A suitable model material was developed to construct scaled models of a 30 m high prototype concrete gravity dam monolith and the experimental technique perfected for testing the models, till failure, on the EPSRC earthquake simulator at Bristol University. A series of shaking table tests was performed with the aim of assessing the possible failure mechanisms of medium to low height dams under simple motions and simulated earthquakes. Tests were conducted with and without the presence of hydrostatic pressure. The hydrodynamic pressure was simulated using Westergaard's added mass approach. Base cracking was observed to be the main failure mechanism and a tendency of the models to slide and rock after the full crack development at the interface was also observed in some cases.