The Christianization of the Peloponnese

Dr. Sanders recently shared a link (via the Corinthian Studies facebook group) to an interesting new digital project by Dr. Rebecca Sweetman and the University of St. Andrews titled “The Christianization of the Peloponnese.” The home page describes the project as a study of the gradual spread of monumental forms of Christianity in the 5th to 7th centuries:

“The aim of this project is to advance an understanding of the changing processes involved in the Christianization of the Peloponnese with particular reference to the location and socio-political context of churches from the 5th to 7th centuries CE. An intensive topographic and archaeological study has made it possible to present a detailed image database of the Late Antique Churches of the Peloponnese and a clickable map based on GPS data. The results of the analysis of this work, which will be published shortly in three articles, have shown clearly the evidence for phased and largely peaceful Christianization of the Peloponnese with a considered use of memory and tradition at different times, rather than that of a violent transition, as is frequently portrayed in the historical literature.”

As the project challenges the notion of “a single process of unequivocal and forceful spread of Christianity with a complete intolerance of any pre-Christian religious practice,” Sweetman continues the work of her 2010 article on the Christianization of the Peloponnese in the Journal of Late Antiquity (see Bill Caraher’s review and critique of that article here). This current website is dedicated to publicizing three forthcoming articles (unfortunately, not named or referenced), which will offer analysis of the Christianization in the Peloponnese in comparison with other regions (Crete, Cyprus, Cilicia, Lycia). By Christianization, Sweetman refers to the monumental forms of early Christian basilica architecture that spread across the Peloponnese in the 5th and 6th centuries.

Whatever the potential value of her forthcoming articles, students and scholars of the Corinthia will benefit most from Sweetman’s clickable map and photo catalogue of the 130 early Christian churches of the Peloponnese.

While the catalogue descriptions of the individual churches are too brief, and the bibliography is incomplete (e.g., why are the works of Rife and Rothaus not referenced for the churches at Kenchreai?), the photos, plans, and aerial views (via Google Maps) give this website some value. Early Christian basilicas are notoriously hard to find in Greece (especially when you’re looking for them) and often difficult to access (sometimes surrounded by big fences), and their frequent publication in modern Greek makes them inaccessible to most scholars and students. So, a website presenting good photos and basic location information for these churches is welcome.

But hopefully this is the start rather than the end of the project. If the author presents somewhat more substantial notation and bibliography for the individual churches and the Christianization of Greece or the Peloponnese, the website could serve as the starting point for early Christian basilica architecture in southern Greece.

Dissertation Corner: A Guide to “Corinth on the Isthmus”

I recently discovered by accident that my doctoral dissertation on the Late Antique Corinthia was available for free download through OhioLink. When I completed this study in 2006 at Ohio State University, there was concern among graduate students that our university’s decision to disseminate theses and dissertations to the public would jeopardize opportunities for later publication. I wasn’t sure whether would prove true but erred on the side of caution. I delayed publication for five years, imagining that my book would be completed by then.

What I could not have counted on then was how much the main ideas of that little study would change over the next six years as I read more broadly and encountered the complexities of my subject. My interests shifted earlier, the guiding concepts of the study broadened, and I made some surprising new discoveries about how the Isthmus functioned (and did not) to facilitate trade.

The dissertation was at its heart a study of the late Roman countryside, or, as I noted in the abstract, “the continuity, discontinuity, and transformation of Corinth on the Isthmus during Late Antiquity.” My premise was simple: the textual history of Corinth in late antiquity did not correspond to the archaeological evidence for commerce, economy, settlement, and monumental architecture found in the territory. I argued that the visible developments in the landscape between the 4th and 7th centuries AD discounted the 3rd-5th century literary view that Corinth was in decline.

In one sense, the study continued or supported the recent work of scholars like Timothy Gregory, Richard Rothaus, Bill Caraher, Guy Sanders, and P. Nick Kardulias who had highlighted the continuing vitality of the late antique Corinthia from fortification walls, late antique villas, urban center, religious traditions, and churches; my contribution was a study of the evidence for Late Roman settlement documented by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (1998-2002). In another sense, though, I was doing something a bit different in examining why the vibrant textual tradition for Corinth fragmented in the later Roman era. Why were text and material culture so out of sync? I highlighted how the Roman image of the city was itself a mirage that burst in late antiquity as the broader world changed.

I published some of the chapters of the dissertation along the way and eventually crafted a diachronic study about the changing place of Corinth and its Isthmus within the shifting networks of the Mediterranean world. The shift, I felt, was inevitable, as I could not really discuss the late antique changes in the Roman landscape without proper attention to what that landscape had been in the 1st-2nd centries. Along the way, the dissertation developed into something entirely new, a study of the long-term notion of connectivity and geographic consequence. I now believe that my use of broad temporal categories in the dissertation like “Early Roman” and “Late Roman” actually obscure the dynamic changes in the Roman landscape that occurred on the order of years, generations, or century. The visitor to this blog should hear a bit this year about my book project on the historical contingencies that shaped Corinth and its region from the 2nd c. BC to 7th c. AD.

If you have interest in the late antique Corinthia, the entire dissertation can be freely downloaded here (20 mb). I provide links below to the individual chapters as PDF documents and notes about how these have appeared or will appear in print. This will, I  hope, save the reader from working through outdated text. A brief outline of the dissertation (more detailed outline here):


1. Corinth and the End of the World. Introduction, historiography, approach, and directions. The scholarship overview is recent enough to be of some use and will complement the overview in Amelia Brown’s 2008 late antique dissertation on the urban center (summary here, PDF dissertation here). The main idea of this chapter and the dissertation was published in this book chapter.

2. Corinth in a Landscape. The geological and topographical structure of the Isthmus and its importance for the ancient image of the city. Don’t bother reading: wait for the book which will update it, but there are some nice pictures of the landscape.

3. The Image of the City. A study of the fragmentation of the literary image of the city in late antiquity. I realize some of my conclusions in this chapter are either incorrect or have developed through more sensitive readings (e.g., this article on the diolkosof Corinth), but it still provides a useful critical review of the negative literary tradition about the late antique city. I am completely rewriting this chapter in my book.

4. A Busy Countryside. A study of the evidence for the “explosion” of Late Roman settlement in the Corinthia from the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey data. Perhaps the most important chapter in the dissertation but not worth reading today as it has appeared in polished form in this Hesperia article.

5. The Crossroads. The continuing importance in late antiquity of the ancient crossroads site known as Kromna. Besides supporting a thesis for the continuing dynamism of the territory, the chapter reinterprets the ancient identification of the site of Kromna. I’ve never had time to publish my observations on Kromna other than a short note in this article. I’m not sure I completely agree with my own conclusions re: Kromna, but I think they are moving in the right direction.

6. Inhabiting Time. An examination of excavated villas of the territory and their evident refurbishments over time that indicate a society capable of large material investments. A fun chapter to write, but I have no plans to publish it. New Testament scholars may have interest in the survey of Roman villas in the territory.

7. A Brief Conclusion about Future Directions

Appendix I. Defining (Roman) Sites in a Continuous Carpet. I’ve updated and published this in an article in the forthcoming work, The Bridge of the Untiring Sea.

In the course of this year, I hope to coerce a few other recent Corinthiaka dissertators to talk about their projects and their plans for publication. Dissertators may of course nominate themselves.

Blogosphere: Corinthia

A frequent sort of blog that regularly appear in my google alerts are travel accounts of visits to Ancient Corinth. Most of these cover familiar ground and are most useful for good photos of Corinth, the Corinthian landscape, and the archaeological remains. Here is a sample of summer entries:

University of Patras Marine Geology

Oceanus, the website dedicated to the Network of Laboratories of the University of Patras, has posted information relevant to a geological fieldtrip to the Corinthia.  The pages have maps and brief summaries of geological processes influencing different parts of the Corinthian and Saronic coastlines, including the harbor sites of Kenchreai and Lechaion and the diolkos, the marine terraces near the Corinth Canal and Corinth, and Perachora marine terraces and wave notches (coming soon).

Kenchreai Field School

If you are student at one of the participating institutions in Sunoikisis, you are eligible to apply to the Kenchreai Archaeological Field School.  The Sunoikisis website describes the program as an introduction…

“…to the archaeology, history and culture of Greece through participation in a field school and accompanying seminars and excursions. The Kenchreai Excavations, directed by Professor Joe Rife, provide a unique opportunity to learn about the past first-hand at one of Greece’s most spectacular seaside archaeological sites. During the 2012 season participants will learn about data analysis, artifact processing, and conservation, in addition to architectural survey and stratigraphic documentation, all important components in archaeological fieldwork. Students will also attend a series of seminars by leading experts in several fields, from ancient religion to biological anthropology, and they will join excursions to major sites and museums in the region, such as Corinth, Perachora, Mycenae, Nemea, Epidauros, and Nafplion. The excavation team stays at a family-run boarding house in Archaia Korinthos, on the site of ancient Corinth, where we enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside and the easy rhythms of a traditional village community.”

The application deadline is March 16.

Geology & Gulf of Corinth: 2011 Publications

We conclude the  2011 publications series today with recent publications on the Gulf of Corinth and the geology of the Isthmus.  Most of these publications concern tectonic activity or the study of the Corinth Rift.  But there are a few odds and ends thrown in the mix.  This list will live at this page for now, but I plan to reorganize the bibliography at the site soon so that may change.


Bearzi, Giovanni, Silvia Bonizzoni, Stefano Agazzi, Joan Gonzalvo, and Rohan J. C. Currey, “Striped dolphins and short-beaked common dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece: Abundance estimates from dorsal fin photographs,” in Marine Mammal Science 27.3 (2011), E165-E184.

Bell, Rebecca E., Lisa C. McNeill, Timothy J. Henstock, Jonathan M. Bull, “Comparing extension on multiple time and depth scales in the Corinth Rift, Central Greece,” inGeophysical Journal International 186.2 (Aug. 1, 2011), 463-470.

Cociani, Lorenzo, Monitoring and estimating the temporal evolution of stress changes on active faults in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, PhD dissertation, University College Dublin, Dublin 2011.

Combault, Jacques, “The Rion-Antirion bridge–when a dream becomes reality,” inFrontiers of Architecture and Civil Engineering in China, 5.4 (2011), 415-426

Evelpidou, N., P.A. Pirazzoli, J.F. Saliege, and A. Vassilopoulos, “Submerged notches and doline sediments as evidence for Holocene subsidence,” in Continental Shelf Research31.12 (2011), 1273-1281.

Gielisch, Hartwig, “Acrocorinth – Geological History and the Influence of Paleoseismic Events to Recent Archaeological Research,” in Grützner et al., pp. 57-59.

Grützner, C., T. Fernández Steeger, I. Papanikolaou, K. Reicherter, P.G. Silva, R. Pérez-López, and A. Vött (editors), Earthquake Geology and Archaeology: Science, Society and Critical Facilities, Athens 2011.

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,” in Grützner et al. pp. 70-73. [Reviewed here at Corinthianmatters]

Katsanopoulou, Dora, “Earth Science Applications in the Field of Archaeology: the Helike Example,” in Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece, 2010: Proceedings of the 12th International Congress, Patras, May, 2010.

Kortekaas, S., G. A. Papadopoulos, A. Ganas, A. B. Cundy, and A. Diakantoni, “Geological identification of historical tsunamis in the Gulf of Corinth, Central Greece,” in Natural Hazards and Early System Sciences 11.7 (July 29, 2011), 2029-2041.

Koster, B., K. Reicherter, A. Vott, and C. Grutzner, “Identifying sedimentary structures and spatial distribution of tsunami deposits with GPR – examples from Spain and Greece,” in Advanced Ground Penetrating Radar (IWAGPR), 2011 6th International Workshop(July 2011), pp. 1-6.

Koster, Benjamin, Klaus Reicherter, Andreas Vött, Christoph Grützner, “The Evidence of Tsunamigenic Deposits in the Gulf of Corinth (Greece) with Geophysical Methods for Spatial Distribution,” in Grützner et al., pp. 107-110. [some attention here at Corinthianmatters]

Loveless, S., V. Bense, J. Turner, “Fault Architecture and deformation processes within poorly lithified rift sediments, Central Greece,” in Journal of Structural Geology 33.11 (2011), 1554-1568.

Nomikou, P., M. Alexandri, V. Lykousis, D. Sakellariou, and D. Ballas, “Swath Bathymetry and Morphological Slope Analysis of the Corinth Gulf,” in Grützner et al. pp. 155-158.

Papadimitriou, Panayotis, George Kaviris, Andreas Karakonstantis & Kostas Makropoulos, “The Cornet seismological network: 10 years of operation, recorded seismicity and significant applications” in Hellenic Journal of Geoscience.

Papanikolaοu, Ioannis D., Maria Triantaphyllou, Aggelos Pallikarakis, and Georgios Migiros, “Active Faulting towards the Eastern Tip of the Corinth Canal: Studied through Surface Observations, Borehold Data and Paleoenvironmental Interpretations,” inGrützner et al. pp. 182-185.

Potanina, M.G., V. B. Smirnov and P. Bernard, “Patterns of seismic swarm activity in the Corinth Rift in 2000–2005,” in Izvestiya, Physics of the Solid Earth 47.7 (2011), 610-622

Roberts, G., I. Papanikolaou, A. Vött, D. Pantosti and H. Hadler, Field Trip Guide, 2011: Active Tectonics and Earthquake Geology of the Perachora Peninsula and the Area of the Isthmus, Corinth Gulf, Greece.

Sakellariou, Dimitris, Lykousis Vasilis, and Rousakis Grigoris, “Holocene Seafloor Faulting in the Gulf of Corinth: The Potential for Underwater Paleoseismology,” in Grützner et al.pp. 218-221.

Soter,Steven, Dora Katsonopoulou, “Submergence and uplift of settlements in the area of Helike, Greece, from the Early Bronze Age to late antiquity.” Published Online: 14 JUN 2011.

Taylor, B., J.R. Weiss, A.M. Goodliffe, M. Sachpazi, M. Laigle, and A. Hirn, “The Structures, Stratigraphy and Evolution of the Gulf of Corinth rift, Greece,” in Geophysics Journal International 185.3 (2011), 1189-1219.

Tsapanos, Theodoros M., George Ch. Koravos, Vasiliki Zygouri, Michael T. Tsapanos, Anna N. Kortsari, Andrzej Kijko, and Eleni E. Kalogirou, “Deterministic seismic hazard analysis for the city of Corinth-central Greece,” in Journal of the Balkan Geophysical society 14.1 (March 2011), 1-14.

Vassilakis, E., L. Royden, and D. Papanikolaou, “Kinematic links between subduction along the Hellenic trench and extension in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece: A multidisciplinary analysis,” in Earth and Planetary Science Letters 303.1-2 (2011), 108-120.

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)


Some varied Corinthiaka to start off the week.

The western liturgical calendar flipped this weekend with the first Sunday of Advent.  Yesterday’s epistle reading from 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 appropriate describes the anticipation accentuated in the advent season. 

More on scholars and students of the New Testament setting the scene for understanding Paul’s Corinthian letters.  Mark Roberts at Patheos gives us a couple of interesting posts on unity and conflict in Paul’s church in Corinth:

After my posts about Rife’s work at Koutsongila last month, I found Katy Meyer’s blog, Bones Don’t Lie, and her recent entry (“Early Roman Chamber Tombs at Kenchreai, Greece”) discussing and responding to several articles by the Kenchreai Cemetery and Excavation Project group.  A couple of images there too.

It doesn’t get much better than a “Write a Caption Contest”.  This one asks to provide a caption for the Minerva cruise ship passing through the Corinth canal.  That canal gets so much press on the web.  My contribution wasn’t selected as one of the five finalists: “You think THIS is slow?  Try carting one of these overland by oxen!”

And speaking of the Corinth canal, this is a nice one from Light and Shadows.

A 16th century painting by Hans Holbein the Younger on the most famous courtesan linked to ancient Corinth. 

The Vampire on the Isthmus: A Halloween Tale

It is hard to know why ancient writers found Corinth and its territory a region suitable for placing ghosts, witches, and vampires, and whether the region was any more haunted than other towns and countrysides of the ancient world.  The destruction of Corinth by the Romans in 146 BC made the city a gloomy ghost town for a century – or at least that is how some Roman writers and modern authors have imagined it: “I felt the ghosts of Corinth watching me” (Steven Saylor).  But the transient character of the Isthmus and the ‘foreign’ elements of the local population also contributed in some ways to stories of spooky beings like the Phoenician vampire bride of Corinth. 

I first discovered Philostratus’ account of the vampire bride while conducting dissertation research related to the Roman Isthmus.  In his 3rd century AD account, Philostratus tells how a Lycian philosopher named Menippus was nearly devoured by his vampire bride on his wedding day, saved at the last moment by the miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana.  The story interestingly brings together many associations of ancient Corinth—Kenchreai , the Isthmus, the center of Hellas, foreign populations (Lycian and Phoenician), associations with philosophy, suburbs of Corinth, the (illusive) pleasures of Aphrodite, and the wealth of the city—that relate illusive beings to transient places.  The following passage from Philostratus VA 4.25 was translated by F.C. Conybeare:

“Now there was in Corinth at that time a man named Demetrius, who studied philosophy and had embraced in his system all the masculine vigor of the Cynics. Of him Favorinus in several of his works subsequently made the most generous mention, and his attitude towards Apollonius was exactly that which they say Antisthenes took up towards the system of Socrates: for he followed him and was anxious to be his disciple, and was devoted to his doctrines, and converted to the side of Apollonius the more esteemed of his own pupils.

Among the latter was Menippus a Lycian of twenty-five years of age, well endowed with good judgment, and of a physique so beautifully proportioned that in mien he resembled a fine and gentlemanly athlete. Now this Menippus was supposed by most people to be loved by a foreign woman, who was good-looking and extremely dainty, and said that she was rich; although she was really, as it turned out, not one of these things, but was only so in semblance.

For as he was walking all alone along the road towards Cenchraeae, he met with an apparition, and it was a woman who clasped his hand and declared that she had been long in love with him, and that she was a Phoenician woman and lived in a suburb of Corinth, and she mentioned the name of the particular suburb, and said: “When you reach the place this evening, you will hear my voice as I sing to you, and you shall have wine such as you never before drank, and there will be no rival to disturb you; and we two beautiful beings will live together.”

The youth consented to this, for although he was in general a strenuous philosopher, he was nevertheless susceptible to the tender passion; and he visited her in the evening, and for the future constantly sought her company as his darling, for he did not yet realize that she was a mere apparition.

Then Apollonius looked over Menippus as a sculptor might do, and he sketched an outline of the youth and examined him, and having observed his foibles, he said: “You are a fine youth and are hunted by fine women, but in this case you are cherishing a serpent, and a serpent cherishes you.”

And when Menippus expressed his surprise, he added: “For this lady is of a kind you cannot marry. Why should you? Do you think that she loves you?”

“Indeed I do,” said the youth, “since she behaves to me as if she loves me.”

“And would you then marry her?” said Apollonius.

“Why, yes, for it would be delightful to marry a woman who loves you.”

Thereupon Apollonius asked when the wedding was to be. “Perhaps tomorrow,” said the other, “for it brooks no delay.” 

Apollonius therefore waited for the occasion of the wedding breakfast, and then, presenting himself before the guests who had just arrived, he said: “Where is the dainty lady at whose instance ye are come?”

“Here she is,” replied Menippus, and at the same moment he rose slightly from his seat, blushing.

“And to which of you belong the silver and gold and all the rest of the decorations of the banqueting hall?”

“To the lady,” replied the youth, “for this is all I have of my own,” pointing to the philosopher’s cloak which he wore.

And Apollonius said: “Have you heard of the gardens of Tantalus, how they exist and yet do not exist?”

“Yes,” they answered, “in the poems of Homer, for we certainly never went down to Hades.”

“As such,” replied Apollonius, “you must regard this adornment, for it is not reality but the semblance of reality. And that you may realize the truth of what I say, this fine bride is one of the vampires, that is to say of those beings whom the many regard as lamias and hobgoblins. These beings fall in love, and they are devoted to the delights of Aphrodite, but especially to the flesh of human beings, and they decoy with such delights those whom they mean to devour in their feasts.”

And the lady said: “Cease your ill-omened talk and be gone”; and she pretended to be disgusted at what she heard, and in fact she was inclined to rail at philosophers and say that they always talked nonsense. When, however, the goblets of gold and the show of silver were proved as light as air and all fluttered away out of their sight, while the wine-bearers and the cooks and all the retinue of servants vanished before the rebukes of Apollonius, the phantom pretended to weep, and prayed him not to torture her nor to compel her to confess what she really was.

But Apollonius insisted and would not let her off, and then she admitted that she was a vampire, and was fattening up Menippus with pleasures before devouring his body, for it was her habit to feed upon young and beautiful bodies, because their blood is pure and strong.

I have related at length, because it was necessary to do so, this the best-known story of Apollonius; for many people are aware of it and know that he incident occurred in the center of Hellas; but they have only heard in a general and vague manner that he once caught and overcame a lamia in Corinth, but they have never learned what she was about, nor that he did it to save Menippus, but I owe my own account to Damis and to the work which he wrote.”

Bibliography of the Kenchreai Cemetery Project

Since Monday’s post about the work of the Kenchreai Cemetery and Excavation Project, I heard from Dr. Joseph Rife, who kindly sent me a bibliography of the project’s publications. 


Photo of Kenchreai harbor, the Koutsongila ridge, and Saronic coastline from Stanatopi

The work of the project has appeared in three dozen presentations at various universities, colleges, and organization meetings; in short annual summaries since 2002 (Archaeological Reports and Bulletin de correspondance hellénique), and in ten articles (with a half dozen more forthcoming):

  • D.H. Ubelaker and J.L. Rife, “Skeletal analysis and mortuary practice in an Early Roman chamber tomb at Kenchreai, Greece,” in International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21.1 (2011) 1-18 (published on-line 2009).
  • J.L. Rife, “Religion and society at Roman Kenchreai,” in S.J. Friesen, D.N. Schowalter, and J.C. Walters (eds.), Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies in Religion and Society, Leiden 2010, 391-432.
  • D.H. Ubelaker and J.L. Rife, “Approaches to commingling issues in archaeological samples: A case study from Roman era tombs in Greece,” in B.J. Adams and J. E. Byrd (eds), Recovery, Analysis and Identification of Commingled Human Remains, Totowa, N.J. 2008, 97-122.
  • D.H. Ubelaker and J.L. Rife, “The practice of cremation in the Roman-era cemetery at Kenchreai, Greece: the perspective from archaeology and forensic science,” in Bioarchaeology of the Near East 1 (2007), 35-57.
  • A. Barbet, J.L. Rife and F. Monier, “Un Tombeau peint de la nécropole de Cenchrées-Kenchreai, près de Corinthe.” In C. Guiral Pelegrín (ed.), Circulación de temas y sistemas decorativos en la pintura mural antigua: Actas del IX Congreso Internacional de la «Association Internationale pour la Peinture Murale Antique,» Calatayud 2007, 395-399.
  • J.L. Rife, “Inhumation and cremation at Early Roman Kenchreai (Corinthia), Greece, in local and regional context,” in A. Faber, P. Fasold, M. Struck, and M. Witteyer (eds.), Körpergräber des 1.-3. Jh. in der römischen Welt: Internationales Kolloquium Frankfurt am Main 19.–20. November 2004, Frankfurt 2007, 99-120.
  • C.A. Faraone and J.L. Rife, “A Greek curse against a thief from the North Cemetery at Roman Kenchreai,” in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 160 (2007), 141-157.
  • J.L. Rife, M.M. Morison, A. Barbet, R.K. Dunn, D.H. Ubelaker, and F. Monier, “Life and death at a port in Roman Greece: The Kenchreai Cemetery Project 2002-2006,” Hesperia 76.1 (2007), 143-181.
  • A. Sarris, R.K. Dunn, J.L. Rife, N. Papadopoulos, E. Kokkinou, and C. Mundigler, “Geological and geophysical investigations in the Roman cemetery at Kenchreai (Korinthia), Greece,” Archaeological Prospection 14 (2007), 1-23.