Did earthquakes fell Aksum obelisks ?

V. Francaviglia, G. Augusti, V. Sepe


Most of the obelisks at Alisum (Tigray, Ethiopia) are lying in pieces on the ground, as the Aksumite obelisk
now in Rome had been before its removal to Italy. Preliminary inspection of the alignment of the ~larious
fallen members makes it possible to identify a prevailing orientation. The historical tradition is very vague as
regards the toppling of the obelisks (or stelae). Reference is made to Yodit or Gudit, a Jewish queen of the
South. who supposedly had the pngnn stelae knocked down in the 10th century A.D.: to Irnam Ah~nedib n
Ibrahim a1 Ghazi a1 gi-in?. Amir of Harar. who supposedly ordered thein to be felled by cannon fire: and to
earthquakes. Analysis carried out on a nuruber of highly significant cases makes it possible to assert that some
of the great obelisks at Aksum collapsed as a result of earthquakes. At the same time, inadequate systems of
anchorage and the mediocre mechanical qualities of the soil were certainly conducive to collapse through both
natural causes (earthquakes and erosion of foundations) and deliberate demolition.



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-4100
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X