Kenchreai: The Eastern port of Corinth

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Topography

Kenchreai are located at the northeastern end of the Peloponnese, southeast of Corinth, at the bay of Kenchreai, in the Saronic Gulf.




 


Historical Development

According to Pausanias, both the harbours of Corinth, Lechaion and Kenchreai, took their name from Leches and Kenchias, the children of Poseidon and Peirene, the daughter of Acheloos (or Oibalos). The first small settlements in the area from Isthmia and Kenchreai until Corinth appear as early as the Bronze Age. These settlements however, have not been studied, surveyed and excavated systematically as yet. Kenchreai share the history of Corinth. The major harbour of Kenchreai has not been surveyed as it has silted up. After 44/3 BC, a new harbour developed North of the aforementioned natural port, which continued to function. The second harbour has been studied in detail.




 


Selected Written Sources

There is limited written evidence regarding the harbour of Kenchreai. Strabo (Geography, VI. 20 [378], 22 [380]) refers to the increased trading activity and the wealth of the harbour, while Pausanias (ΙΙ. 2, 3) refers to the statues and temples one encounters in the way to Kenchreai, and the mythological origins of the harbour’s name. Kenchreai are also mentioned by Apuleius.




Selected Written Sources


Research

The eastern port of Corinth has been surveyed and excavated by the University of Chicago and Indiana University for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, in the years from 1963 to 1966 and 1968.




 


Jetties

The harbour offered protection from the prevailing in the area northwestern winds. Two points of land have been extended artificially to create two moles. The moles’ ends left a gap of about 150m that formed the entrance to the harbour. The internal part of the harbour was about 30 square km.

Both moles were built almost vertically to the coast and extended from the North to the South for about 100m. There is some evidence to support that the north mole partly consisted of rubble mass and was based upon the southwestern end of a shelf of natural bedrock.




Jetty


Quays

The South quay was a long sloping platform, broader at its base than at its end. The quay was an internal extention of the south jetty.




Quay


Lighthouses

At the base of the north mole there is a rectangular building. Its base is about 6.5m x 7.5m and its surviving height about 3.5m. It is located directly upon the modern coast and has been built on top of earlier wall foundations. Its construction seems late Roman and according to the excavators it must be part of the structure of the ancient lighthouse.




Lighthouse


Warehouses

West of the southern breakwater there is architectural evidence of Roman buildings that probably formed part of the ancient warehouses.

Southeastern of the remains of the warehouses there is a series of six large, rectangular basins, that were linked to each other and to the sea with channels. According to the excavators, these constructions formed part of a fish tanks system.




Warehouse


Function

The harbour of Kenchreai was mainly commercial.




Function Commercial


Summary

There is only limited evidence of absolute chronology. Examination of architectural and ceramic evidence suggests that the south and north moles were Roman and were built at the same time.

The study of the literary sources offers only limited evidence regarding the history of Kenchreai, as the city independently from its function as Corinth’s harbour, is only mentioned briefly.




 


Author

Θεοδουλου, Θ. /Theodoulou, Th.




 


Bibliography

Adamsheck S., 1978

Kenchreai: Eastern port of Corinth, Results of Investigations by the University of Chicago and Indiana University for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, IV. The Pottery, Leiden

Apuleius

Metamorphoses (X. 35 [205] [750]), translation E.J. Kenney, Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth

Cummer W.W., 1971

‘A Roman Tomb at Corinthian Kenchreai’, Hesperia 40

Holfelder R., 1978

Kenchreai: Eastern port of Corinth, Results of Investigations by the University of Chicago and Indiana University for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, III. The Coins, Leiden

Holfelder R., 1973

‘A 6th Century Hoard from Kenchreai’, Hesperia 42

Holfelder R., 970

‘A Small Deposit of Bronze Coins from Kenchreai’, Hesperia 39

Ibrahim L., R. Scranton & R. Brill, 1978

Kenchreai: Eastern port of Corinth, Results of Investigations by the University of Chicago and Indiana University for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, II. The Panels of Opus Sectile in Glass, Leiden

Scranton R.L., 1966

‘Discoveries at Kenchreai’, Chicago Today 3,2

Scranton R.L., J.W. Shaw & L. Ibrahim, 1978

Kenchreai: Eastern port of Corinth, Results of Investigations by the University of Chicago and Indiana University for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, I. Topography and Architecture, Leiden

Scranton R.L. & E.S. Ramage, 1967

‘Investigations at Kenchreai, 1963’, Hesperia 36

Scranton R.L. & E.S. Ramage, 1964

‘Investigations at Kenchreai’, Hesperia 33

Shaw J.W., 1970

‘Shallow-water excavation at Kenchreai II’, American Journal of Archaeology 74

Shaw J.W., 1967

‘A double-sheathed pulley block from Kencreai’, Hesperia 36

Παυσανίας,

Ελλάδος Περιήγησις, (ΙΙ. 2, 3) μετάφραση Ν. Παπαχατζή, Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα

Στράβων,

Γεωγραφικά, VIII.6. 20[378], 22[380]) μετάφραση Π. Θεωχαρίδης, Κάκτος, Ο. Χατζόπουλος 1994




Bibliography


Author

Αργύρη Ξανθή / Argyri Xanthi


 


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