Earthquakes and the Myceneans?

An excerpt in medias res from Live Science (with one of those annoying, all-too-general headlines):

[…] Tiryns was one of the great Mycenaean cities. Atop a limestone hill, the city-state’s king built a palace with walls so thick they were called Cyclopean, because only the one-eyed monster could have carried the massive limestone blocks. The walls were about 30 feet (10 meters) high and 26 feet (8 m) wide, with blocks weighing 13 tons, said Klaus-G. Hinzen, a seismologist at the University of Cologne in Germany and project leader. He presented his team’s preliminary results April 19 at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City.

Hinzen and his colleagues have created a 3D model of Tiryns based on laser scans of the remaining structures. Their goal is to determine if the walls’ collapse could only have been caused by an earthquake. Geophysical scanning of the sediment and rock layers beneath the surface will provide information for engineering studies on how the ground would shake in a temblor.

The work is complex, because many blocks were moved by amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1884 and later 20th-century restorations, Hinzen said. By combing through historic photos, the team found unaltered wall sections to test. They also hope to use a technique called optical luminescence dating on soil under the blocks, which could reveal whether the walls toppled all at the same time, as during an earthquake.

“This is really a challenge because of the alterations. We want to take a careful look at the original conditions,” Hinzen told OurAmazingPlanet.

Another hurdle: finding the killer quake. There are no written records from the Mycenaean decline that describe a major earthquake, nor oral folklore. Hinzen also said compared with other areas of Greece, the region has relatively few active faults nearby. “There is no evidence for an earthquake at this time, but there was strong activity at the subduction zone nearby,” he said. […]

Hinzen (et al) are the folks behind that study of earthquake effects on a Roman mausoleum in Pinara a month or so ago (Earthquakes and a Roman Mausoleum) … by the way, I’m sure the line between ‘pioneer’ and ‘amateur’ is fuzzy, but I’m not sure I’d call Schliemann an “amateur”.