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Geology of Corinth

Geology of Corinth

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Geology of Corinth: The Study of a Basic ResourceAuthor(s): Chris L. HaywardSource:
Corinth,
Vol. 20, Corinth, The Centenary: 1896-1996 (2003), pp. 15-42Published by:
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Accessed: 04/08/2011 11:50
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ChrisL.Hayward
2
GEOLOGY OF CORINTH
THESTUDY OFABASICRESOURCE
Geologyhas had aprofoundeffectuponthedevelop-mentof the urban centers andagricultureof theCorinthia. Itcontrolsthe abundance and distributionofgroundwatersuppliesand thefertilityofthesoils;ithasprovidedthevastmajorityof materials neededtoconstruct Ancient Corinth andsignificantpropor-tionsofseveral othertowns, sanctuaries,andcitieswithin the Corinthia andbeyond;and ithasprovidedraw materials for along-livedand extensiveceramicsindustry.Thepurposeofthis article' is to outline the funda-mentals of Corinthiangeologyand todescribe theexploitationof theregion'sgeologicalresources forconstruction stone. Theinformationpresentedhererepresentscurrentprogressin amajor studyoftheancient Corinthianconstruction stoneindustryandthe ancientquarries.Previousprogresshas been re-ported,2andfulldetails of thestudyanddescriptionsof stoneandquarrieswillappearinaforthcomingpublication.3Ialso intendinthepresentarticle todemonstrate the wider relevance ofgeologicalinfor-mationinapplicationsto thearchaeologyof there-gion,and toemphasizethearchaeologicalimportanceof thequarries.Stoneextraction,transportation,andexportwereamongthemajorindustries oftheregion. Largenum-
1. The workhateventuallymetamorphosedntothepresentstudywasinitiatedbyCharlesK.WilliamsII inthe summer of1993.Duringthesubsequent years,I andmy studyhaveben-efited,andcontinue to do soenormously,from Mr.Williams'generosity,knowledge, guidance,andsense of humor.He andNancyBookidis have madeworkingatCorinth apleasureandarareexperience.I thankthem both foreverything theyhavedone for me.Agreat manypeoplehave made valuablecontributionstomywork.Iwish tothanktheGreekgovernmentand Zoe Aslama-tzidouofthe GreekArchaeologicalService atAncientCorinthforpermissionosampletheancientquarries;KaterinaGrossou,YiannisMavraganis,EustathiosChiotis,andMarkMarkoulisatIGME ortheir advice and forsamplepreparation;MichalisSa-kalis,who made thethinsections;AthanasiosNotis,whogreatlyassistednthecollection ofsamples;SarahVaughan,ScottPike,andKimTo at theWienerLaboratory;DavidRomanoforfriend-ship,discussionsof ancientroads,and in-cardecoration;Marie-DominiqueNenna fordiscussion atDelphi;Charles K.Wil-liamsIIand ananonymousreader for criticalreview ofthe
bersofancientquarriesoccurthroughoutthe Corin-thia,and theextensive use of theregion'sstone overa considerableperiodof time isevidentfromexca-vatedremains. Thescale ofquarrying activitywouldhave variedwithtime.Duringcertainperiodsthis ac-tivitywasintense and was carried outon animpres-sive scale. Thequarryingandtransportationofstoneduringtheseperiodswould havedirectlyorindirectlyemployed manyhundreds ofpeople.Theconstruc-tionstoneindustrywouldthereforehave made asig-nificantimpactontheregion's economyand on otheraspectsofCorinthian life.TheCorinthianarchaeologicalliteraturecontainsnumerousmentions ofancientquarries.4Thequar-ries,however,havenever beendescribedorstudiedindetail,and thetruesizeand extent of theindustryhaspreviouslynotbeenfullyestablished.Furthermore,verylittleisknownabout theoperationororganiza-tionoftheCorinthianquarries,andnothingisknownabout theprovenanceofthe stone used inanyan-cientCorinthianbuildings.Thepresent studyhas revealed thepresenceofquarryingon apreviously unsuspectedscaleinsev-erallocations,andoffers awealthofpotentialarchaeo-logicalinformationconcerningthequarriesand theirstone.
manuscript,andKerri Cox Sullivan andher team forhelpfuleditorialcomments;AndrewFleet,MonicaGrady,GuySand-ers,DavidPrice,KaterinaKitsou,PaulScotton,MarkLandon,YannisPikoulas,YannisLolos,VangelisDafni,andMariaPapa-constantinou fordiscussion andsupport duringvariousstagesofthework;YannisPapamichael,Mrs.Katsoulis,and the otherresidents ofAncient Corinthand theCorinthia whohaveper-mitted meaccess to land andprovidedkindhospitality.Fundingforthe workhas beengratefullyreceived fromtheWeinbergFund,the1984Foundation,the SamuelH. KressFoundation,the BritishAcademy,he WienerLaboratoryandCorinthExcavationsof theAmericanSchool of ClassicalStud-ies atAthens,andUniversityCollegeLondon. ThesupportoftheNaturalHistoryMuseum,London,is alsogratefullycknowl-edged.2.Hayward1994, 1996,1999.3.Hayward,nprep.4.E.g.,Wiseman1978;Scranton,Shaw,andIbrahim1978,p.79;CorinthX;ZimmermanMunn1983;see alsoreferencesbelow.
 
16CHRIS L. HAYWARD
THE GEOLOGYOFTHECORINTHIA5
BROADREGIONALCONTEXTTheeastern Mediterraneanis oneof the most chal-lengingandcontroversialareasofgeologicalresearch.IntheAegeanthe most recentstagesof alongandcomplexgeologicalhistoryhave exerteda fundamen-talinfluenceonthesocietiesand eventspreservedwithinthearchaeologicalrecord. Theclosure oftheMediterraneanthroughsubductionof the Mediter-raneanplatebeneathGreeceandItalyensures thattheAegeanis one of theworld's mostseismicallyac-tiveregionsandisresponsiblefor the volcanismofSantorini,Stromboli,andelsewhere,andfor thefre-quentearthquakessufferedthroughouttheregion.The subductedplatedescendsnorthwardbeneaththePeloponnese,causing upliftoftheentire northernPeloponneseandextensionalfaultingandsubsidence,which ledto thedevelopmentof the GulfofCorinth.
THE CORINTHIA
Thegeology6andtopographyobservedtodayintheCorinthiaresultmostlyfrom thecombinedeffects oftheregionalupliftofthe northernPeloponneseandchangesin the relativesealevel causedbythe variousTertiary glacialandinterglacial periods.Seismicactivityscommon,withfrequentand some-timesviolentearthquakes.The mostpowerfulofthese,such as therecentexamplesof1952and 1981in theimmediatevicinityofCorinth andin 1995 tothewestatAigion,causeseriousdamageto ancient andmod-ernstructuresalike and occurapproximatelyevery15-20years.Ancientreferencesto seriousearthquakesinA.D.365,A.D.375,and otheryearsindicate thattherehasprobablybeenlittle variationin the fre-quencyorintensityof seismicactivityin theregionduringthelast fewmillennia.Thestratigraphyof the Corinthiais dominatedbythickwhite andgrayishPliocene-Pleistocenemarls,whichweredepositedin a sea that existedthrough-out theregionandarecappedby varyingthicknessesof Pleistoceneconglomerates,sandstones,andlime-stones,interbedded withthinnermarlandotherclayunits.Thehighgroundof Acrocorinthand Maritsainthe southof theregionconsistofJurassicand Tri-assiclimestone-dominatedmassesthat havebeen
5.Geologicaltermsappearingin this article are listedandbrieflydefined inAppendix2.1.6.Adetailedsummaryof thegeologyof theCorinthia isgiveninFreyberg1973. Detailsofthegeologyof theexcavatedareas aredescribedinHayward,ubmitted.
transportedtectonicallyfrom thesouth. The coastalplainis coveredby youngeluvialdeposits.The mainfeaturesof thegeologyoftheregionare showninFigure2.1.Indetail,theregionhas hadacomplexhistoryofupliftandsubsidenceduringits recentgeological past.Regional uplift,changesinrelativesealevel,and fault-ingover the last300,000yearshave createda series ofprominentterraces(Fig.2.1).7These terracesareflat,steplike topographicfeatures,withscarpsof variousheightsattheir northernedges,whichrunapproxi-matelyparallelto the coastof the Gulf of Corinth.Most ofthe terracesrepresenterosionduring peri-odsofrelativelyhighsea level that existedduringin-terglacialtimes.Coarse clastics(conglomeratesandcoarsesands),weatheredfrom thesurrounding highgroundof Acrocorinthand Maritsaand hills to thenorthofLoutraki,weredepositedunconformablyovertheweathered, eroded,and sometimescalcretizedmarl surfacesof the various terraces.Angularuncon-formitiesintwoterraces areexposedinthe cliffs tothe south of thecoastal road west of NewCorinth andinthe tunnelof theamphitheaterof the Romancity.Thegrainsize of the clasticsdecreasesawayfrom thebasalunconformityandgradesupwardintoimpurelimestonesandfinallyintorelatively pure (poorinclasticparticles)limestones. Because the creationofterracesoccurredmanytimesoverhundredsof thou-sandsofyears,thestratigraphic sequences exposedabovethe marlinthevarious terracescarpsdifferfromone another.Forexample,comparethesequencesthatoverliethe marl atthe east end ofTempleHillandin the rock face outsidethe Lerna cisterns of theAsklepieion.8Upliftoftheregionhasoccurred ata morerapidratein thewest,beyondthe westernborders of theancientCorinthia,whereagreaternumber of terraceshavebeenpreserved.9This hasalso led to the com-pleteremovalbyerosionof the Pleistocenetransgres-sive units fromabove the marl in some localitiestothe west ofMavrospilies.The removal of theresistant,protective capfrom the marl has createdthe badlandserosionobserved several kilometers to thewest of An-cient Corinth.Ancient Corinth lies on a marine terraceofapproxi-mately200,000yearsinage.TheAsklepieionlies on
7. KeraudrenandSorel1987;Roberts and Stewart1994;Collier et al.1992;Vita-FinzindKing1985.8.Hayward,ubmitted.9. Keraudrenand Sorel 1987.

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