Friday, November 17, 2017

Academic Position Opening

ERC-project REDHIS – position for a post-doctoral researcher:

"Studio delle opere giuridiche romane nella Tarda Antichità: manoscritti e papiri" "A study of Roman legal writings in Late Antiquity: manuscripts and papyri".

Deadline for application: November 27th, 2017

The research project REDHIS (“Rediscovering the Hidden Structure. A New Appreciation of Juristic Texts and Patterns of Thought in Late Antiquity”) is opening a position for a post-doctoral researcher. The appointment will be for two years.

REDHIS is an interdisciplinary research project hosted by the Universit√† di Pavia (Italy) and funded by an ERC-advanced grant (Principal Investigator: Prof. Dario Mantovani; Senior Staff: Prof. Luigi Pellecchi). The project studies the continued existence of a high-level legal culture in Late Antiquity, as shown among other things by the copying and continued use of the writings of the classical jurists. A comprehensive understanding of legal culture includes therefore the study of the transmission of these texts and the reception of their contents. To learn more about the REDHIS Project, visit our website at

In line with the goals of the project, the appointee will be asked to contribute several well-researched chapters, written in English, to an extensive collaborative volume on the circulation, use, and reception of Roman juristic writings in Late Antiquity. Depending on her/his precise qualifications, the appointee may also be asked to contribute to the project’s annotated corpus of juristic papyri.

In pursuing her/his research, the appointed applicant will be supervised by the Principal Investigator. She/he will collaborate with other staff and post-doctoral researchers in an interdisciplinary working group. Place of work: University of Pavia, Pavia (Italy).

Preference will be given to applicants who hold a PhD awarded by a University from outside Italy, with a doctoral dissertation in one of the following scholarly areas: Classical Philology, Palaeography, Papyrology, Ancient History, Latin, and/or Roman law. The doctoral dissertation has to show that the applicant is competent in and comfortable with applying a philological approach to the study of Roman legal texts, in Latin and Greek, in order to contribute fruitfully to the research objectives of REDHIS. We are looking for someone with experience in writing in (and translating into) English.

The closing date for applications is 27 November 2017. Applicants are advised to make sure that their applications comply with Italian regulations as laid out in the official “bando” of this post, which can be found in Italian and English at

In case you have any questions or require assistance of any kind with the formalities, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Matthijs Wibier (

Further informal enquiries may  be directed to Prof. Dario Mantovani (

Interesting Quora

I answer questions on Quora as someone who understands Ancient History. It’s been an interesting experience, because the readers over there are less knowledgeable about the subject matter than the people that come here. They also have different agendas. I’ve answered 160 questions since May and there are many new questions each day about ancient history.

The questions break themselves down into about four categories: Really good ones, what ifs, time machine, and do my homework.

An example of a really good question is “Why didn’t Caesar choose Marc Antony as his successor?” That person had read the history but what seemed obvious to him, wasn’t.

What ifs are questions about changing an event in ancient history. For example, “What if Caesar hadn’t been assassinated. Would the Republic have survived? Most of these are easy to answer because important trends in history develop their own momentum, which cannot be stopped by changing a single event. The Republic was doomed to fail because of inevitable failure of the Senate to control the entire landscape of the Republic.

Time machine questions are my favorites and are usually good for a laugh. For example, if the American Army went back to the ancient world, could they have defeated the Spartans? Or a variation of this is “If the Spartans had AK47s, would they have controlled all of Greece?” 

The last, and most egregious type of question is “Do my homework.” For example, “Give the three most important reasons why the Roman Empire fell and write them in complete sentences.” LOL.