Corinthian Scholarship (May-June 2011)

It’s been a couple of months since the last Corinthian Scholarship update, so we have a full list here.  The following list compiles the works I happened to see and the (imperfect) results of various google alerts.  If you have material to add to these monthly compilations, send to

As usual, 1 and 2 Corinthians scholars win the prize for productivity.

1 and 2 Corinthians:


Archaic to Hellenistic Corinth


Corinthian Myth and Image:


Coastal Archaeology:



  • A few from the publication office of the ASCSA:
  • The following books were up for review at the Journal of Roman Archaeology – surely they are taken now.
    • Nancy Bookidis, Corinth volume XVIII.5. The sanctuary of Demeter and Kore. The terracotta sculpture (American School of Classical Studies at Athens; Princeton, NJ 2010). Pp. xxv + 317, pls. 126. ISBN 978-0-87661-185-2. $150.
    • Steven J. Friesen, Daniel N. Schowalter and James C. Walters, Corinth in context: comparative studies on religion and society (Supplements to Novum Testamentum vol. 134; E. J. Brill, Leiden 2010). Pp. xxv + 517, figs. 102, tables 13, maps 3. ISSN 0167-9732; ISBN 978 90 04 18197 7. $230

The Feasts of Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29


Photo by Kate Pettegrew (June 29, 2007)


Photo by Kate Pettegrew (June 29, 2007)


The troparion and kontakia for June 29 from the website of the Orthodox Church of America:


First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!


O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest
and to the enjoyment of Your blessings
the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,
for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,
for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.


Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

Touring the Diolkos

In early June, I spent two days in the Corinthia at the diolkos, the excavated limestone portage road.  The first of those days I spent with Sophia Loverdou.  If you follow Corinthian archaeology and don’t know Sophia’s name, you should.  Sophia is the person who has been campaigning for several years to save the diolkos road from destruction and expose the institutions and people responsible for ruining it. 

Sophia drove down from Athens to meet with me on the first day of June.  We spent half the day walking and talking about the diolkos.  I gained many new views of the monument that day about the politics of archaeology which I’ll share in another post.  As Sophia knows a great deal about the diolkos, it was great to see the monument with a fresh pair of eyes.

Now, anyone who has stopped at the submersible bridge at Poseidonia near the Corinthian Gulf will be familiar with this sign and segment of the road:

 Corinthia 115

This, of course, is only a single small section (Sector G) of a kilometer of road excavated by N. Verdelis in the 1950s.  The following figure shows the sectors of the road that Werner (1997) came up with to discuss the monument.  Everything on the eastern side of the canal (in blue) is enclosed in the Greek Military Engineering school, and you have to request permission ahead of time to access it.  But all the Sectors (A-G) on the western Peloponnesian side of the canal are easily accessible.



Sophia and I toured the different sections of the road as we talked.  There was Sector A, the platform along the modern canal, which Fowler long ago (1932) thought was the beginning of the road, but which the road’s excavator, Verdelis, demonstrated was disconnected from the road by a span of about 10 meters (see plan above).  Note the thick layers of sandy / pebbly sheets that have capped the pavement.  Sector A has been reasonably interpreted as an ancient landing platform or quay that presumably relates to the diolkos.

Sector A 

Sector A - 2


Then there’s Sector B, visible in the photo below as the sand-covered area to the right of the low wall on the left.  Sector B marks the true terminus of the road on the Corinthian Gulf.  The pavements are now covered over by layers of sand but the western, southern, and northern walls are still visible.

Sector B-E


Sectors C and D have survived poorly because of continual exposure to the waves of ships passing through the canal.  They are now mostly underwater. 

 Sectors C and D

Then, there is Sector E, which is one of the best preserved sections of the road but has eroded significantly over the last half century. 

Sector E

The section that I saw for the first time was the well-preserved Sector K, the part on the Ionian side of the canal.  Sophia requested permission for us ahead of time and an officer accompanied us as we visited the remains.  It was fairly overgrown with weeds but some parts were clear.  I shot some good photos of the deep cut grooves which scholars believe indicate the use for transporting heavy loads over the Isthmus.  I was pretty surprised how little curvature there is to the road in Sector K – much less than implied in Verdelis’ discussion of the winding character of the road.

Sector K-2

Sector K

Sometime this summer, I’ll post these images in the diolkos section of this website.  I will also post permanent links to a couple of videos of the best preserved sections on the Ionian Side of the canal:

A walking video tour of Sectors E-G.   The video starts out facing Sectors B-D. 


Walking tour of Sector G .

Whirlwind on the Isthmus

My four days in the Corinthia passed much too quickly for my liking.

Day 1: Arrive at the Isthmus and introduce students to the delicious fastfood Goody’s chain; view the canal from the old national highway bridge; race to the top of Acrocorinth before the site closed (now 3 PM, no longer 7); visit Kenchreai and muse for 10 minutes about Paul’s haircut; check in hotel(s); dinner at the Gemelos Taverna where I ran into Dr. Scott Nash and group.


Anyone who has been to Greece has a photo like this.


But probably not like this.  The monument erected in 2009  commemorates the Hungarians István Türr (1825-1908) and Béla Gerster (1850 1923) “who planned, organised and directed the construction of the Corinth Canal, a masterpiece of 19th century engineering.”


What I wouldn’t do to get this picture on a clear day.

Crossing the Isthmus

Messiah College students crossing the Isthmus (view from the peak of Acrocorinth)

Western Plain

Ancient Corinth (to right) and part of the western coastal plain on May 30, 2011.

Day 2: Visit Mycenae with class, where Dr. Abaz Kreymadhi gave us a physics lesson on the behavior of sound waves (at least that’s what he told us when we were talking to the wall) and I remembered how much I had forgotten about the world of Agamenon); visit Nafplio for an excuse to have the best gelato in the world (I had not forgotten how good that gelato was); visit archaeological museum while students beached and climbed the Palamidi; dinner at the Gemelos Taverna where I ran into Dallas Deforest and Chris Cloke and Mark Hammond

IMG_2359 IMG_2351

Day 3: Students day to explore Corinth gave me time to tour the diolkos and canal with Sophia Loverdou.  More on this over the next few days.

Day 4: Students’ day to explore the Corinthia and Argolid.  Return to the diolkos for photo shoot; visit Isthmia where I ran into Tim Gregory, Tom Tartaron, Amy Dill.

Day 5: Off to Athens.  Until the next time.

Corinth Excavations

As noted in an earlier post, the American School of Classical Studies excavations are underway northwest of the Greek theater.  My stay in Corinth was so brief this year that I did not have time to visit the excavation site.  But I did have a minute to snap this photo of the theater area from the high ground to the east.  The excavation site is visible in the distance at center in the first image and far left in the second.

Corinthian Projections of the Past

One of the goals for our trip to Albania and Greece was to encourage students to think comparatively about the two countries. Leaving aside the current economic crisis, Greece often evokes positive images–mountains, sea, and plain; blue skies, blue seas; democracy and theaters and philosophers; ancient ruins in a scenic landscape; Mama Mia and Traveling Pants and Zorba. Albania, by contrast, produces few comparable mental images. The lack of images for Albania in contrast with the numerous images of Greece is especially striking in light of the two countries’ common history (Greek poleis, Roman and Byzantine provinces, Ottoman era, etc..), geography, and culture. One of the rewarding things about leading this trip was seeing students with almost no knowledge of Albania before the trip describe the country as one of Europe’s “hidden treasures.”

One of the profound differences that I noticed (as an historian and archaeologist) was how differently Albania and Greece projected their pasts in the present. In Albania, Skanderbeg, the 15th century national hero, is the real focal point in the past. We saw his image frequently on postcards, in statues, and signs. The ancient Illyrians made a weak showing at archaeological sites and museums but not to the same degree as Skanderbeg (shown below).



In Greece, by contrast, archaeological remains and classical antiquity are constantly imaged and marketed for the visitor. The difference was striking even in the Corinthia. Some examples.

The fast food restaurant known as Goody’s has collected (at its Isthmus location) images of the diolkos and canal. Here one of our students visits the posters after enjoying a delicious value meal:


The Temple of Apollo is an icon of ancient Corinth, projected throughout the tavernas and stores of the village.


I love that there is a “diolkos” cafe in Ancient Corinth! How fun it was to drink espresso and use the internet at the diolkos!


Someone has posted a sign about the diolkos in the Engineering School grounds. This is most visible to those sailing through the canal on cruise ships or party boats or canal tour vessels


And near Poseidonia on the Corinthian Gulf not far from the diolkos, we find the ancient inspiration in bronze with some fine graffiti.



After traveling with students in Albania, our arrival in Corfu (ancient “Corcyra” / “Kerkyra”) was a shocker. Saranda, Albania was a quiet coastal town. Corfu, the capital city of the island of the same name, was bustling with the loads of cruise ship tourists who disembarked for a few hours to see the old town. Despite the crowds, the old town was scenic and the Venetian fortresses offered splendid panoramic views of the peninsula. Several of my students commented that Corfu was among their favorite stops in the three week trip.

I was interested in visiting Corfu because of its famous Venetian remains as well as its ancient history. Corfu (Greek Kerkyra) was Corinth’s earliest Archaic colony founded in 734 BC (traditional date) and had an often conflicted relationship with Corinth during the archaic and classical era. The first sea battle fight recorded in Greek history was fought between Corinth and Kerkyra in 665 BC. And Thuycydides explained the initial conflicts of the Peloponnesian War in light of a dispute between Kerkyra and Epidamnus (ancient Durres) and their supporters Athens and Corinth. Like the Corinthian colonies in Albania we visited, Kerkyra remained a significant city in the Roman and later Roman eras. The emperor Nero allegedly visited the island

After exploring the old town for a while and hiking to the top of the Palaio Phrourion, I found a couple of hours to walk southward to the scattered remains of ancient Kerkyra. The ancient site (called today “Palaiopolis”) lies just above Garitsa Bay. Its acropolis is visible as a low rise. Like Durres, Kerkyra lies under modern settlement and is largely unexcavated. Navigating the ancient city on foot, I managed to find an Archaic monument (the circular Tomb of Menekrates), old ship sheds for the Greek city’s navy, and later Roman / early Christian churches. I was sorry that I did not arrive in time to visit the archaeological museum which houses many artifacts of Archaic to Roman date.

The Old Town of Corfu viewed from the Palaio Phrourio

Ancient Kerkyra on the Bay of Geritsa, viewed from Palaio Phrourio

Menekrates Tomb

Ship sheds (wholly unimpressive to photograph)

Palaiopolis Church

Mosaics from the Palaiopolis Church (in the museum in Palaio Phrourio)


Butrint (ancient Buthrotum) has made my list of ‘top ten archaeological sites of the eastern Mediterranean.’ The ancient town was our final stop in southern Albania before our group crossed the border to Greece early last week. The site occupies a peninsula on the Vivari channel that connects the Ionian sea to Lake Butrint, and the acropolis provides panoramic views of the town surrounded by water. The archaeological remains preserved and excavated at the site are impressive—enormous fortifications and towers of ancient to early modern date, a standing church of 6th-7th century date, monumental baptistery with impressive mosaic floors (but covered during our visit), Roman baths, Hellenistic theater, late Roman palace, nymphaeum, inscribed manumission records, and gymnasium, among many others. Butrint has for good reason been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The official website for the park ( allows the visitor to explore particular monuments at the site.


The city has much to offer the person interested in Corinthian history. Located on a peninsula with a view of the island of Corinth’s colony Corfu (ancient Corcyra), Corinthian influence was deep during the archaic and classical periods. Unlike Corinth, the city was spared the destruction and dissolution of the 2nd-1st centuries BC, but like Corinth Butrint was colonized by Julius Caesar in 44 BC and again by Augustus not much later. The archaeological museum at the site brought to mind familiar parallels to early Roman Corinth: commerce town benefiting from advantageous location, suburban districts across the Vivari Channel, images of the imperial family, honorific decrees, Roman perspectives, highly stratified society.

When telling people of my trip to Albania prior to departure, I often got the question ‘why?’ but having been there, that one now seems a bit strange. Why rather do few visit even Saranda and Butrint in southern Albania when the journey from nearby Corfu is so brief?