Degraded and degrading: understanding diagenetic processes in commingled graves from contexts of mass violence

Categories PGR, Research

An enhanced stipend of £15,000 per annum is offered to a strong candidate for this full time PhD scholarship in the Technology Futures Institute at Teesside University.

Episodes of mass violence occur for many reasons, but the treatment of the deceased is often used as a means of humiliating and threatening the victims, their relatives and the groups to which they belong. Forensic investigation of contexts of mass violence is often hampered by the challenging nature of the graves and deposition sites themselves. These may be difficult to access or have been repeatedly disturbed, while the bodies may be significantly decomposed and highly intermingled. This project combines our research group’s international work, both in the areas of diagenetic change in bone and contexts of mass violence and the commingling of human remains.

In order to understand the diagenetic and decompositional changes occurring within mass graves, the project is likely to utilise a range of analytical methods, including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Alternative Light Sources, GIS, and X-ray Fluorescence. In addition, novel statistical and archaeothanatological approaches are likely to be incorporated.

Applications are invited to join a dynamic and innovative research team at Teesside University, with a strong emphasis on publication and influencing practice. The group is active in inventive teaching, research and practice and the successful candidate would be expected to participate fully in these activities. The team’s PhD students are also active members of the PGR community within the University and contribute to various outreach and wider participation programmes across the region, and the successful candidate will be expected to support these activities. Mentoring and support for the development of a strong academic CV during the PhD will be provided. More information on our research group can be found here:

The supervisory team will be Prof. Tim Thompson, Dr Meez Islam and Dr Mark Butler. Dr Claudia Garrido Varas (International Committee of the Red Cross) will act as a project advisor.
Applicants should hold a good honours degree, and hold or expect to obtain a Masters level qualification in a relevant discipline. Although we can accept applications from non-EU students, the funding will only cover a home/EU student fee. The difference between the home/EU and non-EU student fee would be payable by the applicant.

More information, including details of the application process, can be found here.

I'm a Professor of Applied Biological Anthropology at Teesside University.