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Ancient Corinth

Ancient Corinth is located near the southern extremity of the Isthmus of Corinth, southwest of the modern city of Corinth. According to legend, it was founded by Korinthos (Corinthos), the grandson of the sun god Helios. Discoveries of pre-Mycenaean pottery in Corinth indicate the existence of a settlement there in ancient times (first inhabited in the Neolithic period (5000-3000 B.C.). The city flourished under the Dorians, who conquered it before 1000 B.C. With harbors on both the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs, it was well situated for trading and it became the chief commercial center of Greece. Among the many colonies founded by Corinth during this period were Corcyra (now Kérkira) and Syracuse.
With the rise of Athens as a rival commercial and naval power, Corinth joined Sparta against Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.). After the fall of Athens, the Corinthians formed an alliance with that city and warred against Sparta in the Corinthian War (395-86 B.C.). In 338 B.C., Corinth was occupied by the Macedonians. The city joined the Achaean League in 224 B.C., soon becoming the leading member.
In 146 B.C. the Roman army destroyed Corinth. According to literary sources, the Greek male population had been killed and the women and children had been sold into slavery. Julius Caesar rebuilt the city about 44 B.C., while remained largely uninhabited for 102 years, and it afterward became capital of the Roman province of Achaea. Corinth suffered and survived barbarian destruction in the 3rd and 4th centuries (Goths) and disastrous earthquakes in the 6th century A.D. Its steady decline in prosperity was finally completed by the sack of the city by the Crusaders in the 12th century. In the following centuries, it was successively captured by the Turks (1458), the Venetians (1687), and again by the Turks (1715), who held it until Greeks recaptured it in 1822. In 1858 the city was completely destroyed by an earthquake.
Since 1896, numerous archaeological discoveries have been made among the ruins of Corinth, including Greek and Roman sculpture and remnants of some of the principal Greek and Roman buildings, including the Greek temple of Apollo (550 B.C.) and a Roman amphitheater. Corinth was linked to Lechaion in the 5th century B.C. by parallel Long Walls (cf. Athens and Piraeus) which enclosed a large area of urban and agricultural land as well as numerous sanctuaries. To the S, walls extended from Corinth and ascended to the natural strong hold on the heights of Acrocorinth. The large fortress on Acrocorinth, with its triple line of fortifications and supply of spring water was almost impregnable and a key (throughout history) to the control of the Peloponnese. Within the fortifications of Corinth itself (an area over twice the size of Classical Athens) religious, civic, commercial and domestic buildings as well as a large number of markets, factories and taverns crowded around the centrally placed Temple of Apollo. In the city were shrines also to Hermes, Heracles, Athena, and Poseidon. The city had 12 temples in all. Corinth was also known for the Isthmian games which were held in the vicinity, Isthmia, every other year in honour of Melicertes-Palaemon or Poseidon. On the west side of the Apollo's temple one can see the remains of the fountain of Glauke hewn out of the rock. Glauke, daughter of King Creon, was the reason why Jason deserted Medea. In revenge Medea sent her as wedding gift a poisoned mantle which enveloped the girl in flames the moment she put it on. In order to save herself she leapt into the fountain which since then has borne her name. Corinth had a famous temple dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing, and his daughter Hygieia. Several buildings were constructed around the temple for the sick who came for healing. The patients left at the temple terra cotta replicas of the parts of their bodies that had been healed. Some of these replicas have been found in the ruins.
Fortress of Acrocorinth
The most important defensive work of the area from antiquity to more recent times. It is the largest and oldest fortress in the Peloponnese. The history of the fortification is closely connected with that of Corinth. Sections of the wall are discernible from ancient pre-Christian times, the Byzantine period, the Frankish domination, the Venetian domination and finally the Turkish occupation . The fortress (castro) is accessible from the western side, departing from the modern village of Ancient Corinth.
The fortress is secured by a system of three circuit walls reinforced by towers. On the highest of the two peaks of the mountain are traces of the temple of Aphrodite on the site where later stood a church and subsequently a Turkish mosque. The second hill top, at the SW edge of the precipitous rock, was fortified during Frankish times and formed the inner keep of the fortress. Lower down is the Upper Peirene Spring. Pausanias mentions that Peirene was a woman who was transformed into a spring by the tears she shed for her son who had been killed by Artemis. Remains of churches, mosques, houses, fountains and cisterns are preserved within the second and third peribiloi.


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