The Vampire on the Isthmus: A Halloween Tale

It is hard to know why ancient writers found Corinth and its territory a region suitable for placing ghosts, witches, and vampires, and whether the region was any more haunted than other towns and countrysides of the ancient world.  The destruction of Corinth by the Romans in 146 BC made the city a gloomy ghost town for a century – or at least that is how some Roman writers and modern authors have imagined it: “I felt the ghosts of Corinth watching me” (Steven Saylor).  But the transient character of the Isthmus and the ‘foreign’ elements of the local population also contributed in some ways to stories of spooky beings like the Phoenician vampire bride of Corinth. 

I first discovered Philostratus’ account of the vampire bride while conducting dissertation research related to the Roman Isthmus.  In his 3rd century AD account, Philostratus tells how a Lycian philosopher named Menippus was nearly devoured by his vampire bride on his wedding day, saved at the last moment by the miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana.  The story interestingly brings together many associations of ancient Corinth—Kenchreai , the Isthmus, the center of Hellas, foreign populations (Lycian and Phoenician), associations with philosophy, suburbs of Corinth, the (illusive) pleasures of Aphrodite, and the wealth of the city—that relate illusive beings to transient places.  The following passage from Philostratus VA 4.25 was translated by F.C. Conybeare:

“Now there was in Corinth at that time a man named Demetrius, who studied philosophy and had embraced in his system all the masculine vigor of the Cynics. Of him Favorinus in several of his works subsequently made the most generous mention, and his attitude towards Apollonius was exactly that which they say Antisthenes took up towards the system of Socrates: for he followed him and was anxious to be his disciple, and was devoted to his doctrines, and converted to the side of Apollonius the more esteemed of his own pupils.

Among the latter was Menippus a Lycian of twenty-five years of age, well endowed with good judgment, and of a physique so beautifully proportioned that in mien he resembled a fine and gentlemanly athlete. Now this Menippus was supposed by most people to be loved by a foreign woman, who was good-looking and extremely dainty, and said that she was rich; although she was really, as it turned out, not one of these things, but was only so in semblance.

For as he was walking all alone along the road towards Cenchraeae, he met with an apparition, and it was a woman who clasped his hand and declared that she had been long in love with him, and that she was a Phoenician woman and lived in a suburb of Corinth, and she mentioned the name of the particular suburb, and said: “When you reach the place this evening, you will hear my voice as I sing to you, and you shall have wine such as you never before drank, and there will be no rival to disturb you; and we two beautiful beings will live together.”

The youth consented to this, for although he was in general a strenuous philosopher, he was nevertheless susceptible to the tender passion; and he visited her in the evening, and for the future constantly sought her company as his darling, for he did not yet realize that she was a mere apparition.

Then Apollonius looked over Menippus as a sculptor might do, and he sketched an outline of the youth and examined him, and having observed his foibles, he said: “You are a fine youth and are hunted by fine women, but in this case you are cherishing a serpent, and a serpent cherishes you.”

And when Menippus expressed his surprise, he added: “For this lady is of a kind you cannot marry. Why should you? Do you think that she loves you?”

“Indeed I do,” said the youth, “since she behaves to me as if she loves me.”

“And would you then marry her?” said Apollonius.

“Why, yes, for it would be delightful to marry a woman who loves you.”

Thereupon Apollonius asked when the wedding was to be. “Perhaps tomorrow,” said the other, “for it brooks no delay.” 

Apollonius therefore waited for the occasion of the wedding breakfast, and then, presenting himself before the guests who had just arrived, he said: “Where is the dainty lady at whose instance ye are come?”

“Here she is,” replied Menippus, and at the same moment he rose slightly from his seat, blushing.

“And to which of you belong the silver and gold and all the rest of the decorations of the banqueting hall?”

“To the lady,” replied the youth, “for this is all I have of my own,” pointing to the philosopher’s cloak which he wore.

And Apollonius said: “Have you heard of the gardens of Tantalus, how they exist and yet do not exist?”

“Yes,” they answered, “in the poems of Homer, for we certainly never went down to Hades.”

“As such,” replied Apollonius, “you must regard this adornment, for it is not reality but the semblance of reality. And that you may realize the truth of what I say, this fine bride is one of the vampires, that is to say of those beings whom the many regard as lamias and hobgoblins. These beings fall in love, and they are devoted to the delights of Aphrodite, but especially to the flesh of human beings, and they decoy with such delights those whom they mean to devour in their feasts.”

And the lady said: “Cease your ill-omened talk and be gone”; and she pretended to be disgusted at what she heard, and in fact she was inclined to rail at philosophers and say that they always talked nonsense. When, however, the goblets of gold and the show of silver were proved as light as air and all fluttered away out of their sight, while the wine-bearers and the cooks and all the retinue of servants vanished before the rebukes of Apollonius, the phantom pretended to weep, and prayed him not to torture her nor to compel her to confess what she really was.

But Apollonius insisted and would not let her off, and then she admitted that she was a vampire, and was fattening up Menippus with pleasures before devouring his body, for it was her habit to feed upon young and beautiful bodies, because their blood is pure and strong.

I have related at length, because it was necessary to do so, this the best-known story of Apollonius; for many people are aware of it and know that he incident occurred in the center of Hellas; but they have only heard in a general and vague manner that he once caught and overcame a lamia in Corinth, but they have never learned what she was about, nor that he did it to save Menippus, but I owe my own account to Damis and to the work which he wrote.”

Byzantium in Transition at the University of Cyprus

This is a pretty interesting conference being held this weekend at the University of Cyprus.  Apparently, it will be the first in a trilogy of conferences designed “to shed more light on the ‘invisible’ eras or period of major transformations in economy, society, and culture after the end of Late Antiquity by (re)evaluating old and new archaeological data, namely dated to (a) the Byzantine Early Middle Ages, middle 7th-8th centuries, (b) the Middle to Late Byzantine or Early Frankish era, Late 12th – early 13th centuries, and (c) the Late Byzantine/Frankish to Early Ottoman period, middle 14th – late 15th centuries.”

The schedule of speakers looks pretty impressive (although a bit light on people doing active field research in Cyprus) with most of the usual suspects represented (include two representatives to of the Corinthian School of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies: Guy Sanders and Tim Gregory).

The poster is snazzy.

Workshop Poster

It’s always useful to notice the way in which these kinds of conferences organize sessions because they both capture the areas of specialty among the participants and the questions central to research in the field. Sessions on urban and rural space suggest, at least, that tradition ways of viewing ancient settlement with the conceptual divide between town and country continues to persist (although it is possible that the papers could critique the title of the session). The next session on “trade networks and the economy” suggests more fluid and integrated view of economic relationships that might offer a counterpoint to the seeming rigid city/countryside divide. The final session bring the term “material culture” to the conference and opens up the potential to consider how objects both embody and communicate cultural expectations.  It remains to be seen how fully the participant embrace the complex concept of material culture or just use it as a synonym for architecture and small-finds.

The program is as follows:

Byzantium in Transition

Introductory Session: Setting the Scene

Islam and its relations with ByzantiumAlexander Beihammer (University of Cyprus)

Latin Christendom and its relations with Byzantium, c. 700-900 AD
Richard Hodges (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, USA)
keynote speaker (hospitality sponsored by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation)

Approaches to Early Medieval Byzantium
John Haldon (Princeton University, USA)

Session I: Urban and Rural Space

Urban and rural space: surface survey and its problematics
John Bintliff (University of Leiden, The Netherlands)

City and countryside in Greece
Guy Sanders (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece)

Island and coastal landscapes in Greece and Cyprus
Timothy Gregory (Ohio State University, USA)

City and countryside in Asia Minor: Amorium as model or misfit?
Christopher Lightfoot (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA)

City and countryside in the western fringes
Paul Arthur (University of Salento, Italy)

Session II: Trade Networks and Economy

A ceramic koine as evidence for continuity and economy
Athanasios Vionis (University of Cyprus)

Amphorae and trade networks
Stella Demesticha (University of Cyprus)

Pottery in seventh-century Cyprus: ceramic economies in a Sea of change
Marcus Rautman (University of Missouri, USA)

Towards a new definition of Mission Creep: trade with the western peripheries
Pamela Armstrong (University of Oxford, Wolfson College, UK)

Coins, exchanges and the transformation of the Byzantine economy (7th-10th c.)
Cecile Morrisson (CNRS, France)

Session III: Artistic Testimonies and Material Culture

The culture of Iconoclasm
Leslie Brubaker (University of Birmingham, UK)

Church planning and sculpture in Late Antique Cyprus: their connections with the regional environment
Jean-Pierre Sodini (Universite de Paris- I, Sorbonne, France)

Early Christian basilicas: changes or continuities in post-Justinianic Cyprus?
Doria Nicolaou (Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, Italy)

The art of metalwork in Byzantium
Marlia Mango (University of Oxford, St John’s College, UK)

Early Medieval archaeological evidence from central Greece
Olga Karagiorgou (Academy of Athens, Greece)


Cross-posted to the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World.

Antiquities in the Trash

Earlier this week, Facebook friends were circulating and commenting on an article in the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini about the ruin of Greek monuments and sites.  In the critical essay, “Greece’s Debt Mirrors Crisis in Cultural Assets,” A. Craig Copetas argues that Greece’s inability to protect and preserve its most important antiquities not only reflects current political problems but is itself caused by the politicization of the country’s material remains and an undeveloped cultural resource management program.  The opening lines from the piece:

“Plato doesn’t live here anymore.

A pack of feral cats chases the rodents that run past the Gypsy squatters who inhabit the bleak 32-acre Athens park that masks the birthplace of Western civilization. Alexandros Stanas says what’s interred beneath the debris illustrates both a solution to Greece’s 345 billion euro ($473 billion) sovereign debt crisis and why his country roils in catastrophe.

“Economics, politics, philosophy, everything that empowers our reasoning and ability to solve today’s problems was born here at Plato’s Academy,” says Stanas, a former management consultant at the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism who is now general director of the Art-Athina International Contemporary Art Fair.

“This is the original holy ground,” Stanas says, walking across the garbage that covers the buried foundation of the 387 BC intellectual incubator. “This is what we Greeks have allowed to happen to our ultimate metaphor for excellence.”

Stanas, 40, says that Plato’s Academy, discovered by a private archaeologist in the late 1920s, is one of hundreds of forlorn historic sites and destitute museums that generations of Greek politicians of all persuasions have failed to turn into attractions with the marketing clout of Versailles, the academic distinction of Harvard University or the influential draw of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.”

Copetas paints a dire picture of Greece’s ruins amidst an “escalating crisis”: Athens, a dump for tourists, drug addicts frightening tourists at the National Archaeology Musuem, rats at Plato’s academy, political rats in office. 

As one friend commented on the article in FB, there is nothing surprising about the entanglement of a country’s archaeological and cultural resource management programs in political and administrative bureaucratic mire—that occurs everywhere.  What is distinct, rather, is the degree of political mining of the material past for the purposes of election to office and the subsequent disregard for programs of cultural management.  Besides this rampant corruption, Copetas also draws attention to the country’s stagnant and uncreative management of its cultural heritage:

“Even the critically acclaimed New Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009, after 33 years of ideological bickering, lingers as a target. Greek Communist Party Secretary General Aleka Papariga and the Greek Archaeologists Society have issued statements that condemn the 130 million euro facility co-funded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund as “unacceptable” and “in danger from the most extreme privatization.”

“Neither political party has the will or expertise to manage culture,” he says. “Government culture experts live in a bunker and view any outside help to manage our treasures and make them profitable as a threat to their livelihoods.”

Conventional wisdom dictates that cultural entrepreneurs not affiliated with either of the two main political parties are determined to Disneyfy Greece, Firos says, turning the country into a theme park with water slides on the Acropolis and a roller coaster down Mount Athos. As Geroulanos says, “I will tell anyone who wants to Disneyfy my country to go to hell.”

In the Corinthia, this inadequate management of cultural resources has led to the disintegration of the diolkos road, documented extensively by Sofia Loverdou and discussed in this previous post.  While Sofia has raised awareness of the physical deterioration of the road, the future of that monument seems bleak in this cultural climate.  A radical restart is needed. 

And it is unfortunate since the Corinth Canal, the (ironic) cause of the ancient road’s deterioriation, regularly generates income of public and private kind on a steady stream of traffic of vacationers and tourists, SUPers, party boaters, bungee jumpers, and extreme sports enthusiasts.  If the canal is already a source of money, then why do the ancient monuments benefit so little? 

SUPing the Corinth Canal

This clip on the “newest sport of SUP” was the most interesting new canal water sport video to appear in my Google Alerts this week.  (I get more than one might expect).  It must have been Strabo who said “The width of the Isthmus at the “Diolkos,” where the people paddle from one sea to the other, is forty stadia, as I have already said.”  Or, wait, maybe that was a reference to the movement of ships overland.  In any case, this looks like hard work, but not, of course, as hard as dragging a ship…

As usual, the history of the canal has been tacked onto the end of the video and the story.  Some late 19th century photos of the canal also come at the end of the video.  The story on the event available here.  And if you don’t know SUPing, here’s the wikipedia article.

Niketas Ooryphas Strikes Again

This last weekend, I had a chance to go to Chicago, see some old friends, and participate in the Byzantine Studies Conference.  I heard some excellent papers at the BSC including one on the monastic clothing in Byzantium, the historical and linguistic bases for Catholic and Orthodox conflict (with the hope for better modern dialogue), mathematics in Byzantium, a new theory on the theme system, and an iconoclastic paper redating the Arab conquest of Syria.  Diana Wright, fellow blogger at Surprised by Time, gave an excellent presentation about the throne room in Mistra, arguing convincingly from documentary and archaeological evidence for a Venetian commission and production. 

In my own paper, I gave the 9th century Byzantine admiral, Niketas Ooryphas, another spin.  If you followed this blog back in January, I ran a series of posts on Niketas (I, II, III, and IV) based on a paper written for the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.  In that paper, I tried to separate Niketas from the other known porters of ships over the Corinthian Isthmus in the Greek and Roman world.  I was trying in that paper to problematize the conventional interpretation of the diolkos as a kind of less efficient “ship canal” of the premodern world.  On the other hand, in this paper written for Byzantinists, titled “Basil’s Thunderbolt: Niketas Ooryphas and the Portage of the Corinthian Isthmus,” I strayed from the diolkos and tried to place the legend of Niketas portaging the Isthmus into its Byzantine literary and historical environment.

Niketas is a heroic figure in the Life of Basil who knows devices and tricks like no other.  The best example is the portage over the Isthmus.  But he is also a most troublesome figure of Byzantine history because he punishes his enemies in awful ways by, for example, flaying them alive and dipping them into boiling pitch.  Because the narrator relates these punishments to religious faith (both Christian Orthodox vs. Muslim, and Christian Orthodox vs. Christian apostates), Niketas represents a kind of inverse of the accounts of the martyrdoms of Christians by emperors and provincial governors in the 3rd and early 4th century. 

Madrid Skylitzes_Niketas

Part of an illustration from the Madrid manuscript of John Skylitzes’ Synopsis of History showing Niketas Oorpyhas casting judgments on Christian apostates. 

One rewarding discovery of my research is recognizing that much of what we know about Niketas is legendary.  The portage of the Isthmus is entirely a legend, and I do not doubt that the horrific punishments themselves have been invented to make the Emperor Basil appear mightier than he was.  I hope to demonstrate this by developing the piece into a little article in the future. 

In the meantime, here’s the web version of the BSC paper, stripped of its notes.

Two recent items of Corinthiaka from Australian scholars

I’ve recently noticed two pieces about 1-2 Corinthians from Australian scholars, which are worth noticing:

Firstly, here, in a description of the “New College Lectures” at the University of New South Wales, David Starling suggests that 1 Corinthians may be thought of as setting a trajectory that validates the systematic codification of Christian theology.

Secondly, in the September newsletter for the Society for the Study of Early Christianity at MacQuarie University, Paul Barnett considers “chronology and the Corinthians.” Drawing on Paul’s letters, Acts, and documentary evidence (e.g. the Gallio inscription), Barnett develops the following timeline:

  • 33 1st Easter
  • 34 Damascus event
  • 47 Jerusalem meeting
  • 48 First missionary journey
  • 50 Arrival in Corinth

He then focuses on the “Corinthian years,” suggesting the following timeline:

  • Visit 1: Acts 18:1-18
  • Letter 1 (‘previous’) 1 Cor 5:9
  • Letter 2 (First Corinthians)
  • Visit 2 (‘painful’) 2 Cor 2:1
  • Letter 3 (‘tearful’) 2 Cor 2:3-4; 7:8, 12; 10:8-11
  • Letter 4 (Second Corinthians)
  • Visit 3: Acts 20:2-3

Barnett goes on to argue for the unity of 2 Corinthians, suggesting that Paul’s pastoral approach to the complex situation in Corinth explains the perplexing nature of the letter’s structure. He concludes:

In any discussion of the tone and content of the letter we should note: (a) the trying circumstances that Paul had faced prior to his eventual meeting with Titus, (b) the (mostly) grim news Titus brought about the Corinthian response to the ‘tearful’ letter and their welcome to the new ministers, and (c) the unexpected readiness of the Macedonian congregations in contributing to the Collection that Paul encountered as he travelled from Neapolis to Berea.

The full version of the paper is available on request from the SSEC office.

Sampling the Byzantine Landscape

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with David Pettegrew on a short paper that considers the role of intensive pedestrian survey in documenting and creating Byzantine landscapes in the countryside of Corinth.  One of the challenges of this analysis is our scatters of Byzantine pottery tend to be rather small and sometimes amount to only four or five sherds.

The small quantity of Byzantine material present at any one place in the landscape makes it difficult to discuss the function of places in the countryside, to determine the relationship between survey assemblages and more robust samples of material from excavated settings, and to understand the extent, duration and intensity of activities in the landscape. As a result, survey projects have had to consider ways to evaluate periods that manifest in small assemblages of pottery.

A whole series of issues likely contribute to certain periods appearing mainly as small, low-density assemblages. It is almost certain that we have failed to recognize certain types of diagnostic material on the surface or even during pottery study and as a result certain types of pottery are not associated with particular periods. Certain periods also enjoyed problematic natural and cultural site formation processes. For example, sites occupied for a short time or seasonally from particular period could produce less ceramic material.  Later activities could obscure the presence of particular periods in the countryside as well.  Periods where groups settled on the

In a 2006 Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology article, David Pettegrew, Dimitri Nakassis, and I argued that survey units that produced small, but highly diverse assemblages of pottery because of with low surface visibility might actually contain higher density, very diverse assemblages lurking beneath their obscured surfaces. We suggested in these situations that it might be wise to increase our sampling intensity from the typical 2-meter wide swaths through the unit spaced at 10 m intervals to compensate for the effect of the obscured surface on the overall sample size in the unit. In other words, as densities fell because of poor visibility, we just increase our intensity.

In 2005, David Pettegrew and I concocted a series of experiments at our survey site in Cyprus to determine whether increasing the intensity of our collection strategy actually produced more robust assemblages.  In these experiments – documented in an article in the Report of the Department of Antiquity of Cyprus in 2007 – we determined that grubbing around on the ground and collecting all artifacts from a 5% sample of the units surface produced interesting results.

First, our hands-and-knees 5% samples produced far more pottery than our 20% sample (where were walked across the unit counting sherds) predicted.

Second, and more importantly, the assemblages produced by these 5% total collection areas were more diverse than those produced by our effort to sample the artifacts present in our 20% samples of the unit. On the one hand, we discovered that our smaller total collection areas did not produce significantly more chronological information. In other words, we were not seeing periods in our super intensive 5% sample that did not appear in our less intensive 20% sample.  On the other hand, our 5% hands-and-knees collection strategy did produce more diversity than our typical survey and sampling strategy. Our samples of 20% of the surface produced 11.2 chronotypes (or distinct types of pottery recognized by our ceramicist) per unit, whereas our more intensive (if smaller) sample produced 15.6 chronotypes per unit.

Our sample sizes remains extremely small, but they are nevertheless suggestive. I looked at the least diagnostic types of pottery (coarse, medium coarse, and kitchen/cooking wares) in each of our experimental units and compared the total number of chronotypes present in each of these classes with the number of chronotypes present in the larger 20% sample.  I discovered that for coarse ware, there was a 5% increase in the number of chronotypes, for medium coarse a 35% increase, and for kitchen/cooking wares a 33% increase. There was a 50% increase in the diversity of the fine ware assemblages produced by a more rigorous effort to collect pottery from the surface of the ground.

What this all suggests is that small quantities of pottery based on our typical sampling and collection strategies might represent the tip of an iceberg hidden by collection strategies that ill-suited to documenting hidden landscapes. Of course, one upshot of the need to increase the intensity of surface collection is that it makes it difficult to conduct data collection on the regional level from problematic or less visible periods. This contributes to what Blanton has called “Mediterranean Myopia” or a tendency for Mediterranean survey archaeologists to focus on smaller and smaller areas while still attempting to address regional level survey questions.

Cross-posted to the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World

Bibliography of the Kenchreai Cemetery Project

Since Monday’s post about the work of the Kenchreai Cemetery and Excavation Project, I heard from Dr. Joseph Rife, who kindly sent me a bibliography of the project’s publications. 


Photo of Kenchreai harbor, the Koutsongila ridge, and Saronic coastline from Stanatopi

The work of the project has appeared in three dozen presentations at various universities, colleges, and organization meetings; in short annual summaries since 2002 (Archaeological Reports and Bulletin de correspondance hellénique), and in ten articles (with a half dozen more forthcoming):

  • D.H. Ubelaker and J.L. Rife, “Skeletal analysis and mortuary practice in an Early Roman chamber tomb at Kenchreai, Greece,” in International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21.1 (2011) 1-18 (published on-line 2009).
  • J.L. Rife, “Religion and society at Roman Kenchreai,” in S.J. Friesen, D.N. Schowalter, and J.C. Walters (eds.), Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies in Religion and Society, Leiden 2010, 391-432.
  • D.H. Ubelaker and J.L. Rife, “Approaches to commingling issues in archaeological samples: A case study from Roman era tombs in Greece,” in B.J. Adams and J. E. Byrd (eds), Recovery, Analysis and Identification of Commingled Human Remains, Totowa, N.J. 2008, 97-122.
  • D.H. Ubelaker and J.L. Rife, “The practice of cremation in the Roman-era cemetery at Kenchreai, Greece: the perspective from archaeology and forensic science,” in Bioarchaeology of the Near East 1 (2007), 35-57.
  • A. Barbet, J.L. Rife and F. Monier, “Un Tombeau peint de la nécropole de Cenchrées-Kenchreai, près de Corinthe.” In C. Guiral Pelegrín (ed.), Circulación de temas y sistemas decorativos en la pintura mural antigua: Actas del IX Congreso Internacional de la «Association Internationale pour la Peinture Murale Antique,» Calatayud 2007, 395-399.
  • J.L. Rife, “Inhumation and cremation at Early Roman Kenchreai (Corinthia), Greece, in local and regional context,” in A. Faber, P. Fasold, M. Struck, and M. Witteyer (eds.), Körpergräber des 1.-3. Jh. in der römischen Welt: Internationales Kolloquium Frankfurt am Main 19.–20. November 2004, Frankfurt 2007, 99-120.
  • C.A. Faraone and J.L. Rife, “A Greek curse against a thief from the North Cemetery at Roman Kenchreai,” in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 160 (2007), 141-157.
  • J.L. Rife, M.M. Morison, A. Barbet, R.K. Dunn, D.H. Ubelaker, and F. Monier, “Life and death at a port in Roman Greece: The Kenchreai Cemetery Project 2002-2006,” Hesperia 76.1 (2007), 143-181.
  • A. Sarris, R.K. Dunn, J.L. Rife, N. Papadopoulos, E. Kokkinou, and C. Mundigler, “Geological and geophysical investigations in the Roman cemetery at Kenchreai (Korinthia), Greece,” Archaeological Prospection 14 (2007), 1-23. 

Corinthiaka at the AIA / APA 2012

The Archaeological Institute of America and the American Philological Association have posted preliminary programs for their annual meetings in Philadelphia, January 5-8, 2012.  As in last year’s program, Corinthiaka are covered through AIA / APA papers and posters.  The following list was generated from paper titles alone and will grow as the abstracts go live. 


January 6: Morning

  • “The Archaic Temple at Isthmia Reconsidered” – Cornelis J. (Neil) Baljon, AIA Member at Large (AIA Session 1D: Greek Architecture)
  • “The Hellenistic Theater at Corinth: New Evidence” – David Scahill, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (AIA Session 1D: Greek Architecture)
  • “The Southeast Building at Corinth: Recent Investigations” – Paul D. Scotton, Califorinia State University, Long Beach (AIA Session 1D: Greek Architecture)
  • “The Lord and the Ring: A New Interpretation of a Corinthian Finger Ring with an Inscribed Cruciform Invocative Monogram” – Jeremy Ott, New York University Institute of Fine Arts (AIA Session 1E: Religion in Late Antiquity)
  • “Survey and Visualization of Mycenaean Buildings at Kalamianos” – Philip Sapirstein, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (AIA Session 1G: Recent Work in Aegean Prehistory)
  • “Ta graphenta pro rostris lecta: Bilingual (In)scribing at Roman Corinth” – Brad Bitner, Macquarie University, (APA Section 7: Bilingual Inscriptions)

January 6: Afternoon

  • “Polyphemus and Galateia at Ancient Corinth” – Aileen Ajootian, University of Mississippi (AIA 2A: Roman Sculpture)
  • “Tracking an Archaic Greek Warrior in the Near East: A Corinthian Helmet from Haifa Bay, Israel” – John R. Hale, University of Louisville Jacob Sharvit, Israel Antiquities Authority (AIA 2B: Greek Arts)
  • “Learning from Their Mistakes: Try-Pieces, Wasters and Other Evidence for Ceramic Production from the Potters’ Quarter at Corinth” – Bice Peruzzi, University of Cincinnati, and Amanda S. Reiterman, University of Pennsylvania (AIA Poster Session)

January 7: Morning

  • “Mycenaean Mortuary Practices in Ancient Nemea,” Mary K. Dabney, Bryn Mawr College, Eva Pappi, 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Greece, Panayiotis Karkanas, Ephorate of Speleology and Palaeoanthropology, Greece, Angus Smith, Brock University, Sevi Triantaphyllou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and James C. Wright, Bryn Mawr College (AIA Session 4E: Staging Death)
  • “Excavations at Nemea: The 2011 Season” – Kim Shelton, University of California, Berkeley (AIA Session 4H: Current Research at Nemea)
  • “The Archaic Heroaon and Nemean Landscapes” – Nathan Arrington, Princeton University (AIA Session 4H: Current Research at Nemea)
  • “Local Ceramics from the Xenon and Houses at Nemea in the Late Fourth – Early Third centuries B.C.: Preliminary Results” – Heather Graybehl, University of Sheffield (AIA Session 4H: Current Research at Nemea)
  • “A Bioarchaeological Approach to the Early Christian and Byzantine Burials from the Sanctuary of Nemean Zeus” – Jared S. Beatrice, Michigan State University, and Jon M. Frey, Michigan State University (AIA Session 4H: Current Research at Nemea)
  • “The Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea: The Medieval Deposits (12th-13th centuries A.D.)” –  Effie Athanassopoulos, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (AIA Session 4H: Current Research at Nemea)
  • “Nemean Neighbors: A Survey Perspective from the Nemea Valley” Christian Cloke, – University of Cinncinnati (AIA Session 4H: Current Research at Nemea)

January 7: Afternoon

  • “Visualizing Archaeology: Panoramic Photography and the Greek Architecture Project at Corinth” – Christopher J. Stackowicz, Bethel College (AIA Session 5E: New Digital and Visual Approaches to Archaeology)
  • “Producing the Peasant in the Corinthian Countryside” – David Pettegrew, Messiah College, and William Caraher, University of North Dakota (APA Session 43: Finding Peasants in Mediterranean Landscapes)

“Rife excavates ancient mortuary site”

So The Dartmouth announces a recent lecture by Joseph Rife at Dartmouth College, “Life and Death at a Port in Roman Greece: Recent Investigations at Kenchreai.” In his lecture, Rife drew attention to the material distinctiveness of the Roman town at Kenchreai when compared to Corinth.  A few interesting quotes from the news piece:

“Civic space and mortuary space were situated in very close proximity,” he said. “We’re seeing fewer than 40 meters between tombs and houses.”

The graves were built into the rock, with large facades visible above ground. The facades protected the dead from weather and pillagers while also drawing attention to the graves, Rife said.

One of the mortuary’s most important purposes was to receive attention and respect, according to Rife. Residents of Kenchreai were buried with gold jewelry and engraved gemstones and were placed in mausoleums decorated with bright colors, he said. Garlands and depictions of birds adorned the walls of the tombs in symmetrical patterns, which demonstrates “a certain artistic elan,” Rife said.

The bit that piqued my interest was the evidence for religious syncretism at Kenchreai:

“The artifacts found in the tomb suggest a local identity shaped by the “vibrant pluralism” of the Roman Mediterranean, Rife said. One ring unearthed in a tomb, for example, asks protection from the Hebrew God while also depicting the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Egyptian god Osiris.”

This sort of syncretism has been documented in other parts of the Corinthia, including the so-called fountain of the lamps in Corinth (discussed in Rothaus’ Corinth: First City of Greece).  It will be interesting to see this discussed in developed in publication. 

Since 2002, the Kenchreai Cemetery Project have been investigating the cemetery ridge overlooking Kenchreai harbor. 

Oneion_View to Kenchreai_Koutsongila

The project has disseminated results through a number of presentations and publications: