- Byzantium 500-1200
- Early medieval slavery and slave trade
- The Islamic world until the Seljuqs
- Early Slavic history
My doctoral dissertation on the monothelete controversy in the seventh century (whether Christ had one will or two) led me to a broader interest in the transformation of Byzantium in the 7th and 8th centuries. I am currently working on the Acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-1) which give a unique insight into this obscure period. I am also increasingly interested in the social and economic history of Byzantium in the 9th-11th centuries, and in the contacts of Byzantium with its neighbours such as the Islamic world, the steppe, the Slavs, the Scandinavians, and the western Europeans.
My post-doctoral project ‘Dirhams for Slaves’ (funded by the AHRC) attempted to explain the finds of hundreds of thousands of dirhams, mostly produced in Central Asia, all around the Baltic and in eastern Europe. Combined textual, numismatic and archaeological evidence reveals a major trade system, dealing mostly in slaves, that connected the Islamic world with Scandinavia and the Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries. I am currently preparing a monograph on this slave trade system and its long-term implications (e.g. the emergence of states in Scandinavia and the Slavic lands). I am also increasingly interested in scientific methods that can be used to provenance silver and glass beads found in Viking-Age Scandinavia, and in the place of slavery in various medieval societies, including Byzantium.
Finally, I am interested in Eurasian connections in the middle ages and in comparative approaches, such as a study of imperial bureaucracies in Byzantium, the Abbasid Caliphate, Tang and Song China, and Heian Japan.