Today it is hard to imagine the busy harbor of ancient Cenchreae, one of the most important ports in the Roman world, at the desolate spot on a small bay that marks its former location. Yet the underwater ruins there still suggest the history of famous travelers, such as the Apostle Paul, whose feet once walked on the sunken stones. To reach Cenchreae, follow the signs from Corinth to Isthmia and continue toward the village of Keries, some 3 miles past Isthmia. The site is not well marked but is easily discernible from the road. Cenchreae, the eastern port of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf, enabled maritime travel and commercial activity between Asia Minor and Corinth. The harbor was certainly in existence by the time of the Peloponnesian War and likely was constructed considerably earlier. It was first mentioned by Thucydides in his description of the attack by the Athenians upon Corinth in 425 B.C.E. The site was abandoned following the destruction of Corinth in 146 B.C.E., but new harbor facilities were built when Julius Caesar revived Corinth in 44 C.E. Two new moles (breakwaters) were added at that time to provide a deep-water port. Strabo later described Cenchreae as the naval station of Corinth, 70 stadia (7 miles) to the east, and the port used for its trade with Asia (the western coast of Asia Minor, modern Turkey). Pausanius said that the harbor got its name from Cenchreas, the son of Poseidon and Peirene. He described Cenchreae as having a bronze statue of Poseidon on a mole that extended into the sea at the southern end of the harbor, with temples of Isis and Asclepius at the same end of the harbor. A temple of Aphrodite stood at the north side of the harbor. Cenchreae also was the port used by the Apostle Paul in the 1st century in his travels to Asia Minor and Syria. The harbor was badly damaged by earthquakes and tidal waves in 365 and 375 C.E., but it was later restored and continued to be a significant port until its final destruction by the Slavs around 580 C.E.
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