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John and Martha on Delos (Greece) 1972


When I used to giggle and whisper with Ruth in Mrs. Murphy's Latin 1 class instead of paying attention, I never thought I'd ever need Latin, and I certainly didn't expect to marry an archaeologist and end up crawling in and out of ancient tombs all over Europe and Asia Minor. However, that is exactly what happened!

Historical fast-forward: After graduating in 1963 from Westboro High School, I attended Colby Junior College in New Hampshire for two years and then worked in Boston and Cambridge in Human Resources. I lived with a variety of female friends including Leigh, Jane J, Vicky K, and Kathy D from Westboro High and other friends from Colby. These were gloriously fun and carefree times! At one point, Kathy and I took jobs in Switzerland and traveled for a year. Since Kathy's death, I've thought often about those good times.

In late 1965, John E, a student at Harvard, introduced me to a fellow student and my future husband. Four years later, John O and I were married, and that opened up a whole new world of ancient history to me.

John, who received his Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from Harvard, specialized in ancient Roman studies. As a result of his research, we lived in Rome for several wonderful years and later in Florence, and every summer we excavated ancient Roman sites, some on land and others underwater. To make myself useful on these digs, I took up scuba diving (in Gloucester), learned to use an underwater air-lift (in Italy), and was trained to catalogue and restore ancient pottery for museum exhibits (in Italy). I also researched ancient Roman ceramics for publication. During this stage of my life, I worked on a bronze-age site in Cyprus and at several ancient Roman sites in Italy, both underwater and on land, including Cosa, Populonia, and Pyrgi. I have so many stories to tell; here is just one: At the harbor site of Populonia in 1973, the Italian divers would not buddy with me underwater because I was a female. (Few Italian women worked underwater in the '70s.) However, eventually they had to, and slowly, I gained their trust. Then on the last day of the dig, each one came up to me underwater and shook my hand in acceptance. That was a great day!

In 1976, after a few years with the Florida State University system, we came to the University of Victoria, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada to try it for one year, and we never looked back. I finished my university degrees in English and History here and became a high school teacher. John is a Professor of Greek and Roman Studies. He excavates every summer and I sometimes go along.

Teaching English 12 (especially Shakespeare) and Comparative Civilizations 12 (Roman, Egyptian, Islamic history, feudal Japan, etc.) became my passions. I loved teaching, worked hard and got heavily involved in the extra-curricular life. I spent thousands of hours devising flexible, interesting, hands-on, active learning scenarios to hold the interests of those normal but rangy tangy kids who didn't like school. I retired last year so that I could spend more time with my 88-year-old Mother who lives in Florida.

During the 1990s, I frequently spent the summers working with my husband at Humayma, a large Nabatean Roman excavation which John directed for 20 years in the desert of southern Jordan. On this site, I excavated a Roman fort, Byzantine churches and burials, and numerous other structures. These were exciting years! It is an incredible experience to be brushing the soil off the bones of a Byzantine priest when nothing is left but a skeleton, some leather sandals, a bit of scalp hair and a bronze cross around his neck. The air a meter down is cool and moist. Then you climb up to ground level and you are in the 20th century, surrounded by Bedouin workers and the air is a scorching 95 degrees F and dry. It is a one-minute time warp.


Martha in Jordan, 1991


Martha in Jordan, 1991


Family in a Bedouin tent, Jordan, 1992
(Left to right, a graduate student, our daughter Patience at age 14, Martha and John)


Sheik and his sons eating mansef, Jordan, 1992


During this period in Jordan I had some amazing experiences and want to share just a few of them. For example, every summer we were invited to the local Bedouin Sheik landowner's tent for mansef (goat) and cardamom tea. The tents are made of camel and goat hair and are enclosed on three sides, open on one, and pitched so that they catch the desert breeze. We reclined on cushions and oriental carpets in the men's quarters, drinking cardamom tea out of silver cups, while the Sheik discussed business with my husband (how many men from each tribe would he hire, what was the pay, etc.). Because my husband was the mudir (director), the Sheik always offered him the goat's eyeballs and then proceeded to help me pull off the goat meat with his tobacco stained fingers. After dinner, I'd go into the women's quarters to admire the babies and hand out little gifts. Bedouin hospitality is unparalled, and eating dinner with an extended tribal family is a rich experience.


Martha sailing a felucca, Aswan, Egypt, 1992


Riding my bike near the aqueduct, Caesarea, Israel, 1995


Working in the desert also created some hair-raising experiences as well. One time I became quite lost in the Southern Jordanian desert. I was supposed to be following along on an escarpment in a 4 wheel drive SUV while John used a GPS receiver to measure a 25-kilometer ground level aqueduct. Somehow I got mixed up with my directions and lost him and my way. At one point I thought I was going to have to hail a passing bedouin on his donkey to give me shelter in his tent for the night. Thank goodness John knew to climb a nearby jebel and spotted my red SUV down in the desert going nowhere. It was a happy ending as he came to my rescue. Another time I scooped up a bag of pottery shards only to discover an entanglement of pit vipers underneath. I'm still saying my thank-you prayers over that one!


Here I am posing as Venus de Milo on a Latin inscribed statue base, Jordan, 1996
(My students loved this photo!)


John and I have two grown children: our son Olaf is 34, our daughter Patience is 30 and our new grandson Benjamin is 3 weeks old. We all have dual citizenship. My Mother and my two brothers and their families are all well and living in Florida. My Dad died in 1998.


The family in Maui, 2004. Son Olaf, daughter Patience, Martha and John.


Martha and John in Italy, 2005


Martha in a pub in Oxford, England, 2008
John was an invited lecturer at Oxford University.
The scarf I have on is the Cunningham Scottish plaid, my Grandmother's clan plaid.


If you've stayed with my story to this point, you might wonder why we stayed so long in Victoria. Well, we live on the tip of Vancouver Island and look out over Haro Strait at the American San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker in Washington State. We watch pods of Orca whales go by, sea lions fighting over salmon and eagles swooping around. The air is crisp and clean. We have a sturdy aluminum Silver Streak boat (built here in Sooke, BC) with a cuddy cabin and kitchen, and we spend some of our happiest days on this boat, swimming and diving off it and exploring the many American and Canadian Islands in the area. One of my favorite things to do is to swim off the boat in 52 degree water, wrap myself in kelp and think how much better this is than going to a spa and having it all synthetically replicated!


Martha and John on their boat named Pequod


Our boat, Pequod, anchored in one of the many beautiful coves around Vancouver Island


Both my husband and I love Canada, its political philosophy and the life. We travel a lot. I've been diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and in the Red Sea. I have wandered the Roman remains at Palmyra in Syria, and I've been to Italy more times than I can count. We have many Jordanian and Israeli friends and have worked in both places. Living outside the United States has given me a healthy perspective of other cultures.

Although I am retired, my husband is in the middle of several major projects so I may tag along and help where I can. For years I ran every day and skied whenever I could, even taking all the grade 12 students skiing at least once a year. Today, I love to swim in the sea, garden, photograph nature, hang out with friends, read, cook, travel and volunteer.

I know this profile is dense but I wanted to share at least a few stories! I'm looking forward so much to reading everyone else's profiles, so please start writing!

I will close with a few photos of our home and the view in Victoria. Then maybe you will understand why we love it here!






This is the view looking out toward Mt. Baker in Washington State, with
San Juan Island, an American Island, in the foreground.





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This page added 4/3/09
Last updated 9/10/11



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