Tag Archives: Cenchreae

Cenchreae — a very unusual find

In a previous post I shared some images of the harbor at Cenchreae and related the site to the Apostle Paul and Phoebe.

Although the site has not been excavated, FIFTY (yes, 50) wooden crates containing glass panels that portray the harbor of Cenchreae were discovered in the harbor.

The panels were never put into place – but they apparently depict the harbor. They evidently were being stored in the Temple of Isis when the earthquake destroyed the harbor in A.D. 375. These panels probably depict the harbor as of A.D. 370. They are labeled as opus sectile panels that are composed of colored glass! I am not sure where they were intended to be placed. On floors? On walls? Or?

The following are a few of the panels that are on display in the nearby museum at Isthmia. I think they will be best viewed if you click on, and enlarge, the image.

Harbor, buildings, fisherman, boat, etc. Please Click on Image to Enlarge for Viewing.

Note the standing fisherman on the right side of the image. of center.  Just to the left and below him the white “lighthouse” that stood on the southern mole is depicted.  To the left of the lighthouse are three windows (filled with yellow light) and to the left of them, a building with six columns is depicted. Also on the left side of the image, from top to bottom note a sailboat and on the extreme left a squid.

The Harbor or Cenchreae—ca. A.D. 370. Please Click on Image to Enlarge for Viewing.

Note the standing fisherman just left of center. Just to the left and below him the white “lighthouse” that stood on the southern mole is depicted. Above him and to the right the “lighthouse” of the northern mole is visible. Note the semi-circular columned wharf that connects the two lighthouses.

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Cenchrea — a port of Corinth

Cenchrea was Corinth’s port that was located about 6.5mi. [9 km.] east on the Saronic Gulf.  It was Corinth’s life-line to Athens, to Asia Minor, and to additional ports in the eastern Mediterranean.

Having stayed at Corinth for 18 months, Paul set sail for Jerusalem (via Ephesus and Caesarea) from here at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18).  Just prior to his departure he cut his hair in Cenchrea—in fulfillment of a vow (18:18)

Later, writing to the church at Rome while staying at Corinth on his third journey, Paul commends Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea to the church at Rome (Romans 16:1-2).

A picture looking north at the north mole that stretches from left (land) to right, out into the sea. The port area is between where this picture was taken and the mole. It has subsided because of earthquakes. On the seaside point of the mole are the remains of a Roman Tower.

View looking south across the harbor at the remains of the southern mole which extends out into the water.
View looking east from the shore at the remnants of the southern mole of the port of Cenchreae.

Due to seismic activity, the harbor of Cenchreae has sunk about 7.5 ft [2.3 m.] from the New Testament era. In Paul’s day this basilica shaped structure may have been a temple for the deity Isis. Later it may have been turned into a church dedicated to Phoebe.