Excavations of Corinth anal 1882 - 1893
Length 6.343 meters (3.9 miles)
Width 25 meters (79 feet)
Water depth 8 meters (26 feet)
Highest point from sea level 79 meters
unused, from 2011
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Several rulers in antiquity dreamed of cutting a canal through the Isthmus. The first to propose such an undertaking was the tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC. He abandoned the project due to technical difficulties, and instead constructed a simpler and less costly overland portage road, named Diolkos. According to another theory, Periander feared that a canal would have robbed Corinth of its dominating role as entrepôt for goods.
The Diadoch Demetrius (336–283 BC) planned to construct a canal as a means to improve his communication lines, but dropped the plan after his surveyors, miscalculating the levels of the adjacent seas, feared heavy floods.
The historian Suetonius tells us that the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar (r. 49-44 BC) projected, among other grandiose engineering schemes, a canal through the Isthmus. He was assassinated before he could bring the scheme to fruition.
The Roman Emperor Nero (r. 54–68 A.D.) launched an excavation, personally breaking the ground with a pickaxe and removing the first basket-load of soil, but the project was abandoned when he died shortly afterwards.
The modern attempt at construction began in the 1870s following the successful opening of the Suez Canal. A French company was hired to build it, but due to financial difficulties, the company ceased work after only the two ends had been dug. Finally, in 1881 the Hungarian architects István Türr and Béla Gerster, who had also been involved with early surveys for the Panama Canal, were hired to plan a new canal. A Greek company led by Andreas Syngros (the main contractor being Antonis Matsas) ultimately took over the project and completed it in 1893.