PhD Studentship – The Hyksos in Egypt – Anthropology and population history

Introduction: The Hyksos, a Greek rendering of the Egyptian title ‘ruler of the foreign lands’, were a dynasty that exerted power over Egypt between c. 1640 and 1530 BCE, during the 2nd Intermediate Period between the Middle and New Kingdoms, when Egypt was ruled by various dynasties in different parts of the Empire. Even though their capital, Avaris, which formed the basis of their operations from the eastern Nile Delta, has been discovered and meticulously excavated, the origin of the Hyksos is still disputed. Whilst scholarly opinion currently suggests a Levantine provenance, little is known about their seizure of power, their role in history, or their legacy, as this period is poorly represented in texts. Yet almost all that is known about the Hyksos is derived from this fragmented information, and the most immediate source material that relates to the people behind the Hyksos rule, their skeletal remains, has been largely neglected.
Rationale and aims: Therefore, this project will, as part of an ERC-funded grant, contribute to resolving this enigma by analysing the significant quantity of human remains from Avaris/Tell el-Dab’a and contemporary comparative sites in Egypt and the Levant that may be associated with the carriers of the Hyksos culture. In particular, the study aims to
–  Create demographic profiles and establish patterns of morbidity among these populations,
–  Investigate signs of trauma and activity-related skeletal features,
– Analyse skeletal and dental morphology to identify their biological affiliation through skeletal similarity and difference,
–  Synthesise the results through biocultural analysis.

Statement of Work

Methods: The project will employ a blend of conventional methods of analysis and sophisticated novel approaches to ascertain individual and group skeletal characteristics. Particular emphasis will be on the use of geometric morphometrics, the investigation of metric and non-metric (discrete) traits, and their processing with advanced statistical methods to allow, through analysis of skeletal form (shape and size), the identification of biological relatedness. The combination of those methodological approaches will introduce a novel element to the study of Egyptian and associated human skeletal remains.

Key areas of responsibility

The successful candidate will be trained in latest morphometric techniques for the identification and assessment of human skeletal and dental variation, e.g. geometric morphometrics, biodistance analysis and associated advanced multivariate statistical methods. Workshops covering these areas are offered regularly in the UK and abroad, which will provide an excellent opportunity for the candidate to be introduced to the respective specialist networks.


All candidates must satisfy the University’s minimum doctoral entry criteria for studentships of an honours degree at Upper Second Class (2:1) and/or an appropriate Masters degree. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.
Additional Eligibility
Applicants should have excellent skills in the analysis of human remains and be familiar with skeletal and dental variation. Experience and acquaintance with advanced statistical methods is desirable.

Start Date


Closing date for applications


Contact Person and Grant Holder

Further information on the application process can be found at:

Informal enquiries:

To discuss this opportunity further, please contact Holger Schutkowski via email:

Submission Papers should include:

Please complete the online application form by 17June 2016. Further information on the application process can be found at:


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