Situated at the extreme NW boundary of Greece, the site has often been identified because of its peripheral position with the fabled Scheria, according to the Homeric account, seat of the Phaiakian people (Thuc. 1.25). It was originally inhabited by Illyrian and Apulian populations, until in 734 B.C. it was occupied by Corinthian colonists under Archias or Chersikrates, both of the Bacchiadai family. They settled on the E coast and called their city Kerkyra or Korkyra from a corruption of Gorgon, the demon routed by the Corinthian hero Bellerophon. The pre-Corinthian name would have been Drepane. Conflicts with the mother country began soon. In 664 B.C. the revolt of Kerkyra provoked the fall at Corinth of the Bacchiadai and the ascent of the Kypselids; in 435-431 there were new encounters occasioned by the war of Epidamnos which brought democracy to power in 425 B.C. Kerkyra participated in the Peloponnesian War as an ally of Athens, and at the beginning of the 4th c. fell under the hegemony of Sparta. It later joined the second Athenian confederation in 373 B.C.; became the prey of Agathokles in 300 B.C.; and finally passed to Epeiros. From 229 B.C. it was under the protection of the Romans and served them principally as a naval base.
The earliest traces of human settlement are found in the NW zone of the island. At Sidari and on the small island of Diaplo these go back to the Mesolithic period and to the first Neolithic age (VI millennium), and show notable similarity to the Campanian culture in Italy; while in the same places there are Bronze Age strata that appear, instead, different from the corresponding Italic facies. At Aphiona an Early Neolithic deposit has been found from the late III--;early II millennia with two types of pottery. One is coarse and red; the other is finer and brown with black paint and incised decorations of the geometric type, classified as Molfetta and belonging to the Apulian pottery type. The site has been located at a village of the Middle and Late Bronze Age (II millennium) excavated at Kapo Kephali or instead, farther to the S in the zone where, on the hill of Ermones, 500 m from the sea, there has recently been discovered another prehistoric habitation with fragments of clay slabs that must have served as roofs for mud huts.
The city founded by the Corinthian colonists rose a little to the S of the modern capital of the island, on the rocky peninsula of Palaiopolis that projects between the sea and a lagoon. The acropolis was situated on the height of Analipsis. Here Euboian settlers had already made a way place on the road to the W. The peninsula narrows to the N into an isthmus barred by walls of Hellenistic age. At opposite ends are the two ancient ports. That on the W, on the lagoon, is perhaps the older naval port called the Hyllaiko; while that to the N was connected with the name of Alkinoos. The inhabited area was between the two ports, but very few remains of the civil buildings survive. Two gates from the city walls have been identified, constructed of marble and poros blocks, and partly incorporated in the Venetian fortifications. A third port was perhaps dug out farther N, in an inlet near the oldest Venetian fort. In the Monrepos park, on the seaward side of the Analipsis height, remains of a sanctuary have been found, and recent excavations permit a reconstruction of its history. At the beginning of the Corinthian colonization at the end of the 8th c. B.C. there arose a large sanctuary probably dedicated to a divinity protective of Kekyra and the other cities of W Greece. A century later, at the end of the 7th, the sanctuary was closed by a peribolos, and a large temple was built with columns and part of the superstructure in local limestone. The roof was in terracotta, richly decorated with gutters in the form of leonine protoma and gorgoneia vividly painted, analogous to those of Thermos and Kalydon. At the end of the 6th c. other cults were established around the temple to the great divinity. That of Apollo had a hypaethral enclosure with an altar, and Aphrodite and Hermes were remembered by two small temples, parts of whose terracotta roofs remain. Evidence of the cults lasts until the end of the 5th c. when a fire destroyed the sanctuary. At the beginning of the 4th c. a new temple in limestone with a marble roof arose on the ruins of the archaic temple. New building activity took place in the 3d c. Still at Monrepos, near the Kardaki spring, are the remains of a temple discovered in 1822. This is a Doric building of singular construction, dating to about 510 B.C., and perhaps dedicated to Apollo (Timaios). The cella, in crude bricks, was circled by a peristasis of 6 by 11 monolithic columns, amply and uniformly spaced. The entablature bore no frieze with triglyphs, although it had an architrave crowned with ovoli, cornice, and kyma. These elements bring to mind Ionic influence similar to that which is encountered in some architectonic forms, the so-called achaian of S Italy. Several fragments of a Nike in terracotta belong to the acroterion of the temple. Not far from the temple a deposit of clay figurines, coins, tiles, and inscribed fragments from the middle of the 6th c. has been found. The same formal characteristics may be recognized in the temple at Kardaki as in the most prestigious monument of Kerkyra, the Sanctuary of Artemis, discovered near the Monastery of St. Theodore in the region of the Garitza. In the sacred area, enclosed by a peribolos wall, rose the stone temple measuring ca. 47.9 x 22.4 m, with 8 by 17 columns. It is the most archaic pseudoperipteral Doric temple, datable to about 585 B.C. The cella was very narrow and divided into three naves by two rows of columns. The original gutter was in terracotta, replaced during the second half of the 6th c. by marble elements. The importance of this temple is above all centered on the decoration of the tympanum, where for the first time there appears in that position a mythical representation, although the thematic unity which later becomes the norm is lacking. On the 21 slabs in poros stone of the W pediment (of which 12 remain), a gigantic Gorgon was shown at the center in high relief. Her function was clearly to keep away malign influence, and she was flanked by her two offspring, Chrysaor and Pegasos, between two panthers. On the sides there were two groups: to the left Priam being killed by Neoptolemos, and to the right Zeus battling a giant, while a fallen warrior filled the corner of the pediment. An analogous scene, but of uncertain identification because of the meager remains, occupied the E pediment. The figures are carved according to the archaic scheme, through parallel planes, in the ornate taste common to all orientalizing production. These are in the Corinthian tradition, but show strong Doric influence. Also preserved are several fragments of a frieze from a metope with Achilles and Memnon. Before the temple, and joined to it by a ramp, rose the altar (25.4 x 2.7 m), decorated with a frieze, metopes, and trygliphs.
In the Palaiopolis zone, before the entrance of Monrepos park, is the Church of Haghia Kerkyra. It is a large Early Christian basilica with five aisles, double narthex, and transept. On the mosaic pavement is inscribed an epigram of Archbishop Govianus from the middle of the 5th c. A.D. Soundings made under the pavement have brought to light the remains of an apsidal building, a Hellenistic bouleuterion or ecclesiasterion. Below that level have been found sherds ranging from the pre-Corinthian and Geometric periods up until the end of the 4th c., fragments of sculpture from the middle of the 5th c., and remnants of a foundation wall from the 8th c. Leaning against the N side of the basilica is a small building constructed of reused material from the 5th c. B.C. To the W, near the apse, is another small building with a mosaic pavement a meter higher than the floor-level of the basilica. It was probably constructed after the period of Vandal destruction in the 6th c. A.D. The basilica arose on the site of the ancient city, which also included Hellenistic habitations in the neighborhood, and on which a Roman bath was built in A.D. 100. Between the basilica and the point of Kanoni, at the extreme SW of the peninsula, a house has been discovered that preserves traces of two building periods; that is, of the 4th c. B.C. and of the Middle Helladic age. The recovery at Kanoni of a deposit of terracottas ranging in date from the 8th to the 5th, with the figure of Artemis, leads to the supposition that here was another sanctuary dedicated to that deity. A little farther to the N, near the cloister of Panaghia Kassiopitra, there remain traces of a temple of the 6th c. B.C., possibly to Poseidon. The ancient necropolis is near the region of the Garitza, to the N and NW of the city. Among the more notable monuments is that of Xenvares, which is formed of a Doric column with a capital of the so-called Achaian type (see the capitals of Paestum), datable to the middle of the 6th c. B.C. by reason of a dedicatory inscription; and the cenotaph of Menekrates on a round base, that bears a metric inscription in Corinthian characters, of ca. 600 B.C. Next to it has been found a life-size statue of a lion in limestone on a quadrangular base, stylistically and chronologically close to the felines on the pediment of the Temple of Artemis. Its immediate precedent is represented by the plastic lions of the pre-Corinthian aryballoi from the middle of the 7th c. Recent excavations have turned up numerous fragments of archaic ceramics.
The monumental sculpture and the other finds from the pre-Christian era are in the archaeological museum of the modern city. (L. VLAD BORRELLI) Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korkyra_(polis)Wikidata ID: Q3693378Trismegistos Geo: 1083
Info: Princeton Encyclopedia
(Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, from Perseus Project)