The Oriental Institute yearly appoints a Postdoctoral Fellow for a twenty-four month (non-renewable) appointment. Postdoctoral Fellows are selected from an international pool of applicants, based on their proposals to organize a two-day conference at the Oriental Institute. The conferences address important theoretical or methodological issues in the field of ancient studies — archaeological, text-based, and/or art historical avenues of research. The Oriental Institute encourages cross-disciplinary proposals that deal with the ancient Near East (including Egypt) or that compare the Near East with other cultural areas. The conferences generally have 12–16 participants, and take place annually in the beginning of March during the first year of the Postdoctoral Fellow’s appointment. Following the conference, the Postdoctoral Fellow assembles and edits the proceedings for publication in the Oriental Institute Seminar series. During the second year of the appointment, the Postdoctoral Fellow will assist in organizing a series of faculty seminars at the Oriental Institute and other activities that build interaction and collaboration within the scholarly community. The Postdoctoral Fellow is expected to pursue his or her own research while in residence and to interact closely with the Oriental Institute community. The Postdoctoral Fellow may also, if he or she wishes, teach a course while in residence if approved by the OI/NELC faculty.
Potential applicants should take into consideration the research interests represented by the Oriental Institute, and are encouraged to review the descriptions and programs of previous successful proposals (see below) when preparing their applications.
Current Postdoctoral Fellows
Kathryn R. Morgan (2018–2020 Oriental Institute Postdoctoral Fellow) is an archaeologist of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, focusing on Anatolia, the Aegean, and the northern Levant in the second and first millennia BCE. In her work, Morgan seeks to reevaluate conventional narratives of sociopolitical organization and development, particularly as they intersect with themes of power and gender; combining analyses of material culture, architecture, and urbanism with anthropological theory and historical criticism, her research explores the ways non-elites experienced and contributed to the construction of group identities in the ancient world.
Morgan received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, with a dissertation entitled “A Moveable Feast: Production, Consumption, and State Formation at Early Phrygian Gordion.” In it, she reconstructs the key role that collective action, and especially feasting practices, played in the emergence of the site of Gordion as capital of the Iron Age Anatolian polity of Phrygia in the first millennium BCE. Her 2019 Oriental Institute Symposium, “Pomp, Circumstance, and the Performance of Politics: Acting ‘Politically Correct’ in the Ancient World,” extends the scope of this research, inviting scholars working in a range of disciplines and time periods to consider the role of political audiences, broadly construed, in shaping their political realities. The goal of the symposium is to draw attention to the modes, means, and loci of public discourse in the ancient world, reframing political authority as an ongoing conversation between rulers and subjects—one in which public opinion mattered and legitimacy was up for debate, at least at certain places and times.
Morgan is Assistant Director of the Chicago-Tübingen Archaeological Project in Samal (modern Zincirli, Turkey), where she is currently overseeing excavation and publication of the citadel’s Middle Bronze Age levels. She has conducted fieldwork and collections research at numerous sites and museums across Turkey, as well as in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Oman, and Azerbaijan. A Classicist by early training, she completed an M. St. in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford in 2008.
Delphine Poinsot (post-doctoral fellow 2019-2021) is an art historian specializing in the iconography and sigillography of Iran in late antiquity. She is particularly interested in the human-animal relationship as reflected in these corpora, a relationship that is considered a testimony as to how societies perceive and understand the natural environment, whether familiar or foreign. She has developed an original approach to animal figurations in which she combines the study of iconographies with theories of anthrozoology and the data of administrative and social history. Delphine’s current research project focuses on the representation of the bestiary in the tablets of Persepolis (in collaboration with the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project) during the Achaemenid period. The purpose is to study its links with the Sassanian glyptic’s bestiary, in order to describe the transmitted iconographic traditions and their mode of diffusion. This iconographical approach will also include the analysis of the evolution or permanence in the expression of the natural and cultural environment as reflecting the modes of thought and imaginations from the Achaemenid to the Sassanian culture.
Delphine’s doctoral project at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, under the direction of Professor Frantz Grenet (Collège de France), focused on animal representation in seals and bullae during the Sassanian period. The seals and bullae form a particularly relevant source for understanding artistic formation and production in and outside the context of dynasties and aristocracies. However, they also lead us to a less typical use of the image that is relevant for art history, in that the notions of aesthetics and narrative are brought to resonate with administrative and magical practices.
Delphine now wishes to expand her research on sealing as a key element of the socio-administrative functioning of ancient societies through the organization of the 2020 post-doctoral symposium of the Oriental Institute: Sealing theories and practices in the ancient Near East. This conference aims to give a more complete picture of the sources and methods of analysis available for understanding socio-administrative practices, systems of thought and beliefs carried by seals and sealings.