The Corinthia at the AIA 2011

A great weekend in San Antonio at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, which included some good (and bad) Tex-Mex fare, a trip to the Alamo (which triggered some deep nostalgia for Texas history and 7th grade Texas history classes), the annual Isthmia reunion dinner, and numerous strolls with Kate and baby along the Riverwalk which was a pile of mud because it was being drained for its annual cleaning.

I wanted to follow up an an earlier post about the Corinthia related talks at the session.  The organizing committee unfortunately scheduled all the Corinthia related talks at the same time (Friday morning) which meant that I missed most of them while attending my own session on post-antique travelers to Greece.  But from speaking with others who attended and reading the abstract guide on my flight home, here’s a little summary of how the Corinthia appeared at this year’s meeting.

Spatially, the presentations covered the Corinthia.  While most (8) of the 12 talks centered on the urban excavations at Corinth, there were also papers on the sites of Nemea and Isthmia, the Isthmus in general, and the area near Korphos.  The papers covered the period from Late Bronze Age to the modern era: Prehistoric (2 papers), Archaic-Classical (2), Classical-Hellenistic (2), Early Roman (5), Byzantine  (2).

A brief summary of papers:

“Niketas Ooryphas Drags his Fleet: Portaging the Corinthian Isthmus in 872 A.D.” (David K. Pettegrew, Messiah College).  Discussed the case of the Byzantine admiral Niketas Ooryphas who allegedly dragged his ships over the isthmus in the late 9th century.  I’ll be posting this paper in a series of blogs this week along with the remaining translations of these texts.

“Medieval Pilgrimage to Corinth and Southern Greece” (Amelia R. Brown, University of Queensland).  An excellent overview of Christian pilgrimage to Corinth and the Peloponnese from the 4th to 15th century.  Amelia was not able to make the conference but she used Lectopia to record her voice to her presentation and it worked splendidly.  Included discussions of a number of traveler accounts to Corinth by guys like Saewulf (early 12th century), King Sigurd of Norway (12th century).  The paper also included a  discussion of some of the material remains related to post-antique Christian pilgrimage to Corinth, including the medieval church on the speaker’s platform in the forum and the church of Quadratus the martyr.

“Showing Off for the Neighbors: Wealth and Display in Archaic Corinth” (Angela Ziskowski, Bryn Mawr College).  Taking as departure Elizabeth Pemberton’s 1996 article “Wealthy Corinth: The Archaeological Evidence for Cult Investment at Greek Corinth,” Ziskowski’s talk offered a survey of the religious offerings, dedications, and monuments in the urban center, the territory, and the broader Greek world.  The question that framed her talk was whether the Corinthians in the Archaic era actually invested resources in the urban center.

“The Archaic Temple in Roman Corinth: Civic Identity in the Capital of Achaia” (Ann Morgan, University of Texas at Austin).  The paper examined the incorporation of the old Greek  Archaic Temple of Apollo into the civic landscape of the 1st century Roman colony.  Morgan considered the Roman modifications of the temple as well as the new prominent Temple E, patterns she connects to recent scholarship highlighting the “blended” or “dual identity” (Greek and Roman) of the early colonists.

“Pre-Roman Remains at the East End of the Forum of Corinth: Recent Findings” (Paul Scotton, California State University Long Beach).  A report on the pre-Roman remains at the east end of the forum around the Julian basilica and the Southeast Building, including a house or workshop of Archaic-Classical date, and an east-west structure of unknown function that determined the layout of the Southeast building.

“Urbanization and Roman Residential Architecture Southeast of the Forum at Corinth” (James Herbst, ASCSA Corinth Excavations).  Herbst reported on some marble ionic capitals of 1st century AD date recovered in the destruction debris of a 3rd century house excavated at the Panayia Field.  Herbst associates these capitals with a poorly-preserved residential phase in the area dating to the later 1st century.

“Further Notes on the South Stoa at Corinth: The Roman Interior Colonnade and the Monumental Entrance to the South Basilica” (David Scahill, University of Bath) discussed the archaeological evidence and phasing for a monumental entrance to the South Basilica, with particular attention to the roofing of the stoa.

“The Captives Facade at Ancient Corinth” (Aileen Ajootian, University of Mississippi), examines the famous 2nd century AD “Captives Facade” in Corinth, with its colossal statues of captives at the northeast corner of the forum.  On the basis of newly discovered fragments from the status (discovered in the museum itself!), Ajootian argued that the facade can be associated with the Emperor Lucius Verus’ victory over the Parthians in 165 AD.  Verus had visited Corinth in 162.

“Kraters and Drinking Practices in Hellenistic Corinth” (Sarah James, University of Texas at Austin).  James examined the question of whether the communal symposium continued in Corinth in the Hellenistic period based on an examination of drinking vessels (kraters).  James examined not only the continuing popularity of the krater in Hellenistic Corinth but also changing contexts (public vs. private).  The decline of kraters in public contexts may relate to shift to metal vessels in Greece more broadly.

“Old Excavations and New Interpretations: Recent Investigations in the Sanctuary of Poseidon on the Isthmus of Corinth” (Jon Frey, Michigan State University, and Timothy Gregory, Ohio State University).  A first report on the investigations of Frey and Gregory who, in recent years, have been examining old records for 4-decades old excavations at Isthmia and resolving architectural relationships between the Roman Bath, the Hexamilion and the Fortress, and earlier buildings.  In their talk, Frey demonstrated that later phases of the trans-isthmus wall (5th century AD) actually preserved (not destroyed) the architectural plans on earlier Roman buildings at the site, including a very long colonnade that belonged to a “stoa-like building,” and a room that has been tentatively interpreted as a latrine(!).  This new interpretation promises to fill in the gap for the earlier periods at Isthmia.

“New Excavations at Nemea: The 2010 Season” (Kim S. Shelton, University of California, Berkeley), presented a preliminary report on the first season of new investigations at the Sanctuary of Zeus.  The first season was directed to examining the prehistoric and early historic use of the site especially related to the question of how this site developed as a panhellenic sanctuary.

“Untangling Mycenaean Terracing: Landscape Modification and Agricultural Production at Korphos-Kalamianos” (Lynne A. Kvapil, University of Cincinnati), presented on a series of agricultural terraces documented by the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Project in the southeast Corinthia near Korphos.  By examining the relationship of terrace walls and forms of construction, Kvapil linked the terracing to the settlement’s agricultural activities in the Late Bronze Age.

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Categories: Archaic, Byzantine, Classical, Conferences and Presentations, Hellenistic, Isthmus, Periods, Nemea, Periods, Roman, Sites, Isthmia

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