David Pettegrew standing on a tower at Lychnari

Return to the Corinthia

This is not really how I had imagined I would return to Corinthian matters–bunkered down in my home near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the midst of a global pandemic, working on this website while what’s left of Hurricane Zeta dumps rain on central PA.

Only eight months ago, I was in the process of gearing up for (what was surely going to be) a memorable three-week research and teaching jaunt to the real Corinthia. I was going to bring along a group of ten bright students from Messiah University for a series of research ventures from our base in ancient Corinth between mid-May and early June. Plans were in place to join up with colleagues and their students from Michigan State University, Franklin & Marshall College, and Harrisburg University of Science & Technology to tackle a number of interesting archaeological processes and problems, ranging from collecting high-resolution drone photography of the Isthmus to a quest to locate the vanished American-founded colony of Washingtonia to digitization work at the Roman Bath at Isthmia.

The very idea of that trip — and its vast potential set of cultural and archaeological experiences — was gunned down in the wave of cancellations that shocked our world in March and April. Like so many others looking forward to summer travel for archaeology and study in Greece, plans were overturned, students devastated. On the plus side, we had our health and safety, which was certainly not a guarantee.

I still managed to find my way to the Corinthia again this fall through a well-timed leave from my university in the 2020-2021 year. The sabbatical provides the opportunity to undertake some research on Corinthian scholarship and also to breathe a little life into this languishing website after a long hiatus.

I’m working now on the long-delayed study and publication of the datasets and results of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. We finished that project nearly two decades ago when I was but still a youth, long enough ago that one can rightly call it a “legacy project.” Some people, I think, imagine EKAS as an unpublished project but in fact EKAS staff have generated a slew of publications over the last twenty years. However, there has been no comprehensive and systematic presentation of the data or the results of survey, despite frequent conversations among the project’s staff about its potential value. So with the project directors’ blessing, my goal this year is to publish the datasets with collaborators, and to write an efficient little born-digital book about the project, its methods, datasets, and results. If things go well (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise), we have our eyes set on an edited collection of essays interpreting the results of the survey. But for now, it’s enough to say that Operation Publish EKAS is under way. You can expect some regular updates about the project via the Corinthiaka page.

The work on EKAS this year gives me a new opportunity to reset this website, update its template, and generate some new content. Honestly I grew tired of the template and format of the old website. Corinthian Matters 1.0 centered too much on blogging new scholarship and news and demanded keeping up with the constant flow of information–something that became too difficult as my teaching and research interests moved beyond the Corinthia and as I assumed more administrative roles at my university (like chairing my department, coordinating digital humanities activities, and directing a local public humanities project) — let alone raising a family with small children!

Since I’ll be working on Corinthiaka anyway this year, I’m attempting something of a modest overhaul of the website to convert this overgrown blog site into a dynamic website with stable content–something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. To make things happen, I purchased a new theme, revised the domain name, and reorganized and simplified pages. I’ve begun to update content and am still tinkering with this theme. I’m impressed with how much better WordPress tools are these days than they were a decade ago. Makes the job much easier.

So expect a little more activity here at Corinthian Matters than we’ve had over the last two years. I’ll probably not go back to a rampant posting schedule but I hope to add enough content that you’ll see some improvement in the utility of the site for delivering resources related to Corinthian studies.

The Irregular Train

I received an appreciative email earlier this week from a resident of a Corinthian village who had just discovered Corinthian Matters and was keen to learn more about the place where he resides (he even offered real-time information and photographs). His email and others like it always encourage me to continue sifting through the chaff of Corinthian ephemera day after day to find the occasional nugget of interesting news and scholarship. I consider this site mainly a service for those interested in Corinthian studies that runs like an irregular train. Corinthian Matters is not my top priority in life or work, but it ranks in the top ten things I feel I should be doing in the time I devote to scholarship.

This image below showing my 2015 Posting Patterns says it all. The site bursts to life during breaks and abruptly halts once the academic semester and the teaching season starts, and pressing publication deadlines or grant applications or archaeology projects crowd in. Still, I’m happy to see that the site has generated a constant 30,000 visits or views over the last few year despite the irregular activities. This is small potatoes, I know, but the site gets more attention than my long-labored articles.CMPostingPatterns

The good news is that I have a significantly lighter schedule this semester and a backlog of interesting material to push out. I’ll see if I can get this train running a little more frequently (no promises).

As always, I’m looking for new books, articles, blogs, and stories. If you have them, send my way. And if you’re interested in being an occasional or regular contributor, I’d be glad to hear it.

 

Corinthian Matters: A New Theme

After a long lull, Corinthians Matters is running actively again. It’s summer and I don’t have the pressures of an academic year. Plus, the completion of some long-standing research projects has provided a little more time to develop this site. To mark this new energy, I gave the site a new theme last week. I wanted simpler, more elegant, image-based. The Monet theme is easier on the eye and demands less of the viewer. It is also better for mobile users. The theme does less well with webpage hierarchy, however, so I plan to eliminate some of the stacked sub-pages and simplify the static content. I’m also currently devising secret plans to develop the gazetteer section of the website somewhere else beyond WordPress–even as the bibliographic library lives off site at Zotero.

Note that you can still access the Search feature, Categories, and the Archive via the three little dots in the upper right corner of the page (circled in red in the first image blow). Clicking there will open up the hidden categories, search  box, and other features of the site. Thanks for visiting.

 

 

2014 Year in Review

Happy New Year from Corinthian Matters! While I was enjoying a delightful Christmas break with friends and family in Columbus, Ohio, the stat bots at WordPress were busily generating an annual report concerning usage of this site in 2014. Some of this information looked interesting enough to share, and I had the vague recollection that I had previously published site stats for past years. Turns out I really love playing with these numbers. A little digging in the site archives turned up this statistical summary of usage from 2012 and this one from 2013, which comparatively show that the the site is getting more traffic now than ever before and that access has become truly global.

In 2014, our regular bloggers and guest writers added 46 new posts or pages to this site — about one post a week — a figure higher than 2013 (n=35) but significantly lower than the bumper year 2012 (n=87). Yet, 2014 still yielded 31,433 page views at this site, a figure nearly on par with the 33,000 views of 2012. This suggests that the content of blogs in previous years has entered the archived web and continues to attract traffic long after those original posts went up. In fact, the most popular posts and pages in 2014 were generally older posts that either offered unique interpretation or unique information.  For comparison, I have listed the five most popular pages/ posts from the last three years. What interests me about this list is that posts or pages from previous years generated much more traffic in 2014 than new posts from last year. You’ll notice the staying power of many of the posts below.

Rank 2014 2013 2012
1 Contours of Greece from SRTM Data Contours of Greece from SRTM Data Intro to Corinth Educational Video (with diolkos)
2 St. Leonidas and the Seven Virgins, Martyrs, April 16 St. Leonidas and the Seven Virgins, Martyrs, April 16 The Crazy Project – Canal Istanbul
3 Preaching Corinthians from Historical and Archaeological Background: Some Resources The Crazy Project – Canal Istanbul Service Excavations Unearth Corinth City Walls (and other buildings)
4 Touring Corinth (virtually) with the Field Trip App Preaching Corinthians from Historical and Archaeological Background: Some Resources St. Leonidas and the Seven Virgins, Martyrs, April 16
5 Athens, Sparta, and Corinth in Western Civilization Texts A Cruise Ship in the Corinth Canal Athens, Sparta, and Corinth in Western Civilization Texts

Some two-thirds of the countries of this world (n=134 of 196) generated some interest in Corinthiaka in 2014, which is slightly greater representation than 2012 and 2013 (n=131). That the individuals who visited this site last year came from all over the world (as they did in 2012 and 2013 as well) is some indication of the broad interest in and relevance of Corinthian matters. As technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci discussed in her recent presentation on public scholarship at Bucknell University’s Digital Scholarship Conference, we’re living in a disorienting moment of ever greater connectivity when 90% of the populations of seemingly remote countries are equipped with smart phones and when scholarship is no longer “frozen” in print but can be made relevant to a far-reaching public.

Screenshot (19)

This “global” representation is in some ways misleading in that most of this traffic came from North America and Europe, but still, all the world’s continents except for Antarctica are all represented. As for specific countries, the United States generated the greatest share  (38%) with Greece (17%) and the United Kingdom (8%) following. Traffic from South America and southeast Asia was appreciable. Nothing yet from North Korea! The following table lists the top 25 countries that accessed the site in 2014 and the volume of traffic generated.

United States 11944 38.0%
Greece 5416 17.2%
United Kingdom 2644 8.4%
Italy 1629 5.2%
Canada 1341 4.3%
France 839 2.7%
Germany 818 2.6%
Australia 772 2.5%
Brazil 458 1.5%
Netherlands 456 1.5%
Russian Federation 378 1.2%
Spain 302 1.0%
Turkey 264 0.8%
Romania 251 0.8%
Czech Republic 225 0.7%
India 214 0.7%
Switzerland 205 0.7%
Japan 204 0.6%
Belgium 177 0.6%
Philippines 159 0.5%
Norway 155 0.5%
Poland 126 0.4%
New Zealand 112 0.4%
Republic of Korea 111 0.4%
Denmark 103 0.3%

I also generated a word cloud (via Wordle) of the most common phrases that led visitors to this site via search engines. This data reflects not only the particular content that interests people about the Corinthia, but (obviously) also the content that is present on the site.

Screenshot (22)

 

And here is the word cloud for the most common words (minus “Corinth”):

Screenshot (20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one can see, most search engine traffic was directed to the maps, information about archaeological sites, queries about field survey, and searches for specific sites or people of the ancient Corinthia, especially the diolkos, Acrocorinth, and early Christian saints (e.g., Erastus and Leonidas). While some of these popular queries, such as the “diolkos,” represent topics that have appeared often on this site, others (such as Leonidas and New Testament Backgrounds) are less covered topics. I wonder how these stats would change if the site were populated with more information about Pauline studies, Judaism, and early Christian material.

This site is now in old age, as far as blogs go, as we move into year five. Thanks for visiting. As you have suggestions for resource development, I would be glad to hear them. And if you have interest in joining the small team of contributors to this blog, drop me a line: “corinthianmatters” at “gmail.com”.

An Update on the Isthmus Project (and a promise to unleash some mid-summer Corinthiaka)

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I have slowly been making progress on a historical study of the Roman Isthmus. Every so often, I rehearse the background of the project and offer an update of how it has developed—mainly to apologize for the sporadic character of posts on this blog.

So, the rehearsal: The project began a little over a decade ago as a dissertation about the late antique landscape that centered on the survey data of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. In completing that project in 2006, I recognized that understanding the Isthmus in late antiquity demanded a real understanding of the region in earlier Roman times. But pushing into earlier centuries naturally ushered in the complex patterns of continuity and change in earlier periods. Before I knew it, my focused study of a late antique landscape had morphed into a century by century treatment of contingency and connectivity from the archaic age to the end of antiquity. The heart of the study is a fine-grained presentation of the EKAS survey data contextualized in terms of the primary textual sources for the period and synthetic summaries of archaeological investigations. My aim has been to show how connectivity in the landscape related to the broader interactions of the local, regional, and global: Roman imperialism, colonization, the visit of an emperor, Greek elite education, and foreign invasions were some of the short-term contingencies that affected the development of the region in the long term.

The good news (the update) is that I’m in the final stages of finishing this thing. I have a contract, a publisher (Michigan), and a manuscript that is taking its final shape. It’s been reviewed. A couple of times. In fact, I thought I was finished in January, but some late reviews from anonymous reviewers and friends encouraged me to add two more chapters. As I wrap up those final chapters, I’m hopeful that this will be in finished state (again) by the end of the year at the latest. Indeed, I have a strong incentive to finish by summer’s end since LP3 (Little Pettegrew #3) is due to arrive in early September just in time for the new school year. Of course, I’m almost always unrealistic about the time needed to finish projects so we’ll just see how it goes.

The chapter divisions and content as it currently stands—last minute reorganization could shuffle the content of Ch. 2-4:

1. Introduction

2. The Isthmos: conceptions and definitions of the isthmus in the Classical and Hellenistic era

3. The Crossroads: the physical developments of the regional structures from the archaic to Hellenistic periods

4. The Fetter: the Isthmus as it relates to the Roman destruction of Greek Corinth

5. The Portage: the interim period

6. The Bridge: the first century of the Roman colony

7. The Canal: the third quarter of the first century AD

8. The Center: late first to early third century

9. The Countryside: mid-third to late fourth

10. The Fortification: late fourth to early seventh

11. Conclusions

With some optimism about an end in sight, I’ll start releasing some of the Corinthiaka that I’ve been hoarding in recent months. Some of this will be familiar stuff to the Corinthian Studies FB group, so apologies to readers who are seeing old news in these posts.

Restart

First, my confession of a mortal sin of the blogosphere: I stopped posting. It’s the death knell of blogs, I know.

But I had good reason for the break. I took a year-long research leave to complete two big research projects. Many bloggers I know would pick up pace during a sabbatical. I felt that the prospects of finishing both projects would be slim without serious focus. And so, I disconnected.

I’m glad I did. I needed all the time I could get. With collaborators Bill Caraher, Scott Moore, and others, we are finishing edits of a volume detailing our archaeological survey of the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria in Cyprus. That was an enormous amount of work and is 99% done.

The other project, related to the theme of this site, was a diachronic history of the Isthmus of Corinth in the Roman period. That about killed me. I’m wrapping up the final two chapters on the late antique period this semester. My projected completion date is January. I’ll have more to say about this in the coming year.

All of this to note that after a long hiatus, Corinthian Matters resumes this week.

I’ll be reviving some of the regular features of the blog (news, conference coverage, Corinthian Scholarship Monthly, etc…), and also developing some of the stable content of the website, especially bibliographic libraries.

So, if you have news, stories, scholarship, please send them my way. Check back for new content and resources.

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”

2011 Year in Review

Happy New Year from Corinthian Matters!  WordPress has kindly provided an annual report of activities related to this blog over the last year, but I love to crunch data and I was curious to know a bit more about how people were finding and using this site—so I went to the statistics mine for more information.  Here is what I found.

Most people found Corinthianmatters through Google searches—especially for photos of the Corinthia.  The Google bots discovered the images on this site about two or three months ago and the number of visitors since then has doubled.

Leaving aside image searches, the top ten category searches in 2011 point to a varied interest in Corinthian antiquities, territory, and religion:

1. Diolkos (20%)

2. ApostlePaul, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and the first Christian communities at Corinth (12%)

3. Niketas Ooryphas and the authors who wrote about him: George Cedrenus, Theophanes Cont, Madrid Skylitzes, Vita Basilii, Chronicon Maius (11%)

4. Aerial photos, maps, and plans (7%)

5. Isthmus (5%)

6. Corinthian colonies: Butrint, Dyrrachium, Corfu, Epidamnus (5%)

7. Lechaion (5%)

8. Ancient Corinth (5%)

9. Erastus (3%)

10. ASCSA Excavations(3%)

Obviously, how people find the site relates to what content is available—and 2010 was the year of the diolkos.  But these stats also reflect demand as well.  While our entries about New Testament materials were not the most numerous, they attracted a huge share of the searches.  And surprisingly, the few posts about the Corinthian colonies along the Adriatic and Ionian seas generated quite a bit of traffic.

Apart from search engines, most traffic came to the site through shared links via friends and contacts on Facebook (20%), and random links through WordPress (18%).  There were, though, a good mix of outside referrals from sites dedicated to both Mediterranean archaeology and New Testament studies: Rogueclassicism (9%), American School of Classical Studies (7%), New Testament Perspectives (4%), Bible Places (4%), Cryptotheology (3%), New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World (3%), and many others.

It is hard to assess the most popular post of 2011, since most people only ever view the Home Page, which changes from day to day.  But the pages and posts that got the most traffic were a surprising mix of maps (#1), photos (2, 5) and multimedia (4), current scholarship (3, 6), archaeology news (7, 8), and scholarship summaries (10).

1. Maps of the Corinthia

2. Acrocorinth

3. Dissertations (2000-2011)

4. Intro to Corinth Educational Video (with diolkos)

5. Church of the Panagia in Ancient Corinth

6. Corinthian History and Archaeology: 2010 Publications

7. Service Excavations Unearth Corinth City Walls (and other buildings)

8. Kouroi arrive in Corinth

9. The Search for the Historical Erastus

10. Niketas Ooryphas and the Diolkos of Corinth, Part I

We already have a lot in the queue for 2012 and plan to add more content, news, bibliography, and reviews.  Next week or the week after, we’ll run our annual publications list for different categories of Corinthian scholarship.

Corinthianmatters turns one

A little over a year ago, I launched Corinthianmatters as a blog-site devoted to providing current (often digital) resources for the study of the Corinthia, Greece.  As I noted in my first post, I was a little wary that I would begin a blog that would die after a few awkward posts (the common fate for most blogs).  But I was encouraged by the dynamic platform of WordPress that included both blog and traditional pages.  This meant that even if I did not regularly blog, I could at least develop (slowly) the ‘stable’ content of the website through the pages.  This would be much easier to develop and maintain than, say, a traditional webpage created in html through Dreamweaver. 

My idea with this site was to create a place on the web for connecting the archaeology, history, and study of the Corinthia with a broader public audience already interested in the subject of ancient Corinth: students, pastors, teachers, gamers, tourists, ancient world enthusiasts, Bible readers, among others.  In that respect, I was inspired by colleagues blogging Greece like Bill Caraher’s The (New) Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, Diana Wright’s Surprised by Time, and Kostis Kourelis’ Objects, Buildings, Situations, as well as resource sites like The Rogue ClassicistI was interested also in creating resources that would be useful for scholars of Corinth and ancient Greece as well.  And I saw the site as an outlet for discussing the research of the Eastern Korinthia Survey and some of my own work on the Isthmus that was of broader interest. 

WordPress has some basic statistical tools that allow one to assess patterns of traffic and pageviews.  For example, I can see that the top search engine queries that led to this site over the last year include “diolkos,” “vita basilii,” “corinth,” “dyrrachium,” “acrocorinth,” “paul in corinth,” “lechaion,” “modern corinth,” “ancient corinth,” and “corinth map.”  I can also assess the increasing number of visits to the site.  Last October-December, the site received about 400 page views per month, or about 10 per day.  Now it receives regularly over 1,500, or about 50-60 per day.  This is small-scale, of course, but an encouraging sign that people are finding something of use here.  It has been interesting also to monitor how outside referrals to the site influence the traffic patterns.  A summary piece about the blog at the ASCSA website doubled the number of visits to the site over the course of several weeks.  A post about this site at Bibleplaces.com generated 500 hits in a single day, 200 the following day, and higher numbers for several days thereafter.

The posts and pages that have proven the most popular in the last year suggest a mix of interest in resources, scholarship, news, and visual content:

1. Maps of the Corinthia (463)

2. Images of Acrocorinth (347)

3. Corinth Dissertation List (245)

4. The Diolkos – A New Video (181)

5. Intro to Corinth Educational Video (177)

6. Church of the Panayia Photos (167)

7. Service Excavations Unearth Corinth City Walls (163)

8. Corinthian Studies 2010 Publications (157)

9. Kouroi Arrive in Corinth (151)

10. Erastus Inscription Photos (127)

As Corinthianmatters goes into its second year, you’ll see some changes at the site.  Most immediately (starting tomorrow), you’ll see additional authors contributing to the site.  I have been inviting other scholars with an interest in the Corinthia, digital humanities, and public scholarship to contribute at least occasionally to the stable content (pages) and the blog.  One feature that I am especially excited about will be current overviews and reviews of scholarship that has just come out.  I am plan to ask Corinthian researchers to discuss their work online.  Finally, I aim to increase the stable content of the site through visual resources like photos and videos of Corinthian sites (the kind unlikely to appear on Flickr), modern bibliography, ancient texts, and gazetteer of sites.  An archaeology intern in our history department at Messiah College will be helping to that end. 

I redesigned the “About” area of the website last week and decided on this set of objectives: 

1. Current news on archaeological investigations, conferences, presentations, and publications on Corinth from antiquity to the early modern era.

2. Resources for scholars, teachers, and anyone interested in Corinth, including especially images, video, maps, and bibliography.

3. Essays and reviews about Corinthian history and archaeology, and the place of Corinth in modern culture.

4. A filter for the digital noise concerning the ancient Corinthia, including blogs, tourist websites, and news articles.

5. A place for the presentation of the work of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey and the study of the territory of the Isthmus.

 

So, we’re still under construction here.  If you’ve got news about Corinth, ancient or modern, its territory, or other items of interest, send them my way