Historic Photos of the Isthmus

Friends at FB have posted or sent me links to several facebook pages and albums devoted to photos, postcards, and images of Greece from the late 19th / early 20th century.  Theodoros Metallinos has posted hundreds of fascinating images in these albums, and this photos page at Istoria Eiknographia (PERIODIKO) also displays hundreds of old photos.

Some great early photos of Corinth, the Isthmus, and Canal among them….

Construction of Corinth canal, 1882 (from this page)


Construction of canal, 1884 (from this page)


Construction of the canal, 1886, photograph of Αναστασίου Γαζιάδη


This one of the functioning canal from 1902 (from this page )

Canal, 1935 (from this page)


German on the Isthmus, 1943 (from this page)


Couldn’t find a tag for this one at the canal.

Corinth, 1922 (from this page)


Traversing the Perachora Peninsula (Guest Post)

Another disappointment in not attending this year’s meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America was missing an interesting paper by Angela Ziskowski and Daniel Lamp about access and movement to the Perachora peninsula. Disappointed especially because I’m currently wrapping up a book chapter on the connectivity of the Isthmus, and the Perachora peninsula has a dramatically different topographic structure than the Corinthian lowland to the south. But disappointed also because many years ago, when I was less familiar with local bus lines, the bus dropped me off in the modern village of Perachora in the center of the peninsula, from which I walked several hours overland to reach the sanctuary of Hera.

In the fall, I had some good exchanges with Angela and Dan about aspects of their research. Dan is a professional architect at OPN Architects in Iowa and helped me figure out how to translate Corinthian topography from DEMs to ArcGIS to CAD. Angela, a history professor at Coe College, recently completed her PhD dissertation on Corinthian identity in the early Iron Age and Archaic era, and told me a bit about their work last summer. They kindly offered to share their research here at Corinthian Matters.

The AIA paper is titled “The Perachora Peninsula and the Sanctuary of the Heraion: You Can’t Get There from Here.” Looking forward to the publication already. Their overview starts here.


Sometime during the eighth century B.C. a sanctuary to the goddess Hera was constructed at the tip of the rugged and remote Perachora peninsula. The location of this sanctuary, known as the Heraion, is both dramatic and strategic. Standing at the tip of the land mass, on a clear day one can see across the Gulf of Corinth south to Acrocorinth, north to the coast of Boeotia, and a good percentage of the Geraneia mountain range to the east. As luck would have it, one of the only natural harbors in the area is found at the foot of this site. In many ways this is an obvious choice for a religious sanctuary or military outpost, and was held by Corinth throughout the city’s history.

 Ziskowski_Figure 1

Figure 1: View indicative of the topography along the south coast of the Perachora Peninsula.

This site’s one drawback is formidable; this location is so dramatic and strategic in part because it is so unreasonably difficult to access. In fact, the land mass as a whole is difficult to reach, even today. The Perachora peninsula is a rocky mastiff defined by the steep ridges of the Geraneia range meeting the Gulf of Corinth at slopes that are nearly impassable. The south coast in particular is marked by an alternation of steep ridges, some approaching 50 degree slopes that drop precipitously into the Gulf, and deep, dry gullies in the valleys between that can be equally steep. (Refer to Figure 1.) The eastern edge is guarded by the Geraneia Mountains and the high ridge over modern-day Loutraki meets the plain very abruptly. Compounding the problem of access to the peninsula and sanctuary is the fact that the aforementioned natural harbor, so fortunately situated near the tip, is quite small and not suited for commerce. Thus, this site was not ideal for seafaring and a daunting overland trip from the political center at Corinth.

Despite the difficulty of travelling to Perachora, archaeological and textual evidence suggest that many groups of users did so, for a variety of purposes, and frequently. These users include long-distance sailors from the Near East, local pilgrims worshipping Hera at the sanctuary, and military campaigns such as those of the fourth century B.C. general, Agesilaus. In fact, it was the objective of that attack on the peninsula to deprive Corinth economically of cattle and timber, which itself suggests a population of permanent residents exporting resources to the capitol on a regular basis. It is incorrect to suggest that because this area is remote it was also unimportant; this area saw a fair amount of travel in antiquity despite the difficulty involved, which is an interesting paradox.

Furthermore, the specific routes employed by these users are worthy of study in and of themselves because neither land nor sea approaches to the peninsula offer easy access to the area. For instance, worshippers of Hera from Corinth probably reached the sanctuary on foot along a route that ideally would have hugged the coast as closely as possible to limit the overall length. Previous scholarship on the topography of the landscape has largely relied on the account of Xenophon, who traveled with Agesilaus’ main force during his invasion. He claimed that a route along the coast existed in antiquity and that his troops moved from the area around Loutraki to the sanctuary (and back) in a single day. Our topographic research and analysis of the peninsula demonstrate that such a route was unlikely, if not impossible. Thus, any pilgrims, traders, or invaders travelling on foot between Corinth and the Heraion likely did not follow a route “by the sea” as Xenophon writes, but likely a more complicated inland route suggested in Figure 2. On the other hand, the Near Eastern offerings at the sanctuary likely were dedicated by sailors who were moving in and out of the Gulf on ships. Again, sea access to the sanctuary and peninsula was limited by the lack of a sizable natural harbor. Smaller ships, and only three or four at most, could put into the harbor at the sanctuary, but it is likely that the site was accessed routinely from the sea. In short, we have evidence for many users and no good means of access for them.


Figure 2: Topographic representation of the Isthmus of Corinth and Perachora Peninsula, indicating an unlikely coastal route and a more likely inland route away from the seafront. Note the vertical contours are exaggerated by a factor of 2 in order to show the topographic changes more vividly.

Perachora and the sanctuary on it were far more difficult to access than previously understood. More consideration should be paid to the remote nature of the sanctuary and to the investment of time and energy needed to reach it. It is particularly meaningful that a diverse group of users expended substantial effort to access this area. We will address the topographic difficulties of the peninsula, the user groups in question, and the implications of the remote nature of the sanctuary in a paper at the AIA this January and in an article in progress now.

Corinthian Scholarship Monthly (December 2012)

Now that the dust has settled on 2012, I release this final CSM issue for the last month of the year. By the end of the January, I’ll post some year-in-review lists for different categories of scholarship. As always, the best place to start for recent Corinthian scholarship at this site is the modern library page, with instructions and links to the Zotero group library.


Brandt, J. Rasmus, and Jon W. Iddeng, eds. Greek and Roman Festivals: Content, Meaning, and Practice. Oxford University Press, 2012. http://books.google.com/books?id=1z6HgqVSQ-wC

Davies, Sarah Helen. “Rome, international power relations, and 146 BCE.” PhD Thesis, University of Texas, 2012. http://repositories.tdl.org/tdl-ir/handle/2152/ETD-UT-2012-08-6262.

Harris, W. V. “Review. Sviatoslav Dmitriev. The Greek Slogan of Freedom and Early Roman Politics in Greece.” The American Historical Review 117, no. 4 (2012): 1276–1277. http://ahr.oxfordjournals.org/content/117/4/1276 

Stissi, Vladimir. “Giving the kerameikos a context: ancient Greek potters’ quarters as part of the polis space, economy and society.” In « Quartiers » artisanaux en Grèce ancienne, edited by Arianna Esposito and Giorgos Sanidas, 201–232. Presses Univ. Septentrion, 2012. http://books.google.com/books?id=LZ_twJ6nAxgC

New Testament

Goodrich, John K. “Review. Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus. By Jack Barentsen. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 168. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011.” Religious Studies Review 38, no. 4 (2012): 241–241. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-0922.2012.01650_20.x/abstract 

Schellenberg, Ryan Scott. “‘Where Is The Voice Coming From?’ Querying the Evidence for Paul’s Rhetorical Education in 2 Corinthians 10–13.” PhD Thesis, University of St. Michael’s College, 2012. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/34896/3/Schellenberg_Ryan_S_201211_PhD_thesis.pdf

Medieval and Post-Medieval

Harris, Jonathan, Catherine Holmes, and Eugenia Russell, eds. Byzantines, Latins, and Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean World After 1150. Oxford University Press, 2012. http://books.google.com/books?id=bO_zmrgmn3sC

Cattle Bones at Corinth

It doesn’t get any more exciting than a heap of cattle bones.

I stumbled upon this story by accident yesterday when I checked a twitter feed, but might have seen the full academic talk on the subject had I attended the AIA last weekend.

The story that hit Discovery News yesterday, “Heap of Cattle Bones may Mark Ancient Feasts,” is a summary of a paper about the enormous volume of animal bone recently discovered and documented in the theater at Corinth. We covered the preliminary report about these finds a little over a year ago. Nice to see the study developing so quickly.

Here’s the opening from yesterday’s article:

“A metric ton of cattle bones found in an abandoned theater in the ancient city of Corinth may mark years of lavish feasting, a new study finds.

The huge amount of bones — more than 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) — likely represent only a tenth of those tossed out at the site in Peloponnese, Greece, said study researcher Michael MacKinnon, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg.

‘What I think that they’re related to are episodes of big feasting in which the theater was reused to process carcasses of hundreds of cattle,’ MacKinnon told LiveScience. He presented his research Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle.”

Read the rest here.

This research is important not only for what it says about the state of the theater in the 4th century AD, but its implications for our understanding of ritual feasting in Late Roman Corinth.

Information Fluency and Digital History

I’m not sure I had heard of the term “infofluency” before attending a workshop on the subject last spring in Baltimore. Hosted by the Council of Independent Colleges, the theme of the workshop was “information fluency” in ancient studies. A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded a number of small CIC colleges like mine to participate in a three-day conversation about teaching the ancient world in an age when information is a theory and a flood. The organizers of the workshop required that small teams from each institution include ancient world faculty, librarians, and senior administrators, a strategic request reflecting the belief that institutional change comes easiest when everyone is on board.

The workshop was good, really good, better organized and focused than the THATCamp I attended in Philly in September. The presentations were interesting, and included talks about successful digital projects in ancient studies, such as Trollope’s Apollo, that accomplished real research goals while also leading students to work directly in digitizing ancient texts (links to some of the presentations are included below the 2012 Workshop Resources heading on this page). Presentations led to discussions that generally centered on how to navigate the deluge of information about ancient studies, and how to teach our students that information actually originates from particular kinds of sources that are now disembodied from their original physical forms (as one example, many undergraduate students no longer seem to get the concept of “journal” since institutions have traded physical volumes for intangible databases). As our discussion developed, I learned that information fluency is much like the old term “information literacy”—with connotations in reading in understanding—except for its stronger emphasis on using and producing information.

As I sat through a number of presentations and discussions in an ornate hotel meeting room called, to my amusement, “The Corinthian Room,” I couldn’t help but thinking about how much information has flooded even niche academic subjects like Corinthian Studies. Diana sent me a link to this flow of digital data bits related to Corinthians on Google Plus. The same flow one can find in twitter feeds—posts every few minutes that make some note of Corinth. Who can keep up with all the ephemera? No one, but this hardly means that ephemera are insignificant. The point, rather, is to learn to navigate the flood of info in ancient studies and help our students to do likewise.

The information fluency workshop ended with the teams of each institution producing plans (with magic markers on physical paper, no less) to implement information fluency in ancient studies on their own campuses. I walked away with the realization that I needed to do a better job collaborating with the librarians on campus in creating course projects that encourage developing digital skills and understanding of information. And that I need to find a way to get students plugged in to doing digital history.

I spent the morning putting together a syllabus for a course titled simply “Digital History,” which I plan to teach next year so long as the course is approved. It’s a small step to fostering information fluency by an emphasis on “labs,” small “collaborative projects,” and a major digital production rather than the typical history research paper. Nothing brilliant but it’s a step in the right direction.

A tentative course description:

What does it mean to practice history in the digital age? In this course, we explore how technology is changing the way we think about, research, and present the past. Our emphasis will be on the practice of digital history through specific exercises in GIS, data collection and manipulation, internet archiving, database creation, website development, social media, image and video editing, and digitization. Through a range of applications, tools, and collaborative exercises, we will see how digital tools readily intersect with the practice of history and how these applications are changing the way we understand our discipline.

For texts, I’ll use Roy Rosenzweig’s Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age, New York 2011: Columbia University Press, and Toni Weller (ed), History in the Digital Age, London 2013: Routledge.

And the tentative schedule.


Week 1. Rethinking History in the Digital Age

Feb. 3. Digital History and the Digital Humanities

Feb. 5. The Field of Digital History

Feb. 7. Discussion: Continuities and Changes


Week 2. Practicing History in the Digital Age

Feb. 10. Research and Production

Feb. 12. Teaching and Communication

Feb. 14. Best Practices in Digitization


Week 3. Surveying History in the Digital Age

Feb. 17. Resources

Feb. 19. Projects

Feb. 21. Applications



Week 4. Creating and Evaluating Historical Knowledge

Feb. 24. Information and Infofluency

Feb. 26. Lab: Wikipedia

Feb. 28. Collaborative Project


Week 5. Managing Digital Sources

March 3. Reference Management Applications: Zotero, End Note, and RefWorks

March 5. Lab: Zotero

March 7. Collaborative Project


Week 6. Organizing Digital Data

March 10. Databases, Omeka

March 12. Lab: Microsoft Access

March 14. Collaborative Project




Week 7. Websites and Blogs

March 24. Creating a Digital Presence

March 26. Lab: WordPress

March 28. Collaborative Project


Week 8. Geographic Information Systems

March 31. GIS and History

April 2. Lab: ArcView

April 4. Collaborative Project


Week 9. GIS and 3D Modeling: Google Sketchup

April 7. Collecting Spatial Data

April 9. Lab: Google Sketchup

April 11. Collaborative Project


Week 10. Digital Story Telling

April 14. Using Video to Tell a Story

April 16. Lab: Windows Live Movie Maker / iMovie



Week 11. Digital Publication


April 23. Dynamic History Publications

April 25. Lab: iBooks Author


Week 12. Final Project

April 28. Final Project

April 30. Final Project

May 2. Final Project


Week 13. The Future of the Past

May 5. Presentations of Final Projects

May 7. Final Exam: Presentations and Reflection


The labs and projects will center around four research tracts which I have experience to direct. Students will choose tracts at the start of the semester and work with groups from week 4 on one of these topics:

1) Digital Harrisburg (to be developed)

2) Stouffer Farm and Cemetery Project (a fun local history project I started to investigate an 18th century farm and cemetery in York county)

3) Corinthian Studies (related to this website, among others)

4) The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project

More on this next year!

Blegen’s Notebooks at Korakou

Despite the growing number of ancient world blogs, it is still relatively uncommon for scholars to think of the blog as an acceptable or appropriate medium for communicating their research. I keep a small list of scholarly blogs about ancient and medieval Greece in a list on the right side of this site – scroll down to the Blogging Greece heading.

Over the holiday break, I was pleased to see that Dimitri Nakassis, a colleague from the Eastern Korinthia Survey, and assistant professor of Classics at the University of Toronto, has begun a new blog called Aegean Prehistory, dedicated, as his first post notes, to his research interests in “the archaeology and scripts of the Aegean Bronze Age.”

Since Nakassis has conducted archaeological work in the Corinthia and the Argolid, we may expect that his thoughtful posts will on occasion explore Corinthiaka. His first post, for example, discusses the Bronze Age site of Korakou, situated northeast of Corinth on a ridge above the Corinthian Gulf, and the digitized excavation notebooks of Carl Blegen from the early 20th century. Here’s the opening bit about the notebooks:

Prior to excavating LBA Pylos, Blegen excavated at a number of other prehistoric sites in the Peloponnese, one of which is Korakou. This site, located on the bluffs overlooking the Corinthian Gulf at the outskirts of modern Corinth, was excavated in 1915 and 1916, and formed the basis for Blegen and Wace’s ceramic chronology of the Greek mainland for the Greek Bronze Age.

Blegen’s excavation notebooks have been scanned and made publicly available by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Corinth Excavations (among other things). As my colleague Bill Caraher pointed out in his blog (about two years ago!), these are a fantastic resource, but they are static. There is no opportunity for scholars to add metadata to the digital scans…

Dimitri goes on to demonstrate the need to develop more dynamic digital forms of these notebooks. Read the rest of the post here.

Corinthian Matters Ages

In early October, Corinthian Matters entered its third year of life, reaching and passing the life expectancy of a typical blog (judging from a google search, two years seems to be a good guess). The 87 new posts at this site in 2012—about one every four days—comprised only a fraction of the previous bumper year when I found time to write once every three days (n=135). Interestingly, though, this annual WordPress report indicates that the traffic at this site actually increased last year to 33,000 page views from the previous year’s 20,000, some confirmation that the site has a readership beyond the blog in the more stable content posted at the site through the different pages.

A little over a year ago, I dreamed a dream that this site might become a more collaborative tool for the communication of news, research, and reviews related to Corinthian history and archaeology. I have had a few very good contributions but found that most researchers are too busy to write, or too reserved to commit their ideas to digital ephemera. Fellow bloggers of Greece have their own sites to maintain. Given my own scarce resources in time, this site has always been of lower priority to other professional goals of completing research articles or book chapters, lectures, etc…

Nonetheless, the constant traffic to the site (despite the drop in the number of posts), along with various feedback I’ve received, are encouraging evidence that CM remains of use as a site to access recent news, current scholarship, and resources related to the Corinthia—as a filter to the noise of this information age. In 2013, I’ll continue to move forward in making this site a useful resource for the wide range of visitors who stumble upon it or follow by email subscription or social media. While I remain committed to the previous goals I established for this site, my object this year is to develop more of the stable content, including, among others, the modern library and an ancient testimonia page that links to texts online.

Thanks for visiting, and I wish you the best year. As always, I welcome suggestions for resource development and specific contributions: “corinthianmatters” at “gmail.com”