Continuing Adventures of a Corinthian: Theo Kopestonsky and the Shrine at Kokkinovrysi
When I first visited Corinth as a regular member in December of 2005, I had no idea that Corinth would soon become my new home. I had just spent the fall exploring Greece as a regular member and I was enchanted by all the places I had seen. However, a few glimpses into the drawers of the figurines and I was hooked on Corinthian coroplasty. I began my research on the assemblages from small shrines at Corinth in 2006 and soon I became focused on one particular stele shrine—Kokkinovrysi. Located just outside the city walls by a spring on the western edge of the city, the small site of Kokkinovrysi consisted of a Classical stele shrine which was later covered by Roman buildings. Excavated in the sixties, the site of Kokkinovrysi had never been fully published. For my dissertation, I focused on the assemblage, landscape, and ritual during the Classical period.
I became familiar with the system and the site during two seasons as a trench supervisor in Corinth under the direction of Guy Sanders. Two additional years in Greece on ASCSA fellowships allowed me to completely analyze the Kokkinovrysi material and find comparanda from all over the Hellenic world. Through the use of the invaluable storerooms and extensive archives of the Corinth Excavations, I was able to learn the history of the shrine. With the help of the energetic Corinthians and all the museum staff, I was able to slowly reconstruct the life of the shrine, sometimes, by literally putting all the pieces back together.
Reconstruction of the shrine at Kokkinovrysi (drawing by Dan Lamp)
Constructed in the late fifth century B.C., the Kokkinovrysi shrine had a short life of only about a century before it was deliberately closed. An assemblage of terracotta dancing groups, assorted figurines, and miniature vessels was placed on the base of the stele and buried. In addition, a significant amount of fine-ware pottery and a thesauros were found in association with the shrine. The Kokkinovrysi shrine was an important local site of worship to the Nymphs for the Corinthians. Perhaps, offerings were made by young maidens before their marriages or spring water was taken for their nuptial baths. Although small, this shrine provides a vital glimpse into Corinthian religious practice and the significance of water for their culture.
After returning from Greece last year, I completed my writing and then successfully defended my dissertation entitled, Kokkinovrysi: A Classical Shrine to the Nymphs at Corinth in April 2009 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Currently, I am analyzing the Roman levels at Corinth. In the future, I will be returning to Corinth to give the Roman structures at Kokkinovrysi my full attention.
Figurines from Kokkinovrysi in front of a stele