Postdoc project 'Anchoring Innovation in Greek Sanctuaries'

Institution Name 
Utrecht University
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Application Deadline 
November 1, 2019
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Postdoc project (1.0 fte, 18 mos), Utrecht University

Title: Anchoring Innovation in Greek Sanctuaries

(Anchoring Work Package 3, Philosophy and Religion)

Supervisory team:

Prof. Dr J.H. Blok (Utrecht University) and Dr F. van den Eijnde (Utrecht University), in collaboration with prof. Dr T. Tieleman (Utrecht University) and prof. Dr O. van Nijf (University of Groningen).

Job description:

Greek sanctuaries were places where humans interacted not only with the gods but also with one another. Regulating human conduct through formalized rules, they served as the quintessential institutions of Greek society. The neutral space provided by the temenē of the gods was a fertile ground for communication between various groups both within and beyond the polis. As nodes within a wider local, regional, or international network, Greek sanctuaries were eminently suitable for a variety of coded messaging with regard to social status, political intent, and intercultural exchange. Such statements were incessantly anchored in the collective consciousness through a wide variety of media, not least among which inscriptions, monuments, dedications, ritual acts, and feasting practices.

If such cultic elements actively shaped the relations between humans in the context of a wider religious framework, they were nevertheless meant to be stable and unchangeable. Yet change they did, in many ways: new gods were introduced; groups or individuals were included or excluded from a cult; new architecture, sacrifices, or cultic rules were introduced; financial arrangements were changed. In short, sanctuaries were continuously adapted to new circumstances. How did cultic expressions anchor innovative notions of political status and cultural identity? How could all these changes be accommodated to a pattern of thought and action, which claimed to be entirely in line with ‘just as our ancestors did it’? Which means were available or created to anchor such innovations in the essentially traditional cultic sphere? Did this anchoring process usually succeed, or do we see cases of failure? What made the difference?

Candidates for this postdoc project are invited to submit a 1500 word proposal concerning the anchoring of innovation in archaic and classical Greek sanctuaries. We are looking for historical research, based on archaeological and/or written (epigraphic, literary) sources, on any aspect of innovation in the religious domain with a focus on human agency (cults, sanctuaries, gods, polis religion, private cults, finance, priesthoods, etc.).

The successful candidate is prepared to assist in the organization of workshops and conferences and the writing of grant proposals. (S)he will also work together with researchers on the philosophy of religion and on festivals in Hellenistic-Roman Greece as part of Work Package 3 of the Anchoring Innovation project and members of the OIKOS research group Cultural Interactions in the Ancient World, see

More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the OIKOS website (, including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Organisational unit:

Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. For more information, see:


Postdoc project, 1.5 years (1.0 fte, 38 hrs/week), starting date to be agreed, with a preference for 1 March 2020.


€ 3.637,- to € 4.978,- gross per month for a full-time appointment (38 hours) depending on prior education and working experience (pay scale 11, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • Researching, writing, and publishing two research papers;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Taking part in the life of the Ancient History Department at Utrecht University, and participating in the academic community of the national research school OIKOS, and the wider Anchoring Innovation project.


  • A PhD, preferably in Classics or Ancient History (held by time of appointment and obtained no longer than five years ago);
  • An excellent research and publication record in relation to stage of career;
  • A strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • Excellent command of English;
  • Some organisational experience.


In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma.

Please submit your complete application to Aniek van den Eersten, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme, via before 1 November 2019.

Interviews will take place in the week of 2-6 December 2019. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via Skype.

Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Dr Van den Eijnde, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Aniek van den Eersten,

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