Corinthian Matters in Corinth

Corinthian Matters will be on its (mostly) annual tour to the Corinthia three weeks from now (May 26-June 2). I will only be in the Corinthia for a week this year because I have to get back for a digital proficiency workshop in early June, but that still allows seven full days of Corinthiaka goodness. If you will be around and have the time to get together, shoot me an email.

I’ll be working on several projects while in the region with a number of good collaborators and friends:

1. Drone Photography and EKAS: Since 2017, I have been working with Professor Albert Sarvis, a geospatial technologist at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, to capture low-altitude drone photographs of parts of the Isthmus surveyed by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey in 1998-2002.  Our work is designed to contribute to a longer-term goal of publishing the EKAS data sets, and to understand the large-scale transformations of the Isthmus between antiquity and the present such as canal construction and the trans-Isthmus fortification walls. This will mark our second season of drone photography.

2. Washingtonia: I have teamed up with Kostis Kourelis (Franklin & Marshall College) and others to study the vanished settlement of Washingtonia, somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Examilia. This colony of refugees of the Greek War of Independence was founded in 1829 by American philhellene and philanthropist Samuel Gridley Howe with clearly great prospects in mind. Last year, my students from Messiah College carefully studied Howe’s letters and journal entries to discern the location of the village and nature of settlement.  I’ll be visiting Examilia this summer to learn what I can but also have a history student at Messiah who will be conducting archival research in Boston to try to dig up some new documents.

3. Lakka Skoutara. Toward the end of my time in the Corinthia, I’ll have the privilege of connecting with Bill Caraher before he heads to the Argolid. We’re going to head to an abandoned village of Lakka Skoutara between Korphos and Sophiko and document this abandoned village one final time. We’ve studied formation processes at the settlement for some 20 years now and we’ll be submitting our article to a forthcoming collection with the Digital Press on abandoned villages. We may also capture drone photographs of the village.

4. Kodratos. I’ve been working this year with Jonathan Werthmuller, a graduating senior at Messiah College, to produce an English translation of the 17th century Latin life of St. Kodratos by Jesuit scholar Reinhold Dehnig, based on a Greek original by the 14th century historian Nicephorus Gregoras. We’ve worked from both the Latin and the Greek as part of a semester-long project. It’s been a blast, and I hope to visit again the church of Kodratos in Corinth, which features prominently in the vita.

 

Corinthiaka

Every month I sort through hundreds of google alerts, scholar alerts, academia notices, book review sites, and other social media in an attempt to find a few valuable bits to pass along via this site. I ignore the vast majority of hits that enter my inbox, store away those that I plan to develop into their own stories, and then release the ephemera (or those I fail to convert to stories) via these Corinthiaka posts. Here are a few from the last month–a small selection of the news, stories, and blogs about the Corinthia.

UnionpediaArchaeology and Classics:

New Testament:

Modern Greece:

 

Corinthiaka, July 31, 2015

Here is this Friday’s dose of Corinthiaka–the ephemeral material, news, and blogs to go online over the last two weeks. Or at least the material that my alerts captured.

Archaeology and Classics:

  • One of those sweet 3D video fly-overs from Lechaion to Corinth in the Second century. Lots of inaccuracy combined with imaginative reconstruction here, but also some value. I love the view down the road from Lechaion (Georgios Terzis, “History in 3D” @DailyMotion)

Corinth3D_1

Corinth3D_2

 

 

 

New Testament:

Modern Greece:

 

Corinthiaka

I’ve been cleaning my inbox of alerts this week and have a little bundle of mid-summer Corinthiaka to get out. Here’s some of the latest ephemera from the blogosphere:

Archaeology:

New Testament:

Videos:

 

Corinthiaka

Some miscellaneous Corinthiaka that have slowly aggregated over the last month or so.

Pinterest_Corinth

  • Finding Corinthia images via Google freely available for reuse (h/t to Beth Mark for showing me this trick):

GoogleReuse2

Some More Corinthian Bodies

It was a pleasure to see another Corinthian article in this month’s American Journal of Archaeology. Betsey Robinson’s study of the Eutychia mosaic from Corinth introduces us to this frequently overlooked mosaic and another pair of Corinthian bodies.

NewImageFig. 2 (p. 106) Room C of the South Stoa at Corinth, viewed from the north, showing robbed eastern wall, mosaic, and marble-revetted bench against southern wall. (for more pictures go here).

The mosaic stood in a room in the Hellenistic South Stoa, but the mosaic dates to the 2nd century.  Robinson walks us through the iconography of this mosaic which shows a half-nude seated female with a shield inscribed with the word Eutychia (or fortune) and a nude youth with a victory crown. The central panel is surrounded by corner panels featuring various birds. The mosaic has been traditional associated with the administrator of the Isthmian games (the agonothetes).

Robison suggests that this mosaic should be understood as a personification of Corinth and the youth should be associated with the Isthmian games. She is careful, however, to articulate the way in which viewers would have come to these interpretations. Her analysis did not derive from a detached scholarly view of typology, but a careful consideration of ancient ways of seeing and producing art.  This grounding in ancient ways of seeing opened the door to significant ambivalence in how ancient viewers might have understood this mosaic. Rather than being a liability, she suggests that such ambivalent relationships with ancient iconography are the inevitable products of the Greek – Roman hybridization that occurred in the provinces. All in all, this is a very clever and subtle reading of a neglected mosaic.

By connecting events, cities, and places to bodies, I couldn’t help but think about some of Kostis Kourelis’ recent posts which find parallels between the Byzantine water altar at the site of the former Asclepeion in Athens and an etching on an architectural discovered at the site (see here and here). The architectural fragment depicted an individual drinking from a flagon and showed the interior of the vessel flowing into the distended belly of the drinker. Here’s Kostis’ sketch of the etching:

NewImage

The etching of the drinker conceptualizes the experience of the water altar in distinctly in human terms and space. The prevalence of the body as a spatial metaphor for all kinds of ancient buildings, events, places, and features makes it unsurprising to find water features paralleled with the body. All the same, Kostis’ timely post presents a nice parallel as Robinson suggests that the bodily metaphor for Corinth might evoke the personification of Peirene fountain which is sometimes also associated with the Isthmian games (other Panhellenic games have fountains associated with them).  Perhaps the appearance of springs with their gaping caverns or the flow of fluid within made them particularly suitable for personifications. Or maybe the association of springs with the nymphs who frolic in their grottos.

Robinson identified the birds around the central panel as “conventional ‘hospitality gifts’ ” (p. 107). These birds may remind the view that the mosaic itself was a gift and perhaps related to the liturgies associated with the Isthmian games. Various birds are relatively common in Early Christian mosaics across the Eastern Mediterranean and it got me wondering whether the birds that appear in this context draw are likewise to draw a parallel between hospitality gifts and acts of munificence to the church.

The other thing that was interesting was that the mosaic was repaired in Late Antiquity. That suggested that the mosaic remained visible for hundreds of years. It is interesting that Robinson was willing to entertain a certain amount of ambiguity in how “contemporary” viewers saw the mosaic, but it is more challenging to understand the “contemporary view” of a mosaic that lasted at least two hundred years.  The article, in general, lacked a clear since of “now” for the viewer. My guess is the late antique viewers who chose to renovate the mosaic had different goals in mind, interpretative lenses and local contexts from viewers contemporary with the mosaics original construction.

Crossposted to the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World.

Barbarians at the Gate

One reason I love Corinthian Matters is that David Pettegrew’s loyal bots constantly crawl the web looking for new academic articles on Corinth. As anyone who attempts to keep abreast of new scholarship on any topic knows, it is almost impossible to do so without some loyal human and software allies.Recently, he brought to my attention Amelia Brown’s recent contribution to the publication of the 6th biennial Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity Conference from 2005 at the University of Illinois. Her article titled “Banditry or Catastrophe?: History, Archaeology, and Barbarian Raids on Roman Greece” takes on the perennial issue of the impact of raiding, rampaging, barbarians on the end of public, civic life in Late Roman Greece. She looks at the Costobocs, Heruls, and Goths in particular and makes the argument that there is very little archaeological evidence for these raiders. Moreover, the textual evidence that does exist is highly problematic and fits poorly with the long-standing empirical expectations held by more archaeologists. In other words, the destructive rampage of Alaric or the violent reconquest of Stilicho left almost no evidence in the archaeological record. Earlier thoughts to the contrary were almost always the product of overly optimistic interpretations of problematic contexts or have been overturned with revised ceramic chronologies introduced through the more controlled stratigraphic excavations.

This is fine. The ancients liked to punctuate their history with barbarian raids, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events as much as modern scholars. The catastrophic events fit ancient communities and narratives into a wider conversation by making heroism, treachery, or divine displeasure recognizable to an audience. Similarly, archaeologists have looked for episodes of catastrophe in their excavations to align archaeological contexts with known historical events (and if possible dates!). Just as real or imagined tragedies created relevance for individuals living in the past, Mediterranean archaeologists have treasured evidence tying their labors to historical experiences conjured so dramatically in texts. Just as Mediterranean archaeologists have become more confident in the autonomy of their own discipline, so have they gradually shrugged off the ties of the world that they excavate to textual traditions championed by generations of Classicists.

The result of this work is not just to call into question the past distilled from a carefully empirical reading of texts, but also to call into question the periodization schemes, narratives, and research agendas dictated by these texts. This has led to a sometimes violent rupture between traditions of humanistic scholarship that have contextualized research and teaching for centuries and the results of archaeological investigation. As you can imagine, research like Brown’s that asks us to re-interpret such basic narratives as those surrounding the end of the ancient world do more than challenge the narrative of ancient Greece, but bring into question the line between barbarian and civilized that has been so central to the differentiation between the glorious, civilized Classical past and the brutish, uncivilized, Medieval time.

By absolving the barbarians of some of the blame for the end of Classical public life, Brown has offered a modest challenge to the master narrative and begun the arduous process of using the very tools produced by a system that championed the Classical age to undermine its esteemed place in our society today.

Cross-posted to The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World

Corinthiaka

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. 

Corinthiaka

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

Corinthiaka

Odds, ends, miscellany and fun: