Corinthian Matters in Corinth

Corinthian Matters will be on its (mostly) annual tour to the Corinthia three weeks from now (May 26-June 2). I will only be in the Corinthia for a week this year because I have to get back for a digital proficiency workshop in early June, but that still allows seven full days of Corinthiaka goodness. If you will be around and have the time to get together, shoot me an email.

I’ll be working on several projects while in the region with a number of good collaborators and friends:

1. Drone Photography and EKAS: Since 2017, I have been working with Professor Albert Sarvis, a geospatial technologist at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, to capture low-altitude drone photographs of parts of the Isthmus surveyed by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey in 1998-2002.  Our work is designed to contribute to a longer-term goal of publishing the EKAS data sets, and to understand the large-scale transformations of the Isthmus between antiquity and the present such as canal construction and the trans-Isthmus fortification walls. This will mark our second season of drone photography.

2. Washingtonia: I have teamed up with Kostis Kourelis (Franklin & Marshall College) and others to study the vanished settlement of Washingtonia, somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Examilia. This colony of refugees of the Greek War of Independence was founded in 1829 by American philhellene and philanthropist Samuel Gridley Howe with clearly great prospects in mind. Last year, my students from Messiah College carefully studied Howe’s letters and journal entries to discern the location of the village and nature of settlement.  I’ll be visiting Examilia this summer to learn what I can but also have a history student at Messiah who will be conducting archival research in Boston to try to dig up some new documents.

3. Lakka Skoutara. Toward the end of my time in the Corinthia, I’ll have the privilege of connecting with Bill Caraher before he heads to the Argolid. We’re going to head to an abandoned village of Lakka Skoutara between Korphos and Sophiko and document this abandoned village one final time. We’ve studied formation processes at the settlement for some 20 years now and we’ll be submitting our article to a forthcoming collection with the Digital Press on abandoned villages. We may also capture drone photographs of the village.

4. Kodratos. I’ve been working this year with Jonathan Werthmuller, a graduating senior at Messiah College, to produce an English translation of the 17th century Latin life of St. Kodratos by Jesuit scholar Reinhold Dehnig, based on a Greek original by the 14th century historian Nicephorus Gregoras. We’ve worked from both the Latin and the Greek as part of a semester-long project. It’s been a blast, and I hope to visit again the church of Kodratos in Corinth, which features prominently in the vita.

 

Forthcoming Publications of the American School of Classical Studies

I received a little pamphlet in the mail on Saturday about forthcoming publications of the ASCSA in 2016. Since some of these have been in production for years, I’ll save more detailed comments until the works actually appear in print. Forthcoming books include studies from Corinth, Isthmia, and the Nemea Valley, as well as the revised site guide to Corinth. I have provided links to the press pages for each book.

 

 

Helicopter Rides along the Corinthian Coasts

A website called tripinview claims to be the world’s first visual travel website, whcih makes available 800,000 photos of 300 hours of video of Mediterranean coastline. You can map and search, build a trip, or take the website’s highlight tours from the air. The site offers extensive coverage of Mediterranean coastal territory including fantastic footage of the Corinthia. Searching via the keyword “Corinthia” turns up 40 different coastal locations that include New Corinth, Kiato, Lechaion, Sikyon, Korphos, Kenchreai, and Loutra Elenis.

If you click on a place, you have the option of scrolling through still shots of the coastline taken from a helicopter perspective, or watching 5-10 minute video sequences of the coast. You can also access information and weather information about each of these places.

tripinview (2)

This is a fantastic tool for seeing Greek coastlines from a whole new perspective. For example, on this six minute flight from Loutra Elenis to the Corinth Canal on the Saronic Gulf, you’ll have a completely unique visual perspective of the winding coastline, Mt. Oneion, topography, and a series of archaeological sites. There are excellent views of the submerged harbor of Kenchreai and the Koutsongila Ridge with its Roman-Late Roman cemetery.

tripinview_kenchreai

 

A visual from the cape known as Akra Sophia facing toward Kenchreai and Mt. Oneion. Akra Sophia was the location of Roman to Early Byzantine villa sites published by Timothy Gregory.

tripinview_akrasophia

 

And here’s the helicopter perspective from Akra Sophia facing toward the canal. This marks the beginning of the Isthmus, at least as Greek writers of the classical and Hellenistic age imagined the landscape.

tripinview_saronic_isthmus

On this ten minute flight from the Corinth Canal to Kiato, you’ll see New Corinth and a series of little Corinthian settlements on the Corinthian Gulf. Great images of the external harbor and internal basins at Lechaion, as well as the early Christian basilica there.TripInView_LechaionHarbor

 

Unfortunately no inland footage, so you won’t get a good view of Ancient Corinth except from a distance. Still, this is a great resource. I could imagine showing both of the videos noted above in history or archaeology classes that introduce Corinth’s situation near a connecting Isthmus.

Thanks to Dimitri Nakassis for the tip about this site.

The Western Argolid Archaeological Project

The Canadian Institute in Greece has updated its digital archive of archaeological projects and research with content on the Western Argolid Regional Project. The summary includes information on personnel, survey type, five-year research plan, description of study area, detailed research goals, methodology, maps, and references. Images from the 2015 season are included with the report.

If you missed the WARP 2015 season, the team actively blogged about their work on the project website. The project is establishing a new standard of survey that combines fine-grained mapping of artifact distributions–the hyper-intensive–with substantial territorial coverage of landscapes. Over two seasons, field teams have surveyed over 13 sq km of territory using relatively small survey units–and the third season promises to add another 6 sq km to that total. In this sense, WARP improves on previous work by projects such as the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, which captured fine-grained distributions but only at limited coverage (ca. 4 sq km).

Classical Archaeology in Context (Haggis and Antonaccio, eds.)

This new book published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH should be of wide interest for classical archaeologists who understand how particular contexts, theory, and method frame archaeological research, data, results, and conclusions at the end of the day. As one of the longest-running excavations in the Mediterranean, references to Corinth are plentiful. I am also glad to see due attention paid to smaller rural sites in the Mediterranean. Here are the details:

Haggis, Donald, and Carla Antonaccio, eds. Classical Archaeology in Context: Theory and Practice in Excavation in the Greek World. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2015.

 

“This book compiles a series of case studies derived from archaeological excavation in Greek cultural contexts in the Mediterranean (ca. 800-100 B.C), addressing the current state of the field, the goals and direction of Greek archaeology, and its place in archaeological thought and practice. Overviews of archaeological sites and analyses of assemblages and contexts explore how new forms of data; methods of data recovery and analysis; and sampling strategies have affected the discourse in classical archaeology and the range of research questions and strategies at our disposal. Recent excavations and field practices are steering the way that we approach Greek cultural landscapes and form broader theoretical perspectives, while generating new research questions and interpretive frameworks that in turn affect how we sample sites, collect and study material remains, and ultimately construct the archaeological record. The book confronts the implications of an integrated dialogue between realms of data and interpretive methodologies, addressing how reengagement with the site, assemblage, or artifact, from the excavation context can structure the way that we link archaeological and systemic contexts in classical archaeology.”

CONTENTS

1. Donald C. Haggis and Carla M. Antonaccio, “A Contextual Archaeology of Ancient Greece”

Historical Contexts and Intellectual Traditions

2. James Whitley, “Scholarly Traditions and Scientific Paradigms: Method and Reflexivity in the Study of Ancient Praisos

3. Carla M. Antonaccio, “Re-excavating Morgantina”

4. David B. Small, “A Defective Master Narrative in Greek Archaeology

5. Tamar Hodos, “Lycia and Classical Archaeology: The Changing Nature of Archaeology in Turkey”

Mortuary Contexts

6. Alexandra Alexandridou, “Shedding Light on Mortuary Practices in Early Archaic Attica: The Case of the Offering Trenches” 

7. Anna Lagia, “The Potential and Limitations of Bioarchaeological Investigations in Classical Contexts in Greece: An Example from the Polis of Athens”

Urban and Rural Contexts

8. Jamieson C. Donati, “The Greek Agora in its Peloponnesian Context(s)” 

9. Donald C. Haggis, “The Archaeology of Urbanization: Research Design and the Excavation of an Archaic Greek City on Crete”

10. Manolis I. Stefanakis, Konstantinos Kalogeropoulos, Andreas Georgopoulos, and Chryssi Bourbou, “Exploring the Ancient Demos of Kymissaleis on Rhodes: Multdisciplinary Experimental Research and Theoretical Issues” 

11. Kalliope E. Galanaki, Christina Papadaki, and Kostis S. Christakis, “The Hellenistic Settlement on Prophetes Elias Hill at Arkalochori, Crete: Preliminary Remarks”

12. Evi Margaritis, “Cultivating Classical Archaeology: Agricultural Activities, Use of Space and Occupation Patterns in Hellenistic Greece” 

Sanctuary Contexts

13. Athanasia Kyriakou and Alexandros Tourtas, “Detecting Patterns through Context Analysis: A Case Study of Deposits from the Sanctuary of Eukleia at Aegae (Vergina)” 

14. Dimitra Mylona, “From Fish Bones to Fishermen: Views from the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia”

The Isthmus of Corinth Project (Coming Spring 2016)

One of the research projects I will not be working on all summer is my long-labored book, The Isthmus of Corinth: Crossroads of the Mediterranean World. I put the final touches on the manuscript during my fieldseason in Cyprus (with the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project) just in time for the deadline with University of Michigan Press. I’m happy to report that the manuscript is now out of my hands at last and will enter the production queue with a scheduled publication of Spring 2016. That’s all good news of course since this project required a full sabbatical to complete along with the better part of my summers for the last three years. I’ve updated the project page to reflect the final state of the manuscript. There may be small changes in the next few months, but nothing major.

IsthmusAerial_KRP

Here is my description of the work from the project page:

The Isthmus of Corinth: Crossroads of the Mediterranean World is a study of the relationship of local, regional, and global interactions in the Roman Mediterranean. Its starting point is the ancient and modern view that the land bridge was a constantly connecting and essential landscape throughout Corinth’s history that altered its economy and character in consistent ways. From the destruction of the Greek city by the Romans to the end of antiquity, historians, poets, orators, and preachers characterized Corinth as an exceptional kind of maritime city made prosperous and powerful from its crossroads, facilities for traffic, commercial markets, pilgrim sites, naval fleet, and decadent pleasures.  The ancient consensus that a timeless landscape determined the history, wealth, and character of the city, was adopted almost wholesale by European travelers and the first classical and biblical scholars of the 18th-19th centuries.

The book argues against the timeless view of the Corinthian Isthmus and shows instead how the landscape changed frequently in its connection to a wider Mediterranean world. The chapters of the work survey the extant Greek and Latin literature for the Isthmus  and synthesize archaeological evidence, especially the data from the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. The chapters begin with the sixth century BCE and step in chronological increments to the fifth century CE.

The table of contents with brief summary:

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

Preface

1. Introduction

Outlines the problem of the essential or timeless view of the Corinthian Isthmus. Makes the argument for contingency.

2. The Isthmos

Surveys the conceptions and definitions of the isthmus in the Classical and Hellenistic era and offers a new interpretation of the famous passage in Thucydides about how the Isthmus made Corinth wealthy and powerful

3. The Gate

Surveys the physical landscape of fortifications and settlements that the Romans encountered in the late third century BCE. Outlines the physical developments of the regional structures from the archaic to Hellenistic periods, with special attention to the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey data.

4. The Fetter

Surveys the central place of the Isthmus in the interpretation the Roman destruction of Greek Corinth and the great catastrophe of the loss of Greek freedom.

5. The Portage

Analyzes the changing historical significance of ship portages over the Corinthian Isthmus in antiquity. The center of the chapter is the remarkable portage of the orator Marcus Antonius, grandfather of the famous triumvir, in 102/101 BCE. The chapter contextualizes Marcus Antonius in light of the frameworks of Roman aristocratic values and imperialism during the interim period.

6. The Bridge

Studies the important place of the Isthmus for the first century of the Roman colony’s history. Offers a new interpretation of Strabo’s influential interpretation of the landscape.

7. The Center

A study of the meaning of canalization in antiquity, and especially the Emperor Nero’s failed canal effort. Situates Nero’s enterprise within the particular imperial frameworks of the 50s-60s CE. Also discusses the long-term effects of the canal enterprise on the landscape during the later first to early third centuries CE, including settlement documented in the Eastern Korinthia Survey.

8. The District

A study of the fragmentation of the essentializing conception of the Corinthian Isthmus in the later third to early fifth centuries, including the later Roman transformation of the panhellenic sanctuary at Isthmia.

9. Conclusion

****************************************************************

I’ll be posting more on this project in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

 

Corinth Excavations, Places and Monuments

The American School of Classical Studies Excavations at Corinth continues to add digital resources that will be of interest and use to archaeologists, tourists, teachers, preachers, writers, and the broader public. In the past, I’ve covered their Field Trip App, which allows anyone with a mobile phone to take a virtual tour of Ancient Corinth with expert summary descriptions, photos, and bibliography in hand. Then there’s this excellent page devoted to GIS and historical maps of the Corinthia where users can access ready-made maps of the city and region, or build their own from downloadable DEMs, cultural and natural layers, basemap images, and shapefiles.

As a big fan of gazetteers (I’ve been working on one for the eastern Corinthia for years now), I would like to draw attention  to this Places and Monuments table. The page provides a standard set of metadata related to some 268 sites and monuments. Coverage is best for the urban center, of course, but I also noted quite a few sites in the broader region. The gazetteer also includes associated photographs, plans, and maps. The summary information is on the short side but the associated media and bibliography make this great place to start for researching and learning about particular places in the region.

Standardized data looks like this:

Collection: Corinth
Type: Monument
Name: Acrocorinth
Description: Acrocorinth (575 meters high) was described by the Roman historian Polybius as one of the “fetters of Greece” because it controlled not only the route across the Isthmus, but also the pass between the Isthmus and Mount Oneion leading south towards Cleonai and Argos, and the coastal road west to Sikyon. The earliest fortifications now extant date to the later 4th century B.C. These were breached by Demetrius Poliorcetes from the location of the Sysipheum and later reduced and rendered indefensible by Mummius in 146 B.C. The present fortifications largely represent work and rework of the Byzantine, Ottoman, Venetian and Early Modern periods. Within the walls are the remains of the Ottoman period described by various travelers including Evliya Çelebi in 1668 and Wheler and Spon in 1676. They include the remains of mosques, fountains and houses. Next to the Upper Peirene fountain are the barracks of King Otto’s Bavarian garrison.
Site: Acrocorinth
City: Ancient Corinth
Country: Greece
References: Publication: Blegen et al., Corinth 3.1, 1930
Publication: Carpenter & Bon, Corinth 3.2, 1936
Publication: MacKay, Hesperia 37.4, 1968
Plans and Drawings (13)
Images (543)
Notebooks (7)

And several screenshots give you an idea of the content and coverage. Kudos to the Corinth staff for making digital resources a key part of their mission.

Screenshot (64) Screenshot (67) Screenshot (66) Screenshot (65)

Coming Soon: Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium (Gerstel)

Landscape approaches to the Byzantine world are still uncommon these days despite the increasing integration of regional approaches into ancient and medieval studies generally. It is gratifying, then, to see that another work dedicated to the subject of Byzantine landscapes will be out in print this month. Sharon Gerstel’s book looks delightful  in its combination of different sources of evidence and its abundant illustrations: churches of Attica, the Peloponnese, Crete, and Aegean islands; archaeological survey data from the Pylos region; and the local memory through ethnographic work in Greek villages. Here are some of the details:

Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late ByzantiumGerstel, Sharon E. J. Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium: Art, Archaeology, and Ethnography. Cambridge University Press, 2015. 

 

 

 

Table of Contents:

1. The landscape of the village
2. Communication and the village church
3. The village woman
4. Village men, village labor
5. In the service of the church
6. The body and the soul.

Description:

“This is the first book to examine the late Byzantine peasantry through written, archaeological, ethnographic, and painted sources. Investigations of the infrastructure and setting of the medieval village guide the reader into the consideration of specific populations. The village becomes a micro-society, with its own social and economic hierarchies. In addition to studying agricultural workers, mothers, and priests, lesser-known individuals, such as the miller and witch, are revealed through written and painted sources. Placed at the center of a new scholarly landscape, the study of the medieval villager engages a broad spectrum of theorists, including economic historians creating predictive models for agrarian economies, ethnoarchaeologists addressing historical continuities and disjunctions, and scholars examining power and female agency.”

Limited excerpts of texts and images are available via Google Books.

Thirty New Roman Sites on the Corinthian Isthmus

I recently finished editing proofs of a chapter for the forthcoming book, “The Bridge of the Untiring Sea”: The Corinthian Isthmus from Prehistory to Late Antiquity”. The piece, which grew out of a paper I delivered in Athens in 2007, offers a new synthesis of settlement patterns on the Isthmus during the Early Roman (44 BC-250 AD) and Late Roman (AD 250-700) periods. The synthesis pays special attention to the findings of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey carried out in the eastern territory of Corinth between 1997 and 2003 and produces a series of maps of new Roman villas, farmsteads, communities, and towns. In the chapter, I challenge the old idea—popularized by Donald Engels’ book on Roman Corinth (1990)—that the Corinthians of the Roman period did not cultivate or inhabit their territory because their town was oriented solely to commerce (an idea that has been undermined by David Romano’s study of centuriation in the region). On the contrary, I argue that a semi-continuous suburbia (what Penelope Goodman has called “urban periphery”) develops in the course of the later first and second centuries AD that extends settlement from the town center to the harbors. The documentation of 30 distinct Roman-era sites in an area of only a few square kilometers shows that the eastern hinterland of Corinth was much more densely inhabited than scholars have previously estimated.

The figure below shows 26 high-density sites of the Late Roman period.

LRLocas

Here’s a taste of the piece from the introduction. When I receive a final PDF copy of the published article, I’ll post a full version to Academia or Research Gate.

Since Thucydides wrote his famous account of the growth of Corinthian naval power (1.13.5), the Isthmus has been central to historical interpretations of the ancient city. In the Roman era, for example, every educated person knew that a narrow neck of land had shaped the rise and fall of the Greek city and the birth of the Roman colony. Writers like Strabo claimed that the city grew wealthy due to its position on a bridge linking the maritime worlds of Asia and Italy. Others linked Corinthian geography to the city’s port-town reputation, sexual immorality and general loose living—so the proverb ran “It is not for every man to go to Corinth.” In pinning Corinthian myth, image, and fortune on the city’s eastern landscape, writers of the Roman era followed earlier Greek writers in finding historical consequences in a connecting Isthmus.

Given the frequent mentions of territory in ancient discussions of Corinth, it seems paradoxical that textual sources provide so little information about actual land use and settlement in the Greek or Roman era. Ancient writers discussed Corinthian territory frequently enough, but their interests lay in a few places like Isthmia, Kenchreai, and Lechaion that were famous by association with historical events and people. For example, when Pausanias described the route from Isthmia and Kenchreai to Corinth in the mid-2nd century a.d. (2.1.6–2.2.3), he noted nothing in-between except for Helen’s Bath and a few noteworthy tombs. No writer of the Roman period gave serious attention to patterns of land use or habitation in Corinthian territory.

Scholars who have read such sources literally have interpreted Corinth as a commercial town, lacking agricultural orientation and rural dwellings. Most scholars, however, have highlighted the biases of ancient sources and developed alternative views based on the study of the territory’s natural resources and archaeological remains. In his survey of the Archaic and Classical city, for example, Salmon argued that literary sources mislead: arable land, rather than commerce, was the fundamental economic resource base for the Hellenic city. Studies of centuriation patterns have shown the Roman colony’s agricultural orientation from its foundation, despite the near absence of written testimony. Other recent scholarship has pointed to the array of natural resources in the territory, such as timber, limestone, clay, honey, and marine resources. None of these resources appear prominently in the ancient textual tradition but each was an important component of the local economy.

The archaeological investigation of regions has contributed to this discussion by producing independent and localized evidence for settlement and land use. Archaeological investigations in the Corinthia in the last half century have filled out the territory with towns, villas, farms, sanctuaries, churches, graves, baths, and fortification walls (Fig. 14.1). The investigations that brought these sites to light have included rescue excavations by the Greek Archaeological Service, official excavations by the Archaeological Service and Ministry of Culture, the American School of Classical Studies’s excavations at Kenchreai and the Isthmian Sanctuary of Poseidon, extensive topographic surveys by Sakellariou and Faraklas and Wiseman, and intensive surveys directed by Gregory, Kardulias, and Pullen. Yet, despite all this work and its implications for interpreting the social, economic, and cultural character of Roman Corinth, there have been few attempts to synthesize the findings.

My purpose in this study is to fill a gap in modern scholarship by offering a summary description and interpretation of Roman settlement patterns on the Isthmus. The substance of this chapter is a discussion of the results of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS) as they relate to patterns in (a) the chronology of land use during the Roman period; (b) the concentration and spatial distribution of settlement; and (c) the types of settlement (ephemeral occupations and farmsteads, villas, communities, and towns). In the final section, I argue that the patterns of settlement documented for the Isthmus—the intensive habitation and cultivation, numerous elite buildings, variety of habitation, and continuous built environment—are not “nucleated” or “dispersed” as scholars have often suggested, but rather, “urban periphery.” This study, then, introduces a new body of evidence relevant to age-old assessments of Corinth’s economy and establishes a building block for subsequent historical discussions and interpretations of the Roman city in its territory.

“The Bridge of the Untiring Sea”. A New Book about the Isthmus

The closest I came to the Corinthia this year was a flight over the Isthmus en route to JFK from Athens. A very busy spring semester led directly to a productive field and museum season of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project in May-early June. Now that I’m back in the US and the summer stretches before me, I have a little more time to release some Corinthiaka updates, news items, and reviews.

One important update is that the long-awaited book titled “The Bridge of the Untiring Sea”: The Corinthian Isthmus from Prehistory to Late Antiquity, has now entered proof stage and is scheduled for publication in late August. Edited by Elizabeth R. Gebhard and Timothy E. Gregory, this work publishes a conference held in 2007 at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens to celebrate 50 years of archaeological work at Isthmia and across the broader Isthmus. Here’s the book cover and description:

Pindar’s metaphor of the Isthmus as a bridge spanning two seas encapsulates the essence of the place and gives a fitting title for this volume of essays on the history and archaeology of the area. The Isthmus, best known for the panhellenic sanctuary of Poseidon, attracted travelers both before and after Pausanias’s visit in the 2nd century A.D., but only toward the end of the 19th century were the ruins investigated and, after another half century, finally systematically excavated. More recently, archaeologists have surveyed the territory beyond the sanctuary, compiling evidence for a varied picture of activity on the wider Isthmus and the eastern Corinthia. The 17 essays in this book celebrate 55 years of research on the Isthmus and provide a comprehensive overview of the state of our knowledge. Topics include an early Mycenaean habitation site at Kyras Vrysi; the settlement at Kalamianos; the Archaic Temple of Poseidon; domestic architecture of the Rachi settlement; dining vessels from the Sanctuary of Poseidon; the Temple Deposit at Isthmia and the dating of Archaic and early Classical Greek coins; terracotta figurines from the Sanctuary of Poseidon; the Chigi Painter; arms from the age of Philip and Alexander at Broneer’s West Foundation on the road to Corinth; new sculptures from the Isthmian Palaimonion; an inscribed herm from the Gymnasium-Bath complex of Corinth; Roman baths at Isthmia and sanctuary baths in Greece; Roman buildings east of the Temple of Poseidon; patterns of settlement and land use on the Roman Isthmus; epigraphy, liturgy, and Imperial policy on the Justinianic Isthmus; and circular lamps in the Late Antique Peloponnese.

I’m jazzed to see this volume in print. I have not seen any of these pieces other my own (obviously!) and Caraher’s piece on the Justinianic Isthmus. Most of the essays in the volume naturally focus on areas where the most fieldwork has occurred, especially in and around the Panhellenic sanctuary at Isthmia. A few consider the broader landscape of the eastern Corinthia including even places that are not on the Isthmus such as Kalamianos in the southeast Corinthia. 

Here’s the publication page for the book at the ASCSA website. The book is available for pre-ordering at Oxbow and Amazon, among other places.