Post-doctoral Research Assistantship in e-Science, Imaging Technology and Ancient Documents



(Sub-Faculty of Ancient History)


Further Particulars

1. General Introduction

Funding has been secured through the AHRC-EPSRC-JISC Arts and Humanities E-Science initiative to appoint a post-doctoral Research Assistant, for a period of three years from 1 October 2007, to work on the application of Information Technology (IT) to ancient documents under the supervision of Professors Alan Bowman FBA, Sir Michael Brady FRS FREng, and Dr. Melissa Terras (UCL). The Research Assistantship will be held in the Faculty of Classics and supported at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Oxford E-Research Centre (Directors: Dr. Anne Trefethen and Prof. Paul Jeffreys). The initial salary will be in the range £25,889 – £31,840 (Academic Related, Grade 7), according to qualifications and experience.

2. Aims and objectives of the project
The postdoctoral Research Asssistantship is attached to a project which will develop a networked software system to support the imaging, documentation, and interpretation of damaged texts from the ancient world, principally Greek and Latin papyri, inscriptions and writing tablets. Full details of the project are available electronically from Professor Bowman on request ( The main focus of the project is to develop a support system by methods of aiding (by image enhancement), representing and tracking the reader’s developing decipherment and understanding of documents, by iteratively and progressively facilitating the inclusion of new insights and conjectures over prolonged periods of study and by a building a computer-generated, human-readable representation of the range of possible ‘solutions’ as well as the contingencies of such possibilities derived from contextual knowledge or direct perception of the text. The RA will work in close collaboration with a doctoral student whose work he/she will help to supervise. The following should be viewed as indicating the area of work to be undertaken in collaboration with the doctoral student.

a. Building an interface to image analysis software developed by Professors Brady and Bowman for analysis of Latin stilus tablets.
b. Designing and implementing an interface to the components described in (a-c), in collaboration with the current JISC-funded VRE project ‘A Virtual Workspace for the Study of Ancient Documents’ (PI Professor Bowman).
c. Acquiring familiarity with work at Oxford University and elsewhere on Virtual Research Environments and on the design and implementation of interfaces to enable scholars to access the system to be designed and implemented, typically over the Internet.
d. Developing a decision support system, closely modelled on those developed in the Department of Engineering Science by Professor Brady and colleagues;
e. Incorporating into the decision support system representations of letter shapes and words in Latin and/or Greek, and associated knowledge building upon the doctoral work of Dr. Melissa Terras.
f. Acquiring familiarity with work done in the broader Digital Humanities and Humanities Computing community regarding the development of computational tools to aid humanities researchers in undertaking their complex research tasks

Detailed tasks to be underaken by the RA:

1. The implementation of a set of image analysis algorithms, the majority of which have been developed on previous projects led by the Principal Investigators (PIs);
2. to enable such algorithms to be applied to images of a range of ancient documents, either locally or over the internet by a scholar who may access the system over the Internet and whose resources may not be in Oxford.
3. the development of an interface to a software system, which includes the image analysis algorithms developed in (1), import/display of a set of images of ancient documents, and the decision support tool developed by the postgraduate student associated with the project; and
4. provide documentation on how to use the system as well as appropriate levels of training and support in its use.

3. Qualifications, Training and Experience.

• postgraduate degree, ideally a doctorate, in a subject that has a substantial computing component (e.g. Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics) OR a postgraduate degree in the humanities, together with evidence of expertise in programming and Informatics;
• Track record of published work concomitant with the age and experience of the candidate;
• Evidence of experience in programming in modern computing languages such as Java, C++, and using internet standards such as XML;
• Evidence of ability to work collaboratively as a member of an inter-disciplinary team;
• Evidence of interest in Humanities based research, and research issues.

• Some knowledge or ability to acquire some basic knowledge of the language of Latin and Greek documents; and
• Experience either of working in image analysis or with images of ancient documents.

4. Method of application

Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a statement detailing the applicant’s experience, qualifications and suitability for the post, along with any relevant publications and the names and addresses of two referees, who should be asked to send their references directly to the address below by the closing date.

All application materials, including references, must be sent, preferably by email as well as in hard copy, to Ms Ghislaine Rowe, Graduate Studies Administrator, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’ , Oxford OX1 3LU (01865 288397, to reach her not later than 4 July 2007. It is expected that interviews will be held on Monday, 16 July. Any further enquiries may be addressed by email to Ms Rowe or to Professor Alan Bowman (

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One Response to Post-doctoral Research Assistantship in e-Science, Imaging Technology and Ancient Documents

  1. Simon Mahony says:

    Note that the given deadline has expired. The post is still being offered and I’ll correct the deadline when they confirm

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