Against Gravity

Betsey Robinson

Building a Better Cave: Lessons from Corinth
The earliest preserved fountain at the Peirene spring in Corinth, Greece, dates to the 6th century BCE. Slightly northeast of the later spring-house, it was built of massive chunks of bedrock corbelled into a rough vault. Nicknamed the Cyclopean Fountain, this monument superficially resembles nearby remains from the Bronze Age, but the workmanship is not as crude as it may first appear, and construction details reveal different references. Mortar was used not only to bind boulders together but as a sculptural medium, modeled like clay into stylized rock forms. Rather than emulating Cyclopean masonry, the fountain was clearly conceived as the replica of a grotto, recalling the natural cavity in which Peirene originated, and serving as a home for the nymph of the source. The naturalistic form of Peirene’s _nymphaion_ signals an unprecedented communion with nature, a relationship that exceeds stewardship and takes on a creative force of its own. My paper will focus on external form and integral structures while revisiting creative contexts.