Dr Jessica Varsallona

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow


After receiving a BA, MA, and MRes in Art History from the University of Milan, I completed my PhD in Byzantine Studies (2021) at the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham. In 2022, I joined the Istanbul Research Institute (IAE) as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Meanwhile, I also taught Medieval and Byzantine Art and Material Culture at the University of Oxford (Department of Continuing Education) and the Courtauld Institute of Arts (London). I joined the University of Edinburgh in 2023 as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow.


Ph.D., University of Birmingham, Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greek Studies

Research summary


  • Mediterranean
  • Near East
  • Italy


  • Byzantine Visual and Material Culture
  • Urbanism and Architecture
  • Women History
  • Byzantine and Ottoman Constantinople


  • Byzantine and Medieval
  • Early Modern

Current research interests

My research focuses on the Visual and Material Culture of late Byzantium. My main research areas are the urban evolution and topography of Byzantine Constantinople and the architectural history of the Balkans in the Middle Ages, which I use as a starting point to contextualise broader patterns of patronage and their ideological implications. In addition to my main research, I have developed further interests, publications, and collaborations on the cultural interaction between Byzantium and the Latin West, especially Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy; I am particularly interested in the social and economic implications of the circulation of technology and religious cult activity across the Mediterranean in the 13th-15th Centuries and the reception of Byzantium in the post-Byzantine and Early Modern eras.

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

Pan-Mediterranean Dialogues of Power and Prestige: Late Byzantine Architecture in Context (1330-1500)

Aristocratic castles, famed architects, and the cult of classical antiquity are more commonly associated with Renaissance Italy rather than with Byzantium. But Italian families such as the Milanese Visconti or Montferrat marquises were linked through marriages with Byzantine emperors and Balkan rulers. By contextualising these political and cultural connections, I transgress the traditional disciplinary boundaries separating Byzantine, Ottoman and Renaissance Studies. My project demonstrates continuity and exchange between Italian and late Byzantine constructions in Greece, Turkey, and Serbia, thus demolishing old narratives of periodization and modern national boundaries that have obscured our understanding. Analysis of the material features of a group of selected buildings, their patrons’ social network and intellectual background, reveals the global trajectories of architectural interchanges between Renaissance Italy, Byzantium and the early Ottomans in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Current project grants

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship