Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
42Trip End Nov 30, 2005
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The height of the civilization at Corinth was the archaic period, 6th and 7th century B.C. The city was famous for its pottery which it exported all around the Mediterranean. The Diocause was built then, and the agora was decorated with beautiful monuments. Atop the acropolis stood a temple to Aphrodite which boasted 1000 temple prostitutes who would come down into the city to work. The city was known for its promiscuity and a new word was even coined after it - korinthize means to fornicate. The Isthmian games were held not far from here. These games were one of the four Pan-Hellenic games, and were dedicated to Poseidon.
In 146 B.C., the Romans completely destroyed Corinth, so only three buildings remain from the earlier period. Several cities were resisting Roman rule, and Rome chose to make an example of Corinth. The city lay in ruins for the next 100 years. In 44 B.C. a Roman colony was established there by Julius Caesar that was inhabited by mostly Greeks and Jews. Jews came to be especially prominent after Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome (that is how Pricilla and Aquila came to live there). In Paul's time, the population of Corinth was 300,000 citizens with at least that many slaves
Across the modern street from the agora, we saw a theater. It was not very well preserved. Really, the cool thing about that spot was the name inscribed on the road. Apparently there was a road built from the agora to the theater, and the name Erastus was inscribed at the end, saying he was the one who paid for it. This is also most certainly the Erastus named by Paul in the Bible.
Just as a side note, Kevin was talking to Sean as we were leaving the theater, and he asked him, "how do they know that Corinth was here?" Sean's answer - "because it's still here". I thought it was funny.
We saw a public water fountain that was one of the few buildings left by the Romans because they needed it. The water came from a spring just in front of the acrokorinth. The fountain was called Glafki fountain although it really had nothing to do with the myth of Glafki. She was the Corinthian princess whom Jason (golden fleece guy) wanted to marry and whom was killed my Jason's wife Medea.
Not far from the fountain was temple of Apollo. Apollo and Poseidon had a competition for the patronage of Corinth, and Apollo won. Apparently Poseidon just wasn't a very good competitor. This temple was built in the early 6th century B.C. and is unique because each column was made out of one piece of stone
The agora looked pretty much like every other agora we've seen. It was still cool, but the Romans were pretty consistent in their design. I've come to the conclusion that the closest thing we have to an agora in modern times is the student center. It's the place where people hang out, buy stuff, and have offices. There were some shrines at the entrance to this agora, dedicated to people like Hercules. Along the main courtyard, we saw marble canals that held drinking water for people. In the back of the agora there were rooms that in Greek times were used as shops with wells they used like refrigerators. The Romans used those same rooms for administrative offices.
The bema where Paul stood before Gallio was there which was cool. A bema is basically a big platform/ building where officials stand and talk down to people who need to bring something before them. The official would enter from the back, kind of like you enter a stage. Two rooms with benches sat on ground level on both sides of the bema where VIPs sat. The Jews brought Paul before Gallio, the proconsul, but he said that it was a Jewish matter and wouldn't hear it
The agora was really the only open, flat place around, so athletic contests were held here. We couldn't find the starting block, but basically they just ran across the courtyard.
The entrance to the agora was a pretty big propylon, again, typical. A road led from the Propylon to the sea that was called the Lechaion road, and it was flanked by baths and shops. The Jewish synagogue was probably along this road next to the Peirene fountain which was right next to the propylon. The Peirene fountain was pretty with lots of decoration. It was pretty much a public recreation area.
It always strikes me how advanced these people were when I go into these sites. No, they didn't have computers and electricity, but they did quite well for themselves. It seems to me like if I was transported back then, I would do just fine. I mean, the culture would be different of course, but I'm not sure it would really be a whole lot different than it would be going to different countries in the world now. I think I've always made the Biblical characters larger than life, and it's been really good for me to walk the streets of cities like Corinth to give some perspective to it all.
In the museum we saw several artifacts mainly from the archaic period. Something that caught my attention here was tuna fish scales they found in some of the pots. These people must have really liked tuna to go all the way to the Atlantic to get it. We also saw some everyday things from the 3rd century B.C. like mirrors and tweezers. Like Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun." They had a large collection of votive offering to Asklepios there, a few of which were on display. When people would get healed by Asklepios, they would give a model of the body part that got healed to the temple, so there were a lot of feet, hands, ears, genitals, things like that.
We saw a statue of Hadrian, recognized by the Medusa on his breastplate. He wanted to be associated with Athens.
There were a couple really amazing mosaics that used to be on the floors of the houses there. They were mainly in the room called the symposium which was a place for the guys to hang out and drink. On one of the more impressive ones, there was a picture of Dionysus and some drinking cups.
Some other interesting things we saw - prisoner of war statues identified by their long sleeves, the bust of Julius Caesar, statues of the muse of tragedy and the amazons, and the relief of Jewish menorahs from the 4th and 5th century A.D.
From there we climbed up on the acrokorinth. It was a pretty long walk, up a lot of stairs. What is on top today is mostly from the fourth crusade, but has been redone and added to by first the Ottomans and then the Venetians. This place completely reminded me of Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings. It had three gates that successively went higher on the mountain with a dry moat and what used to be a draw bridge in front. It would have been really hard to attack it. We climbed all the way up to the top which was quite a hike. The view was amazing though and well worth it. At some points, the whole city lived up here, and there was enough space to grow food and raise animals. Cisterns collected their water.