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Dr Rebecca Darley

MA History (Cantab), MA Greek Archaeology (Bham), PhD Byzantine Studies (Bham)

Lecturer in Medieval History

Contact details

My office is 2.11 in 27 Russell Square (enter via 26 Russell Square), however any post should be addressed to:

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 211
27 Russell Square


I joined Birkbeck in September 2015 from the ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’ project at the Warburg Institute, having completed my PhD at the University of Birmingham Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies and at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C.).  At Birkbeck my core research and teaching focuses on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, especially in the Byzantine Empire (c. 300-1453) and the western Indian Ocean (c. 200-900), with a particular research interest in numismatics. In all areas of my research, through active membership of learned societies, by working with museums and on the issue of open access and by building relationships and projects with colleagues and students internationally, I seek to contribute to the framing of an inclusive, expansive and critically engaged global community of scholarship.

Research and Teaching

  • My research focuses on how people and things moved and how people understood and described the world far beyond their locality. I focus particularly on Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (AD c. 200-1000), and geographically on the eastern Mediterranean and western Indian Ocean. This includes work on the Byzantine, Sasanian and Aksumite empires and kingdoms in south India and Sri Lanka. I am interested in why and when commentators, past and present, have taken an interest in historical mobility, and when mobility has been restricted or reduced. A combination of narrative textual sources and archaeological material is central to my research, coming together especially in the study of coins. In another strand of my research, maps and travel accounts provide a different sort of visualisation of movement and space. Further information about up-coming and past conference papers and other research presentations can be found on my personal website.
  • Research interests: Byzantine history; Late Antiquity; Indian Ocean networks; economic history; imperial structures; money and power; networks and boundaries; global/world history; Higher Education organisation; Open Access; coin collecting.

PhD Supervision

  • I am currently supervising PhD projects on:
    • Byzantine economic history and economic infrastructure in the twelfth century
    • The role of charity in the Abbasid monetary economy
  • I welcome applications by students seeking to complete a doctorate in Byzantine economic history, numismatics or study of Western Indian Ocean maritime networks c. 300-1000. Research proposals with an element of quantitative research are currently eligible for consideration in relation to specific research funding at Birkbeck. If you have an idea you would like to develop for doctoral study, and suitable prior qualifications, please email me. Please note that funding applications for PhD study commencing in September 2019 will be due around Autumn to Christmas 2018, so if you are interested in applying for funding for doctoral study, please allow sufficient time to prepare a strong application.
  • Find out about current funding opportunities.


  • The strong emphasis on research-led teaching is one of the most exciting aspects of being at Birkbeck. The courses I convene at BA and MA level introduce themes, ideas and material drawn from my current research and recent publications as well as covering broader surveys of the Middle Ages. I also offer individual sessions within team-taught courses and co-convene modules with colleagues. I am currently coordinating the roll-out of HCA's new Hub Courses, 'Approaching the Past', 'Exploring the Past' and 'Writing the Past', which are designed to lead students from the first year of BA training to completing a dissertation via training and activities that engage with the full cross-disciplinary research and teaching strengths of the Department and its Bloomsbury environment. I am currently the HCA Director of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience (see 'Administration' for further information).
  • I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • From 2018/19 I am involved in the working group to design Foundation Year programmes for SSHP.
  • Here is an indicative list of modules I teach, or contribute to. Due to our commitment to providing the highest standard of part-time education, most modules in History, Classics and Archaeology are taught in alternating years, and modules change over time due to shifting research priorities. For information about which modules are likely to be offered in each academic year, please see the HCA departmental website. For more detailed information on any of these modules, and for teaching prior to my joining Birkbeck, please see my personal website. In addition to the modules listed below, I also supervise dissertations at BA and MA level on a range of Late Antique and medieval topics.
  • Sole-taught modules
  • BA Modules
    • In the image of God, in the image of Rome: the Byzantine Empire 307-1453 (20 weeks, Level 5/Year 2 of full-time study)
    • A disconnected sea? Travel and trade in the Late Antique western Indian Ocean (20 weeks, Level 6/Year 3 of full-time study, in design)
  • MA Modules (10 weeks)
    • Money and Empire, c. 200-800
    • Mapping the Middle Ages: from Ptolemy to Maximos Planoudes (c. 100-1400)
  • Co-designed and co-taught modules
  • BA Modules
    • Approaching the Past (HCA Hub Course, Level 4/Year 1 of full-time study)
    • Exploring the Past (HCA Hub Course, Level 5/Year 2 of full-time study)
    • Writing the Past (HCA Hub Course, Level 6/Year 3 of full-time study)
    • From Constantine to the Khans: the Medieval World c. 300-1500 (20 weeks, Level 4/Year 1 of full-time study)
    • From Ancient to Medieval Societies (20 weeks, Level 5/Year 2 of full-time study)
    • Creating the Crusades (20 weeks, Level 5/Year 2 of full-time study, in design)
  • MA Modules
    • MA Medieval History Core Course
    • Exchange: a disrupting past (in design)
  • Contributions to Modules
  • BA Modules
    • Gender in the Middle Ages (lecture and seminar on empresses in the Byzantine Empire)
    • Materials and Objects in Archaeology (seminar on using numismatic evidence)
  • MA Modules
    • Birkbeck Approaches: Core Course (lectures on 'Empire' and 'Empires, imperial pasts and post-colonialism')
    • Material Worlds (seminars on imitation and forgery and interpreting uniqueness in serialised objects)
    • The Historian's Craft (sessions on digital archives and resources, using the internet as a research tool and oral histories)
    • MA Global History Core Course (seminar on trade in global history)
    • MA Classical Civilization Core Course (lecture and seminar on the economy in Late Antiquity)
    • University of London joint MA in Byzantine Studies Core Course (seminar on the Byzantine economy)


Research Grants and Projects

Professional Membership

Current activities

  • Publications
    • Disconnecting Late Antiquity: the western Indian Ocean c. 200-800, monograph developing my PhD research to explore movement around the western Indian Ocean between the Classical and Islamic phases of connection across this maritime space. For submission to press 2018.
    • Leadership of an international collaboration, 'Beyond imperial frontiers', comparing use and reception of Byzantine coins in India, China and Scandinavia, with Professor Lin Ying (Sun Yat-sen University) and Florent Audy (Stockholm University), aiming for publication in 2018. With generous support from the Universities in China Committee London.
  • Other
    • Organisation of an on-going archival project, the Birmingham East Mediterranean Archive.
    • Numismatic advisor to Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery on collection development and promotion and the inclusion of numismatic material in funding bids to build a sustainable future for a regionally and nationally important collection.
    • Co-designer and member of a project, 'All that Glitters: the Byzantine gold solidus c. 306-1099', examining the application of XRF analysis to Byzantine gold coins, bringing together members from the University of Birmingham, the University of Leeds, the British Museum, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and Bruker Industries. With generous support from the Classical Numismatic Group Roman and Byzantine Fund.
    • On-going work to research the collection of Roman coins in the Telangana State Archaeology Museum.