Did earthquakes give rise to Rome?
August 26, 2008 7:31 AM Subscribe
A Jared Diamond-like theory of history - did earthquakes contribute to the rise of ancient civilizations? Thirteen of 15 major ancient civilizations were clustered mostly along tectonic boundaries. "It's not a connection that seems to make much sense at first glance. But you can't ignore the pattern--look at a map, and it just jumps out at you." (Abstract).
Eric Force calculated the probability that the sites were randomly located, given that plenty of suitable land was available for settlement. The number crunching suggests that 13 of the 15 sites aren't the product of chance. Instead, ancient people appear to have chosen to snuggle up close to a tectonic crack-- often within 75 kilometers--despite the risk of quakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. (The exceptions were in ancient Egypt and China.)
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