On Kalamianos in the Southeast Corinthia

Bill Caraher has a short review of a recent article on the Bronze Age site of Kalamianos at Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. Bill reviews Daniel Pullen’s recent article (“The Life and Death of a Mycenaean Port Town: Kalamianos on the Saronic Gulf”) in the Journal of Maritime Archaeology and places it in a broader scholarly context about the driving forces of ancient trade.

Here’s a snippet of the review:

Two interesting articles landed on my desk over the last few days. D. Pullen’s report in the Journal of Maritime Archaeology on the site of Kalamianos in the the Korinthia and Justin Leidwanger’s article in Journal of Roman Archaeology documented a 2nd-3rd century shipwreck at the site of Fig Tree Bay on Cyprus.

Pullen argues that the impressive coastal site of Kalamianos represented interest of Mycenae in establishing a harbor on the Saronic Gulf in the Late Bronze Age. Situated adjacent to the site of Kolonna on Aigina and perhaps representing the decline in that polity’s political and military influence in the area, Kalamianos was a substantial and apparently urbanized (ing?) site situated at a peninsula that provided two relatively secure anchorages….

Read the rest here.


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.

Corinthian Scholarship Monthly (October 2013)

Here’s the round-up of new Corinthiaka scholarship for the month of October. Happy Reading. You can also find these entries at the Corinthian Studies Group Library Page in Zotero.

Bronze Age

Early Iron Age-Hellenistic

Roman and Late Antique

New Testament and Early Christian

  • Brown, Alexandra R. “Creation, Gender, and Identity in (New) Cosmic Perspective: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.” In The Unrelenting God: Essays on God’s Action in Scripture in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa, edited by David J. Downs and Matthew L. Skinner, 172–193. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=uuBgAQAAQBAJ.
  • Downing, F. Gerald. Order and (Dis)order in the First Christian Century: A General Survey of Attitudes. BRILL, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=PfeZAAAAQBAJ
  • Eastman, Susan Grove. “Ashes on the Frontal Lobe: Cognitive Dissonance and Cruciform Cognition in 2 Corinthians.” In The Unrelenting God: Essays on God’s Action in Scripture in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa, edited by David J. Downs and Matthew L. Skinner, 194–207. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=uuBgAQAAQBAJ
  • Schellenberg, Ryan S. Rethinking Paul’s Rhetorical Education: Comparative Rhetoric and 2 Corinthians 10–13. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=8TRXAQAAQBAJ
  • Van den Hoek, Annewies. “The Saga of Peter and Paul: Emblems of Catholic Identity in Christian Literature and Art.” In Pottery, Pavements, and Paradise: Iconographic and Textual Studies on Late Antiquity, edited by Annewies van den Hoek and John Joseph Herrmann, 301–326. BRILL, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=RcJSAQAAQBAJ


  • Hadler, H., A. Vött, B. Koster, M. Mathes-Schmidt, T. Mattern, K. Ntageretzis, K. Reicherter, and T. Willershäuser. “Multiple late-Holocene Tsunami Landfall in the Eastern Gulf of Corinth Recorded in the Palaeotsunami Geo-archive at Lechaion, Harbour of Ancient Corinth” (2013).
  • Williams, Charles K., II. “Corinth, 2011: Investigation of the West Hall of the Theater.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 82, no. 3 (2013): 487–549. doi:10.2972/hesperia.82.3.0487.

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.

The Corinth Canal Project of 67-68 AD

One of the most interesting bits of research I conducted during my leave last year was Nero’s doomed Corinth Canal project of 67-68 AD. The enterprise, its failure, and subsequent condemnation form a key chapter in the book I’m finishing on the Isthmus of Corinth. Historically, scholars have argued that everyone and their brother wanted to canalize the Isthmus in antiquity, that Nero was simply the last in a long line of would be canal-cutters. In the chapter, I try to outline Nero’s attempt within the immediate historical context of the AD 60s rather than some age old desire to canalize the Isthmus.

I’ll be posting periodically on some of this research into the canal ancient and modern. I paste below an abstract of the paper (“The Corinth Canal Project of 67-68 AD”) I will present at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in January. It’s a substantial revision of a more preliminary paper I gave at the meeting of the Association of Ancient Historians last May.

In 1881, on the eve of the enterprise to canalize the six-kilometer wide Corinthian Isthmus, the Hungarian engineer, Béla Gerster, completed a careful study of the extant remains of the Emperor Nero’s failed canal project nearly two millennia earlier. Published in a brief article in BCH and revised for his book on the modern Corinth Canal, Gerster’s description and map of the ancient trenches, pits, and mounds mark the only detailed record of the remnants before they were destroyed by the construction of the modern canal (1882-1893). While Gerster’s study of the trenches and pits documented an enormous undertaking (the excavation of half a million cubic meters of earth and stone) that indicates the seriousness of the ancient project, this information has played surprisingly little role in modern assessments of Nero’s tour of Greece and his Corinthian canal enterprise. In this paper, I discuss the remnants of the canal cuts within the context of a broader study of the Isthmus, and show how the remains shed light on the engineers’ plans for canalization, specific techniques of construction, chronology of the enterprise, amount of work remaining, and subsequent transformation of the landscape. The dimensions of the cuts, pits, and shafts highlight the Herculean nature of the task confronting the canal cutters, but also demonstrate the sensible approaches adopted by the engineers to meet the challenges of severing an 80 m high ridge of limestone, sandstone, and marl. Gerster’s record of trenches and shafts offers clues to the plans for the ancient Corinth Canal near the moment of abandonment in A.D. 68 and before Greek and Roman writers condemned the project as impossible.

Workshop: Ancient Corinth and Roman City Planning

It’s not often that ancient workshops about Ancient Corinth come to south-central Pennsylvania. If you’re in driving range of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, come out on November 16. I hope to be there myself.

Below are details from the Classical Studies Department at Dickinson.


The Dickinson College Department of Classical Studies will sponsor a full day Saturday Workshop of interest to teachers and students of the classical world and of archaeology.

Ancient Corinth and Roman City Planning


Saturday, November 16, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tome Hall Room 115.


clip_image003Dr. David Gilman Romano, Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology at the School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, and Director of the Corinth Computer Project and the Archaeological Mapping Lab


Dr. Nicholas Stapp, Director of Geospatial Research at the Archaeological Mapping Lab at the University of Arizona and Manager in Global Knowledge and Insights at the Hershey Company

There will be four hour-long sessions, with time for questions and discussion. Lunch will be provided. The workshop is free of charge, but to order materials and food we need to have an accurate count of attendees. To register please contact Terri Blumenthal at  blumentt at dickinson.edu by November 10, 2013.


When the former Greek city of Corinth was settled as a Roman colony by Julius Caesar in 44 BC Roman land surveyors were called upon to lay out the urban as well as the rural aspects of the new colony. In the 70s AD when a second Roman colony was founded there, again the agrimensores were involved in new organization of the city and landscape. The agrimensores were Roman land surveyors responsible for the planning and measurement of cities and landscapes all over the Roman world. They were a professional group, usually a part of the Roman army, and we know a good deal about their work from a compilation of ancient texts known as the Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum. The Corpus was originally compiled in the fourth or fifth century AD, but includes texts as early as the first century AD. These texts give us substantial information about the training of the agrimensores and their day-to-day activities as well as some of the practical issues that they faced in the field.

Since 1988 a research team from the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania has been involved in making a computerized architectural and topographical survey of the Roman colony of Corinth. The leader of this team, Prof. David Gilman Romano (Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology at the School of Anthropology, University of Arizona), will present a workshop on the results of the Corinth Computer Project, http://corinthcomputerproject.org/ as they relate to the ancient written evidence for Roman city planning. He will be joined by Dr. Nicholas Stapp who has worked with Dr. Romano on the Corinth Computer Project since 1995. He is an archaeologist and an expert in the use of new emerging technologies in higher education and research.

In the workshop participants will learn some of the Latin terms that refer to Roman surveying and city and land planning and, in addition, they will learn about high tech methods utilized in the research: electronic total station survey, digital cartography and remote sensing, utilizing air photos, balloon photos and satellite images, all in the study of an ancient city. The planning of the urban and rural aspects of two Roman Colonies at Corinth are outlined in detail, including some of the social, economic and political implications of these foundations.

Anyone with an interest in Roman culture and archaeology; digital cartography, GIS, and spatial analysis; ancient and modern surveying techniques; or city-planning and urban design will find this a rewarding workshop.

Funding for this workshop is provided by the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies at Dickinson College.

Traversing the Perachora Peninsula (Guest Post)

Another disappointment in not attending this year’s meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America was missing an interesting paper by Angela Ziskowski and Daniel Lamp about access and movement to the Perachora peninsula. Disappointed especially because I’m currently wrapping up a book chapter on the connectivity of the Isthmus, and the Perachora peninsula has a dramatically different topographic structure than the Corinthian lowland to the south. But disappointed also because many years ago, when I was less familiar with local bus lines, the bus dropped me off in the modern village of Perachora in the center of the peninsula, from which I walked several hours overland to reach the sanctuary of Hera.

In the fall, I had some good exchanges with Angela and Dan about aspects of their research. Dan is a professional architect at OPN Architects in Iowa and helped me figure out how to translate Corinthian topography from DEMs to ArcGIS to CAD. Angela, a history professor at Coe College, recently completed her PhD dissertation on Corinthian identity in the early Iron Age and Archaic era, and told me a bit about their work last summer. They kindly offered to share their research here at Corinthian Matters.

The AIA paper is titled “The Perachora Peninsula and the Sanctuary of the Heraion: You Can’t Get There from Here.” Looking forward to the publication already. Their overview starts here.


Sometime during the eighth century B.C. a sanctuary to the goddess Hera was constructed at the tip of the rugged and remote Perachora peninsula. The location of this sanctuary, known as the Heraion, is both dramatic and strategic. Standing at the tip of the land mass, on a clear day one can see across the Gulf of Corinth south to Acrocorinth, north to the coast of Boeotia, and a good percentage of the Geraneia mountain range to the east. As luck would have it, one of the only natural harbors in the area is found at the foot of this site. In many ways this is an obvious choice for a religious sanctuary or military outpost, and was held by Corinth throughout the city’s history.

 Ziskowski_Figure 1

Figure 1: View indicative of the topography along the south coast of the Perachora Peninsula.

This site’s one drawback is formidable; this location is so dramatic and strategic in part because it is so unreasonably difficult to access. In fact, the land mass as a whole is difficult to reach, even today. The Perachora peninsula is a rocky mastiff defined by the steep ridges of the Geraneia range meeting the Gulf of Corinth at slopes that are nearly impassable. The south coast in particular is marked by an alternation of steep ridges, some approaching 50 degree slopes that drop precipitously into the Gulf, and deep, dry gullies in the valleys between that can be equally steep. (Refer to Figure 1.) The eastern edge is guarded by the Geraneia Mountains and the high ridge over modern-day Loutraki meets the plain very abruptly. Compounding the problem of access to the peninsula and sanctuary is the fact that the aforementioned natural harbor, so fortunately situated near the tip, is quite small and not suited for commerce. Thus, this site was not ideal for seafaring and a daunting overland trip from the political center at Corinth.

Despite the difficulty of travelling to Perachora, archaeological and textual evidence suggest that many groups of users did so, for a variety of purposes, and frequently. These users include long-distance sailors from the Near East, local pilgrims worshipping Hera at the sanctuary, and military campaigns such as those of the fourth century B.C. general, Agesilaus. In fact, it was the objective of that attack on the peninsula to deprive Corinth economically of cattle and timber, which itself suggests a population of permanent residents exporting resources to the capitol on a regular basis. It is incorrect to suggest that because this area is remote it was also unimportant; this area saw a fair amount of travel in antiquity despite the difficulty involved, which is an interesting paradox.

Furthermore, the specific routes employed by these users are worthy of study in and of themselves because neither land nor sea approaches to the peninsula offer easy access to the area. For instance, worshippers of Hera from Corinth probably reached the sanctuary on foot along a route that ideally would have hugged the coast as closely as possible to limit the overall length. Previous scholarship on the topography of the landscape has largely relied on the account of Xenophon, who traveled with Agesilaus’ main force during his invasion. He claimed that a route along the coast existed in antiquity and that his troops moved from the area around Loutraki to the sanctuary (and back) in a single day. Our topographic research and analysis of the peninsula demonstrate that such a route was unlikely, if not impossible. Thus, any pilgrims, traders, or invaders travelling on foot between Corinth and the Heraion likely did not follow a route “by the sea” as Xenophon writes, but likely a more complicated inland route suggested in Figure 2. On the other hand, the Near Eastern offerings at the sanctuary likely were dedicated by sailors who were moving in and out of the Gulf on ships. Again, sea access to the sanctuary and peninsula was limited by the lack of a sizable natural harbor. Smaller ships, and only three or four at most, could put into the harbor at the sanctuary, but it is likely that the site was accessed routinely from the sea. In short, we have evidence for many users and no good means of access for them.


Figure 2: Topographic representation of the Isthmus of Corinth and Perachora Peninsula, indicating an unlikely coastal route and a more likely inland route away from the seafront. Note the vertical contours are exaggerated by a factor of 2 in order to show the topographic changes more vividly.

Perachora and the sanctuary on it were far more difficult to access than previously understood. More consideration should be paid to the remote nature of the sanctuary and to the investment of time and energy needed to reach it. It is particularly meaningful that a diverse group of users expended substantial effort to access this area. We will address the topographic difficulties of the peninsula, the user groups in question, and the implications of the remote nature of the sanctuary in a paper at the AIA this January and in an article in progress now.

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.

Maps of the Corinthia

I have updated the Maps section of this website as well as the subdirectories for Contours and Maps of the Corinthia. The latter contains a gallery of maps generated for free distribution for educational and research purposes. The maps present the Corinthia at different scales, with 20 meter and 100 meter contours, generated from the SRTM DEM. Some examples of the gallery maps include….

A simple base map of the Corinthia which can be modified through a photo editing program to add sites, roads, and the like:


A map displaying the most important ancient sites in the Corinthia from the Archaic-Late Roman period:


A map of the Isthmus with sites discussed by Pausanias in the mid-2nd century AD:


A partial gazetteer of ancient and modern sites and settlements in the region:


These maps are intentionally basic—no stream valleys, roads, canals, or fortification walls. Feel free to add and modify to your own ends. Please contact me for adopting these maps for the purposes of publication.

Contours of Greece from SRTM Data

This post for users of GIS.

You should really take the time to learn how to create contour lines automatically so that you can produce topographic maps at different elevation intervals for whatever region you are researching.

But, for those without access to extensions like spatial analyst that enable the conversion, or the time to mess with this, I will offer the following shape file data sets for 1) the Peloponnese and part of central Greece, and 2) the Corinthia.

The two images below display the extent of the contours that I’m linking to here.

The first shows  the extent of contour coverage for southern and central Greece. At the end of this post, you’ll see links for 20 meter and 100 meter contours for this broad area.


The second image shows the modern regional unit of the Corinthia (and western Attica), which includes the ancient territories of Corinth, Sikyon, Tenea, and Megara. I will link to files containing 20 meter contours for this area.


I generated these shape files from SRTM data through a simple conversion via the “Contour” tool in the ArcGIS extension Spatial Analyst — see my previous post about the process. (SRTM data refers to Shuttle Radar Topography Mission that marks a particular research endeavor by NASA to make high-resolution topographic data globally available.)

The image below shows the SRTM DEM that was used to generate the contours.


I downloaded the SRTM file shown above (“SRTM_41_05”) from the CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information website, which describes the data sets in the following way:

“The CGIAR-CSI GeoPortal is able to provide SRTM 90m Digital Elevation Data for the entire world. The SRTM digital elevation data, produced by NASA originally, is a major breakthrough in digital mapping of the world, and provides a major advance in the accessibility of high quality elevation data for large portions of the tropics and other areas of the developing world. The SRTM digital elevation data provided on this site has been processed to fill data voids, and to facilitate it’s ease of use by a wide group of potential users. This data is provided in an effort to promote the use of geospatial science and applications for sustainable development and resource conservation in the developing world. Digital elevation models (DEM) for the entire globe, covering all of the countries of the world, are available for download on this site. The SRTM 90m DEM’s have a resolution of 90m at the equator, and are provided in mosaiced 5 deg x 5 deg tiles for easy download and use. All are produced from a seamless dataset to allow easy mosaicing……

Dr. Andy Jarvis and Edward Guevara of the CIAT Agroecosystems Resilience project, Dr. Hannes Isaak Reuter (JRC-IES-LMNH) and Dr. Andy Nelson (JRC-IES-GEM) have further processed the original DEMs to fill in these no-data voids. This involved the production of vector contours and points, and the re-interpolation of these derived contours back into a raster DEM. These interpolated DEM values are then used to fill in the original no-data holes within the SRTM data. These processes were implemented using Arc/Info and an AML script. The DEM files have been mosaiced into a seamless near-global coverage (up to 60 degrees north and south), and are available for download as 5 degree x 5 degree tiles, in geographic coordinate system – WGS84 datum.”

According to their disclaimer about liability, distribution, and acknowledgement/citation, these contours are freely available for (non-commercial) educational and research purposes, but users should cite the data source for publications and reports:


Users are  prohibited from  any commercial,  non-free resale,  or redistribution without explicit written permission from CIAT. Users should acknowledge CIAT  as the source used  in the creation  of any reports,  publications, new data  sets, derived products, or services resulting from the use of this data set. CIAT also request  reprints of  any publications  and notification  of any  redistributing efforts. For commercial  access to  the data,  send requests  to Andy Jarvis.


We kindly ask  any users to  cite this data  in any published  material produced using this data,  and if possible  link web pages  to the CIAT-CSI  SRTM website (http://srtm.csi.cgiar.org).

Citations should be made as follows: Jarvis A., H.I. Reuter, A.  Nelson, E. Guevara, 2008, Hole-filled  seamless SRTM data V4, International  Centre for Tropical  Agriculture (CIAT), available  from


Finally, the data sets. The following zipped folders each contain 7 individual files that are needed as a package for recognition by ArcGIS. Right click on the file and save to your computer. I will post some ‘permanent’ version of the notes above to this page in the website.

Enjoy, but please do remember to cite the CIAT-CSI  SRTM website.