Institute of Archaeology


Nelly (Eleanor) von Aderkas

Containing Commodities: Determining Organic Residues In Greek Painted Pottery

Nelly von Aderkas

Email: eleanor.vonaderkas.18@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences



My project is a collaborative PhD between UCL's Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum. I will investigate the uses of Greek decorated pottery vessels in the 8th - 4th century BC Mediterranean through organic residue analysis. I will develop a systematic interdisciplinary approach that combines organic residue analysis, the investigation of a vessel's excavation, collection and conservation history and the study of archaeological and textual evidence for its ancient use. Data will be collected to answer questions such as: Which commodities, if any, did decorated Greek ceramics contain? How were vessels used in different ancient socio-cultural contexts? To what extent does the collection, display and conservation history of the pottery affect its potential for scientific analysis?

I have worked for the past seven years in UK institutions conducting scientific research into historic paint materials and methods. I worked as a conservation scientist at Tate on modern paint surfaces. More recently I researched the painted decoration on Ancient Egyptian coffins at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. For the past five years I have worked in the National Gallery Scientific Department investigating the organic material (i.e. binding media) in Old Master paintings. I will apply this scientific methodology and conservation background to the organic residue analysis of Greek Pottery.




  • BSc, Chemistry with minor in Art History, McGill University, 2008
  • Dip Cons, Conservation of Easel Paintings, University of Cambridge, 2011

    Spring, M., von Aderkas, N., Peggie, D., Rukavina, F., 2018, 'An Astronomer by Ferdinand Bol: materials, colour change and conservation', National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 38, London: National Gallery, 76-95

    Keith, L., Melchiorre, M., von Aderkas, N., Spring, M. and Moore Ede, M., 2018, 'A Knight of Saint John by Rosso Fiorentino: a restoration in context', National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 38, London: National Gallery, 6-17

    Rukavina, F., Spring, M., von Aderkas, N., and Peggie, D., 2017, 'Technical analysis and conservation of Ferdinand Bol's An Astronomer (1652) in London', in Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck: New Research, Amsterdam: WBooks, 160-167

    Spring, M., Billinge, R., Treves, L., von Aderkas, N., Higgitt, C., van Loon, A. and Dik, J., 2016, 'Goya's Portraits in the National Gallery: their Technique, Materials and Development', National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 37, London: National Gallery, 78-104

    Ormsby, B.A., Keefe, M.H., Phenix, A., von Aderkas, E., Learner, T., Tucker, C. and Kozak, C., 2016, 'Mineral Spirits-based Microemulsions: A Novel Cleaning System for Painted Surfaces', Journal for the American Institute for Conservation. 55 (1), 12-31

    Dawson, J., Marchant, J. and von Aderkas E., 2016, 'Egyptian Coffins: Materials, Construction and Decoration' in Death on the Nile: Uncovering the Afterlife of Ancient Egypt, Fitzwilliam exhibition Catalogue, Strudwick, H. and Dawson, J. (Eds)

    Spring, M., Dunkerton, J., Howard, H., Macaro, G., Peggie, D. and von Aderkas, N., 2016, 'Titian: Late Technique', National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 36, London: National Gallery

    Gent, A., Morrison, R. and von Aderkas, N., 2015, '1st olio after Capivi: Copaiba Balsam in the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds', in Studying 18th-Century Paintings and Works on Paper, Evans, E. & Muir, K. (Eds), London: Archetype

    Townsend, J., von Aderkas, N., Ormsby, B. and Sofer, G., 2014, 'Kurt Schwitters' British sculptures: materials analysis and assessment of fragility', ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference, Melbourne, Australia

    Ormsby, B., Hodgkins, R. and von Aderkas, N., 2012, 'Preliminary Investigation into Two New Acrylic Emulsion Paint Formulations: W&N Artists' Acrylic Colours and Golden Open Acrylics', e-Preservation Science, 9, 9-16

    Von Aderkas, E. L., Barsan, M. M., Gilson, D. F. R. and Butler, I. S., 2010, 'Application of Photoacoustic Infrared Spectroscopy in the Forensic Analysis of Artists' Inorganic Pigments', Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, 77, 954-959

    Conference papers

    New Insights into Old Master Paintings: Macro-XRF Scanning at the National Gallery, Presentation at the Art of Restoration International Conference at the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 2017

    Tracking Oxygen Levels of Sealed Low-Oxygen Frames. Presentation at The Future's Bright: Managing Colour Change in Light Sensitive Collections at the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden, November 2012

    X-Ray Fluorescence of Easel Painting Layers: A Multivariate Statistical Approach. Presentation at the 29th Annual Gerry Hedley Student Symposium, London, June 2011

    Application of Photoacoustic Infrared Spectroscopy in the Forensic Analysis of Artists' Inorganic Pigments, IUPAC Conference, Glasgow, August 2009