Gepubliceerd op 10-10-2019

PhD candidate project Medical Innovation in Early Hellenistic Alexandria (Anchoring Work Package 5, Technology, Science, and Material Culture) (1.0 FTE, 4 years)

Alexandria in the early Hellenistic period was a hothouse of innovation in a variety of fields: politics, religion, literature, science, and technology. This project is concerned with the innovations associated with two medical theorists and practitioners in particular: Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Ceos, both active in Alexandria during the first half of the 3rd century BC. How did they build on, adapt, and break away from earlier models of human biology, most notably the one represented by Aristotle and his school? What motivated their innovative work? What made it possible? A salient case is represented by human anatomy: both men engaged in the dissection of human (as opposed to animal) bodies, regarding anatomy and physiology as fundamental to (clinical) medicine. What explains the emergence of dissection of human bodies as an integral part of medicine, in spite of traditional religious and moral scruples as well as scientific objections? And its abandonment soon after Herophilus and Erasistratus? A fresh perspective may be gained by studying this case of attempted innovation in terms of anchoring. Next to medicine itself, social, moral, and religious aspects need to be taken into account. Applicants are invited to respond creatively to the problem as described above and develop their own proposal (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) for a research project dealing with Alexandrian medicine from a historical perspective.

More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the OIKOS website, including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Tasks of the PhD candidate will include:

  • completion of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • 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 National Research School OIK.


We are looking for a colleague who has:

  • a Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics, Ancient History, History of Philosophy or Science or Medicine, with a demonstrable interest in ancient medicine, such as a relevant MA-thesis, held by the time of appointment (if the degree is not yet obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained by time of appointment);
  • excellent research skills;
  • a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • excellent command of English.

Conditions of employment
We offer a temporary position for 4 years (1.0 FTE), the starting date of which is yet to be agreed, but with a preference for 1 April 2020. Initially a contract will be given for 18 months. An extension for the following 30 months will be granted on the condition of a good performance as well as a positive evaluation. The gross salary starts at €2,325 in the first year, increasing to €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) for a fulltime employment.

Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model).  More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

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 societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 6,000 students and 900 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 housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

Additional information
More information about this position may be obtained from Prof Teun Tieleman, t.l.tieleman@uu.nl. Questions about the procedure can be directed to Aniek van den Eersten, anchoring@let.ru.nl.


Het KNHG is de grootste organisatie van professionele historici in Nederland. Het biedt een platform aan de ruim 1100 leden en aan de historische gemeenschap als geheel. Word lid van het KNHG.
Het Huygens Instituut beoogt de Nederlandse geschiedenis en cultuur inclusiever maken. Het ontsluit historische bronnen en literaire teksten en ontwikkelt innovatieve methoden, tools en duurzame digitale infrastructuur.