Old Lands takes readers on an epic journey through the legion spaces and times of the Eastern Peloponnese, trailing in the footsteps of a Roman periegete, an Ottoman traveler, antiquarians, and anonymous agrarians.
Following waters in search of rest through the lens of Lucretian poetics, Christopher Witmore reconstitutes an untimely mode of ambulatory writing, chorography, mindful of the challenges we all face in these precarious times. Turning on pressing concerns that arise out of object-oriented encounters, Old Lands ponders the disappearance of an agrarian world rooted in the Neolithic, the transition to urban-styles of living, and changes in communication, movement, and metabolism, while opening fresh perspectives on long-term inhabitation, changing mobilities, and appropriation through pollution. Carefully composed with those objects encountered along its varied paths, this book offers an original and wonderous account of a region in twenty-seven segments, and fulfills a longstanding ambition within archaeology to generate a polychronic narrative that stands as a complement and alternative to diachronic history.
Old Lands will be of interest to historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and scholars of the Eastern Peloponnese. Those interested in the long-term changes in society, technology, and culture in this region will find this book captivating.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Prologue: The measure of the Morea?
1. Lines in stone: Roads, canals, walls, faults, and marine terraces
2. Ancient Corinth: Descent into memory, ascent into oblivion
3. Acrocorinth: From gate to summit
4. Along the A7 (Moréas), by car
5. Kleonai to Nemea
6. Nemea: A transect
7. An erstwhile aqueduct: Lucretian flow
8. To Mykenes station, by train
9. About Mycenae, history and archaeology
10. A path to the Heraion
11. Through groves of citrus to Argos
12. Argos, a democratic polis and Plutarch’s Pyrrhus, a synkrisis (comparison)
13. Modern spectacle through an ancient theatre
14. Argos to Anapli on the hoof, with a stop at Tiryns
15. A stroll through Nafplion
16. The road to Epidaurus: Frazer and Pausanias
17. Paleolithic to Bronze Age amid Venetian: A museum
18. To Asine: Legal objects
19. To Vivari, by boat
20. Into the Bedheni Valley
21. Through the Southern Argolid
22. Ermioni/Hermion/Kastri: A topology
23. Looking southwest, to what has become of an ancient oikos
24. Across the Adheres, iterations
25. Troizen, verdant and in ruin
26. To Methana
27. Into the Saronic Gulf
Epilogue: On chorography
Maps (by Caleb Lightfoot)
Christopher Witmore is professor of archaeology and classics at Texas Tech University. He is co-author of Archaeology: The Discipline of Things (2012, with B. Olsen, M. Shanks, and T. Webmoor). Routledge published his co-edited Archaeology in the Making in 2013 (paperback 2017, with W. Rathje and M. Shanks). He is also co-editor of the Routledge series Archaeological Orientations (with G. Lucas).
"In this bold and experimental work, Christopher Witmore brilliantly renews and transforms the genre of chorography. A book that defies categorization, it is part history, part travel diary, part reflection on the present, and part theoretical reflection on archaeology and how archaeology ought to be conducted. Over the course of twenty-seven segments, the reader is taken on a journey across the Peloponnese making you feel as if you are witnessing these lands alongside him. Written in lyrical and erudite prose, Old Lands calls for nothing less than a complete reconceptualization of the ontology of space and time. This provocative book is destined to be discussed for some time, and deserves to be read widely in the discipline of archaeology and beyond." – Levi R. Bryant, Collin College, USA
"Written in exquisite prose that blends lyricism and acuity, Witmore’s work turns traditional topography on its head. His Peloponnese is one where karst and sight-line manifest themselves in myth and ritual; where Pausanias and an aqueduct can open up a marvelous world of wonder. His descriptions tumble off the page like water flowing down a winter rhevma. The best book in recent Greek archaeology." - Jeremy McInerney, University of Pennsylvania, USA