Corinthian Scholarship (monthly): March-May

Here is the first installment of Corinth-related scholarship, or scholarship discussing Corinth, which appeared in digital form in March to May. I will post the second installment for June-August on Friday.

[Reposting this at 11:00 as I accidentally deleted the original]

Diachronic

Geology

Archaic-Hellenistic

Roman-Late Antique

New Testament and Early Christian

Medieval and Post-Medieval

Another look at Land of Sikyon

One spring day in 2005, I ran into Yannis Lolos at the Blegen Library in Athens carrying around his recently completed monograph on the history and archaeology of the region of Sikyon, the polis immediately west of Corinth. He told me at the time that the hundreds and hundreds of freshly printed pages in his hands, destined for the publication desk of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, had required a tremendous amount of work. Now that I’ve seen the final product, Land of Sikyon: Archaeology and History of a Greek City-State (Princeton 2011), I can see he wasn’t exaggerating. This is truly a magnum opus representing a massive undertaking that could only have required thousands of hours of work. I spent a couple of days last week working through the volume, but I felt like one only scratching the surface—much like Caraher’s cat attacking a sofa

The most impressive aspect of Land of Sikyon is its comprehensiveness. Lolos has produced the first topographic study of the entire region of Sikyonia (360 km) from prehistory to the Early Modern period. He mines and discusses all relevant ancient and medieval texts and early modern literature, summarizes relevant excavation finds, and presents page after page of original observation and interpretation of the finds from his reconnaissance survey of the territory. While he claims in places that his work is not the final say for the history of the region but only a new beginning, it is most certainly comprehensive in its regional framework, diachronic perspective, and attention to a wide range of evidence. One might compare it to James Wiseman’s The Land of the Ancient Corinthians, but double the word count and twice the number of photos, maps, plans, and tables. At 635 pages, it rivals in size any regional survey volume, but, unlike most survey volumes, Land of Sikyon was authored (almost) entirely by one person.

This outline and structure of the book shows Lolos’ thematic breaks, which, as he notes in the intro, correspond to the stages of his research (For a descriptive summary, see Bill Caraher’s BMCR review):

Introduction (pp. 1-6)

Ch. 1. Physical Environment and Resources (pp. 7-58): topography; boundaries and resources of ancient polis, land use in the premodern era

Ch. 2. Sikyonia from Prehistoric Times to the Ottoman Era (pp. 59-92): a history of the region based mainly on textual evidence

Ch. 3. Land Communications (pp. 93-180): a reconstruction of the road network of the territory based on Lolos’ topographical survey (1996-1998 )

Ch. 4. Defenses (pp. 181-268): discussion of the region’s fortifications based on topographical survey in 1996-1998 (forts, guard houses, patrol houses)

Ch. 5. Settlements: The City and its Countryside (269-376): diachronic reconstruction of settlement system based on extensive survey in 2000-2002

Ch. 6. Sacra Sicyonia (pp. 377-414): sacred landscapes based on survey, excavation, and textual evidence

Ch. 7. Conclusion (pp. 415-418)

There follows seven appendixes. The most detailed and extensive covers the register of sites (pp. 419-548), while there are also chapters by Lolos on aqueducts, public land, and a building inscription, and chapters from his colleagues on the Cave of Lechova, roof tiles, and an inscribed sherd. Six neat maps show political boundaries, topography, rivers and streams, fault lines, geological strata, vegetation patterns, modern settlements and toponyms, archaeological sites, ancient roads of the Sikyonia and the western Korinthia, and the features and sites of the Ancient Sikyon plateau. These are freely available for downloading as PDF files via their DOI names (listed at the end of the book).

The structure of the work reveals Lolos’ principal interests. The introduction and the first two chapters establish the context for understanding Sikyonia’s history, while the subsequent chapters of the monograph (3-6) detail the results of the topographical survey and the extensive pedestrian survey.  For the general reader interested broadly in the history and archaeology of the northeast Peloponnese but with no knowledge of Sikyon per se, chapters 1 and 2 could be the most useful in the volume. The first discusses agriculture and the natural resources of Sikyonia while the second provides a summary of Sikyon’s political and cultural history over four millennia. Both highlight how Sikyon’s and Corinth’s history were entangled in many different ways —by natural resources (e.g., the famous coastal plain between Corinth and Sikyon, the flora and crops of the regions) and parallel political developments (neighboring poleis in the Archaic-Hellenistic periods, complex interactions with external powers in the Hellenistic period). From the Roman period to the early modern era, Sikyon’s history, in fact, was directly overshadowed by the megalopolis Corinth. Indeed, the selection of Carl Rottmann’s oil painting, Sikyon-Corinth (1836-1838), for the cover of the book, draws attention to this theme of Sikyon’s relationship and interaction with neighboring Corinth, its acropolis visible in the distance.

CarlRottmann_Sikyon-Corinth

Chapters 3-5 are without question the heart of the monograph, each numbering 80-100+ pages. These do not make for light or easy reading but require attention to Lolos’ topographic arguments (based on the maps at the end of the volume), archaeological arguments (based on references to scattered remains of roads, fortifications, and settlements), and textual arguments about the interpretation of ancient literature and early modern sources. The general reader can gain a quick overview of Lolos’ arguments through the useful summaries at the end of each chapter, but will still benefit from dipping into particular sections of interest and examining the images, figures, and tables (cf., for example, the walking distances and travel times from Corinth in Table 3.1). The scholar of the northeast Peloponnese will want to spend some time wading through Lolos’ arguments. For example, the author reconstructs an extensive road network across the Sikyonia from wheel ruts (most of which, he argues, are deliberately cut), natural corridors, road bed cuttings, historical sources, bridge locations, and graves, and argues that almost all of these roads originated in antiquity, primarily the era of the polis. The connection between these scattered bits is necessarily speculative as most of these features are not especially diagnostic, but the author’s arguments are still compelling. I found convincing his argument (pp. 98-110) for the existence of a Roman road across the coastal plain connecting the regions of Corinth and Sikyon, especially as it corresponds to modern village locations and lines up nicely with David Romano’s observations about an artery that structured the Roman centuriation of the Corinth’s western territory. Lolos’ arguments about the functions of rural towers and fortifications in the territory—mostly for the defense of the polis, mostly guarding interstate roads—are balanced, coherent, and defensible.

I was less convinced by Lolos’ reconstruction of settlement patterns (Ch. 5), based on his extensive survey of the territory.  While the discussion is nuanced and sensible, recognizing (p. 272) the major methodological differences between extensive survey and intensive survey, he nonetheless attempts to reconstruct demographic patterns on the basis of relative changes in the number of sites identified for each period. So, for example, he sees a mostly empty Geometric countryside (9 sites), a surprisingly sparse Archaic period (26 sites), a spike in the Classical era (45 sites), a decline in the Hellenistic (22 sites) to Early-Middle Roman (34 sites), and a spike in the Late Roman period (61 sites), etc..—archaeological patterns that seem out of sync with the picture from textual sources (e.g., the early Hellenistic period is a bright phase in Sikyon’s history under Aratus). Whether or not these could reflect true demographic change or the changing demographic relationship of town and country, as Lolos ponders, I found two main weaknesses in his assessment of the pattern.

First, Lolos’ survey was not intensive, and therefore not likely to detect the smaller farmsteads, tenant residences, and seasonal habitations that must have been common throughout Sikyon’s history. The investigator followed the kapheneion method: his research began at the village cafes and pursued local knowledge of farmers and inhabitants.  This method was a certain path to locating sites but also led him inevitably to examine the most visible sites of the territory. By my count, 94 of the 148 habitation sites listed in the catalogue are associated with structures or architectural fragments like cut stone, rubble, and ashlar blocks; only 1/3 of the sites in the volume were identified from pottery scatters alone. There can only be an enormous corpus of unidentified smaller sites in the Sikyonia that escaped detection from Lolos’ survey. When Lolos completes an intensive survey of a sample of the territory, we will have a much better sense of the range of settlements in the region. But until he does so, his results based on extensive survey cannot be reliably compared with that of intensive survey projects. 

Lolos, of course, recognizes the important methodological difference between extensive and intensive survey (p. 272) in this work as well as in his decision to undertake a high-resolution urban survey of the Sikyon plateau, but maintains that the chronological layers documented in his extensive survey are still meaningful relative to one another.  In recent years, I have come to doubt our ability to reconstruct demographic changes from simple changes in the quantity of “sites” of different periods.  As several of us have argued from the Eastern Korinthia Survey data (here, here, and here), knowledge of ceramic periods is always differential: the Late Roman period, for instance, has much greater visibility than the Hellenistic or Early Roman because of its more identifiable coarse ware body sherds with their characteristic combed and grooved surface treatments. One cannot reliably assess change in rural settlement without also assessing the degree to which successive periods within a region are differently visible during survey. While Lolos acknowledges these issues and also notes some of the artifacts identified at each site, he does not give the reader enough information about the artifacts to determine whether the patterns are really a product of changes in deposition of artifacts over time, or simply a result of the biases of identification. I left this chapter wondering whether the 61 Late Roman sites were really an indication of “the return of the population to the countryside” (p. 367), or just a result of greater visibility in diagnostic tiles and “hundreds of ribbed body sherds” (p. 366). I also wondered whether 22 Hellenistic sites and 34 Early Roman-Middle Roman sites were really much less than 45 Classical sites. In some regions of Greece and the Aegean, after all, changes between these periods have been much more drastic. Could not one put a more positive spin (e.g., settlement continuity) on these patterns? 

These sorts of methodological questions can best be answered in subsequent phases of intensive survey which Lolos plans to undertake eventually in the territory (p.272). They do not detract from this volume’s major accomplishment, which is to move the history and archaeology of Sikyon from political history of the urban center to the broader framework of territory and landscape.

 

Further Reading:

On-site and off-site at Pyla-Koustopetria: A Response to Chris Cloke’s Interpreting Ceramic Assemblages

Last week Chris Cloke generously shared some of his work with the pottery from the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project over at Corinthian Matters in a three part post. In a nutshell, he argued that there was evidence for manuring during Late Antiquity.

It’s a busy week, but I wanted to follow up on his suggestion that PKAP present some of its data to see whether we could detect similar trends. Our work at Pyla-Koustopetria, of course, is rather different in scope than the work of the NVAP. We focused on one, mid-sized, site rather than an entire region. Moreover, by Late Antiquity the built up area of our study area appears to have been rather large in relation to our overall study area.

Nevertheless, there is reason to think that the northern reaches of our study amount to an off-site zone. The distribution of tiles, for example, suggests that only the coastal zone of our study area had tiled buildings. (The tiny numbers in each unit represent the total number of Late Roman artifacts from each unit.)

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Moreover, the distribution of fine and kitchen wares, most frequently associated with domestic activities appear to be concentrated in similar area.

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In contrast, the distribution of coarse and utility wares, like amphora, extends of a much larger percentage of the study area.

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Judging by these maps, it would appear that the northern part of our study area which comprised the coastal plateaus of Mavrospilos/Kazamas and Kokkinokremos saw a functionally different kind of activity than the coastal area. Cloke has suggested that the prevalence of less diagnostic sherds – and coarse and utility wares are almost be definition less diagnostic than fine and kitchen wares – might represent material scattered through manuring.

Cloke argue, however, that this is a product of smaller sherd size rather than a specific functional difference, and compares the percentages of diagnostic pottery from both on-site and off-site transects to demonstrate that similar proportions of diagnostic ceramics appear in both ceramics. Clearly, this pattern does not appear in the PKAP data.

Moreover, it does not appear that the average weight of the sherds varied in a consistent way across the PKAP study area.

LateRomanWeight

The map above shows the average weight of Late Roman sherds (excluding tiles) across the study area. It is possible to imagine a slightly higher average sherd weight for the coastal units immediately below the height of Vigla in the left-center of the map, and a slightly lower average sherd weight for the material scattered to the north on the Mavrospilos/Kazamas plateau.

While this is slightly suggestive, I wonder, vaguely, whether this has something to do with the greater soil depth on coastal plain that “protects” sherds more. The plateau units tend to have thin soils with patches of exposed bedrock. This seems like a far more hostile environment for sherds and may have accounted for why they are more poorly preserved. In other words, the condition of the sherds has much more to do with post-depositional processes than how they were deposited.

I expect that David Pettegrew – the expert on survey site formation processes – might have some observations.

Crossposted to New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World.

Interpreting Ceramic Assemblages from the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project

Chris Cloke concludes his three-part series today on patterns of settlement and land use in the Nemea Valley.  If you missed the first two, start by reading Part 1 and Part 2Part 1 defines “site” and “off-site” (or “tract”) in terms of NVAP procedure.

In today’s final post on the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project (NVAP), I’ll be looking at a final component of the finds – the variety of the types of ceramic vessels present in the sample – to assess what this can tell us about the differences between finds from documented sites and those from survey tracts.

A fuller picture begins to emerge when we look at the functional classes of pottery making up these assemblages. For the Classical period, as well as the Archaic and Hellenistic periods preceding and following, there is a clear and consistent functional shift between on-site and off-site ceramic finds:

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While less well-represented functional classes – food preparation (various cooking pots) and table service (pouring and serving vessels) – are proportionally similar on and off sites (tracts), there is an inverse relationship between drinking and dining vessels (cups, plates, bowls, etc.) and household storage and utilitarian vessels (pithoi, jars, basins, mortaria, etc.). For the Archaic to Hellenistic periods, drinking and dining vessels made up easily the largest part (over 1/3) of site finds, while among off-site (tract) finds of the same periods this percentage sharply declines and is overtaken by a majority of household storage and utilitarian vessels (also over 1/3). Together with a higher percentage of amphoras among tract finds than at documented sites (a reversal of what one might expect), the predominance of household storage and utilitarian wares not only explains the heavier average weight of off-site sherds, but more importantly suggests that off-site material in these periods was not simply comprised of refuse from sites the survey located (which would produce comparable proportions of vessel types). Rather, this off-site tract material represents different types of activities going on away from places designated as “sites.”

In short, it seems that the tract finds for these periods are picking up traces of rural storage and domestic activities, indicative that many small rural foci of activity may have gone unrecognized by the survey during fieldwork. The idea that there are perhaps many unknown “sites” in the survey area is compatible with a picture of the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic countryside(s) characterized by dispersed small farms.

The Late Roman pottery, broken down by function, looks rather different:

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The first notable trend is that the off-site (tract) material contains a high percentage of undetermined or unknown sherds (those too fragmentary to make confident identification of their original shape possible), due in large part to the many small, fragmentary sherds belonging to this period (the very thing we should expect from manuring-derived scatters).

Focusing on identifiable vessels, however, the basic proportions among on-site and off-site finds appear very similar:

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The correlation of site and tract pottery in terms of function suggests that both “assemblages” of sherds recovered are products of a similar range of activities. Although we should also expect that the weights of sherds found on sites and those found in tracts would be similar, they are not; tract finds are less than half as heavy, on average, as site finds. That the on- and off-site finds of this period are, as a whole, similar in function, yet different in weight suggests the tract finds were derived from sites but underwent different depositional and/or post-depositional processes to get to where they were found. Given also that this material is found over a wide area and that densities (in terms of sherds per hectare) remain low even in the face of a spike in total sherd count during the Late Roman period, manuring seems a strong explanatory model for the observed patterns.

Granted, this type of analysis ideally must also take into account geomorphology and formation processes I have not discussed here, but by-and-large, I believe there are important differences in the artifacts themselves that speak to changes in farming methods and land use around Nemea.

The general pattern observed here is that, in pre-Roman periods “tracts” are concealing numerous small rural areas of activity, while in the Roman period, the “tract” material seems to have been derived from “sites” themselves. Although documented “sites” in the Early to Late Roman periods were few, landowners seem to have been intensive with their farming, manuring to gain better yields, and in the process seeding the fields with small bits of broken pottery and other refuse. There seem, generally, to be fewer and larger activity areas in the Roman period, indicating control of larger plots of land by fewer individuals or organizations centered in towns and at larger rural villas. Moreover, agents in just such a system could enable manuring more easily through mobilization of labor (something that was always a problem in the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods). At the same time, changing policies of taxation, demanding, by the Late Roman period, payment in crops themselves encouraged farmers to get the most out of available land. Manuring and other practices aimed at increasing crop yields were therefore advantageous in such times.

While not every survey will be able to do something similar to this with data already collected (weighing sherds individually is not always standard practice, and is very time-consuming), David tells me that the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP) has recorded finds in such a way as to enable this type of analysis (although the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Project, EKAS, has not). It will be interesting to see if similar or different patterns emerge in different locales. Manuring was not a strategy employed in all places at all times. Its implementation and success depended on local agrarian traditions, the soils and climates characterizing a locale, the types of crops being grown and their overall volume, and the ready availability of manure and other compostable waste (animal manure, for instance, was not easy to obtain in places where stock raising or transhumant pastoralism were not practiced).

I look forward to hearing David’s and others’ responses to this short case-study presented here this week. I hope also that there will be many future opportunities to synthesize and compare NVAP data with those of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS) and other regional projects for the sake of enriching the picture of the Corinthia and its environs.

The Nemea Valley, Archaeological Survey, and Manuring

Chris Cloke continues his three-part series today on the interpretation of Greek and Roman artifact patterns in the Nemea Valley.  If you’re just joining in, start by reading Part 1

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In this, the second of three posts looking at survey data from the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project (NVAP), I’ll be delving further into the world of manure and looking at ways in which survey finds can be used to examine past agricultural practices.

In the interest of minimizing the effort required by transporting manure from pits or heaps around farms, villages, and towns to the fields it was used to fertilize, it was prudent to remove any large intrusions (such as big potsherds) before this was attempted.  Arrian’s Discourses of Epictetus (II.IV.1-8) offer anecdotal evidence that small bits of pottery abounded on heaps of manure. Likening an adulterous person to a pot, Epictetus allegedly remarked, “If you were a vessel so cracked that it was impossible to use you for anything, you would be cast forth upon the dunghills and even from there no one would pick you up.” Thus, scholars have assumed (and some have demonstrated through ethnographic work) that the sort of artifacts typically transported among manure tend to be small and light. So in the course of my work, I began recording the survey’s pottery in such a way as to test these assumptions about manure, its contents, and what this stuff might look like after the organic materials had long since decayed.

NVAP’s collection strategy was twofold: for intensive survey tracts (covering the totality of the walkable landscape) all sherds seen by fieldwalkers were counted. Those deemed to have any diagnostic properties (whether true diagnostics like vessel rims, or simply body sherds whose clay fabric might indicate what they were and when they were produced) were saved, studied, and stored in the Nemea Museum. When survey teams encountered “sites” (recognized by architectural or other clear remains, or set off by abnormal concentrations of artifactual material), more painstaking collection in grid squares or along transects was made, resulting in a fuller sampling of surface material.

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Intensive survey tracts in the NVAP study area (C. Cloke).

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Sites identified by NVAP (C. Cloke). Phlius is represented by the yellow dot at the upper left, while Mt. Foukas (ancient Mount Apesas) is at the upper right. The Nemea Valley is the light gray area in the center, and the modern highway from Corinth to Tripolis can be seen cutting across the lower half of the map.

By weighing each sherd found in the rural tracts walked by NVAP, I was able to observe patterns in the types of material found away from sites, and to compare these patterns to those of site finds. Artifacts found on sites are assumed to have been used and eventually discarded in the general vicinity of their findspots, while finds from tracts may have reached their current positions in a variety of ways, including through manuring. Thus, the expectation would be that, if manuring were taking place on any noteworthy scale, pot-sherds found away from sites would be, on average, lighter than the finds made at sites, because site finds would represent normal use and discard patterns, and tract finds (to some extent) would consist of the smaller bits of pottery not weeded out from manure before its use as fertilizer.

In general, the NVAP tract pottery for ancient historical periods (Archaic to Late Roman) has several peaks, as shown here (broken down first by total sherd count and then by cumulative weight):

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The number of sherds found in tracts peaks clearly in the Late Roman period, but is also stronger than usual in the Classical period, an observation which is borne out in the breakdown by weight (wherein Classical pottery was the heaviest group as a whole).

When the average weights of sherds (that is the total weight per period divided by the total count) is compared on a period-by-period basis with the average weight of sherds found during on-site collection, a distinct difference between Roman and pre-Roman periods becomes clear:

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While tract pottery of the Early, Middle and Late Roman periods (1st century BC to 7th century AD) is discernibly lighter than the on-site finds of the same periods, the opposite is true of earlier periods; in the Classical period in particular (5th to 4th centuries BC), tract pottery was slightly heavier on average than site pottery. In other words, during the Roman era around Nemea, bigger, heavier sherds were found on the surfaces of sites where pots were being used, while lighter, more broken-up sherds were common throughout the countryside.

Yet these types of patterns can be influenced by all manner of variables (frequency of fine vs. coarse wares among the sample, relative proportions of various sherd types – rim, handle, base, body-sherd – or changes in the classes of vessels represented – e.g., 10 sherds from large storage pithoi will weigh far more than 10 sherds from drinking cups). Thus, breaking these variables down on a period-by-period basis served as a means of checking this general pattern and of eliciting other important trends in the data.

In the interest of keeping these posts relatively brief, I’ll focus primarily on the Classical and Late Roman periods, when off-site finds peak.

One notable trend is that there was a higher proportion of coarse and very coarse Classical pottery found off-site than on-site. A preponderance of coarse wares goes some way toward explaining why off-site finds were slightly heavier, since coarser pottery is generally thick-walled and clunky.

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Secondly, subdividing finds by sherd type not only reveals biases in the dataset in terms of what was recognized and collected in the field, but can also explain trends in weight data. Here are the average weights (based on all finds of ancient historical periods) for the different parts of pots:

Part

Average Weight

Rim

53.09 grams

Handle

35.15 grams

Base

27.79 grams

Body Sherd

22.29 grams

In short, rims tended to be the heaviest parts found, while body sherds were the lightest. When breaking the Classical material down by part, off-site finds differed from on-site finds in several ways:

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For one thing, the tract finds of this period include a slightly higher percentage of rims (making them heavier), but they also have a higher percentage of body sherds (making them lighter on average). More handles than among site finds (heavy), and fewer bases (fairly light), make the Classical tract finds heavier on the whole.

Late Roman finds were coarser on-site than off…

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… although the distinction between semi-coarse and coarse wares can be blurry. In both cases, there were very low percentages both of fine and of very coarse wares, which are the ones most likely to skew the data one way or the other.

The breakdown of Late Roman pottery by vessel parts is perhaps more interesting:

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Tract finds contained fewer rims and more body sherds (skewing them lighter), but also more handles (skewing them back toward the heavier end). Yet the 35% of body sherds (the lightest category) among the Late Roman tract finds was lower than the 44% of body sherds among Classical tract finds (the peak in average weight for off-site ceramics!). Clearly, these breakdowns do not tell the whole story.

In part 3, tomorrow, I’ll be looking at the functional variety of these finds and begin to tie together these various patterns into a working explanation of the off-site survey finds.

Ancient Corinth: 2011 Publications

I finally had time this week to gather together the 2011 publications for various aspects of Corinth’s history.  The first installment today includes about 3 dozen publications related to the history and archaeology of Corinth in antiquity, i.e., from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity.  I will follow the rest of the week with sections on Medieval-Modern, Geology and Environment, and New Testament & Early Christian Studies.

As in my 2010 year in review, I created this list from Google alerts and Worldcat.  Since neither of these is comprehensive, I do not claim that this list is exhaustive.  Nonetheless, it is probably a fair representation of the materials published in the last year.  The list focuses on academic publications (books, articles, and dissertations) that relate directly to the archaeology and history of the Corinthia, or refer frequently to Corinth.  It excludes conference papers, master’s theses, historical fiction, and general works that indirectly touch on Corinth (i.e., some of the material that I do usually include in Corinthian Scholarship (monthly)).

If you published on material in 2011 that is relevant to the list, please send my way along with links if available.  The updated list will live permanently here.

Thanks to Messiah College Historymajor Amanda Mylin for help in putting this together.

Bronze Age

Tartaron, Thomas F., Daniel J. Pullen, Richard K. Dunn, Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Amy Dill, Joseph I. Boyce, “The Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (SHARP): Investigations at Mycenaean Kalamianos, 2007-2009,” in Hesperia 80.4 (2011), 559-634.

Weiberg, Erika, “The invisible dead : The case of the Argolid and Corinthia during the Early Bronze Age,” in Helen Cavanagh, William Cavanagh and James Roy (eds.),Honouring the Dead in the Peloponnese: Proceedings of the conference held at Sparta 23-25 April 2009, CSPS Online Publication 2 prepared by Sam Farnham, 2011, pp. 781-796.

Geometric to Hellenistic

Athanassaki, L., and E. Bowie (eds.), Archaic and Classical Choral Song: Performance, Politics and Dissemination(de Gruyter 2011)

Barone, G., P. Mazzoleni, E. Aquilia, V. Crupi, F. Longo, D. Majolino, V. Venuti, and G. Spagnolo, “Potentiality of non-destructive XRF analysis for the determination of Corinthian B amphorae provenance,” in X-Ray Spectrometry40.5 (2011), 333-337.

Burnett, Anne Pippin, ”Servants of Peitho: Pindar fr.122 S“, GRBS 51 (2011).

Coldstream, N., Greek Geometric Pottery. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Great Britain, Fascicule 25; The British Museum, Fascicule 11. London:  British Museum, 2010. (BMCR review here).

Dawson, A., “Seeing Dead People: A Study of the Cypselids,” Australian Society for Classical Studies, Selected Papers from the 32nd Annual Conference, 2011 (PDF)

Dubbini, Rachele, Dei nello spazio degli uomini : i culti dell’agora e la costruzione di Corinto arcaica, Rome 2011: L’Erma di Bretschneider.

Foley, Brendan P.,Maria C. Hansson, Dimitris P. Kourkoumelis, Theotokis A. Theodoulou, “Aspects of ancient Greek trade re-evaluated with amphora DNA evidence,” in Journal of Archaeological Science 39.2 (2012), 389-398.

Gassner, Verena, “Amphorae Production of the Ionic‐Adriatic Region,” in FACEM (version 06/06/2011).

Greene, Elizabeth S., Justin Leidwanger, and Harun A. Özdaş, “Two Early Archaic Shipwrecks at Kekova Adası and Kepçe Burnu, Turkey,” in IJNA40.1 (2011), 60-68.

Howan, V., “Three Fleets or Two,” in Australian Society for Classical Studies, Selected Papers from the 32nd Annual Conference, 2011 (on the Corinthian War)

Krystalli-Vosti, Kalliopi, and Erik Østby, “The Temples of Apollo at Sikyon,” in Bolletino di Archeologia On Line 2011.

Leenen, M., “The Evolution of Roman Diplomatic Interaction with the Achaean League, 200-146 B.C.E.,” in Australian Society for Classical Studies, Selected Papers from the 32nd Annual Conference, 2011 (PDF)

Mannino, M.R., and S. Orecchio, “Chemical characterization of ancient potteries from Himera and Pestavecchia necropolis (Sicily, Italy) by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES),” in Microchemical Journal97.2 (2011), 165-172.

McPhee, Ian D., and Elizabeth G. Pemberton, Corinth VII.6. Late Classical Pottery from Ancient Corinth: Drain 1971-1 in the Forum Southwest, Princeton 2011? (in production): American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Morgan, C., “Isthmia and beyond. How can quantification help the analysis of EIA sanctuary deposits?,” in Samuel Verdan, Thierry Theurillat and Anne Kenzelmann Pfyffer (eds.), Early Iron Age Pottery: A Quantitative Approach. Proceedings of the International Round Table organized by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (Athens, November 28-30, 2008), BAR International Series 2254 (2011), 11-18.

Pettegrew, David K., “The Diolkos of Corinth,” AJA 115.4 (2011), pp. 549-574. Images here.

Rhodes, Robin, “The Woodwork of the Seven Century Temple on Temple Hill in Corinth,” in Alexander von Kienlin (ed.), Holztragwerke der Antike : Internazionale Konferenz 30. März – 1. April 2007 in München, Byzas Vol. 11, Istanbul 2011: German Archaeological Institute.

Robinson, Betsey, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, Princeton 2011: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Reviews at Corinithianmatters and the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Tsiafakis, Despoina, “The Ancient Settlement at Karabournaki: the Results of the Corinthian and Corinthian Type Pottery Analysis,” in Bolletino di Archeologia On Line 2011.

Roman Corinth

Flament, C., and P. Marchetti, Le monnayage argien d’époque romaine: d’Hadrien à Gallien, Athens 2011: French School of Athens.

Frangoulidis, Stavros, “From impulsiveness to self-restraint: Lucius’ stance in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses,” Trends in Classics3.1 (2011), pp. 113–125

Friesen, Steven J., Daniel N. Schowalter and James C. Walters, Corinth in context: comparative studies on religion and society, Supplements to Novum Testamentum vol. 134, Leiden 2010: E. J. Brill. Reviews at Journal of Roman Archaeology (Dennis E. Smith), Journal of Theological Studies (David Horrell), Religious Studies Review (Richard S. Ascough), and The Expository Times(Jane Heath).

Melfi, Milena, “Uestigiis reuolsorum donorum, tum donis diues erat (Livy XLV, 28): the Early Roman Presence in the Asklepieia of Greece,” in Bolletino di Archaeologia On Line 2011

Palinkas, Jennifer, and James A. Herbst, “A Roman Road Southeast of the Forum at Corinth: Technology and Urban Development,” in Hesperia80 (2011), 287-336.

Papaioannou, Maria, “East Meets West: the Pottery Evidence from Abdera,” in Bolletino di Archaeologia On Line 2011

Pettegrew, David K., “The Diolkos of Corinth,” AJA 115.4 (2011), pp. 549-574. Images here.

Quercia, A., A. Johnston, A. Bevan, J. Conolly and A. Tsaravopoulos, “Roman Pottery from an Intensive Survey of Antikythera, Greece,” in Annual of British School at Athens106 (2011).

Robinson, Betsey, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, Princeton 2011: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Reviews at Corinithianmatters and the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Spaeth, Barbette Stanley, “Imperial Cult in Roman Corinth: a Response to Karl Galinsky’s ‘The Cult of the Roman Emperor: Uniter or Divider?,’” in J. Brodd and J.L. Reed (eds.), Rome and Religion: A Cross-disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult, Atlanta 2011, 61-82: Society of Biblical Literature.

Stover, Tim, “Unexampled Exemplarity: Medea in the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus,” Transactions of the American Philological Association141.1 (2011).

Tilg, Stefan, “Religious Feasting in Apuleius’s Metamorphoses: Appetite for Change?,” in
Transactions of the American Philological Association 141.2 (2011), 387-400.

Ubelaker, D.H., and J.L. Rife, “Skeletal analysis and mortuary practice in an Early Roman chamber tomb at Kenchreai, Greece,” in International Journal of Osteoarchaeology21.1 (2011), 1-18.

Late Antiquity

Brown, Amelia R., “Banditry or Catastrophe?: History, Archaeology, and Barbarian Raids on Roman Greece,” in R.W. Mathisen & D. Shanzer, eds., Romans, Barbarians, and the Transformation of the Roman World: Cultural Interaction and the Creation of Identity in Late Antiquity, Farnham 2011: Ashgate, pp. 79-96.

Cherf, William J., “Procopius De aedificiis 4.2.1–22 on the Thermopylae Frontier,” in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 104.1 (2011), 71–113.

Curta, Florin, “Still Waiting for the Barbarians?  The Making of the Slavs in ‘Dark-Age’ Greece,” in F. Curta (ed.), Neglected Barbarians, Turnhout Brepols Publishers: 2010, published online November 2011.

Friesen, Steven J., Daniel N. Schowalter and James C. Walters, Corinth in context: comparative studies on religion and society, Supplements to Novum Testamentum vol. 134, Leiden 2010: E. J. Brill. Reviews at Journal of Roman Archaeology (Dennis E. Smith), Journal of Theological Studies (David Horrell), Religious Studies Review (Richard S. Ascough), and The Expository Times(Jane Heath).

Hadler, Hanna, Andreas Vött, Benjamin Koster, Margret Mathes-Schmidt, Torsten Mattern, Konstantin Ntageretzis, Klaus Reicherter, Dimitris Sakellariou, Timo Willershäuser, “Lechaion, the Ancient Harbour of Corinth (Peloponnese, Greece) destroyed by Tsunamigenic Impact,” pp. 70-73.   [Article reviewed at Corinthian Matters]

Quercia, A., A. Johnston, A. Bevan, J. Conolly and A. Tsaravopoulos, “Roman Pottery from an Intensive Survey of Antikythera, Greece,” in Annual of British School at Athens106 (2011).

Robinson, Betsey, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, Princeton 2011: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Reviews at Corinithianmatters and the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Abstracts of the AIA / APA 2012 Meetings

I had planned to post reviews of the AIA / APA meetings a little more than a week ago, but illness and the preparations for a new semester sapped all my momentum.  I have a lot of material in the queue including December scholarship monthly and the scholarship rolls of 2011 which I hope to roll out in the next two weeks.

The meetings were excellent in many ways.  I heard great  papers related to new research in the Corinthia, but missed many more that I wanted to see.  I caught the Nemea session in time to hear Effie Athanassopoulos’ discussion of excavation  and survey evidence for habitation and agriculture in the Nemea Valley in the 12th-13th centuries; and Jared Beatrice’s and Jon Frey’s fascinating work on Late Antique and Middle Byzantine burials in the Nemea Valley (largely similar life experiences between periods, but males mysteriously outnumber females in the later period by a factor of 2 to 1).  I happened to be at the poster session when Bice Peruzzi and Amanda Reiterman were awarded second place for their work on the potters’ quarter at Corinth.  I include abstracts for all the papers at the end of this post.

The session sponsored by the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology Interest Group (“Sailing Away from Byzantium”) was excellent in its exploration of the notion of communication and connectivity in its economic, geopolitical, and religious aspects–a theme that I saw covered in many other sessions.  I myself contributed (with Bill Caraher) to a session on peasants.  Our paper on Corinthian peasants in the Classical-Hellenstic, Roman, and Modern periods is available here, and our Powerpoint presentation  here).  The fact that an entire session on “peasants” was a smashing success is some indication that countryside studies are doing well.  If the organizers of the conference thought peasants would not attract crowds (they assigned us to a small room), we were glad to see lines of people out the door trying to get in.

Surprising was that the AIA and APA attendees seem not to have caught the Digital Humanities bug that swept through this year’s meetings of the Modern Language Association and American Historical Association.  Other than one paper session (only 3 papers) related to visual approaches in archaeology and a round table about preparing digital images for publication, no one seemed aware or interested in the big DH.  By contrast, Anthony Grafton, the outgoing president of the American Historical Association, claimed that the introduction of Digital History and Humanities into the meetings of the AHA marked one of the greatest accomplishments of the year, while Stanley Fish in a recent New York Times editorial said the following about DH at the meeting of the Modern Language Association:

So what exactly is that new insurgency? What rough beast has slouched into the neighborhood threatening to upset everyone’s applecart? The program’s statistics deliver a clear answer. Upward of 40 sessions are devoted to what is called the “digital humanities,” an umbrella term for new and fast-moving developments across a range of topics: the organization and administration of libraries, the rethinking of peer review, the study of social networks, the expansion of digital archives, the refining of search engines, the production of scholarly editions, the restructuring of undergraduate instruction, the transformation of scholarly publishing, the re-conception of the doctoral dissertation, the teaching of foreign languages, the proliferation of online journals, the redefinition of what it means to be a text, the changing face of tenure — in short, everything.

Perhaps the digital revolution is still to come for the AIA/APA meetings?  Perhaps most archaeologists and philologists are just not interested?  At the business meeting of the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology interest group, several academic librarians proposed a session for AIA 2013 on meta-data, which might connect the digital work of technologists, librarians, and archaeologists.  The session for 2013 will be co-sponsored by the Forum for Classics, Libraries, and Scholarly Communication.  It would be interesting to see a session on Byzantine archaeology as one of next year’s DH sessions.

Finally, it was a pleasure to meet people at the meetings who knew of this site.  Thanks to everyone for your interests, and as always, we welcome suggestions for contributions.

Corinth

Territory

Nemea

Mediterranean

Sarah James on Hellenistic Pottery at Corinth

Visitors to this site may be aware that we maintain a running list of Corinthian archaeology and history dissertations completed over the last decade.  The American School Excavations in Ancient Corinth website also regularly features young scholars who are either working on dissertations related to the urban center or have recently finished theses.  From these pages, one can get a good sense of the kind of historical and archaeological research that is occurring in town and countryside.

I noticed recently this new piece on Sarah James and her recently completed dissertation, The Hellenistic pottery from the Panayia Field, Corinth: Studies in Chronology and Context (Austin 2010: University of Texas at Austin).  In the piece, James speaks about her dissertation and current plans for publication.  Here is a snippet:

“Six Hellenistic deposits from the recent excavations in the Panayia Field form the core of my dissertation. These deposits include cisterns, a well and a floor deposit, and range in date from ca. 275 BC to the early 1st c. BC.  I thoroughly studied each deposit, quantifying and analyzing its fine ware, and when the results were combined I was able to create a new independent absolute chronology of Corinthian Hellenistic fine wares…”

For the rest of the piece, read on here

I have not yet read James’ dissertation, but I did see her present a paper on the subject a year ago in Austin at the Corinth in Contrast conference.  In that discussion, based on her dissertation, she presented a range of evidence from the Panayia Field excavations and elsewhere in Corinth that indicates the to shift our chronologies for Hellenistic pottery.  In that talk, James also reevaluated the so-called interim period between the destruction of Corinth in 146 BC and its refoundation a century later. 

Since ancient buildings are assigned dates based on the pottery and coins found in their foundation trenches or in association with floors, a shift in chronology can have a major impact on our understanding of urban and rural space.  And so we should expect the publication of the dissertation in various forms to change the way we understand Hellenistic Corinth and the interim period (146-44 BC).  You can get a sense of the nature of the study from the dissertation abstract published in WorldCat.

“The new chronology of Corinthian fine ware presented in this dissertation is based on pottery from the recently discovered Hellenistic deposits (dated from the 3rd to 1st c. B.C.) in the Panayia Field. This new Panayia Field chronology was created by first quantifying the pottery in each deposit and then seriating the deposits in order to plot the initial production and use-life of individual ceramic shapes. The results substantially revise the previous chronology of Corinthian Hellenistic pottery published in Corinth VII.3, which has long been acknowledged as problematic by scholars of the period. One key aspect in which the Panayia Field chronology differs from its predecessor is in the recognition that pottery production resumed in Corinth after the sack of the city in 146 B.C. The evidence for a post-146 B.C. or interim period ceramic industry and its products are discussed in detail. Using the new Panayia Field chronology, the South Stoa and numerous previously excavated deposits at Corinth are re-assessed. Arguably, the most important Hellenistic structure in Corinth, the South Stoa, now appears to have been begun in the 290s rather than the 330s B.C. Attempts are also made to address the cultural and economic history of Hellenistic Corinth for the first time. For instance, the adoption of certain shapes into the local ceramic assemblage illustrates the influence of the Hellenistic koine on Corinthian culture. At the local level, the continued production of ceramic kraters in the late 3rd to early 2nd c. B.C. and their findspots seem to suggest that metal vessels were more commonly used in public spaces. In terms of trade, the data on imported fine ware and amphoras from more than 60 deposits clearly demonstrate the flow of goods through the city and Corinth’s role in the trade networks of the Hellenistic period. This analysis reveals a strong connection to Athens during the Macedonian occupation, increasing contact with Italy and the Aegean beginning in the late 3rd c. B.C. and the continuity of Corinth’s economic contacts into the interim period. This research therefore also contributes significantly to our understanding of this important commercial city’s external contacts during the Hellenistic period.”

Problematizing Peasants in the Corinthian Countryside

As readers of this blog know, David Pettegrew and I are working on a paper on peasants in the Corinthian countryside. We’ll give the paper at the 113th AIA/APA Joint Annual Meeting in early January in Philadelphia (or at least David will!) in a panel organized by Kim Bowes and Cam Grey.  I’ve been mulling ideas for the last few months and posting various bits and pieces here.

Today, I thought I’d post some fragments of an introduction and a case study.  It is important to note that this is a very early draft and that once David makes his contribution it is possible that the entire paper will look quite different. He gets the final say on content, organization, and problematique, since he is actually delivering the paper.

Introduction:

The term peasant presents a uniquely problematic opportunity for archaeologists.  The concept of a peasant derives from an understanding of the premodern economy which assumes that there must be individuals whose primary role in society is to produce agricultural surplus to support those who are not involved in food production. In this system, peasants rarely controlled or owned their own land, produced little capital, and tended to approach agricultural production through a series of highly-localized, risk-adverse, subsistence practices. In this admittedly broad definition, the peasant is a highly local manifestation of an generalized abstract category. They appear throughout the world and are central to Marxian interpretations of pre-modern economic systems.

The existence, then, of peasants as a diachronic, trans-national, ready-made analytical category has exerted an understandable attraction to archaeologists.  The most sophisticated study of the ancient Greek peasant is Thomas Gallant’s book, Risk and Survival in ancient Greece, where he unpacks the  potential for applying the peasant as an analytical category to the material culture of the ancient and medieval Mediterranean.

As with any analytical category, however, applying the concept of the peasant to the ancient world involves some widely recognized risks, some of which are particularly problematic in the history of ancient and modern Greece. For example, the temptation to apply diachronic comparisons between ancient and modern peasants is particularly fraught in Greece because such comparisons have played such an important role in arguments for a persistent Greek national identity. The Greek peasant stood both outside of time as the persistent locus of Greekness, or, in a more condescending view, the persistence of rural peasant in Greece marked it out as a nation unprepared for full integration into the modern global economy. In an effort to resolve the latter view, in particular, recent archaeological work in Greece has identified the peasant –  (ironically) both ancient and modern – as the dynamic creator of a “contingent countryside” and challenged any view of peasants that regarded their economic position as isolated, static, or persistent.

The challenge to understanding the presence of peasants in the Corinthian landscape, then, is as much a question of the value of the peasant as an analytical category (what exactly should a peasant look like?) as a question of understanding the material culture of Greek countryside. In short, we must determine what a peasant is at the same time as we identify the remains of a particular form of economic relationships and agricultural practices in the landscape.

Case Studies:

To make our assumptions clear, we might begin this challenge by looking at a rural settlement called Lakka Skoutara in the southeastern corner of the Corinthia. This settlement consists of over a dozen late 19th to early 20th century Balkan style long-houses scattered about a crossroad set in a mountain hollow some 7 km east of the major village of Sophiko and 5 km west of the small harbor at Korphos. By-passed by the modern roads in the area and filled with swarms of stinging bees and biting flies, this cluster of houses is neither historically significant nor unique in the region. The material signature of the late 19th and early 20th century activities at the site includes roof tiles, some fine wares, various utility and kitchen wares, as well as evidence for the primary production of agriculture such as large built alonia (threshing floors), numerous cisterns, and terrace walls. The terrace walls and alonia, at least one of which appears to predate the remains of the earliest visible house in the area, indicate that the grain production was the central concern for region. A small, single aisled church stands amidst the fields anchoring the place within the sacred topography of the region.  Today, the valley is filled with olive trees and the rapid expansion of pine forests has taken over terraced fields and shows the scars of resin production. Today, some of the houses serve as storage during olive harvest, rural getaways for older villagers, or stopping places for shepherds and their diminishing herds of goats; others slowly collapse.  Plastic containers, metal tools and drums, and fragments of ceramics occupy a complex landscape which straddles a practices that range from modern, subsidized cash farming to various levels of engagement with the local, regional, and even global economy.

NewImage

Interviews with several individuals who lived and worked in Lakka Skoutara reveal the contingent character of the lakka. During times of difficulty – like World War 2 – the valley saw year around occupation. In other times, residents in the village of Sophiko resided in the valley when they worked the fields but lived most of the year in the village.  The assemblages associated with activities in the village offer little to distinguish between seasonal and full time habitation.  The long houses themselves could appear in a village or alone in the countryside. Even today, the sagging wooden roofs and splaying mud mortar walls are protected by assorted roof tiles of various dates, fabrics, places of production, and shapes. In other words, the evidence for peasants in the countryside conflates a series of past practices and reveals little in terms of the economic structures that define the category.

NewImage

The problematized peasants of the modern landscape can cast a revealing shadow back on the countryside of the central Isthmus. Using similar methods to the survey of Lakka Skoutara, the survey of the central Isthmus revealed a similar cluster of activity around the so-called site of Cromna.  As we have argued elsewhere, this high density scatter of pottery across the central Isthmus represents a series of overlapping clusters of activity ranging in date from the Archaic to the Late Roman period…

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So that’s where we are at the moment. We have around 1000 more words to think about the ancient peasant using the problematized model that we created for Lakka Skoutara. We’ve been reading our Eric Wolf on peasants (for proof) and reveling in our reading of James C. Scott (especially his brilliant Moral Economy of the Peasant and his The Art of Not Being Governed). How did I miss this stuff in graduate school? It has blown my mind.

Crossposted to the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World

Going to San Francisco for the Society of Biblical Literature? An Invitation to Contribute

The annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature runs this week from Saturday to Tuesday and will offer more than 50 papers related in some way to the study of Corinth.  In August, I posted a comprehensive list of these Corinthiaka papers that deal with, variously, the history and archaeology of the city, the historical and social contexts of 1 and 2 Corinthians, issues of intertextuality, special sessions on 2 Corinthian 5, the thought of Apostle Paul, post-Pauline Christian Corinth, reception history, or cross-cultural hermeneutics.  I have arranged these according to these broad categories. 

If you are going to the San Franciso meeting and hear any of these papers, I invite you to contribute reports or reviews.  Likewise, if you are delivering a paper, short summaries of the high points are welcome.  If interested, send to Corinthianmatters.