Histories of Peirene PublishedAndrew Reinhard
Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, by Betsey A. Robinson, has been published, the first of eight new titles from the ASCSA in 2011. This is the second volume in the Ancient Art and Architecture in Context (AAAC) series published with the assistance of the Getty Foundation and edited by Carol C. Mattusch.
Robinson’s interdisciplinary approach of merging archaeology, art history, architecture, historiography, mythology, and even chemistry and microbiology in her goal of presenting a thoroughly documented and contextualized monument over time perfectly fits within the AAAC‘s mission “to demonstrate that aesthetic study, contextual investigation, and technical examination are complementary tools in the quest to retrieve meaning from the past.”
While Peirene has been published previously in Corinth I.6: The Springs, the 1964 publication of a 30-year-old manuscript by excavator Bert Hodge Hill, Robinson states that her research differs considerably from that volume, making, “significant revisions to its building history, some buttressed by recent geological, archaeological, and art historical advances, and others prompted by my own physical examination of standing structures and the rock-cut tunnels that still supply water to the spring house proper.” While Hill’s monograph is primarily descriptive, Robinson says, “I am especially interested in visual and contextual analysis.”
Histories of Peirene is organized into two parts: “The Spring and Its Legacy” (four chapters) and “Biography of the Fountain” (seven chapters). Part I introduces readers to the Peirene Fountain both as it was and as it is now, incorporating architecture and hydrology. The mythological origins of the fountain are examined next along with its depictions in art and mentions in poetry. The third and fourth chapters are dedicated to exploration of the initial excavation of Peirene and Bert Hodge Hill’s efforts to excavate and to publish it. Part II details how Peirene changed over time both architecturally and in its usage ranging from its early construction to its romanization to its Byzantine and Ottoman decline.
Robinson was captivated by Peirene during her first visit to Corinth in 1996. “Peirene struck me at once as a unique monument,” she said. “I’d imagined it to be a great fountain on the forum like so many others, and was surprised to find its façade well below the forum and facing away from it, tucked into the landscape instead of towering over it. As I worked on Corinthian fountains and the ‘culture of water’, Peirene’s longer history caught my attention.”
Highlights within Histories of Peirene include the identification of the so-called Cyclopean Fountain as the sacred nymphaeum of Peirene, a reconsideration of wall paintings and a Scylla sculptural group of the 2nd century A.D., the reassignment of Peirene’s triconch court from Herodes Atticus to a benefactor of the 4th century A.D., and proper attention to post-antique developments, including the recognition of several Ottoman fountains of Peirene.
The 440-page book is lavishly illustrated in color throughout, and contains archival photographs of the early days of the Peirene Fountain’s excavation as well as new and updated maps and plans of the Fountain complex and of Ancient Corinth by James Herbst.
Order your copy of Histories of Peirene here.
Preview the table of contents, introduction, and chapters 1 and 3 here. (4.7 MB)
440 pp, 178 col and bw figs, 22 plans, 2 tables
9.5” x 11.5”
Cloth, ISBN: 978-0-87661-965-0
Robinson’s research on Peirene has been supported by several fellowships including a Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship, Penn Dissertation Fellowship, a Junior Dissertation Fellowship in Landscape Architecture at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., a Solow Summer Research Fellowship (ASCSA), a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and a Loeb Classical Library Research Fellowship, plus a grant from the 1984 Foundation. Robinson was the Samuel H. Kress Fellow at the ASCSA in 2000-01, and the Oscar Broneer Fellow in Classical Studies at the American Academy in Rome the following year. Robinson is Associate Professor of History of Art at Vanderbilt University.