Inequality in Corinth

It didn’t take long for the Googlebots to find Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality, fresh off the press  of Brill publishing company. Google Books has made available the Introductory matter, Table of Contents, and Chapter 1 (Inequality in Corinth) by editors Steven Friesen, Sarah James, and Daniel Schowalter. In their introductory chapter, the editors describe the background for the conference that led to the volume and outline how the individual essays contribute to the theme. Check it out here.

Corinth in Contrast

I was pleased to see via FB that Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality went live this morning at Brill’s website—a month in advance of the annual meeting of the SBL in Baltimore and well in advance of the AIA meeting in Chicago. (So look for the book if you will attend one of these conferences.)

The work is edited by Steve Friesen, Sarah James, and Dan Schowalter, and includes contributions by a gang of scholars working on Corinthian archaeology, history, and/or New Testament studies. It marks the fruition of a conference held three years ago in Austin, Texas. Bill Caraher covered the conference at The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World blog, as we did here at Corinthian Matters:

As the abstract to the book notes: “In Corinth in Contrast, archaeologists, historians, art historians, classicists, and New Testament scholars examine the stratified nature of socio-economic, political, and religious interactions in the city from the Hellenistic period to Late Antiquity. The volume challenges standard social histories of Corinth by focusing on the unequal distribution of material, cultural, and spiritual resources. Specialists investigate specific aspects of cultural and material stratification such as commerce, slavery, religion, marriage and family, gender, and art, analyzing both the ruling elite of Corinth and the non-elite Corinthians who made up the majority of the population. This approach provides insight into the complex networks that characterized every ancient urban center and sets an agenda for future studies of Corinth and other cities rule by Rome.”

The Table of Contents looks like this:

1. Inequality in Corinth (Steven J. Friesen, Sarah A. James, and Daniel N. Schowalter)


2. The Last of the Corinthians? Society and Settlement from 146 to 44 (Sarah A. James)

3. The Local Magistrates and Elite of Roman Corinth (Benjamin W. Millis

4. “You Were Bought with a Price”: Freedpersons and Things in 1 Corinthians (Laura Salah Nasrallah)

5. Painting Practices in Roman Corinth: Greek or Roman? (Sarah Lepinksi)


6. Landlords and Tenants: Sharecroppers and Subsistence Farming in Corinthian Historical Context (Guy D.R. Sanders)

7. The Diolkos and the Emporion: How a Land Bridge Framed the Commercial Economy of Roman Corinth (David K. Pettegrew)

8. The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City (William Caraher)

9. Regilla Standing By: Reconstructed Statuary and Re-inscribed Bases in Fourth-Century Corinth (Daniel N. Schowalter)


10. Religion and Magic in Roman Corinth (Ronald S. Stroud)

11. Junia Theodora of Corinth: Gendered Inequalities in the Early Empire (Steven J. Friesen)

12. ‘Mixed Marriage’ in Early Christianity: Trajectories from Corinth (Caroline Johnson Hodge)


This book adds to a growing number of studies that seek to bring together archaeologists, historians, classicists, and New Testament scholars to shed light on Roman Corinth.

Corinthian Scholarship Monthly (December 2012)

Now that the dust has settled on 2012, I release this final CSM issue for the last month of the year. By the end of the January, I’ll post some year-in-review lists for different categories of scholarship. As always, the best place to start for recent Corinthian scholarship at this site is the modern library page, with instructions and links to the Zotero group library.


Brandt, J. Rasmus, and Jon W. Iddeng, eds. Greek and Roman Festivals: Content, Meaning, and Practice. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Davies, Sarah Helen. “Rome, international power relations, and 146 BCE.” PhD Thesis, University of Texas, 2012.

Harris, W. V. “Review. Sviatoslav Dmitriev. The Greek Slogan of Freedom and Early Roman Politics in Greece.” The American Historical Review 117, no. 4 (2012): 1276–1277. 

Stissi, Vladimir. “Giving the kerameikos a context: ancient Greek potters’ quarters as part of the polis space, economy and society.” In « Quartiers » artisanaux en Grèce ancienne, edited by Arianna Esposito and Giorgos Sanidas, 201–232. Presses Univ. Septentrion, 2012.

New Testament

Goodrich, John K. “Review. Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus. By Jack Barentsen. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 168. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011.” Religious Studies Review 38, no. 4 (2012): 241–241. 

Schellenberg, Ryan Scott. “‘Where Is The Voice Coming From?’ Querying the Evidence for Paul’s Rhetorical Education in 2 Corinthians 10–13.” PhD Thesis, University of St. Michael’s College, 2012.

Medieval and Post-Medieval

Harris, Jonathan, Catherine Holmes, and Eugenia Russell, eds. Byzantines, Latins, and Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean World After 1150. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Archaeological Research at Corinth – Summer 2012

The ASCSA website carries a recent report by Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst summarizing archaeological work in Corinth and the region last summer. The essay offers a snapshot of a wide range of research and programs currently being carried out by archaeologists, art historians, and historians:  the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, the Gymnasium, Fountain of the Lamps, Theater, Captives Façade, Frankish pottery, Hellenistic and Roman ceramics, Late Bronze Age stirrup jars, Roman portrait sculpture, early 20th century architectural drawings, Perachora topography, Isthmia, digital archaeology, and educational programs.

Here’s the opening:

“This past summer was hot in Corinth, the hottest I remember since I arrived in 2001. Summers are busy and fascinating, full of discoveries. After the excavations finish at the end of June, the hostel is emptied out and we say our goodbyes to the Regular Member excavators. Their stories of digging are added to the long, long history of generations of excavators. The rooms are filled once again, with a different crew this time. Starting July 1, a wise and stimulating group of people gather in Corinth: professors and researchers who dug different parts of the site come back to make sense of their discoveries.

Our days are spent working in the museum. The short working hours of the museum this year put pressure on resident scholars to work straight through lunch, ‘doing the Mary’ and having a late lunch, which they considered a sacrifice that would please Demeter. Plenty of study and discussion took place in the afternoons in Hill House library and into ouzo time on the terrace overlooking the Corinthian Gulf.”

Read the rest here.

New perspectives on the diolkos

I’m pretty jazzed about the Society of Biblical Literature Conference in Chicago. I not only get to see some old friends in and out of the conference, but I hope to meet some of the scholars whose work I regularly run across in my monthly CSM entries. I’m also looking forward to the double session called Polis and Ekklesia: Investigations of Urban Christianity where I’ll present new perspectives on the diolkos.

Those who have been stopping by this site for a while know that one of my current research fixations is the trans-Isthmus portage road known as the diolkos. I promise that I will eventually stop talking about this, but I continue to learn things about the road and discover its embedded place in traditional conceptions of Corinth as a commercial center. I am almost done with the subject, provided that I don’t learn anything new. 

On Saturday, I’ll give a talk at the conference (“The Isthmus and the Consequences of Geography: New Directions in the Study of Commercial Corinth”) discussing the recent scholarship on the diolkos and its implications for our picture of Roman Corinth. Here’s how I open:

“Since the early 19th century, the Isthmus has been a regular starting point for discussions of the early Christian communities of Roman Corinth. Conybeare and Howson’s biography of Paul, written in the early 1850s, for example, placed the apostle against the backdrop of a connecting land bridge,

‘We are thus brought to that which is really the characteristic both of Corinthian geography and Corinthian history, its close relation to the commerce of the Mediterranean… A narrow and level isthmus, across which smaller vessels could be dragged from gulph to gulph, was of inestimable value to the early traders of the Levant. And the two harbours… form an essential part of our idea of Corinth….’

In this highly connective land bridge with good harbors, a portage road, and cosmopolitan population, scholars found the reason for Paul’s visits to Corinth as well as the economic, social, and moral character of the Christian community.

The diolkos has frequently stood as a physical symbol of the heightened connectivity of the Isthmus. In traditional formulation, the diolkos was Corinth’s portage road for trans-shipping goods between the eastern and western Mediterranean. Traders arriving from Roman Italy disembarked at the western end, unloaded their cargoes, and transported the ships and freights via wheeled carts over 6 km to the opposite gulf, where they continued to the coastal cities of Asia Minor. Merchants benefited by this short cut in long-distance trade while Corinth received revenues on the tolls, transport fees, and services to passengers in transit. As a mechanism for the movement of ships, cargoes, and people between Corinth’s gulfs, the diolkos made the Isthmus a great zone of trans-shipment and made Corinth a populous city of visitors and transients.”

In the talk, I’ll summarize the new critical scholarship on the diolkos and challenge essentialist views of Corinthian geography. Three articles, all published about the same time (two in fact are stuck in production) offer comprehensive reassessments of the textual, archaeological, and logistical evidence that challenges the older view denoted in the paragraph above. They are…

  • Hans Lohmann, “Der Diolkos Von Korinth – Eine Antike Schiffsschleppe?” in The Corinthia and the Northeast Peloponnesus (In Press). See summary here.
  • Despoina Koutsoumba and Yannis Nakas. “Διολκος. Ενα Σημαντικο Τεχνικο Εργο Της Αρχαιοτητας (“The Diolkos: a Significant Technical Achievement of Antiquity”).” In The Corinthia and the Northeast Peloponnesus (In Press). See summary here.
  • David Pettegrew, “The Diolkos of Corinth,” American Journal of Archaeology 115.4 (2011).

What is interesting is that despite the different conclusions reached, the authors all agree that there was no regular portaging operation in antiquity—and that gives some unity to disparate perspectives.

In putting my paper together, I created a little table summing up the different reconstructions. I’m oversimplifying, and the authors may want to comment on this, but here is how I understand the differences:

Hans Lohmann’s Reconstruction:

  1. Ships: Military galleys carried over the Isthmus only several times in antiquity during war. Transferred over felled trees, not diolkos. Commercial vessels not transferred. No grand operation.
  2. Date: post-Archaic, possibly after destruction of 146 BC, evident from the emergence of a concept of “diolkos” in Strabo, the demise of the harbors in the interim period, and frequent archaic and classical spolia in the road
  3. Purpose: The trans-shipment of divisible commodities like wine and olive oil

Koutoumba and Nakas’ Reconstruction:

  1. Ships: Military ships transferred rarely in antiquity via wheeled carts, or more likely, wooden sledges over greased beams. Commercial vessels not transferred.
  2. Date: Archaic, falling out of use in the Hellenistic era after abandonment of city
  3. Purpose: Transfer of heavy freight, especially building material

Pettegrew’s Reconstruction:

  1. Ships: military galleys transferred occasionally in antiquity; ship portaging marks heroic and strategic feats. Commercial vessels not transferred.
  2. Date: Uncertain, but context suggests Archaic-Classical. Road remains in use for pedestrian traffic and small-scale portaging in Roman period.
  3. Purpose: Multi-functional, serving Corinth’s own needs (not simply the goods of other states), including especially the transfer of building materials, and the trans-Isthmus road to the sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia.


If you’re at the SBL and use this website regularly, I hope we will get to meet.

Corinthiaka at the AIA

The AIA has posted a preliminary program of the 70+ paper sessions, workshops, and colloquia for the AIA in Seattle in January 2013.  As in previous years (2012, 2011), the Corinthia makes a good showing. If you’re going to the AIA and want to blog or tweet or report on the conference (or parts of it), let me know.

By order of session…

Session 1E: Gold Medal Colloquium in Honor of Jeremy B. Rutter: Minding the Gap: A Problem in Eastern Mediterranean Chronology, Then and Now

  • “Bridging the Gaps Among the Small Worlds of the EBA Aegean” (Daniel J. Pullen, The Florida State University)

Session: 1G: Recent Fieldwork in Greece and Turkey

  • “Excavations at Nemea: the 2012 season” (Kim Shelton, University of California, Berkeley)

Session: 1H: New Analytical Perspectives on Ceramics in Korinthia, Attica, and the Argolid

  • “Ceramic Fabric Analysis and Urban Survey: the Case of Sikyon” (Conor Trainor, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and Evangelia Kiriatzi, British School at Athens)
  • “Crafting Choices: Early Helladic Ceramic Production and Consumption in Corinthia and the Argolid, Greece” (Clare Burke Davies, University of Sheffield, Peter M. Day, University of Sheffield, Daniel Pullen, Florida State University, James Wiseman, Boston University, Anthi Theodorou-Mavrommatidi, University of Athens, Angeliki Kossyva, 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Greece, and Alcestis Papadimitriou, 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities,Greece)
  • “Petrographic Study of Late Helladic Cooking Pots from the Corinthia” (Debra A. Trusty, Florida State University)
  • “The Production and Distribution of Corinthian Cooking and Southern Argolid Fabrics in the Late Roman Northeast Peloponnese” (Heather Graybehl, University of Sheffield, Samantha Ximeri, University of Sheffield, Mark D. Hammond, University of Missouri-Columbia, Christian Cloke, University of Cincinnati, and Peter M. Day, University of Sheffield)

Session: 1I: Cult and Context

  • “The Perachora Peninsula and the Sanctuary of the Heraion: You Can’t Get There from Here” (Angela Ziskowski, Coe College, and Daniel Lamp, Architect)
  • “Containers and Cult: Recent Research on Amphora Assemblages at Ephesos and Corinth” (Mark L. Lawall, University of Manitoba)

Session: 2A: Roman Greece

  • “Small Change: A Re-examination of the End of Local Bronze Coinage in the Corinthia in the Second Century B.C.E.” (Andrew Connor, University of Cincinnati)
  • “The Rejection of Roman Imperial Portrait Models in the Greek Provinces in the Middle of the Third Century” (Lee Ann Riccardi, The College of New Jersey)
  • “Cattle and Catering at Corinth: Analysis of over One Ton of Animal Bones from the Theatre Excavations” (Michael R MacKinnon, University of Winnipeg)

Session 2B: Greek Sculpture

  • “Sculptures from an Athletic Complex at Corinth” (Mary C Sturgeon, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)

Session: 3A: The Afterlives of Monuments: Re-use and Transformation in the Ancient World

  • “The Archaic Colonnade at Ancient Corinth: A Case of Julio-Claudian Spolia” (Jon Frey, Michigan State University)

Session: 4F: New Research on Mainland Greece

  • “Terraces and the Organization of Agricultural Production at Late Bronze Age Korphos-Kalamianos” (Lynne A. Kvapil, Xavier University)

Session: 5D: Greeks Overseas

  • “Syracuse-Corfu-Corinth: A Western Wind in Early Doric Architecture” (Philip Sapirstein, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research)

Session: 7G: Managing Archaeological Data in the Digital Age: Best Practices and Realities

  • “The Archaeological Resource Cataloging System (ARCS): A New Practical Approach for Archives, Scholarly Access, and Learning” (Timothy E. Gregory, The Ohio State University, and Jon M. Frey, Michigan State University)

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)

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.”

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.  

Historical Fictions

Since antiquity, the Corinthia has formed a rather fitting stage for imaginative narratives and outright fictions.  In the long Roman era, we have frequent examples of writers (e.g., Apuleius, Lucian, Libanius, and Themistius) placing their fictional characters and events in Corinth and the Isthmus. And in the modern era, scholars have often turned to the imaginative exercises that make use of archaeological discoveries.  Consider Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s, “The Corinth that Paul Saw” (Biblical Archaeologist 47 (1984), 147-159), or the opening passages of Donald Engels’ Roman Corinth, which considers what a first century visitor might have seen.

Outright historical fictions are also not uncommon.  I learned through google alerts that Steven Saylor, author of historical fiction, has a forthcoming work (2012) of short stories including one on the “The Witch of Corinth.”  In that work, two characters, Gordinaus and Antipater, visit the Isthmus of Corinth in the early 1st century BC, when the city lay desolate and abandoned.  This crime fiction blogger summarizes and quotes a passage from the book as one of the characters walks among the ruins:

“Heat and thirst made me light-headed. The piles of rubble all looked a like. I became disoriented and confused. I began to see phantom movements from the corners of my eyes, and the least sound–the scrambling of a lizard or the call of a bird–startled me. I thought of the mother who had killed her daughter and then herself, and all the countless others who had suffered and died. I felt the ghosts of Corinth watching me, and whispered words to placate the dead, asking forgiveness for my trespass.”

Or consider Peter Longley’s The Mist of God, the third volume of the Magdala Trilogy, a series about Mary Magdalene and the birth of Christianity.  In this 700 page epic, the author adopts historical and archaeological knowledge of Corinth to place his characters. 

Mist of God 


I love these passages discussing Corinth posted on Google Books:

(Page 471): “Four days later, Agrippa was escorted south to Puteoli where he was placed on a ship bound for Brundisium.  There, he and his retinues were transferred to a smaller ship sailing to Corinth.  It was hot and the air was still.  The ship moved ever so slowly toward the Peloponnese.  Then, it hugged the hazy coast until it arrived at the harbor of Lechaion on the Ionian side of the Greek city that straddled two seas.  In a miraculous maneuver of engineering, the ship was pulled the four miles overland on wooden rollers along a marble tramway that took it to the harbor of Conchreae on the waters of the Aegean.”

(Page 522): “Corinth really had a lot to offer.  It was rich, gaudy, and beautiful all at the same time….Every Sabbath, they all ceremonially broke bread at the port district known locally as Poseidonia.  The very name conjured up a centuries old controversy that the sea gods did not want the isthmus to be breached by a canal.  The tyrant Periander had first suggested a canal some six centuries before, but because of his perception of the wishes of the sea god, Poseidon, he had decided instead to create the diolkos roadway.”

It’s a testimony, I suppose, to the historical significance of the city that modern writers continue to find it a fitting arena for placing their characters.  And certainly the archaeological investigation of the Corinthia has produced a knowledge of ancient Corinth that makes such fictions a little more compelling.  I am also glad that we have these modern writers who attempt to turn often dusty archaeological reports into living environments.