The Loh Down On Science

Fault Zone

For builders of ancient civilizations, location was everything.

Ancient Rome's REAL downfall-- Was it. . . earthquake insurance premiums?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and three words for would-be empire builders: location, location, location.

Retired geologist Eric Force recently took some college history courses for fun-- and he noticed something that only a geologist might spot:

The ancient empires he was studying all started along the edges of tectonic plates.

Fluke?

To find out, Force dug out his geological maps and crunched the numbers.

Sure enough, the birthplaces of THIRTEEN major civilizations--in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia--were within fifty miles of BIG earthquake faults.

Rome? Fault zone. Jerusalem? Fault zone. Ancient cities of Greece, India, and China? Fault zone, fault zone, fault zone.

He calculated the probability that the locations were random. Not likely.

Instead, it seems that ancient people LIKED to cozy up to potential earthquakes and erupting volcanoes.

But the pattern does show that building on shaky ground doesn't necessarily spell disaster.

Except for that whole Pompeii thing. That was a bit of a misstep.


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