Martha Sharp Joukowsky

Providence, Rhode Island

We share the sad news that Martha Sharp Joukowsky passed away on January 7, 2022. A generous gift from Martha and her husband Artemis Joukowsky – whom she survived by slightly over a year -- made possible the creation of Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, named in their honor in 2004. Martha’s influence on the Joukowsky Institute goes far beyond sharing a name, or even enabling the Institute’s creation. She was seemingly fearless and tireless, commanding huge excavation teams of students and workers well into her seventies. She cared for her students with a fierce and extraordinary kindness – while also strictly enforcing the very highest academic standards. Martha made everything more fun, and more special. She sparkled, and her glow lit everyone around her. Her approach to scholarship, teaching, and mentoring is woven into the Institute’s essence, and continues to guide our mission and our work.

Born in Montague, MA in 1936, Martha grew up in a Unitarian family with a keen sense of social justice that led her parents to become heavily involved in humanitarian relief efforts in World War II Europe. Martha was educated at Brown’s Pembroke College, where she met and married Artemis in 1956; she received her BA in 1958. The young family moved to Italy in 1960 and subsequently lived in Lebanon (1961-72) and Hong Kong before returning to the US in 1974. During their years in Beirut, Martha and Artemis not only traveled extensively through the Levant, including Cyprus, but Martha also engaged intensively with the deep past of the Middle East, earning her MA in Archaeology from the American University of Beirut in the process (1972). She received her PhD from the Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University in 1982 with a dissertation on the prehistory of western Anatolia (published as Prehistoric Aphrodisias, 1996).

Having previously taught at NYU, Hunter College and at Brown’s then Center for Old World Archaeology and Art, 1982 was also the year that Martha was appointed to the faculty at Brown as Professor of Old World Archaeology and Art and of Anthropology. Brown subsequently awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1985. She held her post at Brown until her retirement in 2002. During these years, she conducted fieldwork in Turkey, Italy, and Greece and, especially, Jordan, where she discovered and excavated the Great Temple at Petra (Petra Great Temple, 3 vols 1998; 2007; 2016). On the Petra project Martha trained generations of Brown students, undergraduate as well as graduate, in field archaeology. Other major publications include A Complete Manual of Field Archaeology (1980) and Early Turkey (1996). Between 1989 and 1993, Martha served as the President of the American Institute of Archaeology. She was also honored by national and international institutions with multiple medals and awards.

Over the fifteen years of the Institute’s existence, both Martha and Arte remained close friends and dedicated supporters. As Martha worked on the third and final volume on her excavations in Petra, which appeared in 2016, she would regularly visit Rhode Island Hall and hear from faculty and students about their fieldwork and classes. Most of all, she happily presided over all the graduation ceremonies at the Institute since 2006 to hand the diplomas personally to the students -- until her health no longer allowed her to do so – and her presence (and beautiful Sorbonne regalia) filled our Commencements with the gravitas, style, and irrepressible humor that she brought to everything she touched.

Martha Sharp Joukowsky was a leading field archaeologist, who dedicated her life to exploring the Middle East; a champion of archaeological methodology and the accessible publication of data; and a mentor generous with her time and material; she was also a role model for female students and scholars in Archaeology far beyond those she herself taught. We will sorely miss Martha’s friendship and encouragement, while we gratefully remember the legacy that she and Arte established for the discipline and on Brown’s campus.