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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

Tel: 0207 631 6489

I joined Birkbeck in September 2015 after time spent at the Warburg Institute on the ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’ project, at the University of Birmingham Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies and at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C.). I have also spent time as an exhibition curator and worked with the British Academy on the issue of Open Access in the humanities and social sciences. At Birkbeck my core research and teaching focuses on Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, especially in the Byzantine Empire and western Indian Ocean. My interest in researching through museum collections and in academic publishing continues, especially through links with Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and, most recently, a British Academy Writing Workshop organised with Bilkent University, Ankara.

Upcoming events I'm involved in:

2nd-5th July 2018: Leeds International Medieval Congress, in which I will be presenting as part of a session arising from the SOAS-Getty project 'Re-evaluating the Art of the Crusades', responding to a panel organised by Dr Jana Valtrova, Masaryk University, and chairing a panel forming a session showcasing current work in Byzantine Studies taking place in Chinese HE institutions.

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. 300-800. 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 their first year of BA training to completing their 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 a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • 2018-19
  • BA Modules
    • The Medieval World (co-convened with Dr Matthew Champion)
    • 'Exploring the Past' (sole convener)
    • 'Writing the Past' (sole convener)
  • MA Modules
    • Contributions to 'Birkbeck Approaches: Core Course'
  • 2017-18
  • BA Modules
    • ‘The Medieval World’ (co-convened with Dr Matthew Champion)
    • 'Approaching the Past' (sole convener)
    • 'From Ancient to Medieval Societies' (co-convened with Dr Clare Vernon)
  • MA Modules
    • ‘Money and Empire, c. 200-800’ (sole convener)
    • Contributions to 'Birkbeck Approaches: Core Course' (convened by Dr Julia Laite)
    • Contributions to 'Material Worlds' (convened by Dr Lesley McFadyen)
    • Contributions to 'The Historian's Craft' (convened by Dr Carmen Mangion)
  • 2016-17
  • BA Modules
  • MA Modules
  • 2015-16
    • BA Modules
    • ‘From Antiquity to the Middle Ages’ (co-taught with Dr Caroline Goodson)
    • Contributions to: 'Gender in the Middle Ages' (convened by Prof. John Arnold); 'Materials and Objects in Archaeology' (convened by Dr Lesley Mcfadyen)
  • MA Modules
    • ‘Money and Empire, c. 200-800’ (sole convener)
    • Contributions to: 'Classical Civilization Core Course' (convened by Dr Serafina Cuomo); 'Birkbeck Approaches Core Course' (convened by Dr Laura Stewart)


  • Forthcoming
    • 'Seen from across the sea: India in the Byzantine worldview', in L. Brubaker, R. Darley and D. Reynolds (eds) Global Byzantium: proceedings of the 50th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, London: Routledge. Anticipated publication date 2019.
    • ‘Worth and value: new readings of Roman coins in the collection of the Telangana State Archaeology Museum’ in Proceedings of the International Conference, Rediscovering Telangana, Hyderabad, January 2017, Hyderabad: Department for Museums and Archaeology. (With editors).
    • ‘Byzantine coins and peninsular India’s Late Antiquity’, Journal of Ancient Civilizations 33. (Submitted, under review review).

  • Out
    • O. Nicholson (ed.) Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity (2018), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Area Advisor for Numismatics (editorial responsibility for 100+ entries), sole author of 55 entries, including 'Money, Roman and post-Roman' and 'Trade, India and Ceylon', contributor to 45 entries.
    • 'All that glitters…: the Byzantine gold solidus, c. 300-1092' (2018) in M. Caccamo Caltabiano et al. (eds) Proceedings of the 25th International Numismatic Congress, Rome, 982-985.
    • Darley, R. (2017) ‘‘Implicit cosmopolitanism’ and the commercial role of ancient Lanka’ in Z. Biedermann and A. Strathern (eds) Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, London: UCL Press, 44-65. Available in PDF from UCL Press here.
    • ‘Self, Other and the Use and Appropriation of Late Roman coins in south India and Sri Lanka (4th-7th centuries A.D.)’ (2015) in H. P. Ray (ed) Negotiating Cultural Identity: Landscapes in Early Medieval South Asian History, London and New Delhi: Routledge, 60-84.
    • With D. Reynolds 'Exhibiting coins as economic artefacts: Curating historical interpretation in Faith and Fortune' (2015) Journal of Art Historiography 13, 1-23.
    • With D. Reynolds and C. Wickham Open Access Journals in Humanities and Social Science (2014) British Academy: London.
    • Published as R. Day, ‘A tale of ‘four’ hoards or unpicking Akki Alur’ (2012) Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 211, 5-13.
  • Exhibitions
    • 'Objects in the Spotlight', Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, from November 2017. Guest curation of one of four cases showing highlights of the collection, showcasing items from the Museum's numismatic holdings.
    • 'The Lost Box', School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, June-August 2015, part of the AHRC-funded project 'Lost in Translation'. An experimental exhibition based on an archive of images kept at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham. Sole curator. See blog post below for further details.
    • 'Faith and Fortune' at The Street Gallery, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, 21st May-25th September 2015. Co-curated with Dr Ali Miynat.
    • 'Experiencing Images', Warburg Institute, London, November-December 2014, part of the 2014 'Being Human' Festival of the Humanities. Exhibition coordinator with Dr Johannes von Müller, co-curation with other members of the 'Bilderfahrzeuge' research group. See blog post below for further details.
    • 'Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine on Byzantine and early Islamic coinage', Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, 8th November 2013-30th November 2014. Exhibition coordinator. Co-curated with Dr Daniel Reynolds, Dr Ali Miynat and Maria Vrij.
  • Reviews and Media Publications
  • Blog Posts

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
    • British Academy Writing Workshop organised with Dr Luca Zavagno, Bilkent University.
    • Participation in the Getty/SOAS project, ‘Re-evaluating the art of the Crusades’.
    • Organisation of an on-going archival project, the Birmingham East Mediterranean Archive.
    • Numismatic advisor to Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery o 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. With generous support for additional field work from the Stein-Arnold Exploration Fund, British Academy 2015-16.