 30th January. 

If you have any queries, or would like further information, please contact Prof. Karen Hardy (


Funding will cover tuition fees at the home/UK rate, and a stipend at the Research Council rate (£17,668 for 2022-23), full-time for 4 years. The College of Arts will waive the difference between the UK and International fees for this studentship, meaning that all students are eligible to have their tuition fees covered in their entirety.