Seismic faults and sacred sanctuaries in Aegean antiquity

The ancient destructive capability of earthquake faults is well chronicled by historians and their cultural impact widely uncovered by archaeologists. Archaeological and geological investigations at some of the most renowned sites in the ancient Greece world, however, suggest a more nuanced and intimate relationship between seismic faults and past human settlements. In the Aegean’s karstic landscape earthquake fault scarps act as limestone ramparts on which fortifications, citadels and acropoli were constructed, and underlying fault lines were preferred pathways for groundwater movement and egress. The vital purifactory or therapeutic role of natural springs in the ritual practices of early settlements implies that the fault lines from which they leaked may have helped position the nascent hubs of Greek cities.

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