The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey
Datasets of an intensive pedestrian survey and regional study of the eastern Corinthia, Greece
The datasets of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey represent digital materials and objects generated in the course of a diachronic, intensive pedestrian survey of the eastern territory of Corinth, Greece. Fieldwork and study occurred between 1997 and 2020, but the major phase of data collection and fieldwork took place in the seasons between 1999 and 2002. Work focused primarily on the archaeologically-rich region of the Corinthian Isthmus including areas near the known prehistoric settlements at Yiriza, Gonia, and Rachi Boska/Perdikaria; south and west of the Panhellenic sanctuary site of Isthmia; north and west of the harbor of Kenchreai; and east of the modern villages of Examilia and Xylokeriza. Some limited survey was also carried out in the eastern passes of Mt. Oneion, the Saronic coastal zones of Vigla and Vayia, and the inland Corinthian valley of Lakka Skoutara between Sophiko and Korphos. The bulk of fieldwork focused on the high-density and artifact-rich zones of the Isthmus, the suburban region of one of the most important cities of ancient Greece. The project’s initial research questions concerned the nature of Corinthian control of its eastern territory, the region’s connectedness and orientation to trade networks, and responsiveness to external forces of controls in all periods.
Methods, Significance, and Usability
The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey was a siteless, distributional survey, which sought to measure the variable density of artifacts and features of all periods across the region through small survey units called “Discovery Units” (DUs). Fieldwalkers spaced ten meters apart each walked a two-meter wide swath across the unit, effectively sampling 20% of the visible surface. Walkers were tasked with counting all pottery, tile, lithics, and other objects within their transects to produce a total count of objects of different classes per unit; these values can be divided by the area of the units to generate artifact density figures per unit. Fieldwalkers also collected representative examples of the artifacts in their swath through the chronotype system, a method adopted in other survey and excavation projects in Greece and Cyprus. Furthermore, teams recorded all visible features such as ancient cut stone blocks, Roman olive pressing equipment, early modern threshing floors, and modern fieldhouses. The greatest strength of these datasets is the analytical power to aggregate and quantify artifact data and features, connect data with geospatial records, and pattern varying densities of cultural material across space and time. Since the distributional data parallels several other sibling projects, including two published in Open Context (the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project and the Western Argolid Regional Project), the rich data of the Corinthian Isthmus may be compared readily to other kinds of regions surveyed with distributional methods.
Survey Unit Tables and Objects
The survey units listed in the published tables represent different kinds of survey and the viewer should pay special attention to the “Class” field listed in the Units-1 Table and repeated in the Finds table and shapefiles. Most of the survey units, in fact, are Standard pedestrian Discovery Unit (n=1,287) that followed completely the principles of survey outlined above. However, there are several other classes of survey units: Extensive Discovery Units (n=27), for example, mark a less systematic kind of survey by the Extensive Team; some 19 Revisit-Grab Units mark efforts to collect more information from previously-surveyed DUs; Counts Units (n=51) are those with artifact totals but no identified finds; and Features Units (n=5) are units where only information on features was recorded. In addition, our datasets also include two tables dedicated to 88 designated Localized Cultural Anomalies (LOCAs), a categorical term reserved for places of exceptionally dense artifact scatters of especially interesting features; twelve of these LOCAs were investigated through more intensive gridded collection. EKAS made an effort to photograph all survey units in consistent ways: the Units-1 and LOCAs tables in most cases provide links to digital photographs of units showing the area of survey, ground vegetation and cover, and, when present, cultural features.
In addition to assessing cultural material across space, field teams also collected various data related to the environment and other landscape properties that could potentially affect the interpretation of survey results. Such data includes not only information about the nature and procedures of investigation (e.g., time, place, location, and walker lineup), but also current land use, vegetation cover, surface visibility, sherd crusting, and background disturbance. This kind of supporting data is incorporated into the different tables presenting the survey units. EKAS also carried out its survey with a sensitivity to geomorphic differences in the region: all Discovery Units respected, at least ideally, real geomorphological units of space (called GUs). A separate Geomorphology table, created by the project’s geomorphologists, lists the physical characteristics of Geomorphic Units, such as sediments, morphostratigraphy, landscape stability, modern disturbances, and texture. The Survey Units-2 Table links to these GUs via its associated Geomorph-Units fields.
Artifact Finds Table
The core of the survey data presented here is the Finds table, which lists over 25,000 identified artifacts collected using the chronotype sampling system of standard DU survey, or as sporadic “grab samples” during visits, or through gridded collection during LOCA investigation. The Finds table lists physical and temporal attributes of each object and links to digital photographs and drawings when those are available.
Finally, our datasets include separate shape files for all Discovery Units, LOCAs, LOCA grids, and Geomorphological Units; recently captured high-resolution orthomosaic tiffs of selected parts of the territory; and a host of original documentation from the project’s initial survey, including the field manuals, forms, and season reports.
The survey was carried under a permit under the aegis of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens granted by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and in cooperation with the 37th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the 25th Ephoreia of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities. Work was supported financially through grants from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the National Geographic Society, the Foundation for Exploration and Research on Cultural Origins, the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia, and the National Science Foundation. A number of universities contributed to research and study: The Ohio State University, Florida State University, Yale University, Oregon State University, St. Cloud State University, Cornell University, LaTrobe University, Bryn Mawr College, University of Texas at Austin, and Messiah College.
A generous grant from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation of Harvard University Press provided release time in fall 2020 for David Pettegrew to process and prepare original datasets for publication in Open Context.
For general information about survey methods and overviews, see:
- Tartaron, Thomas F., Timothy E. Gregory, David K. Pettegrew, William Caraher, and Dimitri Nakassis. “The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey Project: A Field Manual for the 2001 Season.” Ancient Corinth: Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, 2001.
- Tartaron, Thomas F., Timothy E. Gregory, Daniel J. Pullen, Jay S. Noller, Richard M. Rothaus, Joseph L. Rife, Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Robert Schon, William R. Caraher, David K. Pettegrew, and Dimitri Nakassis. “The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey: Integrated Methods for a Dynamic Landscape.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 75, no. 4 (October 1, 2006): 453–523.
A fuller publication of the project is now in preparation:
- Pettegrew, David K. The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, Volume I: Patterns of Settlement and Land Use from Prehistory to Modern Times, In Preparation.
See below (related publications): Tartaron et al. 2001; Tartaron et al. 2006; Caraher, Nakassis, and Pettegrew 2006; and Pettegrew, forthcoming.
Potential Applications of the Data
This survey data has three main applications.
- Most of the cultural material was collected and documented through hyper-intensive distributional siteless survey methods, which aggregated artifact counts and collections in a patchwork of small survey units or tracts (called Discovery Units). A dozen areas known as Localized Cultural Anomalies (LOCAs) were investigated with higher-intensity gridded collection. The artifact data itself can be aggregated and tied to associated geospatial data and compared to other comparable distributional datasets from Greece, Cyprus, and the eastern Mediterranean.
- The survey was carried out mostly in an artifact-rich environment (the Isthmus of Corinth) and is in this respect unlike more typical studies of remote regions of Greece. It provides a unique opportunity to play with lots of data.
- The data is relevant to historical and archaeological studies of well-known sites in the region, including especially the Panhellenic sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia, the ancient harbor and settlement of Kenchreai, the prehistoric settlements at Yiriza and Gonia, and trans-Isthmus fortification walls.
Current Disposition of the Physical Collection
3,187 physical objects are stored at theIsthmia Excavation house in Kyras Vrysi, Greece, representing 12.4% of the total number (25,646) of identified objects of the survey.
Caraher, William. “The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City.” In Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality, edited by Steven J. Friesen, Sarah James, and Daniel Schowalter, 143–65. Leiden: Brill, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=fcveAQAAQBAJ .
Caraher, William R. “Epigraphy, Liturgy, and Imperial Policy on the Justinianic Isthmus.” In Bridge of the Untiring Sea: The Corinthian Isthmus from Prehistory to Late Antiquity , edited by Elizabeth R. Gebhard and Timothy E. Gregory. Hesperia Suppl. 48. Princeton, NJ: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2015.
Caraher, William R., and David K. Pettegrew. “Imperial Surplus and Local Tastes: A Comparative Study of Mediterranean Connectivity and Trade.” In Across the Corrupting Sea: Post-Braudelian Approaches to the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean , edited by Cavan W. Concannon and Lindsey A. Mazurek, 165–91. London: Routledge, 2016.
Caraher, William R., and Timothy E. Gregory. “Fortifications of Mount Oneion, Corinthia.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 75, no. 3 (July 1, 2006): 327–56.
Caraher, William R., David K. Pettegrew, and Sarah James. “Towers and Fortifications at Vayia in the Southeast Corinthia.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 79, no. 3 (July 1, 2010): 385–415.
Caraher, William R., Dimitri Nakassis, and David K. Pettegrew. “Siteless Survey and Intensive Data Collection in an Artifact-Rich Environment: Case Studies from the Eastern Corinthia, Greece.” JMA 19 (2006): 7–43.
Diacopoulos, Lita. “The Archaeology of Modern Greece.” In Mediterranean Archaeological Landscapes: Current Issues, edited by Effie-Fotini Athanassopoulos and LuAnn Wandsnider, 183–98. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2004.
Gregory, T.E. “Η Ανατολική Κορινθία Στην Παλαιοχριστιανική Εποχή.” In The Corinthia and the Northeast Peloponnesus: Topography and History from Prehistoric Times Until the End of Antiquity. Proceedings of the International Conference Organized by the Directorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, the LZ’ Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the German Archaeological Institute, Athens, Held at Loutraki, March 26-29, 2009 , edited by N Kissas and W.-D. Niemeier, 4:275–84. Athenaia. Munich: Hirmer Verlag GmbH, 2013.
———. “People and Settlements of the Northeastern Peloponnese in the Late Middle Ages: An Archaeological Exploration.” In Viewing the Morea: Land and People in the Late Medieval Peloponnese , edited by Morea: The Land and Its People in the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (Symposium) and Sharon E. J Gerstel. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2013.
———. “Religion and Society in the Roman Eastern Corinthia.” In Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies on Religion and Society, edited by Steven J. Friesen, Daniel N. Schowalter, and James C. Walters, 433–76. Leiden: Brill, 2010. http://books.google.com/books?id=WcPFWtWd-fcC .
———. “Commentary: Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology of Greece.” Edited by Kostis Kourelis and William R. Caraher. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. “Special Issue: The Abandoned Countryside: (Re)Settlement in the Archaeological Narrative of Post-Classical Greece” 14, no. 2 (June 2010): 302–7. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-010-0105-y .
———. “Contrasting Impressions of Land Use in Early Modern Greece: The Eastern Corinthia and Kythera.” Hesperia Supplements 40 (January 1, 2007): 173–98.
———. “Less Is Better: The Quality of Ceramic Evidence from Archaeological Survey and Practical Proposals for Low-Impact Survey in a Mediterranean Context.” In Mediterranean Archaeological Landscapes: Current Issues, edited by Effie-Fotini Athanassopoulos and LuAnn Wandsnider. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2004.
James, S. “An Olive Press Installation from the Eastern Korinthia.” Poster presented at the Archaeological Institute of America, Boston, 2005.
Moore, R. Scott. “A Decade Later: The Chronotype System Revisited.” In Archaeology and History in Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval Greece: Studies on Method and Meaning in Honor of Timothy E. Gregory , edited by William Caraher, Linda Jones Hall, and R. Scott Moore, 137–51. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008.
Pettegrew, David K. The Isthmus of Corinth: Crossroads of the Mediterranean World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/47449 .
———. “Corinthian Suburbia: Patterns of Roman Settlement on the Isthmus.” In Bridge of the Untiring Sea: The Corinthian Isthmus from Prehistory to Late Antiquity , edited by Elizabeth R. Gebhard and Timothy E. Gregory, 289–310. Hesperia Suppl. 48. Princeton, NJ: The American school of classical studies at Athens, 2015.
———. “The Diolkos and the Emporion: How a Land Bridge Framed the Commercial Economy of Roman Corinth.” In Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality, edited by Steven J. Friesen, Sarah James, and Daniel Schowalter, 126–42. Leiden: Brill, 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=fcveAQAAQBAJ .
———. “The Diolkos of Corinth.” American Journal of Archaeology 115, no. 4 (October 1, 2011): 549–74.
———. “Regional Survey and the Boom-and-Bust Countryside: Re-Reading the Archaeological Evidence for Episodic Abandonment in the Late Roman Corinthia.” Edited by Kostis Kourelis and William R. Caraher. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. “Special Issue: The Abandoned Countryside: (Re)Settlement in the Archaeological Narrative of Post-Classical Greece” 14, no. 2 (June 2010): 215–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-010-0105-y .
———. “The End of Ancient Corinth? Views from the Landscape.” In Archaeology and History in Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval Greece: Studies on Method and Meaning in Honor of Timothy E. Gregory , edited by William Caraher, Linda Jones Hall, and R. Scott Moore, 249–66. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008.
———. “The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth: Interpreting Ceramic Data Produced by Regional Archaeological Surveys.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 76, no. 4 (October 1, 2007): 743–84.
———. “Corinth on the Isthmus Studies of the End of an Ancient Landscape.” Ph.D., The Ohio State University, Columbus, 2006. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc%5Fnum=osu1152884521 .
Pettegrew, David K., and William R. Caraher. “Life in an Abandoned Village: The Case of Lakka Skoutara.” In Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean, edited by Deborah Brown and Rebecca Seifried. Grand Forks, ND: The Digital Press at The University of North Dakota, 2020.
Pullen, Daniel J., and Thomas F. Tartaron, “Where’s the Palace? The Absence of State Formation in the Late Bronze Age Corinthia.” In Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces II: Revised and Expanded Second Edition , edited by M.L. Galaty and W.A. Parkinson, 2nd ed., 146–58. Los Angeles: Costen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, 2007.
Pullen, Daniel J., Thomas F. Tartaron, Richard M. Rothaus, Dimitri Nakassis, and Amy Dill. “Patterns in the Later Prehistory of the Eastern Korinthia.” Philadelphia, 2002.
Rothaus, R, E. Reinhardt, T. Tartaron, and J. Noller. “A Geoarchaeological Approach for Understanding Prehistoric Usage of the Coastline of the Eastern Korinthia.” In Metron: Measuring the Aegean Bronze Age, edited by K. Foster and M Laffineur, 37–47. Liège, 2003.
Sarris, A. “Technical Report: Geophysical Prospection Survey at Kromna-Kesimia and Perdikaria as Part of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS-2002).” Rethymnon, 2003.
Tartaron, Thomas F. “The Settlement at Kalamianos: Bronze Age Small Worlds and the Saronic Coast of the Southeastern Corinthia.” In Bridge of the Untiring Sea: The Corinthian Isthmus from Prehistory to Late Antiquity , edited by Elizabeth R. Gebhard and Timothy E. Gregory, 48:25–38. Hesperia Supplement. Princeton: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2015.
Tartaron, Thomas F., Timothy E. Gregory, David K. Pettegrew, William Caraher, and Dimitri Nakassis. “The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey Project: A Field Manual for the 2001 Season.” Ancient Corinth: Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, 2001.
Tartaron, Thomas F., Timothy E. Gregory, Daniel J. Pullen, Jay S. Noller, Richard M. Rothaus, Joseph L. Rife, Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Robert Schon, William R. Caraher, David K. Pettegrew, and Dimitri Nakassis. “The Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey: Integrated Methods for a Dynamic Landscape.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 75, no. 4 (October 1, 2006): 453–523.
Tartaron, Thomas F., Daniel J. Pullen, and Jay S. Noller. “Rillenkarren at Vayia: Geomorphology and a New Class of Early Bronze Age Fortified Settlement in Southern Greece.” Antiquity 80 (2006): 145–60.
Tartaron, Thomas F., Richard M. Rothaus, and Daniel J. Pullen. “Searching for Prehistoric Aegean Harbors with GIS, Geomorphology, and Archaeology.” Athena Review 3(4) (2003): 27–36.
Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Lita. “Cemeteries in the Countryside: An Archaeological Investigation of the Modern Mortuary Landscape in the Eastern Corinthia and Northern Kythera.” In Archaeology and History in Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval Greece. Studies on Method and Meaning in Honor of Timothy E. Gregory , edited by William R. Caraher, Linda Jones Hall, and R. Scott Moore, 307–44. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2008.
———. “Commemoration and Neglect in Modern Greek Consciousness: The Search for Identity in the Mortuary Landscape of Rural Greece. An Archaeological Study of Cemeteries in the Eastern Korinthia and Northern Kythera, Greece.” Ph.D., La Trobe University, 2008.
———. “Remembering and Forgetting: The Relationship Between Memory and the Abandonment of Graves in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Greek Cemeteries.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14, no. 2 (2010): 285–301.
Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Lita, and Joseph L. Rife. “Epilogue: Kyras Vrysi, Ayios Ioannis Prodromos, and Its Cemetery.” In Isthmia: Excavations Volume IX, The Roman and Byzantine Graves and Human Remains, 146–52. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2012. http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/index.php/publications/book/?i=9780876619391 .
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