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Caraher Ambivalent Landscapes 2011

Caraher Ambivalent Landscapes 2011

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Published by billcaraher
This is a pre-publication draft based on the conference paper entitled This is a conference paper entitled "The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City".
This is a pre-publication draft based on the conference paper entitled This is a conference paper entitled "The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City".

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Published by: billcaraher on Jan 26, 2011
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WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION © 2011
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THE AMBIVALENT LANDSCAPE OF CHRISTIAN CORINTH:THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF PLACE, THEOLOGY, AND POLITICS IN A LATEANTIQUE CITY
William Caraher
Introduction
The political, economic, and ecclesiastical position of Corinth during the middle decadesof the 6th century created an environment with the potential for dynamic contrastsbetween Corinthian residents and imperial authority. Corinth and its territory representeda liminal zone between the more prosperous east and the less stable west, stood amidstconflicting political and ecclesiastical jurisdictions during shifts in the nature of imperialauthority, and endured a systematic campaign of external investment by the ambitiousand expansionistic emperor Justinian I (527-565) who sought not only to expand imperialpower institutionally, but symbolically as well.This chapter argues that the textual and archaeological evidence for imperialinvolvement in the Corinthia provides faint traces of what Elsner has called “internalfriction” in the manifestation of imperial and Corinthian authority in the region.
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ForElsner, internal friction represented a cultural response to the presence of Romanness atthe periphery of the empire. While Corinth is rarely regarded as a peripheral region, thepolitical situation in the 6th century placed it at the limits of imperial control over
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Elsner 2007, 255.
 
WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION © 2011
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ecclesiastical affairs, and the monumental building campaign attributed to the emperorJustinian suggests that the territory represented a significant focal point for imperialpolicy. At the same time, there were contemporary changes in the region that cannot beattributed directly to external involvement. The architectural and epigraphic evidencepreserve traces of the kind of internal frictions that Elsner associated with practices of resistance and domination. Evidence for such practices suggests an ambivalence in LateAntique Corinth and the bishops of Illyricum toward imperial overtures throughout the5th and into the 6th century. The methods employed by the emperor to project politicaland ecclesiastical power into the Corinthia suggests efforts both to entice and cow localresidents into recognizing imperial authority. Exploring possible local responses toimperial projects cannot reveal whether local resistance or imperial policy carried the dayin the 6th century, but it carves out interpretative space to consider economic, political,and even social inequality in the ancient world.The historical circumstances of the 5th and 6th century in the Corinthia presents agood vehicle for considering asymmetrical power relations in the region. The tensionsbetween the political authority of the East and the religious authority of the West underJustinian presented a crucial phase in the conflicts that played out all across the Balkansbeginning in the 5th century. The political and ecclesiastical controversies that engulfedthe Balkans began with the Acacian schism (484-519) which placed most of the bishopsof Illyicum and Epirus at odds with the Patriarch and Emperor in Constantinople.
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Theresolution of this conflict in 519, shortly after the accession of Justin I, marked only a
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For the best discussion of the Acacian Schism in Greece see: Charanis 1974. Seealso Pietri 1984.
 
WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION © 2011
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momentary break in the divisive politics of Chalcedon. The ascendance of Justinian andhis well-documented and ambitious policies had a significant impact on the political andreligious life of the empire, and Corinth did not escape the impact of these policies in itspolitical position as the capital of Achaea and its ecclesiastical position as the seat of thepowerful Bishop.
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The location of Corinth—between East and West, imperial power andpapal authority—provided a dynamic space for both resistance and accommodation.My effort to excavate evidence for power relations and inequality in the Corinthiawill focus on three relationships which capture the ambivalent nature of imperialauthority in 6th century Greece. The first section will consider the relationship betweenecclesiastical architecture and authority in the Corinthia. I will argue that monumentalreligious architecture played an important role in projecting imperial power in the regionand created a monumentalized discourse of political and religious authority, but alsooffered opportunities to resist this authority. The next section will extend this discussionto consider how imperial efforts to project authority in the Corinthia shaped production,settlement, and fortification in the 6th century. In this discussion, I will focus on theimpact that the monumentalized discourse of power and resistance had on the localeconomy and settlement as well as through the physical labor and experiences of ancientCorinthians. The final section of this chapter will consider the theological aspect of theimperial presence in the region and argue that the expression of imperial policymanifested itself in a pair of theologically ambivalent texts and ritually-encodedarchitecture that manifest traces of internal friction between the goals of an imperial stateand the understanding of power on the local level. The interplay between imperial
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Rothaus 2000; Gritsopoulos 1972, 77-84.

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