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Postdoctoral Researcher in Achaemenid Elamite

Helsinki, Finland
Closing date
12 Jun 2024

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We are recruiting a team of researchers (four postdoctoral researchers and a PhD researcher) to collaborate in Dr. Jason Silverman’s ERC Advanced Grant Project "Work without End: Informal Taxation and Forced Labor within Persian Southern Levantine Temple Economy and Society (WORK-IT)" at the University of Helsinki. WORK-IT will run from Sept 2024 to Aug 2029. Each researcher is expected to be able to research and publish independently as well as collaboratively within the team.

Using temples in the southern Levant under the first Persian Empire as the focus, WORK-IT explores imperial-local socio-economic interaction. The project integrates analysis of informal taxation and forced labor via Bourdieusian field theory in the analysis of Persian-era sources. The analysis of informal taxation and forced labor will be useful to both economists and sociologists via the most up to date ANE data and analyses, bridging the lingering divide between ancient historians and modern social scientists. The ultimate goal is to provide some refined perspectives for the modern theory of preindustrial socio-economic interactions.

Towards these ends, we invite applications for a Postdoctoral Researcher in Ancient history for a five-year employment contract 1.9.2024-31.8.2029 (or starting as agreed). We are seeking an ancient historian with a background in Achaemenid Elamite to analyze appearance of labor and religion in the Persepolis Fortification and Treasury Archives.

The researcher will be responsible for

  1.  analyzing the appearance of labor in the Persepolis corpus, particularly looking at data concerning building, gifts, taxes, tithes, produce, welfare, priesthoods, and dependents;
  2. Comparing the Persepolis archives with the Idumean ostraca;
  3. Developing the socio-economic understanding of forced labor in the Persian Empire and more widely in the Ancient Near East;
  4. producing a monograph on their basis;
  5. collaborating with the other team members in comparative and theoretical work, including joint publications;
  6. collaborating on joint workshops.

Requirements for the position and assessment of qualifications

According to the Regulations of the University of Helsinki, an appointee to the position of postdoctoral researcher shall hold a doctoral degree and have the ability to conduct independent scholarly work as well as the teaching skills necessary for the position.

Other requirements shall include knowledge of Achaemenid Elamite, a familiarity with the Persian Empire, and interest in socio-economic aspects of the southern Levant. A track record in comparative work is an advantage. Candidates need to be able to write independently and collaboratively. A pre-existing interest in the Persepolis archives is an advantage.

When assessing applicants’ qualifications, attention will be paid to evidence of knowledge Elamite, evidence of interest in comparative theoretical socio-economic work, evidence of collaborative publication in historical economics, and the ability to offer research-based teaching. A familiarity with or interest in Bourdieusian field theory is also desirable.

What we offer

The salary for the position will be based on level 5 of the job requirement scheme 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 annual gross salary is €42,000 - €46,000. The position is filled with a six-month trial period.

In Finnish universities, the teaching and research staff (app. 65% of total staff) have a special system regarding the free time equivalent to holiday. They belong to the 1,612 annual working hour system, in which the annual amount of paid holiday is app. 5-6 weeks on average per year.

The University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The University provides support for internationally recruited employees with their transition to work and life in Finland. For more on the University of Helsinki as an employer, please see

Researchers will also have access to travel money and limited funds for open access publishing.

WORK-IT is based in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki, located in the City Centre Campus. The Faculty is well-known for its social scientific and ancient Near Eastern research, and there are close ties with the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Science.

The city of Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, with a population of ca. 1.3 million. 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.

How to apply

Applications should consist of the following English-language documents in PDF format:

  • A curriculum vitae (max 3 pages);
  • A list of publications;
  • Contact information for two referees (but no actual references);
  • A research statement (max. 2000 words) consisting of
    1. a brief description of previous research experience;
    2. a brief proposal for the research project that the applicant would conduct in WORK-IT;
    3. a brief description of the plans for scientific cooperation envisioned within WORK-IT
  • A free form report (max 2 pages) on the candidates teaching merits and interests

Further information about academic portfolios is available on our website.

Other attachments, including letters of recommendation or certificates, are not required at this point.

Applications must be submitted through the University of Helsinki electronic recruitment system by clicking on the link below. Current employees of the University of Helsinki must submit their applications through SAP Fiori’s Suffeli recruitment portal. The University of Helsinki welcomes applicants from a variety of genders, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and minorities.

Further information about the position can be obtained from Dr. Jason Silverman (jason.silverman (at) Further information about the recruitment process can be obtained from HR Specialist Reeta Korhonen (hr-teoltdk(at)

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