Mobilizing the Past

When we decided to bring iPads to Cyprus for use in the 2012 excavation season of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, we knew we were migrating into a new and uncertain digital future of archaeological research. My own initial encounters with the archaeological process (excavating prehistoric rockshelters and hilltop enclosures in southern Ohio) had involved recording notes in paper notebooks the old fashioned way. And when I crossed the pond and participated in archaeological surveys and excavations in Greece and Cyprus, there was lots of paper in forms, notebooks, instruction manuals, and end-of-season reports.

Our experience using mobile devices for collecting material in Cyprus gave us a sense of how fieldwork could be streamlined with digital media but also taught us not to give up on paper altogether (you can read a summary of our experiences here). In fact, we collected our data that year with both iPads and paper in the fear that some catastrophic data loss might send us back to the U.S. with nothing to show for our work.

Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, Cyprus, June 1, 2012. Photo by David Pettegrew
A student uses an iPad to record data in the excavation of a Hellenistic site. From the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, Cyprus, June 1, 2012. Photo by David Pettegrew.

This new volume edited by Erin Averett, Jody Gordon, and Derek Counts and published by the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is a welcome contribution to the scholarship surrounding digital archaeology. This major publication compiles contributions from leading practitioners in the field in a discussion about how mobile technologies (broadly defined) intersect with and affect archaeological practices.  With 20 articles that total 556 pages of text, the volume publishes a workshop at Wentworth Institute of Technology in early 2015 that was funded by an NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grant. Most importantly, the volume takes a critical and reflective (rather than utopian) view on mobile approaches in archaeology today. Here’s the book description:

Mobilizing the Past is a collection of 20 articles that explore the use and impact of mobile digital technology in archaeological field practice. The detailed case studies present in this volume range from drones in the Andes to iPads at Pompeii, digital workflows in the American Southwest, and examples of how bespoke, DIY, and commercial software provide solutions and craft novel challenges for field archaeologists. The range of projects and contexts ensures that Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future is far more than a state-of-the-field manual or technical handbook. Instead, the contributors embrace the growing spirit of critique present in digital archaeology. This critical edge, backed by real projects, systems, and experiences, gives the book lasting value as both a glimpse into present practices as well as the anxieties and enthusiasm associated with the most recent generation of mobile digital tools….

While there are only a few references to Corinthian matters in the volume per se, you’ll see in the list of contributors a number of long-term contributors to Corinthian scholarship. And the work is certainly relevant to the various movements in the digital Corinthia which we have discussed here at Corinthian Matters.

If you’re interested, you can download the full volume or individual chapters at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

Fields, Sherds, and Scholars

It’s been all teaching for me since late August as I manage courses at Messiah College in Latin, Ancient Civilizations, and Historical Archaeology (including a little field component). But fall break is here at last which gives me a little reprieve to catch up on grading, stain the fence, and pass along a few of the goodies that have gathered in my inbox. (Next semester should be lighter which gives me some hope that I’ll return to a more regular output of Corinthiaka.)

For now, I pass along this circular for a conference titled, “Fields, Sherds and Scholars: Recording and interpreting survey ceramics,” which the Dutch Institute of Athens will host from February 24-25. Interpreting ceramic scatters is foundational to regional pedestrian survey, the most established method for reconstructing the ancient countryside, yet remains poorly understood. The deadline for submitting 200-word abstracts is Oct. 24. For information about submission, see this PDF circular.

Survey ceramics have always been convenient chronological markers of archaeological surveys, enabling us to recognize and date survey sites. Although landscape archaeology has now been going on for more than half a century and the amount of sherds collected in these projects is overwhelming, the interpretative value of the ceramic material is rarely exploited. What do the dots on the map actually represent and how did people use and shape the landscape?

This conference will also address sampling, recording and publication strategies that would best serve the interpretation of survey ceramics. Of course these depend on the research questions we have in mind, but to some extent the material itself dictates opportunities and limitations. The dataset is shaped by the choices what field data to record, which material to collect and how to record and publish. These strategic choices determine our research possibilities and the comparative value of project results.

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to this conference within the frame of these two topics:
• Sampling, recording and publication strategies
• Interpretative potential for survey ceramics

Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Celebrates 40 Years

This short piece from the Greek Reporter caught my attention earlier this week. It includes a brief overview of a celebration of work of the ephoreia and includes mention of Lechaion. Here’s the opening and relevant section on Lechaion (read the full piece here):

“Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities on Friday celebrated 40 years of documenting and protecting the country’s rich underwater heritage….Angeliki Simosi, head of the ephorate, gave an overview of the numerous projects across Greece in the past two years, which include expeditions in cooperation with foreign institutes at famous shipwrecks and sites, such as the Britannic — Titanic’s sister ship, off Kea island, as well as new discoveries…At Lechaion, ancient Corinth’s partially submerged harbor town, ongoing underwater excavations revealed the infrastructure of more than a thousand years of flourishing maritime trade.”



The Liberation of Corinth, October 10, 1944

Seventy-two years ago today, the city of Corinth was liberated from German occupation. Freelance journalist (and Corinthia resident) Damian Mac Con Uladh has done a little investigative work and posted to his blog an original news story (from the Sydney Morning Herald), footage of the liberation, and commentary. That story from the Sydney Morning Herald details the celebrations over the German withdrawal and a trip from Corinth to Patras to spread the word about the liberation. Damian’s post calls attention to the important role of 96-year old Mois Yussourum in resistance work in the Corinthia and liberation. Read the full story here.


Swim the Corinth Canal

Add this to your list of things to do the next time you go to the Corinthia in September: Swim the Corinth Canal. According to this little blurb in ekathimerini, last week’s Swim the Canal event marked the first time the canal had been used for a swim race since its construction in 1893. No wonder: this year’s swim covered 6 kilometers. The organization webpage, Swim the Canal, notes that it was supposed to take at least 1 hour of swimming and as many as 4 hours. Not sure how many racer’s participated in this year’s event, but the pictures show quite a crowd.


I like that the organizers have appealed to the history of the canal and the Isthmus at their webpage.


So, swimming the canal takes its places alongside all the other athletic events and adventure sports at the Isthmus–you can read about some of those here. And you can be assured you’ll have another chance to swim the canal — it’s not likely that “the biggest swimming event in Greece” will be a one-time event.

Box of Isthmus

Corinthian Matters is officially in vacation mode as our site’s regular visitors participate in archaeological fieldwork and travel, sip frappes or lie on beaches, and generally take some vacation time. I myself am teaching an online history class, working on a new research project, spending time with the kids, and taking it a little easier. But don’t worry: I’ve got my eyes on new Corinthian scholarship andnews items (including that big story about the Return of the Kouroi), and will deliver relevant Corinthiaka starting early September.

But I couldn’t resist interrupting my summer blogging break with this picture of this box of isthmuses which landed at my house two weeks ago. Yes, The Isthmus of Corinth: Crossroads of the Mediterranean World has been officially published by University of Michigan Press. I’ll say more about this in coming weeks. You can order your hard cover version today for the low monograph price of only $85.

Sunrise in the Village

Last day of my whirlwind tour in the Corinthia. I’ve continued meeting and running into old archaeology friends from Isthmia and Corinth, talking with local friends about the feasibility of a visit with students next year, and taking lots of pictures. This one comes from my morning run around the village of Ancient Corinth.

Sunrise over the church of the Panayia, photo by David Pettegrew, May 30, 2016
Sunrise over the church of the Panayia, photo by David Pettegrew, May 30, 2016

A Corinthia Visit

I am halfway through a brief visit to Greece and Cyprus. I spent several in Polis, Cyprus, having conversations with friends and colleagues from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project and the Princeton Polis Project (see Bill Caraher’s posts about those conversation here and here), and had the chance to visit friends in Myloi as the Western Argolid Regional Project gets underway. Here’s a beautiful view of the Argolic Gulf from the peak above Myloi.


On to Corinth today. I will be in the Corinthia through Tuesday morning to visit old friends and think about a little gazetteer project. If you’re in the area and want to meet up, contact me here.

Religion for Breakfast

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:

ReligionforBreakfastAnd 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.

And for some background: Andrew is an advanced PhD student in religious studies at Boston University with interests in the intersection of material culture and early Christianity. He has worked at the ASCSA Excavations in the Athenian Agora, and participated for a summer in the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, a project that Bill Caraher, Scott Moore, and I direct in Cyprus. I also had the privilege of working with Andrew during his brief stint at Messiah College.

These vlogs should be a great resource for use in the classroom and will be of interest for anyone who wants to know about the academic study of ancient religion.

With Passover and Orthodox Easter approaching, this marks our final post in a series about resources for the study of religion, Judaism, and Christianity in Corinth. Earlier posts include: