Ancient Earthquakes by Manuel Sintubin, Iain S. Stewart, Tina M. Niemi, Erhan

By Manuel Sintubin, Iain S. Stewart, Tina M. Niemi, Erhan Altunel

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All rights reserved. 21 22 Force and McFadgen writing—and anthropologists these days are equally interested in other aspects of cultural complexity. However, it is this particular assemblage of traits that corresponds so closely with tectonic boundaries, regardless of the semantic label that is attached. Quantification of the relation was attempted for the Eastern Hemisphere by Force (2008) based on probabilistic comparison to random distribution. Measurements were taken from originating sites (to avoid the problem of imperial sprawl) of 13 civilizations to the nearest tectonic plate boundary as conventionally mapped, and these resulted in an average distance of 75 km, with two prominent exceptions (Egypt and China; the influence of tectonism on development of the latter is appreciable but not treated here).

Ancient sites of civilizations (using a looser definition to allow more cases) follow the same path (Carthage, Syracuse, Rome, Tarquinii-Veii, Corinth, Mycenae, and Knossos-Phaistos). This relation itself looks persuasive, but an additional quantitative test would complement it. We can compare distances of tectonic boundaries versus seashores (of the time, where this is known) for the 11 originating sites of Figure 1. 48 times greater than the tectonic-boundary distance, implying a probability of random distribution that is very small but ~75 times greater than that for tectonic boundaries.

First of these is to determine the progression of societal response following destructive events. The work of many archaeologists has shown that habitation layers below and above seismic destruction horizons are different. A variety of causes have been attributed. An especially intriguing example to archaeoseismologists is the increasing sophistication of antiseismic devices through antiquity (cf. Stiros, 1996). We have seen examples of cultural discontinuities that apparently correspond with horizons giving evidence of tectonic activity.

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