|Summary:||Corinth was the capital of a major Greek city-state in the Archaic and Classical periods; a meeting place of the Hellenic League in the Hellenistic period and the capital of the Roman province of Achaea.|
Early Bronze Age
Ancient Corinth is strategically located 10 km SW of the Isthmus of Corinth and 3 km inland from its port of Lechaion, on the gulf of Corinth. The harbor town of Kenchreai, 10 km to the E, provided the city with access to the Saronic gulf. Corinth controlled the N-S land traffic over the Isthmus and maintained the Diolkos, a stone paved portage for ships crossing the Isthmus.
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. Most of the remains visible today date to the rebuilding and embellishment of the city during the Roman period.
The name Korinthos is pre-Greek and the site was occupied from the Early Neolithic through the Early Bronze Age. There is little evidence for settlement in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, however, when the region of the Corinthia is overshadowed by the neighboring Argolid.
Traditionally, Corinth was founded by the Dorians. During the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. it became a leading mercantile and colonizing power. Pottery and bronzes manufactured in Archaic Corinth were traded as far as Spain, Egypt and the Black Sea. After the Persian Wars, the rise of Athens weakened Corinth's overseas contacts and power and Corinth is frequently aligned with Sparta against Athens during the Classical period.
The defeat of the Greek forces at Chaironeia (338 B.C.) resulted in a Macedonian garrison being placed at Corinth and the city became the meeting place for the Macedonian controlled Hellenic League. Corinth flourished under Macedonian rule, but revolted in 224 B.C. to join the renewed Achaean League. In 146 B.C. the League was defeated by Rome and Corinth was completely destroyed by the Roman general Mummius.
The city remained virtually abandoned until Julius Caesar established a colony of veterans on the site in 44 B.C. It became the capital of the Roman province of Achaia in 27 B.C. Extensive rebuilding in the 1st century A.D. included the addition of a forum, large public baths, and an amphitheater. Under Roman patronage Corinth soon reclaimed and exceeded its earlier reputation as the Greek city most noted for luxury, vice, and decadence.
Corinth suffered and survived barbarian destruction in the 3rd and 4th centuries 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.
Earliest excavation in 1886 by W. Dörpfeld. A. Skias excavated in 1892 and 1906. From 1896 to the present, excavations by the American School.