Research

Reconfiguring Diaspora

This project focuses on how and why the Jewish diaspora communities of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East got caught up in a process of social, political, institutional, and cultural marginalisation during the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.   

Anchoring Innovation

Innovation is a central theme in science and society. Classicists, who collectively study ancient societies as a whole, are in an excellent position to observe how innovation can affect all societal domains. Research has also shown that the ‘human factor' is crucial in converting inventions and new ideas into successful and actualised innovation. New possibilities need to be embedded in societal practices. New ideas need to fit the thoughts, knowledge, beliefs, convictions and understanding of human actors. Human beings have certain ways of conceptualising their world, and talking and communicating about it, and different groups will react differently to the same new information. Knowledge about such issues, which is crucial to successful innovation, can be provided by the Social Sciences and the Humanities. Read more about the Anchoring Innovation project

  • Project members: Prof. Ineke Sluiter (Leiden University), Prof. André Lardinois (Radboud University), Prof. Josine Blok (UU), et al.
  • Duration: 2018 - 2028
  • Funding: NWO / Gravitation Grant
Diaspora, Migration, and the Sciences

Over the last two decades, new investigative technologies in the area of DNA (ancient and modern) and stable isotope analysis have revolutionized our knowledge of how modern populations relate to their ancestors. Seeking to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences, this project promotes the integrated use of technologies from both sides of the divide to come to a new understanding of the long-term dynamics of human migration in the ancient and medieval worlds (Near East, Mediterranean, Western Europe).

  • Project Leader: Prof. Leonard V. Rutgers
  • Project Members: Prof. Harry Ostrer (New York) and Prof. Tracy Prowse (McMaster)
  • Partners: An international research consortium that varies in composition according to the sites and data included
  • Duration: 2017 - 2023
  • Funding: NIAS, Lorentz Center, external funders
PEACE: Portal of Epigraphy, Archaeology, Conservation and Education on Jewish Funerary Culture

When studying the history of a people one may learn a myriad of details from the ways in which they chose to remember - and consequently immortalize - their dead. These details, best summarized by the term “funerary culture”, are found at the heart of the PEACE project. We aim to create a major hub for the study of Jewish funerary culture through the ages. By merging several databases into one uniformly structured portal, it becomes possible to identify patterns over time and space. The PEACE portal brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines: epigraphy (which is the project’s initial focus), but also funerary archaeology, cultural and religious studies, conservation and cultural heritage, and providers of education.

Anchoring Empire in the Hellenistic City

This research project focuses on the political institutions of the Seleucid Empire. It addresses the broader question how empires - by their very nature extensive composite states, created through conquest and characterized by internal political and cultural diversity - are held together.

Thorikos Fieldwork Project, Greece

This archaeological survey and excavation project seeks to throw new light on the origins of the Greek polis in general and the institutional history of ancient Athens, with special emphasis on the religious dimension of this phenomenon. Read more on the project website.

  • Project Leader: Dr Floris van den Eijnde
  • Partners: Prof. R. Docter (Ghent University), Dr W. van der Put (Nederlands Instituut Athene) and Dr K. van Liefferinge (Stanford University)
  • Duration: 2012 - 2018
  • Funding: various sources
Borderlands

This research project focuses on the development and evolution of the city of Rome’s borderland in relation to the expansion of the Roman Empire.

Women and wealth in classical Athens

On the current scholarly view, women citizens in Athens had no property of their own and notably could not dispense of more than the value of one medimnos of barley (ca. three drachmae) without the consent of their legal guardian (kyrios). This view is based on a law quoted by the orator Isaeus (10.10). However, there is plenty of evidence pointing in a different direction. Archaeological, epigraphical and literary evidence features numerous women who apparently independently and without much ado dispense of hundreds and even thousands of drachmae to others. What is going on here? What is the relation between the law to which Isaeus refers to what we see happening according to this other evidence? Was the law, which has an archaic look about it, a dead letter by the classical era?

  • Project Leader: Prof. Josine Blok
  • Partners: Dr Helle Hochscheid (University College Roosevelt), students of the RM Ancient Studies: Alma Kant and Alexandros Mourtzos
  • Duration: 2017 - 2021
San Gregorio al Celio, Rome, Italy

This excavation project looks into the material origins and institutional development of early Christianity in Rome, and deals with issues of cultural heritage management.

  • Project Leader: Prof. Leonard V. Rutgers
  • Partner: Archaeological Superintendency Rome
  • Duration: 2014 - 2020
  • Funding: Utrecht University Fund
The Justice of Allotment: selection for office by lot in ancient Greece and modern democracies

In the Greek poleis and especially in democratic Athens many political offices were assigned by allotment. How could this procedure be considered just? Here, comparison with modern democracies is again relevant. Today, many initiatives are emerging to introduce or expand sortition (decision making) or allotment (selection) by lot, aiming at the kind of strong engagement today as it used to be common among citizens of Athens. But is this going to work? What conditions must be met to make introduction of allotment a success?

  • Project Leader: Prof. Josine Blok
  • Duration: 2016 - 2021
  • Funding: part of the Gravity Project Anchoring Innovation
Feasting in the ancient Greek world: negotiating institutional innovation

In the ancient world, feasts were the crucial place where institutional innovation was negotiated, expressed and disseminated. Comparative anthropological and historical analysis illuminates how feasts act as a driving force of social interaction, with the communal consumption of food and drink serving as a tool for status negotiation. Read more.

Archaic Greece and the Ancient Near East

Many aspects of the development of the Greek poleis appear in a different way when understood in the wider context of the history of West Asia and the (Eastern) Mediterranean. In this project early Greek laws are being investigated - in particular the laws of Solon - from this perspective, in collaboration with Assyriologist Julia Krul (ULeiden).

  • Project Leader: Prof. Josine Blok
  • Duration: 2016 - 2022
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Late Ancient Art and Archaeology Project

This project is producing a comprehensive and up-to-date scholarly guide to the current state of affair in late antique archaeology through the collaboration of more than 50 specialists worldwide.

  • Project Leader: Prof. Leonard V. Rutgers
  • Partners: Dr N. Christie (University of Leicester), Prof. R. Jensen (Vanderbilt University) and Prof. J. Magness (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • Duration: 2012 - 2015