Over the last week, I have been working frantically on the revisions of an article called the “Diolkos of Corinth,” about the famous paved portage road across the Corinthian Isthmus. I submitted the paper last August and it was provisionally accepted for publication providing that some minor modifications were made. When I hear that the revised article is cleared for final publication, I’ll provide more details about it. For now, I post the abstract of the piece.
Since the mid-19th century the paved portage road known as the diolkos has been central to interpreting the historical fortunes of the city of Corinth and the commercial facility of its Isthmus. In this article, I reevaluate the view that the diolkos functioned as a “commercial thoroughfare” by reconsidering the archaeological, logistical, and textual evidence for the road and overland portaging. Each form of evidence problematizes the notion of trans-shipment and suggests the road did not facilitate trade as a constant flow of ships and cargoes through Corinth. The diolkos road was not principally a commercial thoroughfare for transporting the goods of other states but facilitated the communication, transport, travel, and strategic ends of Corinth. The commercial properties of the Isthmus subsist in its emporion for exchange, not as a stage for trans-shipment.