Corinthian Scholarship (March 2011)

I stumbled upon a good number of Corinthian papers, presentations, and publications this month that cover topics from Isthmia, Kenchreai, Aphrodite and prostitute, and Paul’s ascent in 2 Cor. 12.

First, Corinthian archaeology and history:

Anne Pippin Burnett has a piece in GRBS 51 (2011) on Pindar and prostitution at Corinth: “Servants of Peitho: Pindar fr.122 S

Mosaics from Kenchreai are featured in the new bookShip Iconography in Mosaics: An aid to understanding ancient ships and their construction (2011).

Local presentations by Corinthian archaeologists include Jayni Reinhard, who lectured last week at Arizona State University on “Benefactions, Baths, and Boys: The Roman Bath at Isthmia,”  and Joseph Rife, who will be speaking soon at Purdue on his recent work at Roman Kenchreai

This is old news but I noted in the 2010 report of the Chicago Excavations at Isthmia that the volume on the isthmus conference held at the American School at Athens in 2007 was submitted last summer to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for review.  Description of the volume from the Chicago website:

“A volume of seventeen essays entitled “’The Bridge of the untiring sea’: The Isthmus of Corinth from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity” edited by E. R. Gebhard and T. E. Gregory has been submitted to the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for publication as a volume in theIsthmia series or as a Hesperia supplement. Included in the collection is the editio princeps of an Isthmian victor list found in Corinth and the publication of five marble statues from the Roman shrine of Palaimon. While addressing a variety of topics, all papers explore the links between the city of Corinth, the Sanctuary of Isthmian Poseidon, and the area of the Isthmus.”

The Chicago Excavations site also notes on the same page that the conference on the archaeology of the Corinthia held two years ago in Loutraki is being published by the German Archaeological Institute in Athens. I heard in the fall this was on its way, but I don’t see news of it on the website of the DAI.  Anyone know?

New Testament studies for the month include:

  • M. David Litwa’s “Paul’s Mosaic Ascent: An Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12.7-9,” in Journal of New Testament Studies 57.2 (2011).  Abstract: “This essay offers a reading of 2 Cor 12.7–9 in light of a rabbinic story of Moses’ ascent to heaven (b. Šabb. 88b-89a). After an exploration of Moses in 2 Corinthians the author argues that vv. 7–9, like vv. 2–4, constitute an ascent report (vv. 2–4). This ascent report, it is maintained, is structurally parallel to Moses’ heavenly ascent in b. Šabb. 88b-89a. Early traditions of Moses’ ascent to heaven and dominance over angels suggest that Paul knew a form of the Mosaic ascent, and parodied it to highlight his weakness and paradoxical authority in vv. 7–9.”
  • Dustin Ellington, “Imitating Paul’s Relationship to the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 8.1-11.1,” in Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33.3 (2011).  Abstract: “To overcome past shortcomings in the interpretation of Paul’s exhortation ‘Imitate me, as I imitate Christ’ (1 Cor. 11.1), we must study the roles of Paul’s ‘I’ and Christ in the context of 1 Cor. 8.1—11.1. Christ died for the weak (8.11), and Paul’s renunciation of his apostolic rights follows this pattern. Paul’s self-portrayal reaches its climax when he says that he does all things for the sake of the gospel, in order to be συγκòıνωνòςς αυτòυ (9.23). This article proposes that the expression συγκòıνωνòςς αυτòυ contains more shades of meaning than scholars have previously allowed. It summarizes Paul’s aim to be the gospel’s partner in the salvation of others and to participate in the gospel’s pattern and power. Paul’s call to imitation exhorts the Corinthian believers to share in his relationship to the gospel, working with it for the salvation of others and allowing its pattern and power to shape their life together.”
  • Wayne Coppins, “To Eat or not to Eat Meat?  Conversion, Bodily Practice, and the Relationship between Formal Worship and Everyday Life in the Anthropology of Religion in 1 Corinthians 8:7,” in Biblical Theology Bulletin 41.2 (2011).  Abstract: “This article aims to contribute to the topic of conversion in the New Testament by drawing upon insights from the anthropology of religion. Taking up Rebecca Sachs Norris’s focus on embodied culture, and Simon Coleman’s and Peter Collins’s extension of Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, I attempt to bring Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 8:7 into sharper focus by reflecting theoretically on the ingrained associations of bodily practice, and the relationship between ritual worship and everyday life. In doing so, I also aim to add complexity to our overall picture of “the Pauline model of conversion.”
  • Corinth gets extensive treatment in Callewaert The World of Saint Paul (Ignatius: 2011) and Stephen Westerholm (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Paul (Wiley-Blackwell: 2011)

Digital Isthmia

A couple of slick new digital resources caught my attention this week for the pan-Hellenic sanctuary site of Isthmia.

I just noticed the total makeover of the University of Chicago’s website for the Temple of Poseidon and the Rachi settlement.  The content is mainly the same as the old website but the new form of the website via wordpress has made the information easier to navigate.  There are annual reports, a list of major publications, maps of the site, and digital reconstructions of the temple that will be very useful for teaching purposes.  One wonders whether there will also be a blog component.

I also noticed that Julie Appley’s virtual reconstruction of the Roman Bath at Isthmia is available via Ohio State’s Advanced Computing Center For the Arts and Designs.  Hit the ‘play’ button and get a tour of the bath.  I remember Julie working on this about a decade ago when I was a young grad student at OSU.  She did this digital reconstruction of the Roman Bath as an M.A. thesis making use of the expertise of Timothy Gregory, Fikret Yegül, and Jayni Reinhard, among others.  At Julie’s website, she has made available the ingredients of the reconstruction, including 3D images and a floor plan of the bath.

With  OSU’s comprehensive website on the Roman Bath, these digital resources provide a lot of useful information on the American excavations at Isthmia over the last half century.

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 Scholarship (Winter 2011)

Google Scholar has a very useful alert feature for staying up on research although one has to filter to remove all the junk for words like Corinth.  Some recent and forthcoming papers and publications related to things Corinthian

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.

Corinth at the Archaeological Institute of America – January 2011

The annual meeting of the AIA in San Antonio is now only 3-1/2 weeks away.  As usual, there will be a range of papers related to the archaeology of Corinth and the Corinthia.  A summary below, and I include abstracts when available.

SESSION 1D: Colloquium: Travel to Greece between Antiquity and the Grand Tour (Friday, Jan 7, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM)
“Niketas Ooryphas Drags his Fleet: Portaging the Corinthian Isthmus in 883 A.D.” (David K. Pettegrew, Messiah College)


In 883 AD, the Byzantine admiral Niketas Ooryphas dragged a fleet of ships over the Isthmus of Corinth in a naval engagement with Arab pirates.  The episode, preserved in the chronicles of Theophanes Continuatus and the Chronicon Maius of George Sphrantzes, has always created problems for scholars interpreting the use of the Archaic-period diolkos road between the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs.  Did Niketas actually portage 100 ships in the ninth century AD on the road built by Periander?  Or is the account a literary invention by clever Byzantine writers aware of their ancient history?  If the former, the portage road remained in semi-use for a period of 1,600 years since its construction; if the latter, the texts suggest nothing about the actual operation of the trans-isthmus road.

In this paper, I explore the meanings of this portage episode in terms of literary contexts, the historical tradition of ship transfers, and the physical remnants of the diolkos road.  On the one hand, the accounts state that Niketas constructed a way across the isthmus that suggests he did not use Periander’s road; we will consider his remarkable feat in light of the texts and physical landscape.  On the other, the chronicles highlight the heroic accomplishment of Niketas dragging his fleet and the strategic role of the isthmus for deciding naval engagements.  The episode fits within an ancient literary tradition of using ship portaging as a device for highlighting brilliant tactical maneuvers at key points in historical narration.

“Medieval Pilgrimage to Corinth and Southern Greece” (Amelia R. Brown, University of Queensland)


Today Christian pilgrims often travel to Corinth and southern Greece in the footsteps of Saint Paul. This modern pilgrimage developed only in the last century, alongside archaeological excavation and mass-market tourism to Greece. The Medieval pilgrims who preceded these modern ones, however, are barely studied at all, though sources for them do exist. In this paper, I explore the textual, epigraphic and archaeological evidence for Christian pilgrimage to Corinth and southern Greece from Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages. Though southern Greece generated few saints or monks, the cults of Corinthian martyrs Leonidas and Quadratus each drew pilgrims from outside of Greece to their basilicas. Awareness of Paul’s ministry is also apparent in Corinthian epigraphy, letters of Byzantine bishops, and the placement of churches at Corinth and Athens. Though southern Greece did not compete with the Holy Land or Constantinople as a pilgrimage destination, Corinthians and Athenians did successfully construct both churches and local stories over several centuries to attract Christian travellers. The tangible results of their efforts deserve study, shed new light on the Byzantine cities of Corinth and Athens, and illustrate the phenomenon of Christian pilgrimage to Medieval Greece.

SESSION 1G: Corinth  (Friday, Jan 7, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM)

“Showing Off for the Neighbors: Wealth and Display in Archaic Corinth” (Angela Ziskowski, Bryn Mawr College)

“The Archaic Temple in Roman Corinth: Civic Identity in the Capital of Achaia” (Ann Morgan, University of Texas at Austin)

“Pre-Roman Remains at the East End of the Forum of Corinth: Recent Findings” (Paul Scotton, California State University Long Beach)

“Urbanization and Roman Residential Architecture Southeast of the Forum at Corinth” (James Herbst, ASCSA Corinth Excavations)

“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)

“The Captives Facade at Ancient Corinth” (Aileen Ajootian, University of Mississippi)

SESSION 2F: Greek Pottery (Friday, Jan. 7, 12:30-2:30 PM)

“Kraters and Drinking Practices in Hellenistic Corinth” (Sarah James, University of Texas at Austin)

SESSION 6H: Water Systems and Baths (Saturday, Jan. 8, 2:45-5:15 PM)

“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)