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Authors: Galadini, Fabrizio* 
Ricci, Giovanni* 
Falcucci, Emanuela* 
Panzieri, Camilla* 
Title: Archaeoseismological evidence of past earthquakes in Rome (fifth to ninth century A.D.) used to quantify dating uncertainties and coseismic damage
Issue Date: Jun-2018
Series/Report no.: 1/94 (2018)
DOI: 10.1007/s11069-018-3390-0
Abstract: The transformation of Rome during the Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages has been investigated by archaeologists and historians. Social and political changes are the main aspects which led to a progressive modification of the urban framework; abandonment, spoliation and transformation of buildings are quite diffused as documented by the archaeological literature. The consequence of these practices is a higher vulnerability of the buildings which, from the seismological point of view, played a main role in increasing the effects of seismic shaking. A number of earthquakes have struck Rome during the period of investigation (fifth to ninth century A.D.), known from historical sources: 443, 484–508, 618, 801, 847; in some cases (443, 484–508, 801) damage has been documented. In contrast, the archaeological sources characterise collapse layers and evidence of destruction at different sites with changing and not always conclusive chronological constraints. Consequently, collapse and destruction have been alternatively attributed to the above-mentioned earthquakes. Through a geoarchaeological and stratigraphic analysis of potentially coseismic collapse units, we want (1) to describe the archaeoseismic evidence derived from recent excavations and from the available literature (e.g. Piazza Madonna di Loreto, Piazza Venezia, Palazzo Valentini Crypta Balbi, Colosseo, Basilica Hilariana, Basilica di Santa Petronilla, Santa Maria Antiqua,…); (2) to discuss the chronological problems and the uncertainty of attribution of the collapse units to known historical earthquakes; (3) to discuss the earthquake damage exaggeration due to erroneous attribution of seismic origin to the evidence of destruction derived from archaeological data. Finally, we will infer the role that earthquakes may have had on the development of the urban landscape in the fifth to ninth century A.D.
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