The Isthmus of Corinth (Coming Spring 2016)

Pettegrew_Isthmus-of-CorinthTo my surprise (and delight), I recently discovered via a Google Alert that my long-labored book on the Corinthian Isthmus had “gone live” on the interwebs. And yesterday, I received page proofs and instructions to return corrections and an index by February 25. The University of Michigan Press has posted this page to advertise the book and slated publication for June 15, 2016. But page proofs, an index, a cover, a web page…all these are good signs that this book is nearing its public debut. Visitors to this site know of my long-time fascination with the Isthmus of Corinth, a subject that once formed the subject of a PhD dissertation (2006) on the late antique Corinthia and now this diachronic study. This forthcoming book is not a publication of my dissertation per se, which focused on the late antique Corinthia, but a kind of broad diachronic prequel, which writes a history of the landscape from the archaic Greek period to the early fifth century CE. Where the dissertation asked “what changed?” in late antiquity, this new study describes change as the essential characteristic of the landscape in diachronic perspective.

Receiving a manuscript in page proofs is terrifying since it provides one final time to read the text closely for errors, misspellings, grammatical ambiguity, etc… but usually does not allow opportunity for significant change in content. But at this point, years after I began researching and writing the book, I’m ready to have it out!  Other projects are calling! I’ll be writing more about the discoveries and arguments of the book over the next few months. For now, here’s the book description found at the University of Michigan Press website.

The narrow neck of Corinthian territory that joins the Peloponnese with the Greek mainland was central to the fortunes of the city of Corinth and the history of Greece in the Roman era. This situated Corinth well for monitoring land traffic both north and south, as between Athens and Sparta, and also sideways across the Isthmus, between the Gulf of Corinth to the west and the Aegean Sea to the east.


David Pettegrew’s new book investigates the Isthmus of Corinth from the Romans’ initial presence in Greece during the Hellenistic era to the epic transformations of the Empire in late antiquity. A new interpretation of the extensive literary evidence outlines how the Isthmus became the most famous land bridge of the ancient world, central to maritime interests of Corinth, and a medium for Rome’s conquest, annexation, and administration in the Greek east. A fresh synthesis of archaeological evidence and the results of a recent intensive survey on the Isthmus describe the physical development of fortifications, settlements, harbors, roads, and sanctuaries in the region. The author includes chapters on the classical background of the concept isthmos, the sacking of Corinth and the defeat of the Achaean League, colonization in the Late Roman Republic, the Emperor Nero’s canal project and its failure, and the shifting growth of the Roman settlement in the territory.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: