Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Rebecca Darley

photo of Rebecca Darley

Rebecca Darley is a historian and writer, who has travelled the world studying the East Mediterranean and the Western Indian Ocean in ancient and medieval times. She holds a BA in History from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Greek Archaeology and PhD in Byzantine Studies, both from the University of Birmingham. Since completing her doctorate, she has taught at King’s College London, Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Leeds, where she is currently Associate Professor of Global History, c. 500-1500 CE. She has won or been nominated for student, institutional and national awards for the quality of her teaching, as well as winning competitive research grants to spend time in the US, at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC (2012-13), and to complete a forthcoming monograph on the Western Indian Ocean in the First Millennium CE.

As part of her research, Rebecca has been fortunate to travel widely in the Mediterranean, including as part of a Getty programme dedicated to the art and material culture of the Crusade period and as a lecturer for the John Hall Venice Course. She has spent lots of time in Italy, Turkey and Greece, as well as visiting Jordan, Israel and various museums and collections in northern Europe. In addition, her research has taken her frequently to India, especially Tamil Nadu and Telangana, and in 2024-25 she will be teaching at Woxsen University, near Hyderabad. She has presented her research globally, in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America and she has published internationally in the fields of history, archaeology, classics, heritage studies and museology and the practice of doing global research.

Rebecca is drawn to the power of the past to help us connect with places and people, to make sense of the world and to relate to different lives and cultures. She has a long history of presenting and writing for public as well as scholarly audiences and of working with museums in the UK and abroad to curate or consult on exhibitions of ancient material, especially coins. The opportunity to engage directly with sites, objects and landscapes and to think with other interested people about the everyday minutiae and the huge connecting forces of history is her greatest passion.

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