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prof. dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny

Full Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Art and Culture, History, Antiquity

Full Professor, CLUE+

Personal information

Bas ter Haar Romeny is Professor of Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern History.

Most of his publications as well as a full CV can be found on his page.

Romeny’s approach to Ancient History stands out in several ways. First of all, he does not limit himself to Greek and Latin Antiquity, but includes the ancient Middle East in his work. Second, Romeny has done pioneering work by introducing social scientific questions and methodology to his areas of research, while at the same time combining the meticulous philological study of texts with art historical and archaeological approaches to material culture, including textiles and dress. Third, Romeny has always paid attention to the present situation of minority groups in the Middle East (many of whom have now settled as labour migrants and refugees in Europe and the Americas) and their use of historical records and material heritage, thus adding a further dimension to his comparative and diachronic approaches.

Romeny is editor or member of the board of three peer-reviewed journals: Aramaic Studies (Brill), Church History and Religious Culture (Brill), Eastern Christian Art (Peeters). He also serves four monograph series: Monographs of the Peshitta Institute (Brill), Traditio Exegetica Graeca, Late Antique History and Religion, Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology (all published by Peeters).

With Prof. Willem van Peursen he is leading the Amsterdam (formerly Leiden) Peshitta Institute, which publishes the first scholarly edition of the second-century Syriac translation of the Hebrew Bible and conducts many related projects, including the publication of an annotated English translation of the Old Testament Peshitta, the Bible of Edessa


Major areas of Romeny’s interest are

  • The interaction between the Greek-speaking world and users of Semitic and other oriental languages in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique periods.
  • The formation and identity of minority groups in these areas and periods, in particular Jews and Syriac-speaking Christians. The study of their culture is crucial for the understanding of the Late Antique background to Islam.
  • Cultural memory and the selection of knowledge to be passed on to the following generations, including the canonization, interpretation, and reception of authoritative texts such as the collection of books now known as the Bible.

In 2007 Romeny successfully concluded his Pionier project by publishing the volume Religious Origins of Nations? The Christian Communities of the Middle East (Brill). The project explained the development of the West Syriac (or Syriac Orthodox) Christians from a religious group into an ethnic community in Byzantine and Islamic contexts. A second major project was entitled ‘Identity and Migration: Christian Minorities in the Middle East and in Diaspora’ (2006–2012). This interdisciplinary project compared the formation of three Middle Eastern Christian communities and the transformation of their identities under the influence of modernity and life in diaspora situations. Romeny has continued the combined study of material culture and texts in the project ‘Fitting In/Standing Out’, in which the role of dress in relations between majorities and minorities in Egypt and its modern diaspora is investigated.


After graduating from Leiden University in the Netherlands in 1992 with an MA in Semitic Languages and Civilizations, Romeny went on to earn an MA in Theology in 1993. For both degrees he received the highest degree classification in the Netherlands, cum laude. This was followed by the award of a Doctorate, also cum laude, in 1997. His PhD thesis, entitled A Syrian in Greek Dress, was published wit­hout changes in a commercial edition by Peeters of Leuven. It received a number of favourable reviews and was awarded the prestigious Praemium Erasmianum dissertation prize.


Romeny enjoys teaching and is committed to offering students classes where they are confronted with the questions at issue in present-day research and where they are stimulated to start thinking, define their own positions, and realize the limits to our knowledge. Methodology is always an important subject in his courses. He teaches in the following VU programmes:

  • BA in History
  • BA in Ancient Studies
  • MA in Classics and Ancient Civilizations
  • Research MA in Classics and Ancient Civilizations
  • MA in History
  • Research MA in Humanities
Prizes and Awards

For his 1997 doctorate Romeny  received the Praemium Erasmianum dissertation award, a prize given yearly to the best five Dutch dissertations in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Law. Romeny was elected Grinfield Lecturer on the Septuagint 2004–2006 at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford; Visiting Scholar (2009) and Fellow (2017) at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2009); Visiting Fellow of the European Seminar on Advanced Jewish Studies at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (2010). In 2004 he was elected to the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and he served for two years as a member of its founding board.


Romeny held postdoctoral positions in Oxford, Leiden (KNAW Research Fellow), and Jerusalem (Raymond and Janine Bollag Fellow, Hebrew University). In 2002 he received the prestigious NWO Pionier grant, equivalent to the VICI grants of today. In 2005 Romeny received funding for his project on ‘Identity and Migration’ in the form of a European Young Investigator (EURYI) Award from the European Heads of Research Councils and European Science Foundation (a forerunner to the ERC starting grants). A third major grant, bringing the total sum of research money he secured to more than 4 million euros, came from NWO (Free Competition in the Humanities) in 2011. He also obtained Van Moorsel-Rijnierse Subsidies from NWO twice (2016 and 2017).

Ancillary activities
  • Stichting Textile Research Centre | Leiden | Bestuurder | 2019-04-01 - present
  • St Berchmans College | Changanassery, Kerala | Guest lecturer | 2022-09-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

prof. dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny