I am a scholar of classical antiquity. In my daily life, I investigate archaeological remains of and texts about urban life in Roman Italy, and I try to understand the social and economic history of urban communities from the late republic to the late imperial period - roughly from Hannibal to Constantine. I do this because I believe the Roman world is more than just fascinating - with its unique degrees of urbanization and integration it holds the key to answering important questions about world history in general: the Roman world does not easily fit into our historical models, and a better understanding of the Roman world and particularly its socio-economic history, may very well mean that we have to change our models - and our ideas about the history of human society with it.
In the past, I was based at Radboud University Nijmegen, where I studied classics and completed my doctorate in classical archaeology. From 2010 until March 2013, I was at the University of Oxford as assistant director of the Oxford Roman Economy Project at the Faculty of Classics. Starting April 1st, 2013, I moved back to a Dutch academic environment:, where I am now working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for History at Leiden University on a project, Building Tabernae, for which I have been awarded an NWO VENI grant. This project will continue until 2017.
I build databases and websites. This is because I not only feel that the internet is a great place to share ideas, but also a place where you can organize and analyze your data. There is so much stuff that I am working with that needs to be organized, and all systems that other people use are either location dependent or useless to my specific purposes. So I decided, early on in my research career, to do things my way. I learned myself PHP and MySQL and developed my own platform, which I can use to store and organize my bibliographical data, most of the archaeological evidence, and the textual evidence I am working with. What you see here, is the front end of that system, which is continuously changing as my research needs develop.
While I was at Oxford, I have used part of this experience to develop de OXREP Website and the OXREP data server, which contains several widely varying databases. For this data server, we used a PgSQL database and a PHP-front end system. The database has a rigid core consisting of a fixed hierarchy of tables with spatial data (areas, sites, buildings), and several additional tables used to describe these data (events, keywords, references, notes). Moveable objects and texts can be linked to the spatial hierarchy. This has the benefit of having a clear structure that allows you to put comparable data in the same table, without losing the flexibility that you need to combine a widely varying set of databases into one working system.
I am a blogger. In my evening hours, I write about, basically, everything. I do this in Dutch. My own blog started as early as September 2004, and celebrated its ninth birthday in 2013. Until october, this year, I was editor at ThePostOnline, formerly known as DeJaap, where I had been since October 2011. Before that, I had been editor at the now defunct GeenCommentaar since August, 2010.
Obviously, I blog because I don't know, and because I am trying to understand. The best way to do this is to try and find people who (vehemently) disagree. I tend to focus on politics, immigration, climate change, the European Union, and the uses and abuses of history in political discourse. I have (rightly and wrongly) signalled weaknesses in other people's arguments, and discovered horrible weaknesses in my own. Blogging is about being wrong at least as much as it is about being right.