Corinthian Scholarship Monthly (November 2013)

Your latest round of new Corinthian scholarship published or posted online in the last month – just in time for the holiday season. Feel free to reply to this post if you have something to add. If you are interested and qualified to review any of the following, contact me at

For comprehensive bibliography related to the Corinthia, see this page and visit the Corinthia Library at Zotero.




Late Roman

New Testament



Urban Space and Economic Life in Saint Paul’s Balkan Stops, 4th–7th Centuries

I won’t be anywhere near Hellenic College Holy Cross on December 3, but this lecture (from Brandie Rantliff via the Byzantine Studies Association) looks interesting.

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is pleased to announce the first talk in its 2013-2014 lecture series. On December 3, 2013, at 4pm, Dr. Eurydice Georganteli (Harvard University) will present “Changing Landscapes: Urban Space and Economic Life in Saint Paul’s Balkan Stops, 4th–7th Centuries.” Focusing on the sites St. Paul visited on the Balkan peninsula in 49 or 50 AD, Dr. Georganteli will trace the dramatic religious, political, and economic changes that occurred in the region across four centuries.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 4:00–5:30 pm
The Archbishop Iakovos Library, Reading Room
Hellenic College Holy Cross
50 Goddard Avenue
Brookline, MA 02445

When St Paul and his companions Silas, Timothy and Luke, disembarked at the busy port of Neapolis the year was 49 or 50 AD, and the area had been a Roman province since 167 BC and the consolidation of Roman power in the Antigonid kingdom of Macedonia. St Paul’s crossing from Asia to Europe and his travels across Roman Greece changed forever the local society, culture and the urban landscape in which that society lived and died. This lecture explores the changing face of St Paul’s Balkan stops from the fourth through the seventh century, a period of profound political, administrative, economic and religious changes. The rise of Philippi and Amphipolis as major pilgrimage destinations, Thessaloniki’s urban continuity and architectural splendor, and the dwindling fortunes of the old and established cities of Athens and Corinth, are some of the subjects which will be discussed in the light of written sources, topographical analysis and the latest archaeological discoveries.

SBL Baltimore 2013

I will not be able to attend the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Society of Biblical Literature that begin this week in Baltimore, but I will offer, as in years past, an index of papers and sessions related in some way to Corinth. I did not see any obvious Corinthiaka in the ASOR program, but SBL, unsurprisingly, includes numerous relevant presentations and sessions. If one of the following titles make you curious, visit the SBL program website to access the abstracts.

First, sessions obviously related to early Christian Corinth and 1 and 2 Corinthians:

Meals in the Greco-Roman World (S23-123, Nov. 23)

Theme: Bodies on the Couch: Gender, Space, and the Meal

  • Soham Al-Suadi, Universität Bern – Université de Berne, Presiding
  • Matthew Roller, Johns Hopkins University
    Postures, Roles, and Social Distinctions: A Classicist’s Perspective on Early Christian Commensality (30 min)
  • Jorunn Økland, Universitetet i Oslo
    Gender-Mixed Dining in Non-Public Spaces: To What Can Early Christian Meals Be Compared? (30 min)
  • Caroline Johnson Hodge, College of the Holy Cross
    Meals on Wheels: The Reserved Sacrament and Other Christian Daily Devotions (30 min)
  • Carly Daniel-Hughes, Concordia University – Université Concordia, Respondent (15 min)
  • Ellen Aitken, McGill University, Respondent (15 min)
  • Discussion (30 min)

Pauline Epistles (S23-126. Nov. 23)

  • Emma Wasserman, Rutgers University, Presiding
  • Heidi Wendt, Brown University
    With Far More Imprisonments and Often Near Death: Paul’s Hardships Amidst Roman Punishments of Freelance Experts (25 min)
  • Philip L. Tite, University of Washington
    Roman Diet and Meat Consumption: Reassessing Elite Access to Meat in 1 Corinthians 8 (25 min)
  • Charles Cosgrove, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
    Abstention from Wine by the “Weak” in the Roman Church: A Dietary Practice Addressed by Paul in Romans 14 (25 min)
  • Janelle Peters, Emory University
    The Imperishable Crown and the Heavenly Politeuma in 1 Corinthians (25 min)
  • Judith Gundry, Yale Divinity School
    “(He is) Divided” (1 Cor 7:32a) – The Impossible Possibility: Paul, Cynics, and Stoics on Marriage (25 min)

Early Christianity and the Ancient Economy (S23-213, Nov. 23)

Theme: Economic Aspects of the Ancient World and the Early Church

  • Michael Cover, University of Notre Dame, Presiding
  • David B. Hollander, Iowa State University
    Milk and Honey in the Roman Economy (30 min)
  • Jonathan Wilcoxson, University of Notre Dame
    Reconsidering the Social Status of Meat in light of 1 Cor 8:1-13 (30 min)
  • Alex Hon Ho Ip, Chinese University of Hong Kong
    The Economic Relationship between Masters and Slaves in the First Century in light of New Institutional Economics(30 min)
  • Michael Flexsenhar III, The University of Texas
    Slave or Free? Economizing Status in Pauline Communities (30 min)

Systematic Transformation and Interweaving of Scripture in 1 Corinthians (S23-241, Nov. 23)

Theme: Use of Scripture in 1 Corinthians: Theological, Sophisticated, and Bold

  • Erik Waaler, NLA Høgskolen, Presiding
  • Roy Ciampa, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Prophecy in Corinth and Paul’s Use of Isaiah’s Prophecy in 1 Cor 14:21-25 (15 min)
  • Richard Hays, Duke University, Respondent (25 min)
  • Guy Waters, Reformed Theological Seminary
    Curse Redux? First Corinthians 5:13, Deuteronomy, and Identity Formation in Corinth (15 min)
  • Christopher Stanley, Saint Bonaventure University, Respondent (25 min)
    Linda Belleville, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
    Paul’s Use of the Exodus–Wilderness Narratives in 1 Cor 10:1-11 (15 min)
  • Peter Enns, Eastern University, Respondent (25 min)
  • Discussion (30 min)

Systematic Transformation and Interweaving of Scripture in 1 Corinthians (S23-341)

Theme: The Genre of 1 Corinthians

  • Linda Belleville, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Presiding
  • Thomas L. Brodie, St. Saviour’s, Limerick, Ireland
    The Genre of 1 Corinthians: Not a Letter, but a Letter-like Essay, an Epistle (30 min)
  • Margaret M. Mitchell, University of Chicago, Respondent (30 min)
  • Discussion (90 min)

Archaeology of Religion in the Roman World (S25-108, Nov. 25)

Theme: The Worship of Antinoos

  • Daniel Schowalter, Carthage College, Presiding
  • Betsey A. Robinson, Vanderbilt University
    Backgrounds to Antinoos (30 min)
  • Christopher Jones, Harvard University
    Antinoos between Hero and God (30 min)
  • Trevor Thompson, University of Chicago
    “Darling of the Emperor”: Antinoos in Early Christian Rhetoric (30 min)
  • Jayne Reinhard, College of New Jersey
    Following Antinoos: Polydeukion as Hero and Protector of the Roman Baths (30 min)
  • Dale Martin, Yale University, Respondent (10 min)
  • Jorunn Økland, Universitetet i Oslo, Respondent (10 min)
  • Discussion (10 min)

Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making (S25-146, Nov. 25)

Theme: 2 Corinthians 7:5-16

  • Thomas Schmeller, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Presiding
  • James R. Harrison, Sydney College of Divinity
    ‘Consolation,’ ‘Affliction,’ and ‘Joy’ in 2 Cor 7:4-13 Against the Backdrop of Graeco-Roman Consolatory Literature and Second Temple Judaism (25 min)
  • Derek Brown, Logos Bible Software
    Second Corinthians 7:5–16 and Paul’s Care for His Churches (25 min)
  • Emmanuel Nathan, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
    Of Grief That Turns to Comfort: MT Echoes Resounding in the Background of 2 Cor 7:5-16? (25 min)
  • Steven Kraftchick, Emory University
    Lype According to God: A Theological Reading of 2 Cor 7:5-16 (25 min)
  • Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, Liverpool Hope University, Respondent (10 min)
  • Reimund Bieringer, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Respondent (10 min)
  • Discussion (30 min)

Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making (S25-331)

  • Edith Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Presiding
  • Hans Arneson, Duke University
    A Defense of Divine Sincerity and Grace: Re-Reading 2 Cor 1:15–2:11 (25 min)
  • Troels Engberg-Pedersen, University of Copenhagen
    The Node of Paraenetic Concepts in 2 Cor 7:5-16 in relation to 6:11-7:4, 2:1-13 and 1:3-11 (25 min)
  • Christopher D. Land, McMaster Divinity College
    Many Wronged, but No Wrongdoers: The Enigma of 2 Cor 7:5–16 (25 min)
  • Lisa M. Bowens, Princeton Theological Seminary
    The Mind as Battleground in 2 Cor 10-11: Placing Paul in Conversation with the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Community Hymns, and the Prayer of Levi (25 min)
  • Matthew Forrest Lowe, Dundas Baptist Church, Dundas, Ontario
    What Kind of Day Has It Been: Pauline Theology in the Making at the Midpoint of Second Corinthians (25 min)

Scattered Papers in Other Sessions

  • J. Ayodeji Adewuya, Pentecostal Theological Seminary
    Identity Crisis: The One and the Many in 1 Corinthians 5–7 (15 min) (P22-306, Nov. 22)
  • Alexandra Brown, Washington and Lee University
    Time in the Corinthian Correspondence (40 min) [S23-330, Nov. 23]
  • C. Andrew Ballard, Fordham University
    Paideia Through Mysteries: Models of Mystery Teaching in Plato’s Symposium, 4QInstruction, and 1 Corinthians (25 min) [S23-345, Nov. 23]
  • John R. Markley, Liberty University
    “Whether in the Body or Out of the Body, I Do Not Know”: Visionary Experiences of Paradise and Paul’s Confusion About the Mode of His Ascent in 2 Cor 12:1-10 (25 min) [S24-117, Nov. 24]
  • Richard Last, University of Toronto
    Gaius, the Guest of Paul, and the Whole Church (Rom 16:23) (25 min) [P24-240, Nov. 24]
  • Jin Hwang, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena)
    ‘Who Grieved Whom? Balancing between Lype and Agape (30 min) [P24-322, Nov. 24]
  • Olugbenga Olagunju, Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary
    Exegesis of I Cor 12:1-11 in African Context (25 min) [S25-104, Nov. 25]\
  • Thomas R. Blanton, IV, Luther College
    Commodity or Gift? On the Classification of Paul’s Unremunerated Labor (30 min) [S25-116, Nov. 25]
  • Ma. Marilou S. Ibita, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
    Absent Women at the Corinthian Lord’s Supper? Reconsidering Gender, Economic, and Ecological Issues in 1 Cor 11:17-34 (30 min) [S25-118, Nov. 25]
  • Scott C. Ryan, Baylor University
    Anything You Can Do Paul Can Do Better: Ps 115:1 LXX, Prosopopoiia, and Paul’s Syncritical Argument in 2 Cor 4:7-5:10 (30 min) [S25-121, Nov. 25
  • Richard S. Ascough, Queen’s University
    What Are They Now Saying about Paul and the Associations? (25 min) [S25-135]
  • Timothy J. Christian, Asbury Theological Seminary
    P46 Tendencies in 2 Corinthians: A Critical Examination of the Oldest and Most Inconsistent Extant Papyrus of the Pauline Corpus (30 min) [S25-324]
  • David I. Yoon, McMaster Divinity College
    Letters of Recommendation: A Literary Analysis of the Documentary Papyri and Its Relation to the Corinthians (30 min) [S25-324]
  • Paul B. Duff, George Washington University
    Moses, His Ministry, and the Covenant: Reading 2 Corinthians 3 (25 min) [S25-325]

For Corinthiaka at past SBL meetings:

Inequality in Corinth

It didn’t take long for the Googlebots to find Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality, fresh off the press  of Brill publishing company. Google Books has made available the Introductory matter, Table of Contents, and Chapter 1 (Inequality in Corinth) by editors Steven Friesen, Sarah James, and Daniel Schowalter. In their introductory chapter, the editors describe the background for the conference that led to the volume and outline how the individual essays contribute to the theme. Check it out here.

Corinth in Contrast

I was pleased to see via FB that Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality went live this morning at Brill’s website—a month in advance of the annual meeting of the SBL in Baltimore and well in advance of the AIA meeting in Chicago. (So look for the book if you will attend one of these conferences.)

The work is edited by Steve Friesen, Sarah James, and Dan Schowalter, and includes contributions by a gang of scholars working on Corinthian archaeology, history, and/or New Testament studies. It marks the fruition of a conference held three years ago in Austin, Texas. Bill Caraher covered the conference at The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World blog, as we did here at Corinthian Matters:

As the abstract to the book notes: “In Corinth in Contrast, archaeologists, historians, art historians, classicists, and New Testament scholars examine the stratified nature of socio-economic, political, and religious interactions in the city from the Hellenistic period to Late Antiquity. The volume challenges standard social histories of Corinth by focusing on the unequal distribution of material, cultural, and spiritual resources. Specialists investigate specific aspects of cultural and material stratification such as commerce, slavery, religion, marriage and family, gender, and art, analyzing both the ruling elite of Corinth and the non-elite Corinthians who made up the majority of the population. This approach provides insight into the complex networks that characterized every ancient urban center and sets an agenda for future studies of Corinth and other cities rule by Rome.”

The Table of Contents looks like this:

1. Inequality in Corinth (Steven J. Friesen, Sarah A. James, and Daniel N. Schowalter)


2. The Last of the Corinthians? Society and Settlement from 146 to 44 (Sarah A. James)

3. The Local Magistrates and Elite of Roman Corinth (Benjamin W. Millis

4. “You Were Bought with a Price”: Freedpersons and Things in 1 Corinthians (Laura Salah Nasrallah)

5. Painting Practices in Roman Corinth: Greek or Roman? (Sarah Lepinksi)


6. Landlords and Tenants: Sharecroppers and Subsistence Farming in Corinthian Historical Context (Guy D.R. Sanders)

7. The Diolkos and the Emporion: How a Land Bridge Framed the Commercial Economy of Roman Corinth (David K. Pettegrew)

8. The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City (William Caraher)

9. Regilla Standing By: Reconstructed Statuary and Re-inscribed Bases in Fourth-Century Corinth (Daniel N. Schowalter)


10. Religion and Magic in Roman Corinth (Ronald S. Stroud)

11. Junia Theodora of Corinth: Gendered Inequalities in the Early Empire (Steven J. Friesen)

12. ‘Mixed Marriage’ in Early Christianity: Trajectories from Corinth (Caroline Johnson Hodge)


This book adds to a growing number of studies that seek to bring together archaeologists, historians, classicists, and New Testament scholars to shed light on Roman Corinth.

The Corinth Canal Project of 67-68 AD

One of the most interesting bits of research I conducted during my leave last year was Nero’s doomed Corinth Canal project of 67-68 AD. The enterprise, its failure, and subsequent condemnation form a key chapter in the book I’m finishing on the Isthmus of Corinth. Historically, scholars have argued that everyone and their brother wanted to canalize the Isthmus in antiquity, that Nero was simply the last in a long line of would be canal-cutters. In the chapter, I try to outline Nero’s attempt within the immediate historical context of the AD 60s rather than some age old desire to canalize the Isthmus.

I’ll be posting periodically on some of this research into the canal ancient and modern. I paste below an abstract of the paper (“The Corinth Canal Project of 67-68 AD”) I will present at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in January. It’s a substantial revision of a more preliminary paper I gave at the meeting of the Association of Ancient Historians last May.

In 1881, on the eve of the enterprise to canalize the six-kilometer wide Corinthian Isthmus, the Hungarian engineer, Béla Gerster, completed a careful study of the extant remains of the Emperor Nero’s failed canal project nearly two millennia earlier. Published in a brief article in BCH and revised for his book on the modern Corinth Canal, Gerster’s description and map of the ancient trenches, pits, and mounds mark the only detailed record of the remnants before they were destroyed by the construction of the modern canal (1882-1893). While Gerster’s study of the trenches and pits documented an enormous undertaking (the excavation of half a million cubic meters of earth and stone) that indicates the seriousness of the ancient project, this information has played surprisingly little role in modern assessments of Nero’s tour of Greece and his Corinthian canal enterprise. In this paper, I discuss the remnants of the canal cuts within the context of a broader study of the Isthmus, and show how the remains shed light on the engineers’ plans for canalization, specific techniques of construction, chronology of the enterprise, amount of work remaining, and subsequent transformation of the landscape. The dimensions of the cuts, pits, and shafts highlight the Herculean nature of the task confronting the canal cutters, but also demonstrate the sensible approaches adopted by the engineers to meet the challenges of severing an 80 m high ridge of limestone, sandstone, and marl. Gerster’s record of trenches and shafts offers clues to the plans for the ancient Corinth Canal near the moment of abandonment in A.D. 68 and before Greek and Roman writers condemned the project as impossible.

Religion and Society in Roman Corinth

Later change (12-13-12) noted by asterick * 

A little over a week ago, I had the privilege to participate in a double session at the Society of Biblical Literature conference dedicated to the theme of “Polis and Ecclesia: Roman Corinth.” Organized by Larry Welborn and Jim Harrison, the session continued an endeavor begun in 2011 to investigate the relationship of churches to their urban environments in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. In 2012, the focus was Roman Corinth. As the session abstract notes:

“This Consultation investigates the expansion of early Christianity as an urban phenomenon from Jerusalem to Rome, from the perspective of Paul’s letters and the Book of Acts, in the context of local documentary and archaeological evidence. The consultation seeks to be a venue for collaboration between scholars of early Christianity, classicists and archaeologists, in the study of the New Testament and early Christian literature as primary evidence for understanding the civic, religious and cultural life of the Mediterranean world of the first two centuries. The wide range of methodologies employed and the interdisciplinary nature of the investigation aim at a holistic presentation of the relationship between each polis and its ekklesia. Roman Corinth is the focus of the consultation for 2012. Two sessions are planned: a closed session and an open session.”

Interdisciplinary study, integrating contexts, new methodologies are now common aims in the study of the situation of early Christian communities.  Unsurprisingly, the papers varied in approach and focus.

In the morning session, the greater share of the papers examined specific passages of 1 Corinthians in light of broader contexts of the Roman Mediterranean. Katherine Ehrensperger, for instance, considered Paul’s strong statements about the Holy Spirit and the oneness of God in 1 Cor. 12 in light of a world full of gods who touched every aspect of life. Paul’s insistence on exclusive worship of Christ (1 Cor. 8-10) must have been not only alienating (from the community) for early Christians but also dangerous, impractical, almost impossible, as the traditional gods supported the most ordinary and dangerous functions of life, like childbirth; Paul elevated the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit as God’s way of divine communication, healing, and care of community. Michael Peppard considered the lawcourt disputes in 1 Cor. 6 in light of a Roman tradition of legal cases about fraternal disputes of inheritance (controversiae). Paul’s language would have brought to mind the theme of inheritance lawsuits and reinforced the community as spiritual family. Annette Weissenrider examined the meaning of the sitter who receives revelation in 1 Cor. 14.30 in light of a broader context of reclining as silent and respectful listening. Cavan Concannon’s paper was a bit different in beginning from the point of view of an immigrant resettled in Corinth who had to negotiate different ‘ordering principles’ between homeland and place of migration. Cavan raised the question of how immigrants turned Christians may have understood Paul’s teaching according to their own categories of thought.

My own paper on the diolkos was the great outlier to the session in its archaeological and historical focus that related only in conclusion to the question of early Christian community. Dale Martin’s response to the papers raised questions for the presenters and commented on the frequent use of material culture, and emphasis on space and place—consistent with the session theme of polis and ecclesia.

The afternoon session had the potential for a lively methodological conversation but ran short of time, steam, or both. There was, on the one hand, Timothy Gregory’s broad comments about the methodological difference between archaeological evidence (general, vague, medium and long time ranges) and literary texts (precise, specific, short term), and the problems that emerge when texts are used to guide and drive archaeological fieldwork and interpretation. Gregory, at one point, went so far as to state that the archaeological evidence usually drummed up for the study of the New Testament (Erastus, the cults of Aphrodite and the Egyptian deities) tells us almost nothing about the early Christian communities—how did that not evoke questions? Then, on the other hand, there were interesting and thought-provoking presentations by Laura Nasrallah (on the language of commodity, slavery, and the meat market—making reference to narrowly-dated manumissions lists from Delphi), Bruce Winter (on an inscription of 44 BC referring to Gaius Julius Spartiaticus’ management of the imperial cult), and Michel Amandry’s presentation from coins that Hadrian visited Corinth in AD 124-125 (*an argument made originally by Mary Hoskins Walbank in “Marsyas at Corinth,” in AJN 1 (1989)  79-87). In short, comments by Gregory about the coarseness of archaeological data were followed by papers focusing on the rare bird in archaeology—inscriptions and coins. If these papers are published, these presenters need to talk to one another.

So, all in all, in two sessions, a focus mainly on understanding text against a Greco-Roman backdrop and an emphasis on the specific over the general (text, inscriptions). It seems there is room here for approaches that make use of more typical mundane archaeological data (potsherds, buildings, and inscriptions without dramatic stories) to understand the urban communities of the first Christian centuries.

The Isthmus and the Consequences of Geography

I returned yesterday evening from the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion. I’ll write more about the  sessions on Roman Corinth tomorrow.

For now, I post below (via my Scribd account) a draft of the paper I gave on the diolkos. As the paper was a summary of recent scholarship, it lacks many footnotes where you might expect them. If you’re interested in pursuing the subject, following the references in footnote two to Lohmann (in press), Koutsoumba and Nakas (in press), and Pettegrew (2011).

New perspectives on the diolkos

I’m pretty jazzed about the Society of Biblical Literature Conference in Chicago. I not only get to see some old friends in and out of the conference, but I hope to meet some of the scholars whose work I regularly run across in my monthly CSM entries. I’m also looking forward to the double session called Polis and Ekklesia: Investigations of Urban Christianity where I’ll present new perspectives on the diolkos.

Those who have been stopping by this site for a while know that one of my current research fixations is the trans-Isthmus portage road known as the diolkos. I promise that I will eventually stop talking about this, but I continue to learn things about the road and discover its embedded place in traditional conceptions of Corinth as a commercial center. I am almost done with the subject, provided that I don’t learn anything new. 

On Saturday, I’ll give a talk at the conference (“The Isthmus and the Consequences of Geography: New Directions in the Study of Commercial Corinth”) discussing the recent scholarship on the diolkos and its implications for our picture of Roman Corinth. Here’s how I open:

“Since the early 19th century, the Isthmus has been a regular starting point for discussions of the early Christian communities of Roman Corinth. Conybeare and Howson’s biography of Paul, written in the early 1850s, for example, placed the apostle against the backdrop of a connecting land bridge,

‘We are thus brought to that which is really the characteristic both of Corinthian geography and Corinthian history, its close relation to the commerce of the Mediterranean… A narrow and level isthmus, across which smaller vessels could be dragged from gulph to gulph, was of inestimable value to the early traders of the Levant. And the two harbours… form an essential part of our idea of Corinth….’

In this highly connective land bridge with good harbors, a portage road, and cosmopolitan population, scholars found the reason for Paul’s visits to Corinth as well as the economic, social, and moral character of the Christian community.

The diolkos has frequently stood as a physical symbol of the heightened connectivity of the Isthmus. In traditional formulation, the diolkos was Corinth’s portage road for trans-shipping goods between the eastern and western Mediterranean. Traders arriving from Roman Italy disembarked at the western end, unloaded their cargoes, and transported the ships and freights via wheeled carts over 6 km to the opposite gulf, where they continued to the coastal cities of Asia Minor. Merchants benefited by this short cut in long-distance trade while Corinth received revenues on the tolls, transport fees, and services to passengers in transit. As a mechanism for the movement of ships, cargoes, and people between Corinth’s gulfs, the diolkos made the Isthmus a great zone of trans-shipment and made Corinth a populous city of visitors and transients.”

In the talk, I’ll summarize the new critical scholarship on the diolkos and challenge essentialist views of Corinthian geography. Three articles, all published about the same time (two in fact are stuck in production) offer comprehensive reassessments of the textual, archaeological, and logistical evidence that challenges the older view denoted in the paragraph above. They are…

  • Hans Lohmann, “Der Diolkos Von Korinth – Eine Antike Schiffsschleppe?” in The Corinthia and the Northeast Peloponnesus (In Press). See summary here.
  • Despoina Koutsoumba and Yannis Nakas. “Διολκος. Ενα Σημαντικο Τεχνικο Εργο Της Αρχαιοτητας (“The Diolkos: a Significant Technical Achievement of Antiquity”).” In The Corinthia and the Northeast Peloponnesus (In Press). See summary here.
  • David Pettegrew, “The Diolkos of Corinth,” American Journal of Archaeology 115.4 (2011).

What is interesting is that despite the different conclusions reached, the authors all agree that there was no regular portaging operation in antiquity—and that gives some unity to disparate perspectives.

In putting my paper together, I created a little table summing up the different reconstructions. I’m oversimplifying, and the authors may want to comment on this, but here is how I understand the differences:

Hans Lohmann’s Reconstruction:

  1. Ships: Military galleys carried over the Isthmus only several times in antiquity during war. Transferred over felled trees, not diolkos. Commercial vessels not transferred. No grand operation.
  2. Date: post-Archaic, possibly after destruction of 146 BC, evident from the emergence of a concept of “diolkos” in Strabo, the demise of the harbors in the interim period, and frequent archaic and classical spolia in the road
  3. Purpose: The trans-shipment of divisible commodities like wine and olive oil

Koutoumba and Nakas’ Reconstruction:

  1. Ships: Military ships transferred rarely in antiquity via wheeled carts, or more likely, wooden sledges over greased beams. Commercial vessels not transferred.
  2. Date: Archaic, falling out of use in the Hellenistic era after abandonment of city
  3. Purpose: Transfer of heavy freight, especially building material

Pettegrew’s Reconstruction:

  1. Ships: military galleys transferred occasionally in antiquity; ship portaging marks heroic and strategic feats. Commercial vessels not transferred.
  2. Date: Uncertain, but context suggests Archaic-Classical. Road remains in use for pedestrian traffic and small-scale portaging in Roman period.
  3. Purpose: Multi-functional, serving Corinth’s own needs (not simply the goods of other states), including especially the transfer of building materials, and the trans-Isthmus road to the sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia.


If you’re at the SBL and use this website regularly, I hope we will get to meet.

SBL Chicago in a mobile app

If you’re checking in for information on Corinth sessions at the Society of Biblical Literature conference in Chicago, you might look at my post from September. There you will find paper titles organized by day and time with session numbers.

But if you have a mobile device, I’d recommend starting with the SBL conference app. You can get it here. I didn’t attend the conference in 2011 so am not sure whether the app is an improvement on last year’s version, but this app is extremely intuitive, with features to organize, schedule, search, and take notes on papers, among others. This will allow me to leave at home the 500 page program book and bring instead a tool that is a more effective guide. Here is the blurb on the app in the recent email that was sent to conference attendees:

“SBL is committed to being on the leading edge with innovative new event technology and to offering attendees an exceptional program experience. After last year’s successful launch in San Francisco, we will again provide a Mobile Meeting Guide powered by EventPilot Plus. This mobile app provides members with a technically-reliable, intuitive, and functional solution. Download the mobile meeting app via
At no cost, this mobile app provides attendees with:

  • The entire event program, including AAR, SBL, and Additional Meetings sessions
  • Exhibitor information, including an interactive Exhibit Hall map
  • Maps of the Annual Meetings hotels and Convention Center
  • Find-a-Friend functionality to allow you to locate your colleagues
  • Information about Chicago restaurants, attractions, and nightlife
  • Ability to add sessions and personal events to your Annual Meetings Calendar
  • And more!

Attendees will be able to create and customize their own schedule, make notes about sessions, and share information and their schedule with colleagues and friends via built-in social networking. Because EventPilot Plus features an intuitive offline program that is native to Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices, there is no waiting for schedule downloads or web pages to load and no dealing with slow or nonexistent Wi-Fi connections. Schedule changes are downloaded in the background, allowing attendees immediate access to event information. A similar web-based app will be accessible via Blackberry and personal computers.”


The app provides instant results (without internet connection) for keyword and author searches on paper titles and abstracts. Here is a screenshot of the results for Corinth:


Clicking on a session brings up all the papers. You can add the session instantly to your calendar, take notes, and locate it on a plan of McCormick Place (again, with no need for internet connection).


My schedule for Saturday. If you touch the session, it takes you to the papers.


Touching a paper title brings up the abstract, and again, another opportunity to take notes.


This is a nice product, and I hope that other large conferences like the AIA – APA will follow. The rogueclassicist raises the same point.