PhD Position

(PhD) Anchoring Greek Institutions and Greek Cultural Practices in Ptolemaic Egypt

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Radboud University
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort
+31(0)24 3611276

Anchoring Greek Institutions and Greek Cultural Practices in Ptolemaic Egypt

Anchoring WP8: Hellenization’ and ‘Romanization’ in Ptolemaic Egypt, Central & Western Asia and Greece

PhD Position (4 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University

Main Supervisors: Prof. dr Luuk de Ligt, Dr Rens Tacoma, Dr Miko Flohr

Salary Range: between € 2.541 and € 3.247 gross per month

Project Description

New practices and ideas that affect social life cannot thrive unless they are somehow embedded in the society for which they are intended. Innovation will always be connected somehow—both in the ways it is communicated and perceived, and in terms of content—to what people know, believe, want, value, and can understand. This is true even of radical, path-breaking, ‘revolutionary’ ideas and insights. This phenomenon of ‘anchoring’ is central to the current research agenda of the Dutch classicists and ancient historians.

Ptolemaic Egypt is a key context for the study of ‘anchoring’ practices. The foundation of Alexandria in 331 BCE and the establishment of the Ptolemaic kingdom a couple of decades later marked the beginning of a period in which Greek ideas, practices and models began to penetrate Egyptian society on a large scale. For example, Egyptian nome capitals and even larger villages started to become embellished with Greek style gymnasiums. At the same time, Egyptian practices and models also continued to flourish, and could be embraced by the new Greek elite: the Ptolemies invested heavily in Egyptian style temples. This raises the question of how, and to which extent, ‘Greek’ practices became anchored in Egyptian society at large, and how this ‘Greekness’ may have been redefined in the process. For instance, we can observe the spread of Greek funerary inscriptions, employing a discourse and concepts that were widely shared in the Mediterranean world, but it is not entirely clear to what extent the practice to write Greek epitaphs remained confined to Greek immigrants, or also was adopted by Egyptians.

This PhD project will explore how Greek practices or ideas became embedded in Egyptian society. We particularly invite proposals dealing with the spread of Greek-style urbanism and architecture or with long-term changes in funerary practices, but we are open to proposals focusing on processes of anchoring in other fields of cultural practice in Ptolemaic Egypt, if they start from the theoretical perspectives informing the ‘Anchoring Innovation’ project.

Call for PhD project

PhD candidates are invited to design a structured proposal of their own (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, sources) dealing with the ‘anchoring’ of Greek institutions or practices in Ptolemaic Egypt. The primary chronological focus of the project must be on the three centuries between 331 and 31 BCE, but projects may also take into account developments of the early imperial period. In their proposal, candidates should outline their suggested approach, main research question(s), and expected original contribution to the field. More information about this program can be found on the website ( Another good starting point to get acquainted with the research program is an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Host Institution

The Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University is an 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 over 6,000 students and 800 staff members.

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.

Terms and Conditions

PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2023. Initially the employee will receive an 18 month contract, with extension for the following 30 months on condition of a positive evaluation. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2.541 to € 3.247 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

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, please visit 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 PhD candidate will include:

  • Completion of a PhD thesis within the contract period;
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training programme of the local Leiden Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS), as well as Anchoring Innovation Expert Meetings and Conferences;
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden History team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.


  • A RMA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics or in (Ancient) History, held by time of appointment, with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
  • 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;
  • Good competence in ancient Greek and English, as well as reading competence in French, German and other languages relevant to the project;
  • Independent thinker, team player;
  • Grit.


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. Luuk de Ligt ( We strongly recommend candidates to contact the supervisor prior to submitting their proposal. We have deliberately scheduled a long period between this announcement and the deadline for submission so that candidates have ample time to prepare their projects. 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 certified copy of your MA and BA courses and results);
  • 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 master thesis 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, 2023. Interviews will take place in the week of 22-26 May 2023 (online).