The Corinthian colony tour continues with the site of Apollonia in south-central Albania. Like the site of Dyrrachium, Apollonia was founded in 588 BC as a Greek colony by inhabitants of Corcyra (Corfu) and Corinth, and remained a significant coastal site through late antiquity. But unlike Dyrrachium, the harbor silted up in later antiquity and the urban center declined; there was no significant medieval or modern settlement other than the monastic community of St. Mary. One benefit of this occupational history, however, is that the site is relatively well preserved (isolated from the nearest town of Fier) and visually dominates the surrounding countryside.
Excavations since the early 20th century by Austrian, French, and Albanian archaeologists have revealed impressive buildings of the Hellenistic-Roman era–a bouleuterion, monumental facade, odeon, stoas, nymphaeum, and a library, among others–but only about 4% of the intramural space has been excavated. The really impressive remains for me were the fortification walls (a composite of classical-late antique periods) and the 13th century church and monastery of St. Mary. I was also impressed by the overall lay of the site on a rise dominating its territory.
As with Dyrrachium, very few building remains have been documented from the time of the archaic colony, but the necropolis, which has recently been investigated by the Albanian Rescue Archaeology Unit, contains some burials of archaic and classical date.
When I visited the site yesterday, there were few visitors there other than 50 little children on a school trip. With the spring flowers still in bloom, it was beautiful.
Corinthianmatters is on the road. My colleague, Abaz Kryemadhi, and I are touring Albania and Greece with a group of students. Currently based in Tirane, Albania, we will be journeying southward later this week and end in Corinth on Monday. This journey will provide opportunities to see cities related in some way to Corinth, like the Archaic-age colonies of the Corinthians. Already I have had the chance to visit two of the significant sites of Albania and ancient Illyria: Dyrrachium and Apollonia.
Ancient Dyrrachium lies under the modern town of Durres which is today the port town for Tirane. For the inhabitants of the capital, Durres provides the nearest access to the Adriatic and is a weekend beach destination. The city has been inhabited since antiquity so its ancient remains are largely covered by medieval and modern buildings. The modern archaeology of the city is fairly young and so much more remains to be done.
Ancient Dyrrachium, aka Epidamnus, was founded as a Greek colony in 627 BC by colonists from Corfu (itself a Corinthian colony, Corcyra) although there were already Illyrian inhabitants in the region from a much earlier date. According to Thucydides, Epidamnus was central to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War for the city’s conflict with Corcyra led Athens and Corinth to side, respectively, with Corcyra and Epidamnus.
Like Corinth, “Dyrrachium,” as Epidamnus came to be called from the Hellenistic era, developed a reputation for being a substantial trading center. It remained important in the Roman and Late Antique periods and continued to be inhabited to the modern day. I was only in Durres briefly but noted few remains (outside the museum) dating to the Archaic and Classical era. Most of the remains are Roman and Late Antique in date: a 2nd century AD amphitheater, late antique-Byzantine walls (based on classical walls), and the early Christian chapel below the amphitheater. Unfortunately, I missed some of the spectacular mosaics uncovered in salvage excavations in the city — next time.
Some of the best pictures I include below. Cameras were not allowed in the museum (which contained some outstanding artifacts).
As a follow up to my last post on the “Corinth – Paul, People, and Politics” at Macquarie University, I have just received from Cavan Concannon a PDF document of the paper abstracts. Check out the Corinth Conference Abstracts. The papers covered a wide range of issues relating in some way to Pauline or early Christian Corinth. We have Pausanias and coins, the chronology of the letters and Paul’s visit, the language of economy in the letters, Dionysios bishop of Corinth, imperial cult, and the legacy of Paul, among others.
A first report is now available on the Society for the Study of Early Christianity conference at Macquarie University last weekend, with Corinth as its theme this year. The review focuses mainly on the value of Laurence Welborn’s “The Content and Setting of the Gospel Tradition,” but there are also some positive comments on Amelia Brown’s talk on the legacy of St. Paul in Corinth. http://au.christiantoday.com/article/new-book-on-early-new-testament-studies-superb/11050.htm
I recently stumbled across a gallery of digital images called “In the Steps of Pausanias: In Korinthia,” which contains about 500 images related to Korinthiaka. The gallery appears to be growing. This is not your typical “I went to Ancient Corinth and took lots of photos” photo gallery but rather contains images of the sites and museums of Corinth, Isthmia, and Nemea, Kenchreai, Krommyon (Ay. Theodoroi), the canal, Acrocorinth, and even the Sousaki volcano. The sponsoring organization is the Hellenic Electronic Center:
Founded on March 1, 1995, the Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC) is a volunteer, non-profit, non-political organization. HEC is a cultural and educational Center whose main objective is to promote Hellenic culture and establish a network among Hellenes, Philhellenes, and Hellenic organizations around the world. HEC provides free computer services and technical support to non-profit Hellenic organizations and projects.
Since some of these Corinthian sites are off the tourist path, and some of the museums are frequently closed (Isthmia Museum), this gallery offers a useful repository of images related to Corinthian archaeology.
The latest in Corinthian Scholarship for April 2011. As always, this list is based on various Google alerts that may be thorough but are certainly not exhaustive. If you have material to add, send it my way.
Archaic to Hellenistic:
Pauline Corinth, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians:
- See recent posts on the International SBL in London and the Corinth conference at Macquarie Unviersity.
- Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, “Spiritual Weakness, Illness, and Death in 1 Corinthians 11:30,” Journal of Biblical Literature 130.1
- Rachel M. Mcrae, “Eating with Honor: The Corinthian Lord’s Supper in light of Voluntary Association Meal Practices” Journal of Biblical Literature 130.1
- Tim Brookins, “The Wise Corinthians: Their Stoic Education and Outlook,” Journal of Theological Studies 62.1
- Preston T. Massey, “Is there a Case for Elite Roman ‘New Women’ causing Division at Corinth?” in Revue Biblique 118.1 (2011), 76-93.
- Corinth is central to Moyer Hubbard’s imaginative introduction to Pauline Christianity, Christianity in the Greco-Roman World: A Narrative introduction (Baker Academic 2010) [Recent Review in Toronto Journal of Theology]
- Paul and the sophists gets a little space in Perceptions of the Second Sophistics and its time (2011)