Kokkinovrysi: A Classical shrine to the Nymphs at Corinth
Kopestonsky, Theodora Barbara
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Worship at small shrines was an integral part of ancient Greek ritual practice. Corinth has a strong tradition of such shrines in the Classical period. This dissertation provides an analysis and interpretation of the stratigraphy, artifacts, spatial organization, and ritual use of one unpublished Classical Greek stele shrine in Corinth which is dedicated to the Nymphs. Located just outside Corinth's city wall at the west, the Kokkinovrysi shrine was established in the Classical period next to a road and spring. Viewed as a whole assemblage, the Kokkinovrysi shrine offers the opportunity to examine a complete religious complex as well as revealing insights into Corinthian ritual practices. The modest offerings and simple architecture at Kokkinovrysi reflect the often elusive private practices of the average person rather than the elite. The Kokkinovrysi shrine was a very simple structure consisting of a stele placed next to a long limestone built wall. The road ran at a slight angle to the shrine. The function of this space and the role of the stele as a sacred locus are confirmed by a large deposit of terracotta figurines, which served as votive dedications, found at the monument's base. Besides the figurines, a large deposit of votive pottery was excavated a few meters west of the stele. Dating mainly to the Classical period, the vast majority of the pottery consisted primarily of open containers such as cups and bowls. Also found at the site in association with the Classical shrine were three small stone altars with simple architectural details. One of the most interesting objects was the lower part of a stone thesauros, which would have received coin donations as part of the religious routine. It was not just the material, but the location which was significant for this shrine. An analysis of the landscape surrounding the shrine illuminates the sensitivity the Corinthians had to space and design. Located just to the west of the ancient Corinth, the Kokkinovrysi shrine is placed at the outskirts of city, part of, but not within the security of the city. A nearby spring, ancient road, and the contour of the topography also contribute to the spatial organization of this shrine. Comparative research suggests that the Kokkinovrysi shrine was associated with sacred water and possibly bridal cult. Based on the imagery from the figurines and the flat area in front of the stele, dancing may have occurred. The Kokkinovrysi shrine might have functioned in tandem with other water cults in Corinth to satisfy the needs of the people. Kokkinovrysi provides an unusual opportunity to investigate a small, local shrine and it gives us a window into the daily cult life of average Corinthians, outside of the major city sanctuaries.