1 Full descriptions and discussions of the artifacts will be presented in the final publications of the University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia. I am immensely grateful to my colleagues for sharing information on their material in advance of publication: Karim Arafat, Julie Bentz, John Hayes, Frederick Hemans, Liane Houghtalin, Alastar Jackson, Nick Kardulias, David Mitten, Catherine Morgan, the late Isabelle Raubitschek, David Reese, and Martha Risser. The manuscript was also read by Michael Jameson and Kees Neeft who contributed many helpful suggestions and references. I am indebted to Sir John Boardman and John Younger for information on the seal stone. Errors, of course, remain the responsibility of the author.
2 Similar artifacts in a matrix of burnt material were found in other areas of the temple, but their context included more later objects; see ‘Excavations, 1954’, 117, 128-141; ‘Excavations, 1957’, 300f., 338-343. The bulk of dedications belonging to the period before the fire were retrieved from terracing at east side of the temenos, from the bedding for the Classical Corinth-Isthmus road at the northwest and north side of the temenos, and from an abandoned water reservoir (the Great Circular Pit); see ‘Excavations, 1989:11’, 15-19, 26-30; and Isthmia II, 1-15, 22-24, App. 1. Areas marked in Fig. 1.
6 NB 4, 199. Broneer’s trench plan is reproduced in ‘Excavations, 1989:I’, fig. 3. Of the three stages that Swift describes in his excavation of the Archaic deposit, it is the last that produced the unmixed units.
7 Swift was then a Research Assistant at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. He was assisted for the inventory by Esther Smith, then a Ryerson Fellow at the University of Chicago. Many objects were recorded as they were excavated; others were found when the previously excavated soil was s
9 The deposits in Fig. 2 are located on a revised plan of the Archaic Temple drawn by Hemans after the 1989 excavations (‘Excavations, 1989:I’, 25-38, figs. 6-8) on the basis of Swift’s trench plans made during the excavation, Fig, 3 is based on Swift’s perspective drawing in NB 4, 164 labeled “View of the south half of cella from E. colonnade, looking West, at a hypothetical stage of excavation.”
11 B = “C-8, dark earth”, NB 4, 77, 93, 113, passim; Sketch plan, NB 4, 74; cf. Isthmia I, 61, pl. 2. At the bottom, the foundation trench is ca. 2.78 m wide and lies at an elevation of -0.69 m. The site datum point is located on a block of the northeast anta of the Classical temple; Isthmia I, plan 2. Swift notes that “the earth of the dark fill is scattered with chunks of reddish mud-brick” (p. 77).
12 C = “C-6, the island”, NB 4, 119-133, 1 on plan, p. 69. Its depth is not recorded. From Swift’s sketch = our Fig. 3, it was a little shallower than Deposit A. C is said to “continue the line of the ridge between the cella and the interior colonnade farther west” (Deposit D). Except in the pronoas bedding described under B above, the deposits filling the cuttings for the foundations of the Classical temple were softer than the surrounding soil and mixed with debris from the final dismantling of the building. Swift carefully distinguished the two types of fill and excavated them separately.
13 D = “C-6, the ridge”, NB 4, 71-101 passim. Swift encountered the burnt material about 0.20 to 0.30 m below the modern surface (approx. elevation +0.84 in). After excavation the underlying stratum was left at an elevation of -0.05 m (Isthmia I, plan 2).
14 The sandy layer is shown on Isthmia I, pl. 4, labeled “Archaic and pre-Classical fill”. When a portion of the stratum was excavated in 1989, it consisted of sand and small stones with pockets of limestone chips and ash; ‘Excavations, 1989:I, 38, fig. 7 (Tr. 89-62).
15 A stone floor in the last phase of the Archaic Temple was suggested to me by Frederick Hemans. In his study of the Archaic temple he found that many of the blocks from the temple were re-cut for a secondary use. The stone, then, was salvaged in the same way as the bronze.
19 Cf. W. Rostoker & E. Gebhard, ‘The sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia: techniques of metal manufacture’, Hesperia 49, 1980, 350-352, nn. 14-15. For metal-working in sanctuaries: W.H.D. Rouse, Greek votive offerings, Cambridge 1902, 344f.; C. Risberg, ‘Metal-working in Greek sanctuaries’, in Economics of cult in the ancient Greek world. Proceedings of the Uppsala Symposium 1990 (Boreas. Uppsala Studies in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Civilizations, 21), eds. T. Linders & B. Alroth, Uppsala, 1992, 33-40, with bibliography.
21 In a recent discussion of the practice of burying valuable offerings beneath a shrine during its construction to ensure the protection and safety of the building, Walter Burkert includes the Isthmian temple with the Temples of Hera at Perachora and Athena at Priene among shrines that contained “deposits of valuables”; W. Burkert, The Orientalizing revolution, trans. by M.E. Pinder & W. Burkert, Cambridge, Mass. 1992, 54, n. 7. Ulrich Sinn also mentions the Archaic deposit at Isthmia in the same context: ‘Der sog. Tempel D im Heraion von Samos, II. Ein archäologischer Befund aus der nachpolykratischen Zeit, mit einem Exkurs zum griechischen Bauopfer’, AM 100, 1985, 136-158, n. 23. For ancient Mesopotamia (Late Uruk through Ur III, ca. 3300-2000) Judy Bjorkman identifies such artifact groups as “fill deposits” that represent burying fragmentary temple furnishings after destruction of the building and before rebuilding or final abandonment (‘Taming the spirits? The phenomenology of fill deposits’, AJA 100, 1996, 352). In our present view of the burnt deposit, it seems more likely that its presence in the Classical building was not ritually significant, but the other interpretation is not impossible. The manner in which similar objects were found packed together in clusters suggests that the clusters represent their original grouping in the temple if not the precise location of the groups. The objects in the Mesopotamian “fill deposits” discussed by Bjorkman were apparently randomly disposed and bear no relation to the function or arrangement of the rooms.
22 See C. Morgan, Isthmia VIII: The Mycenaean settlement and Early Iron Age sanctuary at Isthmia, forthcoming. For the Archaic pottery, Karim Arafat is currently studying the material ca. 700-550, and Julie Bentz and Martha Risser that of ca. 550-400. More detailed analyses of the context pottery will be included in their publications. It is not impossible that a few sherds came from the area outside the temple and were associated with the layer of debris in the temple during the period of clean-up. Since a number of the ceramic vases in the debris are relatively well-preserved, the single sherds probably do not come from complete vases that were stored in the temple at the time of the fire.
23 Deposit B: base of cup used as a palette, second quarter of the 5th century (IP 343). Deposit C: base, unburnt, second quarter of the 5th century to 4th century (Pottery Lot 107). Since the new temple was completed before it burned in 390, deposits beneath the floor should pre-date the fire by some years.
24 I am indebted to Liane Houghtalin for information and references concerning the coins in the deposits. IC 265 and 265 bis were found together, the first complete and the latter broken in 2 pieces and illegible. IC 265 is too corroded for a close study of the trident and possible field symbol, but its weight of 2.57 gr. suggests that it could belong to the earliest group of the series. Cf. J.H. Kroll, The Athenian Agora XXVI: The Greek coins, Princeton, N.J. 1993, 222; O. Zervos, ‘Coins excavated at Corinth, 1978-1980’, Hesperia 55, 1986, 184, 203.
25 IC 131 was found by itself at the west end of the deposit; NB 4, p. 129. Cf. BMC, no. 121, pl. II.26 dated to 431-400. Liane Houghtalin suggests that IC 131 is stylistically closer to the middle of the century, but there is little recent contextual information on Corinthian fractional currancy (personal communication). If the coin was in fact part of the collection in the temple, the mint date could then be a few years earlier than has been generally supposed. The range of minting dates of some Corinthian and Argive issues, as currently viewed, extend later than 450.
26 Broneer suggested a date around 480-470 based on three vases from these deposits (IP 360+361, 335, 350), but they are not as late as the vessels discussed in Appendix A; ‘Excavations, 1954’, 133f., nos. 18-20; Isthmia I, 1, n. 2; 3, n. 7.
27 Rouse (supra n. 19) remains the most extensive survey of dedications; see also Faith, hope and worship. Aspects of religious mentality in the ancient world, ed. H.S. Versnel, Leiden, 1981, especially F.T. van Straten, ‘Gifts for the gods’, 65-151; Gifts to the Gods. Proceedings of the Uppsala Symposium 1985 (Boreas. Uppsala Studies in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Civilizations, 15), eds. T. Linders & G.C. Nordquist, Uppsala 1987; Early Greek cult practice. Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens 1986 (ActaAth-4o, 38), eds. R. Hägg, N. Marinatos & G.C. Nordquist, Stockholm 1988, especially B. Alroth, ‘The positioning of Greek votive figurines’, 195-203 and H. Kyrieleis, ‘Offerings of the “common man” in the Heraion at Samos’, 215-221; idem, ‘The Heraion at Samos’, in Greek sanctuaries, New approaches, eds. N. Marinatos & R. Hägg, London 1993, 125-153.
28 The bronze coins: supra. n. 24. Since the chronology of Archaic Greek silver coinage is not firmly established and the date of the Isthmian temple deposit has, since its discovery, played a role in establishing the sequence, the dates cited here are those found in current publications. Cf. C.M. Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek coins, London 1976, 96; he places the closing date ca. 475; M. Thompson, O. Mørkhohn & C.M. Kraay, An inventory of Greek coin hoards, New York 1973, 5, no. 11; dated ca. 480; M. Price & N. Waggoner, Archaic Greek coinage, the Asyut hoard, London 1975, 129, n. 17; dated ca. 475; C. Amold-Biucchi, L. Beer-Tobey & N. Waggoner, ‘A Greek Archaic silver hoard from Selinus’, ANSMN 33, 1988, 29; dated ca. 475. The latest silver coin is the diobol (IC 131) discussed above. We are indebted to Orestes Zervos of the Corinth Excavation staff for many helpful suggestions concerning the Isthmian coins.
29 ‘Excavations, 1954’, 135f., pl. 53. Broneer lists 133 coins from the temple. He included the 128 coins recorded by Swift as coming from Deposits A-C and five from other areas where the Archaic debris was mixed with later material.
30 Swift notes that 6 coins were found together at the bottom of the southern half in A; 1 was recovered with a seal stone at the top of the northern half, 8 were in the lowest part of the northern section with 2 scarabs, a silver attachment, gold bead, and silver ring. At the end of digging in the northern section there were 5 coins, a pair of silver earrings, beads from a necklace, a stone seal, bronze ring, 2 faience beads, another coin, and small bits of silver (NB 4, 135-157).
32 Isthmia VII, no. 16A+B, Archaic period. The body was in Tr. EC-E. The other two arms: Isthmia VII, IM 113, IM 800 under no. 18. In Isthmia VII objects of a similar type are listed by inventory number under the catalogue entry of a characteristic example.
33 Isthmia VII, no. 1 (bronze without base), early 7th century; no. 3 (bronze with base), early 6th century; no. 4 (gold with base), 6th century. I owe to Catherine Morgan the suggestion that the earliest bull may have belonged to a tripod.
34 Cf. East Terrace 4 and 5; ‘Excavations, 1989:I, 71-73, 75. The type was popular also at Corinth and elsewhere; O. Broneer, ‘Hero cults in the Corinthian agora’, Hesperia 11, 1940, 128-161; C.K. Williams 11 & J.E. Fisher, ‘Corinth, 1972: the Forum area’, Hesperia 42, 1973, 8, pl. 3.
35 IM 92 (early 6th century), 164 (late 7th century), 206 (late 6th to early 5th century), 6014 (Archaic). Several small fragments of legs did not necessarily come from different figurines. For IM 164 and other examples of the type: ‘Excavations, 1954’, 139, no. 12, pl. 56a. I thank David Mitten for this information.
38 Clamps: Isthmia VII, nos. 352-354; App. H: IM 683, 684, 685; rods with rings: IM 670, 696 under no. 347. Prof. Raubitschek discusses the use of clamps in chariot construction in the Introduction to Chapter V.
42 The structure is called a . R.W.B. Burton argues it was not the temple of Apollo but maybe an alcove or portico, possibly built for the occasion; Pindar’s Pythian Odes, Oxford 1962, 142-144 with bibliography. Others identify it as the temple; cf. Alroth (supra n. 27), 195, n. 2.
45 Isthmia VII, no. 91A (handle; 91B is so similar that it may belong to the same vessel; found just N. of Tr. C-3), no. 160 (drinking cup handle), no. 128 (situla handle), nos. 63, 66 (spool handles from basins; 66 is badly bumt), no. 140 (disk with inscribed Gorgoneion), no. 145 (snake’s head), no. 147 (lion mask), no. 118 (fragments of an inscribed rim of a pail), no. H 9 (uninscribed rim fragments, probably from the same pail), no. 151 (base of small hydria), no. 374 (ladle), no. 154, no. 155 (duck’s head terminals, found together); cf. Introduction to pails in Chapter 11; no. 102 (pyxis lid ring); cf. no. 94 (complete bronze pyxis from the east terrace, Tr. EC-E).
49 Jackson suggests that, in contrast to the practice at Olympia, all arms and armour were kept in the temple; ‘Hoplites and the gods: the dedication of captured arms and armour’, in Hoplites. The classical Greek battle experience, ed. V.D. Hanson, London 1991, 228-249. See also, idem, ‘Arms and armour at the panhellenic sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia’, in proceedings of an International Symposium on the Olympic Games (September, 1988), eds. W. Coulson & H. Kyrieleis, Athens 1992, 141-144.
55 Dr. Bentz reports unglazed examples are most common early in the series, but the shape most closely resembles examples from ca. 480-470 (personal communication). Cf. ‘Excavations, 1954’, 132, no. 6, pl. 51a.
57 B: IP 323, 324, 327, 329, 331, 333, 339, 3417 (Fig. 7a-e); C: one fine, complete example and one fragment, IM 88, 341 respectively. For IP 88: ‘Excavations, 1954’, 131, no. 1, pl. 51b; IP 333: ibid., 132, no. 4, pl. 51a. For IP 331, see D,A. Amyx, Corinthian vase painting of the Archaic period, Berkeley 1988, no. 106; 5.
58 IM 335, 338, 345. Over 50 fragments of the same type of mug are found in the context pottery of Deposits A-D; others come from mixed deposits in the temple, the east terrace, and the great circular pit.
60 IP 335; see ‘Excavations, 1954’, 133, no. 19, pl. 52a. Bentz, in a paper presented at the Art Institute of Chicago in October, 1992, suggested that its use by soldiers and travelors, both as a personal drinking cup and to pour libations, made it a popular offering at Poseidon’s sanctuary. She associated the cups with the arms and armour dedicated by warriors. Most of the mugs are Attic, although some Laconian and Corinthian examples occur.
68 IM 581. Cf. Isthmia VII, Chapter III, Introduction to finger rings, n, 81. John Boardman (Archaic Greek gems, Evanston, Ill. 1968, 100, no. 289) identifies it as a chalcedony scaraboid and associates it with the Group of the Leningrad Gorgon and others of Late Archaic style; cf. ‘Excavations, 1954’, 139, no. 8, pl. 56d. In personal communication Sir John Boardman suggested that the object in the fight hand may be the handle of a pitcher that was left unfinished. John Younger in a letter proposed a leather throng for an aryballos, the string for spinning a top, or the leash for a dog.
74 Emily Teeter of The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago kindly examined the scarabs and provided the following information: IM 584 (Fig. 11a); “at left, nfr sign, winged uraeus and a sun disk, perhaps to be read ‘Good is the protection of Re.’ The date falls in the Third Intermediate to Late Periods, perhaps ca. 800-500. This period is characterized by large scale motifs accompanied by hieroglyphs. The scarabs appear to be of Egyptian manufacture, although it is impossible to say where they were made.” Glaze is blue-green. IM 585 (Fig. 11b, d): “is a design scarab, perhaps an animal, but the figure is unclear. Same date as IM 584.” IM 586 (Fig. 11c): “another motto scarab, which may be read something like, ‘Possessor of the veneration of Horus’ or ‘Possessor of the veneration of Horus and Re’. At the top is the im3h sign = ‘veneration’; the circle below that sign can be either the phonetic compliment h for im3h, or it can be the ideogram for the god Re. The falcon, standing on a base with a rearing uraeus before it, is the hicroglyph for Horus. The half-circle at the bottom is ‘possessor’ “.
Scarabs are not uncommon dedications in Greek sanctuaries: e,g, the Heraion at Perachora, H, Payne et al., Perachora I, Oxford 1940, 76f., 118-120; the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, The sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta (JHS Suppl., 5), ed. R.M. Dawkins, London 1929, 384.
75 Cowrie shell = Cypraea annulus (IM 590), white coral (IM 591). Eight marine shell fragments, burnt, were found with the cowrie (IM 590). Two more pieces of white coral (IM 621) came from mixed deposits nearby. David Reese kindly gave me information on this material. For dedication of natural coral: the Samian Heraion, H. Kyrieleis (in Early Greek cull practice, supra n. 27), 219, fig. 6, found with 7th century debris; Perachora, The sanctuary of Hera Akraia and Limenia II, ed, T.J. Dunbabin, Oxford 1962, 525f, pl. 195, J1-7. For Red Sea cowries and scarabs together in Cypro-Archaic tombs, see David Reese, ‘Shells and animal bones’, in La necropole d’Amathonte, Tombes 113-367 Vl: Bijoux, armes, verre, astragales et coquillages, squelettes (Eludes Chypriotes, 14), eds. V. Karageorghis, O. Picard & Chr. Tytgat, Nicosia 1992, 123f.; cf. idem, ‘The trade of Indo-Pacific shells into the Mediterranean basin and Europe’, OJA 10.2, 1991, 17 1.
76 Tortoise shell, IM 588. M. West, Ancient Greek music, Oxford 1992, ‘Bowl lyres (lyra and barbitos)’, 56-59; cf. M. Mass & J. Snyder, Stringed instruments of ancient Greece, New Haven 1989, 94f.; T. Hägg, ‘Hermes and the invention of the lyre’, SymbOslo 64, 1989, 37, n. 4 (survey of realia behind the hymn); P. Courbin, ‘Les lyres d’Argos’, in Etudes argiennes (BCH Suppl., 6), Paris 1980, 93-114.
77 IM 567. The best preserved: L. 0.02; D. 0.01 m. All of them are burnt. I learned much from discussions with Kenneth Lapatin about uses of ivory and bone, and he suggested the identification and references. Although smaller, their shape and markings are reminiscent of the ivory ‘men’ from the Palace of Minos, A. Evans, The Palace of Minos at Knossos, I, London 1921, 477f., fig. 342a, b. Almost two millennia later in date but of a similar size and shape is a gaming piece from Anemurium excavated by James Russell in a context of the 6th-7th century A.D. (AN 76-27 1). 1 am grateful to Professor Russell for details on the piece and parallels from Late Antiquity. For Greek board games in general: S. Woodford, ‘Ajax and Achilles playing a game on an olpe in Oxford’, JHS 102, 1982, 173-185.
81 David Reese kindly showed me his manuscript:, ‘The astragali from the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Acrocorinth’, forthcoming in a fascicule of Corinth XV111: The sanctuary of Demeter and Kore. Of the 119 bone astragali, 12 have holes drilled in one or more sides.
84 Chisels, Isthmia VII, no, 442, and IM 509 under no. 440; ax-adze, no. 433; cf. Rouse (supra n. 19), 71. Michael Jameson drew my attention to his reports of the temple of Apollo at Halieis where evidently a treasury was located at the rear of the cella, ‘The excavation of a drowned Greek temple’, Scientific American 231.4, 1974, 116-118; ‘Excavations at Halieis (Porto Cheli)’, ArchDelt 29, 1973-1974 (pr. 1979): Chronika, 261-264. At least three ax-adzes were found, perhaps buried under the floor.
85 Iron knife blades: Isthmia VII, App. I: IM 401, 404, 408, 697bis. Stone blades, IM 100 (obsidian), and IM 6025 (flint). Included also was a secondary non-cortical obsidian flake (IM 101). Obsidian blades occur in other historical contexts at Isthmia, and it is not unlikely that they were used as tools in the sanctuary; cf. C. Runnels, ‘Flaked stone artifacts in Greece during the historical period’, JFA 9, 1982, 363-373; also W. Schiering, Die Werkstatt des Pheidias in Olympia (OlForsch, 18), Berlin 1991, 166, Taf. 62. Obsidian was found in the harbor deposits at Perachora, Payne (supra n. 74), 77. Nick Kardulias is publishing the worked stone tools from the sanctuary and I thank him for information on the stone blades.
86 Nails: IM 666-667, 697-702 in Isthmia VII, App. L2; IM 508, 673, 703-706 in App. L4; IM 786, 794 in App. L5; IM 507 in App. L6. An iron spike (IM 412), 0.73 in long and bent over at the end, probably came from the timbers of the temple.
88 Bosses: Isthmia VII no. 488; IM 678 under no. 494; and IM 405, 693 in App. K. Similar bosses and lion-paw feet decorate a large chest on an Attic red figure hydria in Boston; J. Boardman, Athenian red figure vases: the archaic period, London 1975, 229, Pl. 192.
93 IP 343, one-handled Corinthian cup; second quarter of the 5th century, mentioned above. The base is broken all around and the interior carries the stain that continues over the breaks on the walls.
94 The castings from vases are discussed above. In addition was a bronze fragment bearing a patch (Isthmia VII, IM 715 in App, A1), an amorphous bronze fragment (IM 413), and uninventoried pieces of sheet and castings in Metal Lots 25, 29, 40, 41, 43.
97 See n. 88. Stone-lined pits with recesses for covers and provisions for locks are found inside the cella of the temple of Apollo at Cyrene; a single pit in the temple of Asclepios on Kos has a slotted cover; are mentioned in inscriptions from Oropos, Halikarnassos, 0lbia, Kos, Thasos, and Rhodes; discussion and bibliography in P.E. Corbett, ‘Greek temples and Greek worshippers: the literary and archaeological evidence’, BICS 17, 1970, 151f., no. 22-24. Cf. C. Roebuck, Corinth XIV: The Asklepieion and Lerna, Princeton 1951, 28 and n. 7.
99 Cf. Alroth (supra n. 27), 195. The inventories of the Asklepieion at Athens provide explicit information about the location of votives on the walls inside the temple: S. Aleshire, Asklepios at Athens, Amsterdam 1991, 41-46, pl. 11. See also discussion of the chariot dedication above.
100 For access to Greek temples: Corbett (supra n. 97), 150f.; J.W. Hewitt, ‘The major restrictions on access to Greek temples’, TAPA 40, 1909, 83-92. The large bronze key to the temple of Artemis at Lusoi bears an inscription to the goddess, and temple keys are shown in representations of priestesses; cf. H. Diels, Antike Technik, Leipzig 1914, 39-4 1, figs. 7-10. I owe this reference to the kindness of Dr. Veronika Mitsopoulou-Leon. Three iron keys were found in the temple of Apollo at Halieis, one inscribed to Apollo; Jameson 1974 (supra n. 84), 118.
105 Pease (supra n. 104), no. 99, fig. 20. Other cylindrical broad-bottomed oinochoai from Well 1934-10, similar in shape but slightly taller that no. 1, include C-34-997, C-34-1164A, and C-34-996 (Risser, nos. 406-408).
106 C-34-180; E.G. Pemberton, ‘The Vrysoula Classical deposit from Ancient Corinth’, Hesperia 39, 1970, 265-307, no. 40; Risser, 288, no. 409, there dated “probably to the beginning of the span, ca. 450-410”.
109 Cf. an unglazed lekanis body (IP 2391) from the Great Circular Pit, that should date to the same period as 2. It is not as squat as Corinth, 283-4, and displays the more contracted foot of later lekanides, Corinth XIII, 147.
111 IP 355, 1084, 2854, 336, 2124/2266, 6369, 338, 2939, 6789, 2942/2946, 6368, 2921, 2035/2852, 2397, 2279, 2944 among others. The mug is one of the most popular imported shapes at Isthmia, found in both black-glaze and red-figure. Locally made versions of the shape also occur.
121 Jacques Perreault kindly confirms a date between 495-490/475, probably closer to 490/475 than 495 (personal communication). For the development of the Conventionalizing palmette, see Pemberton (supra n. 106), 265-307, esp. 286; Risser, 415f.