Traces of Ancient Earthquakes in Medieval Cities Along the Silk Road, Northern Tien Shan and Dzhungaria
By ANDREY KORJENKOV, KARL BAIPAKOV, CLAUDIA CHANG, YURY PESHKOV and TAMARA SAVELIEVA
Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences, Vol. 12 (2003)
Abstract: The evidence for earthquake destruction at medieval cities along the Silk Road from 800 A.D. to 1500 A.D. was examined using techniques of archaeoseismological mapping of architectural components at three currently excavated sites in southern Kazakhstan: Koylyk (Antonovka), Talgar (Talkhir) and Akyrtash, located on the northern branch of the Silk Road, Kazakhstan. This study revealed the following features of seismic activity at all three sites: (a) fractures cutting through a few adjacent bricks; (b) wall-tilts and collapses; (c) horizontal shift of bricks and stones; (d) rotation of stones and bricks. These types of destruction occurred at or very near the epicentres of ancient earthquakes. In some cases it was possible to determine the degree (seismic intensity), the direction of seismic-wave generation, and also the repetition of major seismic events. Since this portion of the Silk Route is along the northern edge of the Tien Shan mountain chain, one of the most active seismic areas of the Eurasian Continent, it is possible that abandonment of these cities was due to natural disasters and not just to the repeated Mongol invasions of the 13-14th centuries. These data may be used for more precise estimation of earthquake hazards in this region of southern Kazakhstan.