Anatolia's First Seismograph: Earthquake Balance

Anatolia’s First Seismograph: Earthquake Balance

Earthquakes are one of the natural disasters that have caused great destruction since the beginning of human history. For this reason, humanity strives to minimize the effects of this devastating natural event. In this regard, one of the most important tools that emerged in modern times is seismographs. The seismograph is used to calculate the magnitude, duration and center of earthquakes by continuously measuring ground movements.

It is known that the seismograph in the modern sense began to be used towards the end of the 1880s. However, hundreds of years ago, an extremely simple but interesting earthquake measuring device was used in the Anatolian geography: Earthquake scales.

This interesting device called “earthquake scales”, which was placed in some mosques built in different regions of Anatolia, was used to understand whether the buildings were damaged by earthquakes or any other reason. Moreover, some of these earthquake scales continue to exist despite the intervening hundreds of years, and even continue to operate in a regular manner. Here’s what you need to know about Anatolia’s seismographs and earthquake scales…

Earthquake scales are located in some mosques built in Anatolia hundreds of years ago.

Earthquake scales are usually located at the edges of the mihrab section inside the mosques. However, there are some mosques where earthquake scales are located at the main entrances or in the minaret section.

These scales, located in different parts of the mosques, are made of cylindrical marble or concrete stones. The scales rotate easily if there is no damage to the foundation of the mosque or the structure where the mechanism is located.

However, these stones, which are made of marble or concrete, get stuck, turn with difficulty or do not turn at all, which means that there is damage to the structure. In other words, earthquake scales work according to a very simple but effective principle.

Since the earthquake scales do not turn, it means that there is damage to the structure, so it is possible to take precautions against possible disasters.

earthquake scale

For example, in mosques where the scales are still in operation today, the structure is checked regularly to see if there is any damage. In fact, imams or muezzins in some mosques constantly check earthquake scales before prayers. Of course, the extremely easy operation of these structures, which were built hundreds of years ago, also makes these tight controls possible.

It is possible to come across earthquake scales in some of the works of Mimar Sinan, one of the greatest architects that history has ever seen.

For example, the Muradiye Mosque in Manisa, which is the only work of Mimar Sinan in the Aegean and was completed in 1585, is one of the structures built with earthquake scales. Thanks to the scales on both sides of the mihrab, it can be understood whether there is any damage to the structure or if there has been a slip on the mosque floor even today.

There are other mosques in Anatolia where earthquake scales are used.

earthquake scale

It is estimated that the Mahremiye Mosque in Hatay was built between 1400-1500. The earthquake scales in the mosque are still in use today. Apart from this, Bursa Yeşil Mosque, which was built in 1424 and is one of the outstanding examples of the first period of Ottoman architecture, is still measured by earthquake scales.

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