The Isthmus of Corinth Project

No end in sight for winter here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but a new semester is under way, and with that, you should see a little more activity here at Corinthian Matters.

Over the last six weeks, I’ve been busy bringing to completion a book on Corinth’s eastern landscape titled — at least for the moment — The Isthmus of Corinth: Crossroads of the Mediterranean World. As the book has been a long time in the making, it felt a bit strange when I completed the conclusions last Monday early in the morning, and sent the work back to the publisher for review. 

Generally, the work is a diachronic study of the changes in the conception and material structure of Corinth’s Isthmus from about the sixth century BC to fourth century AD. My temporal focus is the landscape in the broad Roman era, but the Roman landscape is wrapped up in the classical-Hellenistic period. In order to highlight what has changed, I have devoted space to the background. The study also makes extensive use of the data of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, and attempts to understand the distributional patterns in terms of the broader history of the territory known from texts and archaeological investigations. My goal has been to highlight the contingencies in the development, conception, and value of the landscape and its connectivity over a thousand year period.

Once I hear the fate of the manuscript, I will talk a bit more about the individual chapters. For now, here’s an annotated outline of the book as it has shaped up:

1. Introduction  = an intro to modern scholarship about the Isthmus as an “essential” and “timeless” landscape that constantly shaped the region’s history.  The book aims to replace the timeless view of the Isthmus as a connective landscape with an historically contingent view.

2. The Isthmos = the meaning of the concept isthmos in the classical to Hellenistic periods and its associations with connectivity.

3. The Concourse = the material development of the connective structures (settlements, harbors, roads, emporium) of the eastern landscape from the archaic to Hellenistic period, considering especially the picture from the Eastern Korinthia Survey data.

4. The Fetter and the Gate = how the connective Isthmus factored into the Roman destruction of Corinth in 146 BC and the historical interpretation of destruction and its aftermath

5. The Portage = explores the particular significance of the transfers of ships of war over the Isthmus during the interim period, in 102-101 BC (Marcus Antonius), and early colony, in 30 BC (Octavian)

6. The Bridge = picks up where Ch. 2 left off by outlining shifts in the meaning of the concept “isthmus” in the late Hellenistic -early Roman era, and explores the ways that the territory functioned (and did not function) as a bridge of the sea

7. The Territory = surveys the redevelopment of the eastern territory and its connective structure from the time of colonization to the early third century AD, considering data from the Eastern Korinthia Survey

8. The Canal = explores the particular contingencies that led the Emperor Nero to attempt to cut a canal through the Isthmus in 67 AD and its consequences on the landscape’s connectivity

9. The Crossroads = considers shifts in connectivity and settlement at the site of Isthmia between the second and fourth centuries

10. Conclusions

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Categories: Archaeological Survey, Classical, Corinth in the Mind, Diachronic, Economy, EKAS (Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey), Greek (Geometric-Hellenistic), Hellenistic, Interim, Isthmus, Late Antiquity, Periods, Roman, Sites, Kenchreai, Sites, Lechaion, Territory, Texts, Trade and Commerce

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