Journal of Seismology

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 511–526 | Cite as

The 1708 Manosque earthquake (France): A reading of its archaeological traces as a contribution to estimate the effects on buildings

  • Georgia Poursoulis
  • Agnès Levret
  • Nathalie Lambert
  • Alain Rideaud
  • Bruno Helly


Archaeological techniques and methodology are used to identify seismic traces and disorders in ancient buildings. Clear evidence could be identified as direct seismic consequences or as communities’ technical answers for repair or reinforcement of buildings in order to reduce their vulnerability. This methodology is called “archaeological reading of buildings.” It is based on the identification of different construction phases, modifications and past events (human actions or natural phenomena) suffered by buildings during their life. The data read from the buildings are successively observed, identified, described, and recorded, following the principal of archaeological stratigraphy, in order to explain the buildings history. The seismic pathologies are identified according to detailed engineering knowledge of the behaviour of buildings during seismic motion. In this case study, our approach is applied to the historical city of Manosque, located in a seismic area along the “Moyenne–Durance” active fault. As a result of historical researches (Quenet G, Baumont D, Scotti O, Levret A, Ann Geophys, 47(2/3):583–595, 2004), many historical documents gave evidence about this earthquake’s effects. Among these documents, was an exceptional one: the record of a survey made in Manosque by bricklayers a few days after the 14th August 1708 shock. This gave us specific information concerning the seismic damage caused in the town of Manosque and was the starting point to validate the method. In the present paper, the archaeological reading of buildings method is illustrated by two specific cases: the Charité building in Manosque and the Sainte-Agathe chapel in Saint-Maime village. The buildings suffered various modifications during many centuries. This complicates the application of the method, however the observations made from the buildings correlate well with the indications deduced from written sources, validating our approach. The study highlights the necessity to cross correlate different field data in the frame of a multidisciplinary approach in order to obtain valuable results concerning details of seismic damage, its approximate dating by architectural chronology and the communities’ reaction in terms of repairs and reinforcement techniques.

Key words

archaeoseismicity archaeological reading building repairs earthquake damage historical earthquakes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgia Poursoulis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Agnès Levret
    • 2
  • Nathalie Lambert
    • 2
  • Alain Rideaud
    • 2
  • Bruno Helly
    • 2
  1. 1.Incubateur TechnologiqueEcole des Mines D’AlèsAlès cedexFrance
  2. 2.Groupe APS, Centre archéologique de RuscinoPerpignanFrance

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