Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


22 December 2020

Death of Martha Heath Wiencke

American School of Classical Studies

Martha Heath Wiencke, devoted member of the Lerna project, died on December 7, 2020. Martha’s long connection to the American School and the Lerna excavations in particular began with her year as a Fulbright Fellow, 1953-54, while a graduate student at Yale. In that spring term she assisted with the documentation of finds from the inaugural 1953 excavation season, and in the summer of 1954 she supervised excavations in and around the House of the Tiles. Her 1958 and 1969 articles on the seals and sealings of Lerna in Hesperia were the start of a prolific record of scholarship culminating in her publication of The Architecture, Stratification, and Pottery of Lerna III (2000).

In 1982, she was offered and accepted the role of Project Director for the Lerna Publications. Over the next thirty years she shepherded four major volumes in the Lerna series through to their completion. Before her ‘retirement’ in 2013, she had already worked with the authors of two further volumes that would appear shortly thereafter. Indeed, her prolific scholarship continued into her 80s including an article on feasting at Lerna in the Festschrift for Jeremy Rutter and further work on the Lerna sealings.

Beyond her efforts on behalf of the Lerna project, she was a devoted teacher: Latin at Dartmouth; Latin, German and French at Thetford Academy; and Greek and Latin at the Kendal at Hanover retirement community. She loved music and literature, and she worked to preserve the early history of Thetford, where she and her late husband Matthew Wiencke raised their four children.

The Lerna Publication project continues in the very able hands of Jeremy Rutter, but this year has brought two great losses with the passing of Betty Banks and now Martha Heath Wiencke. I offer deepest condolences to her children and their families, and to her many friends and colleagues on the Lerna project and far beyond.


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