Whirlwind on the Isthmus

My four days in the Corinthia passed much too quickly for my liking.

Day 1: Arrive at the Isthmus and introduce students to the delicious fastfood Goody’s chain; view the canal from the old national highway bridge; race to the top of Acrocorinth before the site closed (now 3 PM, no longer 7); visit Kenchreai and muse for 10 minutes about Paul’s haircut; check in hotel(s); dinner at the Gemelos Taverna where I ran into Dr. Scott Nash and group.


Anyone who has been to Greece has a photo like this.


But probably not like this.  The monument erected in 2009  commemorates the Hungarians István Türr (1825-1908) and Béla Gerster (1850 1923) “who planned, organised and directed the construction of the Corinth Canal, a masterpiece of 19th century engineering.”


What I wouldn’t do to get this picture on a clear day.

Crossing the Isthmus

Messiah College students crossing the Isthmus (view from the peak of Acrocorinth)

Western Plain

Ancient Corinth (to right) and part of the western coastal plain on May 30, 2011.

Day 2: Visit Mycenae with class, where Dr. Abaz Kreymadhi gave us a physics lesson on the behavior of sound waves (at least that’s what he told us when we were talking to the wall) and I remembered how much I had forgotten about the world of Agamenon); visit Nafplio for an excuse to have the best gelato in the world (I had not forgotten how good that gelato was); visit archaeological museum while students beached and climbed the Palamidi; dinner at the Gemelos Taverna where I ran into Dallas Deforest and Chris Cloke and Mark Hammond

IMG_2359 IMG_2351

Day 3: Students day to explore Corinth gave me time to tour the diolkos and canal with Sophia Loverdou.  More on this over the next few days.

Day 4: Students’ day to explore the Corinthia and Argolid.  Return to the diolkos for photo shoot; visit Isthmia where I ran into Tim Gregory, Tom Tartaron, Amy Dill.

Day 5: Off to Athens.  Until the next time.

Corinthian Projections of the Past

One of the goals for our trip to Albania and Greece was to encourage students to think comparatively about the two countries. Leaving aside the current economic crisis, Greece often evokes positive images–mountains, sea, and plain; blue skies, blue seas; democracy and theaters and philosophers; ancient ruins in a scenic landscape; Mama Mia and Traveling Pants and Zorba. Albania, by contrast, produces few comparable mental images. The lack of images for Albania in contrast with the numerous images of Greece is especially striking in light of the two countries’ common history (Greek poleis, Roman and Byzantine provinces, Ottoman era, etc..), geography, and culture. One of the rewarding things about leading this trip was seeing students with almost no knowledge of Albania before the trip describe the country as one of Europe’s “hidden treasures.”

One of the profound differences that I noticed (as an historian and archaeologist) was how differently Albania and Greece projected their pasts in the present. In Albania, Skanderbeg, the 15th century national hero, is the real focal point in the past. We saw his image frequently on postcards, in statues, and signs. The ancient Illyrians made a weak showing at archaeological sites and museums but not to the same degree as Skanderbeg (shown below).



In Greece, by contrast, archaeological remains and classical antiquity are constantly imaged and marketed for the visitor. The difference was striking even in the Corinthia. Some examples.

The fast food restaurant known as Goody’s has collected (at its Isthmus location) images of the diolkos and canal. Here one of our students visits the posters after enjoying a delicious value meal:


The Temple of Apollo is an icon of ancient Corinth, projected throughout the tavernas and stores of the village.


I love that there is a “diolkos” cafe in Ancient Corinth! How fun it was to drink espresso and use the internet at the diolkos!


Someone has posted a sign about the diolkos in the Engineering School grounds. This is most visible to those sailing through the canal on cruise ships or party boats or canal tour vessels


And near Poseidonia on the Corinthian Gulf not far from the diolkos, we find the ancient inspiration in bronze with some fine graffiti.



Some interesting Corinthiaka (Corinthian Matters) for this Wednesday morning:

  • Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner, authors of a new commentary on 1 Corinthians, talk about St. Paul and Roman sexual ethics in the Corinthian community in a two part video here and here.  Michael Bird’s brief review of their commentary can be found here.
  • A couple of summer conferences related to geology, archaeology, and Early Christianity in the Corinthia.  The theme of the latter is  “Archaeology and Identity in Roman Achaia.”  Looks fantastic.
  • A 17th century Spanish vessel sails through the Corinth canal.
  • The American School of Classical Studies excavations at Corinth featured in a new television series 1821.
  • If you’re an undergraduate interested in a field school in Kenchreai this summer, there are a couple of fellowship opportunities available for member institutions of the Center for Hellenic Studies.
  • Phoebe’s feast day was recently celebrated in the Lutheran and Episcopal church calendar.  A nice piece on Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe.
  • So also, in the Orthodox calendar, the 16th century fruitseller and martyr Nicholas of Ichthys of the Corinthia was celebrated on Feb. 14.  An interesting story from the Great Synaxarion of  Christian-Turkish relations in the Ottoman period rediscovered in the early 20th century.  

Corinthian History and Archaeology: 2010 Publications

2010 was a big year for publications on Corinthian history and archaeology.  I created the list below using various search engines (google scholar, worldcat, etc..) none of which are fully comprehensive.  I included academic publications (books, articles, dissertations, and master’s theses) that relate to the archaeology and history of the Corinthia from prehistory to the present.  I will post separately on 2010 publications in New Testament studies, which is simply an enormous field.

If you published something in 2010 that can be added to the following list, please send my way along with links if available.  The updated list will live permanently here.

Thanks to Tara Anderson for help in putting this list together.


Morgan, Catherine, “Corinthia,” in Archaeological Reports 56 (2010), pp 21 -26.


Petroutsa, Eirini I. and Sotiris K. Manolis “Reconstructing Late Bronze Age diet in mainland Greece using stable isotope analysis,” in Journal of Archaeological Science, 2010

Early Iron Age

Flognfeldt, Yngve Thomassen, “Sanctuaries and votive offerings from The Early Iron Age in Greece-A comparative study of votive offerings from the eastern Peloponnese


Bonnier, A., “Harbours and Hinterlands: Landscape, Site Patterns and Coast-Hinterland Interconnections by the Corinthian Gulf, c. 600-300 BC” [Doctoral Thesis] 2010

Bookidis, N., The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore: The Terracotta Sculpture (Corinth XVIII.5) [Book] Athens: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.



Caraher, W.R., D.K. Pettegrew, and S. James, “Towers and Fortifications at Vayia in the Southeast Corinthia,” Hesperia 79.3 2010

Donati, J.C. “Marks of State Ownership and the Greek Agora at Corinth”in American Journal of Archaeology, 2010.

Gabrielli, R., Ceramica etrusco-corinzia del Museo archeologico di Tarquinia. Book 1 vol. (XIII-567 p. -26 p. de fig. -XXX p. de pl.)

Išin, Gül, “PATARA TEPECİK AKROPOLÜ “BEY EVİ” KAZILARI (2003-2007): GEÇ ARKAİK-ERKEN KLASİK DÖNEM TERRACOTTALARI. (Turkish)” (Excavations of “The Ruler’s House” on the Tepecik Acropolis at Patara (2003-2007): The Terracottas of the Late Archaic-Early Classical Period. (English)), in Olba Journal, May2010, Vol. 18, p85-106

Ivanov, R.V., “Pindar’s Isthmians 3 and 4: essays and commentary” [Doctoral Thesis]

McPhee, I. “Red-Figure Pottery of Uncertain Origin from Corinth: Stylistic and Chemical Analyses” in Hesperia, 2010

Papadogiannis; A.S., M.C. Tsakoumaki, T.G. Chondros, ““Deus-Ex-Machina” Mechanism Reconstruction in the Theater of Phlius, Corinthia,” in Journal of Mechanical Design, Jan2010, 132 Issue 1.

Schaffrin, B., and K. Snow, “Total Least-Squares regularization of Tykhonov type and an ancient racetrack in Corinth,” in Linear Algebra and its Applications, 2010

Stickler, T., Korinth und seine Kolonien: Die Stadt am Isthmus im Mächtegefüge des klassischen Griechenland [Book]

Twele, R.M., “The so-called Union of Corinth and Argos and the nature of the polis”[Master’s Thesis] Chapel Hill, N.C. : University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Friesen, S.J., D.N Schowalter, and J.C. Walters, Corinth in context : comparative studies on religion and society, [Book]

Gleason, M., “Making Space for Bicultural Identity: Herodes Atticus Commemorates Regilla” in T. Whitmarsh (ed.), Local Knowledge and Microidentities in the Imperial Greek World

Iversen, P.A. “A Prytany Dedication from Athens Found at Corinth”, in Hesperia, 2010

Strocka, V.M., Die Gefangenenfassade an der Agora von Korinth: ihr Ort in der römischen Kunstgeschichte. [Book]

Late Antique & Early Christian

Brown, A.R., “Islands in a Sea of Change? Continuity and Abandonment in Dark Age Corinth and Thessaloniki” International Journal of Historical Archaeology

Brown, A.R., “JUSTINIAN, PROCOPIUS, AND DECEPTION: LITERARY LIES, IMPERIAL POLITICS, AND THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SIXTH-CENTURY GREECE”, inA.J. TurnerK. O. Chong-GossardJ.H. Kimand F.J. Vervaet (eds.), Private and Public Lies: The Discourse of Despotism

Caraher, W.R., “Abandonment, Authority, and Religious Continuity in Post-Classical Greece” In International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 2010

Garvie-Lok, S., “A Possible Witness to the Sixth Century Slavic Invasion of Greece from the Stadium Tunnel at Ancient Nemea”in International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 2010

Pettegrew, D.K., “Regional Survey and the Boom-and-bust Countryside: Re-reading the Archaeological Evidence for Episodic Abandonment in the Late Roman Corinthia”, inInternational Journal of Historical Archaeology, 2010

Sweetman, R., “The Christianization of the Peloponnese: The Topography and Function of Late Antique Churches,” in Journal of Late Antiquity, 2010

Byzantine to Modern

Athanassopoulos, E. “Landscape Archaeology and the Medieval Countryside: Settlement and Abandonment in the Nemea Region” in International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 2010

Sutton, S.B., “Disconnected Landscapes: Ancient Sites, Travel Guides, and Local Identity in Modem Greece”, in Anthropology of East Europe Review, 2010

Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, L., “Remembering and Forgetting: The Relationship Between Memory and the Abandonment of Graves in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Greek Cemeteries.” In International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14.2 (2010), 285-301.

Corinthian Olive Oil

Want some real Greek olive oil produced in the Corinthia?  The Corinthian Olive Oil Company has launched a website for their Agros Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The oil is processed entirely from Corinthian olives and is simply excellent.

Here’s the blurb from their website:

Agros Extra Virgin Olive Oil was established in 2008 by Tasos Kakouros and his
brother-in-law Sotiris Apostolopoulos.  Tasos had the idea to create Agros when he
visited his wife’s family in the US for the first time and gave them olive oil from the
Corinthia, his region of Greece.  Everyone was impressed by the oil and Tasos decided
to start his own brand of olive oil and to expand his reach to other people and places.
Tasos, together with Sotiris, decided to introduce Agros to chefs and gourmet food
stores, as well as to individual customers. Agros has become a success.

Tasos and Sotiris choose the highest quality extra virgin olive oil from their area of the
Corinthia, only from Manaki olives and only from select farmers.  Each year, after the
harvest of the olives is completed, Tasos and Sotiris personally visit these farmers to
sample the oil, for both taste and acidity (they also take each oil for testing), and collect
the oil and bottle it themselves.  Tasos and Sotiris then export it directly to the Corinthian
Olive Oil Company, founded by Tasos’ in-laws in Elkton, Maryland.  Because each step
in this process is overseen by Tasos or his father-in-law, they can ensure that Agros
Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes directly from the harvest to you.