Publishing the Eastern Korinthia Survey

One of the long-standing projects I have been working on over the last year is a book-length publication interpreting the results of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. EKAS was a survey carried out from 1997-2003, with study seasons continuing to recent years. Unlike the more common survey project carried out in marginal territories or regions of small city states of antiquity, our work focused for the most part on the Isthmus of Corinth, one of the busiest and materially richest landscapes of antiquity. Although we made some forays into the southeastern region (with their own surprising results), our main work was on the Isthmus. That work has never been published in a systematic way. With the generous support of the project directors, I began last year to write up the results of the distributional survey.

Fieldwalkers line up on the Isthmus of Corinth in the first season of the EKAS Project in summer 1999

I spent a lot of time in fall refining survey data and also wrote the preface and six chapters. While I have some heavy lifting ahead of me (several period chapters still to write), I estimate that I’ve drafted about 70% of the work at this point — which puts the conclusion well within reach. Over the course of the year, I’ll be floating sections of the manuscript via this site and also writing a bit about some of the challenges of working with legacy data in artifact rich environments. For now, I include the table of contents and the opening part of the preface.

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ………………………………………………………………………………………………….  

List of Tables ………………………………………………………………………………………………….  

Preface ………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1. EKAS: A Twenty-Year Retrospective………………………………………………………………………………………………….

2. The Character of a Distributional Survey………………………………………………………………………………………………….

3. Archaeological Datasets………………………………………………………………………………………………….

4. Reflections on Surface Scatters……………………………………………………………………………………….

5. Patterns of Artifacts, Settlements, and Land Use……………………………………………………………………………………….

6. The Prehistoric Corinthia……………………………………………………………………………………….

7. The Protogeometric to Hellenistic Corinthia………………………………………………………………………………………………….

8. The Roman Corinthia………………………………………………………………………………………………….

9. The Medieval to Ottoman Corinthia………………………………………………………………………………………………….

10. The Modern Corinthia………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Preface:

Nearly two decades have passed since American archaeological field teams completed a major systematic survey of the eastern territory of the city of Corinth. The project, known as the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, involved over one hundred archaeologists, historians, geomorphologists, and student volunteers collecting cultural and environmental data over a span of six summers (1997-2003). As the first large-scale, intensive systematic survey of the Isthmus and Corinth’s southeastern territory beyond Mt. Oneion, EKAS promised to make significant contributions to Corinthian studies and the broader scholarship of Mediterranean landscape archaeology. The survey of the immediate territory of a major city of classical antiquity was unique in comparison with the more common studies of rural and remote regions of small Greek poleis. The project’s early adoption of innovative methods and tools, including tract-level mapping of artifacts, geomorphological assessments, an operative GIS, and database applications, made it significantly more intensive than other surveys in its day.

A formal and comprehensive publication was scheduled to appear in the years following fieldwork, but problems of execution and interpretation stalled immediate dissemination, while the project’s successes, including major new discoveries, generated trajectories of fieldwork that ultimately deferred analysis and publication. An important multi-authored preliminary report on the project’s methods came out in Hesperia in 2006 hinting at future sequels. An impressive array of individual publications appeared, offering discrete interpretations of particular sites or periods. The idea of a formal publication resurfaced again in 2015 as I was finishing my historical study of the Isthmus of Corinth and gained traction as we approached the twenty-year anniversary of the start of the survey. A plan was devised at last in 2018 with the support of the project co-directors (Timothy Gregory and Daniel Pullen), the field director (Thomas Tartaron) and other project participants (Bill Caraher, Dimitri Nakassis, and Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory), to publish the project’s findings in three distinct formats.

This works marks a systematic publication of the history, methods, datasets, and distributional analysis of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. Published alongside online datasets, this digital-first book provides a view of patterns of settlement and land use at one of the most significant crossroads of the Greek peninsula from prehistoric times to the modern era. As such, it makes contributions both to Corinthian studies, which has tended to focus on the investigation of particular sites, and to Mediterranean regional survey literature that has most commonly considered the hinterlands of small cities. My scope in this work is an analysis of the surface artifact distributions of the territory, especially the Isthmus, a busy transport corridor with substantial settlements and sanctuaries from prehistoric times and the peri-urban district of a major polis during historic periods. The archaeological landscape has few parallels in mainland Greece or the Aegean basin: artifact-rich, high-density, and suburban. Like the survey work around small cities in Boeotia, Nemea, and elsewhere, this volume contributes especially to a corpus of literature dealing with the abundant landscapes of urban zones.

This book appears, secondly, in conjunction with a new publication of EKAS datasets (Pettegrew et al. 2021), released through Open Context (http://opencontext.org), a premier website for reviewing, publishing, archiving, and linking research data related to archaeological investigations. The cleaning and refinement of the datasets of the project itself constituted a magnus labor that occupied my attention full time over nearly two months during the pandemic. That cleanup was the precondition both for my analysis and the digital design of this study. The reader of this work will encounter project data at virtually every step—in a dedicated presentation of datasets (Ch. 3), reflections on survey data (Ch. 4), constant tabulated and geospatial analysis (Ch. 5-10), and hyperlinks to images of finds and contexts, scanned images of artifact drawings, original reports, data tables, and so on. The digital format provides in some places the option of drilling down to the underlying data and its spatial attributions. Nonetheless, the publication of EKAS datasets independent of this study means that the reader or user may view, browse, and download the findings directly at the Open Context website; someone with an interest in comparing regional surveys will find data readily available online and may use this book as a key to understanding it.

Finally, this comprehensive presentation of the framework and results of survey, together with datasets, establishes the foundation for a third final product of the survey now in the works: an edited volume presenting a series of essays from different authors interpreting survey results and the landscapes of the eastern Corinthia. While this current study adopts a unified voice and approach, the planned subsequent volume will feature multiple authors outlining the historical significance and interpretations of the discoveries and distributions of the project according to different frameworks and interests. This work, then, lays the groundwork for further interpretive studies of this historically busy region at the heartland of Greece and constitutes another building block toward historic landscape characterization of the territory.

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