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Postdoc project (1.0 fte, 30 months), Leiden University

Title: Anchoring Global Diversity: Rethinking Greek Material Culture in Central Asia (Anchoring Work Package 6: Reception)


Prof. Dr. Miguel John Versluys (Faculty of Archaeology)

Job description

The occurrence of “Greek culture” in large parts of Central Asia has traditionally been interpreted in terms of the spread of Hellenism (“Hellenisation”). Recent debates within the field, however, have clearly shown the limitations of these views. It is the question to what extent these elements were still understood as being ‘Greek” and what that concept exactly meant from an Asian perspective. Moreover, the notion of (passive) “spreading” ignores the agency of Asian participants with what is probably better understood as a process of (active) appropriation. We are looking for a Postdoc who, within the framework of Globalisation theory, will develop and carry out a research project that has the ambition to rethink the use, function and impact of Greek material culture as integral part of the (material) culture of Central Asia, in terms of the nature and impact of anchoring.

Central Asia knew several important nodes of (global) interaction during this period of Antiquity. Traditionally, most attention has been paid to the founding of the Indo-Greek Kingdoms in Gandhara (2nd cent. BCE), but “Greek” objects are evident from a much wider range of the ancient archaeological record. They seem to be particularly related to the trade networks often referred to as the Early Silk Roads, up to the 4th century CE. Originally most of these finds were categorized as Greco-Buddhist, based on their apparent combination of Hellenistic and Buddhist elements. This category is a product, however, of 19th-century Western scholarship with a predominantly Greek-centred view on the data. A different approach is needed that encompasses the processes of cultural interplay as they can be diagnosed from the full scope of the archaeological record and the historical context from Central Asia during this period. It is expected that such an analysis, within the frame of the dynamic nature of culture contact as well as the complexity of connectivity processes (as opposed to traditional cultural categorizations), will yield an entirely new view on the reasons behind the anchoring of these diverse elements within Central Asia, its wide-ranging trade networks, as well as their subsequent impact. We are looking for a Postdoc who will initiate and carry out a research project that will develop this alternative approach, preferably based on earlier research in this domain. We invite you to present us with a research proposal of 1500 words of this project (excluded are the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4)).

The project will be carried out under the Anchoring Innovation program of the Dutch scholars of Greco-Roman antiquity. For a full description of the Anchoring Innovation Program see:

Host institution

Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology, Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology.

The future of the past begins in Leiden. The Faculty of Archaeology is internationally leading in its research, and is home to a broad array of specializations and notable for the strong connection it fosters between teaching and research. Home to over 500 students in the multidisciplinary world of Archaeology, the faculty and its researchers from all areas of the archaeological field determine the future of archaeological research. The Faculty ranks in the top ten worldwide in academic reputation and research impact (

Caspar Reuvens, the world’s first Professor of Archaeology, was a prominent classical scholar and from his appointment in 1818 onwards Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology has been an important field of research in Leiden. The research of our current group concentrates on new synergies developing in the Ancient World due to processes of connectivity, including cultural and imperial expansion, roughly in the period between 500 BC – AD 500. We study these processes on different scales (local, regional and Eurasian/global) within a vast geographical space (covering Europe, Asia and Africa) and through different techniques (space syntax, survey, remote sensing, excavation, advanced geographical information techniques and statistical analysis, material culture studies, comparative and theoretical studies). Our successes in obtaining grants makes Leiden Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology into a vibrant research group with many international PhDs and Postdocs. (…)

Terms and conditions

Postdoc project, 30 months (1.0 fte, 38 hours per week), starting date April 1 2022.

Salary range from € 3.746,- to € 5.127,- gross per month for a fulltime appointment 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:

  • To develop and carry out an innovative research project within the framework described above;
  • To present research results at national and international conferences and workshops as required by the project leader (individual and/or co-authored);
  • To submit research results for publication in peer-reviewed journals (individual and/or co-authored) and /or a monograph as required by the project leader;
  • To assist with the organisation of a conference on the subject and its publication;
  • To participate in the host institution, the national research school OIKOS, and the wider Anchoring Innovation program.


The project seeks to employ a highly motivated and proactive candidate who will need to work both independently and as part of a larger team.

A successful PD candidate should preferably have:

  • A PhD in (Classical & Mediterranean) Archaeology or (Ancient) History or Classics or another relevant discipline, held by time of appointment;
  • Preferably some years of (independent) research experience;
  • Research and publication record showing experience with both Classical/Mediterranean Archaeology and Asian Archaeology;
  • Experience with research on cultural dynamics or globalisation in the ancient world;
  • Very good oral and written skills in English;
  • Strong writing and analytical skills;
  • Willingness to engage in collaborative research.


The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Prof. Dr. Miguel John Versluys, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort,


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

o Letter of motivation;

o CV, including list of publications and contact information of two referees;

o Transcript of records (i.e. BA and MA grades);

o Your research proposal of 1500 words. Excluded are the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);

o Copy of relevant diploma;

Please submit your complete application to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring programme, via before Sept. 1, 2021.

Interviews will be held online on Thursday September 23 or Friday September 24 2021