As powerful aftershocks continued to rattle southeastern New Zealand on Tuesday, University of Canterbury officials tallied up the damage Saturday's earthquake did to one of the Southern Hemisphere's most important collections of Greek and Roman antiquities.
The 7.1-strength earthquake, which struck 25 miles west of the city of Christchurch, on New Zealand's southern island, toppled buildings through the country's second-largest city and seriously injured two people. No deaths were reported.
The University of Canterbury, with 20,000 students, was the hardest hit of the two institutions of higher education in the Christchurch area, according to university officials and news reports. Most notable was damage ranging from "minor chipping to substantial breakages" to the James Logie Memorial Collection of ancient art, said a news release posted on the university's Web site. The collection, which is valued at several million dollars, includes some 250 items, among them ancient pottery, inscriptions, and sculpture from the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The earthquake also wreaked havoc on facilities at Lincoln University, an agricultural school about 10 miles outside Christchurch. Photos on the university's Web site showed a historic brick building with one side caved in, heaps of shattered glass around the campus, and broken computers. The site, however, did not provide a written description of the damage.
Both institutions said they would be closed until next Monday while officials worked to assess the impact of the earthquake on campus.
Alison Griffith, head of the classics program at Canterbury, said her staff was "heartbroken" at the extent of the damage, according to the news release.
But, she said, it could have been worse. One of the collection's most valuable items, a Stilts vase, is on loan to a museum in California.
She explained that the collection's most important pieces are housed in special display cases with sandbags to guard against harm. The most serious damage was to the largest pieces, which wiggled and hit the glass, she said.
In addition, many of the university buildings suffered minor damage, including broken glass. And some one million books toppled off the stacks in the library, the university said.
"There is no doubt we were extremely lucky with the timing of the earthquake; no loss of life or injuries, no collapses, no fires," Rod Carr, Canterbury's vice-chancellor, said in a written statement.
For many, like Denis Dutton, a philosophy professor at the university, the damage struck too close to home.
"My wife works in the library, and if it had been 4:35 p.m. instead of 4:35 a.m., she would have been between those stacks," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Christchurch. "There would have been people killed."
Mr. Dutton, who is American, had experienced another major earthquake while living in California in 1971.
This one, he said, was even more terrifying. "It felt as if the house was about to smashed to smithereens and we were really at death's door. Then the sound began to diminish and I thought, We probably will survive."
His house, built in the early 1980s, suffered no major damage.
"This close to the epicenter, there was a violence in the earthquake," he said. "That was frightening."