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Dr Rebecca Darley

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

Senior Lecturer in Medieval History

Contact details

My office is 402 in 28 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

Please note: my office is up several flights of stairs and there is no lift access. If you are planning to meet with me and anticipate this being a problem, please let me know and I'll be happy to arrange a step-free alternative venue.


Office telephone: 020 7631 6878

My core research and teaching focuses on Late Antiquity (c. 200-800 CE) and the Middle Ages (up to c. 1600 CE), especially in the Byzantine Empire and the western Indian Ocean. I have a particular research interest in numismatics and material culture. 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. I joined Birkbeck in September 2015 from the Art Historical ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’ project at the Warburg Institute. Prior to this I completed my MA in Greek Archaeology and PhD on Byzantine contact with India at the University of Birmingham Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies and my BA in History at the University of Cambridge. In 2012-13 I was a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C.)


  • 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 Middle Ages, and geographically on the eastern Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. This includes work on the Byzantine, Sasanian and Aksumite empires and kingdoms in south India and Sri Lanka, as well as the movement of goods and people between India and China and Southeast Asia. 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 publications in progress can be found on my personal website. From March 2020 I will hold one of the inaugural awards of the British Academy Wolfson Fellowship scheme. This is one of six awards made to early career research projects in the humanities and social sciences and will provide support for the completion of my monograph on The Western Indian Ocean in Late Antiquity.
  • Research interests: Byzantine history; Late Antiquity; Medieval history; Indian Ocean networks; economic history; imperial structures; money and power; networks and boundaries; global/world history; Higher Education organisation; Open Access; coin collecting.


  • A 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 at present the HCA Director of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience (2017/18-2019/20).
  • I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • From 2018/19 I formed part of the working group to design Foundation Year programmes for the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy.
  • A full account and list of modules I teach or contribute to can be found here. 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. I also supervise dissertations at BA and MA level on a range of ancient, Late Antique and medieval topics as well as the use of ancient and medieval themes in modern political writing.

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
    • The movement of objects between China, Korea and the Byzantine Empire in Late Antiquity
    • The making of Christian law in fifth-century Constantinople
  • I welcome applications by students seeking to complete a doctorate in Byzantine economic history, numismatics or study of Western Indian Ocean maritime networks. 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 2020 will be due around Autumn to Christmas 2019, 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.


  • I publish widely, both independently and in collaboration with colleagues worldwide, on an extensive range of research interests. These include co-authorship of a monograph on Open Access publishing in the Social Sciences and Humanities and articles and book chapters on Roman trade with India, numismatic evidence for Indian Ocean networks, collecting histories, the textual and material evidence for ancient Sri Lankan trade and exhibiting coins in museum settings. In addition I am regularly invited to review for major journals and publish actively on blogs and in popular venues. Full details of my current work can be found here, and information about my work in progress can be found here. In addition, I have received regular research grants to work on projects and acquire training. I am a member of a range of professional networks and learned societies.
  • Peer-Reviewed Sole-Author Publications
  • R. Darley (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 Heritage Telangana, 64-82.
  • R. Darley (2019) ‘Money, Art and Representation: the powerful and pragmatic faces of medieval coinage’, in R. Naismith (ed.) The Bloomsbury Cultural History of Medieval Money. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 99-124. Available electronically here.
  • R. Darley (2019) ‘The Island Frontier: Socotra, Sri Lanka and the Shape of Commerce in the Late Antique Western Indian Ocean’, Al-Masāq, 31.2, Special Issue, July 2019, 223-241. Available electronically here.
  • Darley, R. (2018) ‘Wege des Geldes: Zwei byzantinische Münzen auf der Reise von Empire zu Empire’, in A. Beyer, H. Bredekamp, U. Fleckner und G. Wolf (eds) Bilderfahrzeuge: Aby Warburgs Vermächtnis Und Die Zukunft Der Ikonologie, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin, pp. 144–154, V. G. Topalova, Violeta Georgieva (trans). Proof copy available electronically here: Bilderfahrzeuge_UMBRUCH 1_03.
  • Darley, R. (2018) ‘All that glitters…: the Byzantine gold solidus, c. 300-1092’ in M. Caccamo Caltabiano et al. (eds) Proceedings of the 25th International Numismatic Congress, Rome, 982-985. Proof copy available electronically here: INC_2018_Darley
  • 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.
  • Darley R. (2015) ‘Self, Other and the Use and Appropriation of Late Roman coins in south India and Sri Lanka (4th-7th centuries A.D.)’  in H. P. Ray (ed) Negotiating Cultural Identity: Landscapes in Early Medieval South Asian History, London and New Delhi: Routledge, 60-84. Proof copy available electronically here: 03_Ch 03 – RRD
  • Darley, R., published as R. Day, ‘A tale of ‘four’ hoards or unpicking Akki Alur’ (2012) Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 211, 5-13. Pro-print copy available electronically here: Akki Alur – a tale of four hoards
  • Co-Authored Peer-Reviewed Publications
  • R. Darley and J. Hase (2019) ‘Collections to think with: collecting, scholarship and belonging in the R. E. Hart Collection (Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery)’,Journal of the History of Collections, yet to be assigned an issue, version of record available electronically here.
  • R. Darley, J. Jarrett and L. Zavagno (2019) ‘“Not the final frontier”: the world of medieval islands’ (editorial), Al-Masāq, 31.2, Special Issue, July 2019, 129-139. Available electronically here.
  • Darley, R., D. Reynolds and C. Wickham Open Access Journals in Humanities and Social Science (2014) British Academy: London.
  • Darley, R. and D. Reynolds (2015) ‘Exhibiting coins as economic artefacts: Curating historical interpretation in Faith and Fortune‘  Journal of Art Historiography 13, 1-23.
  • Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications
  • R. Darley (2019) 'Godawaya', 'Arikamedu', 'Barbarikon', 'Siraf' and 'LateRoman Coins in the Indian Ocean', in S. Whitfield (ed.) Silk Roads. London: Thames & Hudson. Simultaneous publication in French, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Finnish.
  • Darley, R. (2018) Various entries, in O. Nicholson (ed.) Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity (2018), Oxford: Oxford University Press. A full list of entries and responsibilities is here.
  • ‘Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine on Byzantine and early Islamic coinage’ (January 2014) Minerva, Jan/Feb 40-43. Proof copy available electronically here: faithandfortune – Proof copy 22-11-13
  • Reviews
  • Review of: 'The Indian Ocean trade in antiquity: political, cultural, and economic impacts, (ed.) M. A Cobb, Routledge: London, 2018, AND N. Andrade, The journey of Christianity to India in Late Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019'. The Journal of Roman Studies (in press, 2020), pagination TBC.
  • Review of: ‘ISSUES OF MOBILITY IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE – (E.) Lo Cascio, (L.E.) Tacoma (edd.) The Impact of Mobility and Migration in the Roman Empire. Proceedings of the Twelfth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Rome, June 17–19, 2015), Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2017‘. The Classical Review (2018) 68, 518–521.
  • Review of: R. GURUKKAL, 2016, Rethinking Classical Indo-Roman Trade. Political Economy of Eastern Mediterranean Exchange Relations, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, (2016) The Classical Review, 1-3.
  • ‘Review of: M. CRUSAFONT, A. M. BALAGUER and P. GRIERSON, 2015, Medieval European Coinage 6: The Iberian Peninsula, with a Catalogue of the Coins in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (2015) Numismatic Chronicle 175, 366-375. Available electronically here: MEC 6 review – Darley
  • Review of: C. NESBITT and M. JACKSON (eds), 2013, Experiencing Byzantium, Farnham: Ashgate, (2014) Diogenes 2, 91-94.
  • Published as R. Day ‘Review of: G. CLARK, Late Antiquity: A Very Short Introduction (2011) Oxford, Oxford University Press’ (2012) Rosetta 11, 82-86.
  • Published as R. Day ‘Exhibition Review: ‘Roman Coins in South India: the Centenary Exhibition Hall, Government Museum, Chennai (18th January-2nd February 2011)‘ Rosetta 11, 98-102.