After traveling with students in Albania, our arrival in Corfu (ancient “Corcyra” / “Kerkyra”) was a shocker. Saranda, Albania was a quiet coastal town. Corfu, the capital city of the island of the same name, was bustling with the loads of cruise ship tourists who disembarked for a few hours to see the old town. Despite the crowds, the old town was scenic and the Venetian fortresses offered splendid panoramic views of the peninsula. Several of my students commented that Corfu was among their favorite stops in the three week trip.

I was interested in visiting Corfu because of its famous Venetian remains as well as its ancient history. Corfu (Greek Kerkyra) was Corinth’s earliest Archaic colony founded in 734 BC (traditional date) and had an often conflicted relationship with Corinth during the archaic and classical era. The first sea battle fight recorded in Greek history was fought between Corinth and Kerkyra in 665 BC. And Thuycydides explained the initial conflicts of the Peloponnesian War in light of a dispute between Kerkyra and Epidamnus (ancient Durres) and their supporters Athens and Corinth. Like the Corinthian colonies in Albania we visited, Kerkyra remained a significant city in the Roman and later Roman eras. The emperor Nero allegedly visited the island

After exploring the old town for a while and hiking to the top of the Palaio Phrourion, I found a couple of hours to walk southward to the scattered remains of ancient Kerkyra. The ancient site (called today “Palaiopolis”) lies just above Garitsa Bay. Its acropolis is visible as a low rise. Like Durres, Kerkyra lies under modern settlement and is largely unexcavated. Navigating the ancient city on foot, I managed to find an Archaic monument (the circular Tomb of Menekrates), old ship sheds for the Greek city’s navy, and later Roman / early Christian churches. I was sorry that I did not arrive in time to visit the archaeological museum which houses many artifacts of Archaic to Roman date.

The Old Town of Corfu viewed from the Palaio Phrourio

Ancient Kerkyra on the Bay of Geritsa, viewed from Palaio Phrourio

Menekrates Tomb

Ship sheds (wholly unimpressive to photograph)

Palaiopolis Church

Mosaics from the Palaiopolis Church (in the museum in Palaio Phrourio)


The Corinthian colony tour continues with the site of Apollonia in south-central Albania. Like the site of Dyrrachium, Apollonia was founded in 588 BC as a Greek colony by inhabitants of Corcyra (Corfu) and Corinth, and remained a significant coastal site through late antiquity. But unlike Dyrrachium, the harbor silted up in later antiquity and the urban center declined; there was no significant medieval or modern settlement other than the monastic community of St. Mary. One benefit of this occupational history, however, is that the site is relatively well preserved (isolated from the nearest town of Fier) and visually dominates the surrounding countryside.

Excavations since the early 20th century by Austrian, French, and Albanian archaeologists have revealed impressive buildings of the Hellenistic-Roman era–a bouleuterion, monumental facade, odeon, stoas, nymphaeum, and a library, among others–but only about 4% of the intramural space has been excavated. The really impressive remains for me were the fortification walls (a composite of classical-late antique periods) and the 13th century church and monastery of St. Mary. I was also impressed by the overall lay of the site on a rise dominating its territory.

As with Dyrrachium, very few building remains have been documented from the time of the archaic colony, but the necropolis, which has recently been investigated by the Albanian Rescue Archaeology Unit, contains some burials of archaic and classical date.

When I visited the site yesterday, there were few visitors there other than 50 little children on a school trip. With the spring flowers still in bloom, it was beautiful.









Corinthianmatters is on the road. My colleague, Abaz Kryemadhi, and I are touring Albania and Greece with a group of students. Currently based in Tirane, Albania, we will be journeying southward later this week and end in Corinth on Monday. This journey will provide opportunities to see cities related in some way to Corinth, like the Archaic-age colonies of the Corinthians. Already I have had the chance to visit two of the significant sites of Albania and ancient Illyria: Dyrrachium and Apollonia.

Ancient Dyrrachium lies under the modern town of Durres which is today the port town for Tirane. For the inhabitants of the capital, Durres provides the nearest access to the Adriatic and is a weekend beach destination. The city has been inhabited since antiquity so its ancient remains are largely covered by medieval and modern buildings. The modern archaeology of the city is fairly young and so much more remains to be done.

Ancient Dyrrachium, aka Epidamnus, was founded as a Greek colony in 627 BC by colonists from Corfu (itself a Corinthian colony, Corcyra) although there were already Illyrian inhabitants in the region from a much earlier date. According to Thucydides, Epidamnus was central to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War for the city’s conflict with Corcyra led Athens and Corinth to side, respectively, with Corcyra and Epidamnus.

Like Corinth, “Dyrrachium,” as Epidamnus came to be called from the Hellenistic era, developed a reputation for being a substantial trading center. It remained important in the Roman and Late Antique periods and continued to be inhabited to the modern day. I was only in Durres briefly but noted few remains (outside the museum) dating to the Archaic and Classical era. Most of the remains are Roman and Late Antique in date: a 2nd century AD amphitheater, late antique-Byzantine walls (based on classical walls), and the early Christian chapel below the amphitheater. Unfortunately, I missed some of the spectacular mosaics uncovered in salvage excavations in the city — next time.

Some of the best pictures I include below. Cameras were not allowed in the museum (which contained some outstanding artifacts).





Corinthian Scholarship (April 2011)

The latest in Corinthian Scholarship for April 2011.  As always, this list is based on various Google alerts that may be thorough but are certainly not exhaustive.  If you have material to add, send it my way.


Archaic to Hellenistic:

Roman Corinth:

  • Corinth’s Roman coinage is featured quite frequently in this new book by Constantina Kotsari on The Roman Monetary System

Pauline Corinth, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians:

Dissertating Corinth

The American School of Classical Studies’ website has a nice piece on Angela Ziskowski’s recently defended dissertation The Construction of Corinthian Identity in the Early Iron Age and Archaic Period. As Angela describes her work there:

My work on this topic focused on whether or not archaeological remains and literary testimonia from the city and region of Corinth could provide evidence for the construction of civic and cultural identity.  My study considered the topography and resources of the region, production practices, ceramic and epigraphic remains, iconography, as well as cultic institutions to allow the question of identity construction to be considered from many angles.  Through this synthetic approach, I tried to offer a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of how the early city of Corinth created its own civic identity and successfully differentiated itself from neighboring regions.

Angela joins a number of recently completed PhD dissertations in different fields (Classics, Classical Archaeology, and History) that have brought together archaeological, textual, epigraphical, and environmental evidence to speak to broad cultural issues.

The ASCSA website lists five other dissertations on Corinth completed in the last two years.  I was curious about the dissertations on the Corinthia (broadly defined) over the last decade and ran a search in Worldcat on doctoral dissertations with keywords Corinth*, Kenchreai, Nemea, Isthm*, and Lechaion. The search generated 454 hits!  Some of these hits are redundant probably because the dissertations are owned by several universities that have classified them differently.  A few relate to medical studies (isthm* is responsible here) and the Battles of Corinth (the American civil war, not that of 146 BC).  But the great majority of those dissertations–say, 75% or more–center on some aspect of 1 and 2 Corinthians.  I’ve said it before: it must be tiring for New Testament scholars to keep up with the scholarship.

So, as I often do, I compiled a list of archaeology and history dissertations completed since 2000.  No doubt incomplete and I’m sure I have left off some (your!) important study. But the list gives you a sense of some of the trends in the field.  Of the 21 dissertations in process, defended, or completed, some patterns:

1. Archaic-Hellenistic: Studies of the  Corinthia / NE Peloponnese of the period of the polis dominate but these studies cover the full range from the Early Iron Age to Hellenistic.

2. Late Antiquity: some 7 dissertations focus on the late Roman Corinthia or deal with it as part of the study of the Roman Corinthia, although that number could in part reflect my own knowledge of the dissertations.  Only 3 studies focus on the Earlier Roman period.  Most “Roman” studies go into Late Antiquity.

3. Materials: Ceramic studies are most common (n=4) but in general, we find variety: wall paintings, coinage, architecture, fountains, walls, baths

4. Landscape: countryside, territory, and cultural landscapes are the focal points of several studies and frame / complement many of the other studies.  Corinth in broader context.

5. Archaeology and history: more archaeological discussions here than historical but many of the studies consider the textual evidence, and most of the archaeological studies frame their studies within broader contexts (social, economic, cultural): “a contextual study,” “the culture of water,” “mortuary practices”, “language of reuse”, “production and distribution”

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.

The Corinthia at the AIA 2011

A great weekend in San Antonio at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, which included some good (and bad) Tex-Mex fare, a trip to the Alamo (which triggered some deep nostalgia for Texas history and 7th grade Texas history classes), the annual Isthmia reunion dinner, and numerous strolls with Kate and baby along the Riverwalk which was a pile of mud because it was being drained for its annual cleaning.

I wanted to follow up an an earlier post about the Corinthia related talks at the session.  The organizing committee unfortunately scheduled all the Corinthia related talks at the same time (Friday morning) which meant that I missed most of them while attending my own session on post-antique travelers to Greece.  But from speaking with others who attended and reading the abstract guide on my flight home, here’s a little summary of how the Corinthia appeared at this year’s meeting.

Spatially, the presentations covered the Corinthia.  While most (8) of the 12 talks centered on the urban excavations at Corinth, there were also papers on the sites of Nemea and Isthmia, the Isthmus in general, and the area near Korphos.  The papers covered the period from Late Bronze Age to the modern era: Prehistoric (2 papers), Archaic-Classical (2), Classical-Hellenistic (2), Early Roman (5), Byzantine  (2).

A brief summary of papers:

“Niketas Ooryphas Drags his Fleet: Portaging the Corinthian Isthmus in 872 A.D.” (David K. Pettegrew, Messiah College).  Discussed the case of the Byzantine admiral Niketas Ooryphas who allegedly dragged his ships over the isthmus in the late 9th century.  I’ll be posting this paper in a series of blogs this week along with the remaining translations of these texts.

“Medieval Pilgrimage to Corinth and Southern Greece” (Amelia R. Brown, University of Queensland).  An excellent overview of Christian pilgrimage to Corinth and the Peloponnese from the 4th to 15th century.  Amelia was not able to make the conference but she used Lectopia to record her voice to her presentation and it worked splendidly.  Included discussions of a number of traveler accounts to Corinth by guys like Saewulf (early 12th century), King Sigurd of Norway (12th century).  The paper also included a  discussion of some of the material remains related to post-antique Christian pilgrimage to Corinth, including the medieval church on the speaker’s platform in the forum and the church of Quadratus the martyr.

“Showing Off for the Neighbors: Wealth and Display in Archaic Corinth” (Angela Ziskowski, Bryn Mawr College).  Taking as departure Elizabeth Pemberton’s 1996 article “Wealthy Corinth: The Archaeological Evidence for Cult Investment at Greek Corinth,” Ziskowski’s talk offered a survey of the religious offerings, dedications, and monuments in the urban center, the territory, and the broader Greek world.  The question that framed her talk was whether the Corinthians in the Archaic era actually invested resources in the urban center.

“The Archaic Temple in Roman Corinth: Civic Identity in the Capital of Achaia” (Ann Morgan, University of Texas at Austin).  The paper examined the incorporation of the old Greek  Archaic Temple of Apollo into the civic landscape of the 1st century Roman colony.  Morgan considered the Roman modifications of the temple as well as the new prominent Temple E, patterns she connects to recent scholarship highlighting the “blended” or “dual identity” (Greek and Roman) of the early colonists.

“Pre-Roman Remains at the East End of the Forum of Corinth: Recent Findings” (Paul Scotton, California State University Long Beach).  A report on the pre-Roman remains at the east end of the forum around the Julian basilica and the Southeast Building, including a house or workshop of Archaic-Classical date, and an east-west structure of unknown function that determined the layout of the Southeast building.

“Urbanization and Roman Residential Architecture Southeast of the Forum at Corinth” (James Herbst, ASCSA Corinth Excavations).  Herbst reported on some marble ionic capitals of 1st century AD date recovered in the destruction debris of a 3rd century house excavated at the Panayia Field.  Herbst associates these capitals with a poorly-preserved residential phase in the area dating to the later 1st century.

“Further Notes on the South Stoa at Corinth: The Roman Interior Colonnade and the Monumental Entrance to the South Basilica” (David Scahill, University of Bath) discussed the archaeological evidence and phasing for a monumental entrance to the South Basilica, with particular attention to the roofing of the stoa.

“The Captives Facade at Ancient Corinth” (Aileen Ajootian, University of Mississippi), examines the famous 2nd century AD “Captives Facade” in Corinth, with its colossal statues of captives at the northeast corner of the forum.  On the basis of newly discovered fragments from the status (discovered in the museum itself!), Ajootian argued that the facade can be associated with the Emperor Lucius Verus’ victory over the Parthians in 165 AD.  Verus had visited Corinth in 162.

“Kraters and Drinking Practices in Hellenistic Corinth” (Sarah James, University of Texas at Austin).  James examined the question of whether the communal symposium continued in Corinth in the Hellenistic period based on an examination of drinking vessels (kraters).  James examined not only the continuing popularity of the krater in Hellenistic Corinth but also changing contexts (public vs. private).  The decline of kraters in public contexts may relate to shift to metal vessels in Greece more broadly.

“Old Excavations and New Interpretations: Recent Investigations in the Sanctuary of Poseidon on the Isthmus of Corinth” (Jon Frey, Michigan State University, and Timothy Gregory, Ohio State University).  A first report on the investigations of Frey and Gregory who, in recent years, have been examining old records for 4-decades old excavations at Isthmia and resolving architectural relationships between the Roman Bath, the Hexamilion and the Fortress, and earlier buildings.  In their talk, Frey demonstrated that later phases of the trans-isthmus wall (5th century AD) actually preserved (not destroyed) the architectural plans on earlier Roman buildings at the site, including a very long colonnade that belonged to a “stoa-like building,” and a room that has been tentatively interpreted as a latrine(!).  This new interpretation promises to fill in the gap for the earlier periods at Isthmia.

“New Excavations at Nemea: The 2010 Season” (Kim S. Shelton, University of California, Berkeley), presented a preliminary report on the first season of new investigations at the Sanctuary of Zeus.  The first season was directed to examining the prehistoric and early historic use of the site especially related to the question of how this site developed as a panhellenic sanctuary.

“Untangling Mycenaean Terracing: Landscape Modification and Agricultural Production at Korphos-Kalamianos” (Lynne A. Kvapil, University of Cincinnati), presented on a series of agricultural terraces documented by the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Project in the southeast Corinthia near Korphos.  By examining the relationship of terrace walls and forms of construction, Kvapil linked the terracing to the settlement’s agricultural activities in the Late Bronze Age.