Abstract

A Lycian sarcophagus located in the ancient city of Pınara, southwest Turkey, shows a clockwise rotation of 6.37° with respect to its north–south oriented foundation. Considering the seismotectonic potential of the area, this rotation has been attributed to earthquake ground motion before. We present a 3D model of the sarcophagus based on 11.5 million points from a 3D laser scan. The sarcophagus shows a crater in the eastern side of the coffin, which was most probably caused by the detonation of an explosive charge during looting. As the direction of the rotation agrees with the sense of motion expected from a blast, we will attempt to quantify whether the rotation has a natural, seismogenic, or anthropogenic cause. With a rigid block model we studied the feasibility of an explosion or earthquake ground motion as the reason for the rotation of the coffin. Scaled recorded ground motions from local earthquakes and a strong-motion record from the recent L’Aquila, Italy, earthquake (Mw 6.3) were used to study the sarcophagus dynamic reactions. The calculations show that the geometry of the structure requires large peak ground acceleration amplitudes to initiate rocking (above 4 m/s2); this rocking in turn is necessary to produce rotation around the vertical axis by translational movements. The size of the explosion is back-calculated from the crater size and compared with duration and amplitude of an impulse necessary to rotate the coffin. The small rotations resulting from all earthquake simulations and the plausible explosion size necessary to rotate the coffin by the observed amount make an explosion a much more probable cause for the rotation of the sarcophagus than an earthquake.

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