Chronology Of The Pottery

This volume discusses the pottery of the Sanctuary from the LPC period to 146 b.c., the bulk of which is Corinthian. The reader will quickly be aware that most of this pottery comes not from sealed and limited contexts but from large dumped fills with a long range of dates. This situation reflects the larger problem of the lack of such defined contexts in most periods of Corinth's history. Weinberg's volume of Protocorinthian and Corinthian material, articles by Brann and Campbell, and the recent publication by Lawrence7 present varied material from the Archaic period, usually dated by the attribution of figured pieces to specific periods, painters, or both; the chronology is based on Payne's framework. Many of the contexts of these vessels have a long range of dates8 and do not necessarily verify the standard dates first assigned to the different periods of Archaic Corinthian vases by Payne. Payne's dates have been challenged by scholars studying Corinthian material found outside Corinth.9 Possibly the most accurate way of dating is by shape development, a method which is not as yet as well published for Corinthian pottery as it is for Attic.10

5 For the Sanctuary after the Roman renewal, see Corinth XVIII, ii by K. W. Slane, forthcoming.

6 For discussion of the interim period, see below, p. 4.

7 Weinberg, Corinth VI -+ Brann, Hesperia 25,19 -+ Campbell, Hespena 7,1938; Lawrence, Anaploga Well in Corinth VII, ii.

8 See the dates of many of the earliest deposits in Corinth VII, iii; the contexts of many of the groups in Corinth VII, i are not very limited. For example, of the Protocorinthian material, nos. 136-143 came from a well at the northwest corner of the museum (Well Z [well 1931-8], deposit no. 42 in Corinth VII, iii). But other material from Well Z goes into the Hellenistic period. It appears to be a dump fill, not a use accumulation.

9 See the summary in J. N. Coldstream, Greek Geometric Pottery, London 1968, Absolute Chronology: Foundation of the Western Colonies, pp. 322-327. There is also a useful table of the literary and archaeological evidence for foundation dates of all the colonies in Cambridge Ancient History III, iii, Cambridge 1982, pp. 160-162.

10 Important discussions of the kotyle foot in Lawrence, Corinth VII, ii, figs. 1 and 2, pp. 76-77; skyphos rims (Thapsos class) in

The chronology of 5th-century Corinthian pottery is firmly based on the vases found in a well, published by M. Z. Pease in 1937; Attic imports provided the dating.11 The North Cemetery graves may not be entirely reliable; some shapes show discrepancies in their development.12 Graves also often contain heirlooms, so that all the contents in a particular grave may not be of the same date.

Chronological problems become even more apparent in the later 4th century, for many deposits excavated in the Forum, and dated in relationship to the construction of the South Stoa for the League of Corinth, may have to be redated. Briefly, the argument is as follows. In the later 4th century, Corinth was hit by one or two bad earthquakes.13 The destruction(s) led to filling and rebuilding operations in different parts of the city. The Potters' Quarter, Tile Works, Asklepieion, and other sites were badly damaged; some were abandoned. In the area later occupied by the Roman Forum, there was a large drain running by buildings in the southern sector. A coin in one of the destroyed buildings is dated 339-318 b.c.14 Sometime in the 20-year period, the drain was filled with discarded pottery when the buildings went out of use. The pottery belongs to the third quarter of the 4th century, most of it late rather than early in that quarter, with strong resemblance to pottery of the same period from the Athenian Agora.15

The South Stoa was built over part of those demolished buildings. Possibly the coin could have been minted and discarded in a very short space of time, just before the earthquake (thus 338 or 337 b.c.), but the accumulated evidence suggests that the abandonment of the buildings, causing the filling in of the drain, is closer to 325. Thus it seems inevitable that the South Stoa must be dissociated from Philip and the establishment of the League of Corinth in 337 b.c. The building of the large South Stoa may not have been historically or politically motivated but, rather, provided a necessary replacement for buildings destroyed by the natural catastrophe.

As a result, those deposits in Corinth VII, iii listed as relevant for the construction of the South Stoa may have to be down dated.16 Material published in this volume may be as much as a quarter century later in proposed dates than similar material in Corinth VII, iii.17 This redating does not invalidate the remarkable work of G. Roger Edwards. His relative chronology, as set out in Corinth VII, iii, is in most cases supported by subsequent finds; only the absolute dating may have to be revised. A similar situation holds for the pioneer work of H. A. Thompson on the Hellenistic material found in the Athenian Agora, the absolute dates for which have been revised on the basis of the Koroni pottery and the contents of Menon's Cistern.18

There are in ancient Corinth as yet virtually no limited sealed deposits from the Hellenistic period. All the South Stoa wells, the more recently discovered Forum wells, and fills in the Demeter Sanctuary19 show long

C. W. Neeft, "Observations on the Thapsos Class," MEFRA 93, 1981 (pp. 7-88), fig. 7, p. 29. For later material see especially Edwards, Corinth VII, iii (Classical as well as Hellenistic); c Pemberton, banded lekythoi, Hesperia 39, 1970, fig. 4, p. 279; and observations by Williams in many Corinth excavation reports, for exam —► Hesperia 48,1979, catalogue entries on pottery from the Punic Amphora Building, pp. 118-124. Koehler's work (forthcoming as Corinth XIX, i) on Corinthian transport amphoras is invaluable. It must be noted that a number of Corinthian shapes parallel the development of their Attic counterparts; hence Agora XII is of great use.

  • Pease, Hesperia 6, 1937; the publication of the Vrysoula deposit, which is essentially contemporary, is based on the earlier wc -+ Pemberton, Hesperia 39, 1970.
  • Pemberton, Hesperia 39, 1970, discussion in note 6, p. 268.
  • Williams and Fisher, Hesperia 45, 1976, pp. 115-116.
  • Williams and Fisher, Hesperia 41,1972, p. 153; coin no. 185, p. 182, Salamis. See also cistern 1979-1 and its relationship to the South St -+ Williams, Hesperia 49, 1980, pp. 120-121.

15 See footnote 18 below.

16 In particular, deposits nos. 79 (well 1937-1), 80 (drain 1937-1), and 90 (pit 1937-1).

17 This change is based on the chronology of the material from the 1971 Forum dra -+[Williams and Fisher, Hesperia 41, 1972, pp. 155-163; drain 1971-1) and other debris associated with the earthquake. For example, skyphos C-37-2493, no. 328 in Corinth VII, iii, p. 70, is dated to the second quarter of the 4th century. A skyphos with similar profile from the 1971-1 drain, C-71-194

-^{Hesperia 41, 1972, no. 28, p. 157), is third quarter.

18 See H. A. Thompson, D. B. Thompson, and S. I. Rotroff, Hellenistic Pottery and Terracottas, Princeton 1987 (reprint of "+ Thompson, Hesperia 3,1934). Rotroffs preface, pp. 1-18, summarizes the chronological problems and the history of scholarship on early Hellenistic dating.

19 South Stoa wells: Corinth VII, iii, deposits nos. 95-118; recent Forum wells: well 1975-1, well 1975-5 (see Index III for references), also Katsoulis well, 1965-3; in the Demeter Sanctuary: Groups 7-11, cistern at N:26 (cistern 1965-1), lots 4478-4482.

ranges of dates, and many (including almost all the South Stoa wells)20 are filled with unstratified dump from the reconstruction of the city by the Romans after 44 b.c.21 There are no wells that show a steady un-contaminated use fill. Hellenistic graves are also very sparse; domestic fills are unknown.

In addition, and potentially more important, there is what might be called the "146 dilemma". It is possible that Corinth was not entirely abandoned in the 100 years after Mummius' sack; not only are there imports found that date to the interim period,22 but also a ceramic industry may have existed during part of the period, although on a much reduced scale.23

Excavations in the Forum area have produced many more fragments of Hellenistic pottery datable after 146, particularly significant for certain types of vessels once thought to be chronologically fixed, especially the relief bowls with long petals.24 The link between 146 and the introduction of the long-petal bowls was made over forty years ago: ". . . in the older part of the Stoa of Attalos . . . 159-138 b.c. . . . there was not a fragment of a bowl with long petals. But a few specimens of this type have been found in Corinth (destroyed in 146 b.c.)."25 The recent study of C. M. Edwards of relief bowls found in the 1980 excavations of Corinth shows how many long-petal and linear-patterned forms are to be found at Ancient Corinth.26 There are two possible interpretations. First, long-petal bowls and similar late types may have been introduced considerably earlier than ca. 150 at Corinth.27 Second, a ceramic industry may have existed at Corinth (or Sikyon?) during some of the years after 146 and before 44 b.c., accounting for the numbers of these late Hellenistic forms. The two alternatives are not mutually exclusive. With either alternative (or both), 146 b.c. is no longer a terminus post et/aut ante quern for certain ceramic evidence. The consequences of this unreliability must be considered with regard to other material at other sites.

The problem of the interim period does not appear to be so serious for the Demeter Sanctuary as for the Lower City. There are only a few fragments that seem to be post 146 and ante 44:191,462, 463, 472,473. It is likely that the Sanctuary was dormant for at least one hundred years; 146 b.c. may be used with caution as terminus ante quern for most vessels, but always keeping in mind the evidence from the Lower City.

Although some of the dates in Corinth VII, iii may have to be revised, the development of shapes as put forward there is workable for the Demeter Sanctuary material. In arranging a sequence for the Hellenistic pottery in this study, the late third or early fourth quarter of the 4th century and 146 b.c. are the two poles between which the representatives of the shapes are placed. Certain changes in decoration and profile are visible in a number of pottery types; it may be arbitrary to assign examples to dates between the poles, but the alternative is to have no dating at all. One may only hope that the proposed relative chronologies of shapes in Corinth VII, iii and in this study will be justified by future finds. A more firmly based absolute chronology for the Hellenistic pottery of Corinth must await the discovery of several chronologically limited and uncontaminated contexts, if they exist.

20 There is also a question as to whether the South Stoa wells were contemporary with the construction of the building or were 3rd-century additions. There was a well in front of the building, well 1971-2, open during much of the 3rd century, seemingly unnecessary if every shop had its own water supply; -+ Williams and Fisher, Hesperia 41, 1972, p. 171.

21 There is a useful summary of the difficulties in G. Siebert, Ateliers de bols à reliefs du Péloponnèse (Bibliothèque des Écoles Françaises 233), Paris 1978, pp. 166-167. See also U. Sinn, Gnomon 51, 1979, pp. 269-276, esp. pp. 273-274 (review of Corinth VII, iii).

-+ Williams, Hesperia 47, 1978, pp. 21-23; J. Wiseman, Land of the Ancient Corinthians (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 50), Göteborg 1978, p. 12, and p. 15, note 25.

23 Most recently, -+ Edwards, Hesperia 50, 1981, esp. pp. 199 and 205; and Russell in Williams and Russell, Hesperia 50, 1981, pp. 42-43, describing lamps possibly made in Corinth after 146 and of the same fabric as that of some moldmade relief bowls (see Edwards, op. cit., p. 189, note 1).

—► Thompson, Hesperia 3, 1934, pp. 457-458. See the review of this evidence and expression of firm belief in 146 as a terminus post quern non for Corinthian ceramics (and long-petal bowls) »+ F. Kleiner's discussion of New Style Athenian coinage: "The Earliest Athenian New Style Bronze Coins," Hespena 44, 1975 (pp. 302-330), pp. 314, 318.

26 See footnote 23 above.

27 And possibly at Athens also; the absence of examples in the fill of the Stoa of Attalos could be fortuitous. See S. I. Rotroff, The

Athenian Agora, XXII, Hellenistic Pottery. Athenian and Imported Moldmade Bowls, Princeton 1982, pp. 35-36.

The catalogue entries and the terminal dates of the lots (contexts) are most often very conservatively dated. Wherever possible, relative chronology is given. Dates are usually by quarter centuries; even vaguer terms such as "late 4th century" or "Archaic" are often employed. Any closer dating for many of the shape examples would be misleading at this point in our study of Corinthian pottery. One can only hope that the relative chronology, based on the work of Payne, Amyx, G. R. Edwards, Williams, and others, will last and that in the future, through the continuing excavations in Ancient Corinth and elsewhere, more precise dating will be possible.

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