Romans Had Ancient Tech for Creating Seismic Invisibility Cloak Around Monuments

A team of civil engineers in France have revealed that the Romans had ancient technology for building structures that acted like modern-day electromagnetic cloaking devices.

The pattern of foundations in some major Roman monuments, like the Colosseum, provided protection against earthquakes by bending seismic waves around them.

Ancient Archaeological Metamaterials

The Romans used architectural features in their constructions which acted like ‘metamaterials’, artificial structures that can manipulate electromagnetic or sound waves.

Was sophisticated Roman technology used in construction of the Roman Colosseum?
Was sophisticated Roman technology used in construction of the Roman Colosseum?

For example, surrounding a building with a lattice of holes or solid objects embedded in the soil can have the effect of diverting seismic waves around the monument, effectively creating a seismic ‘invisibility cloak’.

According to Physics World, “When seismic waves within a certain range of wavelengths pass through the lattice, multiple reflections in the lattice interfere with one another destructively to create a band gap that results in a significant reduction in the shaking of the building.”

Modern-day Metamaterials

Manmade metamaterials were first synthesized in the lab in 2000 by using highly conductive metal like gold or copper in certain arrangements, like layered lattice structures.

They were developed for a variety of uses, including making ‘super lenses’, that are able to see objects at much smaller scales, and reducing the impact of earthquakes on buildings.

Example of a metamaterial configuration. (Public Domain)

ArsTechnica reported that when researchers compared the modern-day metamaterials with the structures of certain Roman monuments, they found that the patterns in ancient Roman buildings very, very closely resembled metamaterials and may therefore have protected those structures from earthquakes.

Stephane Brûlé, a civil engineer and one of the study’s authors, had worked with a team of engineers from Lyon-based company Menard and researchers from the Fresnel Institute in Marseille, a few years ago to create a large-scaled seismic cloak by drilling an array of boreholes in the soil.

Later on, he noticed that a Gallo-Roman theater he visited while on holiday in Autun, France, had the same foundational structure.

Did the Romans already know about the seismic cloaking properties of such an array? It seems likely, as the same pattern was used in the construction of numerous Roman monuments, including many theaters and amphitheaters.

By Joanna Gillan, (excerpt)

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