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Ancient Greeks built cities over earthquake fault lines

The ancient Greeks may have built sacred temples on sites previously hit by earthquakes as they believed the land held spiritual powers.

New research has found a number of sacred sites in the Aegean region - which covers the surrounding areas of the Aegean Sea in Greece and Turkey - were built over fault lines.

Fault lines can release natural springs of water, which ancient Greeks used for certain ancient rituals to help purify them.

They can also at times release toxic fumes that may have inspired 'divine visions' in some ancient Greeks.

Ancient Greek city Delphi was home to the Temple of Apollo (pictured), an important sanctuary that was built over the same earthquake fault line twice

Ancient Greek city Delphi was home to the Temple of Apollo (pictured), an important sanctuary that was built over the same earthquake fault line twice

WATER IN GREEK RITUAL

Natural springs played a vital therapeutic role in the ritual practices of early settlements.

In Greek Medicine, water has expulsive properties, as it washes waste and impurities from the body.

Ritual often included prayer and washing, to remove the dirt of daily life or specific impurities.

Purification was an important part of Greek religious practices.

 The aim of purification, or cleansing, was to rid the person of pollution.

Pollution could be caused by an act of sin or immorality. 

Scientists have previously thought that the ancient city Delphi was built over an earthquake fault line.

The early settlement is the site of the Temple of Apollo, which is thought to have been built around sacred springs and intoxicating fumes that rose from the faults. 

But Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymotuh, suggests that other cities, including Mycenae, Ephesus, Cnidus and Hierapolis were built in response to earthquake activity.

The ancient Greeks chose to construct their most important buildings over areas affected by seismic activity as they awarded them special cultural status.

The researcher found evidence of this as earthquake-formed landscape features were used in construction.

The early settlers used underground fault lines as pathways for groundwater and building exits.

They also used the uneven ground created by earthquakes as limestone walls for structures.

Cities were formed from the uneven ground created by the earthquakes, including Mycenae (pictured)

Cities were formed from the uneven ground created by the earthquakes, including Mycenae (pictured)

The study showed how ancient people may have chosen to situate Greek cities close to the natural springs and fountains that leaked from the fault lines.

Natural springs played a vital therapeutic role in the ritual practices of early settlements. 

In Greek Medicine, water has expulsive properties, as it washes waste and impurities from the body.

Ritual often included prayer and washing, to remove the dirt of daily life or specific impurities.

Purification was an important part of Greek religious practices. The aim of purification, or cleansing, was to rid the person of pollution.

Pollution could be caused by an act of sin or immorality. 

Fault lines could also produce toxic fumes which may have triggered divine frenzies in some ancient Greeks.  

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