Five Camps of Corinth

One of the things that I’ve been working on over the last few days is trying to find a clear and clever way to explain to people why a Mediterranean archaeologist would be interested in man camps in North Dakota. As I thought through this I came to realize that the place where I learned archaeology was filled with camps – or at least short term, impromptu, seasonal, settlements. In fact, just thinking about the Corinthia for a few minutes reminded me that there were at least five camps of varying antiquity (and this is not counting the good old fashioned recreational camps!).

1. The Fortified Camp on Mt. Oneion. This is my favorite because I published it with Tim Gregory. (You can download the publication here.) The camp isn’t much to see aside for some rubble walls and a scatter of storage and table wares. Otherwise, its footprint on the landscape is pretty modest suggesting that it was intensely occupied for a relatively (for Greece) short period of time and saw only a small investment in 

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2. Lakka Skoutara. Lakka Skoutara is the location of a small settlement to the east of the village of Sophiko. While Lakka Skoutara is not formally a camp, it was originally constructed as a seasonal settlement perhaps to accommodate families during the threshing of grain or during the olive harvest. At times, the seasonal settlement became permanent especially when political and economic events disrupted traditional village life, but for most of the settlement’s history it served as a “crew camp” to house the workforce needed for agricultural production. (For an archive of images from Lakka Skoutara click here.)

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3. The Gypsy Camp.  On the road from the village of Ancient Corinth across the Isthmia plain stands a gypsy camp. I’ve never visited it, but daily we’d see its ad hoc arrangement of rooms and spaces with their corrugated metal or blue tarp walls.  Every so often someone designs a research program or some other form of outreach that would provide an opportunity for the camp to intersect with the archaeologists who work in the area. 

4. Washingtonia. Washingtonia is the name that the reformer and philhellene Samuel Gridley Howe gave to the refugee settlement that he created near the modern village of Hexamillia in the Corinthia. He describes the first residents of this settlement as refugees from the Greek War of Independence and noted that at least some of them had been living in caverns. Another tradition has it (and I don’t have a reference for this) that refugees lived in the remains of the Corinth amphitheater.

5. The Corinth Canal. When I was active in field work in the Corinthia, we would walk down the road from our base at the ancient site of Isthmia to the beach near the canal. (Nothing was more relaxing that to swimming in the balmy bilge water of Russian flagged bauxite freighters as they chug through the Corinth canal). On our walk, we’d see a group of houses that stood out for being oddly situated on their blocks. At some point, someone (probably Tim Gregory, but maybe Richard Rothaus) told me that these were houses built to accommodate foreign workers on the Corinth canal. The houses are clearly visible on this Google Earth image sitting diagonally across their lots in a neat row. If someone can confirm this, it would be great.

Isthmia Canal Houses

One Comment

  1. Ioannis Panteleon August 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

    While I am not sure about these specific houses at the Corinth Canal, this post reminded me of a passage I recently read in

    Eduard Engel, Griechische Frühlingstage. Eine Reiseerzählung 4(Radebeul 1927).

    The narrator was going to meet his friend, General Istvan Türr, a veteran of Hungarian, Italian and German democratic uprisings in the middle of the 19th century, on the Isthmus in 1886. Türr was one of the driving forces behind the Panama Canal and later started the Corinth Canal project. Later in his life he became a prominent figure in the international peace movement.

    Engel states, that Poseidonia and Isthmia were founded by Türr and that he lived with his wife in Isthmia (274). Later on (277) he talks about an endless line of wooden cabins for the approx. 2000 workers, about bars and restaurants with signs in all ‘tame’ and ‘wild’ languages. He saw Italians, Ottomans, workers from Montenegro and only a few Greeks.

    Ioannis Panteleon

    Istvan Türr
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istv%C3%A1n_T%C3%BCrr

    Reply

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