WP 10: Cultural Common Ground in the Roman Empire (31 BCE - 200 CE)

(Postdoc) Anchoring Technological Innovation in the Northwestern Provinces of the Roman Empire

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Radboud University
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Dr. Sven Betjes

Postdoc project (3 years, 1.0 fte), Radboud University
Anchoring Work Package 10: Cultural common ground in the Roman Empire (31 BCE-200 CE).

Prof. dr. Stephan Mols (Radboud University) and Prof. dr. Astrid Van Oyen (Radboud University)

Salary range
A minimum of € 4.332,- and a maximum of € 5.929,-, including full benefits.

Job description

From glass blowing to building in concrete, several technological innovations date to the Roman period. These innovations had important social, cultural, and economic consequences. Glass blowing greatly sped up the production process, making glass tableware accessible to consumers across social strata. Concrete construction encouraged development of new building forms such as vaulted spaces, which in turn shaped social dynamics and political statements. When it comes to the northwestern provinces, however, technological innovation can appear rather less radical and consist of, for instance, the use of a gravel substrate for roads or the scaling up of rooftile production. The impact of those technological innovations has tended to be read in terms of a cultural convergence, aspiration, or domination (“Romanization”). Both the nature and consequences of innovations are thus evaluated from a Romano-centric perspective. Examining instead how technological innovations in the northwestern provinces made use of local social and technical building blocks can unlock different perspectives on how innovation worked and what its social, economic, and cultural consequences were for the provinces.

Relevant questions include: What was the role of local conditions and pre-existing techniques in the introduction and acceptance of the new? How was knowledge transferred and who were involved as principals, contractors, artisans and investors? Did new technologies persist after the Romans left the northern regions, and if so, in what form? To what extent did technological innovation contribute to local identity formation in the northwestern Roman world?

The advertised position is part of the research program in classical studies ‘Anchoring Innovation’, which studies the way in which people regard and cope with ‘the new’ by looking at the role of ‘the old’ or ‘the familiar’ as an anchoring device in processes of innovation, transition and transformation. More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the website (www.anchoringinnovation.nl) and in an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda” (Anchoring Innovation: A Classical Research Agenda | European Review | Cambridge Core).

We invite structured PD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) in which candidates focus on questions regarding the local anchors of technological innovations in the northwestern provinces of the Roman Empire. We particularly welcome proposals that combine empirical or scientific analyses with a conceptual 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 (ru.nl) and RICH - Radboud Institute for Culture & History (ru.nl)

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, 2024. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following two years on condition of a positive evaluation. Salary range from of a minimum of € 4.332,- and a maximum of € 5.929,- (salary scale 11) gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for Postdocs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). This includes medical and pension benefits. If desired, the position may be held part-time and thereby extended in length to 31 December 2027 at the latest.

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. Please note that if the successful candidate is not already registered as living in the Netherlands, it is required that the candidate will officially relocate to the Netherlands on the starting date of the contract at the latest.

Tasks of the postdoctoral researcher will include:

  • Completion of at least three substantial articles within the contract period;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Radboud Classics program and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching (to be discussed)


  • A PhD-degree in Classics, Roman Archaeology or Ancient History, or comparable fields (if the degree is not yet obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s PhD-supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained by time of appointment);
  • an excellent track record of research and publication in relation to the career stage;
  • an excellent command of English in oral and written form, as well as reading competence in French, German and Dutch;
  • competence in the methodology of humanities research and willingness to think conceptually;
  • a commitment to team science within an international context;
  • willingness to move to the Netherlands for the duration of the position.


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. Stephan Mols, stephan.mols@ru.nl. Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr Sven Betjes, anchoring@let.ru.nl.


In order to be considered, 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;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a list of BA and MA courses);
  • 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 Sven Betjes, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme via anchoring@let.ru.nl before April 15, 2024. If you are invited for an interview, this will take place on May 23rd, 2024 (presumably online).