Abstract: Korphos-Kalamianos: Investigations at a Recently Discovered Mycenaean Harbor Town in the Corinthia, Greece, 2007-2010
In 2001, the author and colleagues discovered a partially submerged, “lost” harbor town built by Mycenaeans in the 13th century B.C. on the Saronic Gulf coast of the southeastern Corinthia. The site, known by the local name Kalamianos, is unique for two main reasons: it is a rare example of a Mycenaean harbor with an attached port town of around 8 hectares in size; and throughout the site architecture is exposed on the surface rather than buried, an exceptional situation that gives us a nearly complete layout of a substantial Mycenaean town even before excavation. The Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) was initiated in 2007 with co-director Daniel Pullen to investigate the site and the region surrounding it.
This lecture presents an illustrated summary of the first four seasons of archaeological work (2007–2010). At Kalamianos, we have mapped more than 60 buildings with 120 identifiable rooms, as well as two phases of a town enclosure wall and numerous other features. The association of datable artifacts with wall construction places the foundation and life of the town within about a century from 1300–1200 B.C., after which the settlement was abandoned at approximately the same time as the collapse of the major Mycenaean palaces. The initial results of underwater research off the coast at Kalamianos give a first glimpse at the shape of the harbor basin in the Bronze Age. In the region beyond Kalamianos, surface survey yielded an astonishing collection of architectural features, including a second major settlement and a series of small fortified enclosures, terrace walls, and cairns to which we can assign a Bronze Age date. It is apparent that this hinterland was developed as part of a significant economic center anchored at Kalamianos.
Our historical questions center on the hypothesis that Kalamianos was part of a Bronze Age Saronic “small world” dominated by Kolonna on Aigina, looming in the Saronic Gulf to the east, until Mycenae emerged and extended its influence into the Saronic region. Kalamianos was a contested periphery where we hope to be able to witness the process of expansion of the emerging state at Mycenae. In this scenario, Kalamianos was founded by Mycenae as a linchpin in a regional strategy of political and economic expansion.