Abstract

This article presents the results of research aimed at enhancing our knowledge of the active faults in southwestern Sicily, which is considered a low seismic hazard zone. The Selinunte archaeological park, the largest in the Mediterranean, with its great temples and evidence of spectacular collapses, is an information source that can be analyzed using the methodological approach of archaeoseismology. Having assessed the situation concerning the interpretation of the collapse in the literature (seismic and nonseismic events), we have proceeded to identify the seismic indicators at Selinunte, which has required a detailed analysis of both old and new archaeological evidence. We have reconstructed the history of the archaeological deposits, spoliation, and excavations. These data have been reevaluated in the light of the most recent research and of methodological criteria already successfully used in previous works on archaeoseismology. By means of a detailed and systematic critical analysis of the archaeological data, we have formulated a hypothesis arguing that two seismic events had actually struck Selinunte, leading to the collapse of the temples. One of the methods for this analysis is to visualize the direction of the temples' collapse, pinpointing congruent chronological phases. The results have allowed us to date the two earthquakes to a period between the fourth and third centuries B.C. for the first, and for the second between the sixth and thirteenth century A.D. This work has provided new information for the archaeological identification of seismic events in the total absence of written information.

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