Akrokorinth and the Return to Athens

Akrokorinthos is the giant mountain jutting out of the earth above the city of ancient city of Corinth. From the time of the Kypselids (6th century BCE) until the 19th century under the Ottomans, the fortress on the hill was occupied. It is pretty formidable and pretty difficult to ascend. As my friend Alex pointed out, it seems a bit far fetched given the rigorous nature of the ascent that the so-called "temple prostitutes" at the temple of Aphrodite on Akrokorinth were getting much action (my issue with the existence of temple prostitutes in antiquity is a whole afferent post). Here is what I mean:

At the foot of the climb is a remnant of an Ottoman fountain with Arabic. It has been in use for centuries, as one can tell from the worn marble. 

I will admit to cheating on getting up the hill. We were about 5 minutes into the climb when a team of Aussie archaeologist drove by in their work trip and drove us about 3/4 of the way up before they had to turn off to go to their site. Though we were very grateful to get to the top faster, there was little solace at the first of the three walls:

This is me before we started climbing the site. I did not look nearly so chipper afterwards. 

One of the coolest things about the site is that you can see the layers of building over the 2500 years of usage. The large lighter colored blocks in the above shot are the 6th century walls. Above that are then the Venetian walls from the 17th and then the Ottoman walls on top. 

After hours of necessary recovery time, we had one last dinner with the tiny remnant of the excavation team (4 of us) and then proceeded to go to the platia for some cheap table wine (2.50 euro per half liter) and watch the activity--there was a festival for St. Paul yesterday. You may recall (if you ever learned it) that he visited Corinth once and gave a speech from the ancient bema. 

Anyway, we came into Athens today and proceeded to check into our hotel right near the Acropolis museum, then go get lunch. I also needed to invest in a sun hat:

Also, I have purchased the first of what may be many cheap ancient replica souvenirs:

You all know you want one.

Tomorrow, back to the Acropolis for the rest of the site and then the south slope. 

Kenchreai Days 3 & 4

Day 3 was me sorting through boxes of materials from a previous excavation in the basement of the Isthmia museum. On my break, I toured the site. The theater is overgrown by grass and blocked off and the temple of Poseidon is a wee bit in ruins, but the mosaic at the Roman bath is great. Here are some shots.

This morning, there was no work...well, there was work, but it was cleaning trash, so instead, we went swimming off the site (where I climbed around on the submerged ruins) and then went to visit the Ancient Corinth museum and site. It is NICE.
The Peirene Fountain.

The theater of Corinth with Akrokorinthos in the distance.

From the Roman skene of the of the theater--Heracles and the Stymphalian birds.

Athena and Dionysos from an archaic gate.

A Roman soldier's tomb.

An infant dedication to the Askleipion.

Athena holding an owl of wisdom.

A seated donkey statue. Apuleius anyone?

The Muse of Tragedy.

Statue in the remains of the Stoa of Corinth.

The 6th century temple of Apollo with the mountain behind.

Tomorrow, we are climbing the mountain. Wish us luck.

Kenchreai Days 1 & 2

Yesterday, I began my career as a low level archaeology serf. Day 1 was spent in the Isthmia museum basement going through bags of un-inventoried sherds from the earlier excavations of the north and south moles of Kenchreai harbor. This involved finding items in the bags with some sort of value artistic or historical value and photographing them and cataloging them. I don't have pictures of the work day, though I did take pics of the Isthmia museum materials--except the lovely mosaics from Kenchreai, which I will need to shoot tomorrow. I spent Day 2 at the site weeding the grounds of the earlier excavations so that the Director could take photos. The site was an early Christian church and baptistry founded where Paul supposedly visited. Due to some technical difficulties,  I can't upload those photos until I return to the US. But I will show you some of the Isthmia museum shots (Isthmia was the site of a temple of Poseidon and one of the 4 big athletic competitions of the ancient world).
Statue of an emperor as Jupiter (2nd cent. CE) found near the the starting line of the later Stadium.

Victor's stele starring Komelios the Corinthian (2nd cent. CE).

This is the inscription on the above stele.

Prayer to the Christian god to protect the Emperor Justinian (ca. 560 CE)

Fragments of the colossal statue group of Poseidon.

Info with a sketch of the group.

I will be able to post up the images from the Kenchreai site, as I mentioned, when I get home. I will say, the beach there is lovely. I'll be heading to the Archaia Korinthos site (home of the temple of Apollo) probably Friday as well as Akrocorinth. Then I head back to Athens for a photo extravaganza. 


We took a short site trip yesterday to Aigosthena (modern Porto Germeno), a small port town on the Gulf of Corinth at the intersection between the Megarid, Attica and Boeotia (excavated in the 1940s by the Austrians, we think). We spent some time exploring the site--occupied since the 6th century BCE up through medieval times--then went swimming ig the mildly chilly bay. It is a Classical citadel with long walls reaching down to the sea. The town was located between the walls on the hillside leading from the citadel to the sea. A medieval monastery was later built into the citadel and both early Christian and Byzantine churches were built in the town.
4th century fortification walls.

Entrance to the fortifications.

Walls of structures leading down to the sea.

One of two remaining tower structures on the acropolis. Shows evidence of a second floor.

The stray puppy who seems to inhabit the ruins.
Stairs to the main wall and tower.

Likely the bedroom for the monks built into the original front gate of the fortifications.

Inside one of the rooms. Is that a column drum? Or a grinding wheel?

Statue base for a bronze statue in the remains of an early Christian church located halfway between the acropolis and the sea. . The letters seems to have been erased or have been worn down by the sea air. The back is un-smoothed suggesting it was positioned, in a niche or against the wall.

A 5th century CE inscription (as determined after a 15 minute debate by a team of "experts") from a statue base incorporated as a cornerstone into the Byzantine church located on the remains of the Christian church.  

This town had a great view of the sea. 

I mean, look at that water. 

Today is a day of relaxation while tomorrow signals hard work in 100 degree heat. THe dig is wrapping up here so we will be assigned to either analyze artifacts or do some minor work on the excavation site. Looks like there is a marathon or something being run in town right now. Wow. All I want to do is sit in the shade and hide from the blazing sun.

The Parthenon

Yesterday I got lucky and crashed the site visit to the Parthenon with the Sumer Session students at the school. Luckily, one of the students quit the program during the first week (crazy, I know!) and so they had an extra spot. IT was pretty cool and I took over 60 pictures. I also got some shots of the rest of the Acropolis, but I will upload those later when I go back. We also arrived in Archaia Korinthos to join the Kenchreai excavation team for the week. I'll have to post the pics of the town and such later because there is just too much. 

The east entrance.
The west entrance.

Southeast corner.

Inside from the east entrance.

The north side restoration.

One partially restored and one melted interior columns on the east entrance.

View of the Erechtheion from inside the Parthenon.

Original bronze hook used to hang Persian shields dedicated by Alexander after the battle of Granicus.

Up close of melted marble.

Sculpture in the east pediment.

Metope on the east entrance with remnants of the Nero inscription below (the dots).

Today we are going to a site near Achaia Korinthos. I'll update later.