De Gelder, G, D Fernández-Blanco, R Lacassin, R Armijo, A Delorme, J Jara-Muñoz, and D Melnick. “Corinth Terraces Re-Visited: Improved Paleoshoreline Determination Using Pleiades-DEMs.” Geotectonic Research 97, no. 1 (September 1, 2015): 12–14. doi:10.1127/1864-5658/2015-06.
As the authors argue in this brief (published conference) paper, available here, new Digital Elevation Models, which are accurate to within half a meter, allow significant enhancements over previous studies in understanding the history “of one of the most extensive and well-preserved terrace sequences in Greece.” So the authors conclude,
With the quality of the Pleiades DEMs we are no longer limited by resolution and accuracy of the topographic information, since uncertainties in the relative contributions of erosion, climate, and tectonics now outweigh those in the data itself, providing an encouraging opportunity to re-evaluate the area. The quality of the Corinth DEM in combination with the TerraceM interface allows us to (locally) detect more terrace sub-levels compared to previous studies, and improve our constraints in finding the paleoshorelines. Apart from terrace analysis, possible future applications of these Pleiades DEMs –both in Corinth and in other locations– include the analyses of (active) faults, river drainages and sedimentary basins, all of which can greatly benefit from this new generation of high-quality topographic data.
Here’s the abstract for those who just want the summary:
The newest generation of satellites have greatly improved the capabilities of optical imagery over the last decade. Ground resolution has increased by one order of magnitude (to sub-metric pixel images), and improved sensors allow images to be located with an absolute accuracy of within a few meters. Better-resolved images facilitate refined tectonic studies of faults, basins, terraces, and other geomorphic features as it provides the opportunity to extract detailed topographic information. We have developed high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) in eight locations in Greece from tri-stereo satellite images acquired by the new Pleiades platform of CNES. With 0.5m resolution, these DEMs are state-of-the-art in comparison to previous DEMs made from satellite imagery. In this study we explore the potential of one of these DEMs, in the eastern Gulf of Corinth, for the analysis of a flight of marine terraces.
Those who like their history long should be interested in this new article in Quarternary Science Reviews on environmental and human change in the Peloponnese over the last 9,000 years. Co-authored by fifteen historians, archaeologists, geographers, and geologists, the article aims to relate a range of climatic data with archaeological data to discern the relationship between environment and human settlement during the Holocene.
Weiberg, Erika, Ingmar Unkel, Katerina Kouli, Karin Holmgren, Pavlos Avramidis, Anton Bonnier, Flint Dibble, et al. “The Socio-Environmental History of the Peloponnese during the Holocene: Towards an Integrated Understanding of the Past.” Quaternary Science Reviews. Accessed January 12, 2016.
The comparison of data over many regions and long stretches of times means that the environmental records do not neatly match up with the archaeological data. The authors identify social and political factors as most significant than economic factors, and reject the notion that better climate always meant greater settlement. The article, while inconclusive, is nuanced and cautious, and devotes discussion to the challenges of doing such coarse comparisons, especially in respect to regional variation and chronology. Here’s the abstract:
Published archaeological, palaeoenvironmental, and palaeoclimatic data from the Peloponnese in Greece are compiled, discussed and evaluated in order to analyse the interactions between humans and the environment over the last 9000 years. Our study indicates that the number of human settlements found scattered over the peninsula have quadrupled from the prehistoric to historical periods and that this evolution occurred over periods of climate change and seismo–tectonic activity. We show that societal development occurs both during periods of harsh as well as favourable climatic conditions. At some times, some settlements develop while others decline. Well-known climate events such as the 4.2 ka and 3.2 ka events are recognizable in some of the palaeoclimatic records and a regional decline in the number and sizes of settlements occurs roughly at the same time, but their precise chronological fit with the archaeological record remains uncertain. Local socio-political processes were probably always the key drivers behind the diverse strategies that human societies took in times of changing climate. The study thus reveals considerable chronological parallels between societal development and palaeoenvironmental records, but also demonstrates the ambiguities in these correspondences and, in doing so, highlights some of the challenges that will face future interdisciplinary projects. We suggest that there can be no general association made between societal expansion phases and periods of advantageous climate. We also propose that the relevance of climatic and environmental regionality, as well as any potential impacts of seismo-tectonics on societal development, need to be part of the interpretative frameworks.
Corinth’s northern harbor at Lechaion has seen something of a renaissance in scholarly study in recent years. Back in 2011, for example, a research group publicized new work (now published here and here) on the evidence for multiple tsunami landfalls at Lechaion, which Richard Rothaus reviewed in a thoughtul piece here at CM. Last year, a group of Danish and Greek scholars launched the Lechaion Harbour Project to survey, excavate, and study submerged remains at the harbor—and this project, according to their Facebook page, has just been awarded a second major funding package. I also saw via the Corinthian Studies Facebook group a notice about a conference in Athens last April devoted to the study of the early Christian basilica at the site, with papers on the history of Pallas’ excavation, the baths, floors, ceramics, coins, and glass from those excavations. And we can all say “it’s about time.”
And now, this new article (in press) at Tectonophysics promises a real scientific study of the evidence for earthquakes at the site. Here’s the metadata:
A synthesis of investigations carried out at the archaeological site of the Early Christian Basilica, located in the ancient harbour of Lechaion, Corinth, Greece in order to study the origin and triggering mechanism of deformation structures observed on the temple floor, is presented. These surface structures are indicative of earthquake induced ground liquefaction and their relationship with the subsurface soil stratigraphy and structure is presented. Investigations of stratigraphic data from archaeological excavations conducted from 1956 to 1965 provide indications of artificial fill deposits overlying a sandy – gravelly substratum. Geophysical survey of EM, GPR and ERT provided further information regarding the substratum properties/stratigraphy of the site indicating subsurface fissures and lateral spreading trends that are in agreement with the surface deformation structures. Lithostratigraphic data obtained from four vibracores drilled in the southern aisle of the temple, suggest estuarine deposits of coarse sand to fine gravel with grain size properties indicative of layers with high liquefaction potential. The results of the study, suggest at least three seismic events that induced ground liquefaction at the site. The first event pre-dates the construction of the Basilica, when Lechaion harbour was in operation. The second event post-dates the construction of the Basilica potentially corresponding to the regionally damaging A.D. 524 earthquake, followed by the third event, that commensurate with the A.D. 551 earthquake and the destruction of the temple.
While the article is currently behind a pay wall, it looks like it should add an interesting new layer to our understanding of ancient Lechaion and the earthquakes that affected it in the sixth century CE (although we’ll need to see how securely the authors relate the geomorphological observations with both the archaeological evidence for dating and ambiguous data from geophysics). But this will certainly be a step toward addressing concerns (outlined a few years ago by Dr. Rothaus) that archaeologists should be much more critical in ascribing building destructions in the Corinthia to historical earthquakes.
In March 2009 the international conference for which this volume is named was held in Loutraki by the 37th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Culture’s Directorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, and the German Archaeological Institute of Athens. The results of research carried out by international research institutes and individual researchers working in Corinthia, and first and foremost by the Greek Antiquities Service, were presented at the conference.
I’ll give it a fuller overview when my copy arrives.
Your latest round of new Corinthian scholarship published or posted online in the last month – just in time for the holiday season. Feel free to reply to this post if you have something to add. If you are interested and qualified to review any of the following, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wilson, Andrew. “Trading Across the Syrtes: Euesperides and the Punic World.” In The Hellenistic West, edited by Jonathan R. Prag and Josephine C. Quinn, 120–156. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=9UMIAQAAQBAJ
Roman and Late Antique
Schultze, Clemence. “Universal and Particular in Velleius Paterculus: Carthage Versus Rome.” In Historiae Mundi: Studies in Universal History, edited by Peter Liddel and Andrew Fear, 116–130. A&C Black, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=hb6OAQAAQBAJ
Brown, Alexandra R. “Creation, Gender, and Identity in (New) Cosmic Perspective: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.” In The Unrelenting God: Essays on God’s Action in Scripture in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa, edited by David J. Downs and Matthew L. Skinner, 172–193. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=uuBgAQAAQBAJ.
Eastman, Susan Grove. “Ashes on the Frontal Lobe: Cognitive Dissonance and Cruciform Cognition in 2 Corinthians.” In The Unrelenting God: Essays on God’s Action in Scripture in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa, edited by David J. Downs and Matthew L. Skinner, 194–207. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=uuBgAQAAQBAJ
Van den Hoek, Annewies. “The Saga of Peter and Paul: Emblems of Catholic Identity in Christian Literature and Art.” In Pottery, Pavements, and Paradise: Iconographic and Textual Studies on Late Antiquity, edited by Annewies van den Hoek and John Joseph Herrmann, 301–326. BRILL, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=RcJSAQAAQBAJ
Hadler, H., A. Vött, B. Koster, M. Mathes-Schmidt, T. Mattern, K. Ntageretzis, K. Reicherter, and T. Willershäuser. “Multiple late-Holocene Tsunami Landfall in the Eastern Gulf of Corinth Recorded in the Palaeotsunami Geo-archive at Lechaion, Harbour of Ancient Corinth” (2013).
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]