A Corinthian Summer: Work and Research During 2012
View of Geraneia Mountain from Hill House. Painting: Karen Garnett
By Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst, with contributions by the Corinthian scholars This past summer was hot in Corinth, the hottest I remember since I arrived in 2001. Summers are busy and fascinating, full of discoveries. After the excavations finish at the end of June, the hostel is emptied out and we say our goodbyes to the Regular Member excavators. Their stories of digging are added to the long, long history of generations of excavators. The rooms are filled once again, with a different crew this time. Starting July 1, a wise and stimulating group of people gather in Corinth: professors and researchers who dug different parts of the site come back to make sense of their discoveries. Our days are spent working in the museum. The short working hours of the museum this year put pressure on resident scholars to work straight through lunch, ‘doing the Mary’ and having a late lunch, which they considered a sacrifice that would please Demeter. Plenty of study and discussion took place in the afternoons in Hill House library and into ouzo time on the terrace overlooking the Corinthian Gulf.   Ouzo terrace, Hill House. Clockwise starting with Mary Sturgeon, Lucy Wiseman, Jim Wiseman, Nancy Bookidis, Karen  Garnett, Kathleen Slane, Sue Langdon, Charles Williams, Mike Ierardi, Marty Wells, Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst, James Herbst.  Photo: Sonia Klinger The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore and the Gymnasium and Fountain of the Lamps were foci of many discussions, along with the Theatre. As Charles Williams, Director Emeritus of the Corinth Excavations, continued his work on the Theatre, he was putting together a jigsaw puzzle from fragments of colorful marble, which in the end took the shape of fabulous reconstructions of the marble-clad walls of the West Hall in his drawings. Jim Wiseman, Kress Publication Fellow for 2012-13, delved deep into the Gymnasium and the Fountain of the Lamps. He was taken aback by the work the LZ Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities has been doing cleaning the monuments. In his own words, he “concentrated on stratigraphic studies, especially of the Fountain of the Lamps and part of the Lerna Tunnel hydraulic system. … A special highlight of the summer for me was the cooperative work with Sokrates Koursoumis, Archaeologist with the 37th Ephoria, in the beginning of cleaning out the Fountain of the Lamps, which has involved pumping out the water and removing extensive vegetation from the monument. We expect that work to continue over the next year, in preparation for a program of site preservation.” It is really amazing to see the monument now [in November], with almost all of the vegetation removed). A second Peirene exists on the edge of the terrace, making us appreciate well-watered Corinth indeed. The rediscovery of the Fountain of the Lamps under tons of water, fig trees, reeds, mud, and garbage was one of the highlights of the summer: what a spectacular monument!   The Fountain of the Lamps from the west as it was in November 2012. Photo: Sokrates Koursoumis Wiseman has assembled a group to work on the Gymnasium, consisting of Melissa Morison (Grand Valley State) on the pottery, Karen Garnett on the lamps, Mary Sturgeon (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) on the sculpture, and Lucy Wiseman on munselling, glass-pulling for Tasos Antonaras (Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki), and logistics in general. The youthful faces of the Gymnasium athletes accompanied us on our on-site tours of the monuments. As Mary Sturgeon describes, “this group includes five Early Roman portraits of young athletes and officials. While examining one of these heads I soon realized that it was recut from a female head of the 4th century B.C. whose hair was once pulled back into a bun. This piece would have remained visible in the early Roman period and in good enough condition for reuse.” The Sanctuary of Demeter continues strong on its path towards final publication under the steady guidance of Nancy Bookidis, Assistant Director Emerita of the Corinth Excavations. Susan Langdon (University of Missouri-Columbia) worked on archaic figurines and discovered “a beautiful horse body with a big Protocorinthian rosette on its chest, and a little ram with a perm.” The pieces were pulled from the lotted material from the sanctuary. The trays of excavated material stored in a multitude of storerooms throughout the village of Ancient Corinth still hold treasures. Sonia Klinger (University of Haifa) discovered, with the help of Nicol Anastasatou, the School’s conservator, “beautiful decoration beneath layers of dirt and corrosion on a bronze phiale, the ecstatic dance of a maenad on a silver ring, and many other unexpected features that deepened my perception of the Demeter sanctuary's votive material, its rituals and patrons.” Mark Lawall (University of Manitoba) dealt more with practical aspects of the rituals and also with much bigger objects than votives: “The evening I arrived I took my usual run up Acrocorinth - I've done this at least once every time I've visited the site since 1992, but this time, I think the run may have had scholarly significance. I can't imagine carrying a full amphora even halfway up that slope, much less taking it down again to be refilled! So, the fact that really very few amphora fragments appear in the lots, and that many of those are fairly old compared with the latest pottery, might indicate that amphoras really were rarely brought to the site, perhaps only as water containers for long-term use (Nancy made this suggestion as to their function).” Thus, amphoras and small finds, including keys and locks, iron and bronze dress pins, were some of the artifacts excavated at the sanctuary that are now telling their stories of what was happening at the feet of Acrocorinth. Furthermore, coins and their resting places in thesauroi at the sanctuary and the rest of the site were studied in detail by Mike Ierardi (Bridgewater State) and Isabelle Pafford (San Francisco State). In addition to the Theatre, the Sanctuary of Demeter, and the Fountain of the Lamps, other monuments and their accoutrements had their turn on stage as Aileen Ajootian (University of Mississippi) worked on the Captives Facade: “As usual, the sculpture apotheke and various marble piles yielded some of their many secrets. I identified many fragments that may belong with the female "Captives" as well as three fragmentary feet that probably belong to the male figures. The careful storage of marbles at Corinth, both catalogued items and the uninventoried assemblages, enabled me to join fragments excavated many years ago.” Apart from sculpture, pottery is always central in the studies of the Corinthian scholars, as it was in the city’s famous production in antiquity. Marty Wells, Robinson Fellow and now a visiting scholar at the Kelsey Museum at the University of Michigan, expanded his interests to a completely new period, the Frankish: “My project this summer was to begin a study of the over 200 kilograms of Frankish (late 13th century C.E.) pottery recovered from a well in Nezi field, excavated in 2009. … I am excited by the preliminary results from the statistical data which show just how quickly the tastes for specific ceramics are changing among the Byzantine and Frankish residents of Corinth between the 11th and late 13th centuries.” In addition to the Frankish pottery, the ongoing study of Roman and Hellenistic wares, by Kathleen Slane (University of Missouri-Columbia) and Sarah James (University of Colorado-Boulder), respectively, continued. The Director of the Corinth Excavations, Guy Sanders, was working closely with Heather Graybehl, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Sheffield, and Mark Hammond, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri-Columbia, on a clays prospection project. Other Ph.D. candidates this year were studying diverse subjects, from sculpture to prehistory. Lindsey Mazurek (Duke University) and Panayiotis Konstandinidis (University of Athens) examined Roman sculpture, the former portraits of Serapis and the latter portraits of female imperials. A prehistoric note was added by Catherine Pratt, PhD candidate at UCLA working under the direction of Sarah Morris and John Papadopoulos, on Late Bronze Age stirrup jars from Zygouries: “The most interesting occurrence happened when I picked up what looked to be a rare undecorated transport stirrup jar, and discovered it was actually an amphora made by the same potter and in the same shape. This vessel will help in my research on the transition from LBA stirrup jar to EIA amphora as the dominant shipping and transport container for liquids.” Kostis Kourelis (Franklin and Marshall College) introduced an exciting new area of study, a summary of which follows here: “While producing an astounding quantity of archaeological data, the excavators of Ancient Corinth engaged in a creative conversation with contemporary art and design. Fine artists like Georg von Peschke and architects like W. Stuart Thompson brought contemporary aesthetics into the excavation trenches. Kostis Kourelis worked with James Herbst to identify all the graphic documents produced by Corinth's resident artists and architects during the 1920s and 1930s. The research was twofold, focusing on people and on buildings. First, we identified all the drawings produced by Corinth's architecture fellows; we hope to relate them to the designs that these fellows produced back in the U.S. Second, we looked at all the new buildings that the architecture fellows designed within Corinth itself (Oakley House, Corinth Museum, etc.). The architectural production of Richard Stillwell was the first case study. Kostis hopes to return next summer with an undergraduate field school that focuses on the forgotten interface between studio arts and archaeology.” Apart from Corinth, other sites in the area were investigated while the scholars were using the Corinth Excavations as a base for their operations. Angela Ziskowski (Coe College) and her husband, architect Daniel Lamp, studied the landscape and topography of the peninsula of Perachora: “The goal of our topographic research this summer was to demonstrate the difficulty and inefficiency of the routes that were believed to be used. One of the highlights of our summer was a six-mile hike with two members of the Agora, Stephen Clatos and David Schneller, from the sanctuary, past Lake Vouliagmeni, to the modern village of Perachora.” Steven Ellis (University of Cincinnati) and his team are introducing new technologies in the study of Isthmia: “Our work on the site at Isthmia is always greatly advanced by our time at Corinth. Especially rewarding is the opportunity to collaborate with scholars across the Korinthia, in terms of the material we are looking at and especially the sharing of our ideas on approaches and methodologies. This cross-fertilization that comes from comparing and contextualizing our work at both Isthmia and Pompeii with the ongoing studies of Corinth-based scholars is a wonderful highlight of our time spent at Corinth.” Sessions were held by James Herbst, Corinth Excavations architect and IT specialist, instructing scholars in the use of Corinth’s digital resources to further their research when away from Corinth. Our digital archive, which can be accessed at ascsa.net, contains digital photographs, drawings, notebooks, and catalogue entries. Our collaboration with the 25th Ephoreia of Byzantine Antiquities and the LZ Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities continued on many levels, not least in the multitude of conservation projects that are taking place around the site, in the Frankish area, at the Bema, at the Heroon on the Crossroads, and in the area of the Peribolos of Apollo. The ASCSA archive, photographs, and notebooks are constantly being used by archaeologists of the Service under our guidance. The expertise of the personnel of the School on the ground is sought always.   Conservation of Frankish Area in progress.  Photo: Guy Sanders I continued the educational programs and outreach projects I started this year. In this spirit I organized an excavation class for children aged 8-15 participating in a program in the public library in Corinth funded by the Niarchos Foundation. We went through all the stages of the excavation and post-excavation processing of archaeological material. The students were ecstatic; we had a hard time stopping them from digging. The resident scholars welcomed the students cheerfully. As Melissa Morison put it, “This summer, a special highlight was the opportunity to talk with the children who came up to Pietri as part of your school outreach project. I especially enjoyed working with the young fellow who said about pottery study, ‘It's a difficult and fascinating thing!’” We are currently in the process of moving all of our sculptural material out of the room that has been its home for the last half century and more. The LZ Ephoreia will use the room to display the two recently recovered Kouroi from Klenia, among other artifacts. The sculptures will be moved by Corinth Excavations staff in the next weeks into the building of the Synetairismos in the center of the village, while pottery currently stored in that building will be moved temporarily into containers. We are all dreading the Herculean task of the move, but we will learn a great deal in the process. Work in Corinth is fascinating and challenging. It is the continuous habitation through time and the continuous flow of people with a passion about their work. It is the struggle to keep everything in place for everybody to find, and the even greater struggle to keep the digital archive up to date. I would like to thank everybody for making my summer so exciting! How much to remember and how many stories to tell! As Jim Wiseman put it, Corinth is all about “the opportunity to exchange views on many topics with the helpful and efficient permanent staff at Corinth and with others doing research on diverse Corinthian topics—all dynamic and perceptive scholars, whom it has been a pleasure to know!”