Monaxius and Plinta Quake

Winter or Spring of 419 AD

by Jefferson Williams


Introduction     Textual Evidence     Archeoseismic Evidence     Tsunamogenic Evidence     Paleoseismic Evidence     Notes     Paleoclimate - Droughts     Footnotes     References


Introduction

An earthquake struck Palestine between 1 January 419 and 3 April 419. Ambraseys (2009), in an apparent mistake [1], dates the earthquake to late 418 AD while Guidoboni et. al. (1994) and Russell (1985) correctly date the earthquake to the year 419 AD. The textual accounts of Idatius and Marcellus Comes constrain the date of the earthquake to between 1 January 419 and 3 April 419. Sources suggest many cities were damaged but only Jerusalem is mentioned specifically. Although the contemperaneous and near contemperaneous sources seem to be in agreement that it was a powerful earthquake, all the authors were located far from Palestine and had to have relied on report(s) from the area which they could not verify. Archeoseismic and paleoseismic evidence for the earthquake is fairly limited and may suggest a fault break in the Arava.

Textual Evidence

Textual accounts for this earthquake come from contemperaneous and slightly later authors all of whom were residing far from Palestine.

Annales by Marcellinus Comes

Marcellinus Comes wrote the following from Constantinople in the first third of the 6th century.
(419) II. Monaxius and Plinta

Many Palestinian cities were ruined by an earthquake.
He dates the earthquake to the same Olympiad year that Valentian was born. Valentinian was born on July 9, 419 AD and since the Olympiad year starts on roughly July 20 or August 20, this would date this earthquake to between July/August 418 and July/August 419. He further places the earthquake under the heading of Monaxius and Plinta who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire in consulship in 419 AD. This further constrains the date of the earthquake to 1 January 419 to July or August 419.

Sermon XIX by Augustine

Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD) was the Bishop of Hippo Regius in what is now Annaba, Algeria which is where he was living when he wrote Sermon XIX. Guidoboni et al. (1994) and Ambraseys (2019) supply similar quotes from Sermon XIX while Russell (1985) notes that Sermon XIX is undated, Guidoboni et al (1994)'s quote is listed below
Great earthquakes are reported from the East. Some great cities suddenly collapsed in ruins. Jews, pagans and catechumens in Jerusalem were terrified, and all were baptised.
This quote suggests damage in Jerusalem in addition to the many cities mentioned by Marcellinus Comes. Ambraseys (2009) notes that since this account was placed in a sermon, some poetic license in exaggerating the effect of the earthquake may have been applied. He also notes that damage is not specifically mentioned in Jerusalem - just terror.

Chronicon by Idatius (aka Hydatius)

Idatius (~400 - ~469 AD) was a Bishop in Gallaecia (now Portugal). He wrote Chronicon towards the end of his life which follows in the tradition of Jerome's continuation of Eusebius' Chronicle. Idatius' Chronicle starts in 379 AD. Burgess (1993) notes that Idatius used five maior chronological systems (Jubilees, Spanish, Years of Abraham, Olympiads, and Regnal Years), there are variations between manuscripts, there are scribal errors, and there are chronological errors made by Idatius himself (e.g. with Olympiads). All of this means that although there are a number of dates one can use to constrain the timing of the Monaxius and Plinta earthquake of ~419 AD, some chronological uncertainty may be inherent to the text itself. An English translation provided by Burgess (1993) is shown below. By cross referencing to events listed in the quote below, it appears that the year listed in the margin notes could be off by as much as a year or two.
OLYMPIAD 299

23 (Margin Note - 417 AD)

In the name of Rome Vallia, the king of the Goths, inflicted a vast slaughter upon the barbarians within Spain.
There was an eclipse of the sun on 19 July, which was a Thursday. [Note: Actually it was on a Friday (Schove, D., Fletcher, A. (1987)]
The thirty-ninth bishop to preside over the church in Rome was Eulalius.
While the aforementioned bishop was still in office, the holy places in Jerusalem and other areas were shaken by a terrible earthquake. This information was revealed in the writings of this same bishop.

Guidoboni et. al. (1994) notes that
the manuscripts place Hydatius' entry under the year 418, but as A.Tranoy, the editor of the text, has shown, the scribe seems to have confused a mention of bishop John of Jerusalem (who was already dead by this time) with one of bishop Eulalius of Rome, who is referred to in paragraph 66 of the Chronicle. Tranoy dates the earthquake to 419 on the basis of evidence from Marcellinus and the Consularia Constantinopolitana.
The error of the wrong Bishop is not present in the edition by Burgess (1993). It appears that Ambraseys (2009) either did not recognize this error or made a poor correction as he inserted a note in his catalog entry noting that "this same bishop" was Saint Zosimus who ruled from ruled March 417 until his death on 26 December 418. This led Ambraseys(2009) to state that Idatius dated the earthquake to within the papacy (aka the bishop of Rome) of Saint Zosimus. Considering that apparently Eulalius was bishop of Rome when the this earthquake struck, this constrains the date of the earthquake to 27 December 418 - 3 April 419 when Eulalius was the antipope in Rome. Since Marcellinus Comes dates the earthquake to the consulships of Monaxius and Plinta which was in 419 AD, this earthquake is further constrained to 1 January 419 to 3 April 419.

Archeoseismic Evidence

Archeoseismic Evidence for the Monaxius and Plinta Earthquake of ~419 AD is summarized below:

Location Status
Khirbet Shema no evidence
Khorazin needs investigation
Antipatras needs investigation
Yotvata possible to probable


Archeoseismic Evidence is examined on a case by case basis below

Khirbet Shema

Although excavators Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) identified two earthquake events ( Eusebius' Martyr Quake of ~306 AD and Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD) which destroyed a Synagogue I and then a Synagogue II at Khirbet Shema, subsequent authors ( e.g. Russell (1980) and Magness (1997)) re-examined their chronology and redated the earthquake evidence. Russell (1980) redated the two earthquake events to the Cyril Quake of 363 AD and the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD while Magness (1997) concluded that there was no solid evidence for the existence of a Synagogue I on the site and evidence for an earthquake event in ~306 AD was lacking. She posited that Synagogue II was constructed in the late 4th to early 5th century AD and concluded that there was no solid evidence for the 419 AD (or 363 CE) earthquake as well. In Magness (1997) interpretation of the evidence, she suggested that the site had been abandoned when an earthquake brought down Synagogue II sometime before the 8th century AD.

Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) archeoseismic evidence for the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD appears to be shaky. It is based on a lacuna of coin evidence starting in 408 AD and lasting for the last three quarters of the 5th century AD. They suggest this indicates abandonemnt of the site during this time period and in turn suggest that abandonment was likely due to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD. Magness (1997: 217-218) provides a number of reason why she classifies this as a "dangerous argument from silence". In any case, we agree with Magness that there is at best scant archeoseismic evidence at Khirbet shema for an earthquake in ~419 AD.

Khorazin

Russell (1985) relates that "it has been suggested that the early 5th century destruction evidence at Khorazin relates to this earthquake Yeivin (1973: 157 - in hebrew). This potential archeoseismic evidence is currently labelled as needs investigation.

Antipatris aka Aphek

Karcz and Kafri (1978: 244-245) reported "that tilted and distorted walls and subsiding arches were encountered in the excavations of the Byzantine town of Antipatris (Aphek) which led Kochavi (1976) and Kochavi (personal communication) to attribute the end and decay of the town to the earthquake of 419 AD". In Figure 6 (p.244) of Karcz and Kafri (1978), clear arch damage is shown which they note was accompanied by strongly tilted and distorted walls and joints. In his preliminary report on excavations Kochavi (1975) reported that very little was uncovered in the Early Byzantine Period and suggested that Byzantine Antipatris, as a city of any importance probably came to its end around the beginning of the 5th century B.C.E. while Kochavi (1981) reports that the entire city of Antipatris was destroyed by an earthquake in 419 CE. Golan (2008) does not present any earthquake evidence but mentions that Kochavi thought that the city was destroyed by the Cyril Quake of 363 CE. The latest coins reported by Kochavi (1975), apparently from the Early Byzantine level, dated to Constantine the Great (308-337 C.E.), Constantius II (337-361 C.E.), and Arcadius (395-408 C.E.). We were unable to access the final report on the excavations (Kochavi (1976:52)). Absent solid straigraphic information, this archeoseismic evdience cannot be evaluated and is classified as needs investigation.

Yotvata

Davies et al (2015) excavated a Roman Fort at Yotvata from 2003-2007. A monumental Latin inscription discovered earlier (1985) outside of the east gate "suggests that the fort at Yotvata was built when Diocletian transferred the Tenth Legion Fretensis from Jerusalem to Aila in the last decade of the third century." Two destruction layers were described after establishment of the fort - a burned layer and a collapse layer. The authors noted that "the first phase of Roman occupation at our fort, which is associated with coins that go up to ca. 360, ended with a violent destruction evidenced by intense burning throughout." Reconstruction is said to have occurred immediately after this destruction as documented by a "series of successive floor layers throughout". The cause of the burned layer was not established but the authors suggested a "a possible connection with the Saracen revolt against Rome led by Queen Mavia, ca. 375–378" noting the documented successes of her forces against Roman field armies and that "the inclusion of former foederati among her troops suggest that her forces would have been capable of taking and destroying the fort at Yotvata." Whatever the specific cause, the excavators strongly believed that human agency rather than the southern Cyril Quake of 363 AD was the general cause noting that there was no visible evidence of structural damage or a collapse layer. One of the excavators, Gwyn Davies (personal communication 2020) noted that
We are confident that the fort was destroyed in a violent attack as we encountered signs of intense burning across most contexts and, even more suggestively, the stone frame of the main gate was fire-seared as well. If the fire had been more localized and associated with signs of toppling collapse, then ‘natural causes’ may have been more persuasive or, indeed, that this represented an accidental destruction. Instead, the evidence suggests to us that the fort was put to the torch quite deliberately
Another of the excavators, Jodi Magness (personal communication 2020) related the following
In addition to the lack of evidence of visible structural damage that could be attributed to an earthquake in the earliest destruction level, the absence of whole (restorable) pottery vessels and other objects in that level suggests an earthquake did not cause the destruction, as one would expect these artifacts to be buried in a sudden collapse. Therefore, we attributed the destruction by fire to human agents.
As for the collapse layer, it is dated to after the abandonment of the fort in the late 4th century.
The Late Roman occupation ended with an orderly evacuation and abandonment, as indicated by the fact that the rooms were cleared out. The absence of a reference to a fort at Osia [i.e. the fort excavated near Yotvata} in the Notitia Dignitatum, together with a reference to the ala Constantiana being stationed at Toloha (Or. 34.34), ca. 110 km to the north of Yotvata, suggest that our fort was abandoned by the early fifth century. Soon thereafter an earthquake—perhaps the earthquake of 419—toppled the walls of the fort. An ephemeral Byzantine period occupation was established on top of the collapse, without any attempt at leveling.
A limited amount of debris between the fort's presumed abandonment and the collapse layer led the authors to suggest the Monaxius and Plinta Earthquake of 419 AD as a possible cause of the collapse layer. Although the ensuing ephemeral Byzantine period occupation was undated due to a lack of recovered pottery, significant sediment accumulated between the Byzantine layer and the well dated Early Islamic layer (see Davies et al (2015) Fig.5 on p. 54 and Fig. 6 on p. 55) suggesting that these two layers are "a century or two apart". This eliminates two potential earthquake candidates - an earthquake which may have caused damage in Aeropolis shorly before 597 AD (Ambraseys (2009), Zayadine (1971), and Migowski et al (2004)) and the Sword in the Sky Earthquake of 633/634 AD ( Haynes et al (2006), Kagan et al (2011), Ambraseys (2009) and Russell (1985)). Thus archeoseismic evidence at Yotvata for the Monaxius and Plinta earthquake of 419 AD should likely be considered as possible to probable.

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence for the Monaxius and Plinta Quake is summarized below:

Location Status
al Harif Aqueduct Syria possible - wide spread in ages - 4.2 m of slip
Bet Zayda no evidence
ICDP Core 5017-1 2.7 cm. thick turbidite - estimated local Intensity of VI
En Feshka good evidence - 2 cm. thick intraclast breccia
En Gedi 0.5 cm. thick seismite
Nahal Ze 'elim possible - 5 cm. thick intraclast breccia
Taybeh Trench possible
Qatar, Jordan possible - one of 2-3 candidates between 9 BC and 492 AD


Each site will now be discussed separately.

Displaced Aqueduct at al Harif, Syria

Sbeinati et. al. (2010) report a seismic event X which they dated to 335 AD +/- 175 years at a dispalced aqueduct at al-Harif, Syria (close to Masyaf, Syria).

Al Harif Aqueduct Seismic Events
Figure 13. Correlation of results among paleoseismic trenching, archaeoseismic excavations, and tufa analysis. In paleoseismic trenching, the youngest age for event X is not constrained, but it is, however, limited by event Y. In archaeoseismic excavations, the period of first damage overlaps with that of the second damage due to poor age control. In tufa analysis, the onset and restart of Br-3 and Br-4 mark the damage episodes to the aqueduct; the growth of Br-5 and Br-6 shows interruptions (I) indicating the occurrence of major events. Except for the 29 June 1170 event, previous events have been unknown in the historical seismicity catalogue. The synthesis of large earthquake events results from the timing correlation among the faulting events, building repair, and tufa interruptions (also summarized in Fig. 12 and text). Although visible in trenches (faulting event X), archaeoseismic excavations (first damage), and first interruption of tufa growth (in Br-5 and Br-6 cores), the A.D. 160–510 age of event X has a large bracket. In contrast, event Y is relatively well bracketed between A.D. 625 and 690, with the overlapped dating from trench results, the second damage of the aqueduct, and the interruption and restart of Br-3 and onset of Br-4. The occurrence of the A.D. 1170 earthquake correlates well with event Z from the trenches, the age of third damage to the aqueduct, and the age of interruption of Br-4, Br-5, and Br-6. Sbeinati et. al. (2010)


Al Harif Aqueduct Radiocarbon
Figure 12. (A) Calibrated dating of samples (with calibration curve INTCAL04 from Reimer et al. [2004] with 2σ age range and 95.4% probability) and sequential distribution from Oxcal pro-gram (see also Table 1; Bronk Ramsey, 2001). The Bayesian distribution computes the time range of large earth-quakes (events W, X, Y, and Z) at the Al Harif aqueduct according to faulting events, construction and repair of walls, and starts and interruptions of the tufa deposits (see text for explanation). Number in brackets (in %) indicates how much the sample is in sequence; the number in % indicates an agreement index of overlap with prior distribution. Sbeinati et. al. (2010)


Bet Zayda

Wechsler at al. (2014) did not see any evidence for this earthquake in paleoseismic trenches just north of the Sea of Galilee (aka Lake Kinneret).

Bet Zeyda Earthquakes
Figure 9. Probability density functions for all paleoseismic events, based on the OxCal modeling. Historically known earthquakes are marked by gray lines. The age extent of each channel is marked by rectangles. There is an age uncertainty as to the age of the oldest units in channel 4 (units 490-499) marked by a dashed rectangle. Channel 1 refers to the channel complex studied by Marco et al. (2005).


ICDP Core 5017-1

Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake. CalBP is reported as 1513 +/47. This works out to a date of 437 CE with a 1σ bound of 390-484 CE. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 2.7 cm. thick turbidite. Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VI which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.09 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)". The turbidite was identified in depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).

En Feshka

Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 419 AD date to a 2 cm. thick intraclast breccia at a depth of 210 cm.

En Gedi (DSEn)

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 419 AD date to 0.5 cm. thick seismite at a depth of 237 cm (2.37 m). Williams et. al.(2012) varve counted part of the same 1997 GFZ/GSI core that Migowski et. al. (2004) worked on and produced an estimate of varve count uncertainty based on distance from a well dated "anchor" earthquakes which in this case are the Josephus Quake of 31 BC and the Sabbatical Year Quake of 747/749 AD. These anchor quakes are between 329 and 394 years away from the Cyril Quake of 363 AD and/or the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD. Assuming a worst case scenario of 394 years, the 8% varve count error estimated by Williams et al (2012) constrains Migowski et. al.'s (2004) 419 AD to +/-32 years - i.e. between 387 and 451 AD. Two conclusions can be drawn.

1. Migowski et. al.'s (2004) varve count suggests they identified a seismite caused by the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD.

2. The Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD would not likely have masked or overprinted the Cyril Quake seismite of 363 AD indicating that the Cyril Quake did not produce a seismite in En Gedi. Simple calculations supporting this are in footnote [2]. This is consistent with Migowski et al (2004: Table 2) which did not list a 363 CE seismite being masked or overprinted by a 419 CE seismite.

Nahal Ze 'elim

There has been an ongoing debate since the start of the millenia whether a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim should be assigned to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 AD or to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD.

Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) assigned a seismite known as Event D in Nahal Ze 'elim (ZA-1) to the 363 AD Cyril Quake Seismite as did Williams (2004). Neither Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) nor Williams (2004) were aware at the time that the Cyril Quake was a result of two earthquakes with northern and southern epicenters; just that the damage reports were so widespread that it was doubtful that one earthquake could have produced so much destruction. Considering the possibility that textual reports overstated the damage, this cast significant uncertainty in determining whcih date to assign to the seismite. Williams (2004) estimated that that the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD was unlikely to produce sufficient shaking to form a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim which is why he rejected that earthquake for Event D. At the time, he was relying on Russell (1980) whose article suggested an epicenter north of the Sea of Galilee. This may not have been a good assumption. He also noted that at the time three authors (Abou Karaki (1987), Ben-Menahem et. al, (1981), and Galli and Galadini (2001)) had placed the epicenter of the 363 AD Cyril Quake to the south in the Arava. Other authors had estimated that the epicenter was in the north due to the many northern cities listed in Cyril's letter (Brock, 1977).

At ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 5 cm. thick intraclast breccia at a depth of 342 cm. to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD. this appears to be the same seismite Ken-Tor (2001a) labelled as Event D at ZA-1. Kagan et al (2011) likely assigned a 419 AD date because it better fits with the modeled ages. Bookman (nee Ken-Tor) co-authored a paper in 2010 ( Leroy et. al. (2010)) which maintained a 363 AD date for Event D.

Because Migowski et. al. (2004) had used varve counting in the En Gedi core to assign a seismite to the 419 AD earthquake rather than the 363 AD Cyril Quake, there was doubt whether the 363 AD Cyril Quake had created seismites in the Southern Dead Sea.

Now, however, armed with the knowledge that the Cyril Quakes had northen and southern epicenters and that the southern Cyril Quake produced fatallities in nearby Ghor-es-Safi, Jordan (see Archeoseismic evidence), it can more confidently be stated that the southern Cyril Quake likely did produce a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim. However, the mystery of Kagan et. al.'s (2011) radiocarbon match with the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD still remains.

.
KT01a Lithosection
Lithosection at ZA-1 Ken-Tor et al. (2001a)


Arava

Taybe Trench, Jordan
LeFevre et al. (2018) might have seen evidence for this earthquake in the Taybeh Trench.

Taybeh Trench Earthquakes
Figure S5: Computed age model from OxCal v4.26 for the seismic events recorded in the trench


Qatar, Jordan
Klinger et. al. (2015) identified a seismic event (E6) in a trench near Qatar, Jordan in the Arava which they modeled between 9 BC and 492 AD. The large spread in age caused them to consider two possible earthquakes as the cause; the Incense Road Quake between 110 AD and 114 AD and the southern Cyril Earthquake of 363 AD. They preferred the Cyril Earthquake of 363 AD based on weighing other evidence [3] not related to their paleoseismic study and noted that further investigation was required. They did not consider the Monaxius and Plinta Earthquake of 419 AD as a possibility even though it fit within their modeled ages.

Qatar Trench
Figure 6. Age model computed for the trench stratigraphy using OxCal v4.2 (Bronk-Ramsey et al. 2010) and IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013). Light grey indicates raw calibration and dark grey indicates modelled ages including stratigraphic information. Phases indicate subsets of samples where no stratigraphic order is imposed. Klinger et al (2015)

Notes

Annales by Marcellinus Comes

Marcellinus Comes (died ~534 AD) spent most of his life in Constantinople and wrote Annales as a continuation of Jerome's continuation of Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History. It covers 379 - 534 AD with additions to 566 AD by an unknown author. The Latin text quoted below has a margin note dating it to 419 AD by the editor.
(419) II. Monaxii et Plintae

1 Valentinianus iunior apud Rauennam patre Constantio et Placidia matre V nonas Iulias natus est.
2 Multae Palaestinae ciuitates uillaeque terrae motu conlapsae.
3 Dominus noster Iesus Christus semper ubique praesens et super montem oliueti Hierosolymae uicinum sese de nube manifestauit. Multae tunc utriusque sexus uicinarum gentium nationes tam uisu quam auditu perterritae atque credulae sacro Christi fonte ablutae sunt omniumque baptizatorum in tunicis crux saluatoris diuinitatis nutu extemplo inpressa refulsit.
A slightly cleaned up online translation of this text into English now follows
(419) 2. Monaxii and Plinta

1 Valentian the younger was born on July 5 in Ravenna to his father Constantine and mother Placidia.
2 Many Palestinian cities were ruined by an earthquake.
3 Our Lord Jesus Christ is always present everywhere and chose to manifest himself in a cloud on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Many women and then both sexes of many nations and lands came to beleive in Christ such as blurred vision and hearing terrified washed away (their sins ?) and were baptized by the cross

Sermon XIX by Augustine

Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD) was the Bishop of Hippo Regius in what is now Annaba, Algeria which is where he was living when he wrote Sermon XIX. Guidoboni et al. (1994) and Ambraseys (2019) supply similar quotes from Sermon XIX. Russell (1985) notes that Sermon XIX is undated, Guidoboni et al (1994)'s quote is listed below
Great earthquakes are reported from the East. Some great cities suddenly collapsed in ruins. Jews, pagans and catechumens in Jerusalem were terrified, and all were baptised. It is said that perhaps as many as seven thousand people were baptised. The sign of Christ appeared on the clothes of baptised Jews. These things were told in a thoroughly reliable report by our brothers in the faith
Guidoboni et al. (1994) also reproduces the quote in its original Latin
Terrae motus magni de orientalibus nuntiantur. Nonnullae magnae repentinis conlapsae sunt civitates. Territi apud Hierosolvmam qui inerant iudaei, pagani, catechumini, omnes sunt baptizati. Dicuntur fortasse baptizati septem millia hominum. Signum Christi in vestibus iudaeorum baptizatorum apparuit. Relatu fratrum fidelium constantissimo ista nuntiantur.

Chronicon by Idatius (aka Hydatius)

Idatius (~400 - ~469 AD) was a Bishop in Gallaecia (now Portugal). He wrote Chronicon towards the end of his life which follows in the tradition of Jerome's continuation of Eusebius' Chronicle. Idatius' Chronicle starts in 379 AD. Burgess (1993) notes that Idatius used five maior chronological systems (Jubilees, Spanish, years of Abraham, Olympiads, and Regnal Years), there are variations between manuscripts, there are scribal errors, and there are chronological errors made by Idatius himself (e.g. with Olympiads). All of this means that although there are a number of dates once can use to constrain the timing of the Monaxius and Plinta earthquake of ~419 AD, some chronological uncertainty is inherent to the text itself.An English translation provided by Burgess (1993) is shown below. By cross referencing to events listed in the quote below, it appears that the year listed in the margin notes could be off by as much as a year or two.
OLYMPIAD 299

The author of this work did not know who presided over the church in Alexandria after Theophilus.
Constantius took Placidia as his wife.

23 (Margin Note - 417 AD)

In the name of Rome Vallia, the king of the Goths, inflicted a vast slaughter upon the barbarians within Spain.
There was an eclipse of the sun on 19 July, which was a Thursday. [Note: Actually it was on a Friday (Schove, D., Fletcher, A. (1987)]
The thirty-ninth bishop to preside over the church in Rome was Eulalius.
While the aforementioned bishop was still in office, the holy places in Jerusalem and other areas were shaken by a terrible earthquake. This information was revealed in the writings of this same bishop.

24 (Margin Note - 418 AD)

All of the Siling Vandals in Baetica were wiped out by King Vallia.
The Alans, who were ruling over the Vandals and Sueves, suffered such heary losses at the hands of the Goths that after the death of their king, Addax, the few survivors, with no thought for their own kingdom, placed themselves under the protection of Gunderic, the king of the Vandals, who had settled in Gallaecia.
The Goths broke off the campaign which they were waging and were recalled by Constantius to Gaul where they were given settlements in Aquitania from Tolosa all the way to the Ocean.
Vallia, the king of the Goths, died and was succeeded as king by Theoderic.

25 (Margin Note - 419 AD)

After a quarrel broke out between Gunderic, the king of the Vandals, and Hermeric, the king of the Sueves, the Sueves were blockaded in the Erbasian Mountains by the Vandals.
Valentian, the son of Constantius and Placidia, was born.
Many terrifring signs which appeared in the city of Biterrae in Gallic territory are described in a widely-circulated letter of Paulinus, bishop of that same city.
The text for the earthquake description in Latin reads as follows
Durante episcopo quo supra grauissimo terremotu sancta Hierosolimis loca quassantur et cetera, de quibus ita gestis eiusdem episcopi scripta declarant.
It should be noted that the margin notes for the year of the earthquake apparently differ depending on which edition one has access to (e.g. Burgess vs. Tranoy). Guidoboni et. al. (1994) notes that "the manuscripts place Hydatius' entry under the year 418, but as A.Tranoy, the editor of the text, has shown, the scribe seems to have confused a mention of bishop John of Jerusalem (who was already dead by this time) with one of bishop Eulalius of Rome, who is referred to in paragraph 66 of the Chronicle. Tranoy dates the earthquake to 419 on the basis of evidence from Marcellinus and the Consularia Constantinopolitana."

Consularia Constantinopolitana

We were unable to access this text but it can be found here.

Paleoclimate - Droughts

Footnotes

[1] Ambraseys (2009) states
Marcellinus Comes places this event during the consulships of Monaxius and Plinta, in the second indiction, AD 419, whereas Idatius claims that ‘the holy places of Jerusalem as well as others were shaken by a most terrible earthquake’ during the papacy of St Zosimus (March 417 to December 418). In fact the earthquake happened in the second indiction during the consulship of Monaxius and Plinta (AD 419; Cons. Const. i. 240), and it is mentioned after the solar eclipse (Philostorg. xii. 8–9) of 19 July 418 (Schove and Fletcher 1987, 72–73, 290) at about the time of the appearance of fire in the sky (Philostorg. xii. 8–9), which is probably an allusion to the comet of September 418 (Schove and Fletcher 1987, 72–73, 290). These chronological elements suggest a date late in AD 418, probably in September or October.
The primary mistake here is placing the earthquake when Saint Zosimus was the bishop of Rome (March 417 to 26 December 418) rather than when Eulalius was the bishop of Rome (27 December 418 - 3 April 419). This is apparently due to having a copy of Idatius' Chronicon (ed. by Tranoy(1974)) in which there is a textual error in naming the bishop of Rome. This error was recognized by Guidoboni et al (1994) citing Tranoy (1974). The error of the wrong bishop of Rome is not present in the copy of Idatius Chronicon edited by Burgess (1993).

Faced with the apparent contracdition of Idatius dating the earthquake to the reign of Saint Zosimus (March 417 - 26 December 418) and Marcellinus Comes dating the earthquake to the year of the consulship of Monaxius and Plinta which took place in 419, Ambraseys (2009) looked for other clues in the texts noting that Idatius dated the earthquake after a well dated solar eclipse in July 418 and conjecturing the earthquake took place around the time of a "fire in the sky" (comet ?) which is dated by Philostorgius in Chrurch History (Book XII - Chapters 8 and 9) as lasting until late Autumn and preceding a number of (not specifically located) earthquakes that happenned in the next year. Since the next year would presumably be 419 AD, this indicates that Ambraseys (2009) date of late Autumn is flawed when using the "fire in the sky" (described in the text as a meteor) of Philostorgius as a date marker.

[2] Migowski et al (2004) report the 419 CE seismite at a depth of 2.3716 m with a thickness of 0.5 cm. They report the ~175 CE seimite at a depth of 2.5562 m. A simple calculation reveals that in this part of the core, 1 cm. of sediment represents ~13 years of time. As 363 CE is 56 years earlier than 419 CE, it should be ~4 cm deeper and thus ~3.5 cm. below the bottom of the 0.5 cm. thick 419 CE seismite. It should not have been masked or overprinted.

[3] Archeoseismic Evidence (esp. Thomas et. al. (2007), Historical Reports, and Dead Sea Seismite Evidence.

References