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Journal Article


Ambraseys N. Seismol. Res. Lett. 2005; 76(5): 560-564.


(Copyright © 2005, Seismological Society of America)






s we cannot know what will happen in the future, to estimate likely earthquake hazards we have to find out what happened in the past and extrapolate from there. Previous research has uncovered evidence of destructive earthquakes in areas of the eastern Mediterranean where only small events have been experienced recently, with the evidence drawn from realistic physical considerations and input data. For earthquakes before our era, however, historical and archaeological data, which are rarely unambiguous and always of little use to the scientist, have attracted interpretations that are influenced by the dogma of catastrophism, attributing to earthquakes the obliteration of the eastern Mediterranean region in the Bronze Age, large movements of peoples, and the demise of flourishing city-states.

In the early part of the 19th century geology was under the influence of the dogma of catastrophism, the hypothesis that changes in the Earth occurred as a result of isolated major catastrophes of relatively short duration, as opposed to the idea implicit in uniformitarianism, that small changes are taking place continuously. Catastrophism passed off the scene, now more or less completely discarded, and uniformitarianism took over. The last few decades, however, have seen a gradual re-emergence of neocatastrophism, this time in the field of archaeoseismology, particularly for earthquakes before our era in the eastern Mediterranean, bringing back into prominence the ideas of Velikovsky (1950).

Language: en


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