School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Centre for Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies Research Group

The University of Edinburgh has one of the largest concentrations of scholars researching the late antique, early Islamic and Byzantine worlds in the UK, and many of these staff and students are in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

The University of Edinburgh has one of the largest concentrations of scholars researching the late antique, early Islamic and Byzantine worlds in the UK. Colleagues working in these areas are concentrated in the School of History, Classics & Archaeology; the Department of Islamic and Middle East Studies; the School of Art History (Edinburgh College of Art); and the School of Divinity, and cooperate closely with each other, not least in the framework of Edinburgh’s innovative Master’s programme in Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies (LAIBS).

Late Antiquity, this formative period of world history from roughly the (mid) third century to c.800 – or even the end of the first millennium, in the reckoning of some scholars – has become a prominent area of research over the past few decades; it witnessed both the rise of Christianity and the birth of Islam, the ‘collapse’ of the Roman empire in the west, the struggle for survival of its eastern half, and the formation of the largest world-empire to that date, the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates. Late Antiquity is often studied in fruitful combination with the medieval heir to the eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium (as it is commonly called) on the one hand, and with the emerging Islamic world on the other, and such is the case at Edinburgh. Over the past century, Edinburgh has been the academic home to a number of distinguished late antique scholars and Byzantinists, including Professors David Talbot Rice, Donald MacGillivray Nicol, and Michael Angold, or preeminent early Islamicists, such as Professors William Montgomery Watt or Carole and Robert Hillenbrand.

During term time the Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies Research Group runs the fortnightly Late Antique Lunches and Byzantine Colloquia as well as the once-per-month Byzantine Studies seminar, as an add-on to the rich seminar culture in late antique, Islamic and medieval studies already present at Edinburgh. Its student members organise Edinburgh’s annual international graduate conference in Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies.

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Recent and current projects include:

  • ‘Cambridge History of Later Latin’ (Gavin Kelly and Aaron Pelttari; British Academy/Leverhulme Trust)
  • PAIXUE: Classicising learning in medieval imperial systems: Cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine paideia and Tang/Song xue’ (Niels Gaul, Curie Virág, Foteini Spingou, Charles Kong, Mark Huggins and Ivan Marić; funded by the European Research Council)
  • ‘Managing otherness: Papal permissions for trade with the “Infidel”, 1342–1394’ (Mike Carr; Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship)
  • ‘“The sterility of their wives”: Handling infertility in Carolingian Europe’ (Zubin Mistry; Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship)
  • ‘VEHICULA: Vehicles as high-status indicators in the culture of late antiquity’ (Fabio Guidetti, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship)
  • ‘Making and consuming drugs in the Italian and Byzantine Worlds (12th–15th c.)’ (Petros Bouras-Vallianatos, Wellcome Trust University Award)
  • ‘The water supply of Constantinople’ (Jim Crow, funded by the Leverhulme Trust)
  • ‘Popular culture of late antiquity’ (Lucy Grig, funded by the British Academy)
  • ‘Persia and its neighbours: The archaeology of late antique imperial power in Iran’ (Eberhard Sauer; funded by the European Research Council)
  • Leverhulme International Network: Sidonius Apollinaris (directed by Gavin Kelly)

Membership co-ordinators

Dr Lucy Grig

Professor Niels Gaul

Dr Marie Legendre (IMES)

Academic staff members

Dr Glaire Anderson (History of Art, ECA)

Dr Louise Blanke

Dr Petros Bouras-Vallianatos

Dr Mike Carr

Professor Jim Crow

Dr Andreas Goerke (IMES)

Dr Fabio Guidetti

Professor Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila (IMES)

Professor Gavin Kelly

Dr Calum Maciver

Dr Zubin Mistry

Dr Sara Parvis (Divinity)

Dr Paul Parvis (Divinity)

Dr Aaron Pelttari

Dr Ben Russell

Professor Eberhard Sauer

Dr Riley Snyder (Engineering)

Dr Rick Sowerby

Dr Foteini Spingou

Dr Yannis Stouraitis

Dr Justin Stover

Emeriti and Honorary staff

Professor Michael Angold

Dr Tom Brown

Professor Margaret Mullett

Current PhD students

Bilal Adıgüzel (HCA) – ‘Patterns of Resistance and Subversion in the Middle Byzantine Empire: Niketas David Paphlagon in Context’ [PAIXUE]

Nasser Alfalasi (IMES) – ‘The taxation of Muslims in the Umayyad caliphate’

Vincenzo Castaldo (HCA) – ‘Late ceramic production and trade in the Campagna’ [AHRC]

Elif Demirtiken (HCA) – ‘Monasteries and monasticism in late Byzantine Constantinople’ [A. G. Leventis Foundation]

Alasdair Grant (HCA) – ‘Cross-confessional captivity in the later Byzantine world, c.1280–1460’ [SGSAH]

Fraser Gray (Div) – ‘St Ambrose and his emperors’ [School of Divinity]

Abdulla Haidar (IMES) – ‘Marwān b. al-Ḥakam in Early Arabic Sources’

Philip Harrison (HCA) – ‘The use of coloured decorative stone and its ideological significance during Late Antiquity (4th-6th centuries AD) in Southern Italy, Sicily and North Africa’ [Isle of Man]

Mark Huggins (HCA) – ‘The reception of John Chrysostom in Byzantium: A study of the Catechetical Homily on Pascha in context’ [SHCA, UoE]

Fang Yu (Charles) Kong (HCA) – ‘Female rule: comparative perspectives on middle Byzantine and Tang empresses Eirene and Wu Zetian’ [PAIXUE]

Ivan Marić (HCA) – ‘Leo III and Constantine V as models of imperial authority (and their contested legacy): From the Arab siege (717/18) to the fourth council of Constantinople (869/70)’ [A. G. Leventis Foundation]

Sam Nwokoro (Div) – ‘Political power and religious conversion in early Christian-Muslim relations: A study of allied rule in Umayyad Damascus and the making of Arab Melkite Christianity’ [A. G. Leventis Foundation]

Rory Paterson (HCA) – ‘Late antique love poetry’

Tim Penn (HCA) – ‘Relations between the rural living and their dead: contextualising countryside burials in Italy ca. 300–700 AD’ [CAHSS]

Leone Pecorini Goodall (IMES) – ‘Heirs to the Caliphate: Continuity, territoriality and gender in the accession of the late Umayyads and early Abbasids’ [SGSAH]

George Pinkerton (HCA) – ‘Porphyry in the late antiquity and the early Byzantine periods’

Matteo Randazzo (HCA) – ‘Sicily and Crete between Byzantium and Islam’ [UoE]

Fraser Reed (HCA) – ‘An archaeological assessment of the urbes Thraciae in late antiquity’

Giulia Sagliardi (HCA) – ‘Claudian, Bellum Geticum: A literary and historical commentary’ [SGSAH, UoE]

Audrey Scardina (HCA) – ‘The development of ecclesiastical architecture in the landscape of Byzantine Lycia’

Joaquín Serrano (HCA) – ‘The reception of Emperor Herakleios in later Byzantine sources’

Jaimelee Twigge (HCA) – ‘Byzantine–Bulgar border lands’ [Wolfson]

Rossana Valente (HCA) – ‘Unglazed utilitarian vessels in the Byzantine Peloponnese (8th–13th century): socio-economic identities’ [HCA]

Christianna Veloudaki (HCA with School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, ECA) – ‘Kythnos and medieval fortified settlements in the Cyclades’ [Wolfson]

Former PhD students

Mihail Mitrea (HCA) – ‘Hesychasm and hagiography in late Byzantium: The hagiographical œuvre of Philotheos Kokkinos’; Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at Newcastle University

Emanuele Intagliata (HCA) – ‘Late antique and early Islamic Palmyra/Tadmur: An archaeological and historical reassessment’; Assistant Professor at Aarhus University

Alison John (HCA) – ‘Education and identity in fifth-century Gaul’ [Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, UoE]; Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Studentship at Ghent University

Francesca Ruggeri (Engineering/HCA) – ‘Engineering the Byzantine Water Supply of Constantinople: mapping, hydrology and hydraulics of the long aqueducts outside the City’ [Leverhulme Trust]

Riley Snyder (HCA) – ‘A study of material technology, sourcing, and building organisation in the construction of the Water Supply of Constantinople and Anastasian Wall’ [HCA]; Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh

Thomas Tsartsidis (HCA) – ‘Prudentius, Peristephanon 10’ [CAHSS]; Fritz Thyssen Fellowship at LMU Munich