Musical Instruments from the South Stoa at Corinth: Type, Function, and Chronology (20 min)


Abigail Bradford, University of Virginia


The date and function of the South Stoa at Corinth has been in question since its discovery in 1896, a question still being explored in recent publications by Kathleen Warner Slane, David Scahill, and Sarah James. The wells located in the South Stoa shops, in particular, present a complex chronology that further complicates the history of the building. One body of evidence, however, has yet to see careful examination in the analysis of the South Stoa: the 12 instrument fragments found in and around the building. The 12 fragments represent three types of wind instruments: the aulos (or “double-pipe”), the side flute (similar to the modern flute), and the salpinx (a type of elongated horn). Out of the 33 South Stoa shops eight produced instrument fragments from their associated wells, and the additional four fragments were found in the immediate area around the stoa. Interestingly, three sets of joins are confirmed among the fragments: one joined aulos (MF 4740 A-B) on display in the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth and two joins (one aulos and one side flute) observed in the fragments in storage. Especially unusual are the presence of the side flute (a relatively rare instrument with strong pastoral connotations) and salpinx (typically used in battle or heralding events), which give serious reason for a reassessment of the activities that took place in and around the South Stoa. The proposed paper will utilize the instrument fragments as additional chronological tools for reconstructing the history of the building (largely corroborating a construction date of 300–275 B.C.E. proposed by Slane and originally established by McPhee and Pemberton in Corinth VII.6) as well as painting a richer picture of the musical culture in Corinth (and indeed across Greece) that began to flourish in the Hellenistic period.