Corinthian imported pottery from the Artemision of Ephesos

Ceramic vessels from Corinth were dedicated in the Artemision of Ephesos in the 7th and in the early 6th centuries BCE. They permit important insights into chronology, cult practice, and status of the city and sanctuary in the trans-Aegean trade network.

Corinthian pottery as chronological reference point

Among the pottery finds from the excavations in the sanctuary of Artemis in Ephesos from 1965 to 2014, the imports from Corinth are of considerable significance. They provide insights into the integration of the city and sanctuary in the trans-Aegean trade and the Corinthian vessels are also an important indicator for the chronology of the Archaic sanctuary. The pottery production of Corinth has been intensely researched and therefore provides important chronological connections for the stratigraphical dating of the architecture and the rest of the finds from the respective levels.

Peak around 600 BCE

The chronological framework of the Corinthian pottery finds reaches from the second quarter of the 7th to the early 6th century BCE. Within this time period, however, the imports are inconsistently distributed. Sub-Geometric and proto-Corinthian pieces are fairly seldom in comparison with other sanctuaries but also settlements within Ionia. The peak was definitely in the early Corinthian period (around 620/615–590 BCE) and then the find frequency again decreases.

Votives from the time before Croesus

A concentration of Corinthian pottery was discovered below the so-called yellow floor: It functioned as courtyard that connected the first Archaic marble temple, the Dipteros 1, with the monumental altar to the west. When the enormous temple – the Lycian king Croesus participated in its construction as benefactor – and its altar were constructed, numerous older votives were deposited in the backfill under the floor of the temple courtyard.

Precious fragrances for the goddess

Many of the Corinthian imports were small, bulbous oil vessels – aryballoi and alabastra – that were filled with fragrant oils and perfumes. Similar to modern bottles, their exquisite shapes called attention to the value of their contents. Most of the early Corinthian oil flasks were painted with figures. However, they were not brought for their own sake but as the precious packaging of a fine fragrance. Other vessel forms discovered included kotylai, pyxides, and pitchers.

Re-evaluation in context

Eine erste Publikation der korinthischen Importkeramik aus dem Artemision (Forschungen in Ephesos 12, 1 [Wien 1989]) war unter schwierigen Umständen entstanden, sodass eine Neubearbeitung der Funde notwendig schien. Dafür konnte nicht nur die Qualität der Dokumentation wesentlich verbessert werden, sondern die systematische Durchsicht der über 9.000 Grabungseinheiten führte auch zu einer deutlichen Steigerung der Anzahl: insgesamt umfasst der Katalog der diagnostischen Funde korinthischer Keramik nun 972 Stück (Stand Sommer 2016), während die Publikation nur 281 Katalognummern berücksichtigte. Ein wesentlicher Fortschritt liegt zudem in der kontextuellen Aufarbeitung der Funde: Durch die Analyse der gemeinsam deponierten Artefakte können nicht nur wichtige Aussagen zur Zeitstellung gewonnen werden, sondern auch zu dem Kultgeschehen und der Votivpraxis im archaischen Artemision an sich.