A New History of Hellenistic Corinth

There was buzz around Corinth this summer about Michael Dixon’s forthcoming book on Hellenistic Corinth. I wasn’t expecting the work to arrive so quickly, but friends have passed on good news of its publication. Here’s the bibliographic reference:

Dixon, Michael D. Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Corinth, 338-196 BC. Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies. New York 2014.

The book description at Routledge as well as sections of the introduction made available at that site show that the book comprises a study of Corinth’s relationship with the Macedonian kings and the Achaian koinon between the late classical period and the settlement following the Second Macedonian War. Here’s the abstract from the publisher’s page.

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Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Corinth, 338-196 B.C. challenges the perception that the Macedonians’ advent and continued presence in Corinth amounted to a loss of significance and autonomy. Immediately after Chaironeia, Philip II and his son Alexander III established close relations with Corinth and certain leading citizens on the basis of goodwill (eunoia). Mutual benefits and respect characterized their discourse throughout the remainder of the early Hellenistic period; this was neither a period of domination or decline, nor one in which the Macedonians deprived Corinthians of their autonomy. Instead, Corinth flourished while the Macedonians possessed the city. It was the site of a vast building program, much of which must be construed as the direct result of Macedonian patronage, evidence suggests strongly that those Corinthians who supported the Macedonians enjoyed great prosperity under them. Corinth’s strategic location made it an integral part of the Macedonians’ strategy to establish and maintain hegemony over the mainland Greek peninsula after Philip II’s victory at Chaironeia. The Macedonian dynasts and kings who later possessed Corinth also valued its strategic position, and they regarded it as an essential component in their efforts to claim legitimacy due to its association with the Argead kings, Philip II and Alexander III the Great, and the League of Corinth they established.

This study explicates the nature of the relationship between Corinthians and Macedonians that developed in the aftermath of Chaironeia, through the defeat at the battle of Kynoskephalai and the declaration of Greek Freedom at Isthmia in 196 B.C. Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Corinth is not simply the history of a single polis; it draws upon the extant literary, epigraphic, prosopographic, topographic, numismatic, architectural, and archaeological evidence to place Corinth within broader Hellenistic world. This volume, the full first treatment of the city in this period, contributes significantly to the growing body of scholarly literature focusing on the Hellenistic world and is a crucial resource for specialists in late Classical and early Hellenistic history.”

And the table of contents:

1. Corinth, The “Gateway of Isthmian Poseidon”

2. Corinth in the Age of Philip II and Alexander III, 338-323 B.C.

3. The “Corinthian Troubles,” Corinth and the Diadochoi, 323-301 B.C.

4. Antigonos Gonatas and Corinth, “The Passion of his Life”

5. Monuments and Cult in Early Hellenistic Corinth

6. The Achaian Interlude, 243-224 B.C. From Liberation to Rebellion

7. The End of Macedonian Corinth

8.Conclusions and Reflections Bibliography

This looks like a book of major importance for understanding the late Classical, Hellenistic, and early Roman interactions in Corinth. I’ve just ordered a copy for my college’s library.

Posted in Corinthian Scholarship (monthly), Destruction of Corinth, Fortifications, Periods, Classical, Periods, Hellenistic, Periods, Roman, Urban Center | Leave a comment

An Update on the Isthmus Project (and a promise to unleash some mid-summer Corinthiaka)

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I have slowly been making progress on a historical study of the Roman Isthmus. Every so often, I rehearse the background of the project and offer an update of how it has developed—mainly to apologize for the sporadic character of posts on this blog.

So, the rehearsal: The project began a little over a decade ago as a dissertation about the late antique landscape that centered on the survey data of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. In completing that project in 2006, I recognized that understanding the Isthmus in late antiquity demanded a real understanding of the region in earlier Roman times. But pushing into earlier centuries naturally ushered in the complex patterns of continuity and change in earlier periods. Before I knew it, my focused study of a late antique landscape had morphed into a century by century treatment of contingency and connectivity from the archaic age to the end of antiquity. The heart of the study is a fine-grained presentation of the EKAS survey data contextualized in terms of the primary textual sources for the period and synthetic summaries of archaeological investigations. My aim has been to show how connectivity in the landscape related to the broader interactions of the local, regional, and global: Roman imperialism, colonization, the visit of an emperor, Greek elite education, and foreign invasions were some of the short-term contingencies that affected the development of the region in the long term.

The good news (the update) is that I’m in the final stages of finishing this thing. I have a contract, a publisher (Michigan), and a manuscript that is taking its final shape. It’s been reviewed. A couple of times. In fact, I thought I was finished in January, but some late reviews from anonymous reviewers and friends encouraged me to add two more chapters. As I wrap up those final chapters, I’m hopeful that this will be in finished state (again) by the end of the year at the latest. Indeed, I have a strong incentive to finish by summer’s end since LP3 (Little Pettegrew #3) is due to arrive in early September just in time for the new school year. Of course, I’m almost always unrealistic about the time needed to finish projects so we’ll just see how it goes.

The chapter divisions and content as it currently stands—last minute reorganization could shuffle the content of Ch. 2-4:

1. Introduction

2. The Isthmos: conceptions and definitions of the isthmus in the Classical and Hellenistic era

3. The Crossroads: the physical developments of the regional structures from the archaic to Hellenistic periods

4. The Fetter: the Isthmus as it relates to the Roman destruction of Greek Corinth

5. The Portage: the interim period

6. The Bridge: the first century of the Roman colony

7. The Canal: the third quarter of the first century AD

8. The Center: late first to early third century

9. The Countryside: mid-third to late fourth

10. The Fortification: late fourth to early seventh

11. Conclusions

With some optimism about an end in sight, I’ll start releasing some of the Corinthiaka that I’ve been hoarding in recent months. Some of this will be familiar stuff to the Corinthian Studies FB group, so apologies to readers who are seeing old news in these posts.

Posted in About, Archaeological Survey, EKAS (Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey), Periods, Diachronic | Leave a comment

Kalamaki Hill

I had always wanted to climb the ridge above Kalamaki Bay on the mainland (eastern) side of the Corinth Canal. Ridges often reward archaeologically-minded hikers with unexpected rewards,and this one was already associated with ancient remains.

The Kalamaki Ridge is that prominent height that one passes beneath when entering the Peloponnese via the old national road, new highway, or the high-speed train. In the olden days, say the 16th-early 19th century, travelers misidentified the peak as “Mount Oneion,” following a confusing note of the geographer Strabo about the location of that mountain. The good work of topographers and surveyors in the 19th and 20th century set the record straight: Oneion was the spine on the southern side of the Isthmus, not the little hill at Kalamaki Bay.

The Kalamaki ridge is the top peak in the image below.

photo 5

Unlike the Monastery of St. Patopios, the ridge above Kalamaki is much less accessible. Although it’s not a rugged path to get there, there is no signage to direct the visitor along the path to the peak. Kaylee, Tim, and I were forced to resort to trial and error (with some in-built GPS in our smart phones) to navigate our way along the correct roads linking the road to Loutraki with the series of spurs trending north-south above the narrow coastal plain.

Our first go was a miss. The ridge we hiked up to was not the right one. But we did stumble upon an impressive rural Classical-era site — a farmstead perhaps? — with amphora fragments, stone vessel rims, and painted Laconian rooftiles that had been turned up by some (presumably clandestine) excavation. Without access to my notes, I’m not sure whether this site was one of the two sites identified as “Kalamaki A and B” by James Wiseman in his important book on Corinthian territory.

Our second hit was more successful. We found the road that followed the spur to the very tip. As we walked down a long gravel road leading us deeper into a remote location and heard voices in the distances, we each imagined that we were going to stumble upon some illicit activity. We were not disappointed to find only a woman and two men gathering firewood for next winter.

The reward for our efforts was a commanding view of the two capes that defined the Isthmus: Akra Sophia (center) and Akra Sousaki (visible in the second picture below).

photo 1

Also splendid shots of the narrow strip of coastal plain.

photo 2

The Ayios Dimitrios Ridge (left-center foreground), the real Mt. Oneion range (left-center background), and Acrocorinth (right) in the distance. That’s Kaylee Schofield and Tim Hampton in the abandoned remains. I warned them not to stand along the edge which is sheer cliff. The woman told us that the ruined building on the peak marked the remains of a German guard tower from World War II. Given the numerous German remains on the Isthmus, that is certainly possible.

photo 3

What is indisputable is the geodetic marker on top. Another photo to prove I was there.

photo 4

Another day, another good hike that has helped to visualize how ancient writers defined the landscape known as the Isthmus.

 

 

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From the Monastery of St. Patapios

The sisters of the monastery of St. Patapios may have the best perspective on the entire Corinthia. Perched high on the steep slopes of Mt. Geraneia, they peer down at the Isthmus, ancient Corinth, the Corinthian Gulf, and the broader world they’ve left behind.

I had driven beneath that monastery so many times on trips to and from Perachora that I had long convinced myself that I had visited it. I had to remedy my oversight, and convinced two students to drive up yesterday morning to have a look.

I’ll admit that my motives for visiting were flat and mundane. I wanted some good photographs of the northern side of the Isthmus. I’ve been cooking up some new ideas about how ancient writers defined and perceived this landscape and needed some high-resolution photos of the coastline for support. In that respect, I was not disappointed. With the morning light behind us and the winds clearing the air, the views were just breathtaking.  This photo, taken just inside the entrance to the monastery, shows New Corinth on the left with Acrocorinth behind. I love how this perspective seems to cancel out the significant spatial distance between  the two as though Acro sits immediately above New Corinth.

photo 4

The photo below shows the Saronic Gulf on the eastern side of the Isthmus with the Oneion backbone on the right side. Like the vantage point from Acrocorinth, Mt. Oneion, or the mountains of the southern Corinthia, the monastery offers glimpses of Corinth the twin-sea’d.

photo 5

This one — to prove that I was there — shows the main road in Loutraki (to the left of my right shoulder) and the entrance to the canal (to the right of my left shoulder) and a great image of the Isthmus.

photo 5

Despite these uninspiring reasons for a visit, I was impressed by St. Patapios and the religious community formed in his honor here. The church itself had panel scenes of the life of Christ and a sort of icon hall of fame of famous Corinthian saints (or those connected in some way with Corinth), with New Testament notables like Paul, Apollos, Priscila, Aquila, Phoebe, Lydia, Crispus, and Gaius (and the list goes on), and more recent ascetics like Nektarios. The cavernous shrine to the left of the church — with its web of lanterns dangling from the cave ceiling –housed the relics of Patapios.photo 3

It was a pleasure to talk to the nuns who were clearly proud of their place and graciously welcomed us to visit the church, treated us to coffee, and discussed the iconography. One told us about her conversion at a young age to the ascetic life, her decision to leave Corinth for the monastery, and her younger brother’s decision to go to Mt. Athos. Having lived in the convent for 58 years, she had a unique perspective of the region.

We ended our visit there with a stop in the bookstore, where I purchased an icon and a life of St. Patapios, the late antique ascetic from Egypt who moved to Constantinople, and whose relics were translated to the  mount some 700 meters above Loutraki around the year 1453. I was delighted to open the life and see that his memory is honored on December 8, the feast of the immaculate conception in the Catholic church — and my birthday.

 

 

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On the road

It’s been a few years since I last visited Ancient Corinth and I’m glad to see things in the village are still recognizable from when I was here last. The trees in the plateia have grown taller and fuller in the last several years — it’s hard to believe that not so long ago this redesigned plateia was the main route that the big buses would take on their way into and out of the villages.

Wireless interent is now everywhere, or at least can find it at many of the tavernas and coffee shops. I was hopeful that I could do a series of posts but the connection is just spotty enough — at least at my hotel — to make it challenging to upload images of the village. My trip here, in any case, is a quick strategic strike to answer a handful of remaining research questions related to my study of the Isthmus, and I’ll write with more detail and images when I return home next week. For now, a few lovely images I managed to upload while writing this post and answering some emails.

IMG_27212014-06-01 20.57.34_m2014-06-01 20.57.20_m

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A Flight Through the Corinth Canal

I’ve said before that Corinth’s Isthmus seems to draw out the crazy in people. Think of Herodes Atticus, the wealthy aristocrat of the second century AD, beholding the landscape and consumed with a desire to cut a canal through it. Or Marcus Antonius, the grandfather of the triumvir, seeing the brilliant opportunity to portage his ships across and achieve instant fame in 101 BC.

In the modern era, cutting the canal was a Herculean effort. In more recent times, we’ve seen bungee jumping, glider flights, dramatic dog rescues, SUPing (look it up), and Robbie Maddison’s mad motorcycle jump.

The latest stunt came last week. The Hungarian Red Bull pilot, Peter Besenyei, flew his plane through the canal. He flew under bridges. He twirled. He ascended and plunged downward into the canal and did loops around the bridges. How could anyone think this is a good idea? You can read about it here and here and see the video here.

 

 

 

 

 

Besenyei commented:

“A dream has come true. The Corinth Canal, a historical place in Greece, had been a challenge for me for a long time. It feels great to be in this beautiful country, full of rich history and I especially enjoyed this unique experience.”

My take away: beware of consuming energy drinks on the Isthmus.

What’s next?

[H/t to Phyllis Graham for alerting me to the news piece.]

Posted in Canal, Corinth in the Mind, Isthmus, News Stories | Leave a comment

Corinthian Scholarship Monthly (December-February). Part 2

Here is the second part to last week’s post about new scholarship in the last three months.

You can find the full collection of articles and books related to Corinthian studies at the Corinthian Studies Zotero Page. If you don’t see URLs for articles and books below (they sometimes don’t transfer in the copy), visit the Zotero group page. The new entries are tagged according to master categories .ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY or .NEW TESTAMENT AND EARLY CHRISTIAN.

As I noted previously, Version 2 of the library in RIS format is scheduled to be released by summer. I am always looking for reviewers of articles or books listed in the CSM posts. If you can write and are qualified, drop me a line.

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Adams, Edward. The Earliest Christian Meeting Places: Almost Exclusively Houses? A&C Black, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?id=FNBBAgAAQBAJ.

Angeli Bernardini, Paola, ed. Corinto: luogo di azione e luogo di racconto : atti del convengo internazionale, Urbino, 23-25 settembre 2009. Pisa [etc.]: F. Serra, 2013. http://www.libraweb.net/result1.php?dettagliononpdf=1&chiave=2848&valore=sku&name=Luogo.jpg&h=870&w=600.

Balzat, Jean-Sébastien, and Benjamin W. Millis. “M. Antonius Aristocrates: Provincial Involvement with Roman Power in the Late 1st Century B.C.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 82, no. 4 (December 2013): 651–72. doi:10.2972/hesperia.82.4.0651.

Batchvarov, Kroum N. “Clay Pipes and Smoking Paraphernalia from the Kitten Shipwreck, an Early Nineteenth-Century Black Sea Merchantman.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 18, no. 1 (March 1, 2014): 1–19. doi:10.1007/s10761-013-0244-z.

Bradshaw, Paul F. Rites of Ordination: Their History and Theology. Liturgical Press, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=shQpnQEACAAJ.

Çakırlar, C., S. Ikram, and M-H. Gates. “New Evidence for Fish Processing in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean: Formalised Epinephelus Butchery in Fifth Century Bc Kinet Höyük, Turkey.” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, January 1, 2014, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1002/oa.2388.

Docter, Roald, and Babette Bechtold. “Two Forgotten Amphorae from the Hamburg Excavations at Carthage (Cyprus, and the Iberian Peninsula) and Their Contexts.” Carthage Studies 5 (2011) (2013): 91–128.

Forbes, Hamish A. “Off-Site Scatters and the Manuring Hypothesis in Greek Survey Archaeology: An Ethnographic Approach.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 82, no. 4 (December 2013): 551–94. doi:10.2972/hesperia.82.4.0551.

Hall, Jonathan M. Artifact and Artifice: Classical Archaeology and the Ancient Historian. University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Heil, Andreas, and Gregor Damschen, eds. Brill’s Companion to Seneca: Philosopher and Dramatist. Leiden: Brill, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=9jqOAgAAQBAJ.

Jones, Catherine M. “Theatre of Shame: The Impact of Paul’s Manual Labour on His Apostleship in Corinth.” PhD Thesis, University of St. Michael’s College, 2013. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/43420.

Laios, K., G. Tsoucalas, M. Karamanou, and G. Androutsos. “The Medical–Religious Practice of Votive Offerings and the Representation of a Unique Pathognomonic One Inside the Asclepieion of Corinth.” Journal of Religion and Health, 2013, 1–6. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9811-1.

Lambert, Craig. “Norman Naval Operations in the Mediterranean.” Journal for Maritime Research 15, no. 2 (2013): 241–43. doi:10.1080/21533369.2013.852314.

Last, Richard. “Money, Meals and Honour: The Economic and Honorific Organization of the Corinthian Ekklesia.” PhD Thesis, University of Toronto, 2013.

Nichols, Aidan. Figuring out the Church: Her Marks, and Her Masters. Ignatius Press, 2013.

Polinskaya, Irene. A Local History of Greek Polytheism: Gods, People and the Land of Aigina, 800-400 BCE. Leiden: Brill, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=8FqNAgAAQBAJ.

Punt, Jeremy. “Framing Human Dignity through Domination and Submission? Negotiating Borders and Loyalties (of Power) in the New Testament.” Scriptura 112 (2013): 1–17. doi:10.7833/112-0-82.

Reed, David Alan. “Paul on Marriage and Singleness:  Reading 1 Corinthians with the Augustan Marriage Laws.” PhD Thesis, University of St. Michael’s College, 2013. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/43426/1/Reed_David_A_201311_PhD_thesis.pdf.

Rowan, Clare. “Coinage as Commodity and Bullion in the Western Mediterranean, Ca. 550–100 BCE.” Mediterranean Historical Review 28, no. 2 (2013): 105–27. doi:10.1080/09518967.2013.837638.

Saliari, Konstantina, and Erich Draganits. “Early Bronze Age Bone Tubes from the Aegean: Archaeological Context, Use and Distribution.” Archeometriai Műhely [Archaeometry Workshop], 2013, 179–92.

Schoenborn, Christoph Cardinal. The Source of Life: Exploring the Mystery of the Eucharist. Ignatius Press, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=oydLAgAAQBAJ.

Spinks, Bryan D. Do This in Remembrance of Me: The Eucharist from the Early Church to the Present Day. SCM Press, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=-309AgAAQBAJ.

Stoneman, Richard. Pindar. I.B.Tauris, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=jwlgAgAAQBAJ.

Thiessen, Matthew. “‘The Rock Was Christ’: The Fluidity of Christ’s Body in 1 Corinthians 10.4.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 36, no. 2 (December 1, 2013): 103–26. doi:10.1177/0142064X13506171.

Toffolo, Michael B., Alexander Fantalkin, Irene S. Lemos, Rainer C. S. Felsch, Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, Guy D. R. Sanders, Israel Finkelstein, and Elisabetta Boaretto. “Towards an Absolute Chronology for the Aegean Iron Age: New Radiocarbon Dates from Lefkandi, Kalapodi and Corinth.” PLoS ONE 8, no. 12 (December 26, 2013): e83117. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083117.

Wallace, Christopher. “Ager Publicus in the Greek East: I. Priene 111 and Other Examples of Resistance to the Publicani.” Historia 63, no. 1 (2014): 38–73.

———. “Ager Publicus in the Greek East: I. Priene 111 and Other Examples of Resistance to the Publicani.” Historia 63, no. 1 (2014): 38–73.

Walsh, Justin St P. Consumerism in the Ancient World: Imports and Identity Construction. Routledge, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=XU83AgAAQBAJ.

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