1 The excavations were directed by the author under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for the University of Chicago and with permission of the Greek Ministry of Culture. They were supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by private donations. The excavation report is divided chronologically, so that Part I includes material from the Mycenaean period to c. 470 BC and Part II will cover the remainder through the third century AD. See E. R. Gebhard and F. P. Hemans, ‘The University of Chicago excavations at Isthmia: I’, Hesperia 61 (1992) 1-77, hereafter ‘Excavations: I’. For the earlier excavations, see O. Broneer, Isthmia, I, The Temple of Poseidon (Princeton 1971), hereafter Isthmia I; idem, Isthmia, II, Topography and Architecture (Princeton 1973), hereafter Isthmia II; idem, Isthmia, III, Terracotta Lamps (Princeton 1977), hereafter Isthmia III; M. Sturgeon, Isthmia, IV, The Sculpture, 1952-67 (Princeton 1988), hereafter Isthmia IV- E. R. Gebhard, The Theater at Isthmia (Chicago 1973), hereafter Theater. Forthcoming, I. Raubitschek, Isthmia, VII, Metal Objects, 1952-1967, 1989. Studies in preparation for the Isthmia series include: C. Morgan, The Early Iron Age Sanctuary and the Mycenaean Settlement; K. Arafat, Archaic Pottery, c. 700-550 BC; J. Bentz, Late Archaic to Early Hellenistic Pottery; J. Hayes, Late Hellenistic and Roman Pottery; A. Jackson, Arms and Armour; D. Mitten, ‘Terracotta figurines’; L. Houghtalin, ‘Coins’. Fritz Hemans, who served as architect and assistant director of the excavations, is preparing a new study on the Archaic temple of Poseidon. In 1976 I succeeded Broneer as director of the University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia. I am greatly indebted to my colleagues who are working on the final publications of the Isthmia material for sharing with me the results of their research.
2 Versions of this paper were read at an open meeting of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in November, 1990, and at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in December, 1991. I am grateful to W. D. E. Coulson, to J. J. Coulton and to many others who offered helpful comments and criticisms. I also benefited from discussions with Nanno Marinatos, Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood and George Huxley who suggested the original focus.
3 Pausanias gives several Peloponnesian examples: in Arcadia near Thelpusa (8.25.4-8) and in a cave near Phigalia (8.42.1-3). Their daughter was held by some to be Despoina, worshipped with Demeter at Lycosura in a sanctuary that included an altar to Horse Poseidon as father of Despoina (8.37.1-12). Outside Mantinea a grove of Demeter lies above the sanctuary of Horse Poseidon (8.10.1) while in the Argolid near Troezen a temple to Demeter Law-giver stands above the sanctuary of Poseidon Nurturer. At Eleusis Poseidon appears as Pater (Pausanias 1.38.6) Their association in cult is taken for granted by Plutarch (Quaest. Conviv. 4.4.3).
4 Isthmia II, 113; Isthmia IV, 116. Votives appropriate to Demeter but uninscribed have also been recovered in a settlement south of the sanctuary on a ridge known locally as the Rachi. The earliest belong to the sixth century BC; see V. Anderson-Stojanovic, ‘Cult and industry at Isthmia: a shrine on the Rachi’, (abstract) AJA 92 (1988) 268-9.
5 Isthmia II, 113-16; most recently D . Geagan, ‘The Isthmian dossier of P. Licinius Priscus Juventianus’, Hesperia 58 (1989) 350-3. The spacing of the letters on the stone suggests that Demeter may have had her own temple, while Kore, Dionysos and Artemis could have shared a shrine. In Athens, Eueteria, ‘Good Harvest’, was associated with grain and thus Demeter. She was represented by a statue, now missing, whose base bore an honorary decree of 299/8 BC connected with a large benefaction of grain to the city; A. E. Raubitschek, ‘Greek inscriptions’, Hesperia 35 (1966) 242-3. Raubitschek suggests that the statue was perhaps dedicated to Demeter. I am indebted to the author for drawing my attention to the monument.
6 The rectangular area now surrounding the temple was not formed until the second century AD. At that time a level surface for the enlarged temenos was created by cutting back the lower slope of the Rachi and filling in the northwest gully.
7 Theater 9-25. A Roman bath now covers the Classical pool and other provisions for bathing in the Greek period. The bath was uncovered by Paul Clement; JHS 92 (1972), AR 1971-2, 7-8; ArchDelt 28 (1973) 145-7. His work is continued t Timothy Gregory for Ohio State University. Other buildings related to the games very likely stood on the lower plateau.
9 I am grateful to Catherine Morgan for sharing with me the results of her study the Early Iron Age pottery and for many long discussions about the early days I the sanctuary. She presents a summary of the material in ‘Excavations: I’, 18-2:
11 One layer of ash redeposited in the sacrificial terrace and embankment of the Early Stadium amounted to about 1.44 cubic metres. Of a total of 2,439 sherds (fine-wares), 86 per cent belonged to the Early Iron Age, and the remaining we early Archaic. Of the 398 bones, 94 per cent were burnt; of the burnt portion, 27.5 per cent were cattle-sized, the remainder sheep/goat-sized. I am indebted to David Reese for his analysis of the faunal material. The contents of the early sacrificial ash deposits are summarized in ‘Excavations: I’, 67, 72, 75.
12 The custom of breaking cups after the meal may have been widespread, since the very fragmentary condition of Early Iron Age pottery at Isthmia is similar to that found at other sanctuaries of the period; J. N. Coldstream, Geometric Greece (London, 1977) 332.
15 Three of the shrines are located on the borders of Corinthian territory: Mt Apesas, west of Corinth, J. R. Wiseman, The Land of the Ancient Corinthians (Goteborg 1978) 106; fig. 143; Mt Kokkygion, M. L. Zimmerman Munn, ‘The Zeus sanctuary on Mt Kokkygion above Hermion, Argolis’, (abstract) AJA 90 (1986) 192-3); Mt Arachnaion in the territory of Epidauros, D. W. Rupp, ‘The altars of Zeus and Hera on Mt Arachnaion in the Argeia, Greece’, JFA 3 (1976) 261-8.
17 The groove is 0.12 to 0.16m deep, 0.08 to 0.40m wide, and has a maximum length revealed so far of 2.60m. The postholes range between 0.10 to 0.22m in diameter, 0.10 to 0.30m in depth, and some have a smaller hole cut into the bottom.
18 U. Kron suggests that tents were used for dining near the altar at the Heraion on Samos, ‘Kultmahle im Heraion von Samos archaischer Zeit’, in R. Hagg, N. Marinatos and G. C. Nordquist, eds, Early Greek Cult Practice (Stockholm 1988) 144, nn. 58, 59.
20 For a brief survey of early votives, see J. N. Coldstream, Geometric Greece (London 1977) 332-8. C . Morgan discusses the economics of dedication in Athletes and Oracles: The Transformation of Olympia and Delphi in the Eighth Century BC (Cambridge 1990) 191-203. For the sanctuary of Hera at Perachora, see H. Payne, Perachora I (Oxford 1940); T. J. Dunbabin, Perachora II (Oxford 1962). Publication of the Isthmian metal votives is forthcoming in the Isthmian volume by the late Isabelle Raubitschek.
21 E. Gebhard, ‘Evidence for Corinthian control of the Isthmian sanctuary’, in Colloquium, ‘Origins of the polis: Homer and the monuments revisited’, chaired by Ian Morris, Joint Session of the American Philological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America, Annual Meeting, Chicago, December, 1991; (abstract) AJA 96 (1992) 355.
22 Isthmia I, 3-56. I am indebted to Fritz Hemans for sharing with me his preliminary work on a new reconstruction of the Archaic temple. His report on the discoveries from 1989 are included in ‘Excavations: I’, 25 40 (temple); 47-51 (temenos wall). See also F. Hemans, ‘The Archaic roof tiles at Isthmia, a reexamination’, Hesperia 58 (1989) 251 66.
29 E. Gebhard, ‘Early Greek wall decoration and the Doric order’, Resumes, Xlll Internationaler Kongress fur Klassische Archaeologie, Berlin, 24-30 Juli, 1988, 175. The foot and other measures used in the design of the temple will be discussed in detail by Fritz Hemans, but it can be noted here that the cella may have been a hekatompedon, a hundred-footer, thus giving us a foot of 0.3228m which is close to the foot of 0.3204m proposed by Broneer (Isthmia II, 63). The panels would then have been 6 feet long and perhaps 2 feet high.
33 In this section the first course is largely intact. Although Broneer identified it as a terrace wall belonging to the Classical period, the finishing of the surfaces and incipient anathyrosis on the joining blocks so closely resemble workmanship on the Archaic temple and altar that the wall is surely contemporary with them; Isthmia II, 14; ‘Excavations: I’, 49.
35 North propylon: Isthmia II, 10-11; pl. 52a. Broneer assigns it to the Classical sanctuary, although an Archaic date now seems more likely; ‘Excavations: I’, 47. East gateway: Broneer excavated the bedding but did not recognize it as belonging to a gate. The cutting in bedrock lies at the east edge of the sacrificial terrace, just west of a monumental gateway belonging to the Hellenistic period (Figure 6) . It is partially covered by the rear wall of the east stoa (Figure 1) . The gate is discussed in ‘Excavations: I’, 73-4.
37 For details, see E. R. Gebhard, ‘The Early Stadium at Isthmia and the founding of the Isthmian Games’, in W. Coulson and H. Kyrieleis, eds, Proceedings of an International Symposium on the Olympic Games (Athens 1992) 73-9; ‘Excavations: I’, 57 61, pl. 5, fig. 19.
42 Burned pieces of marble roof tiles and parts of the entablature and columns are easily identifiable in terraces belonging to the fourth century and later. The fire evidently destroyed the entire roof and upper part of the building, as well as much of the colonnade. Xenophon (Hell. 4.5.4) gives an account of the disaster to the effect that, on a cold spring night at the time of the Isthmian festival, Spartan soldiers camping on the heights to the north of the sanctuary saw the temple go up in flames but no one knew who started it.
43 The original altar, contemporary with the Archaic temple, was centred on its facade. An addition was then built on the north end so that it was centred on the Classical temple. The 1989 excavations confirmed a seventh century date for the first altar, thus placing its extension in the fifth century rather than the fourth as Broneer had originally suggested; Isthmia I, 98-100; ‘Excavations: I’, 41-2.
44 Isthmia II, 47-55; Early Stadia III and IV and East Terrace 6 will be discussed in Part II of the excavation report. 45 The retaining walls for the ramps, parallel to the outside wall of the embankment, were added shortly after the original construction but before the fire of 390 BC. Although Broneer did not identify them as ramps, the fact that the land drops off abruptly to the east made it necessary to provide some means of access for persons approaching the stadium from that side and ramps would have been appropriate. The walls were built in segments, suggesting that more than one ramp was provided; Isthmia II, 52 4, plan II.
52 Isthmia II, 15-17, plans II, V, pl. 7b. The surface of the final terrace has the same elevation as the floor of the gate. Results from the 1989 excavations in this area (East Terraces 7 and 8) will be discussed in Part II of the report.
53 Broneer mentions the possibility that the foundation may have belonged to a free-standing gate, Isthmia II, 12. Plan III shows its relation to the North propylon. Fritz Hemans will discuss new evidence in support of this suggestion in Part II of the excavation report. A base of similar size and shape but different construction is found near the temple of Zeus at Nemea (NU structure). Miller suggests that it held an equestrian monument on the basis of blocks built into a nearby Early Christian basilica; S. G. Miller, ed., Nemea, A Guide to the Site and Museum (Berkeley 1990) 85, 155 6.
55 The quantities, derivations and implications of imports will be discussed by Catherine Morgan for the Early Iron Age; by Karim Arafat for the pottery of c. 700-550; by Julie Bentz for that of 550 200 and by John Hayes for the remainder to Late Antiquity.
56 For Poseidon as god of assemblies: W. Barker, Greek Religion, Archaic and Classical (Oxford 1985) 136 9; for the Ionians meeting at Mt Mykale: Herodotus 1.141-3; C. J. Emlyn-Jones, The Ionians and Hellenism (London 1980) 17. For the Amphictiony at Calauria: Strabo 8.6.14; T. Kelly, ‘The Calaurian Amphictiony’, AJA (1966) 113-21. At Onchestos in Boeotia Poseidon is worshipped on a pass between Thebes and Haliartos where meetings of the Boeotian League were held in Hellenistic times, if not earlier; see Pausanias 9.26.5; A. Schachter, Cults of Boiotia (4 vols, London 1981 6), II, 207-21. I am indebted to John Camp for calling my attention to this sanctuary.
57 See A. Jackson, ‘Arms and armour in the Panhellenic sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia’, in Coulson and Kyrieleis, eds, (supra n. 37) 141 4. Jackson will further discuss this material in his volume on arms and armour.
58 For evidence of inter-state rivalry at shrines in the Early Iron Age, see A. Snodgrass, ‘Interaction by design: the Greek city state’, in C. Renfrew and J. Cherry, eds, Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-political Change (Cambridge 1986) 47-58; Morgan, Athletes and Oracles (supra n. 20) 16-25.
59 Solinus, 7.14. A Mosshammer summarizes the evidence but places the first panHellenic celebration of the Pythian Games at Delphi before the first Isthmia, ‘The date of the first Pythiad – again’, GRBS 23 (1982) 22, n.14; pp. 24-5.
61 J. R. Wiseman, ‘A trans-Isthmian fortification wall’, Hesperia 32 (1963) 248-75; idem, (supra n. 15) 59 62. N. G. L. Hammond, in Cambridge Ancient History, 2nd edn, vol. IV, 581-3, suggests that the Persians burnt the Archaic temple in 480, but the latest, heavily burnt pottery from the temple seems to belong to the next decade. Julie Bentz will discuss the evidence in Part II of the excavation report.
62 The account has the sound of a traditional anecdote; see W. How and J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus (Oxford 1912) vol. II, 276. For the voting procedure, Plutarch, Per. 32- Demosthenes, De Cor. 134.
63 J. R. Ellis, Philip 11 and Macedonian Imperialism (Princeton 1986) 204-9. The terms of the treaty establishing the Hellenic League prescribe that in peacetime the delegates are to meet at the sacred games; cf. Diodorus 16.89. J. Wiseman lists the international meetings at Corinth and Isthmia before 146, ‘Corinth and Rome, I’, ANRW 2.7.1 (1980) 539.
64 The inscriptions recording relations between Philip V and the Hellenic League appear to have been deliberately smashed. We are grateful to Michael Jameson for providing a summary of the texts before he has completed the final publication.
66 Suetonius, Nero 24.2; Theater, 85-7. The speech is commemorated on Corinthian coins minted during the year AD 66/67, on which the emperor is shown speaking from a platform with the inscription ADLO[cutio] AUG[usti]; see M. Amandry, Le Monnayage des Duovirs Corinthiens, suppl. XV of the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellenique (Paris 1988) type XXII, 215-21, pl. XXXIX, RIII1-RIV21.
71 The ode is quoted in Apollonios Dyscolos, Synt. 2.114 (fr. 6.5(1), Snell). Similar wording occurs at the end of schol. Isthm. hyp. a. The full story appears in Pausanias I.44.7-8; II.1.3-II.2.2. See W. Burkert, Homo Necans (Berkeley 1983) 196-9.
76 In the middle of the first century AD when the games were returned to the sanctuary after an absence of two hundred years, a sacrificial enclosure for the hero was built over the western end of the Early Stadium, south of the long altar (Figure 1), but there is no trace of an earlier enclosure or sacrifices in that place; see Isthmia II, 99-101- East Terraces 1 4 in ‘Excavations: I’, 12-15; 61-8. The original location of the shrine may not have been known in the first century AD, but only the existence of an heroic cult.