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Excavations in Greece

The American Excavations at Kenchreai

During the Roman Empire, Kenchreai, the port of the great city of Corinth on the Aegean Sea, was one of the busiest harbors in southeastern Europe. Frequent ships arrived from distant lands bringing travelers of diverse backgrounds and a bountiful cargo of wine, spices, marble, and exotic wares. Kenchreai flourished as a port where Greeks, Romans, and eastern immigrants lived together in prosperity. Their deities came from all over the ancient world. The community possessed one of the most famous mystery-cults of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and one of the oldest Christian congregations in Greece, nurtured by St. Paul. Roman Kenchreai was thus a place of vibrant pluralism: native and foreign, rich and poor, pagan and Christian.

Since 2001, Professor Joseph Rife has directed field research under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, at the archaeological site of Kenchreai. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture permits this work as a program of Vanderbilt University based in the Department of Classical and Mediterranean Studies. The ongoing campaign at Kenchreai has involved over 150 students and researchers from North America and Europe, including dozens of Vanderbilt students in various activities, including: excavation; architectural, surface, and geophysical survey; artifactual analysis; study of human, faunal, and botanical remains; conservation; digital archiving and modeling; and study of coastal morphology and the paleoenvironment.

Students can participate in the American Excavations at Kenchreai by developing a research project or Immersion experience. Please contact Professor Rife if you are interested.