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Earthquake may have destroyed ancient Greece

By FnF Desk | PUBLISHED: 27, Apr 2013, 12:51 pm IST | UPDATED: 27, Apr 2013, 13:17 pm IST

Earthquake may have destroyed ancient Greece Washington: The grand Mycenaens, who inspired the legends of the Trojan Wars, ' The Iliad' and ' The Odyssey,' abruptly disappeared around 1200 B.C., marking the start of a Dark Ages in Greece.

The decline of the Mycenaens is a mystery that has baffled many historians; leading explanations include warfare with invaders or uprising by lower classes.

However, some scientists think that one of the country's frequent earthquakes could have contributed to the collapse of the culture; some geologists are hoping to find evidence at the ruins of Tiryns, a fortified palace, to confirm whether an earthquake was a likely culprit, Discovery News reported.

Atop a limestone hill, the city-state's king built a palace, whose walls were about 30 feet high and 26 feet wide, with blocks weighing 13 tons, Klaus-G. Hinzen, a seismologist at the University of Cologne in Germany and project leader, said.

Hinzen and his colleagues have created a 3D model of Tiryns based on laser scans of the structures left and are hoping to determine if the walls' collapse could only have been caused by an earthquake.

Geophysical scanning of the sediment and rock layers lying beneath the surface will provide data for studies on how the ground will shake in an earthquake.

Hinzen told OurAmazingPlanet that the work is complex, as many blocks were shifted by amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1884 and later 20th-century restorations.

By combing through historic photos, the team found unaltered wall sections to test and hope to use a technique called optical luminescence dating on soil under the blocks, which may reveal if the walls toppled all at the same time, as during an earthquake.

There are no written records from the Mycenaean decline that describe a major earthquake, nor oral folklore.

"There is no evidence for an earthquake at this time, but there was strong activity at the subduction zone nearby," he said.

Hinzen added that the Mycenaean preference to place their fortresses atop limestone hills surrounded by sediment would concentrate shaking, even from distant earthquakes.