Postdoc Position (m/f/d) | ERC Synergy Grant Project QUANTA

Scientist Leipzig
Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Behavioral Sciences Cognitive Research

Job Code: LH-04-2024

Job Offer from June 13, 2024

The Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution (DLCE) at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MI-EVA) in Leipzig invites applications for a two-year Postdoc, associated with the project "Evolution of Cognitive Tools for Quantification (QUANTA)", funded by the European Research Council with a Synergy Grant to Andrea Bender (UiB), Francesco d’Errico (CNRS Bordeaux), Russell Gray (MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig), and Rafael Núñez (ETH).


The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology unites scientists with various backgrounds (natural sciences and humanities) whose aim is to investigate the history of humankind from an interdisciplinary perspective with the help of comparative analyses of genes, cultures, cognitive abilities, languages and social systems of past and present human populations as well as those of primates closely related to human beings.

About DLCE

The Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution aims to answer big picture questions about human history. Our focus is on describing and explaining the major patterns of linguistic and cultural variation across the globe. We tackle these questions by developing novel language documentation methods, global linguistic and cultural databases, and analyses using evolutionary theories and computational methods.


QUANTA aims at reconstructing the origin and evolution of numeral systems: when and why they were invented, and how and why they diversified. The 6-years project started on September 1st, 2021 is an international collaborative one located at four institutions: MPI-EVA Leipzig (Germany), UiB (Norway), CNRS Bordeaux (France), and ETH (Switzerland). These engage in frequent and close collaboration and exchange, including internships for all researchers at the other institutions.

As a researcher in this project, you will have the chance to explore human prehistory, to actively assist the development of new methods for quantitative historical linguistics and typology, and to shed light on general processes in the development of numeral systems worldwide.

Possible topics include

  • The co-evolution of cognition and numeral systems
  • The co-evolution of different numeral system modalities (verbal, body-based, written, and material)
  • The evolution of complex number systems
  • The role of social and technological factors in driving the evolution of numeral systems

Selection criteria 

  • A PhD in linguistics, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, computer science, statistics, anthropology, or related field with an outstanding academic record.
  • Excellent computational skills are essential, with a detailed knowledge of Python, R, or other programming language.
  • Strong proficiency in both spoken and written English.
  • Strong analytical skills and proven self-motivation to complete independent work.
  • Strong team player qualities (you will work in an interdisciplinary and international team where communication is crucial for the success of the project).
  • Research experience in the field of numeral systems is beneficial.

Our offer

  • Full-time position, starting in the fall of 2024, initially limited to 2 years.
  • Salary based on experience according to the German TVöD
  • According to German labor laws, benefits include 30 days holiday per annum plus Bank Holidays and Christmas closure days as well as an attractive pension proposition
  • An inspiring, international, interdisciplinary environment with leading domain scientists at our department and in various Max Planck Institutes and universities
  • Space, freedom, support and resources to do all the things described above

Your application

Please submit your application in English, including the following:

  • Cover letter, explaining research experience and reason for interest in this project, along with a proposed research project (max. two pages).
  • Your CV and copies of degree certificates (Bachelor’s/Master’s/PhD diplomas and/or transcripts).
  • Names and contact information (including e-mail and phone) for 2-3 referees.
    [NB. you may compile several PDFs into one for submission]

Please apply online. Deadline for applications is August 16, 2024.

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. Additionally, we seek to increase diversity of our workforce in areas where it is underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to apply.

More Information regarding the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology can be found at

For queries, please contact: .

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