Monumental articulated ancient Greek and Roman columns and temples and earthquakes: archaeological, historical, and engineering approaches


Structural analyses indicate that monumental articulated ancient Greek and Roman (MAGR) columns and temples have a very particular seismic response, differing from rigid structures (made with mortar); tall columns in particular, have an excellent seismic performance, favoring anthropogenic effects as causes of their destruction. Archeoseismological studies, on the other hand, provide evidence of seismic damage in MAGR structures. To investigate this apparent conflict, we analyzed the conditions and limitations of structural models, as well as historical and archeological evidence of response of such structures to natural and anthropogenic effects. In addition, we examined two groups of MAGR structures: first, structures damaged or destroyed by known causes, including earthquakes and wind; second, structures damaged by unknown causes, based on comparative damage analyses with emphasis on geotechnical (soil dynamics) effects. This analysis indicates that reports of deliberate destructions of MAGR structures are exaggerated, and in addition, (i) these structures seem safe against earthquakes only if structurally healthy, concerning both their superstructure and foundations; this condition is not always satisfied, and hence, no controversy exists between structural engineering and archeoseismological approaches; (ii) their seismic response is sensitive to small changes of the source- and site-specific parameters; and (iii) no deterministic evidence of absence or of occurrence of critical earthquakes can be derived from their survival or damage, because the latter reflects superimposition of natural and anthropogenic destructive effects, some with apparently similar outcomes, and rarely only single event destructions. These results are important for palaeoseismology (paleoseismology), seismic risk assessment, archaeology (archeology), and restoration of ancient monuments.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10


  1. Alexandris A, Psycharis I, Protopapa E (2014) The collapse of the ancient temple of Zeus at Olympia revisited. 2nd European conference on earthquake engineering and seismology, Istanbul

  2. Al-Tarazi E, Korjenkov A (2007) Archaeoseismological investigation of the ancient Ayla site in the city of Aqaba, Jordan. Nat Hazards 42:47–66.

  3. Altunel E (1998) Evidence for damaging historical earthquakes at Priene, western Turkey. Turk J Earth Sci 7:25–35

  4. Ambraseys N (1971) Value of historical records of earthquakes. Nature 232(5310):375–379.

  5. Ambraseys N (2009) Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East: a multidisciplinary study of seismicity up to 1900. Cambridge University Press

  6. Ambraseys N, Psycharis I (2011) Earthquake stability of columns and statues. J Earthq Eng 15(685–710):2011.

  7. Ambraseys N, Psycharis I (2012) Assessment of the long-term seismicity of Athens from two classical columns. Bull Earthq Eng 10:1635–1666.

  8. Andronopoulos V, Tzitziras A, Koukis G (1988) Engineering geological investigations in the area of Apollo Epikourios Temple at Phigaleia (Peloponnesus, Greece). In: Marinos P, Koukis G (eds) The engineering geology of ancient works, monuments and historical sites, pp 479–488

  9. Assimaki D, Gazetas G, Kausel E (2005) Effects of local soil conditions on the topographic aggravation of seismic motion: parametric investigation and recorded field evidence from the 1999 Athens earthquake. Bull Seismol Soc Am 95(3):1059–1089.

  10. Avallone A, Marzario M, Cirella A, Piatanesi A, Rovelli A, Di Alessandro C, D’Anastasio E, D’Agostino N, Giuliani R, Mattone M (2011) Very high rate (10 Hz) GPS seismology for moderate-magnitude earthquakes: the case of the Mw 6.3 L’Aquila (central Italy) event. J Geophys Res 116:B02305.

  11. Ayati AA et al (2019) A double-multiple streamtube model for vertical axis wind turbines of arbitrary rotor loading. Wind Energ Sci. 4:653–662.

  12. Balia R (1992) Shallow reflection survey in the Selinunte National Archaeological Park (Sicily-Italy), Boll. Geof Teor Appl 34:12–131

  13. Balty J (1988) Apamea in Syria in the second and third centuries A.D. J Roman Stud 78:91–104

  14. Barrett A, Vickers M (1975) Columns in antis in the temple on the Ilissus. Ann Br School Athens 70:11–16.

  15. Beskos D (1993) Use of finite and boundary elements in the analysis of monuments and special buildings I (in Greek). Bull. Soc Civ Eng 216:31–43

  16. Beskos D (1994) Use of finite and boundary elements in the analysis of monuments and special buildings II (in Greek). Bull. Soc Civ Eng 217:15–32

  17. Bottari C, Stiros S, Teramo A (2009) Archaeological evidence for destructive earthquakes in Sicily between 400 B.C. and A.D. 600. Geoarchaeology 24(2):147–175.

  18. Bouckovalas G, Kouretzis G, Kalogeras I (2002) Site-specific analysis of strong motion data from the September 7, 1999 Athens, Greece earthquake. Nat Hazards 27:105–131

  19. Bradley B, Cubrinovski M (2011) Near-source strong ground motions observed in the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Seismol Res Lett 82:853–865.

  20. Brown P (1998) Christianization and religious conflict. In: Cameron A, Garnsey P (eds) The Cambridge Ancient History, chapter 21, volume xiii, The Late Empire, A.D. 337—425, pp 631–664

  21. Bundgaard J (1976) Parthenon and the Mycenaean city on the heights. Publications of the National Museum of archaeological historical series Vol. XVII. National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen 194 pp. & 12 pls

  22. Burger S, Egger M, Bachmann J, Vassiliou M, Stojadinovic B (2017) Behavior of inverted pendulum cylindrical structures that rock and wobble during earthquakes. 16th conference on earthquake engineering 16WCEE Santiago Chile. Paper no 594,

  23. Burrell, B. (2002/2003) Temples of Hadrian, not Zeus, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 43, 31–50,

  24. Busine A (2013) From stones to myth: temple destruction and civic identity in the late antique Roman east. J Late Antiq 6(2):325–346.

  25. Cauzzi C., Kalogeras, I., Maccieri. I., Melis, N., Stupazzini, M, Clinton, J. (2015) Preliminary results on the seismic response of the acropolis of Athens (Greece) through recorded earthquake data and numerical simulations. Paper presented in the 6ICEGE, Christchurch, New Zealand,

  26. Di Vita A (1990) Sismi, Urbanistica e crononolia assoluta, Terremoti e urbanistica di Tripolitania fra il I secolo A.C. ed il IV D.C., in L’Afrique dans l’Occident Romain, (1er siecle av. J.-C. -IVe siecle ap. J.C.). Collection de l’Ecole Francaise de Rome 14:425–494

  27. Dinsmoor WB (1941a) An archaeological earthquake at Olympia. Am J Archaeol 45(3):399–427.

  28. Dinsmoor WB (1941b) Observations on the Hephaisteion, the American excavations in the Athenian agora, Hesperia: Supplement V

  29. Dinsmoor WB (1975) The architecture of ancient Greece, an account of its historic development, BT Batsford Ltd, London, reprint of the 1950 3rd edition revised

  30. Dinsmoor WB Jr (1976) The roof of the Hephaisteion. American Journal of Archaeology 80(3):223–246 and plates 37–40,

  31. Douglas J et al (2015) Limits on the potential accuracy of earthquake risk evaluations using the L’Aquila (Italy) earthquake as an example. Ann Geophys 58(2):S0214.

  32. Drosos V, Anastasopoulos I (2015) Experimental investigation of the seismic response of classical temple columns. Bull Earthq Eng 13:299–310.

  33. Egglezos D, Ioannidou M, Moullou D, Kalogeras I (2013) In: Bilotta, Flora, Lirer, Viggiani (eds) Geotechnical issues of the Athenian acropolis. CRC, London, pp 13–47.

  34. Fandi M (2018) Effects of large historical earthquakes on archeological structures in Jordan. Arab J Geosci 11:9–8.

  35. Funiciello R, Boschi E, Di Bona M, Malagnini L, Marra F, Rovelli A, Salvi S (1992) Local seismic amplifications in the city of Rome inferred from observations of damage in monuments of Imperial age: ground motion estimates based on subsurface geology data. Paper presented in the Int. Symp. on the effects of surface geology on seismic motion, ESG

  36. Galadini F, Hinzen K-G, Stiros S (2006) Archaeoseismology: methodological issues and procedure. J Seismol 10:395–414.

  37. Galadini F, Ricci G, Falcucci E, Panzieri C (2018) Archaeoseismological evidence of past earthquakes in Rome (fifth to ninth century A.D.) used to quantify dating uncertainties and coseismic damage. Nat Hazards 94:319.

  38. Galanopoulos A (1956) The seismic risk at Athens (in Greek). Praktika Akadimias Athinon 31:464–472

  39. Galli P, Molin D (2014) Beyond the damage threshold: the historic earthquakes of Rome. Bull Earthq Eng 12:1277–1306

  40. Garini E, Gazetas G, Anastasopoulos I (2017) Evidence of significant forward rupture directivity aggravated by soil response in an Mw6 earthquake and the effects on monuments. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 46:2103–2120.

  41. Gazetas G, Garini E, Berrill J, Apostolou M (2012) Sliding and overturning potential of Christchurch 2011 earthquake records earthquake. Engng Struct Dyn. 41:1921–1944.

  42. Gebhard ER, Dickie MW (2003) The View from the Isthmus, ca. 200 to 44 B.C. Corinth 20:261–278.

  43. Georgopoulos G, Telioni E, Tsontzou A (2016) The contribution of laser scanning technology in the estimation of ancient Greek monuments’ deformations. Surv Rev 48(349):303–308.

  44. Guidoboni E, Comastri A, Traina G (1994) Catalogue of earthquakes in the Mediterranean region up to the 10th century. Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica, Rome

  45. Guidoboni E, Muggia A, Markoni C, Boschi E (2002) A case study in archaeoseismology. The collapses of the Selinunte temples (southwestern Sicily): two earthquakes identified. Bull Seism Soc Am 92(8):2961–2982

  46. Hancock PL, Altunel E (1997) Faulted archaeological relics at Hierapolis (Pamukkale), Turkey. J Geodyn 24:21–36.

  47. Hill, B, 1966. The temple of Zeus at Nemea. Princeton

  48. Hinzen K (2009) Simulation of toppling columns in archaeoseismology. Bull Seismol Soc Am 99(5):2855–2875.

  49. Hinzen K-G (2009/2010) Sensitivity of earthquake-toppled columns to small changes in ground motion and geometry. Isr J Earth Sci 58:309–326.

  50. Housner GW (1963) The behaviour of inverted pendulum structures during earthquakes. Bull Seismol Soc Am 53(2):403–417

  51. Hunt, D. (1993). Christianising the Roman Empire. In: The Theodosian code, edited by J. Harries and I. Wood, 143-160. Oxford

  52. Kamai R, Hatzor Y (2008) Numerical analysis of block stone displacements in ancient masonry structures: a new method to estimate historic ground motions. Int J Numer Anal Meth Geomech 32:1321–1340.

  53. Karcz I, Kafri U (1978) Evaluation of supposed archaeoseismic damage in Israel. J Archaeol Sci 5:237–253

  54. Kavvadias I, Vasiliadis L, Elenas A (2017) Seismic response parametric study of ancient rocking columns. Int J Architect Herit 11(6):791–804.

  55. Kazmer M (2014) Damage to ancient buildings from earthquakes. Encyclopedia of earthquake engineering.

  56. Kazmer M, Major B (2015) Safita castle and rockfalls in the ‘dead villages’ of coastal Syria—an archaeoseismological study. C R Geosci 347(4):181–190.

  57. Konstantinidis D, Makris N (2005) Seismic response analysis of multidrum classical columns. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 34(10):1243–1270.

  58. Korjenkov A, Mazor E (1999) Seismogenic origin of the ancient Avdat ruins, Negev Desert, Israel. Nat Hazards 18:193–226

  59. Korres M (1994) Der Plan des Parthenon, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts. Athenische Abteilung 109:53–120

  60. Korres M (1996) Seismic damage to the monuments of the Athenian acropolis. In: Stiros S, Jones RE (eds) Archaeoseismology, British School at Athens, Fitch Laboratory occasional paper, vol 7, pp 69–74

  61. Kounadis AN, Papadopoulos GJ, Cotsovos DM (2012) Overturning instability of a two-rigidblock system under ground excitation. J Appl Math Mech 92:536–557

  62. Kumsar H, Aydan Ö, Şimşek C, D’Andria F (2016) Historical earthquakes that damaged Hierapolis and Laodikeia antique cities and their implications for earthquake potential of Denizli basin in western Turkey. Bull Eng Geol Environ 75:519–536.

  63. Lekidis V, Karakostas C, Dimitriu P, Margaris B, Kalogeras I, Theodulidis N (1999) The Aigio (Greece) seismic sequence of June 1995: seismological, strong motion data and effects of the earthquakes on structures. J Earthq Eng 3(3):349–380.

  64. Makris N (2014) A half-century of rocking isolation. Earthq Struct 7:1187–1221.

  65. Makris N, Psychogios T (2004) The Reconstruction of the North-East Corner of the Temple of Zeus at Nemea Greece, Patras, 21pp, (accessed January 4, 2020)

  66. Makris N, Vassiliou M (2011) The existence of ‘complete similarities’ in the response of seismic isolated structures subjected to pulse-like ground motions and their implications in analysis. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 40(10):1103–1121.

  67. Makris N, Vassiliou MF (2014) Are some top-heavy structures more stable? Journal of Structural Engineering, ASCE 140(5):06014001.

  68. Manos G, Demosthenous M (1997) Models of ancient columns and colonnades subjected to horizontal base motions - study of their dynamic and earthquake behavior. WIT Trans Built Environ:29.

  69. Mark R, Billington DP (1989) Structural Imperative and the Origin of New Form. Technology and Culture 30(2):300

  70. Mavroeidis GP, Dong G, Papageorgiou AS (2004) Near-fault ground motions and the response of elastic and inelastic SDOF systems. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 33:1023–1049

  71. Miles M (1989) A reconstruction of the temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous. Hesperia 58:133–249

  72. Miller S (1986) Poseidon at Nemea, Filia Epi is G. Mylonas, 1, 261–271, Archaeological Society, Greece

  73. Miller, S. G. (2000). The temple of Nemean Zeus. A California Landmark. Chronicle of the University of California, No. 4

  74. Miller S (2014) Theodosios II and the temple of Nemean Zeus.

  75. Mouzakis HP, Psycharis IN, Papastamatiou DY, Carydis PG, Papantonopoulos C, Zambas C (2002) Experimental investigation of the earthquake response of a model of marble classical columns. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 31:1681–1698

  76. Nikolaou S, Gazetas G, Garini E, Diaz-Fanas G, Ktenidou OJ (2018) Geoseismic Design Challenges in Mexico City part 1: a 32-year Déjà-vu. Structure Magazine, December 2019, 10–14,

  77. Nikolić Ž, Krstevska L, Marović P, Smoljanović H (2019) Experimental investigation of seismic behaviour of the ancient Protiron monument model. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 48:573–593.

  78. Nur A, Ron H (1996) And the walls came tumbling down: earthquake history in the Holy Land. In: S. Stiros and R. Jones, eds. Archaeoseismology, British School at Athens, Fitch Laboratory Occasional Paper, 7, 75–85

  79. Paga J, Miles M (2016) The archaic temple of Poseidon at Sounion. Hesperia 85(4):657–710.

  80. Papadopoulos K, Vintzilaiou E (2008) Τhe seismic response of the columns in the perimeter of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios, 3rd Greek Conference of Antiseismic Engineering and Engineering Seismology,

  81. Papaloizou L, Komodromos P (2009) Planar investigation of the seismic response of ancient columns and colonnades with epistyles using a custom-made software. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 29(11–12):1437–1454.

  82. Papantonopoulos C (1997) The earthquake resistance of ancient columns: a numerical perspective developed at the classical Temple of Apollo Epikourios. Transact Built Environ (WIT Press) 26:437–446

  83. Papantonopoulos C, Mouzakis H, Papastamatiou D, Psycharis I, Zambas C, Lemos J (1998) Predictability of experiments on the seismic response of classical monuments, 11th European conference on earthquake engineering. Balkema, Rotterdam ISBN 9054109823

  84. Papastamatiou D, Psycharis I (1993) Seismic response of classical monuments-a numerical perspective developed at the Temple of Apollo in Bassae, Greece. Terra Nova 5:591–601.

  85. Papazachos B, Papazachou C (1997) The earthquakes of Greece. Zitis, Thessaloniki

  86. Pecchioli L, Cangi G, Marra F (2018) Evidence of seismic damages on ancient Roman buildings at Ostia: an arch mechanics approach. J Archaeol Sci Rep 21:117–127.

  87. Pennethorne J (1878) The geometry and optics of ancient architecture, (illustrated by examples from Thebe, Athens and Rome). Assisted in the drawing and colouring of the plates and in the arrangement of the text by John Robinson Architect. London

  88. Penrose FC (1851) An investigation of the principles of Athenian architecture, (or the results of a survey conducted chiefly with reference to the optical refinements exhibited in the construction of the ancient buildings at Athens), published by the Society of Dilettanti, London. McGrath Publishing Company, Washington D.C. 1973

  89. Penrose FC (1897) The Parthenon, and the earthquake of 1894. J R. Inst. British Architects, 345-358 (accessed 4 January 2020)

  90. Pitilakis K, Tavouktsi E (2010) Seismic response of the columns of two ancient Greek temples in Rhodes and Lindos. 8th international symposium on the conservation of monuments in the Mediterranean Basin, Patra,

  91. Plommer W (1950) Three attic temples. Ann Br School Athens 45:66–112.

  92. Psycharis I (2007) A probe into the seismic history of Athens, Greece from the current state of a classical monument. Earthquake Spectra 23:393–415.

  93. Psycharis I, Tampaflas I (2017) Preliminary estimation of the seismic movement in the Kos town during the earthquake of 21 July 2017 (in Greek)

  94. Psycharis I, Papastamatiou D, Alexandris A (2000) Parametric investigation of the stability of classic al columns under harmonic and earthquake excitations. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 29:1093–1109.<1093::AID-EQE953>3.0.CO;2-S

  95. Pulatsu B, Sarhosis V, Bretas E, Nikitas N, Lourenço P (2017) Non-linear static behaviour of ancient free-standing stone columns. Proc Inst Civ Eng Struct Build 170(6):406–418.

  96. Rapp G Jr (1987) Assessing archaeological evidence for seismic catastrophies. Geoarchaeology 1:365–379

  97. Rodriguez-Marek A, Bray J (2006) Seismic site response for near-fault forward directivity ground motions. J Geotech Geoenviron 132:1611–1620.

  98. Rodríguez-Pascua M, Pérez-López R, Giner-Robles J, Silva P, Garduño-Monroy V, Reicherter K (2011) A comprehensive classification of earthquake archaeological effects (EAE) in archaeoseismology: application to ancient remains of Roman and Mesoamerican cultures. Quat Int 242:20–30.

  99. Saltogianni V, Gianniou M, Moschas F, Stiros S (2016) Pattern of dynamic displacements in a strike-slip earthquake. Geophys Res Lett 43(13):6861–6868.

  100. Sarhosis V, Baraldi D, Lemos J, Milani G (2019) Dynamic behaviour of ancient freestanding multi-drum and monolithic columns subjected to horizontal and vertical excitations. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 120:39–57.

  101. Schweppe G, Hinzen KG, Reamer SK, Fischer M, Marco S (2017) The ruin of the Roman Temple of Kedesh, Israel; example of a precariously balanced archaeological structure used as a seismoscope. Ann Geophys 60(4):S0444.

  102. Sinopoli A (1989) Kinematic approach in the impact problem of rigid bodies. Appl Mech Rev 44((11), Part 2):S233–S244

  103. Sintubin, M. (2013) Archaeoseismology. Encyclopedia of earthquake engineering,

  104. Spanos P, Koh AS (1984) Rocking of rigid blocks due to harmonic shaking. J Eng Mech 110:1627–1642

  105. Stefanou I, Vardoulakis I, Mavraganis A (2011) Dynamic motion of a conical frustum over a rough horizontal plane. Int J Non-Linear Mech 46(1):114–124.

  106. Stewart I, Piccardi L (2017) Seismic faults and sacred sanctuaries in Aegean antiquity. Proc Geol Assoc 128:711–721.

  107. Stiros SC (1996) Identification of earthquakes from archaeological data: methodology, criteria and limitations. In: Stiros S, Jones RE (eds) Archaeoseismology, British School at Athens, Fitch Laboratory occasional paper, vol 7, pp 129–152

  108. Stiros S (1998) Historical seismicity, palaeoseismicity and seismic risk in western Macedonia, northern Greece. J Geodyn 26:271–287.

  109. Stiros SC, Laborel J, Laborel-Deguen F, Papageorgiou S, Evin J, Pirazzoli PA (2000) Seismic coastal uplift in a region of subsidence: Holocene raised shorelines of Samos Island, Aegean Sea, Greece. Marine Geology 170(1-2):41–58

  110. Stiros S, Pytharouli S (2014) Archaeological evidence for a destructive earthquake in Patras, Greece. J Seismol 8:687–693.

  111. Stiros S, Pytharouli S (2018) Interpretations of reservoir-induced seismicity may not always be valid: the case of seismicity during the impoundment of the Kremasta Dam (Greece, 1965–1966). Bull Seismol Soc Am 108:3005–3015.

  112. Stiros S, Laborel J, Laborel-Deguen F, Morhange C (2011) Quaternary and Holocene coastal uplift in Ikaria Island, Aegean Sea. Geodin Acta 24(3–4):123–131.

  113. Tanoulas T (1987) The Propylaea of the acropolis at Athens since the seventeenth century, their decay and restoration. Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts 102:413–483

  114. Theodoulidis N, Karakostas C, Lekidis V, Makra K, Margaris B, Morfidis K et al (2015) The Cephalonia, Greece, January 26 (M6.1) and February 3, 2014 (M6.0) earthquakes: near-fault ground motion and effects on soil and structures. Bull Earthq Eng 14(1):1–38.

  115. Thompson H (1981) Athens faces adversity. Hesperia 50(4):343–355.

  116. Ulm FJ, Piau JM (1993) Fall of a temple: theory of contact applied to masonry joints. J. Struct. Eng. 119:687–697

  117. Ural A, Firat FK (2015) Evaluation of masonry minarets collapsed by a strong wind under uncertainty. Nat Hazards 76:999–1018.

  118. Wechsler N, Marco S, Hinzen K-G, Hinojosa-Prieto H (2018) Historical Earthquakes Around the Sea of Galilee. In: Aisenberg M (ed) Hippos-Sussita of the Decapolis. The first twelve seasons of excavations 2000–2011, Volume 2. The Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Haifa, pp 16–23

  119. Yim CS, Chopra AK, Penzien J (1980) Rocking response of rigid blocks to earthquakes. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 8:565–587

  120. Zambas K (1998) The refinements of the Parthenon columns. Ph D. thesis (in Greek). N.T.U. Athens, 254 p.

  121. Zambas K (2009) Restoration of the ancient tower at Drakanon (in Greek). Soc Ikarian Stud 7:3–10

  122. Zambas C, Ambraseys N, Boletis C, Zamba I (2011) The two choregic columns on the S flank of the Acropolis as witnesses of the seismic history of the centre of Athens (in Greek). Research studies 2011, Latsis Foundation, Athens

Download references


This article benefited from highly constructive, careful, and detailed comments of two anonymous reviewers which are very much appreciated.

Author information

Correspondence to Stathis C. Stiros.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


• Structurally healthy monumental articulated Greek and Roman temples and columns tend to withstand earthquakes.

• Seismic and wind-induced damage and toppling of these structures are mostly related to structural and foundations weaknesses.

• There are no controversy between earthquake engineering/ archaeoseismological approaches and no deterministic evaluations of causes of damage.



Literary sources and inscriptions reporting seismic effects on MAGR temples and columns

Source: Guidoboni et al. (1994)

c. 27 BC, Tralles, modern Turkey, collapsed gymnasium, i.e. a structure usually having columns (Strabo 12.8.18).

76 BC, Rieti, Italy, temples were shaken, and various structures were collapsed (Julius Obsequens 59).

c. AD47, Antioch, Turkey, three temples were torn apart (Malalas 246).

c. AD47, Samos, two inscriptions commemorating the rebuilding by emperor Claudius of two temples, destroyed by aging and earthquakes.

AD51 Rome, restoration of a shrine built a few years earlier. Restoration commemorated by a damaged inscription correlates with the AD51 earthquake.

AD69–79 Corinth, inscription commemorating repairs in three temples destroyed by earthquakes and the passage of time.

AD80, Nola, near Naples, Italy, inscription commemorating the restoration of a temple with four columns in its front, destroyed by an earthquake (perhaps related to the famous eruption of Vesuvius in AD79).

AD142/144, Lindus, Rhodes, rebuilding of the sanctuary of Asclepius destroyed by an earthquake.

AD160/161? Cyzicus, in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey, a gigantic temple collapsed during an earthquake (Dio Casius, 70.4). Excavations and other evidence summarized in the text is broadly consistent with the report and testify to partial collapse of a temple with columns over 20m high.

AD358, Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey), destruction of temples by earthquakes and fire 

Before AD374, Reggio Calabria, Italy, restoration of baths destroyed by an earthquake and restoration of a basilica adding a portico with columns, inscription.

AD458, Antioch, Syria, destruction of the Nympeum and of its porticos, Evagrius 2.12.

AD477/480, Constantinople, Theophanes 125–126, churches and porticos collapsed during earthquake.

AD554–558, Cos island, Aegean Sea, practically the whole city was reduced to a gigantic heap of ruble, littered with stones and fragments of broken pillars and beams (Agathias 2.16, 1–6).

AD557, Constantinople. During a destructive earthquake, the churches of St Stratonicus and of St Callinicus at Rhegium collapsed, as did the porphyry column which stood in front of the palace of Jucundianae. It fell with the stele on top, and penetrated 8 feet in to ground; the column of emperor Arcadius also fell down (Theophanes, 231).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Stiros, S.C. Monumental articulated ancient Greek and Roman columns and temples and earthquakes: archaeological, historical, and engineering approaches. J Seismol (2020).

Download citation


  • Archaeoseismology (archeoseismology)
  • Historical seismology
  • Ancient column
  • Rocking
  • Earthquake response
  • Soil dynamics