Planning for earthquakes in Eastern Turkey

Last week I wrote about references to earthquakes in the Bible. In 2007 I traveled in Eastern Turkey, in the Biblical land of Ararat (Urartu) (2 Kings 19:37). Along the road between Van and Batman we saw a group of men adding a room to a house.

Notice that the house is built of field stones. Above the window there is a lintel of wood. To the right side of the window you may also see a long piece of wood. I will come back to that later. Notice the roof. It is made of timber, straw, and mud.

House between Van and Batman in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

House between Van and Batman in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo below shows one of the men working on the roof of the new room. Notice the mud roof of the existing room.  The worker is preparing a piece of timber with a simple hand tool similar to those used three to four thousand years ago.

Adding a new room in the land of Ararat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Adding a new room in the land of Ararat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here we see part of the new wall. Notice the field stone filled with smaller stones. A wooden lintel is used over the window. That might not be unusual to us. Look below the window. The timber is not only under the window, but also extends several feet to the right.

Preparing for an earthquake in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Preparing for an earthquake in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

My friends and I spoke only a few words in Turkish. The men building the house spoke no English. I pointed to the wood below the window and did my imitation of the shaking of an earthquake. This evoked a good smile from one of the Turkish men. He nodded to indicate that I had the right idea. The wood helps to absorb the shock of an earthquake.

In our modern housing we use rebar to strengthen our buildings. This, along with metal ties help reinforce our buildings to resist the damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. If an earthquake similar to the one in Haiti had hit southern California there likely would have been little loss of life. The buildings in Haiti were made of concrete blocks without any reinforcement. Ancient people knew they had to find ways to cushion the shock. The people of Eastern Turkey have learned the same.

In principle, Jesus taught the same thing about building.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:24-29 ESV)

Are you building on the rock?

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2 responses to “Planning for earthquakes in Eastern Turkey

  1. Pingback: Earthquake hits Eastern Turkey « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

  2. Pingback: Earthquake shakes Eastern Turkey — the Land of Ararat | Ferrell's Travel Blog

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