Rebecca Stacey


+44 (0)20 7323 8884


Rebecca’s expertise is in the characterisation of amorphous natural organic materials such as varnishes, adhesives and residues of food, medicines and other unguents. Her research applies chemical analysis to address questions concerning the source, production, use and alteration of these materials throughout the Museum’s collections. Her main interests are natural products such as resins, gums and waxes, tars and bituminous materials.

Rebecca’s background is in archaeological sciences. She later specialised in analytical chemistry applied to ancient organic materials, in particular food residues. She further developed her skills in organic analysis in the commercial sector before joining the British Museum in 2001.

Rebecca maintains the Museum’s gas chromatography and mass spectrometry facilities.

Current projects

Ancient Egyptian leather processing (CDA supervisor)

IPERION-CH (research task leader; encaustic binding media)

Ritual Residues on 22nd Dynasty Coffins/Cartonnage (resins, tars and bitumen)

Roman ointments and medicines

Previous projects

Pre-Columbian Caribbean cave art (binding media)

Ancient maritime pitch and tar (pine tar)

Turquoise mosaics from Mexico (adhesives)

Orthodox Icons (varnishes and media)

Nebamun wall-paintings (media and varnishes)

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Honorary Senior Lecturer, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA)

Recent publications

Brøns, C., Lund Rasmussen, K., Melchiorre, M., Di Crescenzo, M., Stacey, R., Lluveras-Tenorio, A. 2018: Painting the Palace of Apries I: Ancient binding media and coatings of the reliefs from the Palace of Apries, Lower Egypt. Heritage Science, 6:6,

Smith, R.K. Stacey, R.J. Bergström, E., Thomas-Oates, J. 2018: Detection of opium alkaloids in a Cypriot Base-Ring juglet. Analyst. doi: 10.1039/c8an01040d

Stacey, R.J., Dyer, J., Mussell, C., Lluveras-Tenorio, A., Colombini, M.P., Duce, C., La Nasa, J., Cantisani, E., Prati, S., Sciutto, G., Mazzeo, R., Sotiropoulou, S., Rosi, F., Miliani, C., Cartechini, L., Mazurek, J., Schilling, M. 2018: Ancient encaustic: An experimental exploration of technology, ageing behaviour and approaches to analytical investigation. Microchemical Journal 138: 472-487.

Samson, Alice V M, Lucy J Wrapson, Caroline R Cartwright, Diana Sahy, Rebecca J Stacey and Jago Cooper (2017) ‘Artists Before Columbus: A multi-method characterization of the materials and practices of Caribbean cave art’. Journal of Archaeological Science 88: 24-36. ( OPEN ACCESS

Burger P, Stacey RJ, Bowden SA, Hacke M, Parnell J (2016) Identification, Geochemical Characterisation and Significance of Bitumen among the Grave Goods of the 7th Century Mound 1 Ship-Burial at Sutton Hoo (Suffolk, UK). PLOS ONE 11(12): e0166276. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166276) OPEN ACCESS

Stacey, Rebecca (2016) ‘Resins and varnishes used on coffins’ in: H. Strudwick and J. Dawson (Eds.) Death on the Nile, uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. p99

O. O. Alabi,   A. N. F. Edilbi,   C. Brolly,   D. Muirhead,   J. Parnell,   R. Stacey and   S. A. Bowden  (2015) Asphaltene detection using surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) Chem. Communications 51: 7152-7155 (DOI: 10.1039/C5CC00676G).

S. Tanimoto and R. Stacey (2014) Identification of the contents of a 6th century BC pot from Tell Dafana. In: F. Leclère and J. Spencer (ed.s) Tell Dafana Reconsidered: The Archaeology of an Egyptian Frontier Town (British Museum Research Publication 199) 137-139

P. Burger, M. Gros-Balthazar, R.J. Stacey, Molecular and isotopic analysis of the tars from the Newport Medieval Ship, in: N. Nayling, T. Jones (Eds.), Newport Medieval Ship, Archaeology Data Service, York, 2014 (doi:10.5284/1020898).

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Fiona Brock, Caroline Cartwright, Rebecca Stacey, Mike Richards (2013) ‘Birdmen, cemís and duhos: material studies and AMS 14C dating of Pre-Hispanic Caribbean wood sculptures in the British Museum’ Journal of Archaeological Science 40 4675-4687