Postdoctoral Position in East and Central Asian Archaeology

University of Zurich


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Chinese Studies


SNF postdoctoral position in East and Central Asian archaeology, art history or paleozoology/-botany
100 %


The Traditional China Chair at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich is looking for a postdoc in East and Central Asian archaeology, art history or paleozoology/-botany. Postdoctoral work will be carried out under the auspices of the SNF project "Sino-Indo-Iranica rediviva – Early Eurasian migratory terms in Chinese and their cultural implications" (PI: Prof. Wolfgang Behr). The project will investigate Central Asian loan words of Iranian, Indian, Tocharian and other linguistic origins in Chinese epigraphical and transmitted texts from early antiquity to the Sui unification (581 CE ). Linguistic results will be compared to evidence from paleobiological and/or material culture with the aim of gaining deeper insights into the development of the flourishing trade routes linking China and Central Asia since the onset of writing in China.


As part of the project, a database of Chinese terms with their (putative) foreign equivalents and material culture correlates will be compiled and published online. The successful applicant will conduct a thorough investigation of material traces reflecting contact during the time of the investigated textual evidence in close coordination with the other three project participants as well as external collaboration partners.


Your responsibilities

Within 3-4 years, the successful applicant will

  • publish one or two peer reviewed articles in her/his field per year, and at least two comparative articles together with the rest of the group, i.e. contributions qualifying for submission as a cumulative Habilitation at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zurich by the end of the project period

  • actively attend relevant conferences in the field, participate in the organization of two international workshops on the project topic at the University of Zurich

  • collaborate with the PI and two Ph.D. candidates working on Sino-Indian and Sino-Iranian historical linguistics on a regular basis and participate in the publication of joint articles

  • be open to teach courses related to the project theme in order to gain teaching experience


Your profile

Candidates should have background in Central Asian or Early Imperial Chinese archaeology or art history with a strong focus on material culture. Alternatively, a Ph.D. with a paleozoological/-botanical or food historical background may also be considered, if s/he is willing to engage with archaeological and historical sources. A solid command of modern, preferably also of Classical Chinese, and excellent English academic writing skills are required. Since the challenge of anchoring the project of the three philologists in the culture of real-life materials and artefacts will largely rest on the postdoc, s/he should also be willing devote some time to project workflows and, ideally, have some experience in organizing conferences and joint publications.


What we offer

You will work in an interdisciplinary and international team in a vibrant and research-active department under the employment conditions for SNF postdoc positions at the University of Zurich.


Place of work

Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Chinese Studies, University of Zurich


Start of employment

The position is fixed term, limited to a maximum of four years, beginning on January 1, 2019, but a later start can be negotiated. Please submit your application by 18.12.2019.


Applicants are requested to submit (preferably in one integral .pdf file attached to an e-mail or as a download link)

  • a cover letter

  • a CV, including a transcript of records from all previous university studies

  • a piece of writing of no more than 30 pages that best represents the applicant's research, e.g. a published article or book chapter

  • an electronic (.pdf) copy of the Ph.D. dissertation or of the book based on it copies of all university diplomas, language certificates acquired.

Further information

Kindly address your correspondence and any further inquiries to Prof. Wolfgang Behr

Apply now

In your application, please refer to


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