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Authors: Galadini, F.* 
Hinzen, K. G.*
Stiros, S.*
Title: Archaeoseismology: methodological issues and procedure
Issue Date: 2006
Series/Report no.: 4/10(2006)
DOI: 10.1007/s10950-006-9027-x
Keywords: archaeoseismology
historical seismology
environmental archaeology
natural catastrophes
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.01. Earthquake geology and paleoseismology 
04. Solid Earth::04.06. Seismology::04.06.05. Historical seismology 
Abstract: Archaeoseismic research contributes important data on past earthquakes. A limitation of the usefulness of archaeoseismology is due to the lack of continuous discussion about the methodology. The methodological issues are particularly important because archaeoseismological investigations of past earthquakes make use of a large variety of methods. Typical in situ investigations include: (1) reconstruction of the local archaeological stratigraphy aimed at defining the correct position and chronology of a destruction layer, presumably related to an earthquake; (2) analysis of the deformations potentially due to seismic shaking or secondary earthquake effects, detectable on walls; (3) analysis of the depositional characteristics of the collapsed material; (4) investigations of the local geology and geomorphology to define possible natural cause(s) of the destruction; (5) investigations of the local factors affecting the ground motion amplifications; and (6) estimation of the dynamic excitation, which affected the site under investigation. Subsequently, a ‘territorial’ approach testing evidence of synchronous destruction in a certain region may delineate the extent of the area struck by the earthquake. The most reliable results of an archaeoseismological investigation are obtained by application of modern geoarchaeological practice (archaeological stratigraphy plus geological–geomorphological data), with the addition of a geophysicalengineering quantitative approach and (if available) historical information. This gives a basic dataset necessary to perform quantitative analyses which, in turn, corroborate the archaeoseismic hypothesis. Since archaeoseismological investigations can reveal the possible natural causes of destruction at a site, they contribute to the wider field of environmental archaeology, that seeks to define the history of the relationship between humans and the environment. Finally, through the improvement of the knowledge on the past seismicity, these studies can contribute to the regional estimation of seismic hazard.
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