Ancient Maritime World VI

International Workshop / Summer School 2023 

In Odysseus' Home Waters 

The Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Corinth between Isthmos, Elis and Actium

from/to Lefkada – Sept 09th–30th

Language: German/English

This year's event leads from Lefkada to the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Corinth between Isthmos, Elis and Actium. Since early Archaic times, this region has been a key area of maritime routes first of the Greek, later of the Greco-Roman world with the main route from the Aegean via Isthmos, the Corinthian Gulf and along the Epirotic coast to Magna Graecia and further west.

It is hardly a coincidence that Odysseus' home island Ithaka is located in this region, as the adventures of Odysseus and nautical adversities he experienced in the Mediterranean reflect what many Greek – and Phoenician – seafarers of the early ancient times experienced in particular in the central and western Mediterranean: Voyages into a world that was still largely unknown and nautical challenges that could clearly lead beyond what was generally known in the original home waters of the Greeks, the Aegean.

For the emerging Greek world, the central location of the Corinthian Gulf and the neighbouring Ionian Sea is very well illustrated by the fact that all four sites of the great Panhellenic Games – Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea – are located in this region and could thus be well reached by sea from all parts of the Greek world. With increasing Roman domination in the eastern Mediterranean, this region continued to retain its great importance as a maritime hub, although the increasing globalisation of the Mediterranean world made navigation along the southern Peloponnese more frequent. In any case, the flourishing Roman colonies of Patras and Corinth are evidence of the continued high importance of the Corinthian Gulf and the neighbouring Ionian Sea, even in the Roman-dominated period up to Late Antiquity.

The event is directed at advanced students, doctoral students as well as postdocs in all fields of classical antiquity. Previous knowledge of sailing – although beneficial – is not required. On board, participation as well as teamwork is expected. Accommodation is on board the ship. The number of participants is limited by the size of the two yachts. Participation costs are the pro rata yacht charter and insurence. Itinerary to/from Lefkada and board cash are not included. The final route will depend on current wind conditions. 

Topics and places e.g. 

Odysseus' Maritime Adventures – Ithaca: Home of Odysseus – Archaic Corinth: A Commercial Metropolis – Isthmos of Corinth: Diolkos and Ancient Canal Building – Kenchrëai and Lechaion: Corinth's Ports for the Hellenic World – Corinth's Colonies and the Route to the West – Panhellenic Centres: Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia, Nemea – The Peloponnesian War in the Gulf of Corinth and Ionian Sea – Helike and the Tsunami of 373 BC – The Achaian Koinon: Regional Confederation and Hellenistic Major Power – Pyrrhos, Epiros and the Gulf of Ambrakia – The Sieges of Cephallenia and Ambrakia: Rome's Control of Maritime Routes – Patras and Corinth as Roman Colonies – The Battle of Actium – The Battle of Lepanto: Holy League versus Ottoman Empire – Venice and the Ionian Sea – The Myth of Mesolongi, Lord Byron and the Greek Struggle for Freedom – and more.

Please note: Travel by sailing yacht offers a wide range of experiences and insights into the maritime world. It does not offer the comfort of a cruise trip and means living under simple conditions in a confined space. Participation can therefore mean getting out of one's comfort zone – mentally and physically.

Above: Zakynthos and Kephalenia with Ithaka from the East – Map of the Ambracian Gulf and nearby Ionian Sea