Corinth has been subject to much seismic activity throughout the years. Due to Corinth’s placement near tectonically active plates, it is expected that there would have been many earthquakes throughout its history. Romans occupied Corinth from 44 BCE to the 12th century CE. During this time, several Roman phases occurred. Several ancient literary sources (Suetonius, Cassius, and Marcellinus) have identified earthquakes during Roman occupation of Corinth; however, it cannot be known from these sources if Corinth itself was affected.
This paper has identified five archaeological criteria to tell if an earthquake has occurred. Earthquakes can be shown through 1. Fallen walls, 2. Block imprints on the floors, 3. The force with which objects hit the ground, 4. Signs of reconstruction, and 5. Other nearby sites that show similar destruction. Though not a specific criteria on its own, buttresses can also be used as a sign of the area being prone to having earthquakes. These would be built during the reconstruction of a building to help stabilize it.
In applying these criteria, I verify the literary sources and show that there were in fact five destructive earthquakes between 44 BCE and 375 CE, effectively ending four of the Roman phases in Corinth. In order to assess these criteria, I have researched the excavation reports of two different sites in Roman Corinth: East of the Theater and the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore. At both of these sites, multiple buildings were studied for signs of earthquakes.