Last May I had the privilege of working with Albert Sarvis, Professor of Geospatial Technology at Harrisburg University (and a licensed drone pilot), in capturing low-altitude aerial photographs of the Isthmus of Corinth. Albert and I had collaborated for several years previous on the Digital Harrisburg project, an ambitious project that seeks to link all the individuals living in Pennsylvania’s state capital in the years 1880-1940 with encoded historical maps of the city. Our work together in the Corinthia was a new endeavor, designed to both support long-term research related to the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey and learn about the complicated history of the human uses of the Isthmus from antiquity to the present. Although it rained steadily in the region last May, it was still as successful venture in capturing new perspectives on an historical landscape: look at the final image below to compare the ESRI default aerial imagery with the higher resolution drone survey.
It was also a successful collaboration of students and faculty of the humanities and digital technologies. I brought along 9 Messiah College students (mostly History majors and minors), and Albert brought one senior student in Geospatial Technologies, John Nieves-Jennings. My students had the rewarding experience of learning how drone survey works (and some exposure to the software Pix4D) while Albert’s student was able to connect digital applications to historical questions. John Nieves-Jenning not only ran many of the drone flights but captured the process of work through still images, textual description, and videos. For a senior project, John put together this interactive ESRI Story Map with videos and images of the Corinthia and the drone survey. If you turn on the volume, you can hear the whirring buzz of the drone as it hovers up and above the fields and quarries of the Isthmus. You can also see some live footage of our work and me trying to remember what I could about the history of Corinthian quarries.
We have received a permit from the aviation authority to undertake a second season of drone photography the week after next. Albert and I will be returning with one of his colleagues and students for additional fieldwork. Stay tuned for some updates from the field.
If you are interested in issues of ancient religion and early Christianity, check out Andrew Henry’s YouTube channel “Religion for Breakfast.” Religion for Breakfast is (as the about page notes) an educational video log “dedicated to the academic, nonsectarian study of religion. We strive to raise the level of conversation about religion on YouTube by exploring surprising facts about humanity’s beliefs and rituals through an anthropological, sociological, and archaeological lens.” And the home page for the channel describes the purpose of the series in this way:
Religion for Breakfast believes everyone should know a little bit more about religion. It touches every aspect of human civilization—our art, politics, history, and culture. It has inspired some of our most ethereal music. It has motivated some of our greatest leaders. And, yes, it has also sparked some of our biggest wars and social injustices…
Andrew has an academic blog on the subject as well but his really original contribution is this YouTube channel that regularly releases short (2-10 minute), fast-paced, and jumpy video blogs designed to educate the public about the academic study of ancient religion. Influenced by educational videolog channels in the sciences (check out, for example, this PBS Space Time vlog on the speed of light and this CrashCourse vlog on the history of early Christianity), Andrew is a pioneer in applying this genre to ancient religious studies.
His series so far has included short videos on topics such as:
And while most of these concern religion generally–and not Corinth per se–at least a few are directly relevant to the Corinthian situation, including, for example, How to Make an Ancient Curse Tablet (cf. Stroud’s publication of curse tablets in Corinth XVIII.6) and Where did Ancient Christians Meet?, which begins with a survey on Acrocorinth and discusses meeting places in Corinth and other regions of the Roman Mediterranean.
After last month’s post about helicopter views of Corinthian coasts, I was pleased to discover Dronestagram, a site that allows owners of drones to share their photos and videos. This two minute sequence of the site of Ancient Corinth offers low-altitude coverage of the archaeological site as well as the Greek theater and Odeion. Now that the technology is available, expect many more of these in the future. These kinds of videos provide new perspectives on archaeological sites which will certainly be useful in the classroom.
Thanasis Dimakis, resident of Vrachati on the Corinthian Gulf, kindly sent me a link to his YouTube playlist of Corinthian-related videos that include videos of nature, overviews of the region, aerial imagery of the landscape, and a couple of historical overviews. I’ll go through these in the next few weeks and post those that seem broadly relevant for this blog.
This 12 minute video segment showing the village of Ancient Corinth in 1947 and the work of the American School Excavations at Corinth, comes from the final third of the documentary Triumph Over Time (available in full video form here on YouTube), a film directed by Oscar Broneer, produced by Margaret Thompson, and created — as Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan has shown — to publicize and raise funds in North America for the work of the American School of Classical Studies. The section on Corinth is worth viewing for the moving images of the post-war excavations, archaeologists at work, the archaeological process, and the quaint and “timeless” idyllic footage of the village and its surrounding countryside.
Every month I sort through hundreds of google alerts, scholar alerts, academia notices, book review sites, and other social media in an attempt to find a few valuable bits to pass along via this site. I ignore the vast majority of hits that enter my inbox, store away those that I plan to develop into their own stories, and then release the ephemera (or those I fail to convert to stories) via these Corinthiaka posts. Here are a few from the last month–a small selection of the news, stories, and blogs about the Corinthia.
Archaeology and Classics:
Review of Waterfield’s Taken at the Flood. The Roman Conquest of Greece (in The Classical Review)
This is close enough to the Corinthia to include–the discovery of a submerged Bronze Age village in the Koilada Bay: covered at SperoNews. We noted the mysterious expedition of this large solar-powered boat back in January–glad to see the end in sight
We’re also close enough to note another exciting discovery posted last week, a “palace” with Linear B tablets at Ayios Vassileios near the village of Xirokambi in Laconia:
Here is this Friday’s dose of Corinthiaka–the ephemeral material, news, and blogs to go online over the last two weeks. Or at least the material that my alerts captured.
Archaeology and Classics:
One of those sweet 3D video fly-overs from Lechaion to Corinth in the Second century. Lots of inaccuracy combined with imaginative reconstruction here, but also some value. I love the view down the road from Lechaion (Georgios Terzis, “History in 3D” @DailyMotion)
Research Gate and Academia continue to be great venues for accessing sometimes hard-to-find scholarship:
Let’s face it. Excavation is pretty boring. Hours of tedium, careful digging, and extensive notetaking with occasional glorious bursts of finds and findings (and often: nothing or very little at all). I admit that I still like the process of excavation and get enthusiastic about the prospects of discoveries that change the way we think about the local past – even when we are finding nothing.
Watching the videocast of the open meeting of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens at Athens is like watching a series of ‘highlights’ clips of a sporting event, say, basketball in March Madness (or, perhaps more accurately, like an average basketball game during regular season since the March Madness games tend to keep the attention). In these open meetings, the director offers a lecture of archaeological research in the past year both directly sponsored by the school (Corinth and Athens) and fieldwork conducted by the school’s affiliated institutions.
This year’s clip from Director James Wright gives an overview of the work of the school in 2014 and is followed by Merle Langdon’s lecture on “Rupestral Inscriptions in the Greek World”.
The bit on Corinth runs from 5:24 to 8:48 and surveys the programs of preservation and education, including plans for restoration of the Peirene Fountain and South Stoa (with discussion of the famous agonothetes / Isthmian games mosaic), excavations south of the South Stoa (which came down upon 11th century AD fills, a late antique house, and some earlier Roman levels), conservation of the Frankish city just outside of the museum, and educational programs with area schools.
Beyond Corinth, the lecture surveys recent fieldwork in the Athenian agora (near the Stoa Poikile), the Molyvoti Peninsula (in Thrace), Samothrace, Halai, Mitrou, among many others. My video crashed about the 27 minute mark yesterday so I’m not sure what lies beyond.
Over the next few weeks, I will be updating the site with some of the news bits, stories, and blog pieces that posted in the last six months. All of the following will be old news to those who follow the Corinthian Studies facebook page or the news feed of the ASCSA webpage, but for those of you who missed these stories: