Drag Your Fleet: Portaging Military Vessels over the Corinthian Isthmus

As I noted in a previous post, I will be giving a paper next week at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America on the subject of “Niketas Ooryphas Drags his Fleet: Portaging the Corinthian Isthmus in 883 AD.”  This remarkable transfer of military vessels in the 9th century is the first known instance of the movement of ships over the Isthmus in some 900 years, and the last known episode of dragging ships over the Corinthian Isthmus.  To get ready for that presentation, I have been combing ancient Greek and Latin literature for ship-dragging episodes both on the Corinthian Isthmus and elsewhere.

The references have been listed many times, but by running complex word searches with Greek and Latin databases TLG and Packard Humanities Institute corpus of Latin literature,  I think I’ve got them all.  I revised the page “Ancient and Byzantine Texts” with hyperlinks to the sources and some discussion of the evidence.

So, here are the specific known instances in chronological order.  Note this list leaves off the “general references” like Pliny, Strabo, and Aristophanes.

428 BC: The Peloponnesians prepare the roadway to transfer ships, but no portaging results.

412 BC: The Pelonnesians cart 21 ships over the isthmus.  This is the only known portage of ships during the Peloponnesian War.

220 BC: Demetrius of Pharos transfers 50 ships over the Isthmus.

217 BC: Philip V transfers 38 ships; his 12 decked ships were too large to be transferred over and have to sail around Cape Malea.

172 BC: A mostly dead King Eumenes is transferred over with his fleet.

102-101 BC: Corinth Inscription published in Corinth VIII.2 no. 1, records Marcus Antonius, grandfather of the famous Mark Antony, dragging a fleet across.  Number

30 BC: Octavian drags ships over the Isthmus allegedly because of the winter weather.  Number of ships unknown.

873 AD: The Byzantine commander Niketas Ooryphas drags his fleet over the Isthmus and catches his enemies, Cretan pirates, by surprise in the Corinthian gulf.  The

Portage of Unknown Date: A fragment of Polybius preserved in the Byzantine Suda references a portage of keletes and hemiolias over the isthmus.  This event apparently refers to a portage over the Isthmus of Corinth but is different from others known from Polybius.

Apostolos Papaphotiou, in his book, Ο διολκος στον Ιστημο της Κορινθο, refers on pp. 124-125 to two western sources of 12th century date but neither provide clear evidence for the movement of ships overland.   The first source, a testimony by Enrico Tino about a boat from the west that ended up in Constantinople, does not state that the boat went over the isthmus.  The second source, Edrisi’s Geographie, appears to be a restatement of Strabo 8.2.1.

My paper basically deals with the chronological problem: why is Niketas Ooryphas the first since Octavian in 30 BC to drag ships?  Why suddenly is a Byzantine admiral dragging ships over the Isthmus?  More soon!

Corinthian Olive Oil

Want some real Greek olive oil produced in the Corinthia?  The Corinthian Olive Oil Company has launched a website for their Agros Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The oil is processed entirely from Corinthian olives and is simply excellent.

Here’s the blurb from their website:

Agros Extra Virgin Olive Oil was established in 2008 by Tasos Kakouros and his
brother-in-law Sotiris Apostolopoulos.  Tasos had the idea to create Agros when he
visited his wife’s family in the US for the first time and gave them olive oil from the
Corinthia, his region of Greece.  Everyone was impressed by the oil and Tasos decided
to start his own brand of olive oil and to expand his reach to other people and places.
Tasos, together with Sotiris, decided to introduce Agros to chefs and gourmet food
stores, as well as to individual customers. Agros has become a success.

Tasos and Sotiris choose the highest quality extra virgin olive oil from their area of the
Corinthia, only from Manaki olives and only from select farmers.  Each year, after the
harvest of the olives is completed, Tasos and Sotiris personally visit these farmers to
sample the oil, for both taste and acidity (they also take each oil for testing), and collect
the oil and bottle it themselves.  Tasos and Sotiris then export it directly to the Corinthian
Olive Oil Company, founded by Tasos’ in-laws in Elkton, Maryland.  Because each step
in this process is overseen by Tasos or his father-in-law, they can ensure that Agros
Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes directly from the harvest to you.

Intro to Corinth Educational Video (with diolkos)

Thanks to Will Rutherford who pointed me to this Intro to Corinth educational video created by St. Paul enthusiast Russ Wessley to set the scene for St. Paul in Corinth.

The video called “Introduction to Corinth – Part 1” is the first of a series designed to establish the relationship of Paul to Corinth.  The video includes an introduction (start to :54), overview of geography (:54-5:27), history overview (5:28-7:30), and Paul in Corinth overview (7:30-end).

The video is basic but useful for showing the principal conception of the commercial facility of the isthmus.  It also contains some good satellite images and video clips including a fun clip from the History channel of men and animals transporting ships over the diolkos in a light-paced jog! (starting at 4:00).  Can anyone identify the specific History Channel video?

One inaccuracy in the video: Corinth is not “on the wrong side of the line” as he notes in 4:03.

Corinth at the Archaeological Institute of America – January 2011

The annual meeting of the AIA in San Antonio is now only 3-1/2 weeks away.  As usual, there will be a range of papers related to the archaeology of Corinth and the Corinthia.  A summary below, and I include abstracts when available.

SESSION 1D: Colloquium: Travel to Greece between Antiquity and the Grand Tour (Friday, Jan 7, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM)
“Niketas Ooryphas Drags his Fleet: Portaging the Corinthian Isthmus in 883 A.D.” (David K. Pettegrew, Messiah College)

Abstract:

In 883 AD, the Byzantine admiral Niketas Ooryphas dragged a fleet of ships over the Isthmus of Corinth in a naval engagement with Arab pirates.  The episode, preserved in the chronicles of Theophanes Continuatus and the Chronicon Maius of George Sphrantzes, has always created problems for scholars interpreting the use of the Archaic-period diolkos road between the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs.  Did Niketas actually portage 100 ships in the ninth century AD on the road built by Periander?  Or is the account a literary invention by clever Byzantine writers aware of their ancient history?  If the former, the portage road remained in semi-use for a period of 1,600 years since its construction; if the latter, the texts suggest nothing about the actual operation of the trans-isthmus road.

In this paper, I explore the meanings of this portage episode in terms of literary contexts, the historical tradition of ship transfers, and the physical remnants of the diolkos road.  On the one hand, the accounts state that Niketas constructed a way across the isthmus that suggests he did not use Periander’s road; we will consider his remarkable feat in light of the texts and physical landscape.  On the other, the chronicles highlight the heroic accomplishment of Niketas dragging his fleet and the strategic role of the isthmus for deciding naval engagements.  The episode fits within an ancient literary tradition of using ship portaging as a device for highlighting brilliant tactical maneuvers at key points in historical narration.

“Medieval Pilgrimage to Corinth and Southern Greece” (Amelia R. Brown, University of Queensland)

Abstract:

Today Christian pilgrims often travel to Corinth and southern Greece in the footsteps of Saint Paul. This modern pilgrimage developed only in the last century, alongside archaeological excavation and mass-market tourism to Greece. The Medieval pilgrims who preceded these modern ones, however, are barely studied at all, though sources for them do exist. In this paper, I explore the textual, epigraphic and archaeological evidence for Christian pilgrimage to Corinth and southern Greece from Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages. Though southern Greece generated few saints or monks, the cults of Corinthian martyrs Leonidas and Quadratus each drew pilgrims from outside of Greece to their basilicas. Awareness of Paul’s ministry is also apparent in Corinthian epigraphy, letters of Byzantine bishops, and the placement of churches at Corinth and Athens. Though southern Greece did not compete with the Holy Land or Constantinople as a pilgrimage destination, Corinthians and Athenians did successfully construct both churches and local stories over several centuries to attract Christian travellers. The tangible results of their efforts deserve study, shed new light on the Byzantine cities of Corinth and Athens, and illustrate the phenomenon of Christian pilgrimage to Medieval Greece.

SESSION 1G: Corinth  (Friday, Jan 7, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM)

“Showing Off for the Neighbors: Wealth and Display in Archaic Corinth” (Angela Ziskowski, Bryn Mawr College)

“The Archaic Temple in Roman Corinth: Civic Identity in the Capital of Achaia” (Ann Morgan, University of Texas at Austin)

“Pre-Roman Remains at the East End of the Forum of Corinth: Recent Findings” (Paul Scotton, California State University Long Beach)

“Urbanization and Roman Residential Architecture Southeast of the Forum at Corinth” (James Herbst, ASCSA Corinth Excavations)

“Further Notes on the South Stoa at Corinth: The Roman Interior Colonnade and the Monumental Entrance to the South Basilica” (David Scahill, University of Bath)

“The Captives Facade at Ancient Corinth” (Aileen Ajootian, University of Mississippi)

SESSION 2F: Greek Pottery (Friday, Jan. 7, 12:30-2:30 PM)

“Kraters and Drinking Practices in Hellenistic Corinth” (Sarah James, University of Texas at Austin)

SESSION 6H: Water Systems and Baths (Saturday, Jan. 8, 2:45-5:15 PM)

“Old Excavations and New Interpretations: Recent Investigations in the Sanctuary of Poseidon on the Isthmus of Corinth” (Jon Frey, Michigan State University, and Timothy Gregory, Ohio State University)

Corinth at ASOR and SBL 2010

Corinth will make some appearances this week at back to back conferences in Atlanta, Georgia.  The American Schools of Oriental Research 2010 Annual Conference, which began yesterday evening and continues until Saturday, features a Corinth paper by Robert von Thaden in the Archaeology of the New Testament session called “Embodied Minds in Physical Space: ‘Coming Together’ in Paul’s Corinthian Community.”  The session is designed to “offer the opportunity to explore ways in which material culture studies can have a bearing on elucidating, analyzing and contextualizing New Testament images and themes and the transmission of New Testament texts.”

The enormous Society of Biblical Literature conference begins on Saturday and runs until Tuesday.  As usual, it features numerous papers exploring Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, the first Christian community there, and cultural and social contexts for understanding the letters.

This year includes two sessions devoted to “Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making,” with a focus this year on 2 Corinthians 4.  Papers in these sessions include:

B. J. Oropeza, Azusa Pacific University, Saved by Benefaction, Judged by Works? The Paradox of Rejecting Grace in 2 Corinthians

Ryan S. Schellenberg, University of St. Michael’s College, Beyond Rhetoric: Self-Praise in Plutarch, Paul, and Red Jacket

Hermut Loehr, University of Munster, Stone Tablets. Torah Traditions in 2Cor 3

James Buchanan Wallace, Christian Brothers University,  Paul’s Catalogues of Suffering in 2 Corinthians as Ascetic Performances

Christopher R. Bruno, Wheaton College, Carrying in the Body the Death of Jesus: The Passion Narratives as Paul’s Model for his Apostolic Self-Understanding in 2 Corinthians

Robin Griffith-Jones, King’s College London / Temple Church, ‘We’, ‘You’, ‘All’: Respecting Paul’s Distinctions in 2 Corinthians 1-5

Timothy Luckritz Marquis, Moravian Theological Seminary, Apostolic Travels as ‘Carrying around the Death of Jesus’ in 2 Corinthians 4:10

Ma. Marilou S. Ibita, Catholic University of Leuven-Belgium, Episteusa dio elalesa (2 Cor 4:13): Paul and the Psalmist

There are, of course, many other papers scatted about the various sessions devoted to the literary and cultural contexts of 1 and 2 Corinthians:

J. Brian Tucker, Moody Theological Seminary, The Concept of Social Identity in Corinth: Wisdom, Power, and Transformation

Judith H. Newman, University of Toronto, Covenant Rupture, Restoration, and Transformation in the Performance of 2 Corinthians and the Hodayot

Edward Adams, King’s College London, “Things that are” and “things that are not:” Cosmological Rhetoric in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Richard A. Wright, Oklahoma Christian University, Paul on Praying and Prophesying: Sacrifice and the Ritual Construction of Gendered Roles in Corinth

Robert von Thaden, Jr., Mercyhurst College, Fleeing Sin: Embodied Conceptual Blends in 1 Corinthians

James Ware, University of Evansville, Paul’s Gospel of the Empty Tomb: The Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15

Jae Hyung Cho, Claremont Graduate University, Paul’s Opponent in 1 and 2 Corinthians in light of Gnostic Ideas

John Goodrich, Moody Bible Institute, Compelled to Preach: Retaining Paul’s Apostolic Right in 1 Corinthians 9.17

Kevin Scull, University of California-Los Angeles, Paul’s Use of Self-Presentation as a Defense of His Oratorical Abilities in 1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21

Bradley J. Bitner, Macquarie University, Colonial and Ecclesial Construction in Roman Corinth: 1 Cor. 3:5-4:5 and Inscriptional Evidence

Katy Valentine, Graduate Theological Union, Negotiated Values for Paul and the Corinthians

Jeremy Punt, University of Stellenbosch, 1 Cor 7:17-24. Identity and human dignity amidst power and liminality

Other papers related to Corinth and Kenchreai include:

David Balch, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Women Prophets/Maenads Visually Represented in Two Roman Colonies: Pompeii and Corinth

Cavan Concannon, Harvard University will speak on the Ethnicity, Economics, and Diplomacy in Dionysios of Corinth.

James Buchanan Wallace, Christian Brothers University, A Sufficient Grace: 2 Corinthians 11:21-12:10 in the Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Tradition

Jorunn Økland, University of Oslo, The Ritual Reproduction of Space: Egyptian Cults and the Nile in Pompeii and Kenchreai

Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, Catholic University of Milan, Tit 2:2-4, Women Presbyters, and a Patristic Interpretation

Abstracts for most of these papers can be found online at Society of Biblical Literature conference.

The Corinthia Rocks! in Hesperia 79.3

“The Corinthia Rocks!”  The homepage of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens website gave some attention this week to Lychnari Tower in the southeast Corinth, one of the Classical-Hellenistic sites Bill Caraher and I investigated in 2008.  One of the scrolling images on the site shows Bill Caraher standing on Lychnari Tower (photo by K. Pettegrew).  Yes, it doesn’t look like much but a pile of rocks now, but believe it or not, that was once a tower that stood as high as 15 m (50 feet) above the ground.

Corinthia Rocks

The editors of the journal Hesperia chose the image for the website because the most recent issue (79.3) includes an article by Bill, myself, and Sarah James called “Towers and Fortifications at Vayia in the Southeast Corinthia.”  The article was the culmination of fieldwork conducted by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey in 2001, 2003, and 2008.  The three sites described in that article are fascinating, but I have said before that creating the stone-by-stone drawing for the Ano Vayia building was some of the most boring archaeological work I’ve ever done!  Bill Caraher blogged about our 2008 fieldwork in a series of posts:

The Corinthian Countryside: Classical Vayia

New Research on the Corinthian Countryside: Vayia Microregion
The Corinthian Countryside: The Site of Ano Vayia
The Corinthian Countryside: Distributional Data from the Site of Ano Vayia
The Corinthian Countryside: The Lychnari Tower
The Corinthian Countryside: The Passes of the Eastern Corinthia

Okay, so here’s an abstract of our article:

“Although rural towers have long been central to the discussion of the fortified landscapes of Classical and Hellenistic Greece, the Corinthia has rarely figured in the conversation, despite the historical significance of exurban fortifications for the territory. The authors of this article report on the recent investigation by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey of two towers and associated fortifications in the region of Vayia in the southeast Corinthia. By integrating topographic study, intensive survey, and architectural analysis, they suggest that these three sites served to guard an economically productive stretch of the Corinthian countryside and to protect—or block—major maritime and land routes into the region.”

The full article is available here* as a PDF offprint, and is posted in the EKAS Publications section of this website.  If you don’t have time to read the text, there are some nice images of the rural Corinthia in the piece.

*[Copyright © The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, originally published in Hesperia 79 (2010), pp. 385–415. This offprint is supplied for personal, non-commercial use only. The definitive electronic version of the article can be found here.]

Friday Photo Gallery – Views from Acrocorinth

I recently received a request by email for some high-resolution images of the Corinthia.  I have taken about 5,000 photos of the Corinthia over the last several years and will be uploading some of my digital image collection to the photo gallery section of this website.  I’ll start with some of the views of the Corinthia from the peak of Acrocorinth and the road up.  Feel free to use them for personal and educational  purposes, but contact me about permission for publication or commercial use.

Another view of Corinth's western coastal plain from Acrocorinth

St. Paul on the Isthmus

Last week I had the chance to visit Grand Forks, North Dakota, and give a talk on the subject of “Setting the Stage for St. Paul’s Corinth: How an Isthmus Determined the Character of a Roman City.”  It was great to visit Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota especially as the weather was so pleasant.  Thanks to Bill Caraher, the Department of History, and the 2010 Cyprus Research Fund for sponsoring my visit.  The crowd that came out asked a round of great questions about the environment, religion in Corinth, and the nature of ancient evidence.  The full talk was recorded as a podcast that is available here.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the talk:

Why was Corinth so commonly associated in antiquity with travel and trade?  How should we understand that widely-circulating proverb “it is not for every man to sail to Corinth”?  In the talk, I discussed how ancient writers pinned Corinth’s history, power, character, uniqueness on its proximity to an isthmus: in ancient conception, the land bridge determined the character of the city.  I then asked the question of how exactly Greek and Roman writers understood the land bridge influencing the city’s development and character.  The ancients did not conceive of the isthmus as a commercial thoroughfare for ships and cargoes, or think that portaging via a diolkos road made the city wealthy, but they did consistently represent it as a marketplace for the exchange of goods.  The final part of the talk examined whether archaeological evidence supported the ancient view of the Corinthia as a region with greater commercial connectivity than other places. Examining the evidence from the Eastern Korinthia Survey, I suggested that the region was in fact more oriented to commerce over the broad Roman era than many other territories.  My conclusions pretty much as I gave them in Grand Forks:

First, when thinking about a city like Corinth, and St. Paul’s community there, it is important to not dwell in the urban center alone.  If territory was always important for ancient cities, it was especially significant for Corinth.  Ancient authors consistently discuss Corinth in terms of the concentrated economic exchanges across the landscape and especially in the ports and the biannual fair at Isthmia.  Kenchreai, Lechaion, and Isthmia were important bustling places in the landscape and integral to the regional economy.  It is surely not mere coincidence that we hear of Kenchreai developing its own separate church community with a famous deaconess named Phoebe.

Second,  archaeology has demonstrated how important is  a regional framework for understanding Roman Corinth’s economy.  The urban center, the sanctuary at Isthmia, the lands, the scattered villas and farms across the Isthmus created an integrated economy of production and exchange that constantly interlinked the city center, suburbs, and seascape together.  Archaeological investigations in town and country have shown that the Corinthia was more connected to markets than many other regions of the eastern Mediterranean.  This ‘connectivity’ and orientation to markets  provides the backdrop to understanding both the literary anecdotes about Corinth and Paul’s community in crisis.

Third, the Corinthia was a place to which people voyaged, not simply a region that people passed through.  People visited the Isthmus for a variety of reasons, not least of which was to conduct trade and business.  This may well have been a motivation for St. Paul himself who knew that here on the Isthmus he would meet bustling crowds associated with the market places, the tourist sites, and the Isthmian games.

Paul’s Corinthians in Contrast and Context

Last week I posted a general overview of the “Corinth in Contrast” conference as well as a piece summarizing the papers on archaeology in the Hellenistic to Roman era.  Today I conclude my overview of the conference with notes on the papers that dealt explicitly with St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.  Only three papers were devoted explicitly to Pauline issues, but the apostle made brief appearances in other papers and was always present in the subsequent discussion of the papers at the end of each day.  Recall that New Testament scholars have been the organizing force behind all three of these conferences.  If each of the three papers on Paul dealt with inequality and contrast on some level—in dining, marriage, and female status and leadership—the papers also made efforts to understand problems in Corinth’s early Christian community within broader contexts of different kinds.

Steve Friesen of the University of Texas at Austin, for example, set Phoebe, the deaconess of Kenchreai, in comparison (and contrast) with Junia Theodora, an elite woman from Lycia known from an honorary Greek inscription from the Corinthia.  Friesen has argued in recent years that the great majority of Christian converts in cities like Corinth came from the 90% of the population that was barely making a living.  Friesen’s discussion in his paper on Thursday centered on the meaning of the rare term “prostatis” (προστατις) and “prostasia” to characterize the actions of Junia Theodora, Phoebe, and a several other women in the Roman era.  The use of the word, Friesen suggested, has no clear translation but implies unusual responsibility and authority that originated in differential economic resources, family power, and religious practice.  Phoebe herself, Friesen argued, may have belonged to that small group of individuals who managed to get ahead in the Roman era without ever achieving elite status.

On Friday, James Walters of Boston University presented “A Ritual Analysis of 1 Cor. 11:17-34: Enacting Equality and Inequality at a Corinthian Banquet.”  Walters aimed to set the interpretation of dining within the broader context of ritual.  His starting point was, on the one hand, recent Pauline scholarship that characterizes and interprets early Christian gatherings in terms of ritual activity and space.  On the other hand, ritual theory more generally provided a starting point for understanding the banqueting passage. Reading 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in terms of ritual activity, Walters discussed how Paul evokes a ritual recognition of Jesus’ last supper by representing Jesus as the host of the Corinthian meal.  The ritual would have diminished inequality between those gathered while simultaneously fostering inequality in the differential authority between Paul and his enemies.

On the final day of the conference, Caroline Johnson Hodge (College of the Holy Cross) discussed 1 Corinthians 7 about mixed marriages between believer and non-believers within its broader historical context.  What happens, Hodge asked, when Christians and non-Christians shared the same household space in mixed marriages?  What kind of conflict existed when the newly baptized believers were subordinate members of the household (e.g., wives)?  In the view of the apostle Paul, the ‘contagious holiness’ of the believer could sanctify the family.  But looking ahead to the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7 in the later 2nd-3rd centuries, Hodge shows how a Christian like Tertullian ‘corrected’ this misreading of Paul with the injunction that a believer ‘must marry in the Lord.’  Tertullian condemns mixed marriages because unholiness is contagious.

If you’re interested in learning more about these papers, the published volumes should appear relatively quickly.  Given that the essays in the publication of the conference will double the length of the papers, I expect that the final papers will be more developed and contextual.

Over the next week or two, I will present some summary pieces about my own recent work on the diolkos, the subject of my Corinth in Contrast paper.

More Corinth in Contrast

On Monday I posted a general overview of the conference Corinth in Contrast and today I want to comment on a few of the specific papers that focused on material culture.  Defining which papers fit into the category of material culture is not straightforward.  Most of the papers, including those by New Testament scholars, made some use of archaeology, but not all the archaeologists (e.g., Sanders and myself) focused on archaeological evidence per se.  Moreover, some presenters (Ben Millis, Dan Schowalter, and Ron Stroud) focused on inscriptions that belong to overlapping evidence categories of text and material culture.  And even the explicitly archaeological papers did not focus on the normal stratigraphic grit of archaeological research.  A few highlights:

For the urban center, Sarah James gave an important paper (“The Last Corinthians? Society and Settlement from 146 BCE to the Roman Colony”) synthesizing the evidence for continuing settlement and society in the so-called interim period between the city’s destruction in 146 BC and refoundation as a Roman colony in 44 BC.  James discussed an enormous amount of evidence (adding up to half a metric ton of pottery!) suggesting that activities continued in the urban center in the late 2nd to early 1st centuries BC.  She presented a number of ceramic deposits showing evidence for imports and trade and production of ceramic crafts that indicates continuity with preexisting populations.  This paper, which draws on conclusions reached in her dissertation, will have significant ramifications for understanding the interim period in Corinth.  Start discontinuity, the blank slate, and the squatters are all going to have to go away.

Ben Millis was not physically present at the conference but he did make several appearances via Skype and in this capacity presented a paper on “The Local Magistrates and Elite of Roman Corinth.”  The paper complemented an earlier paper that he gave in 2007, recently published in Corinth in Context, by discussing the role of freedmen in promoting their commercial interests in the newfound colony.  In his talk, Millis discussed the origins and careers of Roman Corinth’s first elites whose names appear in inscriptions in the city.  Three distinct elite groups appear frequently: 1) Greek provincial elite, which formed the smallest elite group; 2) Romans, who were also a numerically small group but formed a more significant core of Corinthian elites; and 3) freedmen, who made up the largest group of the colony’s ruling class.  Millis suggested that the latter group clearly had the most potential for upward mobility, but that personal connections were important in achieving this mobility.  Freedmen who became part of the new local elite formed a very closed system that was nearly impossible to break into.  There were, in other words, social and economic impediments and requirements to office holding in the new colony.

Sarah Lepinski discussed the evidence from wall painting in the Roman city and considered the question of whether painting practices reflected Greek or Roman themes, styles, and tastes.  Her presentation highlighted the practices, tastes, and decorative programs that point strongly to western connections, especially during most of the first century after Christ.  However, her presentation also highlighted the complexities of such connections for in the later 1st century a break with western practices led to more localized decorative programs.

Bill Caraher gave a paper on the final day on the subject of the “The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City.”  The paper provided a very useful overview of the “building boom” of the fifth and sixth centuries AD in the Corinthia that included monumental church architecture (e.g., Lechaion basilica), villa culture in the territory, and urban and trans-isthmus fortification walls.  Bill suggested that this building activity created a medium for various groups of the population to communicate theological messages and local expression.  His discussion of local “resistance” provided some interesting and lively audience feedback.

Ronald Stroud presented an interesting paper called the “Varieties of Inequality in Corinthian Magic and Ritual,” which examined the evidence for “black magic” at Corinth around 50 AD, especially the inscribed lead curse tablets found at the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on the lower slopes of Acrocorinth.  Before official cult was reestablished in a Roman manner at the sanctuary, women were practicing nocturnal rites associated with a space connected to Kore, goddess of underworld.  Such practices blend the distinction between religion and magic.  This paper will be very interesting for those interested in the kinds of cults and religious practices that formed a backdrop to St. Paul’s mission in the city.

All of these papers will appear in expanded form (6,000-8,000 words) in a volume that should be published relatively quickly.