Postdoc Sacrality in Archaic and Classical Athens

Postdoc Sacrality in Archaic and Classical Athens

Published Deadline Location
29 Feb 15 Apr Utrecht

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We are looking for an enthusiastic researcher with a solid background in ancient history and archaeology. Something for you? Apply now!

Job description

We are looking for an enthusiastic researcher with a solid background in ancient history and archaeology and a proven track record in Archaic and Classical Greek religion (i.e., cults, sanctuaries, gods, polis religion, private cults, finance, priesthoods, etc.).

Your job
Sacrality in Archaic and Classical Athens: Anchoring Religious Innovation in Sacred Places

Sanctuaries were the venues par excellence where innovative ideas about human interactions and identities were publicly advertised and anchored in the sacred environment. The neutral space provided by the temenē of the gods was a fertile ground for communication between various groups both within and beyond Athens. They were authoritative centres where appropriate behaviour was both displayed and enacted. As nodes within a wider local, regional, or international network, Athenian 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 “sacrality”, sacred narratives and notions that could be expressed through a wide variety of media, i.e., inscriptions, architecture, dedications, ritual acts, and feasting practices. Normative adjustments were constantly expressed in sacral terms in order to give them transformative societal force. In turn, sacrality informed the design, organisation and iconography of sacred monuments and buildings, the objects stored within them, as well as the inscriptions that were written on them.

If sacrality actively shaped the relations between humans in the context of a wider religious framework, the inherent ethical framework was nevertheless meant to be stable and unchangeable. Yet change it 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.

This project poses the question how societal ideas were anchored in the sacred landscape of Athens. Various related questions include:
  • How was sacrality used to anchor innovative notions of political status and cultural identity?
  • How did sacrality help to bring such changes in line with ancestral customs (κατὰ τὰ πάτρια)?
  • 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?

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 in Greek religion (e.g. cults, sanctuaries, gods, polis religion, private cults, religious finance, priesthoods, etc.). The successful candidate is prepared to assist in the organisation of workshops and conferences and the writing of grant proposals. You will be embedded in the UU research group Sacrality and the Greek Polis and work together with researchers in Work Package 7 of the Anchoring Innovation project (Philosophy of Religion) and members of the Oikos research group Cultural Interactions in the Ancient World.


Utrecht University


We are looking for a candidate who has:
  • a PhD in Ancient History, Mediterranean Archaeology or a related field;
  • the skills to write up research work for publication and engage in conferences, seminars, and public dissemination;
  • intimate knowledge of Archaic and Classical Greek sanctuaries and religion;
  • research experience regarding Archaic and Classical Greek Athens and Attica;
  • preferably expertise in one or more of the following areas: GIS, data management software, Ancient Greek language, handling archaeological objects.

Candidates from abroad must fulfill the conditions set by the IND to work in the Netherlands.

Utrecht University is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We welcome all employees who contribute to the diversity of our faculty through their unique backgrounds and perspectives.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for 24 months;
  • a working week of 32 hours and a gross monthly salary between €4,332 and €4,640 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale 11 under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU));
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 1,100 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city centre of Utrecht, where the faculty is located, contribute to an inspiring working environment.


  • Postdoc
  • Behaviour and society
  • 28—32 hours per week
  • €4332—€5929 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 3671



Drift 6, 3512BS, Utrecht

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