Rebecca Darley


Research Associate, Warburg Institute

Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies


Contact details


Title of thesis: Indo-Byzantine trade, 4th-7th centuries: a global history

Supervisor: Professor Leslie Brubaker and Dr Archie Dunn

Source of funding: AHRC


  • B.A. History (Cantab), 1*:1*;
  • M.A. Greek Archaeology (Bham), distinction.


My interest in early medieval history, and Byzantine economic history in particular, developed during my undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge. There my work in the Fitzwilliam Museum Department of Coins and Medals and my dissertation work on the movement of 6th-7th century Byzantine gold coins beyond the borders of the Empire germinated my desire to understand the numismatic traces of Byzantine trade with India. This led me to Birmingham for the world-class collection of Byzantine coins in the Barber Institute of Fine arts and the long tradition of Byzantine studies at the University. I first completed a Master’s in Greek Archaeology, working on Indo-Greek coins in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, then embarked on my PhD. This has recently been submitted, with thanks to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, where I spent the academic year 2012/13 as a Junior Fellow. Following submission of my PhD I worked with the British Academy on a research project examining the possible impact of UK legislation on open access publication on Humanities and Social Science publishing by UK-based academics and curated an exhibition of Byzantine and early Islamic coins at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. I am now beginning a post as a post-doctoral research associate at the Warburg Institute (University of London) on the project '"Bilderfahrzeuge" - Warburg's Legacy and the Future of Iconology'.


Undergraduate Teaching Experience

  • ‘Byzantium and the Transformation of the Roman World’ (with Profs Leslie Brubaker and Dimiter Angelov, University of Birmingham, 2013, 2012 and 2011)
    • 2013 provided teaching support for Prof. Leslie Brubaker, including giving sections of two lectures on coinage and the economy and Aksum in late antiquity. Organised and ran four seminars covering study skills and subject specific information. Set, marked and provided feedback on formative essays and handled student queries and online materials via the University of Birmimgham ‘Canvas’ platform.
    • 2012 acted as postgraduate Teaching assistant to Prof. Brubaker. Gave a lecture on ‘Trade, exchange and money’, three one-hour tutorials on various topics, and one-to-one feedback with students on formative essays. Marked examination scripts for the module. Created WebCT resources and handled student e-mails efficiently.
    • 2011 marked 50 examination scripts. Assessed and familiarised myself with the output of undergraduate teaching.
  • ‘Constantinople: project module’ (with Dr Ruth Macrides, University of Birmingham, 2013)
    Led two small-group sessions guiding students in the use of primary sources on the topography of Constantinople and the role of the hippodrome in the city.
  • Coin handling sessions for first and seconf- and third-year undergraduate students (November 2013)
    Organised and delivered handling sessions at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts of 30-60 minutes for students from courses on the early middle ages and late antiquity, introducing numismatic techniques and terminology and facilitating students to analyse coins chosen to correlate with course material.
  • CLAD (University of Birmingham) Teaching Training for Postgraduate Students (September-October 2010)
    Successfully completed five half-day courses covering introduction to teaching, small-group teaching, assessment and feedback, one-to-one academic tutoring, supporting diversity through teaching and learning, giving a lecture.

Postgraduate Teaching Experience

  • Coin handling sessions for postgraduate groups from the universities of Leicester, Nottingham, Oxford and Birmingham (November 2013)
    Organised and delivered handling sessions at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, from 1-5 hours with postgraduate students, introducing numismatic techniques and terminology and facilitating students to analyse coins chosen to match their research interests and to broaden their knowledge of pre-modern coinage systems.
  • Generic Research Skills coordinator for the College of Arts of Law (August-December 2011)
    Provided mentoring and teaching support for CAL Research Skills modules (five two-hour classes). Gave presentations on time management and research planning to CAL postgraduates and offered consultation during break-put sessions.

Other Teaching Experience

  • ‘History for Your Future’ outreach programme with Sandwell Council (January-September 2012)
    Co-designed an outreach event with a colleague at the University of Birmingham and consultants from Sandwell Council to deliver a one-day study session on Byzantine material culture to 14-17 year-olds from local schools.
  • Media Training – University of Birmingham Media Centre (10th May 2012)
    Secured funding to undertake media training at a nationally recognised commercial training centre. Learned to analyse and create a media message from research.
  • University of Birmingham Schools Outreach Sessions (January, May, June 2011)
    Delivered three outreach sessions to groups of 30, 40 and 65 students (aged 13-15) visiting the university. Led interactive discussions about the use of coins in modern British and early Byzantine society and coins as evidence of global connectivity.

Doctoral research

PhD title Indo-Byzantine trade, 4th-7th centuries: a global history
Supervisors Professor Leslie Brubaker and Dr Archie Dunn
Course Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)


My PhD, 'Indo-Byzantine trade, 4th-7th centuries: a global history' used Byzantine coins found in India as a focal point for re-examining the narratives of Indo-Roman trade and the archaeological and textual sources for late antique networks connecting the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. My interests include structures of communication, the organisation of trade (in particular with respect to state apparatus) and the role and significance of money in the pre-modern world. It was passed with minor corrections (24th February 2014) by Drs Romberta Tomber (British Museum) and Naomi Standen (University of Birmingham). Graduation expected June-December 2014. 

Other activities

Research and Professional Positions

  • July- November 2013: British Academy Open Access research project – research assistant, working with Prof. Chris Wickham and the British Academy to collect and present data concerning the potential impact of UK policies on Open Access on academic publishing in the humanities and social sciences. Project involves data collection and manipulation, report writing and communication with major publishing houses.
  • July-November 2013: Freelance curator, ‘Faith and Fortune’ exhibition, Barber Institute of Fine Arts (Birmingham) – Designed and developed an exhibition of Byzantine, Islamic and Turkmen coins in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts Collection. Project involved generating interpretation and accompanying content for visitors and young people to contextualise the coins selected, designing cabinet layout and captions, working within a tight deadline and budget and liaising with Barber Institute staff and external contractors. 

Research Grants and Funding

  • August 2011: ‘2006 Fund’ (Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies) – travel grant awarded to attend the 22nd International Congress of Byzantine Studies in Sofia.
  • December 2009-March 2010: University of Birmingham Student Conference and Travel Fund, College of Arts and Law Research Travel Grant, University of Birmingham Roberts Fund – travel grants awarded for field work and academic networking on behalf of the International Office with HE institutions in south India.
  • July 2006: Tutor’s Donation Fund (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge) – tuition fee paid to attend the Belfast University Summer School in Byzantine Greek.

Major Research Papers delivered

  • 6th December 2012 ‘Self, Other and the Use and Appropriation of Late Roman coins in south India and Sri Lanka (4th-8th centuries A.D.)’ Jawharlal Nehru University (Delhi) – via video link at a global conference on comparative approaches to space in the medieval world.
  • 9th July 2012 ‘Emporia and ports: a comparison between the North Sea emporia and trading ports in Late Antique India’ Leeds International Medieval Congress in a panel analysing spatial distribution and maritime archaeology for understanding economic networks.
  • 19th October 2011 ‘Indian Ocean wics: Indo-Roman trading ports in Tamil Nadu and Kerala’ University of Cambridge, Maritime History Groups.
  • 7th September 2011 ’ Byzantine coins in India’ Salerno University at the Medworlds Conference. Used Byzantine coins in India as jewellery as a focus for exploring comparative problems and methods in Indian Ocean and Mediterranean archaeology.
  • 23rd August 2011 ‘Byzantium at the edges of the world: early Byzantine coins in India and beyond as indicators of political and economic influence and the construction of boundaries of perception’ 22nd International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Ochrid University (Sofia).
  • 20th June 2011 ‘Late Roman and Byzantine gold coins in the Madras Government Museum - fashion, imitation and the economics of religious devotion’ East Meets West Postgraduate Colloquium, UCL.
  • 3rd June 2011 ‘The use of Late Roman coins in India and Sri Lanka – the problems with current interpretations and the surviving evidence for emporium trade’ University of Cambridge, international conference on Sri Lankan studies.
  • 13th April 2011 ‘Spätrömische und Byzantinische Goldmünzen im Madras Staatlichen Museen – Mode, Nachahmung und die Wirtschaft des Glaubes‘Institut für Numismatik und Gesldgeschichte, University of Vienna.
  • 19th October 2010 ‘Late Roman and Byzantine gold coins in the Madras Government Museum - fashion, imitation and the economics of religious devotion’ Royal Numismatic Society, London.

Membership of Learned Societies

  • Royal Numismatic Society, Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies, South Indian Numismatic Society (life member), American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies

Other Awards and Achievements

  • The Schuldham Plate (awarded 2008 by Gonville and Caius College for the finest academic achievement across all subjects in each graduating year).
  • Parkes Weber Memorial Prize (awarded 2008 by the Royal Numismatic Society for the best submission by a scholar under 23).
  • Cambridge Historical Society Prize (awarded 2008 by the University of Cambridge Faculty of History for the best undergraduate dissertation submitted to the faculty).



  • Darley, R., Reynolds, D., Wickham, C. Open Access Journal Publishing in Humanities and Social Science, (2014) British Academy, London.
  • Darley, R. ‘Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine on Byzantine and early Islamic coinage’ (January 2014) Minerva, Jan/Feb 40-43.
  • Darley, R. ‘Self, Other and the Use and Appropriation of Late Roman coins in south India and Sri Lanka (4th-7th centuries A.D.)’ (With publisher) in H. P. Ray (ed.) Negotiating Cultural Identity: Landscapes in Early Medieval South Asian History, London and New Delhi: Routledge.
  • Darley, R. ‘Asserting and deconstructing the mythology of cosmopolitanism in ancient Sri Lanka’ (Pending) in A. Strathern and Z. Biedermann (eds) Cosmopolitanism in Sri Lanka.  [Intended for publication 2013 as part of an edited volume summarising debates and development in the recent historiography of Sri Lanka. The volume emerges from a series of major international conferences on Sri Lanka held in the U.S., Sri Lanka and the U.K. and brings together the leading figures in current research on the island.]
  • Day, R. ‘A tale of ‘four’ hoards or unpicking Akki Alur’ (2012) Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 211, 5-13.
  • Day, R. ‘The Late Roman copper coins of Karur: a south Indian case study of commerce and heritage management’ (In Press) in P. Chenna Reddy and S. Sarma (eds) Sneha Siri: P. Chenna Reddy Felicitation Volume, Hyderabad.
  • Day, R. ‘Exhibition Review – Roman Coins in South India: The Centenary Exhibition Hall, Government Museum, Chennai (18th January-2nd February 2011)Rosetta 11, 98-102 
  • Day, R. ‘Review of Late Antiquity: a very short introduction’ (2011) Rosetta 11, 82-86.
  • Day, R. ‘Imitation in Aksumite coinage and Indian imitations of Aksumite coins’ (2011) Rosetta 9.5: 16-22.

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