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Kechries is a community in the municipality of Corinth in Corinthia. It is located about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) southwest of Corinth and 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) southeast of the Epidaurus.

GEOGRAPHY

The community of Kechries is a village with a school and a church but no centralized plan or plateia. The number of permanent residents of Kechries is small, and many houses there are used seasonally by owners who reside elsewhere. Mount Oneion is found to the south, where a major stone quarry is now located, and the village is surrounded by fertile land dedicated to the cultivation of olive, the vine, and fruit trees. A broad bay at the western end of the Saronic, called Kechries Bay, is located immediately east of the village. This coastline forms the easternmost point of the Corinth Fault. The area has frequently felt the impact of seismic activity, which has led to the moderate subsidence of the coastline since ancient times.

HISTORY

In ancient times, Kenchreai was one of the two ports of the inland city-state of Corinth. While Kenchreai served the eastern trade routes, Lechaion on the Corinthian Gulf served the trade routes leading west to Italy and the rest of Europe. The ancient harbor was partly excavated in 1962-1969 by a team sponsored by the American School of Classical Studies. Excavations have uncovered several buildings that attest to the commercial vitality of the port throughout the Roman Empire and into the 7th century, when maritime activity and local habitation apparently diminished. The most impressive buildings located at the north and south ends of the harbor include blocks of rooms near the waterfront (probably warehouses); fishtanks; monumental complexes decorated with sculpted marble, mosaic pavements, and wall-painting (either sacred structures, lavish seaside villas, or rich public benefactions); and a small Christian basilica.

Since 2002, survey and excavation jointly sponsored by the American School and the Greek Ministry of Culture has explored the area immediately north of the harbor on the low coastal ridge called Koutsongila. These new investigations have concentrated on a vast cemetery of Early Roman chamber tombs and Roman to Early Byzantine cist graves, an opulent residential quarter facing seaward, and other large structures overlooking the harbor. The bountiful artifacts and structures found both at the harbor and on Koutsongila reveal the considerable wealth of local residents, including several objects of exceptional artistic quality, and a connection to points of production and exchange to the east in the Aegean islands, Asia Minor, and the Near East.

Historical and geographical texts of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras indicate that Kenchreai was still used by travelers and Imperial expeditions. While the ancient harbor could still receive ship traffic after antiquity, the archaeological evidence for medieval occupation is thin, and any permanent settlement must have been smaller than in ancient times. A small harbor facility operated during early modern times, mostly serving to export local produce, including grains, citrus fruit, and tomatoes.

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