Research Spotlight: Angela Ziskowski and Construction of Corinthian Identity
February 22, 2011
In February of 2011 I successfully defended my dissertation, The Construction of Corinthian Identity in the Early Iron Age and Archaic Period, at Bryn Mawr College. My work on this topic focused on whether or not archaeological remains and literary testimonia from the city and region of Corinth could provide evidence for the construction of civic and cultural identity. My study considered the topography and resources of the region, production practices, ceramic and epigraphic remains, iconography, as well as cultic institutions to allow the question of identity construction to be considered from many angles. Through this synthetic approach, I tried to offer a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of how the early city of Corinth created its own civic identity and successfully differentiated itself from neighboring regions.
Research towards my understanding of Corinth included participating in the 2006 and 2007 excavation seasons as well as working in the Corinth Museum studying the ceramic and artifact assemblages from the Geometric, Archaic, and Classical periods. I looked at objects ranging from vases depicting lame padded dancers to the first coins produced by the city. I could not have carried out this project without the generous support of the entire Corinth staff, especially the excavation director Guy Sanders, curator of the museum, Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst, and site architect, James Herbst, and the American School. I received the Virginia Grace and Doreen Spitzer fellowships during my regular and associate years at the school from 2005-2007. In addition, I returned for several summers, one of which was supported by a Solow Dissertation Research Fellowship, to carry out topographic studies of the Corinthia to determine how easily one would have moved through the local landscape. These walks, on which numerous good sports accompanied me, included hikes from Corinth to Isthmia, Kleonai, Sikyon, and Perachora. The perspectives I gathered about the landscape were essential for building my understanding of how ancient Corinthian viewed their territory.
Early and Middle Corinthian pottery depicting a number of padded dancer poses.
The writing and finalization of my dissertation was completed at Bryn Mawr College, with the support of my department. Dr. Nancy Bookidis served on my committee and participated in advising my dissertation along with Professor James Wright. With the completion of the dissertation, I look forward to continuing work on the Corinthia and developing research for which there was no room in my thesis. My plans include further study of Corinthian iconography, especially in relation to its Near Eastern influences, as well as a study of identity in Corinthian colonies. Currently I am beginning an article on the role of the Pegasos and Bellerophon myth in respect to the city’s early history.