In terms of iconoclasm-related literature that I read over the break, the most interesting was without a doubt Richard M. Rothaus’ Corinth: First City of Greece. He deals with the archaeology of late antique religion in the Korinthia in a most admirable way, while continually challenging common assumptions and too eagerly made links between literary sources and the archaeology. Monuments in Corinth, Kenchreai and Isthmia are thus re-interpreted. I’m not totally convinced by his argument that cult at the Asklepieion and Temple E at Corinth continued after their demolition and into the sixth century CE. The evidence for this consists only of a few lamps found among the rubble. Excavations at the so-called Fountain of the Lamps, however, have revealed thousands of lamps, dated from the late fourth to the mid-sixth century CE. These lamps have both pagan and Christian motifs, showing how fluid the borders were between religions in late antique cult and ritual. Lamps were the main votive objects of late antiquity, and their presence in several caves around Greece show how vital pagan cult was through to the sixth century CE, although these cults now had to take their activities outside the towns.
Overview of the Lechaion Road and the temple of Apollo, Corinth. Photo: TMK, October 2004.
Rothaus also has a short survey of mutilated sculpture in the Korinthia. I will need to take a closer look at these examples soon.
The book tries to tie the archaeological evidence into a wider hypothesis that early Christianity was anything but monolithic. This might be too broad a conclusion for such a short book (and a regional survey at that), but Rothaus shows how much potential there is in re-interpretation of the archaeological material. Some additional copy editing would have been nice, though (cf. Alun’s recent blog entry).
Richard M. Rothaus. 2000. Corinth: First City of Greece. An Urban History of Late Antique Cult and Religion. Leiden.