- Byzantium 500-1200
- Early medieval slavery and slave trade
- The Islamic world until the Seljuqs
- Early Slavic history
I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the monothelete controversy in the seventh century. I was intrigued why a debate on the number of wills in Christ (one or two or perhaps even three) led to a major crisis in the Roman Empire at a time when, one would think, it had more important challenges to face and was struggling for survival in the face of the Muslim invasion. I became interested in the transformation of Byzantium in the 7th and 8th centuries and worked on Maximus the Confessor, a major figure of the Byzantine intellectual life, Byzantine-Arab warfare (in particular the first Arab siege of Constantinople in 668), and the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-1), the Acts of which give a unique insight into this obscure period. I also worked on Byzantine historiography (Procopius of Caesarea, Theophanes Confessor).
My post-doctoral projects revolved around early medieval slave trade. I was co-investigator of the AHRC project ‘Dirhams for Slaves’ (2013-17) which traced the flows of dirhams and slaves between the Islamic world (especially Central Asia) and Scandinavia and the Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries. I tried, with my colleagues, to combine textual, numismatic and archaeological evidence to understand the place of slavery in various societies, the mechanisms of this trade, and its long-term effects – one of which was the emergence of states in Scandinavia and the Slavic lands. I continue this research and am increasingly interested in using scientific methods to follow the flows of silver, or to establish the provenance of glass beads found in Viking-Age burials in Scandinavia.
I try to apply these lines of thinking to Byzantium. I work on slavery in Byzantium, and more broadly on its social and economic history. I am very interested in the place of Byzantium within the broader world and in its contacts – political, religious, economic, intellectual – with the Islamic world, the inhabitants of the steppe, the Slavs, the Scandinavians, and the western Europeans.
I am, finally, attracted by a global approach to medieval history. I am interested in Eurasian connections and in comparative approaches, such as a parallel study of such imperial and bureaucratic systems as Byzantium, the Abbasid Caliphate, Tang and Song China, and Heian Japan.