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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Staff and Governance

Core Staff

The day-to-day running of IMEMS is the responsibility of the Core Executive Committee, comprising the Director and Associate Directors and the Administrator. 

Publication details for UNESCO Professor Robin Coningham

Stern, B., Connan, J., Blakelock, E., Jackman, R., Coningham, R.A.E. & Heron, C. (2008). From Susa to Anuradhapura reconstructing aspects of trade and exchange in bitumen-coated ceramic vessels between Iran and Sri Lanka from the third to the ninth centuries AD. Archaeometry 50(3): 409-428.

Author(s) from Durham


In contrast with artefactual studies of long-distance trade and exchange in South Asia during the Prehistoric and Early Historic periods ( Ardika et al. 1993; Gogte 1997; Krishnan and Coningham 1997; Tomber 2000; Gupta et al. 2001; Ford et al. 2005), few scientifically orientated analyses have focused on artefacts from the region's Historic period. During excavations at the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, a number of buff ware ceramics with a putative organic coating on the interior were recovered ( Coningham 2006). Dated stylistically to between the third and ninth centuries ad, analysis of the coatings using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) and stable isotope analysis (carbon and deuterium) confirmed that the coatings are bitumen—an organic product associated with petroleum deposits. There are no known bitumen sources in Sri Lanka, and biomarker distributions and isotopic signatures suggest that the majority of the samples appear to have come from a single bitumen source near Susa in Iran. The relationship between the bitumen coatings and the vessels is discussed, and it is suggested that the coatings were used to seal permeable ceramic containers to allow them to transport liquid commodities. This study enhances our knowledge of networks of trade and exchange between Sri Lanka and western Asia during Historic times.

Full Executive Committee

Our Full Executive Committee is made up of the Core Executive Committee, listed above, plus a number of executive members including:

International Advisory Board

We are extremely fortunate to have be able to call on the help and guidance of colleagues from around the world who help to shape and guide our direction, strategy and international reach. Our current Advisory Board members are: