How Do Ancient Buildings Withstand Earthquakes?
The world is speckled with many architectural wonders of old times across the seven continents. These ancient buildings and monuments represent culture and history and are special in their unique structural capabilities. Think about the Horyu-Ji temple’s pagoda in Japan, Peru’s Machu Picchu, the ancient Chinese buildings in the Forbidden City, the Europe castles from the Middle Ages, or the ancient temples in India. They have all stood the test of time and defied forces of nature and survived calamities like earthquakes.
The question is, how are they standing tall despite several strong seismic attacks on their base? What makes them such powerful to withstand earthquakes for over a thousand years and yet remain unscathed?
In this article, we’ll shed some light on how these ancient buildings have battled off numerous earthquakes.
Advanced Technologies in Ancient Buildings
The Japanese pagoda of the temple of Horyu-Ji is built with a ‘Shinbashira’, which is a large column placed within a shaft passing through the building's centre. This design acts as a shock-absorber and has stabilised the entire 122-foot-tall wooden structure in the face of numerous earthquakes of any magnitude for centuries.
The oldest buildings in the earthquake-prone areas of the Forbidden City of China have survived thousands of years through many powerful seismic activities underneath them. Their secret is called ‘Dougong’. It’s a distinguished trait of old Chinese architecture, where the overhanging roofs are supported by a series of wooden brackets. These brackets are placed as interlocking with each other to distribute the weight evenly.
The ingenious Incan engineers of the olden times designed the famous Machu Picchu of Peru to stand proudly on the top of a mountain at 7,970 feet above the sea. They carved out the stones to fit together without using any mortar, much like today’s Lego pieces. Not a child’s play though!
Architectural analysts have been researching the steady base of the European castles that has endured many strong earthquakes over the centuries with little effect on the structure. The most convincing theory is called Seismic Isolation system. It is believed that these foundations are anchored to the ground by three layers of stones, where the deepest level consists of small stones laid out relatively loosely. This layer absorbs the first surge of an earthquake’s devastation powers. On top of that is a layer of big fat even stones placed without any mortar, called Orthostats. And finally, it’s the base of the structure standing above the ground. This multi-layer foundation perfectly balances out the earthquakes’ forces while protecting the building above.
Wonders of Modern Technology
Many of the ancient technologies are being followed today to create earthquake-resistant buildings. The Shinbashira is morphed as tuned mass dampers in skyscrapers. The Dougong is still a quite popular design in China today. The Lego-like unit-based concept has inspired some California-based architects in their modern designs.
Despite all these techniques, there remain some basic features that builders insist on like, using top-grade TMT bars like Adhunik TMT bars in constructions. These best-in-class products by Adhunik are manufactured with advanced Tempcore Process that lends them the superior strength and capability to create earthquake-safe buildings for you.
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