Tectonic environments of ancient civilizations in the eastern hemisphere
Article first published online: 15 AUG 2008
Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 23, Issue 5, pages 644–653, September/October 2008
How to Cite
Force, E. R. (2008), Tectonic environments of ancient civilizations in the eastern hemisphere. Geoarchaeology, 23: 644–653. doi: 10.1002/gea.20235
- Issue published online: 15 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 15 AUG 2008
- Manuscript Accepted: 2 MAY 2008
- Manuscript Received: 31 JAN 2008
The map distribution of ancient civilizations shows a remarkable correspondence with tectonic boundaries related to the southern margin of the Eurasian plate. Quantification of this observation shows that the association is indeed significant, and both historical records and archaeoseismological work show that these civilizations commonly suffered earthquake damage. Close association of ancient civilizations with tectonic activity seems to be a pattern of some kind. In the hope that dividing the civilizations into subsets might clarify the meaning of this relation, primary and derivative civilizations were compared. Derivative civilizations prove to be far more closely related to the tectonic boundaries. Similarly, the civilizations that endured the longest (and that have been described as most static) are systematically the farthest from plate boundaries. It is still unclear how the relation actually worked in ancient cultures, i.e., what aspects of tectonism promoted complexity. Linkages to water and other resources, trade (broadly construed), and societal response seem likely. Volcanism appears not to be involved. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.