Friday, December 2, 2016

New Light on an Old Excavation

For a variety of reasons not every excavation that is conducted gets properly studied, let alone properly published. This is a world-wide phenomenon, alas. Most of these orphans disappear from the institutional memory of a site, a region or an organization after a few decades, even if they could be significant discoveries. These are the “cold cases” of archaeological research buried in the files.

Every now and then an archaeologist stumbles in on the storerooms of the artifact remains of these lost efforts. On occasion he or she takes an interest in reopening the investigation of such a long-forgotten dig to see what can be learned by studying the finds. On Wednesday, December 7th Dr. Mark D. Hammond (the Elisabeth Alföldi-Rosenbaum Fellow at the Canadian Institute in Greece this fall) will present his research on one such cold case from the archives of the long-running excavation project of the ASCSA at ancient Corinth. The title of his lecture is, “From the Kiln to the Grave: The Early Excavations of a Late Roman Cemetery on the Hill of Zeus, Corinth”.

In 1933 the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, attempting to locate a temple dedicated to Zeus, dug four trial trenches on the so-called “Hill of Zeus”region in ancient Corinth. Instead, they uncovered part of a large Early Christian cemetery to the west of the Asklepieion. The results of these excavations were never published but a new study aims to contextualize this material both within the cemetery and for Late Roman Corinth generally. Although working with an 83-year old excavation poses various challenges, the first stage of the study, focused on the ceramics recovered from the graves, is revealing important results. Detailed examination of the vessels themselves is providing insight into the manufacturing practices that produced them as well as their intended (and unintended) use in the grave. Further, a careful consideration of the fabrics together with comparative analyses place the vessels within pre-established local, regional, and long-distance networks. This study offers as well some refinements to the chronology of the cemetery.

So please join us on the 7th at 19:30 in the Library of the Institute to see how an archaeological cold case becomes hot! Afterwards we will do our part to welcome the start of the holiday season with appropriate tasty treats. At the same time you can join us in bidding a fond farewell to Ailidh Hathway, our Wilfrid Laurier University undergraduate intern for the past three months.

David Rupp

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