Lyman Coleman, on the most hopeless city of Corinth (1855)

One of the projects I’m working on this year is a study of how ancient and modern writers have interpreted the historical fortunes of Corinth through the lens of its eastern landscape, the Isthmus. How did a land bridge become so consequential for writing the history of the city?

It’s a topic I’ve commented on before (e.g., see the various posts in the Corinth in the mind category), and I even wondered in a post on Oscar Bronner’s wicked city when some of the popular myths about Corinth originated in the modern era.

I’ve had a little time recently to dig into some travel literature, historical geography, and New Testament commentaries of the 17th-19th centuries, and I’ve found some gems.

For this week’s picture of Corinth, I’ll post this mid-19th century description of the city in Lyman Coleman’s An Historical Text Book and Atlas of Biblical Geography, Philadelphia 1855: Lippincott, Grambo & Co.

Published about the middle of the 19th century, and related to another work on Historical Geography of the Bible, Lyman describes the apostle Paul’s decision to move from Athens to Corinth in this way (pp. 231-232):

“It is a singular and instructive fact, that the ministry of the apostle appears to have been attended with little profit at this seat of Grecian refinement and learning; nor does he appear ever again to have visited Athens. The rich, voluptuous, and mercantile population of Corinth offered him far more encouragement than the orators, sages, and philosophers of her proud rival…

…This metropolis, rivaling Athens in wealth and commerce, in luxury and licentiousness, and scarcely inferior in the fine arts, was situated on the isthmus of the Peloponnesus, fifty miles west of Athens, guarded and defended by a lofty acropolis, which rises two thousand feet above the platform of the city. The region is now unhealthy, and only a few miserable hovels still occupy the site of this far-famed city of Corinth…

But even in that corrupt city, the most hopeless, it would seem, that could have been selected, the Lord had ‘much people,’ and many of the Corinthians, both Jews and Greeks, believed and were baptized.”

In the weeks to come, I’ll be posting some of these old historical interpretations that have continued to shape modern interpretations of Corinth.

Easter Reflections

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  Traveling, work shops on digitization and information fluency, pressing publication schedules, and the grind of the semester have reduced the output from this site.  I have lots in the work that I hope to get out in the next couple of weeks including a Corinthian Scholarship (monthly). 

In the meantime… As I noted last year (here and here), 1 Corinthians is central to the celebration of the central event of the Christian faith: death and resurrection.  Western churches everywhere reflected on the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians this past weekend; Orthodox celebrations will occur this coming weekend.  In the spirit of this feast, I post a few short reflections on Paul and 1 Corinthians 15. 

Corinthian Exceptionalism in Western Civ Textbooks

In the comments to my post last week on Athens, Sparta, and Corinth in Western Civilization texts, Dimitri Nakassis pressed me to say a little more about how Corinth has figured differently into western civ textbooks over time—how changing times have differently imaged Corinth.  Since western civ textbooks were traditionally conceived to provide the foundations and western values to a broader public, I also wondered what knowledge of Corinth students would have taken away at different points in time. 

If we consider where Corinth has entered the narrative of the civilizations of the west, the dozen texts I examined suggest a strong conservatism in how textbooks have discussed Corinth.  In order of greatest frequency:

  1. Commercial Power in Conflict with Athens in Classical Age (11 of 12 texbooks): 1939, 1947, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1983, 1986, 2002, 2007, 2012
  2. Conflict with Rome and destruction in 146 BC (6 of 12): 1939, 1947, 1967, 1969, 1970, 2007
  3. Advantageous Geography, Commercial Economy, and Significant Culture in Archaic and Classical age (5 of 12): 1939, 1947, 1967, 1973, 1986.  Example: Barnes 1947: Classical Corinth is, like Athens, unique in its highly commercialized economy in contrast with the “bucolic simplicity” and “cultural backwardness” of the other poleis.
  4. Important Role in Archaic Colonization (5 of 12): 1967, 1973, 2003, 2007, 2012

Corinth has been important to the overall narrative of western civ for four reasons, especially: 1) its commercial interests led to conflict with Athens, which led to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War; 2) its conflict with Rome led to its destruction in 146 BC; 3) it had a developed commercial economy which gave it significant culture in the Archaic and Classical eras; and 4) Corinth was an important colonizer.  The first two have the most staying power—noted in texts from the 1930s to the present day.  The latter two are fairly diachronic although Corinth as a colonizer appears only from the 1960s. 

Corinth is noted inconsistently for other reasons as well.  For the Archaic and Classical age, Corinth appears in respect to Greek tyranny (1939, 2003, 2007), Greek culture (1947, 1973, 1986), early temples (2002, 2007), resistance to Persian war (1974), exceptional level of prostitution (1947), and pan-Hellenic games (1986).

After the 5th century, Corinth appears inconsistently in connection to the congress of Philip II in 337 BC (1939), refoundation as a Roman colony (1939, 2007), Clement’s letter to the Corinthians in the late 1st century AD (1967), as a flourishing city of the Roman Empire (1983), and Alaric’s destruction in 395 AD (1939).

What I found interesting about this general pattern is that:

  1. The pattern generally relates in some way to Corinthian exceptionalism—the idea, first clearly articulated in Thucydides, that geography (location on an Isthmus) made Corinth unique in its orientation to the seas and commerce.  Corinth mainly enters these introductory historical narratives in respect to its maritime and commercial aspects: colonization, commercial economy and power, and conflict with Rome.  Even some of the occasional and singular mentions—like tyranny, Greek culture, prostitution, flourishing Roman city—relate to this notion. 
  2. What textbooks note about Corinth is almost entirely based on a traditional narratives
  3. The modern archaeological investigation has had almost zero influence on the traditional narrative. 
  4. Even modern histories have had little influence on the traditional narrative.  Cole et al. 2012, for example, note that Corinth’s great location but impoverished land encouraged them to the seas!  (contrast with Salmon 1984). 
  5. Corinth as a Roman city, or an Christian city (e.g., apostle Paul’s early Christian missions) is undeveloped despite the enormous modern scholarship on the subject. 

What is noted about Corinth in western civ texts, then, is mainly out of sorts with

Two other interesting patterns to note: 

First, western civ texts conclude that Corinth’s commercial interests were directly responsible for the outbreak of hostility.  As early as Watts 1939 and Barnes 1947, Corinth’s advanced economic position set it against the other major commercial player, Athens.  Threatened by the growth of Athenian power, the Corinthians persuade (a sometimes reluctant) Sparta to go to war with Athens.  This narrative remains constant with the exception of Kagan et al. 2002, who describe an Athens threatened by Corinthian intervention in the affairs of the Corcyraeans.

Second, assessments of Corinth’s destruction in 146 BC reflect changing historiographic assessments of Roman imperialism:

Barnes 1947, 157, for example, describes Corinth as an exception to the beneficial results of Roman expansion (157):

“Aside from the financial exploitation incident to Roman imperial administration, the Roman conquest of the entire Mediterranean world in some ways benefited the entire regional economically. Once the political supremacy of Rome was established, the pirates who had preyed up on commerce were slowly wiped out, and the Mediterranean was more efficiently policed. Pompey finished the task of clearing away the pirates. With the exception of the treatment afforded to Carthage and Corinth, which were senselessly destroyed, the commercial policy of Rome toward conquered regions was liberal.”

Hayes 1967, 33, on the other hand, advances the classic line of defensive imperialism.  Corinth and Carthage were Rome’s case studies of the futility of resistance:

“Dominion over the central and western Mediterranean made Rome an imperial power which, to protect itself, felt obliged to oppose any other Mediterranean state whose strength rivaled its own. Thus, expansion led to further conquest until the entire Mediterranean world was brought under Roman domination. A pretext for intervention in the eastern Mediterranean arose shortly after the fall of Carthage…Moreover, after a league of Greek cities which had taken up arms had been crushed, as though to teach the Greeks a lesson comparable to that of Carthage, Corinth was burned (146 B.C.) and thousands of Greeks sent to Rome as slaves. The city-state of Rome was henceforth mistress of the entire Mediterranean basin.”

Stromberg 1969, 54 is less kind in his description of an aggressive imperialism:

“The recipe for success the Romans used in building an empire appears to have been one that combined ruthlessness with mildness…Corinth was another city wiped off the face of the earth, an unpleasant habit the Romans formed in dealing with a troublesome enemy or rebel.” (54)

Easton 1970, 114, 137, draws attention to Rome’s role as arbiter in Greek affairs.  The Romans were drawn in reluctantly:

“The Romans, who had been loath to annex any part of Greece and had, indeed, in 196 B.C. solemnly proclaimed the independence of all the Greek city-states, found that they could not avoid interfering in Greek affairs.  The Greek leagues…were constantly quarreling with one another, and one or the other would appeal to Rome to settle their quarrels. In the end the Romans felt they had no option but to subject Macedon and Greece to their rule. In 146 B.C. they sacked and destroyed Corinth, the most important commercial city of Greece. By this time there were enough Romans with a vested interest in imperial expansion to override the views of those senators opposed to it, and thereafter the empire was expanded in accordance with their wishes, often without any excuse save the fact that they possessed the necessary power.”

Likewise, Kishlansky et al. 2007, 79, depict the Romans not so much as aggressive imperialists but drawn into conflict.  “Gradually, the Roman shadow fell over the eastern Mediterranean.”

All of these examples demonstrated well the point of our symposium session on the transforming book—that interpretation in foundational textbook narratives change significantly over time.  But what perhaps surprised me more was a recognition of how traditional western civ textbooks have been in rehashing the same ground (Corinthian exceptionalism, the Peloponnesian War) without incorporating major advances and changes in modern scholarship more generally. 

Athens, Sparta, and Corinth in Western Civilization Texts

Every February, the Center for Public Humanities at Messiah College—where I teach—sponsors a symposium devoted to discussing a theme broadly relevant to faculty and student interest.  In the past, the center has sponsored themes on the subjects of culture and community, the two Americas, imagination, memory, and friendship, among others.  This year’s theme is “The Transforming Book”; our keynote speaker will be Anthony Grafton, former president of the AHA

The historians at our school are contributing to the symposium by organizing a session on the transformation of textbooks in our respective areas.  Each of us will take a few minutes this evening to discuss how textbook narratives and focal points have changed in American history, European history, and world history.  As these textbooks represent summary digests of narratives deemed important for the history of America, the world, and the west, the panel should be an interesting one.

I took this as an opportunity to consider how Corinth has factored (historically) into narratives of the Greek polis in Western Civilization textbooks from the 1930s to today.  I looked briefly at about a dozen texts that I could easily borrow via ILL or happened to own.  Arranged chronologically, they include:

  • 1. Arthur P. Watts, A History of Western Civilization, Volume I, New York 1939 (Prentice-Hall)
  • 2. Harry Elmer Barnes, A Survey of Western Civilization, New York 1947 (Thomas Y. Cromwell Company)
  • 3. Carolton J.H. Hayes, Marshall Whithed Baldwin, and Charles Woolsey Cole, History of Western Civilization, 2nd Edition, New York 1967 (The Macmillan Company)
  • 4. Roland N. Stromberg, A History of Western Civilization, Revised edition, Homewood, IL 1969 (The Dorsey Press)
  • 5. Steward C. Easton, The Heritage of Western Civilization to 1715, 2nd edition, New York 1970 (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc)
  • 6. Edward McNall Burns, Western Civilizations: Their History and their culture, Vol. 1, Eighth Edition, New York 1973 (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • 7. Mortimer Chambers, Raymond Grew, David Herlihy, Theodore K. Rabb, and Isser Woloch, The Western Experience to 1715, New York 1974 (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • 8. John P. McKay, Bennett D. Hill, and John Buckler, A History of Western Society, 2nd edition, Boston 1983 (Houghton Mifflin Company)
  • 9. Donald Kagan, Steven Ozment, and Frank M. Turner, The Western Heritage, Brief Edition, Vol. 1: To 1715, Third edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ 2002 (Prentice Hall)
  • 10. Jackson L. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, Volume 1: To 1715, Fifth Edition, 2003 (Thomson Wadsworth)
  • 11. Mark Kishlansky, Patrick Geary, and Patricia O’Brien, A Brief History of Western Civilization: The Unfinished Legacy, Vol. 1: To 1715, Fifth Edition, New York 2007 (Pearson Longman)
  • 12. Joshua Cole, Carol Symes, Judith Coffin, and Robert Stacey, Western Civilizations: Their History & Their culture, Brief Third Edition, Volume 1, New York 2012 (W.W. Norton & Company)

The problem with my approach, of course, is that textbooks are continually updated and few libraries hold on to outdated textbooks.  It is consequently hard to know whether a textbook’s fifth edition discusses a city like Corinth in a similar or different manner than a first edition.  Nonetheless, the results seem to show interesting patterns.

It was hardly surprising that Western Civilization textbooks written to establish the fundamentals of western society would focus on Athens over Corinth and Sparta.  Given Athens’ historic associations with democracy, philosophy, and the arts, most writers have devoted the most space to Athens.  That said, I was surprised to see these assumptions explicitly stated by author #1 (Watts 1939) (pp. 54-55):

“The Greeks were essentially the founders of European civilization… Between 500 and 338 B.C. all the Greek achievements in thought, literature, and art took place in one city: Athens. During the same period the Thebans, Spartans, and Corinthians distinguished themselves mainly by their stupidity.”

And I was equally surprised when I read in author #2 (Barnes 1947, p. 98 & 114):

“For a long time it was held: (1) that the Greeks were a pure race; (2) that all the Greeks were highly civilized; and (3) that they were biologically far superior to other historical persons…Such fantastic views have now been completely abandoned by historians and anthropologists.  The Greeks were a highly mixed race. Only a very few of the historical Greeks, chiefly in Attica and Corinth, ever achieved high civilization. Most of them, like the Boeotians and Arcadians, were culturally backward. And there is not the slightest evidence that even the Attic Greeks were biologically superior to the other peoples of the West in either ancient or modern times….This bucolic simplicity may have produced great soldiers, but it was not conducive to the creation of a great culture, and this accounts for the cultural backwardness of most of the Greek city-states.”

Watts and Barnes were forthright in what other early textbook authors may themselves have held.  Both display a strong bias to Athens – Corinth happens to make an entrance in Barnes’ text because of its commercial reputation.

But the bias to Athens is most obvious from the changing relative proportion of text devoted to the institutions and history of different Greek poleis.  The following shows the pages devoted to discussions of institutions and culture of Athens, Sparta, and other cities (in the case of the last two) in western civilization textbooks: 

  • Watts 1939: Sparta (2 pages) vs. Athens (14 pages on institution + 5 pages on culture and arts = 19 total pages)
  • Barnes 1947:  Sparta (2 pages) vs. Athens (2 + 10 = 12 pages)
  • Hayes, Baldwin, and Cole 1967: Sparta (1/4 page) vs. Athens (1 + 2 = 3 pages)
  • Stromberg 1969: thematic discussion on Greek science, art, philosophy, rationalism, focusing mainly on Athens.
  • Easton 1970: Sparta (2 pages) vs. Athens (2 + 15 = 17 pages)
  • Burns 1973: Sparta (2 pages) vs. Athens (2 + 4 = 6 pages)
  • Chambers, Grew, Herlihy, Rabb, and Woloch 1974: Sparta (1.5 pages) vs. Athens (5 + 6 = 11 pages)
  • McKay, Hill, and Buckler 1983: Sparta (1 page) vs. Athens (2 + 8 = 10 pages)
  • Kagan, Ozment, and Turner 2002: Sparta (1 page) vs. Athens (1.5 + 4 = 5.5 pages)
  • Spielvogel 2003: Sparta (1 page) vs. Athens (1 + 4 = 5 pages)
  • Kishlansky, Geary, and O’Brien 2007: Sparta (1.5 pages) vs. Athens (1.25 + 5.5 = 6.75 pages) vs. Corinth (1 page)
  • Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 2012: Sparta (1.25 pages) vs. Athens (1 + 3 = 4 pages) vs. Miletus (.75 page)

The figures show that while Athens has always stolen the show in textbook chapters on Archaic and Classical Greece, it has stolen much less of the show in the last three decadesBetween the 1930s and early 1970s, the proportion of text devoted to Sparta vs. Athens was typically between 1:6 and 1:10.  But since the early 70s, that relative proportion has more typically been in the order of 1:3 to 1:6.  Authors of western civilization textbooks have recently devoted much less space to Athenian history and culture compared to a discussion of Greek culture more broadly. 

The other interesting pattern in those figures is the 2-polis vs. 3-polis model.  For most of the 20th century, the only two poleis that mattered were Athens and Sparta.  The latter was important because it was impossible to understand Athens without understanding Sparta (thanks to Thucydides and the Peloponnesian Wars).  The real focus was on Athens.  Gradually, though, authors carved out more space for the political institutions of Sparta, eventually giving equal space to Athenian and Spartan political development. 

Other poleis entered the picture only as tangents.  Despite a strong textual tradition for Archaic and Classical Corinth, and scattered archaeological evidence, Corinth was important to the narrative in so far as it helped explain Greek colonization, the relationship between commercial wealth and tyranny, and especially the Peloponnesian War—the growth of Athenian commercial interests in the west (Sicily, S. Italy) threatened Corinth’s commercial interests and led to the outbreak of hostilities.

Only from the early 1970s did Corinth receive a more detailed treatment.  Burns 1973, for example, notes that “Corinth and Argos were leaders in the development of literature and the arts” (contrast with Watts 1939).  Others describe Corinth as an important city of AR and CL Greece.

In the 1990s, the first edition of Kishlansky, Geary, and O’Brien devoted an entire page to Corinth in a section titled “A Tale of Three Cities.”  Their description covers the traditional points—tyranny and oligarchy at Corinth, temple construction, colonization—but also brings in archaeological evidence from trade (Corinthian pottery in the west) and local excavations (building projects and Periander’s diolkos).

Kishlansky et al., however, are the exception rather than the rule.  This text shows that Corinth can potentially be an interesting case study in the Archaic and Classical polis.  As it turns out, though, Corinth makes its debut just before the entire textbook industry itself undergoes fragmentation and dissolution. 

Corinth appears in one other context in these western civ textbooks – the Roman conquest of Greece – which I’ll consider tomorrow.

Two Corinthian Christmases

Happy Holidays from Corinthian Matters!

Surprising amounts of Corinthiaka in my feeds over the last few days.  Here are two very different Corinthian Christmases, an impressionistic rumination of modern Corinth in terms of its ancient classical image, the second a religious reflection on 1 Corinthians 13.

The first describes Henry Miller’s and Lawrence Durrell’s visit to Corinth around Christmas time in the late 1930s.  Kostis Kourelis discussed this quote in a lecture at UND in the fall.  Here is how the Guardian puts it:

“It is the day before Christmas, and an American is in Corinth with Lawrence Durrell. The weather is dubious; heavy rains may set in. In the light of a wintry afternoon, the site takes on a prehistoric aspect. Once among the ruins, first impressions change. “Every minute that passes sheds a new lustre, a new tenderness upon the scene. Durrell was right, there is something rich, sensuous and rosy about Corinth. It is death in full bloom, death in the midst of voluptuous, seething corruption,” writes Henry Miller in The Colossus of Maroussi (1941).”

Read the rest here.

The second is a holiday adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13.  Here is the first line:

“If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator…..”

Corinth at the Tate

Museums are increasingly posting collections of images and artwork online which, on occasion, deal with Corinthian topics.  In the midst of the end-of-semester madness, I learned of Tate’s extensive online collection of art through alerts sparked by the posting of Corinthian images on a new beta site (to replace its current digital collection).

Some interesting 19th century representations of Ancient Corinth, Acrocorinth, fortifications, harbors, and landscape with minarets:

Also, some illustrated New Testament material :

  • Sir Edward Poynter, “Paul and Apollos 1872”: an agricultural image of the territory with Corinth in the distance and illustrating Paul’s metaphor of 1 Corinthians 3.6: Paul plants an olive tree, Apollos waters it, God made it grow.
  • William Blake, “Job’s Evil Dreams” (1825, reprinted 1874).  A verse from 2 Corinthians 11.14 in the image
  • William Blake, “The Fall of Satan” (1825, reprinted 1874).  A verse from 1 Corinthians 1.27: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.”

The current digital collection turns up a few additional Corinthiaka images that are probably soon to be transferred to the new site.


Some varied Corinthiaka to start off the week.

The western liturgical calendar flipped this weekend with the first Sunday of Advent.  Yesterday’s epistle reading from 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 appropriate describes the anticipation accentuated in the advent season. 

More on scholars and students of the New Testament setting the scene for understanding Paul’s Corinthian letters.  Mark Roberts at Patheos gives us a couple of interesting posts on unity and conflict in Paul’s church in Corinth:

After my posts about Rife’s work at Koutsongila last month, I found Katy Meyer’s blog, Bones Don’t Lie, and her recent entry (“Early Roman Chamber Tombs at Kenchreai, Greece”) discussing and responding to several articles by the Kenchreai Cemetery and Excavation Project group.  A couple of images there too.

It doesn’t get much better than a “Write a Caption Contest”.  This one asks to provide a caption for the Minerva cruise ship passing through the Corinth canal.  That canal gets so much press on the web.  My contribution wasn’t selected as one of the five finalists: “You think THIS is slow?  Try carting one of these overland by oxen!”

And speaking of the Corinth canal, this is a nice one from Light and Shadows.

A 16th century painting by Hans Holbein the Younger on the most famous courtesan linked to ancient Corinth. 

Some Perspective on American Excavations in Corinth: Byzantium and the Avant Garde

I couldn’t make it last week to Grand Forks to hear Franklin & Marshall College professor Kostis Kourelis speak on the topic of Byzantium and the Avant Garde.  Thanks to Bill Caraher and the Center for Instructional and Learning Technologies at the University of North Dakota for streaming the lecture live.  The video, audio, and presentation are all available here

Kourelis_Avant Garde

Readers of Hesperia, the journal devoted to publishing the research of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, will recognize Kourelis’ talk as a “live version” of an article published several years ago called “Byzantium and the Avant-Garde: Excavations at Corinth, 1920s-1930s,” Hesperia 76 (2007), pp. 391-442.  Hesperia has, in fact, made that article available for free download on this page.  The abstract of the article also works as a summary of his talk last week:

“In the 1920s and 1930s, members of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens engaged in a dialogue with the avant-garde through the shared discovery of Byzantium. This extraordinary experiment took place in excavations at Corinth, where American archaeologists invented the systematic discipline of medieval archaeology, facilitated an inclusive identity for the American School, and contributed to a bohemian undercurrent that would have a long afterlife. This article situates the birth of Byzantine archaeology in Greece within the general discourse of modernism and explores the mechanisms of interchange across disciplinary and national boundaries, between subjective and objective realms.”

In a nut shell, Kostis argues that the traditional disdain for Late Antique and Byzantine archaeology by classical archaeologists working in Greece was not always a consistent thread of American classical archaeology.  Just as societal processes shaped the veneration of the classical past in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so a range of broader factors—early 20th century aestheticism, architectural trends, the artistic avant-garde, and the mental association of Byzantium with modernism—led briefly, in the 1920s and 1930s, to an interest in the Byzantine period.  Many early excavators, draftsmen, architects, and illustrators working in Greece (Lucy Talcott, Alison Frantz, Piet de Jong) during these decades had links to the Greek avant garde who were also newly interested in the Byzantine tradition.

As Kourelis says at one point, a generation of Americans who went to Greece looking for the Parthenon ended up discovering the Medieval period.  This broader intellectual inclusivism of Byzantine Corinth was short-lived (dying with World War II and the Cold War politics that followed: think Byzantium and Russia) but eventually did reemerge in American researchers circles in the 1980s.  Think in recent decades: Charles Williams II, Timothy Gregory, and Guy Sanders.

Here’s what I think could be especially valuable in his lecture and article for a non-specialist audience:

1. This is a great little overview of the way that culture has historically influenced archaeological practice.  People often think of archaeology as a flat scientific enterprise—as though archaeologists excavating in Greece were all “objective” researchers simply carrying out their work for the sake of generating knowledge.  Here we meet archaeologists influenced by broader trends in attitude and practice toward particular periods.  As Kourelis puts it in his article (p. 393):

“Ultimately, it was the artistic avant-garde that ushered Byzantine Greece into the cultural limelight and rehabilitated its research within American priorities. Corinth’s medieval excavations of 1925-1940 were conceived under the spell of modernist aesthetics and much less under the guidance of academic inquiry.”

2. For anyone unfamiliar with the history of excavation, it is easy to forget that the ruins of Roman Corinth visible today at the site were once covered by an incredible amount of post-antique material and settlement.  This “Byzantine labyrinth of houses” was cleared in the central area to get down to the Roman levels.  The discoveries of the Byzantine city were published in several Corinth volumes, and the article provides a useful summary of that process. 

3. Great images and plans of excavations at Corinth in the 1920s and 30s.  Also pictures of the reconstructed Byzantine house (once a museum) near the Peirene spring now known as “Carpenter’s Folly”.  The lecture and article explain the source of the name “folly”.

4.  There’s some stuff here (beside the above) for New Testament scholars.  St. Paul’s Cathedral in New Corinth itself dates to 1930 and reflects the same trends in Greece.  Kourelis provides a good quote by Henry Miller from the 30s on a lush corrupt sexualized Corinth.  That image of the city is an old one.

For further discussion, see the online lecture or publication.  Kostis blogs at Objects-Buildings-Situations.

Kostis Kourelis on Byzantium and the Avant Garde

Professor Kostis Kourelis of Franklin and Marshall College will speak today at 4 PM CST on the American School Excavations at Corinth in the 1930s.  The presentation at the University of North Dakota is the 2011 Cyprus Research Fund Lecture.  As Bill Caraher notes at here, he “will tell the unlikely story of how the excavation of Byzantine remains at Corinth, Greece influenced avant garde movements in mid-20th century America.”

If you’re interested in hearing it, you can listen to a live stream of the lecture at The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World at 4 PM CST

Kourelis The Cyprus Research Fund


Some various Corinthiaka have appeared in different blogs over the last month.

Diana Wright at Surprised by Time gives some attention to the death and estate of Nerio Acciaiuoli, the (late 14th century) Lord of Corinth.

Kostis Kourelis at Objects-Buildings-Situations discusses graffiti at the Lechaion basilica

From Matthew Malcolm at Cryptotheology:

Phillip Long at Reading Acts has been running a series on the problems in 1 and 2 Corinthians – lots of rumination from Bruce Winter’s After Paul Left Corinth:

Cavan Concannon, now at Duke University, has launched a new blog called Apostolic Bodies for a class on the Life and Letters of Paul.  Already some fun images of Paul preaching, including lego Athens!

And the winner for the best article title to appear in my Google Alerts this week: “Why John Piper doubts Muslims Having Jesus Dreams