New grant to study the centuries-long functioning of the Roman economy through ceramics, road networks and computational modelling

Soooooo happy I got awarded a Sapere Aude research leader grant by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. This is like a Danish starting grant, allowing early career researchers to pursue their research interests for four years under great conditions (roughly 6.2 million DKK: 800.000EUR). This will allow me to do what I think the study of the Roman economy really needs: quantitative identification and description of centuries-long patterns in ceramics data, creation of a high-detail Roman transport network, and formal evaluation of theories that could explain these data patterns. I simply can’t wait to get my teeth into this work! Especially because it’s a collaboration with the amazing Pau de Soto for Roman roads, Vinnie Nørskov for museology and outreach, Andrew Wilson for Roman economy studies, and Adéla Sobotkova for archaeological data analysis. More news about this project will follow (and read our announcement on the UrbNet and DFF websites), but here’s a short description of the project:

MINERVA will explore how a massive integrated economy like the Roman Empire evolved over centuries, by combining archaeological ceramics and the Roman transport network in computational simulation experiments. The project will run for four years from 2021, and will apply UrbNet’s relational perspecitve to the study of the Roman economy.

At its peak the Roman Empire covered an area similar in size to the European Union, uniting almost 100 million inhabitants. But similarities do not end here: the different peoples, languages and religions within the Empire were united under a single political system with the Roman Emperor at its head, they used the same money, followed the same trade regulations, and were subject to the same legal system. Archaeologists uncover evidence that show the ups and downs of this bustling economy. Amphora containers, for example, were used for centuries to move vast quantities of necessities such as grain from Egypt or olive oil from Spain to the capital of Rome and everywhere else in the Empire. For centuries, the flow of goods and traders along the first European transport network went virtually uninterrupted, despite limited means of communication, and transport technology and infrastructure making sea and road voyages slow and dangerous.

The material remains they left behind offer us a unique glimpse at how huge integrated economies can change and evolve over centuries. But understanding how these complex economic processes emerge from everyday behaviour of individual Romans is not a mean feat. To make this possible, this project combines state-of-the-art computer simulations, archaeological ceramics evidence, and a detailed model of the Roman road network for the first time.

MINERVA addresses three challenges related to ceramics data, Roman roads and centuries-long simulations. First, what changes are visible over periods of centuries in the distribution and consumption of Roman plates, cups, bowls and containers? And what do they reveal about the long-term functioning of the Roman economy? MINERVA aims to quantitatively identify such patterns. Second, what was the structure of the Roman transport network through which such goods were distributed? We currently do not have a highly detained model of this network, and MINERVA aims to create this. And third, How does one simulate aspects of a large economy over a period of centuries? This has never been done before because for other large economies, like the integrated markets of the EU or the US, we simply do not have data for such long timespans. This will be an exciting challenge to explore that will benefit from collaboration with economic historians.

Funding: Pelagios small grants

Last year, Pau de Soto and I received a Pelagios small grant to develop Itiner-e . This small support allowed for the creation of a software platform and to explore an experimental idea related to linked open data. It was great, and created a whole new research line for me. I strongly encourage members of this list to propose projects for a small grant, it’s a great initiative. Check out more projects on the Pelagios blog

Via Elton Barker:

We are happy to announce for 2019 a new series of small grants to fund continued development within the scope of Pelagios in the form of:
  • Resource Development (RD) grants, which aim to produce digital resources that are compatible with Pelagios linked data methodologies and that can be shared within the community;
  • Working Groups (WG), which focus on extending Pelagios linked data methodologies into new areas, and/or establishing best practice within the community.
Proposals for both RD and WGs will be judged according to their relevance to and usefulness for the wider Pelagios community. Deadline for all submissions is 1 April 2019.
If you are interested in either of these small grants schemes, please read carefully the following call and the related list of criteria below. Details can also be found on the Pelagios blog.
Please feel free to share widely. Any questions, email us:

Digital history fellowships in Luxembourg

The following opportunity for a research visit in Luxembourg sounds like a great opportunity. The University of Luxembourg has a huge new research group specialised in Digital History, making it an inspiring place with lots of opportunities.

Via the HNR list and Marten Düring:

C²DH offers several fellowships for visiting researchers: for PhD candidates, Post-Docs and Senior Researchers.

By Marten Düring on Dec 18, 2018 08:56 am

This might be of interest for people on this list as well, C2DH is a truly exciting and pleasant place to work. Feel free to contact me for more info,
The Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) is the University of Luxembourg’s third interdisciplinary research centre, focusing on high-quality research, analysis and public dissemination in the field of contemporary history. It promotes an interdisciplinary approach with a particular focus on new digital methods and tools for historical research and teaching.To promote international exchanges and collaborations in the field of contemporary and digital history, the C²DH offers several fellowships for visiting researchers: for PhD candidates, Post-Docs and Senior Researchers. Applicants are expected to pursue their own research. However applicants whose interests relate to the research priorities of the C²DH will be preferred. Fellowship holders will be assigned to a research department and asked to present their current project in a seminar or colloquium.

The fellowships carry a monthly grant between 1500 € and 3000 € (depending on whether the applicant benefits from other institutional funding or not) and should ideally have a duration of 3 months. The funding is supposed to cover all expenses including travel, housing, and insurance. Fellows are expected to reside in Luxembourg or the Greater Region. The C²DH will provide office space and other relevant facilities.

The application deadline is 1 February 2019. Decisions will be announced not later than end of February 2019. Applications can be in English, German or French and must include a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications and a project proposal not exceeding 1500 words.


PhD funding correspondence networks

A great opportunity for a funded PhD in historical network research. More info here and below.

As part of an innovative collaboration between Oxford and the Sorbonne, the Cultures of Knowledge’s Early Modern Letters Online project has announced that applications for a three-year fully funded fellowship are being accepted currently from students wishing to pursue doctoral studies in the history of science, in mathematical sciences, in digital humanities, or in computer science.

Call for applications:

The successful candidate’s PhD thesis will involve the scholarly study of correspondence networks from the perspective of both the history of sciences and the digital humanities. In particular, the student should consider how to structure a corpus made up of networks of interconnected correspondence data; the new research questions for the history of science that arise from such a corpus; the methodologies that can be put in place to answer these questions; and the extent to which the development of suitable digital analysis and research tools might contribute to the exploration of this type of corpus.

The doctoral fellowship is part of a scientific collaboration between the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University and the Faculty of History of the University of Oxford. The candidate will work in the Digital Humanities team at the Institut des sciences du calcul et des données (ISCD) of Sorbonne University (Paris, France) and will carry out a period of research at the University of Oxford (UK) within the framework of the Cultures of Knowledge research project/Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO]. An association either with Oxford’s Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology or with the Mathematical Instituteis possible during the stay.

The doctoral fellow will benefit from a three-year funding by the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University. The candidate must have a strong background in digital humanities, history of sciences, mathematics, or computer sciences. Competences in at least two of these fields will be particularly appreciated.

To apply, please send your c.v. and a description of your research project to: You may also e-mail Alexandre at this address for further information regarding the fellowship.

La thèse proposée porte sur l’étude intellectuelle des réseaux de correspondances du double point de vue de l’histoire des sciences et des humanités numériques. Il s’agira en particulier de se demander comment structurer un corpus constitué de réseaux de données de correspondances interconnectées, quelles questions nouvelles un tel corpus permet de se poser en histoire des sciences, quelles méthodologies mettre en place pour y répondre, et dans quelle mesure le développement d’outils numériques d’analyse et de recherche adaptés peut permettre de contribuer à l’exploration de ce type de corpus.

Cette thèse fait l’objet d’une collaboration scientifique entre la Faculté des sciences et ingénierie de Sorbonne Université et l’équipe EMLO de l’Université d’Oxford. Le candidat travaillera dans l’équipe « Humanités numériques » de l’Institut des sciences du calcul et des données (ISCD) de Sorbonne Université (Paris, France) et effectuera un séjour de recherche à l’Université d’Oxford (UK) dans le cadre du projet de recherche Cultures of Knowledge/Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO]. Une collaboration avec le Center for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology ou avec le Mathematical Institute d’Oxford sera possible durant ce séjour.

La thèse est financée pour trois ans par la Faculté des sciences et ingénierie de Sorbonne Université. Le candidat devra disposer d’une solide formation en humanités numériques, en histoire des sciences, en mathématiques ou en informatique. Une double compétence sera particulièrement appréciée.

Pour candidater, envoyez votre cv et le descriptif de votre projet de recherche à l’adresse Vous pouvez également écrire à cette adresse pour tout complément d’information sur la these.

PhD funding Ancient Near Eastern networks

The below PhD funding opportunity will be of interest to archaeologists/historians with an interest in network analysis and the ancient near east.

ANEE is pleased to announce we are looking for doctoral candidates.
Application text below, link here:

The Centre of Excellence in “Ancient Near Eastern Empires” (ANEE) at the
University of Helsinki will run from 2018-2025 and is directed by Dr.
Saana Svärd. ANEE asks: How do changing imperial dynamics impact social
group identities and lifeways over a millennium? ANEE covers the
Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, and early Roman /
Parthian Empires. ANEE engages with methodologically varied yet
integrated research on the long-term processes by which social group
identities and lifeways were negotiated. Taken together, the innovations
of ANEE are the integrated longue durée approach; and the methodological
innovativeness of each team (both separately and in collaboration).
There will be several recruitment calls for fixed term positions during
ANEE’s lifespan (doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, and
university researchers).

ANEE is now recruiting members for three teams which investigate
identity-building processes. Each team has a methodologically specific
approach yet collaborates on four work packages.

Applications are invited for DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS (1-3) for a fixed term
of up to 4 years, starting on or before 1 September 2018 to work in the
University of Helsinki. The successful candidates’ research projects
will focus on the goals of a team or teams. The applicant should
indicate to which team she/he is applying. The selected doctoral
candidates will need to apply for acceptance in the graduate school for
either the Faculty of Arts or Faculty of Theology in March 2018. Their
main duties will consist of PhD studies and writing of a dissertation.
As ANEE is deeply multidisciplinary, competence in more than one field
and/or proof of successful scientific collaboration will be considered
an advantage.

Team 1 “Digital Humanities Approaches” develops digital humanities
approaches (especially social network analysis and language technology),
using these to supplement the more traditional Assyriological
approaches. Team 1 is looking for applicants with a solid background in
Assyriology or a related field (within the chronological scope of ANEE) and/or skills in Digital Humanities that
can be put to use in relation to ANEE’s goals. Team 1 is led by Saana
Svärd (

Team 2 “Social Scientific Theory & Applications” tests and refines
theoretical models from the social sciences for ancient evidence,
integrating anthropological approaches to archaeology with sociological
readings of textual and archaeological evidence. Team 2 seeks students
with backgrounds in history of the Levant and/or the social sciences,
and especially with an interest in migration, forced labor, and/or elite
identities, and/or ancient historians of the Persian Empire with similar
profiles. Willingness to collaborate with other teams and multiple work
packages is desirable. Team 2 is led by Dr. Jason Silverman

Team 3 “Material Culture & Community Heritage” investigates the impact
of each empire on ancient local communities inhabiting the imperial
fringes and provides a sustainable future for this heritage. This it
does through an archaeological field survey program in the ancient
imperial fringe zone of southern Jordan and by developing a local
community outreach program there. Our work in Finland revolves around
promoting an understanding of Ancient Near Eastern heritage and
culture by developing a touring museum exhibition on the ancient Near
East. The team also aims to collaborate with the Finnish authorities to
further develop the policies and legislation regarding the trade in
illicit antiquities. Team 3 seeks doctoral candidates in ANE
archaeology, preferably with experience in GIS, remote sensing, and/or
satellite analysis. Team 3 is led by Dr. Antti Lahelma
(, who is also the vice-director of ANEE.

For more information on the three teams and the work packages, please

An appointee to the position of doctoral researcher must hold a Master’s
degree in a relevant field, and must subsequently be accepted as a
doctoral candidate in the graduate school in the Faculty of Arts and/or
Theology. The appointee must have the ability to conduct independent
scientific research. Teaching or teaching-related tasks will form 5 % of
the position. The candidate should have excellent analytical and
methodological skills, and be able to work both independently and
collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary scientific community. The
successful candidates are expected to have excellent skills in written
and oral English. Skills in Finnish or Swedish are not required.
Relocation costs can be negotiated and ANEE will offer help and
information for the practicalities, if needed.

ANEE is functioning in the Faculty of Arts (Teams 1 and 3) and in the
Faculty of Theology (Team 2), located in the City Centre Campus. The
city of Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, with a population of
ca. 600 000. It has been consistently ranked amongst the top cities in
the world for quality of living. Founded in 1640, the University of
Helsinki is an international academic community of 40,000 students and
staff members. It operates on four campuses in Helsinki and at 15
other locations.

The salary for the position will be based on level 2 of the demands
level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of
Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary
component based on personal performance. The salary is EUR 2,186-2,873
per month, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience.
The position will be filled with a 4 months trial period.

Applications should consist of the following English-language documents:
(1) CV including a possible list of publications (max. 3 pages)
(2) Contact information for two referees
(3) A research statement (max. 2000 words) consisting of
i) a brief description of previous experience, such as MA thesis
ii) a proposal for the PhD project that the applicant wants to conduct
in ANEE (including suggested dates for the project)
iii) a brief description of the plans for scientific cooperation
within ANEE, preferably specifying relevant team and work packages.

Further information on the position may be obtained from the team
leaders (see above) or the director Saana Svärd (

Please submit your application, together with the required attachments,
through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply
for job. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are
requested to send their application via the SAP HR portal. Deadline for
applications is 31 January 2018.

If you need assistance with the University’s electronic recruitment
system or SAP HR portal, please contact

Apply at latest 31.01.2018

Ap­ply link:

PhD position in Network Analysis for ERC project PALEODEM

The following PhD opportunity will be of interest to readers of this blog.

Deadline: 21 January 2018

More info:

The Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), invites applications for a 3-year PhD student position in Network Analysis within the scope of the project PALEODEM, Late Glacial and Postglacial Population History and Cultural Transmission in Iberia (c.15,000-8000 cal BP) – ERC Consolidator Grant Grant 2015 Ref. 683018 (PI: Javier Fernández-López de Pablo).

The PALEODEM research project aims to investigate changes on human demography and cultural transmission processes from the Late Magdalenian to the Late Mesolithic in the Iberian Peninsula, using a novel multi-scale methodological approach.

The PhD student will collect relational data, construct and analyse networks from them and model cultural dynamics on such networks. We look for an enthusiastic PhD student with a Prehistoric archaeology background, experience in network analysis and computational modelling and knowledge about database management.

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