Archaeology & History
Romans built seismic 'invisibility cloaks'
By T.K. Randall
May 7, 2019 · 8 comments
Did the Romans make the Colosseum earthquake resistant ? Image Credit: Cody escadron delta
A new study has found that the Romans may have used 'metamaterials' to dampen the effects of earthquakes.
As if the Colosseum wasn't already an impressive enough example of ancient Roman architecture, researchers now believe that its builders may have implemented foundations designed to protect the structure from earthquakes using concepts not dissimilar to those currently being used to develop the world's first invisibility cloaks.
The key lies in metamaterials - artificial materials that exhibit properties not typically found in nature.
Such materials are capable of manipulating waves in intriguing new ways such as to bend electromagnetic waves around an object to render it undetectable or to bend seismic waves around a building to protect it from the damaging effects of earthquakes.
In a new study, researchers have put forward the notion that the foundations of the Colosseum were built to incorporate very similar properties to those found in modern day metamaterials.
Critics of this idea however argue that the design may simply be a coincidence.
"The introduction of archaeological metamaterials is a fascinating idea," said physicist Greg Gbur. "I doubt that the builders of structures in that era intentionally designed their buildings to be earthquake resistant, or even that they were able to unconsciously evolve their designs over time to make them more secure - the time scales seem too short. "
"I could imagine, however, that there might be a sort of 'natural selection' that occurred, where megastructures built with inadvertent earthquake cloaking might have survived longer than their counterparts, allowing us to see their remains now."
Source: Ars Technica
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