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Anchoring Religious Change in Late Antiquity

Postdoc project (3 years, 1.0 fte), Radboud University
Anchoring Work Package 11: Long Late Antiquity

Prof. dr. Olivier Hekster

Salary range
Between € 3.821,- and € 5.230,- gross per month, depending on education and experience.

Job description
The abandonment of polytheism in favour of Christianity was a momentous change in the history of Roman religion and one that must have been visible in the whole of the Roman Empire. Throughout the previous centuries, a wide range of gods and ritual practices had dominated Roman civil life and the urban landscape. The various temples and monuments for divinities and the locations where rituals were enacted were an integral part of the memory-scape that surrounded the inhabitants of the Roman Empire. Of course that religious memory-scape was not static. Roman religious life consisted to a large extent of gods and rituals which had at one stage or another been perceived as foreign imports. Moreover, the (physical and mental) position of existent gods and practices in the urban landscape was far from stable. So though the shift to monotheism was new, fluidity in religious life was not.

This project aims to look at ways in which new religious ideas and practices were adopted and adapted into the Roman monumental landscape in late Antiquity. Christianity (in its developing forms) was the foremost of these, but Manichaeism and the early Islam also had their impact. How were new divinities and new religious practices and hierarchies anchored through objects and monuments that people encountered on a daily basis? Was recognizable imagery used to make innovative notions acceptable and understandable to the inhabitants of the Roman Empire or was a new iconography developed? Were patterns of earlier religious innovations copied? Which ideas or practices were kept, or re-invented? Which were rejected or reformed? Could fluidity itself form an anchor? How, in other words, were contemporary religious experiences anchored in existent traditions in the cities of the Roman Empire?

The project will make a study of the way in which new religious notions were anchored through objects in the various urban structures of the Roman Empire. These of course include the cities of Rome and Constantinople but also explicitly smaller cities in other parts of the Empire, such as Carthage, Dura Europos, Ephesus, or Hippo Regius. The project can choose to analyse the role of monumental buildings, but also of smaller objects such as coins or household sculpture, or of ritual.

Candidates are invited to propose a research project that further explores this theme. The results are to be laid down in at least three substantial articles that employ the concept of anchoring in the context of the religious changes that took place in late antiquity. These articles should also make a contribution towards a better understanding of the concept of ‘anchoring’. More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the website (, including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Host institution
Radboud University, Nijmegen, Faculty of Arts, Radboud Institute of History and Culture (RICH). For more information see: Faculty of Arts - Faculty of Arts ( and RICH - Radboud Institute for Culture & History (

Terms and conditions
Postdoc project, 3 years (1.0 fte, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2022. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 2 years on condition of a positive evaluation. Salary range (depending on education and experience) of a minimum of € 3.821,- and a maximum of € 5.230,- (salary scale 11) gross per month for full-time employment, (pay scale for postdoctoral researchers, in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities). This includes medical and pension benefits. If desired, the position may be held part-time and thereby extended in length. Radboud University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • Researching, writing and publishing three research papers;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Radboud ancient and medieval history team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching (max. 20%);
  • Participation in the academic community of the national research school OIKOS, and the wider Anchoring Innovation project.


  • A PhD in Ancient History or Classical Archaeology, preferably on a related topic;
  • An excellent research and publication record in relation to stage of career;
  • A strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • Some organizational experience;
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English;
  • Competence in ancient Greek and/or Latin, as required by the research topic;
  • Willingness to move to Nijmegen for the duration of the fellowship.

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. Olivier Hekster ( Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort (

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 a list of publications and distinctions, and the contact information of two academic referees;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a list of BA and MA courses and grades);
  • 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 or a statement by the supervisor that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of the appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-program via before April 24, 2022. Interviews will take place in the week of 30 May – 3 June 2022 and will possibly be held online.