Fountains and the culture of water at Roman Corinth

Betsey Ann Robinson, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation considers the history of Corinthian fountains and water imagery from the Roman refoundation of Corinth in 44 BC to the Gothic sack of AD 395, examining the archaeological evidence for standing fountains, and a diverse corpus of fountain art. Each case study has an archaeological core. Successive layers of interpretation draw from the history of art and architecture and studies in topography and landscape. The central archaeological zone of Ancient Corinth offers a unique chance to monitor evolving practices and tastes within a prominent class of monuments, and to reflect on their meaning for this Roman colony and provincial capital. The case-studies begin with the architectural history of Peirene, always the preeminent Corinthian spring. Four major Roman phases are identified, and the transformation of the fountain court into a grand trefoil-shaped pavilion is reassigned from the second century to the fourth, casting new light on the state of Late Antique Corinth. The study finds that fountains were among the most evocative symbols of Roman Corinth. The historiated fountains of Peirene and Glauke were complemented visually and symbolically by a plethora of other water-displays, ranging from modest basins and water-spouting Nymphs to an impressive Fountain of Neptune-Poseidon, the jewel-like South Stoa Fountain, and a grand Nymphaeum built in the shadow of Temple Hill. Of water displays known only indirectly, a Skylla group, attested on local coins, and a fountain of Pegasos and Bellerophon, noted by Pausanias, stand out as monuments that perpetuated and further extended Corinthian claims over land and water. Focusing on the phenomenology of springs and fountains, my study delineates a new vision of the creative fusion of architecture, art, and nature in Roman Corinth, as the city transformed itself from a provincial parvenu into a potent exemplar for the rest of the Roman hegemony.

Subject Area

Art History|Architecture|Archaeology

Recommended Citation

Robinson, Betsey Ann, "Fountains and the culture of water at Roman Corinth" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3015360.