August 23, 2008

The Parthenon’s seismic resistance

Posted at 12:36 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

This article puzzles me slightly, as there has in the past been damage to the Parthenon from earthquakes. However, it appears that the damage that has been sustained is significantly less than one would have expected.

From:
France 24

Parthenon seismic resistance intrigues Japan
Friday 22 August 2008
By AFP

Japanese scientists will next month look into seismic resistance secrets in the design of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon which has withstood scores of quakes, a senior Greek archaeologist said on Friday.

“The Parthenon had great resilience to earthquakes, as did most classical Greek temples,” Maria Ioannidou, the archeologist in charge of conservation on the ancient Acropolis citadel where the Parthenon stands, told AFP.

“The ancient Greeks apparently had very good knowledge of quake behaviour and excellent construction quality,” she added.

Toshikazu Hanazato, a professor of engineering at Japan’s Mie University and an expert in post-quake reconstruction, heads the Japanese research team which is visiting Greece next month to study the famed marble temple.

Both countries are very seismically active and the Japanese believe there are common elements between ancient Greek temples and their own monuments, Ioannidou said.

The Parthenon has sustained significant damage in its long history but most of it was caused by man, not nature.

The temple is partly built on solid rock but also has stone foundations going 12 metres (39 feet) deep and its walls were held together by metal joints coated in lead to prevent rust, Ioannidou said.

It withstood a 373 BCE quake that destroyed the city of Elike in the Peloponnese and a subsequent 226 BC temblor that toppled the Colossus of Rhodes, the gigantic bronze statue numbered among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

More recently, a 5.9-Richter earthquake in 1999 that killed 143 people around Athens shifted some of the Parthenon’s architectural elements but caused no major damage.

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