The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures yearly appoints a Postdoctoral Fellow for a twenty-four month (nonrenewable) appointment. Postdoctoral Fellows are selected from an international pool of applicants, based on their proposals to organize a two-day conference at ISAC. The conferences address important theoretical or methodological issues in the field of ancient studies—archaeological, text-based, and/or art historical avenues of research. ISAC 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 at 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 ISAC Seminar series. During the second year of the appointment, the Postdoctoral Fellow assists in organizing a series of faculty seminars at ISAC 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 ISAC community. The Postdoctoral Fellow may also, if he or she wishes, teach a course while in residence if approved by the ISAC/NELC faculty.
Potential applicants should take into consideration the research interests represented by ISAC and are encouraged to review the descriptions and programs of previous successful proposals (see below) when preparing their applications.
Current Postdoctoral Fellows
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.