Effects of human and environmental vibration on archaeological sites: the case of the Circus Maximus in Rome | Articles

ENEA and ISPRA, who, in collaboration with the Capitoline Office, studied the effects of vibration on Torre della Moletta and the ruins of the Circus Maximus during a concert by a well-known band on September 7, 2019. Inside the vibration study results before and after the event.

Due to its exceptional size, the Great Circus annually hosts numerous public events with large audiences (light music concerts, opera concerts, sports festivals, etc.), subjecting the facilities to a high degree of stress.

The topic returns to the public eye, especially in the summer. Also this year, it was talked about after the concert of Bruce Springsteen on May 21 and, above all, after the concert of Travis Scott on August 7, during which the hypothesis of a seismic event in the capital was also put forward.

ENEA and ISPRA have committed themselves to the protection of archaeological sites

The topic has long been in the spotlight VDNH and ISPRA who, in collaboration with the Capitol Superintendent, studied the effects of vibrations on Moletta Tower and beyond ruins of the Circus Maximus during a concert of a famous band on September 7, 2019 in the presence of about 40,000 spectators.

The vibrations were compared with those received before and after the concert itself.

In addition to vibrations on structures, ground vibrationsuseful for geotechnical characterization. The data were analyzed in both time and frequency domains.

The impact on structures is related to both acoustic vibrations spread through the air and transmitted from the ground and are mainly caused by Withappeals to the public (jump, dance, …).

Frequency domain analysis made it possible to isolate resonant frequencies And corresponding waveforms of the Torre della Molettaobtained in the presence of only external and automobile vibrations, as well as other peaks during the concert.

View of the southeast side with the ruins and Torre della Moletta.
View of the southeast side with the ruins and Torre della Moletta.

referring to the circusdynamic response is affected by the presence of buried structures. For both the tower and the archaeological ruins, the spectral amplitudes become much higher during the concert.

The maximum vibration amplitudes were compared with those proposed by UNI-9916 and SN640312. The recorded values ​​were always below the limit values, even if only marginally. The trajectories of the points on the summit of Torre della Moletta showed an almost chaotic movement both before and after the concert; on the contrary, during the concert two almost orthogonal preferred directions with much higher amplitudes are evident.

Ground testing revealed a certain geotechnical difficulty: a significant inversion of the Vs velocity was found near the surface, the validity of which needed to be assessed through further geophysical studies and direct studies. It is also clear that the average shear wave velocities are well below 800 m/s, which is consistent with seismic rocks.

It can be concluded that significant impacts on the structures and ruins of the Circus Maximus were measured during the concert. The results are valid only for this particular case and for a particular event and cannot be easily generalized.

Therefore, it is recommended to study the vibrations that occur during social events, comparing them with both musical characteristics and the behavior of the public.

The study is described in detail in the article:

Pozzelli L, Bongiovanni G, Clemente P, Di Fiore V, Verrubbi V (2021). The impact of anthropogenic and external vibrations on archaeological sites: The Case of the Circus Maximus in Rome. Geosciences 2021, 11, 463, MDPI, Basel, Switzerland, available at or DOWNLOAD IN PDF at the end of the article.

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