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Dr Rebecca Darley

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

Lecturer in Medieval History

Contact details

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 from the international project, ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’, at the Warburg Institute. Prior to that my PhD at the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham focused on the use of Byzantine gold coins in India and involved time at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C.). I have taught at the University of Birmingham and Kings College London, spent time as an exhibition curator and worked on the issue of Open Access in the humanities and social sciences. At Birkbeck I am delighted to continue my research and teaching, including developing courses from my own current research and building links across London, the UK and further afield.

Upcoming events I'm involved in:

9th-10th November 2017: 'Something for my native town', a wine reception (9th) and one-day conference (10th) at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, celebrating the collections of nineteenth-century industrialist R. E. Hart, with a panel organised by me on Hart's coin collection, and extensive discussion of Hart's manuscript and printed book collection. Registration required. Free attendance for Birkbeck students.

15th November 2017: 'The Propaganda of Power', a one-day colloquium co-organised with Dr Mattia Cosimo Chiriatti (University of Barcelona), at the Birkbeck Institute of Humanities. Registration required.

25th November 2017: 'Fieldwork in Late Antique Archaeology: Funerary and Burial Practice', a one-day colloquium organised with Dr Luke Lavan (University of Kent). Registration required.

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. regions. This includes work on the Byzantine, Sasanian and Aksumite empires and kingdoms in south India and Sri Lanka, though my core focus is on Byzantine history. 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, as objects which could often move extremely long distances from their point of origin, but which retain a clear visual link to their place of production. 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 here.
  • 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
    • Links between Byzantium and Italy post 1071 (co-supervised with Filippo de Vivo)
    • 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 2018 will be due around Autumn to Christmas 2017, 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 opportunity to teach with direct reference to my current research 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, including having co-designed the HCA undergraduate core course, 'Approaching the Past'.
  • I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and am keenly interested in the process as well as the content of teaching.
  • 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)
  • MA Modules
    • ‘Money and Empire, c. 200-800’ (sole convener)
    • Contributions to 'Birkbeck Approaches Core Course' (convened by Dr Julia Laite)
  • 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)


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.
    • 'Seen from across the sea: India in the Byzantine worldview', a chapter in the volume Global Byzantium: proceedings of the 50th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, for which I am also co-editor alongside Prof. Leslie Brubaker (Birmingham) and Dr Daniel Reynolds (Birmingham). Anticipated publication date 2019, with Routledge.
    • 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
    • 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 catalogue and publish 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.