LECHAEON HARBOUR AND DIOLKOS

Lechaeon harbour

The ancient part of Lechaeon, located 3km west of the Corinth modern town, was an artificial harbour excavated in a marsh and connected to the open sea through a channel with revetment walls. (Rothauss 1995, Theodoulou 2002)

The remains of the harbour visible today are: (i) two moles that may have being forming an “outer port” (Fig. 12.1) (ii) a canal connecting the sea with the inner port which at present is filled with beach sediments (Fig. 12.1) and (iii) the “inner port” which was constructed in the marsh. (Fig. 12.1)  (Rothaus 1995, Theodoulou 2002)

The entrance canal was lined with rectangular blocks consisting of local porous limestones called porous (Fig. 12.2). The blocks which at present are about 0.7m above sea-level have numerous mollusk borings (Fig 12.3) which is indicative of  an elevated former shoreline.

The boring are filled with lithophagus shells. Two of these shells were radiometrically dated at between 600 and 50 BC (Stiros et al 1996 and Stiros and Pirrazoli 1998). This suggest that the canal was built some time between 600 and 50 BC and most probably at about 350 BC (Stiros et al 1996) and that the fossil lithophagus were killed by an episodic uplift with an amplitude of at least few tens of centimeters which occurred after the construction of the harbour. (Stiros et al 1996)

Futher evidence of the emergence of the Lechaeon harbour, during historical times, comes from two more sites. In the “inner port” on the foundation of a structure, there are marks of barnacles, which represent a former fossil shoreline, which at present is 1.20m above m.s.l. These barnacles were dated at between 375 and 120 BC. (Stiros and Pirazzoli 1998). At one of the moles in the “outer port”, the upper preserved surface, which seems to be a foundation structure constructed under the water, is at present about 0.5m above m.s.l. This surface is overlain by beach -rocks indicative of uplifting. (Fig. 12.4) (Rothauss 1995)

 

Diolkos

Diolkos is a paved ramp built across the Isthmus, the land separating the Ionian from the Aegean Sea. It is located 5m east of the Lechaeon harbour. The uplift observed in the Lechaeo harbour and Diolkos (Fig. 12.5) seems to be related to the activity of the Corinth fault, Perachora fault and Skinos fault. (Stefatos et al 2002) as both are situated on the footwall of the above mentioned fault.

 

References:

Rothauss R. 1995. Lechaeon, western port of Corinth: A preliminary archaeology and history. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 15:293-306

Stiros S., Pirazzoli P., Rothaus R., Papageorgian S., Laborel J. and Arnold M. 1996. On the date of construction of Lechaeo, Western Harbour of Ancient Corinth, Greece. Geo-archaeology 11:251-263

Stiros S. and Pirazzoli P. 1998. Late Quaternary coastal changes in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece. Tectonics, earthquakes, archaeology. Guidebook for the Gulf of Corinth Field Trip. Joint meeting of UNESCO-IUGS. IGCP-367, INQUA Shorelines Commission and INQUA Neotectonics Commission 14-16 September, Patras, Greece

Theodoulou Th. 2002. Lechaeo: The western port of Corinth. ENALIA vi: 83-98

 

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