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Egyptian Priests and the Anchoring of Greek Kings: Reframing Greek Honor in Ptolemaic Egypt

Postdoc project (3 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University
Anchoring Work Package 8: Hellenism

Prof. dr. Luuk de Ligt (Leiden) and Dr. Rens Tacoma (Leiden)

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

Job description
From Ptolemaic Egypt a number of priestly decrees survive in which honors are given to Ptolemaic kings, most notably in the famous trilingual decrees from Canopus, Raphia, and Rosetta. Traditionally these inscriptions have been studied from the perspective of Ptolemaic kingship, investigating on the basis of the titles of the kings the relationship between Pharaonic/Egyptian and Hellenistic/Greek elements in royal self-representation. Such analyses are part of a wider discussion about the extent to which in the Ptolemaic kingdom Egyptian and Greek culture remained sealed off from each other, especially in the field of religion.

It has been rightly observed, however, that the decrees were not instigated by the kings. This postdoc project moves the perspective away from the study of the interaction of two cultures. Instead, it studies the process of ‘becoming Greek’ not in general terms but by focusing on the behavior of a specific group of actors: the Egyptian priests who set up the decrees. Its starting point is the assumption that the honorific decrees should not primarily be read as royal propaganda, but as priestly texts in which members of Egyptian elites had to come to terms with the realities of power. After the advent of Alexander, Egyptian temple priests had to redefine their position in society. One of the ways to do so was to make symbolic statements about their relationship with the new ruler, and Greek epigraphic discourse suggested that the best way to do so was by conferring honors on him. At the same time the new kings had every reason to accept such honors, even if shrouded in concepts that were not entirely their own. The texts thus should be read as the outcome of symbolic negotiations between Ptolemaic kings and Egyptian priests, in which both parties formulated expectations of each other’s roles in a situation of asymmetrical power relations. The traditional Greek language of praise and honor offered common ground for both parties. It provided the priests with a mechanism to anchor themselves in a longstanding tradition, but at the same time in their multi-lingual decrees they adopted, adapted, and appropriated honorific discourse to their own ends. The result was a hybrid kind of political culture which provided a platform to explore the relation between Egyptian and Greek, between ruler and ruled, and between the old and the new.

Candidates for this postdoc position are invited to submit a structured proposal (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) around this topic. More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the website ( and in an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda.” This project has also been advertised and may be filled as a PhD position.

Host institution
The Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University is a unique international center for the advanced study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present. Our faculty is home to more than 6,000 students and 800 staff members. For more information see

The Leiden University Institute for History is responsible for the main part of the historical research carried out at Leiden University. The institute has a wide-ranging academic scope. Its strong international orientation and focus on the study of European, American, Asian and African societies in a global context give the institute a unique character. The academic leaders connected to the institute's research programs are internationally renowned scholars that engage in numerous networks, contribute to important conferences and publish with outstanding academic presses. More information about the Leiden University Institute for History see

Terms and conditions
Postdoc position, 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. Leiden 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. For more information:

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • Completion of a monograph or, alternatively, at least three substantial articles within three years (1,0 fte) or three years and seven months (0,8 fte);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training program of the local Leiden Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching (max. 20%);
  • Organization of at least one workshop.


  • A PhD in (Ancient) History or Classics or another relevant discipline (held by time of appointment);
  • An excellent research and publication record in relation to stage of career;
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Competence in ancient Greek and Demotic;
  • A strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • Some organizational experience.

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. Luuk de Ligt, 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 contact information of two 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 statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of 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.