The idea of publishing a collective volume on the archaeological sites and monuments of Corinthia was born of the need to fill the gap existing in the relevant bibliography. However, our concern was not to write a run-of-the-mill tourist guidebook, like those on sale to visitors in the museums, but to present the monuments and their history in such a way as to enhance Corinthia’s outstanding place in the ancient world. From the outset, our goal was to produce a monumental possession for all time, as well as a tool for all those who struggle for the development of Corinthia today, by promoting its treasures.
The enthusiasm of the initial idea soon gave way to my pondering and anxiety about the feasibility of completing the project within a short period. Writing a book encompassing all – or at least most – and certainly the most important prehistoric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman antiquities of Corinthia is no easy task, even though the rich international bibliography is an ideal launching pad for such an undertaking. Among my many reservations was the reasonable question of the time I should spend on writing the book, in view of my responsibilities as Head of the 37th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, a regional service of the General Secretariat of Culture of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sport. This was clearly not a proposal to be accepted without due consideration.
However, the imperative need to publicize the antiquities of Corinthia, and through these the many years of hard work of the Archaeological Service in the region, overcame my initial misgivings and showed me the best way to deal with the matter in hand. I decided that I should be involved with the book firstly as editor and secondly as author, so giving the young and promising archaeologists of the 37th EPCA, permanent and contract personnel, the opportunity to present their work to the general public. We archaeologists are aware of our obligation not only to deliver the Corinthian antiquities in good condition to future generations, but also to disseminate the knowledge we have acquired about these. The young scholars who participated in writing this book, with precisely this objective, play a vital and decisive role in this effort.
The present volume endeavours to present the archaeological wealth of Corinthia in a comprehensive and comprehensible manner, thus making this wealth accessible to the layman. The antiquities are discussed in twenty chapters, which include many more archaeological sites. We have tried to keep to a specific geographical course, which starts from the north border of Corinthia, continues northeast, after the capital, then moves southwards from the east and returns north to the centre of the prefecture, where Sikyon is located. Mountainous Corinthia follows and the tour ends at the western boundaries of the prefecture, at Eurostine with the outport of the Achaean city of Aigeira at Mavra Litharia, which today lies within the boundaries of the prefecture of Corinthia.
Mavra Litharia is not the only archaeological site that did not belong to Corinthia in antiquity. There are others, such as the Arcadian cities of Stymphalos and Pheneos, or Achaean Pellene. This fact prompted some thoughts regarding the title of the book Ancient Corinthia, which refers to archaeological sites that belonged to prehistoric and historical Corinthia. Nevertheless, the aim of the itinerary was to include all the present territory of the prefecture, the region within the jurisdiction of the 37th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sport. So, the title Ancient Corinthia was kept, accompanied by the relevant clarification given here.
As editor of the book I confined myself to giving general guidelines and making minor interventions in the texts of the other authors. I decided not to unify the writing style of the individual chapters, but to keep their autonomous character, considering as essential the linking of each author with his/her own text. In my view, the synthesis of the texts in different styles, in contrast to their homogenization, enhances better the work of each contributor as well as of the whole. We hope that the readers will appreciate this conscious choice.
This book was published thanks to sponsorship from the Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, the Regional Unit of Corinthia, municipalities in the prefecture and private agencies. We thank them all most sincerely for their support, without which this major publishing project could not have been brought to fruition.
Thanks are due also to Mr Antonis Stergiotis, the publisher Babis Legas and his associates, for the constructive collaboration in the preparation, production and completion of this book.
The twelve authors-archaeologists of the 37th EPCA, G. Giannakopoulos, M. Gkioni, P. Evangeloglou, S. Koursoumis, E. Maragoudaki, V. Papathanasiou, Ch. Pipilou, V. Pliatsika, D. Sarri, V. Tasinos, A. Tsiogas and K. Tsirtsi, and the draftsperson M. Kalliri, who undertook the preparation, modification and reproduction of drawings, maps and photographs, can be justly proud of their efforts. I thank them all warmly and with the wish that they shall offer their knowledge and skills to the Archaeological Service for many years to come.
Archaia Korinthos, March-November 2012
Dr Konstantinos S.I. Kissas