A Chronology of Ancient Earthquake Damage in the Modena Cathedral (Italy): Integrated Dating of Mortars (14C, Pollen Record) and Bricks (TL)

Giulia Tirelli, Giovanna Bosi, Anna Galli, Irka Hajdas, Alf Lindroos, Marco Martini, Francesco Maspero, Marta Mazzanti, Jesper Olsen, Laura Panzeri, Åsa Ringbom, Emanuela Sibilia, Elena Silvestri, Paola Torri, Stefano Lugli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The 15th century cross-vaults of the medieval Modena Cathedral (UNESCO site) consist of intricate patches of different masonry portions bound by three types of lime mortars and at least two types of gypsum mortars. Such anomalous structure suggests multiple repair works over time after damaging earthquakes. The absolute dating of lime mortars (14C) and bricks (TL) integrated with the pollen record of mortars allowed to clarify the construction and restoration history of the vaults and to link the repairs to the earthquake chronology for the area. The results reveal that the original construction of the vaults (1404–1454) was carried out using lime mortar binding reused Roman and medieval older bricks. Lime mortar was used also for later repairs caused by earthquakes in the 16th and 17th centuries. Gypsum mortars were then used to entirely rebuild some vaults and to repair others in the 18th and 19th centuries. The study indicates that unexpected damage could be revealed by the detailed chronology of masonry binders. These data represent fundamental steps to implement earthquake risk assessments and strengthening projects of ancient buildings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Architectural Heritage
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Brick dating
  • chronology
  • earthquake damage
  • gypsum mortar
  • lime mortar dating
  • pollen

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