Go to top

Jordan Valley Quake

likely 7 and 9 June 659 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

Between one and three earthquakes struck the Jordan Valley likely in the year 659 CE and possibly 660 CE. Extensive damage was reported in Jericho and surroundings as well as just east of Jerusalem and Bethlehem suggesting that the epicenter was in the southern Jordan Valley and/or northern part of the Dead Sea. The chronology is difficult to establish due to dating inconsistencies in the source documents. Ambraseys (2009) suggested that there was a single earthquake and aftershock on 7 and 9 June 659 CE and I agree that this is most likely. But the possibility also exists that there was an earthquake in June 659 CE followed by another earthquake 3-15 months later (see Guidoboni et. al. (1994) and Russell, 1985). If one examines the full breadth of chronological information in the sources, the earthquakes are constrained to between 655 CE and 661 CE.

Textual Evidence

The primary authors for these earthquakes are listed below:
Section
Maronite Chronicle
Chronology of Theophanes
Chronology by Elias of Nisibis
Additional authors and discussions are in the Notes section. Jump links to the authors in Notes are provided below:
Section
John Phokas
Early Islamic History, the Maronite Chronicle, and Theophanes

Maronite Chronicle

The Maronite Chronicle is an anonymous syriac chronicle thought by some to be completed shortly after 664 CE. It is likely a contemporaneous source for the events in question and may rely on eyewitness accounts (Marsham (2013)). In a french translation (pp. 322-324) we can read :
Folio 12

Mu'awiyah I had him killed. Ali threatened to attack Mu'awiyah I again, he was beaten in Hirta [or nearby Kufa ?] during his prayer and he was killed. Mu'awiyah I went down to Hirta and all the Arab troops there submitted to him after which he returned to Damascus.

In the year 970, in the 17th year of Constans II, on a Friday in the month of Khaziran (June) at the second hour, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine and many villages were destroyed.

IN THE SAME MONTH THE JACOBITE BISHOPS THEODORE (2) AND SUBUKHT (3) WENT TO DAMASCUS, BEFORE MOAWIAU (ie Mu'awiyah I), AND HELD A DISPUTE ABOUT THE FAITH WITH THE MARONITES.

The Jacobites were defeated and Mu'awiyah I condemned them to pay twenty thousand dinars; then he ordered them to be quiet, and the Jacobite bishops continued to pay the same amount of money every year to Mu'awiyah I so that he would not stop protecting them and so that the sons of the Church were not persecuted. The Patriarch decided which contribution for this sum of money all convents of monks and nuns should make to him each year as well as all the faithful, then he undertook to make a present of this sum to Mu'awiyah I, so that for fear of him, all the Jacobites would obey him.

On the ninth of the month in which the dispute with the Jacobites took place, a Sunday (4), there was an earthquake.

In the same year, the Emperor Constant had his brother Theodosius killed unjustly, because he was innocent, as many have reported (5). This murder caused great emotion and it is said that the inhabitants of the (imperial) city complained the emperor. calling him a second Cain and [guilty of] fratricide (6). He was very irritated, left the empire to his son Constantine, and left, with the empress and the elite of the army, for the countries of the North among unknown peoples (7).

In the year 971, which is Constant's eighteenth, the Arabs gathered in great numbers in Jerusalem, and appointed Mu'awiyah I king there. He went up to Golgotha ​​and prayed there. He also went to Gethsemane, went down at the tomb of Blessed Mary and prayed there. At this time, while the Arabs were gathered around Mu'awiyah I there was a violent earthquake which overturned most (of Jericho) with all its churches. And near the Jordan the church of John who baptized the Savior was destroyed as well as the entire monastery. This earthquake also overthrew the monastery of Father Euthymius with many dwellings of monks or cenobites and many villages.

That same year, in the month of Thamouz (8), the emirs and many Arabs met and took an oath to Mu'awiyah I, and it was ordered that all the villages and towns in its empire should proclaim him king and prepare for him a throne and ovations. He also minted gold and silver coins but they did not accept them because there was no cross on it. Moreover Mu'awiyah I did not take a crown like other kings of the world. He placed the seat (of his empire) in Damascus, and would not go to that of Mahomet [i.e. Mecca].

The following year, ice arrived on the 13th of Nisan (9), so that the green vines were burnt.

When Mu'awiyah I reigned as he wanted and had appeased the war that existed among his people, he broke the peace with the Romans and no longer made any treaty with them saying: "If the Romans want peace, they should give me their weapons and pay tribute."

Footnotes

(1) 658-659 CE.
(2) He is the Patriarch of Antioch (649-667). Cf. B. H. C. E. I., p. 282.
(3) Bishop of Kennesrin, B. H. C. E., p. 276. - One can believe that the Maronites then made use of the questions written by Jean Maron against the Jacobites and which we have translated above.
(4) The 9th of this month was indeed a Sunday. N.
(5) Theophanes also places this murder in 658-659 CE. N.
(6) Cf. B. H. C. S., p. 106, 1. 17-27.
(7) He retired to Rome and Syracuse.
(8) June.
(9) April.
Three earthquakes are mentioned in this account. The third earthquake may have in fact been the same earthquake as one of the first two earthquakes due to an effort by the author of the Maronite Chronicle to rearrange dates and create forced synchronicities in order to make a theological point. To explain the potential for forced synchronicities, a bit of background is helpful. The Maronites adhered to a monothelete theology and maintained an independent status at Mount Lebanon and its coastline after the Muslim conquest of the Levant, keeping their religion and their distinct West Aramaic language intact until the 19th century. The Jacobites, on the other hand, followed a competing miaphysite theology and submitted to Islamic rule. The Maronite chronicler, who is loyal to the Byzantines, is critical of both the Jacobite Christians’ theology and their submission to Muslim rulers. The Maronite Chronicler can also be expected to be hostile to Islamic rule. The second and third earthquake reports follow historical events - i.e. the Jacobites go to Damascus to complain about the Maronites and Mu'awiyah I is declared Caliph on Temple Mount. By following historical events with an earthquake or making them coincide with an earthquake, the chronicler is showing God's disapproval as well. As noted by Marsham (2013)
the accession rituals of Muʿāwiya appear to have deliberately been juxtaposed with natural disasters — earthquakes follow two of the pledges of allegiance and a withering spring frost, which destroyed grapevines, is placed adjacent to a third account. The use of natural disasters to indicate God’s disapproval is a common feature of late antique and early medieval chronography. Indeed, here it appears that the compiler may have altered both his chronology and selection of material in order to achieve this effect. However, selecting and organizing material for polemical reasons is different from fabricating it, and there are good reasons to think that the account is accurate in most of its details.
Chronology aside, the account reports seismic shaking as follows:

Chronology of Theophanes

Theophanes wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. His source for the earthquakes and other natural phenomenon during this time period may have been "The World Chronicle written in the eastern provinces of the [Byzantine] empire" authored by Jesudenah of Basra (see p. 167 of thesis by Proudfoot (1965) completed under supervision of Cyril A. Mango). In the entry for Annus Mundi 6150, we can read (with some additions from the translation by Mango and Scott):
ANNUS MUNDI 6150 (SEPTEMBER 1, 658 — AUGUST 31, 659)
Constans II, 17th year
Muawiyah I, 3rd year
Peter, 6th year

In this year an arrangement was made between the Romans and Arabs. Because of disorder, Muawiyah I sent an embassy so the Arabs could pay the Romans 1,000 nomismata, a horse, and a slave per day.

Also in this year — the second indiction — there was a great earthquake and collapse in Palestine and Syria in the month of Daisios.

In the same year the holy pope of Rome, Martin, was exiled. He had struggled nobly for the truth and became a confessor, dying in eastern regions.
Theophanes dates the month of the earthquake to Daisios (May/June). He specifies the year in several ways Theophanes has a number of chronological inconsistencies but 659 CE appears to be the most supported year. Seismic damage is mentioned in Syria as well as Palestine.

Chronology by Elias of Nisibis

Elias of Nisibis wrote Chronology (Arabic: Kitāb al-Azmina; Latin: Opus Chronologicum) in the 11th century CE in Syriac. Elias documented his sources, many of which have been lost. The apparent source for the earthquake report is Jesudenah of Basra who is hypothesized to be the same source used by Theophanes for his earthquake account. In Delaporte's French translation (1910), we can read:
Year 39. — Starting on Wednesday 29 Iyar of the year 970 of the Greeks. [29 May 658 AD].

In the month of Haziran there was an earthquake. A great part of Palestine and many other places were ruined [1] (Jesudenah, city of Basra).

Footnotes

1. Compare with the text of the Syrian author written by Noldeke. (ZDMG, xxix, pp. 89-90) [?]
This account also affirms the month of June for the earthquake as Haziran is an Arabic Syriac translation for June.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location Status Intensity Comments
Qasr Tilah possible
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater possible
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 6 based on rebuilding evidence
Petra - The Petra Church needs investigation
Yavne definitive ≥ 6-7 site effect likely present
epicenter possibly to the ESE
Bet Sh 'ean possible
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a
Jerash - Umayyad House possible based on rebuilding evidence
Jerash - Temple of Zeus possible ≥ 8
Jerash - Hippodrome possible ≥ 8
Heshbon possible ≥ 8
Tell es-Samak/Tel Shiqmona possible but unlikely
Pella possible and needs investigation
Monastery of Euthymius probable ≥ 8
Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh possible 9 largely based on rebuilding evidence
Caesarea possible needs investigation
Mount Nebo needs investigation
Ein Hanasiv possible - needs investigation
Giv’ati Junction possible
Negev - Introduction n/a n/a
Avdat/Oboda possible ≥ 8 Ridge Effect likely at Avdat

Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999) estimate Intensity of 9 - 10, destruction caused by a compressional seismic wave, epicenter located SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis of the bulges in the Roman Tower of Avdat by Kamai and Hatzor (2005) leads to an Intensity Estimate of 8 - 10.
Mizpe Shivta possible
Mezad Yeruham possible
Shivta possible ≥ 8 Site effect unlikely

Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate Intensity of 8 -9, epicenter a few tens of km. away and to the WSW
Rehovot ba Negev possible ≥ 7 Built on weak ground - site effect may be present - Intensity estimate downgraded from 8 to 7

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimate Intensity of 8-9 with epicenter to ESE
Saadon possible ≥ 7 Walls aligned in WNW direction damaged
Nessana possible
Mamphis possible ≥ 8 Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) estimate Intensity of 9 or more, epicenter to the SW
Haluza possible ≥ 8 Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate minimum Intensity of 8-9, epicenter a few tens of kilometers away, epicentral direction to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE
Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction n/a n/a
Aqaba - Aila possible 7
Aqaba - Ayla posible but unlikely ≥ 8 Site Effect likely present - susceptible to liquefaction.

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) estimated an intensity of IX or more and surmised that the epicenter was close - a few tens of kilometers away. They estimated that the epicenter was to the NE.
el-Lejjun possible ≥ 8 4th Earthquake


Qasr Tilah

Qasr Tilah faulted birkeh Broken Corner of the Birkeh at Qasr Tilah

photo by Jefferson Williams


Chronology and Seismic Effects

Haynes et al. (2006) examined paleoseismic and archeoseismic evidence related to damage to a late Byzantine—Early Umayyad birkeh (water reservoir) and aqueduct at Qasr Tilah and concluded that left lateral slip generated by several earthquakes cut through a corner of the reservoir and aqueduct creating displacement of the structures. They identified 4 seismic events which produced coseismic slip on the Wadi Arava fault and led to a lateral displacement of 2.2. +/- 0.5 m at the northwest corner of the reservoir (aka birkeh) and 1.6 +/- 0.4 m of the aqueduct. The first seismic event was dated to the 7th century. Haynes at al (2006) suggested it was caused by either the Sword in the Sky Quake (633/634 CE) or the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 AD - favoring the Jordan Valley Quake. There was a repair after this 7th century destruction indicating that the site was occupied when the earthquake struck. This suggests that the Sword in the Sky Quake struck the location since the location would likely have been occupied at the time - i.e. at the start of the Muslim conquest of the Levant. It is also possible that this location received damage from the Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-622 CE). At some point the site was abandoned. Haynes et al (2006) noted that archeological evidence at the site indicates that it was abandoned and was not occupied past the Early Umayyad Period (661-700 CE). They also noted that
MacDonald (1992) [] collected some Byzantine and Umayyad surface potsherds at the site and documented ruins of Byzantine houses (village) along the fan surface of Wadi Tilah.
It is not known if the location was still occupied or only partially occupied when the Jordan Valley Quake struck in 659/660 CE. If the site was abandoned around the same time as the archeoseismic sites in the Negev (~640 CE ?), it may have been empty enough not to have been repaired if the Jordan Valley Quake caused further damage. Because of the repair, it it is unclear how much lateral slip was produced.

Because the historical sources suggest that the Jordan Valley fault broke during the Jordan Valley Quake, it is unclear and probably unlikely that this seismic event included a fault break on the Arava fault which is the explicit cause of the lateral slip of the broken corner of the reservoir at Qasr Tilah. Based on distance, the Jordan Valley Quake would have been felt at Qasr Tilah and may have caused some damage but such damage might not have been observed in the study by Haynes et al. (2006). Thus, archeoseismic evidence for the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 CE at Qasr Tilah is labeled as possible.



Qasr Tilah Trench Log A7 Figure 5 - Schematic diagram of Trench A.7 north wall. Stratigraphic units are identified by lowercase letters. Faults are emphasized by heavy lines. Earthquakes are identified by Roman numerals, with IV as the oldest. Dashed lines indicate unexcavated portion of aqueduct floor. Haynes et al. (2006)

Qasr Tilah Trench Log A7 Stratigraphic Column Schematic Figure 4 Schematic stratigraphic column of Trench A.7. Thicknesses of units are generalized from measurements of unit throughout the trench. Listed artifacts provide age control for constraining deposition and earthquake history in units where they were discovered. Age constraints come from radiocarbon data and typological dating of sherds. Haynes et al. (2006)


Petra

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Petra English
Al-Batrā Arabic ٱلْبَتْرَاء‎
Petra Ancient Greek Πέτρα‎
Rekeme Thamudic ?
Raqmu Arabic
Raqēmō Arabic
Introduction

Petra is traditionally accessed through a slot canyon known as the Siq. The site was initially inhabited at least as early as the Neolithic and has been settled sporadically ever since - for example in the Biblical Edomite, Hellenistic, Nabatean, Byzantine, and Crusader periods. After the Islamic conquest in the 7th century CE, Petra lost its strategic and commercial value and began to decline until it was "re-discovered" by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812 (Meyers et al, 1997). It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been and continues to be extensively studied by archeologists.
Summary of Archeoseismic Evidence from the 4th-6th centuries in Petra - Jones (2021)

Jones (2021) provided a summary of archeoseismic evidence in Petra which is reproduced below.

Arcehoseismic Evidence in Petra Table 1

List of sites in and near Petra (other than al-Zantur) with destructions attributable to earthquakes in 363 AD and the 6th century

Jones (2021)

Map of Major Excavations in Petra - Jones (2021)

Jones (2021) provided a Map of Petra with major excavations which is reproduced below.

Major Excavations in Petra Figure 2

Map of Petra with the locations of major excavations marked

Jones (2021)

Basemap: Esri, Maxar, Earthstar Geographics, USDA FSA, USGS, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

Petra Theater
Petra Main Theater The Petra Theater aka the Main Theater

Wikipedia - Douglas Perkins - CC-2.0


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Main Theater English
Petra Theater English
Masrah al-Batra Arabic مسرح البتراء
Introduction

As one enters Petra through the Siq, after passing "The "Treasury", the Main Theater is the first structure one encounters before entering the valley that comprises the central part of Petra. The seats are carved out of a cliff of Nubian Sandstone. Hammond (1964) excavated the Main Theater over two seasons in 1961 and 1962.

Chronology
Phasing

Hammond (1964) divided up the phasing into 8 periods from bedrock to modern surface. Initial construction and use appeared to occur during Nabatean times; likely soon after the reign of Aretas IV who ruled from 9 BCE to 40 CE(Hammond, 1962:105-106).



Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Russell (1980) reports that during the 1961-1962 seasons,

Hammond (1965:13-17) found evidence of 4th century AD architectural collapse while excavating the Main Theater. From the stratigraphic evidence and the recovery of two coins of Constantine I (ruled 306 - 337 AD) and one of Constantius II (ruled 337-361 AD), he was able to date this event to the mid 4th century.
Hammond (1964) labeled the destruction period as Period IV noting that
In this period the scaena and its stories, blockade walls, the tribunalia(e), and other built parts of the Theater were all cataclysmically destroyed.

6th-8th century CE Earthquake

Jones (2021:3 Table 1) reports a second potential seismic destruction of the Theater in Phase VII.

The Phase VII destruction of the Main Theatre is difficult to date, as the structure had gone out of use long before. It may be the result of either the late 6th century earthquake or the mid-8th century earthquake.

Seismic Effects
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Intensity Estimates
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls the scaena and its stories, blockade walls, the tribunalia(e), and other built parts of the Theater were all cataclysmically destroyed VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading
References
Jabal Harun
Jabal Harun after excavations Figure 1

The FJHP site following the end of excavations in 2007 (by Z. T. Fiema).

Fiema (2013)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jabal Harun Arabic جابال هارون‎
Introduction

Jabal Harun (Mount Harun) is located ~5 km. southwest of the main site (cardo) of Petra and has traditionally been recognized by Muslims, Christians, and Jews as the place where Moses' brother Aaron was buried (Frosen et al, 2002). As such, it may have remained as an ecclesiastical and pilgrimage site after Petra's decline in the 7th century CE. About 150 m from the peak of Jabal Harun lies the remains of what is thought to have been a Byzantine monastery/pilgrimage center dedicated to Aaron.

Chronology

Pre-Monastic Phasing Destruction Event (IV) - 363 CE or an earthquake from around that time

In Appendix C of the Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan., one can find Pre-Monastic Phasing. Phase IV is listed as a destruction layer attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. However, if one considers the dates for the phases before and after Phase IV in Appendix C, it appears that other earthquakes are also plausible candidates such as the Aila Quake of the 1st half of the 4th century and the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. Some of the reasoning behind assigning a 363 CE date to this presumed seismic destruction was based on the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE being assigned to seismic destruction at other sites in Petra.

Later Earthquakes

Mikkola et al (2008) discussed stratigraphy and potential seismic events in Chapter 6 of Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan.

Following seven field seasons of excavation (1998-2005), the obtained stratigraphic information and the associated finds allows for the recognition of fourteen consecutive phases of occupation, destruction, rebuilding and disuse in the area of the church and the chapel 1 Of these, Phase 1 represents the pre-ecclesiastical occupation of the high plateau, Phases 2-8, the period of continuous monastic occupation interspersed with episodes of destruction, and Phases 9-14, the later occupation for which the ecclesiastical function of the church can no longer be supported, as well as the eventual abandonment of the church and the chapel of Jabal Harun. Specifically, Phases 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12 represent phases of destruction. The most likely explanation for most of these destructions is seismic events, and in some cases the evidence for an earthquake seems clear. However, in other cases, especially for Phase 6, alternative explanations will be considered as well. Notably, the multiple episodes of destruction and restoration seem well attested by the evidence of changes in the glass repertoire in the church and the chapel throughout the existence of these structures.

Stratigraphy from Mikkola et al (2008) is shown below:



Seismic Effects

Orientation of presumed seismic damage

Mikkola et al (2008) found a directional pattern to inferred archeoseismic damage

In general, the E-W running walls are better preserved than those running N-S. This fact is probably explained by the seismic characteristics prevalent in the Wadi Araba rift valley, which mainly result in earthquakes exhibiting E-W movement. These are likely to cause more damage to walls running in a N-S direction than to those running E-W.

Pre-Monastic Phasing IV Destruction Event - 363 CE or an earthquake from around that time

In Appendix C of the Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan., one can find Pre-Monastic Phasing. Phase IV is listed as a destruction layer attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. It is described in Appendix C:34

The structures and soundings made in Room 25 provided evidence of an early destruction and the following period of decay that apparently preceded the building of the monastery. A dramatic piece of evidence the shattered second story floor (O.41), some remains of which are still protruding from Wall (e.g. Fig. 8). The core of Western Building must have partially collapsed and the second story was entirely destroyed, as remains of its floor were incorporated in the Byzantine structures. The superstructure and arches of the southern cistern (Room 36) may also have collapsed. All of this may well be related to the famous earthquake of May 19, 363 CE [JW: The southern Cyril Quake struck on the night of May 18, 363 CE] which is archaeologically well-evidenced by excavations in central Petra at sites such the Temple of Winged lions, the Colonnaded Street, the so-called Great Temple, and the residential complex at es-Zantur. According to a contemporary literary source (Bishop, Cyril of Jerusalem), the earthquake destroyed more than half of Patna. Given the fact that the earthquake severely damaged a host of other cities as well, it stems very unlikely that Jabal Harun, located less than five kilometers from downtown Petra, was left unharmed.
Seismic Effects mentioned include:
  • a shattered floor
  • collapsed walls
  • collapsed arches

Phase 3 Destruction Event - mid to late 6th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

This phase represents a catastrophic event that caused the first major destruction of the site. Judging by the totality of the damage, a major seismic event seems to be the most likely explanation for the destruction 102. It appears that the seismic shock caused the collapse of the upper parts of walls, and the burning oil lamps, falling on the floor, caused the conflagration. The destruction was severe. In many parts of the church, the arches, clerestory walls, columns and upper parts of the walls collapsed. That the roof support system was severely damaged is indicated, among other ways, by the fact that it was completely rearranged in the following phase. The falling stones shattered the marble floor and the furnishings of the church and the chapel, and while the floor was haphazardly repaired in the following phase, much of the furnishings were apparently damaged beyond repair. This is evidenced by the numerous fragments of marble colonnettes, chancel screens, etc., found in reused positions in the structures of Phase 4.

The intensity of the event is also indicated by the evidence of repairs to the upper portions of the walls of the church and the chapel. The repaired walls of Phase 4 feature numerous fragments of marble slabs from the floor of Phase 2, now used as chinking stones. Various kinds of debris ended up in the fills of the walls, especially in Wall I which was constructed in Phase 4. In fact, a large portion of the finds of broken marble furnishing, pottery, glass, nails and roof tiles, found in the late layers of stone tumble, derive from the interior of the repaired walls and therefore predate Phase 3.

...

The chapel was also heavily affected. This is indicated by the extent of the repairs made in Phase 4, particularly by the complete rearrangement of the roof supports. The system of pilasters now visible in the chapel is not original, as is evidenced by the presence of wall plaster behind the pilasters, the use of marble slab fragments as chinking stones (in loci Y17 and Y20), and the different construction techniques used. The Phase 4 columns of the chapel, moreover, seem to derive from the collapsed columns of Phase 2 structures, as some of the drums used in them are broken. The original western wall of the chapel also seems to have collapsed to the extent that it was deemed easier to build a new wall (Wall OO). Finally, parts of Wall H also appear to have been badly damaged, as its upper courses were rebuilt in the following phase, using large quantities of recycled material.

...

the walls of the structures [in the Church] did not entirely collapse in Phase 3.

...

The height of the columns [of the Church] can be estimated to have been at minimum 3.85 m, since both columns were found collapsed among the stone tumble of Phase 3 (Fig. 34 ).

...

The apse of the church appears to have survived the events of Phase 3 comparatively well.

...

It is impossible to assess the extent of the damage inflicted on the original marble furnishing of the bema [of the Church] in Phase 3. It must have been considerable, judging from the quantities of broken marble included as fill in both new walls (e.g., Wall I) and the old, reconstructed walls (e.g., Wall H). However, some elements must have survived either intact or in pieces, which could have been reused after necessary modifications.

...

The destruction of the fine marble pavement [of the Church] was amongst the more permanent damage caused by the event of Phase 3. The rebuilding in Phase 4 took great effort, using all resources available, and evidently the community of Jabal Harun could not afford to fully replace the broken marble floor with a new pavement. Instead, the broken pavers were painstakingly pieced together, like a huge jigsaw puzzle. The area of the nave (e.g., in locus E24) presents good examples of this (Fig. 44 ).

...

extensive damage suffered by the original western wall of the chapel.

...

Area West of the Chapel

Large quantities of debris, including charcoal, burnt tiles, glass and ceramic sherds broken and fire-damaged, pieces of marble and other stones, were found in the midden located outside the monastery enclosure, excavated in Trench R. Due to the uniformity of these deposits and the clear indication that they originated from a fire-related destruction, it is probable that these represent Phase 3 debris cleared out from the area of the church and the chapel at the beginning of Phase 4.

Phase 6 Destruction Event - 1st half of 7th century CE - inferred from rebuilding

Mikkola et al (2008) inferred possible seismic destruction in Phase 6 based on rebuilding that took place in Phase 7. No unambiguous and clearly dated evidence of seismic damage was found. Mikkola et al (2008) also noted a change in liturgy in Phase 7 which could have also been at least partly responsible for the rebuild. Fiema (2013:799), in referring to an iconoclastic edict by the Caliph Yazid II in 723/724 CE, states that Muslims initially used Christian edifices for prayer, with the result that these edifices had to conform to Islamic prescriptions (Bowersock 2006: 91-111). Such shared use of sites by Muslims and Christians can be seen, for example, in the Church of Kathisma between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Moses is mentioned more frequently in the Quran than any other personage (136 times) and his life is narrated more often than any other prophet. Aaron is also frequently mentioned. Thus, it could be expected that Aaron's supposed grave site would become a site for Muslim as well as Christian pilgrimage. In fact, the site currently houses a mosque dedicated to Aaron. Thus, the change in liturgy associated with the rebuild of Phase 7 could have been a reaction to increased Muslim visitation rather than seismic damage or some combination of structural damage and accommodation of Muslim pilgrims. Mikkola et al (2008) noted that, while difficult to date, it seems probable that the iconoclastic damage done to the narthex mosaic [of the Church] can be assigned to this phase where they date this iconoclastic damage to the end of Phase 7. Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations regarding the supposed destruction event in Phase 6:

Whereas the event of Phase 3 was almost certainly a massive earthquake coupled with a raging fire, it is much more difficult to interpret precisely what happened in Phase 6. The reason for distinguishing this phase at all is that something must have prompted the extensive rebuilding activities of Phase 7. However, whether it was an earthquake, a spontaneous collapse of the inside structures, or some less dramatic reason, is not immediately clear.

...

Perhaps the most important clue to the nature of the event is offered by the finds of glass and marble elements. The church of Phase 7 no longer featured a marble chancel screen or ambo, and it was lit with new types of glass lamps. It is not easy to see why the marble decorations and old glass lamps would have been discarded if the building was simply remodelled in an orderly manner. Therefore, one must assume that the roof supports and lamps fell as a result of some event, either an earthquake or a spontaneous collapse due to the structural instability of the building. Such an event might have wrecked most of the church furnishings beyond repair.

...

The chapel seems generally to have withstood seismic damage better than the church, as it is a smaller building and its arches are all supported by walls, i.e., the relatively unstable structural supports, such as freestanding pillars, were never installed there. In Phase 6, however, some of the arches appear to have collapsed, which would also have caused considerable damage to the floor and the furnishing of the chapel. Therefore, in Phase 7, some pilasters had to be reinforced and/or rebuilt, the floor repaired and much of the furnishing reinstalled.

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

Phase 8 represents yet another calamity which befell the site, probably another earthquake. As noted before, continuous re-building and structural damage caused by earlier destructions had probably made the buildings weaker and thus more vulnerable to seismic events, even relatively minor ones. However, this event seems to have been a major one, causing the collapse of the church's semidome and the columns of the atrium.

In particular, the earthquake caused Wall J to severely tilt towards the south (Fig. 80 ), causing the collapse of the arches in the southern aisle. The wall was left leaning towards the south and it had to be supported by a buttress in the following phase. In addition to the arches of the southern aisle, those spanning the nave appear to have collapsed. Such a pattern of collapse would indeed be expected. With the mutual supporting arch and beam system introduced in Phase 7, the collapse of one N-S arch in the aisle would have seriously impaired the stability of the corresponding N-S arch across the nave. However, the northern part of the church survived the disaster better. For example, it seems that the arches covering the northern aisle survived in¬tact. The glass finds also support the idea that some walls survived Phase 8 comparatively well, as at least some windowpanes used in Phase 7 appear to have remained in use in Phase 9. All this may probably be explained by the fact that the northern part of the church, as abutted by the structure of the chapel, was firmly buttressed by its compact form and thus could better withstand the earth tremor.

The apse and bema also suffered heavy damage in Phase 8. The semidome covering the apse must have collapsed in the earthquake, destroying the floor of the apse beyond repair. The resulting tumble was cleared in the following phase, but the semidome and the apse floor were never repaired. The arch supporting the roof of the northern pastophorion probably fell too. In the southern pastophorion, falling stones caused severe damage to the floor due the presence of hollow compartments underneath. The part of floor that covered the southern compartment was destroyed and never repaired. It is uncertain if the arch there collapsed as well. It may have been left standing, but the roof was nonetheless severely damaged.

In the atrium, parts of the colonnades collapsed. The atrium floor shows damage, but it is again difficult to determine whether it was damaged in this phase. The square pilaster (locus L.14) or pedestal in the eastern part of the atrium was also probably destroyed then. The mosaic in the narthex shows damage, especially in the central medallion, which was never repaired. Dating of the damage is uncertain - it may have been caused by the events of either Phase 8 or 10.

...

The arch covering the southern pastophorion most likely collapsed in Phase 8, considering the fact that the entire southern wall of the basilica was severely affected by the destruction. Therefore, unlike the one in the northern pastophorion, the arch must have been rebuilt in Phase 9, as is evidenced by the discovery of the collapsed voussoirs of a fallen arch found among the stone tumble inside the room (locus M.04).

...

As the iconoclastic activities have been postulated to have taken place at Jabal Harun in the early 8th century, and still within the duration of Phase 7, the destruction in Phase 8 may, have occurred soon afterwards. The best candidate for such event is the major earthquake on January 18, 749. ... it's impact on the Petra area is historically unknown ... Some destruction layers found in Petra were associated with a major seismic event of roughly 8th century date, which, according to Peter Parr, effectively ended occupation in the city (Parr 1959:107-108). Furthermore, it has recently been claimed that one of the ecclesiastical edifices in Petra - the Blue Chapel - was destroyed in this earthquake (2002a:451, 2002b.2004:63).

Note by JW: See section(s) below Jabal Harun for other sites in Petra.

Phase 9 reconstruction

The fallen columns of the atrium were not re-erected, but were cleared away and used elsewhere. The damaged floor was repaired, and a section of Wall H in the atrium (loci V.06, X.13) was rebuilt.

...

The most significant element of Phase 9 in the atrium is, however, the construction of a massive platform or buttress (loci B.02, B.16 [fill], B.18 [facade], and L.02) in the southeastern corner of the atrium, against Wall I (Fig. 99, also Figs. 36 and 58).

...

A number of structures located outside the church were investigated in the course of excavation. The largest and perhaps most significant of these is the long buttress (locus T.31), built against Wall J (Fig. 103). The assignment of this buttress to Phase 9 is certain; it was clearly built after the wall tilted south in Phase 8. Therefore, it is likely that the buttress was built to support the wall against potential earth tremors. 219

...

The walls of the chapel seem to have withstood the event of Phase 8, in spite of the fact that it caused so much damage to the church. However, the walls probably suffered some structural damage. This is suggested by the construction of stone buttresses outside and against Wall GG.

Phase 10 Destruction Event - late 8th or early 9th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

A disaster in Phase 10, probably of seismic character, probably did end the continuous, sedentary occupation at least in the area of the church and the chapel.

...

Much of the stone tumble in the church and the chapel created by this event had been cleared in the following phase. This makes it difficult to securely associate any of the excavated strata with the collapse in Phase 10.

The most obvious evidence of this destruction consists of craters left in the church floor by tumbling stones. The marble floor was badly damaged in especially in the western part of the nave and the northern aisle, where much of the floor was removed in the following phase. It seems probable that the long N-S arch running between pilasters T.04 and G.06 collapsed in this phase. Several depressions left in the floor (locus T.29) of the nave mark the places hit by the falling stones. The stones that caused the depressions were, however, removed in Phase 11. Indirect evidence also exists for the collapse of the westernmost arch in the northern aisle and the one that spanned the eastern-most part of the nave, for in these areas the marble floor was removed in Phase 11. It seems reasonable to assume that the removal of the floors was related to the damage caused by stones falling from the arches and other structures of the roof, whereas the floor was left untouched in those parts of the church where the arches did not collapse.

As the walls and columns of the atrium and the narthex had been badly damaged and already partially removed in Phases 8 and 9, they probably were not heavily affected by the destruction of Phase 10. However, some of the stone tumble (lowest parts of locus H.02) in the area of the narthex may have been caused by this event.

...

It is impossible to provide any reasonably accurate date for this disaster. Considering the fact that the ceramic deposits associated with Phase 11 provide a very rough date of the 9th century for that phase, a prior destruction would have to have occurred sometime in the later 8th or early 9th century.

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

All remaining roof structures now collapsed, forming the lowest layer of stone tumble. Several rows of the voussoirs from fallen arches were found among the tumble in both the church and the chapel. This lowest layer also includes remains of wooden roof beams, branches and clayey soil from the structures of the Phase 9 roofs. The thickness of the stone tumble varied significantly from one trench to another, but the average thickness of the layer in the church was ca. 1.5 m and in the chapel as much as 1.8 m. As a result of gradual decay and periodic earthquakes, stones continued to fall and soil continued to accumulate inside the ruins even after Phase 12, but this resulted in much less intensive layers of stone tumble.

...

Throughout the church interior, the floor was covered with a layer of hard-packed, clayey soil directly under the lowermost deposits of stone tumble. This layer, which contained relatively few finds, probably represents material fallen from the structures of the roof This is supported by the fact that in the soil were also found some remains of wooden roof beams and branches. The beams no doubt formed the main part of the roof construction while the branches, covered by a thick layer of clayey soil, filled the gaps and helped to create an even surface for the roof. Apparently, the branches, beams and clayey soil were the first part of the roof structure to fall in the earthquake of Phase 12, and were only then followed by the arches and other stone elements of the walls. The beams and branches were in a poor state of preservation and heavily carbonized, apparently because of natural decay rather than burning.

...

Remains of two fallen arches were found in the layer of stone tumble (loci F.04, F.09, F.10, F.ll) in the eastern part of the nave (Fig. 114 ), one running N-S between the pilasters loci F.07 and F.05d, and one apparently running E-W between the same pilaster (F.05d) to pilaster F.06 (Fig. 115 ). Clear remains of fallen arches were found in the stone tumble (loci T.05, T.08, T.10) in the western part of the aisle (Fig. 116 ), and in the central part were the ten drums and the capital of the collapsed Phase 4 column in locus T.14. Under the drums, furthermore, was found a fallen Phase 7 pilaster, originally a part of locus T.32, toppled over by the falling column.

...

In the eastern part of the nave, the stone tumble (loci G.03 [lower part], G.16, G.17, T.05, T.10, U.03 [lower part], U.10) included a row of voussoirs running from the southern column (locus T.14) towards a pilaster (locus G.06) in the north (Fig. 117). However, as the two supports are not in the same line, the arch cannot have sprung between them. It seems that the force of the earthquake had thrown the northernmost voussoirs towards the west, and that fallen arch originally sprang between the southern column and the pilaster (locus U.26) abutting the northern column. The tumble in the central part of the nave included some drums fallen from the northern column (locus U.25), but it is probable that the entire column did not collapse as some drums were found very close to the surface in the nave. 240

...

Northern Aisle of the Church

In the stone tumble (loci G.04, G.04a, G.10, G.11, G.14 [top], U.03 [lower part], U.09) above the clayey soil, two rows of voussoirs dearly resulting from fallen arches running N-S were discovered (Fig. 118, also Fig. 117). The first of these - between the column (locus U.25) and pilaster (locus U.17) — was scattered over a large area, testifying to the force of the earthquake. A second row of voussoirs was found between the pilasters (loci U.18 and U.39) in the eastern part of the nave. No remains of fallen arches were discovered in the western part of the northern aisle.

Apse and Bema of the Church

Inside the apse, the earthquake of Phase 12 created a layer of stone tumble consisting mainly of crushed, yellowish limestone (loci E.16, F.02, F.10 M.14, U.11).

...

The northern pastophorion [of the Church] was filled with a layer of stone tumble (locus E.08 and the lower part of locus E.05). This deposit did not contain any evidence of a fallen arch, only a couple of long voussoirs, which may have been part of the Phase 9 steps (locus E.12) leading up to Wall T. A thick layer of stone tumble (loci M.13, M.15) also fell inside the southern pastophorion where, however, the voussoirs of an arch running N-S were found among the tumble.

Atrium and Narthex of the Church

The stone tumble (loci B.07, L.05, L.06, L.06a, L.08, L.09, X.02, X.04, and X.05; Figs. 46, 58) resulting from Phase 12 destruction is concentrated along the edges of the walls and is not exceedingly heavy. The atrium walls were possibly already much reduced in height, following the previous earthquakes, and the resulting debris cleared in the meanwhile. In the northern part of the atrium, two fallen columns were found among the stone tumble (part of locus X.05). The column standing in the northeastern corner of the atrium has fallen towards the NW. Six drums originally part of this column were found in the tumble. The column to the west of this column had been taller when it collapsed; ten drums in a row running towards the NE were found among the tumble. It is possible that the latter column fell later, sometime in Phase 14, as it appears to have fallen on top of the first column. Most of the stone tumble (locus H.02) in the area of the narthex was caused by this destruction (Col. Fig. 30).

The Chapel

The Phase 12 destruction caused a major collapse in the chapel, resulting in a stone tumble (loci I.02, I.08, I.10, I.15, I.16, Y.05 [lower part], Y.08, Y.24) especially in the western and central parts of the chapel. The four central and western arches of the chapel fell, all the voussoirs belonging to these arches were found in neat rows, resting on the soil of loci Y.09 and I.10. The easternmost arch, however, apparently did not collapse at this point. In addition to the arches, the semidome of the chapel must also have collapsed now. The exterior of Wall S suffered extensive damage and much of the apse wall tumbled towards the east (loci C.3a, C.11). A tangible piece of evidence of collapsing stones in the apse area can be found in the northern cupboard, where the lower shelf (locus Y.10c) had been smashed into pieces. The stones that broke the shelf were removed in the following phase, but the pieces of the broken shelf was left in place.

Intensity Estimates

Pre-Monastic Phasing IV Destruction Event - 363 CE or an earthquake from around that time

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls A dramatic piece of evidence the shattered second story floor (O.41), some remains of which are still protruding from Wall (e.g. Fig. 8). The core of Western Building must have partially collapsed and the second story was entirely destroyed, as remains of its floor were incorporated in the Byzantine structures. VIII +
Collapsed Arches The superstructure and arches of the southern cistern (Room 36) may also have collapsed. VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 3 Destruction Event - mid to late 6th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Upper Walls and Clestory Walls in Church
Original Western Wall in Chapel
VIII +
Folded Walls Badly damaged Wall H in Chapel VII +
Arch Collapse Church VI +
Fallen Columns Church and Chapel
VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 6 Destruction Event - 1st half of 7th century CE - inferred from rebuilding

Effect Description Intensity
Arch Collapse Chapel VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VI (6) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collpased Vaults Semidome covering Apse in Church VIII +
Arch Collapse Southern Aisle and Nave in Church
Roof of northern Pastophorion
Southern Pastophorion
VI +
Tilted Walls Wall J in Church VI +
Fallen Columns Atrium in Church VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archaeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 10 Destruction Event - late 8th or early 9th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Arch Collapse It seems probable that the long N-S arch running between pilasters T.04 and G.06 collapsed in this phase.
Indirect evidence also exists for the collapse of the westernmost arch in the northern aisle and the one that spanned the eastern-most part of the nave, for in these areas the marble floor was removed in Phase 11
VI +
Displaced Walls Based on evidence of falling stones
The most obvious evidence of this destruction consists of craters left in the church floor by tumbling stones.
Several depressions left in the floor (locus T.29) of the nave mark the places hit by the falling stones.
VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

Effect Description Intensity
Arch Collapse Remains of two fallen arches were found in the layer of stone tumble (loci F.04, F.09, F.10, F.ll) in the eastern part of the nave (Fig. 114 ), one running N-S between the pilasters loci F.07 and F.05d, and one apparently running E-W between the same pilaster (F.05d) to pilaster F.06 (Fig. 115 ). Clear remains of fallen arches were found in the stone tumble (loci T.05, T.08, T.10) in the western part of the aisle (Fig. 116 )
The four central and western arches of the chapel fell, all the voussoirs belonging to these arches were found in neat rows
VI+
Fallen Column a fallen Phase 7 pilaster, originally a part of locus T.32, toppled over by the falling column.
In the northern part of the atrium, two fallen columns were found among the stone tumble (part of locus X.05). The column standing in the northeastern corner of the atrium has fallen towards the NW. Six drums originally part of this column were found in the tumble.
V+
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in columns In the northern part of the atrium, two fallen columns were found among the stone tumble (part of locus X.05). The column standing in the northeastern corner of the atrium has fallen towards the NW. Six drums originally part of this column were found in the tumble. VIII+
Collapsed Walls The Phase 12 destruction caused a major collapse in the chapel, resulting in a stone tumble (loci I.02, I.08, I.10, I.15, I.16, Y.05 [lower part], Y.08, Y.24) especially in the western and central parts of the chapel. VIII+
Collapsed Vaults the semidome of the chapel must also have collapsed now. VIII+
Displaced Walls Chapel - The exterior of Wall S suffered extensive damage and much of the apse wall tumbled towards the east (loci C.3a, C.11). VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

Fiema, Z. T. and J. Frösén (2008). Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan. Helsinki, Societas Scientiarum Fennica.

Eklund, S. (2008). Stone Weathering in the Monastic Building Complex on Mountain of St Aaron in Petra, Jordan.

Frosen et al. (2000). "The 1999 Finnish Jabal Harun Project: A Preliminary Report " Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 44.

Fiema, Z. T. (2002). "The Byzantine monastic / pilgrimage center of St. Aaron near Petra, Jordan." Arkeologipäivät.

Fiema, Z. T. (2013). "Visiting the sacred : continuity and change at Jabal Hārūn " Studies in the history and archaeology of Jordan. Department of Antiquities, Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan-Amman. Vol. 4 11.

Finnish Jabal Harun Project

Bikai, P. M. 1996 Petra, Ridge Church. P. 531 in Archaeology in Jordan section. Patricia M. Bikai and Virginia Egan, eds. American Journal of Archaeology 100, no. 3, pp. 507-536.

Bikai, P. and M. Perry (2001). "Petra North Ridge Tombs 1 and 2: Preliminary Report." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 324: 59 - 78.

Bikai, P. M. 2002a Petra. North Ridge Project. Pp. 450-51 in Archaeology in Jordan section. St. H. Savage, K. Zamora and D. R. Keller, eds. American Journal of Archaeology 106: 435-458.

Bikai, P. M. 2002b North Ridge Project. ACOR Newsletter vol 14.1. Summer, pp. 1-3.

Bikai, P. M. (2002). The churches of Byzantine Petra, in Petra. Near Eastern Archeology, 116, 555-571

Bikai, P. M. 2004 Petra: North Ridge Project. Pp. 59-63 in Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan VIII. F. al-Kraysheh ed. Amman. Bikai, Patricia M., and Megan Perry

Parr, Peter 1959 Rock Engravings from Petra. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 91, pp. 106-108.

Petra North Ridge Project

Fiema, Z. T., et al. (2001). The Petra Church, American Center of Oriental Research.

Bikai, P., et al. (2020). Petra: The North Ridge, American Center of Oriental Research.

Petra: The North Ridge at ACOR

The Petra Church
Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
The Petra Church English
The Byzantine Church at Petra English
Introduction

The
Petra church is a 5th to 6th century Byzantine era complex on a ridge overlooking the ancient city center of Petra. ACOR excavated the site between 1992 and 1998 (ACOR Jordan website). The Petra papyri were discovered at this church.

Chronology

Mikkola et al (2008) state that it has been suggested that a 7th century CE earthquake completed the demolition of the already derelict and abandoned Petra church in Phase X (Fiema et al, 2001)

Notes and Further Reading

Fiema, Z. T., et al. (2001). The Petra Church, American Center of Oriental Research.

The Petra Church - ACOR Jordan website

Petra Church Bibliography - ACOR website

Yavne

Excavated Kiln at Yavne Figure 6

The kiln during the excavation. We were able to collect four in situ sealed dust samples for palynological investigation from the kiln’s floor, underneath unbroken ceramic vessels. An additional sample was collected 2-3 cm above the kiln’s floor. The black arrow points to the debris/clay fragments (which were used to cover the kiln during the heating process) and were deposited after the earthquake.

Langgut et al (2015)


Possible sequence of events at the kiln in Yavne Figure 7 - Possible sequence of events in the kiln.

  1. Construction of the kiln; laying the freshly made pots at the bottom.
  2. Covering with debris/clay fragments; igniting fire, heating.
  3. End of burning process.
  4. Removing debris/clay fragments; beginning of vessels’ cooling process. Pollen penetrated the kiln (with the cooling air) and was deposited on the floor, but was partially damaged due to the still high temperatures (as evidenced by the group of degraded palynomorphs D charred pollen). Pollen (of spring bloomers) penetrated and was deposited on the kiln’s floor when normal temperatures prevailed in the kiln (and was therefore well preserved).
  5. An earthquake - the kiln collapsed.
  6. The burial of the kiln: sediments were deposited covering the burnt material.
Langgut et al (2015)


Introduction

Langgut et al (2015) examined the kiln complex of a pottery factory near Tel Yavne which was destroyed sometime in the 7th century. By examining "seasonal pollen beneathed crushed pots inside the kiln", they were able to date the destruction to the Jordan Valley Quake of (likely) 659 CE.

Chronology

Archeological dating alone was able to identify destruction at Yavne to the 7th century CE but was unable to distinguish between two candidate earthquakes - the Sword in the Sky Quake of September 634 CE and the Jordan Valley Quake of June 659 CE. Although there is some chronological ambiguity regarding the exact year of both of these earthquakes, the time of year (June vs. September) was attested in a number of the historical sources making this location an ideal site to use seasonal palynology to distinguish between the two seismic events. Langgut et al (2015) report that
The pollen was extracted from the dust captured on the floor of the kiln during the cooling process of the vessels. The dust was collected only from below in situ whole vessels, and based on our reconstruction had been accumulated for about several days (after the heating process ended and before the collapse). Since the palynological assemblages included spring-blooming plants (such as Olea europaea and Sarcopoterium spinosum) and no common regional autumn bloomers (e.g. Artemisia), it is proposed that the kiln went out of use due to the early June 659 CE earthquake. We also propose that the recovery of the Yavneh workshops was no longer economically worthwhile, maybe in part due to changes in economic and political conditions in the region following the Muslim conquest.
Langgut et al (2015) identified the intersection of the flowering months of identifiable pollen taxa to April-May and stated that "the palynological spectra represent palynomorphs which flourished and then were embedded during March-May." This led to the conclusion that the kiln collapsed in the spring. This appears to be compatible with an earthquake which struck in early June however since the textual sources exhibited a number of chronological inconsistencies, may have relied on the same or similar sources (e.g. Jesudenah of Basra), and exhibited a tendency to produced forced synchronicities aligning natural disasters with historical events, the possibility exists that the earthquake struck earlier in the spring. Further, as noted by Guidoboni et. al. (1994), "depending on the region concerned, the month "Daesius" ("Haziran" in the Syriac calendar) will fall somewhere between mid-April and August." Theophanes specified the month of Daesius while Elias of Nisbis and the Maronite Chronicle specified the months of Haziran.

Seismic Effects

Excavated Kiln at Yavne Figure 5
  1. An aerial photo of one of the clusters of the unique pottery kiln complex. The kilns were connected by barrel-shaped and covered tunnels with a common entrance.
  2. Fallen columns.
  3. End of burning process.
Langgut et al (2015)


Intensity Estimates

Intensity estimates are listed below.
Effect Description Intensity
Aligned fallen walls
VIII +
Broken pottery found in fallen position
VIII +
Fallen Columns VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Yannai (2014) saw no evidence that the kilns were roofed so an intensity measure due to a collapsed vault cannot necessarily be applied. The kiln is located in Area C of the excavation which is described as the northern lower part. This part was opened along the Nahal Soreq streambed which suggests a site effect might be present at this location thus indicating that intensity measures based on attenuation from the epicenter should be decremented by approximately one or two. This results in a local intensity of VI-VII+.

Direction of Epicenter

In a peripheral building to the west of the kiln, five fallen columns "all paralleling an east-west orientation (Figure 5a and 5b)" were discovered. Yannai (2014) in Figure 9 shows the columns fell in an ESE direction which, due to inertia forces, might suggest an epicenter in the same ESE direction. This direction points towards the southern Jordan valley or the north Dead Sea which the source documents suggest is the probable location of the epicenter

In discussing 31 fallen columns at the site, Langgut et al (2015) suggested that the fallen columns were part of a colonnade that was oriented in an approximate N-S direction. They cautioned that the direction of column fall (105 +/- 16 degrees) was not necessarily indicative of epicentral direction.
5.3. Fallen columns

Slow deterioration of the colonnade is likely to result with columns falling in different directions. Aligned fallen columns are found in many earthquake-affected sites (Stiros 1996; Marco 2008; Hinzen et al. 2011; Rodríguez-Pascua et al. 2011; Sintubin 2011) and we propose that the same cause led to similar results in Yavneh. The colonnade’s azimuth is 010-190 degrees and all the columns fell eastward (Figure 5b). The average azimuth of 31 column segments is 105 +/- 16 degrees Simulations using strong-motion records of modern earthquakes show only little correlation between falling directions and back azimuth to the wave source (Hinzen 2009, 2011). This requires that the individual columns were connected, possibly with wooden beams that were not preserved, and unified the falling direction. We therefore regard the columns as evidence for earthquake as a trigger for the destruction of the site, but they cannot serve as a reliable indicator for determining the source location.

Bet Sh 'ean

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Beit She'an Hebrew בֵּית שְׁאָן
Scythopolis Greek Σκυθόπολις
Beisan Arabic بيسان‎
Tell el-Husn Arabic تيلل يلءهوسن
Introduction

Beit She'an is situated at a strategic location between the Yizreel and Jordan Valleys at the juncture of ancient roadways (Stern et al, 1993). In Roman times, it was one of the cities of the Decapolis. The site of Bet She'an was occupied almost continuously from Neolithic to Early Arab times (Stern et al, 1993).

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Langgut et al 2015 report possible archeoseismic evidence for the Jordan Valley Quake at Bet Sh 'ean citing Bar-Nathan and Atrash (2011: p. 8, 153.154, table 4.4).

Bar-Nathan R, Atrash W. 2011. Bet She’an II, Baysan: the theater pottery workshop. Jerusaem: IAA Reports.

Russell (1985) reported the following
Fitzgerald (1931:7) uncovered three Byzantine houses that had collapsed and burned in the early 7th century, sealing coins of Anastasius I, Justin II, Maurice Tiberius. and Phocas beneath their destruction debris. a temporal span ca. 491-610.

In the Byzantine monastery at Beth-shan, gold coins of Heraclius (610- 641) were sealed beneath similar collapse debris Fitzgerald (1939:2) .
Such damage could have also been the result of sacking by the Rashudin Army, the Sword in the Sky Quake, or the Jordan Valley Quake. Archeoseismic evidence at Bet Sh 'ean is labeled as needs investigation.

Jerash

Displaced Columns at Jerash Displaced Columns in the Oval Plaza at Jerash
Photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jerash English
Ǧaraš Arabic جرش‎
Gérasa Greek Γέρασα
Antioch on the Chrysorroas
Introduction

Jerash has a long history of habitation, flourished during Greco-Roman times, appears to have been mostly abandoned in the second half of the 8th century and was sporadically reoccupied and abandoned until Ottoman times when continuous habitation began anew. It is one of the world's best preserved Greco-Roman cities and has been studied by archeologists for over a century .

Notes and Further Reading
References

Zayadine, F. (ed.) (1986) Jerash Archaeological Project, 1981-1983. 1. Department of Antiquities: Amman. page 19

Kraeling, C. (1938) Gerasa: City of the Decapolis, American Schools of Oriental Research. - Crowfoot's report on the churches is in this text

Kraeling, C. (1938) Gerasa: City of the Decapolis, American Schools of Oriental Research. - another online copy

Crowfoot, J. (1929). "The Church of S. Theodore at Jerash." Palestine exploration quarterly 61(1): 17-36.

Moralee, J. (2006). "The Stones of St. Theodore: Disfiguring the Pagan Past in Christian Gerasa." Journal of Early Christian Studies 14: 183-215.

Ostrasz, A. A. and I. Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020). The Hippodrome of Gerasa: A Provincial Roman Circus, Archaeopress Publishing Limited.

A. A. Ostracz, ' The Hippodrome of Gerasa: a report on the excavations and research 1982-1987', Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Year 1989 66-1-4 pp. 51-77

Bitti M. C., 1986, The area of the Temple (Artemis/ stairway, Jerash Archaeological Project 1981-1983, I, Amman, pp. 191-192

Parapetti R., 1989b,Scavi e restauri italiani nel Santuario di Artemide 1984-1987, .’Jerash Archaeological Project vol.II,.

Parapetti R., Jerash, 1989a, (AJH 188). The sanctuary of Artemis, in Homès-Fredericq and J.B. Henessy (eds), Archaeology of Jordan II.1 Field Reports. II.1 Surveys and Sites.

Parapetti R., Jerash (AJH 188). The sanctuary of Artemis, in Homès-Fredericq and J.B. Henessy (eds), Archaeology of Jordan II.1 Field Reports. II.1 Surveys and Sites A-K

Jacques Seigne publications at www.persee.fr

Rasson, A.-M. and Seigne, J. 1989, ‘Une citerne byzanto-omeyyade sur le sanctuaire de Zeus.’Jerash Archaeological Project vol.II, 1984-1988, , SYRIA 66: 117-151.

Seigne J., 1989, Jérash. Sanctuaire de Zeus, in Homès-Fredericq and J.B. Henessy (eds), Archaeology of Jordan II.1 Field Reports. II.1 Surveys and Sites A-K.

Seigne, J. (1993). `Découvertes récentes sur le sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash,' ADAJ 37: 341-58.

Seigne, J. (1992). `Jerash romaine et byzantine: développement urbain d'une ville provinciale orientale,' SHAJ 4: 331-43.

Seigne, J and T. Morin (1993). Preliminary Report on a Mausoleum at the turn of the BC/AD Century at Jerash,' ADAJ39: 175-92.

Seigne, J. et al. (1986). `Recherche sur le sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash Octobre 1982- Décembre 1983,' in JAP I: 29-106.

Jacques Seigne (1997) De la grotte au périptère. Le sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash Topoi. Orient-Occident Year 1997 7-2 pp. 993-1004

Jacques Seigne (1985) Sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash (le) : éléments de chronologie Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Year 1985 62-3-4 pp. 287-295

Seigne, J. et al. (2011) Limites des espaces sacrés antiques : permanences et évolutions, quelques exemples orientaux

Rasson, A.M. and Seigne, J. et al. (1989), Une citerne byzantino-omeyyade sur le sanctuaire de Zeus Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Year 1989 66-1-4 pp. 117-151

Agusta-Boularot, J. et al. (2011), Un «nouveau» gouverneur d'Arabie sur un milliaire inédit de la voie Gerasa/Adraa, Mélanges de l'école française de Rome Year 1998 110-1 pp. 243-260

Gawlikowski, M. and A. Musa (1986). The Church of Bishop Marianos.

Lichtenberger, A. and R. Raja (2018). The Archaeology and History of Jerash 110 Years of Excavations.

Kehrberg, I. (2011). ROMAN GERASA SEEN FROM BELOW. An Alternative Study of Urban Landscape. ASCS 32 PROCEEDINGS.

Kehrberg-Ostrasz, I. and J. Manley (2019). The Jarash City Walls Project: Excavations 2001 – 2003: Final Report, University of Sydney.

Ina Kehrberg and John Manley, 2002, The Jerash City Walls Project (JCWP) 2001-2003 : report of preliminary findings of the second season 21st september - 14th october 2002, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 47

Savage, S., K. Zamora, and D. Keller (2003). "Archaeology in Jordan, 2002 Season." Am. J. Archaeol. 107: 449–475.

Archeology in Jordan II, 2020

The Islamic Jerash Project

DAAHL Site Record for Jerash

Notes - mid 8th century CE Earthquake from Kraeling (1938) and others

  • Ecclesiastical complex at Jerash including the Church of St. Theodore from Moralee (2006)
Kraeling, C. (1938:173)
The transfer of the capital from Damascus to Baghdad, the growing insecurity of the country, and a series of disastrous earthquakes led ultimately to the desertion of the place. In the nature of the case we cannot say precisely when this happened. Fractured stones, tumbled columns and many signs of hastily interrupted activities are evidence of the earthquake shocks. Coins and other datable objects show that there was life here until the middle of the eighth century at least and probably longer. In 1122 A.D. William of Tyre mentions the city as having been long deserted, and though it was then reoccupied for a short time, Yaqut describes it as again deserted in the next century.
Kraeling, C. (1938:260)
Church of St. Theodore - Atrium

The west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks. It ran alongside a small street which formed the western limit of the complex. A triple entrance only approximately in the center of this wall led into an entrance hall which was paved with mosaics, and from this three long steps descended into the open court. The court had porticoes on three sides only, the north, east and south: the columns in the porticoes had Ionic capitals. Some of the columns may have been moved here from the Fountain Court when it was reconstructed.
Kraeling, C. (1938:282)
Churches of St. John the Baptist, St. George and SS Cosmas and Damianus

2. The atrium. The atrium was rhomboidal in plan, much longer from north to south than from east to west. On the east side there was a colonnade of 14 Corinthian columns on a low stylobate. The columns, many of which were obviously displaced, vary in diameter, and the capitals found in this area are very miscellaneous in character (Plate XLVI, b). The colonnade apparently never reached beyond the central doors in the parecclesia, but the walk was continued as shown in the plan (Plan XX XVII). The walk was paved with red and white mosaics of which little remains; enough is preserved, however, to show that there were different patterns in front of each church. Before the final desertion of Gerasa the atrium and colonnade, like those in St. Theodore’s and St. Peter’s, were occupied by squatters who built walls in front of and between the columns; the pottery, glass and bronze articles found in their rooms suggest that the place was finally abandoned in haste, possibly after the earthquake in 746 A. D. This occupation explains the disappearance of the steps leading into the churches and the condition of the atrium mosaics
Russell (1985)
At Jerash, this earthquake apparently brought an end to the impoverished "squatter" occupation in the Church of St. Theodore (Crowfoot 1929: 25. 1938: 221) and parts of the churches of St. John the Baptist. St. George, and SS. Cosmas and Damianus (Crowfoot 1938: 242, 244).

Walmsley(2013:86-87) described seismic destruction in Jerash in the mid 8th century CE.
Its many churches continued in use right through the Umayyad period, only to be suddenly destroyed in the mid-eighth century by a violent act of nature — an earthquake — as graphically revealed during the excavation of the Church of St Theodore by the Yale Joint Mission in the 1930s (Crowfoot 1938: 223-4). The severity of this seismic event was recently confirmed by the discovery of a human victim entombed in a collapsed building along with his mule, some possessions and a hoard of 143 silver dirhams of mostly eastern origin, the last of which was minted in the year of the earthquake.
As Walmsley(2013:86-87) did not cite a source for the human victim and mule found inside a collapsed building, it is not known if this occurred in the Church of Saint Theodore.

Notes - Undated Archeoseismic evidence from El-Isa (1985)

El-Isa (1985) reported on archeoseismic evidence at Jerash including cracking and falling pillars, beams and walls, tilting of walls, and deformation of paved streets. He further reported that excavations in March 1983 revealed buried buildings which may indicate major subsidence of some ground blocks in the region brought about by earth faulting; at this stage, however, such phenomena cannot be confirmed and need more investigation. El-Isa (1985) noted that due to construction repair and continuous work at the site, it is difficult to extract quantitative archeoseismic information particularly regarding sense of motion. He added further that most of the fallen pillars were removed and many cracks and joints were cemented however standing pillars are sheared and slightly tilted. He stated that indications of motion along surface-shears seem to have a preferred direction of northwest and a secondary direction of south—west which may suggest that damaging earthquakes originated either from the southwest or north-west respectively.

Jerash - Umayyad House
Introduction

Gawlikowski (1992) excavated a house in quarter NO of the south Tetrapylon of Jerash in 1983. Excavations indicated that the house was in use from the 7th - 9th centuries CE.

Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake - based on rebuilding evidence

  • Plan of the Umayyad House at Jerash from Gawlikowski (1992)
Gawlikowski (1992:358) reports that the Umayyad house was built on level ground after an earthquake and discuss its date of construction below:

(translated by Google and Williams)
The construction is well dated by the numismatic findings: on one hand coins of Constantius II (641-668), the last Byzantine coins having been used in Syria-Palestine, found within the fill (at depth and on the surface), and on the other hand Arab-Byzantine coins minted at Scythopolis (Beisan) and Jerash itself, "sealed" under the ground of the House. The exact dating of the latter coinage is not assured, but it is reasonable to place it around the middle of the 7th century, if not later (Bates, 1976). Therefore, I propose that the the earthquake that preceded construction as the one that struck Syria-Palestine in June 658, according to the testimony of Theophanes (Grumel 1958:479; Kallner-Amiran 1950-51:226). A recent discovery by J. Seigne corroborates our identification: the collapse of the vaulted corridor of the lower terrace of Zeus buries under the rubble a herd of goats; the age of a kid indicates that the cataclysm took place in May-June and moreover a Byzantine currency with an Arab countermark indicating the beginning of Muslim government (Seigne, unpublished report of 1984, kindly communicated by the author).
This archaeoseismic evidence is based on rebuilding evidence as no seismic effects from a 7th century CE earthquake are mentioned.

8th century CE Earthquake

  • Plan of the Umayyad House at Jerash from Gawlikowski (1992)
Gawlikowski (1992) report that the Umayyad house was destroyed towards the end of the 8th century by another earthquake. which they dated, based on pottery, to after 770 CE.

Jerash - Temple of Zeus
Aerial view of Temple of Zeus Oval Plaza and Theater Jerash Figure 3 1.

Aerial view of Zeus Sanctuary, Oval Piazza, and South Theatre (APAAME_08.DLK-40)

Kehrberg (2018)


Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake

Rasson and Seigne (1989) reported on excavations of a cistern at the Temple of Zeus. They divided up the stratigraphy as follows:

(translated by Google and Williams)

Layer Date Comments
3 Byzantine layer of greenish-gray clay, very compact and strongly mixed with plant materials (wood, herbs, etc.) and some bones of small animals (birds, goats, etc.). This deposit, homogeneous, laminated, and thick of about 1.50 m, is the result of an accumulation by settling in an aqueous medium of suspended organic materials. It is particularly remarkable for the extraordinary amount of ceramic material it contained. In the excavated part alone, 232 ribbed jars, 25 pots, 8 lamps, etc. were collected, intact or broken. Many objects of glass, bronze and bone were associated with them, as well as 36 coins. All these objects were evenly distributed in height in the clay mass. They were therefore abandoned gradually, for the duration of the layer 3
2 Umayyad level of compact red clay soil mixed with small stones. This stratum, 0.25 to 0.30 m thick, completely covered layer 3. Practically horizontal, it was set up, like the previous one in an aquatic environment. It contained little material. This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. The blocks, sometimes bulky (80, 100 kg) were only slightly sunk into the red clay layer, indicating that the tank was dried up at the time of their fall, as the clay and underlying deposits had time to harden.
1 Umayyad unlike the previous ones, this layer did not correspond to an accumulation in an aqueous medium and had kept a conical shape, the maximum thickness (0.60 m) being normally located above the opening of the tank. It was formed of dark brown earth, very loose, mixed with stones and especially bones of various animals (sheep, goats, etc.), sometimes remained in anatomical connection (legs, fragments of spine, etc.). The remains of a human skeleton were found mixed with these animal bones. The finds included two coins, a large quantity of ceramics and glass and above all a rich set of objects in bone, ivory, soapstone, and bronze. Fragments of Ionic capitals, window railings, frieze blocks, etc., from the facades of the sanctuary were also found.
Two seismic destruction events were interpreted from the excavation - one in the 7th century CE and another in the 8th. The 1st seismic event was manifest in partial roof collapse of the cistern over Layer 2. Layer 2 ceramics dated to the Umayyad period and suggested an earthquake in the middle of the 7th century CE. The 2nd seismic event was more violent and contained architectural fragments and a human skeleton. After this event, the cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned. The 2nd seismic event was dated based on Layer 1 whose ceramics dated up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE with many pieces from the Umayyad period and an Umayyad coin struck at Jerash dated to 694-710 CE.

Gawlikowski (1992:358) reports archaeoseismic evidence in the 7th century CE at the Temple of Zeus

(translated by Google and Williams)
A recent discovery by J. Seigne []: the collapse of the vaulted corridor of the lower terrace of Zeus buries under the rubble a herd of goats; the age of a kid indicates that the cataclysm took place in May-June and moreover a Byzantine currency with an Arab countermark indicating the beginning of Muslim government (Seigne, unpublished report of 1984, kindly communicated by the author).

8th century CE Earthquake

Rasson and Seigne (1989) reported on excavations of a cistern at the Temple of Zeus. They divided up the stratigraphy as follows:

(translated by Google and Williams)

Layer Date Comments
3 Byzantine layer of greenish-gray clay, very compact and strongly mixed with plant materials (wood, herbs, etc.) and some bones of small animals (birds, goats, etc.). This deposit, homogeneous, laminated, and thick of about 1.50 m, is the result of an accumulation by settling in an aqueous medium of suspended organic materials. It is particularly remarkable for the extraordinary amount of ceramic material it contained. In the excavated part alone, 232 ribbed jars, 25 pots, 8 lamps, etc. were collected, intact or broken. Many objects of glass, bronze and bone were associated with them, as well as 36 coins. All these objects were evenly distributed in height in the clay mass. They were therefore abandoned gradually, for the duration of the layer 3
2 Umayyad level of compact red clay soil mixed with small stones. This stratum, 0.25 to 0.30 m thick, completely covered layer 3. Practically horizontal, it was set up, like the previous one in an aquatic environment. It contained little material. This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. The blocks, sometimes bulky (80, 100 kg) were only slightly sunk into the red clay layer, indicating that the tank was dried up at the time of their fall, as the clay and underlying deposits had time to harden.
1 Umayyad unlike the previous ones, this layer did not correspond to an accumulation in an aqueous medium and had kept a conical shape, the maximum thickness (0.60 m) being normally located above the opening of the tank. It was formed of dark brown earth, very loose, mixed with stones and especially bones of various animals (sheep, goats, etc.), sometimes remained in anatomical connection (legs, fragments of spine, etc.). The remains of a human skeleton were found mixed with these animal bones. The finds included two coins, a large quantity of ceramics and glass and above all a rich set of objects in bone, ivory, soapstone, and bronze. Fragments of Ionic capitals, window railings, frieze blocks, etc., from the facades of the sanctuary were also found.
Two seismic destruction events were interpreted from the excavation - one in the 7th century CE and another in the 8th. The 1st seismic event was manifest in partial roof collapse of the cistern over Layer 2. Layer 2 ceramics dated to the Umayyad period and suggested an earthquake in the middle of the 7th century CE. The 2nd seismic event was more violent and contained architectural fragments and a human skeleton. After this event, the cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned. The 2nd seismic event was dated based on Layer 1 whose ceramics dated up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE with many pieces from the Umayyad period and an Umayyad coin struck at Jerash dated to 694-710 CE.

Seismic Effects
7th century CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

  • This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. Blocks weighed up to 100 kg.

8th century CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

  • Fragments of Ionic capitals, window railings, frieze blocks, etc., from the facades of the sanctuary were [] found.

Intensity Estimates
7th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Masonry Blocks This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. Blocks weighed up to 100 kg. VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Architectural elements from the facades of the sanctuary suggests destruction of the facades VIII +
Fallen Columns Fragments of Ionic capitals were found V +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Jerash - Hippodrome
Hippodrome Jerash Restored Hippodrome at Jerash



Introduction

Excavations at the Hippodrome in Jerash reveal that it was first constructed in the mid to late 2nd century CE atop an earlier necropolis. It went out of use as a racetrack in the mid 3rd - mid 4th century CE due to deterioration of the structure. The site was used for various domestic and industrial activities until the 7th century after which it served as a burial ground and suffered earthquake damage in the 7th and 8th centuries (Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz, 2020).

Chronology

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) presented the stratigraphy of the Hippodrome and discussed archaeoseismic evidence for various events as follows:

Stratigraphy of the Hippodrome

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:402) produced a stratigraphic chart

Stratigraphy of Hippodrome at Jerash Figure 184

Schematic Chronological chart of the Hippodrome complex showing phases of primary use and secondary occupancies

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)


Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:17) identified 4 stratigraphic layers from top to bottom as follows:
Strata label Date Comments
Stm.0 All these phases in the history of the building were witnessed by the stratigraphical composition of the fill over, inside and outside/along the architectural remains of the monument. In no place inside and along the building were found more than four superimposed distinct layers of fill. Everywhere the upper one was the sedimentary layer composed of greyish dirt, usually a score of centimetres thick. This layer is labelled Stm.0.
Stm.1 Underneath there was the layer of the tumbled masonry. Depending on the place, and on the extent of the stone robbing activity, this layer was from 1m to 4.5m thick. It was composed mainly of the fallen dressed stones of the superstructure of the cavea but often also of a proportion of the dress stones of the outer and transverse walls, and in every case of boulders and stone chips which the builders of the hippodrome used for the construction of the walls (infra:...). All the stones were found immersed in red clayish earth which the builders used as a kind of `mortar' of the masonry (loc.cit). This layer - almost everywhere the main one in bulk - is labelled Stm.1.
Stm.2 In some chambers of the cavea (and in all the stalls of the cavea) the layer labelled Stm.1 lay directly on the `floor' of the chambers (stalls). However, in most chambers there was an intervening layer between the bottom of Stm.1 and the `floor'. In some chambers, or in some places of one chamber, this layer was composed either of greyish soil or of this kind of soil mixed with red earth or the red earth only. This layer of the fill was always associated with intrusive structures built in the chambers or with traces of intrusive activity. This layer is labelled Stm.2.
Stm.3 The lowest layer is the bulk of the red clayish earth of which the builders of the hippodrome formed the platform of the arena and the walking surface around the building and with which they filled in the space within the foundation walls of the chambers. The `floor' of the chambers was just the top of this red earth fill [see n.9]. This lowest layer is labelled Stm.3. In no chamber was there found evidence for any kind of true flooring ascribable to the primary structure of the hippodrome. In chambers E41-E53 the `floor' is the unlevelled surface of rock [see n.8, I.K.].

3rd century CE Earthquake ?

  • E-W cross section of Hippodrome showing potential foundation problems from Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:142) report that the Hippodrome was used for quarrying by the late 4th century CE.
The hippodrome was already quarried for stone by the end of the 4th C. A number of its seat stones was used for rebuilding (repairing) a stretch of the city wall, which according to an inscription mentioning the event and its date took place in 390 (ZAYADINE 1981a, p. 346).

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:315) report evidence that potters and other craftsmen took over the structure starting at the end of the 3rd century CE. Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:142) suggested the possibility that an earthquake had damaged the structure to such an extent that it could no longer be used for racing.
It is clear that the SW part of the cavea had collapsed at a certain date and that once this happened no races could be held. This occurrence would best explain the reoccupation of and quarrying for stone in the hippodrome. There is no direct evidence for dating the collapse of that part of the cavea but it is tempting to associate it with the earthquake of 363 which affected many sites in Palestine and NW Arabia (RUSSELL 1985, p. 39, 42). This earthquake has not been attested at Jerash so far but the study of the earthquakes which affected Gerasa is only in its infancy.
The suggestion of seismic damage stemmed from earlier publications which was later revised by Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:150) where they state that the building ceased to serve the primary purpose [] because of the disintegration of a large part of its masonry and of the arena where the disintegration was caused by the extremely poor foundation of the structure. Foundation problems, including estimates of foundation pressures, are discussed in detail in Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:157). An E-W cross section of a part of the Hippodrome illustrates potential foundation problems where an uncompacted fill of variable thickness lies underneath the majority of the structure - something which could have easily led to differential settlement. Although foundation problems appear to be present, this does not preclude the possibility that seismic damage contributed to the demise of the Hippodrome as a racing facility. As Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) were unaware of the mid 3rd century CE Capitolias Theater Quake, if Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:315) have correctly dated occupation of the structure by potters and other craftsmen to the end of the 3rd century CE, the possibility exists that the Hippodrome was damaged by an earthquake sometime in the 3rd century.

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) discuss evidence of an "earlier" earthquake to the mid 8th century earthquake; the latter of which produced a significant amount of clear archaeoseismic evidence in the eastern half of the carceres. They indicate that damage observed could have been due to an "earlier" earthquake or stone dismantling (human agency). Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:4) report the following:

The final destruction of the building was caused by earthquakes. The masonry of most of the building collapsed during the earthquake of 659/60; only the carceres and the south-east part of the cavea survived that disaster.
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:36) discussed this possible archaeoseismic evidence further
The presence of the stones belonging to the upper parts of the building used in the passageway of the gate in the period of the intrusive occupancy (supra: THE MAIN GATE) and the presence of the architrave pieces in chamber E2 used there in the same period concurs to strengthen the possibility that before an earthquake finally destroyed the north part of the building there might have occurred an earlier earthquake which partly destroyed the masonry at its upper level. Still, the human factor (dismantling) cannot be ruled out.
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:60) discussed possible archaeoseismic evidence from an "earlier" earthquake again reporting that before an earthquake ultimately destroyed the gate, the upper parts of the hippodrome were either dismantled or partly destroyed by an earlier earthquake. The assigned date of 659/660 appears to based on earthquake catalog matching. Since Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:4) assign the latest date for activity that preceded the "earlier" earthquake to the 6th century and Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:33) provided a terminus post quem for the following event as the first half of the 8th century, it would seem that archaeologic evidence constrains the date of the "earlier" earthquake to the 6th to 7th centuries CE. note.

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Tumble layer from mid 8th century earthquake from Ostrasz (1989)
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:27-28) provided an extensive description of the fallen masonry in the eastern half of the carceres (stalls 1E-5E) noting that most of it fell northward and that local intensity was elevated. These excavations appear to have provided the clearest evidence for mid 8th century earthquake damage. The last paragraph on earthquake directionality, however, should be treated with caution as it is an over simplification.
That the structure was destroyed by an earthquake is evident from the position of the fallen stones in the lowest layer of the tumble; nothing but an earthquake could make the masonry fall so. The amount of the fallen stones in the whole tumble shows that most of the masonry of the structure fell northward, onto the arena. Moreover, there is also evidence for the process itself of the fall. In this respect it has to be noted first that the standing remains of the carceres, that is to say the piers between the stalls, all stand at least two, but none more than three masonry courses high (originally the masonry of the stalls consisted of thirteen courses). Some stones in the standing masonry are slightly shifted from their original position but none was noticed to have lost its verticality. In all, the lowest parts of the masonry of the piers were little affected by the earthquake.

The case of the upper parts (originally seven masonry courses high, the course of the imposts of the archivolts included is different. Only one pier (3E/4E) of the east stalls provides full evidence for how its masonry collapsed but it can be maintained (infra) that its example is representative of the situation which, during the earthquake, was found also in the case of the others. All the stones but one of the four upper masonry courses of the north face of the pier (stones 73-82) were found in the tumble. The stones of courses 4-5 (lower) fall closest, immediately against the face of the pier, the stone of course 6 (higher) slightly further from it, and the two stones of course 7 (uppermost) yet further from the pier. The pattern of the falling of the stones of this particular pier is clear. The higher the position of the stones in the masonry the further from the pier they fell. A similar pattern is noticeable in the position in the tumble of the three stones identified of pier 4E/5E (stones 84 - course 3, and 90-91 - course 7) and there is an identical pattern in the tumble of stones of the north face of pier 4W/5W (stones W113, W132, W133-135, W137, courses 4-7). This pattern indicates that the earthquake disturbed fatally not only the static balance of the structure but that it also created the force which projected the masonry (particularly its whole northern vertical layer) forward that is to say northward.

This projecting force is best evidenced by the tumble of the masonry which made up the upper part of the north façade of stalls 1E-4E (courses 8-13, from the level of the spring stones of the archivolts to the level of the crowning cornice). While in place, this part of the façade was about 23m long and 3.3m high, and its surface was about 75m2. After the fall, it covered an area of almost the same length, width (former height) and surface. In the process of falling, it described in the air a curve very close to a quarter of a circle of which the radii of the particular masonry courses were approximately concentric and of which the centre was approximately at the level and face of the top of course 3 of the piers. While the masonry of the north façade stood intact, the top of the comice course was 5.4m, the apex of the archivolts 3.6m and the spring stones of the archivolts were 2m above that level. After the fall, these elements lay at a distance of 5.5 - 6.5m, 4 - 4.4m and 2 - 2.5m, respectively, from the façade. Figuratively speaking, the whole vertical layer of the masonry making up the north façade fell from the vertical to the horizontal position just as a solid platform of a drawbridge would fall, its hinges being at the level of about 2m above ground.

Two factors contributed additionally to this pattern of collapse for which the earthquake was, of course, instrumental. One was the tectonics of the piers and especially of the upper parts of the carceres. As all other parts of the hippodrome, they were built of dressed stones on the outside while the inside was filled with boulders and stone chips set on earth. In consequence, the masonry was not cohesive in its entirety; a slightest disturbance of the static stability of the structure could (and did) immediately detach the dressed stone facing from the inner `core' of boulders, stone chips and earth. The other factor was the physical condition of most stones in the lowest courses of masonry of the piers. As in the case of the lowest courses of masonry in most parts of the hippodrome, these stones deteriorated in a much greater degree than the stones of the upper courses (for the reasons cf. infra:...). They lost most of their resistance to pressure of the masonry above; any movement of the structure combined with the pressure of that masonry could not fail to make them disintegrate instantly.

All the above considered, the process of collapse can be reliably reconstructed. The earthquake caused the structure momentarily to lean forward (northward). In that instance and in that position two things occurred simultaneously: the force of gravity made the masonry of the north façade detach itself from the inner core and the deteriorated stones making up the lower courses of the face of the piers gave way, as the support for the upper parts of the façade. In this situation the masonry could not fail to collapse. However, the gravity force alone could have made the stones of the masonry fall roughly vertically and in a rather haphazard order. They did not fall so. Instead, they described in the air a part of a circle and fell `orderly' and far from their vertical position. This shows that apart from the force of gravity there was another force, the force which catapulted the stones first horizontally before the force of gravity `pulled' them down onto the ground. This ejecting force must have been created in the moment of leaning of the whole structure forward and this shows in turn the leaning occurred instantaneously and violently.

Considering the fact that the structure fell northward it must be assumed that during the earthquake the ground under the structure moved upward at its south side and/or downward at its north side in a split second and with a great force (speed). That movement made the structure lean violently which created the force catapulting the stones forward. This force naturally increased in direct proportion to the height of the structure as is clearly witnessed by the position on the ground of the fallen masonry of the upper parts of the north façade of the carceres. To make it all happen as it happened, the earthquake must have been extremely strong.

The fallen stones show the direction of fall of the carceres. It has been observed that `During an earthquake the columns, pilasters, and walls of structures have a tendency to collapse in the opposite direction of the quake's epicenter or hypocenter.' (Russel 1985: 51-52) Accordingly, the directional pattern of collapse of the carceres indicates that the epicentre or hypocentre of the earthquake which destroyed the structure was to the south of Gerasa. The reconstruction of the process of the collapse points to a forceful earthquake. The recent studies of the earthquakes in the region of Palestine and northern Arabia from the 2nd throughout the 16th century elucidate the stronger and weaker earthquakes known in that period and region. Accordingly, both phenomena - the directional pattern of collapse and the strength of this earthquake - are, then, additional evidence (beside the deposit sealed by the tumble) for dating the occurrence (infra).
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:29-30) discussed the layer below the earthquake tumble.
The stone tumble contained no ceramic or coin deposits. It was only the excavation of the top layer of the ground underneath the tumble that yielded the ceramic and coin material (Compendium B: Kehrberg 1989, 2004 and 2016a). The surface of the ground sealed by the tumble in front of the stalls was about 140m2 (about 7m by 20m). This surface was not level, that is to say it was not the original top surface of the arena.

...

Ceramic deposit. (see Compendium B: Kehrberg 1989-2006, fc 2018)

Stm.2, Stm.3, and possibly Stm.1 - 1600 potsherds, 2 intact lamps and 62 lamp fragments. Most pieces are fragmentary and worn, especially the lamp fragments. A very small proportion of the material (%)20 dates from the lst throughout the 3rd century, the bulk (%) dates from the 4th throughout the 6th century, and the remainder (%) dates to the 7th and 8th centuries. In the first group, the proportion of the sherds and lamp fragments dating to the 3rd century is the least. In the second group, the proportion of the material dating to the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries was found to be roughly equal, respectively, and so was the material in the third group dating to the 7th and 8th centuries.

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:31-32 also discussed earthquake collapse in the western half of the carceres (stalls 1W-5W) where, for a variety of reasons, archaeoseismic evidence was not as rich in details but where most of the collapse, as with the eastern stalls, fell northward. Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:33) provided a terminus post quem of the 1st half of the 8th century CE for the archaeoseismic destruction and suggested that one of the mid 8th century earthquakes was responsible.
Finally, the excavation yielded evidence for dating the collapse of the carceres. The latest potsherds and lamps found in the area sealed by the tumble are of the Umayyad period. The latest coin underneath the tumble is datable to the first half of the 8th century. The sealed deposit contained no artefacts of a later date. Of all the material, the coin provides the relatively strictest terminus post quem for the destruction of the carceres - the first half of the 8th century. The terminus is based on the evidence ex silentio of the material of a date later than of the first half of the 8th century, but this evidence can securely be accepted as reliable considering other parts of the monument (supra....).
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake as discussed by Ostrasz (1989)

Ostrasz (1989) found archeoseismic evidence at various parts of the hippodrome which they attributed to a mid 8th century CE earthquake.

The archaeological context of the excavated sections of the cavea was found to be the same almost everywhere. On the outside of the remains of the outer and podium walls, and contiguous to them, was the stone tumble of the upper parts of the walls. The inside of the chambers was filled mainly with the tumble of the stonework of the cavea proper (seat stones and voussoirs of the stepped arches which supported the seating tiers) and with a number of stones of the outer wall. In many chambers the position of the stones displayed clearly that the stonework collapsed during an earthquake. The tumble was subsequently quarried for stone. The quarrying was very extensive; only a small proportion of the stones which made up the particular parts of the masonry was left in the tumble. The parts of the masonry which survived the disaster were also robbed of stones.

The stratigraphy of the fill in the chambers was very simple. In most chambers there was only one stratum (from 2 to 4 m thick) over the `floor' level: masonry tumble composed of dressed stones, boulders and rubble, all immersed in earth. 7 The tumble lay directly on the `floor' which in chambers E40-E55 is the unlevelled surface of rock and in all others the top of the fill within the foundation walls of the chambers. The fill itself is another, the lowest stratum. Is is composed of thick layers of earth and thinner and irregular layers of stone chips. In some chambers there was an intervening thin layer of earth and rubble between the top and bottom of the two strata mentioned above. The tumble outside the outer wall lay on top of a residual layer from 0.3 m to 0.8 m thick. Underneath, there is the same kind of earth with which the space within the foundation walls of the chambers (and the arena) is filled. The masonry tumble outside the podium wall lay directly on the surface of the arena. 8

The archaeological context of the carceres was very similar to that of the cavea. On both sides of the remains in situ and contiguous to them, as well as inside the staffs, there was the tumble of the upper parts of the masonry destroyed by an earthquake (fig. 4 ). Most of the masonry collapsed northwards, on to the arena. The bulk of the tumble was not disturbed by quarrying for stone and every stone retained its tumbled position. The tumble lay on the surface of the arena.
Ostrasz (1989:137-138) discussed the chronology of destruction.
The excavated sections of the hippodrome displayed clearly that the building was finally destroyed by an earthquake. The best attested examples were found in the carceres, in chambers E40-E43 and E25-E28 (currently under excavation), and in the neighbouring church of Bishop Marianos. The coins and the ceramic material from the deposits sealed by the tumble provided evidence for dating the occurrence. No material dating beyond the Umayyad period was found in any of the deposits. The latest coin from the deposit under the tumble of the carceres is datable to the first half of the eighth century and the latest ceramic material found in it dates to the eighth century (Kehrberg 1989: 88). The latest coins recovered from under the tumble in chambers E40, E41, E42 and E43 were minted in 383-395, 498-518, 575/6 and between 527 and 602, respectively. The latest pottery, lamps and lamp fragments from the same deposits date to the seventh century. The only coin found under the tumble of the church of Bishop Marianos was minted in the first half of the eighth century and the objects are dated to the same period (Gawlikowski/Musa 1986: 149-153).

The finds prove that the south-east part of the cavea stood high in the seventh century and the carceres and the church still stood high in the first half of the eighth century. The lack of material dating after the middle of the eighth century shows that this part of the building was either abandoned or destroyed at, and never occupied after, this date. The archaeological context of the finds in the church clinches the matter. It shows that ...the church remained in use to its end. (Gawlikowski/Musa 1986: 141), that is until the earthquake which must then have occurred about the middle of the eighth century.

Only one earthquake is securely attested in the region of ancient Palestine in the eighth century and this is the earthquake of 748 (747) (Russell 1985: 39, 47-49). It is also well attested at Jerash (Bitti 1986: 191-192; Crowfoot 1929: 19, 25; id., in Kraeling 1938: 221, 242, 244; Parapetti 1989a: passim; Parapetti 1989b: passim; Rasson/Seigne 1989: 125, 151; Seigne 1986: 247; Seigne 1989: passim). The hippodrome of Gerasa is yet another well attested example of that disaster.

Seismic Effects
Undated Seismic Effects

Arch damage at the Hippodrome is evident from various photos taken during excavations

  • Beneath the cavea from Kraeling, C. (1938)
  • West cavea chambers from Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)


3rd century CE Earthquake ?

Seismic Effects include

  • It is clear that the SW part of the cavea had collapsed at a certain date and that once this happened no races could be held.

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Possible seismic Effects include

  • The masonry of most of the building collapsed
  • there might have occurred an earlier earthquake which partly destroyed the masonry at its upper level. Still, the human factor (dismantling) cannot be ruled out.
  • the upper parts of the hippodrome were either dismantled or partly destroyed by an earlier earthquake.

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Tumble layer from mid 8th century earthquake from Ostrasz (1989)
Seismic Effects include
  • On the outside of the remains of the outer and podium walls, and contiguous to them, was the stone tumble of the upper parts of the walls.
  • The inside of the chambers was filled mainly with the tumble of the stonework of the cavea proper (seat stones and voussoirs of the stepped arches which supported the seating tiers) and with a number of stones of the outer wall.
  • masonry tumble composed of dressed stones, boulders and rubble, all immersed in earth
  • tumble of the upper parts of the masonry destroyed by an earthquake
  • Most of the masonry collapsed northwards, on to the arena
  • The amount of the fallen stones in the whole tumble shows that most of the masonry of the structure fell northward, onto the arena.
  • In all, the lowest parts of the masonry of the piers [of the carceres] were little affected by the earthquake.
  • Figuratively speaking, the whole vertical layer of the masonry making up the north façade fell from the vertical to the horizontal position just as a solid platform of a drawbridge would fall, its hinges being at the level of about 2m above ground.
  • apart from the force of gravity there was another force, the force which catapulted the stones first horizontally before the force of gravity `pulled' them down onto the ground. This ejecting force must have been created in the moment of leaning of the whole structure forward and this shows in turn the leaning occurred instantaneously and violently.

Intensity Estimates
3rd century CE Earthquake ?

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Collapsed Arches VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Notes and Further Reading
Notes on incorrect early interpretation of a Late Abbasid/Early Mamluk Earthquake

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:146-147) reporoduced an earlier article by Antoni Ostrasz in 1991 which reports on the discovery of skeletons beneath collapsed masonry which they tentatively attributed to an earthquake in Late Abbasid/Early Mamluk time. This was corrected in the 2020 report - see the final bracketed paragraph below.

An unexpected, and to say the least, dramatic discovery was made in the course of excavation in chamber W2. The upper part of the chamber was (and its lower part still is) filled with tumbled stones of the cavea (mainly the seat stones and voussoirs of the stepped arches). Human skeletal remains were found under the removed upper part of the tumble and within the tumble. This is not the case of a burial. In the north-east corner of the chamber, in an area 1.5m by 1m large and at approximately the same level, were found five skulls, all cracked, with parts missing. Directly over the skulls there were hand and arm-bons, even rib-bones and at the level of the skulls lay some vertebrae. In this area and at this level no pelvis or leg-bons were found. In the middle of the chamber there are remains (left in place) of another skeleton. In the extreme opposite part of the chamber, close to the podium wall, there were recovered from under and from within the tumble the pelvis, leg, arm and rib-bones (all at approximately the same level) of at least two individuals. No skulls were found above or beside these remains. There are, then, the skeletal remains of at least eight individuals discovered so far in the chamber. The lower part of the tumble was left in place to be excavated in the spring of 1991.

There seems to be only one plausible explanation [but see comment below, I.K-O] for the condition in which the skeletal remains were found: the individuals were killed by a sudden collapse of the cavea and such a collapse could be caused by nothing else but an earthquake. The five individuals in the north-east corner and the one in the middle of the chamber were obviously caught by the disaster inside the chamber. However, the two individuals whose remains were found in the opposite part of the chamber seem to have been surprised by the earthquake while being in the cavea and seem to have caved in the chamber together with the tumble; their skulls may be found in the lower layer of the tumble.

So far, there is no evidence for dating the occurrence. It is expected to be found when the occupation level of the chamber is reached. [see below, I.K-O] However, some tentative suggestions may be advanced already at this stage.

The earthquake occurred in the period of reoccupation of the hippodrome. This is evidenced by a well preserved intrusive doorway built within the original doorway of the chamber - a feature found in most excavated chambers of the building (Ostrasz 1989a: 55 and Fig. 2). The terminus post quem for the reoccupation is a date in the first quarter of the fourth century or, possibly, even slightly earlier (supra) and this is the terminus post quem for the disaster. However, a much later date should be considered. In 748(647) AD ab earthquake destroyed the south-east part of the hippodrome (Ostrasz 1989a: 75) but considering the situation found in chamber W2 it seems rather dubious that this earthquake was responsible for the collapse of the masonry of the chamber. The fact that the bodies of the people killed in this disaster were not recovered from the rubble for burial bespeaks a period of a great decline of the Gerasene community in every respect. What is presently known of the history of Gerasa in the last decades of the Umayyad period is not compatible with such a degree of decline.
The recent students of the history of Gerasa tend to view Gerasa of the Umayyad period as an important urban centre. A tendency of overstressing the importance of Gerasa in that period is detectable but there can be no doubt that Gerasa of the Umayyad times was still a centre of some substance. For an early view on the subject cf. Kraeling 1938: 68-69. Of recent studies cf. in the first place Gawlikowski (in press and 1986: 120-121). Also: Bitti (1986: 191-192), Schaefer (1986: 411-450); Zayadine (1986: 18-20; Naghawi (1989: 219-222).43
The date of this earthquake may, therefore, be as late as a date in the Late Abbassid or even the Early Mamluk periods.
A sedentary community at the site of ancient Gerasa is attested to have occupied, perhaps intermittently, the North Theatre in the Late Abbassid and Mamluk periods. Cf. Bowsher, Clark in F. Zayadine (ed.), Jerash Archaeological Project 1981-1983, I. Amman: 237, 240-241, 243, 247, 315. The situation found in chamber W2 fits a picture of such an occupation rather than that in the earlier periods. [ see above comment, I.K-0]44
.

[We completed excavation of W2 and W3 in 1993 retrieving conclusive evidence correcting the preliminary interpretation for the cause of death posited in this article; see Ostrasz 1994, and Compendium B: Kehrberg and Ostrasz 1997; 2016b, for the dating and identification of the event: the mass burial of about 200 mid-seventh century plague victims. The tumble relates indeed to the 748 earthquake, I.K.]

Heshbon

Aerial view of Tall Heshbon Figure 3

Aerial photo of Tall Hisban a mediaeval village below (courtesy of Ivan LaBianca)

Walker et al (2017)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Hesban
Heshbon Biblical Hebrew חשבון
Heshbon Arabic حشبون‎
Tell Hisban Arabic ‎تيلل هيسبان
Tell Ḥesbān Arabic تيلل هيسبان‎
Esebus Latin
Esbus Latin
Hesebon Ancient Greek Ἐσεβών
Esbous Ancient Greek Ἐσβούς
Exbous Ancient Greek Ἔξβους
Esbouta Ancient Greek Ἐσβούτα
Essebōn Ancient Greek Ἐσσεβών
Esb[untes]
Introduction

Heshbon has been sporadically occupied since at least the Iron Age ( Lawrence T. Geraty in Meyers et al, 1997). It is located on the Madaba Plains ~19 km. SW of Amman and ~6 km. NE of Mount Nebo.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Dating earthquakes at this site before the 7th century CE is messy. Earlier publications provide contradictory earthquake assignments, possibly due to difficulties in assessing stratigraphy and phasing, but also due to uncritical use of older error prone earthquake catalogs. A number of earlier publications refer to earthquakes too far away to have damaged the site. Dates provided below are based on my best attempt to determine chronological constraints based on the excavator's assessment of primarily numismatic and ceramic evidence. Their earthquake date assignments, at the risk of being impolite, have been ignored.
Stratigraphy from Mitchel (1980)

Mitchel (1980:9) provided a list of 19 strata encountered over 5 seasons of excavations between 1968 and 1976. Mitchel (1980) wrote about Strata 11-15.

Stratum Dates Comments
1 1870-1976 CE
2 1400-1456 CE
3 1260-1400 CE
4 1200-1260 CE
5 750-969 CE
6 661-750 CE
7 614-661 CE
8 551-614 CE
9 408-551 CE
10 365-408 CE
11 284-365 CE Stratum 11 is characterized by another building program.
On the temple grounds a new colonnade was built in front (east) of the temple, perhaps a result of Julian's efforts to revive the state cult.
12 193-384 CE Stratum 12 represents a continuation of the culture of Stratum 13.
On the summit of the tell a large public structure was built; partly following the lines of earlier walls. This structure is interpreted to be the temple shown on the reverse of the so—called "Esbus Coin", minted at Aurelia Esbus under Elagabalus (A.D. 218 — 222).
13 130-193 CE Stratum 13 began with a major building effort occasioned by extensive earthquake destruction [in Stratum 14]
The transition from Stratum 13 to Stratum 12 appears to nave been a gradual one.
14 63 BCE - 130 CE the overall size of the settlement seems to have grown somewhat. Apart from the continued use of the fort on the summit, no intact buildings have survived. A large number of underground (bedrock) installations were in use during Stratum 14
The stratum was closed out by what has been interpreted as a disastrous earthquake
15 198-63 BCE architecture interpreted to be primarily a military post or fort, around which a dependent community gathered
16 7th-6th century BCE
17 9th-8th century BCE
18 1150-10th century BCE
19 1200-1150 BCE

Stratigraphy from Walker and LaBianca (2003)

Walker and LaBianca (2003:448)'s Chronological Chart of the Strata at Tall Hisban (Table 1) is presented below:

Stratum Political periodization Cultural Period Absolute Dates
I Late Ottoman-modern ‎Late Islamic IIb-modern
Pioneer, Mandate, and Hashemite
‎1800 CE-today
II Middle Ottoman Late Islamic IIa
Pre-modern tribal‎
1600-1800 CE‎
IIIb Early Ottoman Late Islamic Ib
Post-Mamluk - Early Ottoman‎
1500-1600 CE‎
IIIa Late Mamluk (Burji) Late Islamic Ia‎ 1400-1500 CE‎
IVb Early Mamluk II (Bahri) Middle Islamic IIc‎ 1300-1400 CE‎
IVa Early Mamluk I (Bahri) Middle Islamic IIb‎ 1250-1300 CE‎
IVa Ayyubid/Crusader Middle Islamic IIa‎ 1200-1250 CE‎
V Fatimid Middle Islamic I 1000-1200 CE‎
VIb Abbasid Early Islamic II 800-1000 CE‎
VIa Umayyad Early Islamic I 600-800 CE‎
VII Byzantine Byzantine 300-600 CE‎
VIII Roman Roman 60 BCE - 300 CE‎
IX Hellenistic Hellenistic 300-60 BCE‎
X Persian Persian 500-300 BCE‎
XIb Iron II Iron II 900-500 BCE‎
XIa Iron I Iron I 1200-900 BCE‎

Stratum 15 Destruction Layer (Mitchel, 1980) - 2nd - 1st century BCE

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Mitchel (1980:21) noted chronological difficulties dating Stratum 15.
Though evidence for Stratum 15 occupation at Tell Hesban occurs in the form of ceramic remains found across the entire site, evidence of stratigraphic value is greatly limited in quantity and extent.
Mitchel (1980:47) noted that there was limited evidence for destruction and/or abandonment in Stratum 15 though most of the evidence was removed by subsequent building activities particularly in Stratum 13. Destruction layers were variously described as debris, a rubble layer, or tumble. Due to slim evidence, Mitchel (1980:70) did not form firm conclusions about the nature of the end of Stratum 15
The transition to Stratum 14 may be characterized as a smooth one, although the evidence is slim. There is currently no evidence of a destroying conflagration at the end of Stratum 15. In fact, I do not believe it is likely that we shall know whether Stratum 15 Heshbon was simply abandoned or destroyed by natural or human events.

Stratum 14 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 1st century BCE - 2nd century CE

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Mitchel (1980) identified a destruction layer in Stratum 14 which he attributed to an earthquake. Unfortunately, the destruction layer is not precisely dated. Using some assumptions, Mitchel (1980) dated the earthquake destruction to the 130 CE Eusebius Mystery Quake, apparently unaware at the time that this earthquake account may be either misdated as suggested by Russell (1985) or mislocated as suggested by Ambraseys (2009). Although Russell (1985) attributed the destruction layer in Stratum 14 to the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake, a number of earthquakes are possible candidates including the 31 BCE Josephus Quake.

Mitchel (1980:73) reports that a majority of caves used for dwelling collapsed at the top of Stratum 14 which could be noticed by:
bedrock surface channels, presumably for directing run-off water into storage facilities, which now are totally disrupted, and in many cases rest ten to twenty degrees from the horizontal; by caves with carefully cut steps leading down into them whose entrances are fully or largely collapsed and no longer usable; by passages from caves which can still be entered into formerly communicating caves which no longer exist, or are so low-ceilinged or clogged with debris as to make their use highly unlikely — at least as they stand now.
Mitchel (1980:73) also noticed that new buildings constructed in Stratum 13 were leveled over a jumble of broken-up bedrock. Mitchel (1980:95) reports that Areas B and D had the best evidence for the massive bedrock collapse - something he attributed to the "softer" strata in this area, more prone to karst features and thus easier to burrow into and develop underground dwelling structures. Mitchel (1980:96) reports discovery of a coin of Aretas IV (9 BC – 40 AD) in the fill of silo D.3:57 which he suggests was placed as part of reconstruction after the earthquake. Although Mitchel (1980:96) acknowledges that this suggests that the causitive earthquake was the 31 BCE Josephus Quake, Mitchel (1980:96) argued for a later earthquake based on the mistaken belief that the 31 BCE Josephus Quake had an epicenter in the Galilee. Paleoseismic evidence from the Dead Sea, however, indicates that the 31 BCE Josephus Quake had an epicenter in the vicinity of the Dead Sea relatively close to Tell Hesban. Mitchel (1980:96-98)'s argument follows:
The filling of the silos, caves, and other broken—up bedrock installations at the end of the Early Roman period was apparently carried out nearly immediately after the earthquake occurred. This conclusion is based on the absence of evidence for extended exposure before filling (silt, water—laid deposits, etc.), which in fact suggests that maybe not even one winter's rain can be accounted for between the earthquake and the Stratum 13 filling operation. If this conclusion is correct, then the Aretas IV coin had to have been introduced into silo D.3:57 fill soon after the earthquake. which consequently could not have been earlier than 9 B.C.

The nature of the pottery preserved on the soft, deep fills overlying collapsed bedrock is also of significant importance to my argument in favor of the A.D. 130 earthquake as responsible for the final demise of underground (bedrock) installations in Areas B and D. Table 7 provides a systematic presentation of what I consider to be the critical ceramic evidence from loci in three adjacent squares, D.3, D.4, and B.7. The dates of the latest pottery uniformly carry us well beyond the date of the earthquake which damaged Qumran, down, in fact, closer to the end of the 1st century A.D. or the beginning of the 2nd.

In addition to these three fill loci, soil layer D.4:118A (inside collapsed cave D.4:116 + D.4:118) yielded Early Roman I-III sherds, as well as two Late Roman I sherds (Square D.4 pottery pails 265, 266). Contamination of these latter samples is possible, but not likely. I dug the locus myself.

Obviously, this post-31 B.C. pottery could have been deposited much later than 31 B.C.. closer, say, to the early 2nd century A.D., but the evidence seems to be against such a view. I personally excavated much of locus D.4:101 (Stratum 13). It was a relatively homogeneous, unstratified fill of loose soil that gave all the appearances of rapid deposition in one operation. From field descriptions of the apparently parallel loci in Squares D.3 and B.7. I would judge them to be roughly equivalent and subject to the same interpretation and date. And I repeat, the evidence for extended exposure to the elements (and a concomitant slow, stratified deposition) was either missed in excavation, not properly recorded, or did not exist.

This case is surely not incontrovertible but seems to me to carry the weight of the evidence which was excavated at Tell Hesban.
Mitchel (1980:100)'s 130 CE date for the causitive earthquake rests on the assumption that the "fills" were deposited soon after bedrock collapse. If one discards this assumption, numismatic evidence and ceramic evidence suggests that the "fill" was deposited over a longer period of time - perhaps even 200+ years - and the causitive earthquake was earlier. Unfortunately, it appears that the terminus ante quem for the bedrock collapse event is not well constrained. The terminus post quem appears to depend on the date for lower levels of Stratum 14 which seems to have been difficult to date precisely and underlying Stratum 15 which Mitchel (1980:21) characterized as chronologically difficult.

Stratum 11 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 4th century CE - possibly Cyril Quake

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Mitchel (1980:181) noted that a destruction of some sort tumbled the wall on the east side of the great stairway , signaling the end of the latter's useful life. The destruction was interpreted to be a result of one of the 363 CE Cyril Quakes. Mitchel (1980:193) suggested the source of the tumble was most probably the retaining wall at the east margin of the stairs (D.3:16A). Mitchel (1980:181) also suggests that this earthquake destroyed the Temple on the acropolis; noting that it was never rebuilt as a Temple. Numismatic evidence in support of a 363 CE earthquake destruction date was obtained from Locus C.5:219 where an Early Byzantine soil layer produced a coin of Constans I, A.D. 343 providing a closing date for Stratum 11 (Mitchel, 1980:195). However, Mitchel (1980:195) noted the presence of an alternative hypothesis where Sauer (1973a:46) noted that a 365/366 coin would suggest that the rock tumble and bricky rei soil of Stratum 6 should be associated with a 365 earthquake. Mitchel (1980:195) judged this hypothesis as untenable citing other numismatic and ceramic evidence. In a later publication, Sauer (1993:255-256) changed his dating assessment of the strata which appears to align with Mitchel (1980)'s original assessment.

Storfjell (1993:109-110) noted that damage appeared to be limited at Tall Hesban during this earthquake
Although evidence for the AD 363 earthquake was found at Hesban, it could only be identified in a few rock tumbles in various areas of the tell. Following the earthquake there was no large scale construction, neither domestic nor public. The earthquake, which was severe at other sites (Russell 1980) probably did little damage at Hesban.
That said, if Mitchel (1980:193) is correct that a retaining wall collapsed on the monumental stairway, unless it was tilted and at the point of collapse beforehand, it's collapse suggests high levels of local Intensity.

Stratum 9 Earthquake - ~6th century CE - debated

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Following the stratigraphy listed by Mitchel (1980:9), Storfjell (1993:113) noted archaeoseismic evidence which he dated to 500-525 CE.
There is scattered evidence for a destruction, probably caused by an earthquake. This evidence comes from Area C, and Probes G.11 and G.16. If there was evidence of destruction in Area A, it would have been removed in the subsequent reconstruction and enlargement of the church. The ceramic evidence suggests that the destruction occurred in the Late Byzantine period. Placement in the overall stratigraphic sequence would suggest a destruction date in the first quarter of the sixth century for Stratum 9.
Storfjell (1993:110) discussed dating of Stratum 9 as follows:
The evidence is not precise enough to specify with certainty the exact dates for Stratum 9, although the ceramic horizon is predominantly Early Byzantine (ca. AD 408-527). It is this period that first reveals the Christian presence at Tell Hesban.
The Christian presence was apparently the construction of a Christian church on the remains of the Roman Temple possibly damaged by an earthquake in the 4th century CE. This church was apparently rebuilt in Stratum 8 which has a terminus ante quem of 614 CE according to Storfjell (1993:113). Sauer (1993:259), in the same publication, disputes the early 6th century earthquake evidence at Tall Hisban stating that thus far, there is no earthquake evidence at Hesban in this period.

7th century CE Earthquake

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Walker and LaBianca (2003:453-454) uncovered 7th century CE archeoseismic evidence which they attributed to the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 CE from an excavation of an Umayyad-period building in Field N of Tall Hesban . They report a badly broken hard packed yellowish clay floor which was pocketed in places by wall collapse and accompanied by crushed storage jars, basins, and cookware. An excerpt from their article follows:
Two roughly square rooms, each approximately 4 x 4 meters wide and built against the inner face of the Hellenistic wall, occupied most of N.l and N.2. Masonry walls, four courses high, delineated the space. The original rooms were separated by what appears to have been an open air corridor; a door in the east wall of N. l and one in the west wall of N.2 allowed passage between the two rooms. The floors of these rooms (N.1: 18, N.2: 16) were made of a hard packed, yellowish clay, which was badly broken and pocketed in many places by wall collapse. Upper courses of the walls of the rooms had fallen onto the floor and crushed several large storage jars and basins and cookware (Fig. 16 ), dated in the field to the transitional Byzantine-Umayyad period. The only foundation trench identified (N.2: 25) yielded no pottery. The fill above these floors contained pottery that was late Umayyad and Abbasid in date. While it is not possible at this early stage of excavation to determine when this structure was first built, it was clearly occupied in the middle of the seventh century, suffered a catastrophic event, and was reoccupied (at some point) and used into the ninth century. Fallen architecture, crushed pottery, badly damaged floors that appeared to have "melted" around the fallen blocks, and wide and deep ash pits and lenses bare witness to a major conflagration. The most likely candidate for this is the recorded earthquake of 658/9, which was one of the most destructive in Jordan's history since the Roman period, rather than the Islamic conquests of the 630's ( El-Isa 1985: 233).

Mamluk Earthquake - late 14th - early 15th centuries CE

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Walker and LaBianca (2003:447-453) uncovered late 14th - early 15th century CE archaeoseismic evidence from excavations undertaken in 1998 and 2001 of Mamluk-period constructions in Field L. They identified a complex of rooms previously called the bathhouse complex as the residence of the Mamluk governor of the al-Balqa'. . Walker and LaBianca (2003:447) described and dated the storeroom complex (L.1 and L.2) as follows:
The storeroom complex of L.1 and L.2 was built in three phases, all dated to the fourteenth century (and assigned to Stratum IVb) on the basis of associated pottery. Architectural Phases I and II correspond, respectively, to the original construction (the narrow storeroom in L.1 and the rooms east of it in L.2) and an extension of the L.1 storeroom to the east that followed a short time later (Fig. 7). Phase III, on the other hand, represents a relatively brief reoccupation of the rooms associated with the storeroom's doorway (square L.2).
In L.1 and L.2, earthquake damage was discovered at the end of Phase II.
Phase II Excavations at tall Hisban, the 1998 and 2001 Seasons: The Islamic Periods (Strata I-VI)

...

Earthquake damage was everywhere evident in the L.2 part of the storeroom, with walls knocked out of alignment; collapsed vaults (Fig. 8 ); and extensive ash cover, the result of a large conflagration likely brought on by oil lamps that had fallen from the upper stories. Thousands of fragments of glazed pottery, crushed by the vault stones that fell on them; nearly complete sugar storage jars (Fig. 9); dozens of channel-nozzle and pinched lamps (Fig. 10), many interspersed among fallen vault stones; fragments of bronze weaponry; painted jars and jugs (Fig. 11); and occasional fragments of metal bowls were recovered from L.1:17 - L.2:12, the beaten earth floor of the Mamluk-period (Stratum IVb) storeroom. There is evidence that the earth floor was originally plastered, as traces of white plaster were noticeable in the corners of the room, along the base of the walls at some places, and at the doorway. Earthquake and fire damage was so severe, however, that most of the plaster was destroyed.
Overlying strata was described as follows:
A meter-thick fill of loess (L.1:3, L.2:7) covered the floor (L.1:17, L.2:12), bearing witness to centuries of abandonment after the partial collapse of the covering vaults. The uppermost levels of the storeroom (L.2:3) above this fill were largely disturbed by a Stratum I, Ottoman-period cemetery
Walker et al (2017) also noted archeoseismic evidence which appears to be from the same earthquake in field M (aka Area M) which is described below:
Middle Islamic 3/Post-Middle Islamic 3

...
earthquake (misaligned stones in architecture throughout field; collapse of vaulting and walls) destroys parallel chambers in M4, M5, M8 and M9; area abandoned.

Intensity Estimates

Stratum 14 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 1st century BCE - 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls entrances are fully or largely collapsed and no longer usable
passages ... into formerly communicating caves which no longer exist
clogged with debris
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Stratum 11 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 4th century CE - possibly Cyril Quake - debated

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls a destruction of some sort tumbled the wall on the east side of the great stairway VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

7th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Broken pottery found in fallen position Upper courses of the walls of the rooms had fallen onto the floor and crushed several large storage jars and basins and cookware (Fig. 16 ) VII +
Collapsed Walls Upper courses of the walls of the rooms had fallen onto the floor
Fallen architecture
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Mamluk Earthquake - late 14th - early 15th centuries CE

Effect Description Intensity
Broken pottery found in fallen position L.2 & L.1 (?) - Thousands of fragments of glazed pottery, crushed by the vault stones that fell on them VII +
Displaced Walls L.2 - walls knocked out of alignment
Field M - misaligned stones in architecture throughout field
VII +
Collapsed Vaults L.2 - collapsed vaults (Fig. 8 )
Field M - collapse of vaulting and walls
VIII +
Collapsed Walls Field M - collapse of vaulting and walls
Field M - destroys parallel chambers in M4, M5, M8 and M9
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Notes and Further Reading

References

Walker, B. J. and Øystein, S.L. (2003). "The Islamic Qusur of Tall Ḥisbān : preliminary report on the 1998 and 2001 seasons." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 47: 443.

Mitchel, L. A. (1980). The Hellenistic and Roman Periods at Tell Hesban, Jordan, Andrews University. PhD.

Heshbon Expedition Symposium, Hesban after 25 years, Berrien Springs, Mich., Institute of Archaeology, Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum, Andrews University.

Boraas, Roger S., and S. H. Horn. Heshbon 1968: The First Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 2. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1969.

Boraas, Roger S., and S. H. Horn. Heshbon 1971: The Second Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 6. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1973.

Boraas, Roger S., and S. H. Horn. Heshbon 1973: The Third Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 8. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1975.

Boraas, Roger S., and Lawrence T . Geraty. Heshbon 1974: The Fourth Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 9. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1976.

Boraas, Roger S., and Lawrence T. Geraty. Heshbon 1976: The Fifth Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 10. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1978.

Boraas, Roger S., and Lawrence T. Geraty. "The Long Life of Tell Hesban, Jordan." Archaeology 32 (1979): 10-20.

Bullard, Reuben G. "Geological Study of the Heshbon Area." Andrews University Seminary Studies 10 (1972): 129-141.

Cross, Frank Moore. "An Unpublished Ammonite Ostracon from Hesban." In The Archaeology of Jordan and Other Studies Presented to Siegfried H. Horn, edited by Lawrence T. Geraty and Larry G. Herr, pp. 475-489. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1986.

Geraty, Lawrence T., and Leona Glidden Running, eds. Hesban, vol. 3, Historical Foundations: Studies of Literary References to Heshbon and Vicinity. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1989.

Geraty, Lawrence T., and David Merling. Hesban after Twenty-Five Years. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1994. - Reviews the results of the excavations of the Heshbon expedition a quarter-century after its first field season; full bibliography.

Horn, S. H. "The 1968 Heshbon Expedition." Biblical Archaeologist 32 (1969): 26-41.

Ibach, Robert D., Jr. Hesban, vol. 5, Archaeological Survey of the Hesban Region. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1987.

LaBianca, Oystein S., and Larry Lacelle, eds. Hesban, vol. 2, Environmental Foundations: Studies of Climatical, Geological, Hydrological, and Phytological Conditions in Hesban and Vicinity. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1986.

LaBianca, 0ystein S. Hesban, vol. 1, Sedentarization and Nomadization: Food System Cycles at Hesban and Vicinity in Transjordan. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1990.

Lugenbeal, Edward N., and James A. Sauer. "Seventh-Sixth Century B.C. Pottery from Area B at Heshbon." Andrews University Seminary Studies 10 (1972); 21-69.

Mitchel, Larry A. Hesban, vol. 7, Hellenistic and Roman Strata. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1992.

Sauer, James A. Heshbon Pottery 1971: A Preliminary Report on the Pottery from the 1971 Excavations at Tell Hesban. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 7. Berrien Springs, Mich,, 1973.

Sauer, James A. "Area B. " Andrews University Seminary Studies 12 (1974): 35-71

Terian, Abraham, "Coins from the 1968 Excavations at Heshbon." Andrews University Seminary Studies 9 (1971): 147-160.

Vyhmeister, Werner. "The History of Heshbon from Literary Sources. "Andrews University Seminary Studies 6 (1968): 158-177

Tell es-Samak/Tel Shiqmona

Pushed up stones at Tel Shiqmona Figure 6

Walls 8c and 8d in Area A, looking southwest

Torge and 'Ad (2012) in Hebrew


Chronology and Seismic Effects

Barzilay (2012) noted that
previous excavations at Tel Shiqmona have indicated that the Byzantine city was constructed in the late sixth century following the destruction of an earlier city in the fourth century, and that an abrupt and violent event caused the demolition of Shiqmona again during the seventh century. According to the damage patterns, it is likely that the structure in Area A was devastated by an earthquake. If so, the local intensity of the earthquake would have been over I = VII (MSK- 64 scale).
However, Barzilay (2012) also noted that
it is uncertain whether this damage was caused by an earthquake or by the accumulative effect of the swelling and shrinking soil. However, soil movement due to the swelling and shrinking process is very slow and causes random damage, and repairs would probably be detected in various parts of the building. Based on the criteria presented above, the deformations are consistent with seismic damage.
Barzilay (2012) referred to an excavation report by Torge and 'Ad (2012 in Hebrew) (English Summary). Torge (personal communication, 2021) attributed the deformations to the active clay soil:
The structures in Shiqmona were built into clay soil which is very active. The builders knew that and changed the soil within the boxes they built as foundations. I believe that because of the boxes technique, the damage appears as it is. In the corners it simply had nowhere to move and so it compressed the stones upwards and broke them.
Taxel (2013:79-80) also cast doubt on the possibility that the site was damaged by an earthquake leading to it's abandonment.

The presence of expansive soils and the significant distance from the epicenter of known earthquakes of the 7th century CE cause us to label this archeoseismic evidence as possible but unlikely. This example may also serve as a cautionary tale of how soil movement due to creep can create apparent archeoseismic effects - e.g. tilted retaining walls built without adequate drainage.

Pella

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Pella Greek Πέλλα
Fahl Hebrew פחל
Fāhl or Fihl Arabic فاهل or فيهل
Khīrbīt Fāhl Arabic كهيربيت فاهل
Tabaqat Fāhl Arabic تاباقات فاهل
Pihil(um) Ancient Semitic
Aliases - Wikipedia notes (with citations) that Pella could also be known as Berenike (aka Bernice) during the Hellenistic Period and Philippeia during the Roman period.

Introduction

Pella is located in the foothills east of the Jordan Valley ~30 km. south of the Sea of Galilee. It has been accepted as ancient Pella of the Decapolis (Smith in Stern et al, 1993).

Chronology

Walmsley (2007) attributes some archeoseismic destruction at Pella due to the Jordan Valley Quake although this date assignment seems tentative.
Excavations in the early 1980s identified six house units destroyed in the earthquake of 749. These houses represented the last phase in a long urban development that commenced with the complete redevelopment of living quarters on Pella's main mound in the first half of the sixth century (Watson 1992). The original arrangement consisted of four-metre wide gravelled streets set out on a formal grid, each street flanked by stone and mudbrick terrace-style houses two storeys high, prefaced in some places by shops. These streets, intended to serve local needs, were not equipped with colonnades or sidewalks. Although modified, the layout remained the same until an earthquake in 659-60 required a rebuilding of the quarter, in which the linear terrace houses were replaced by independent, self-contained units centred on one or more sizeable courtyards.
Walmsley (1982) discussed this in more detail noting that:
only in one trench (IVE) has the Sydney team excavated much below the A.D. 746/7 surface, producing evidence for at least three Byzantine and Umayyad architectural phases. Since an attempt to establish a detailed chronology for the whole Umayyad period on the basis of this one trench would be premature, the following account concentrates on the final phase in the life of urban Pella.

...

We turn now to a consideration of the layout and use of the buildings in Areas III and IV (figs 28-29 and end-plates 2-3). A dominant feature of Pella in the Byzantine and early Umayyad periods appears to have been streets with packed mud and pebble surfaces. One such street, 5 m wide, ran east-west through Area IV. From it, north and south, doorways gave access to dwellings, hence referred to as the North and South Buildings. But at some stage during the Umayyad period the street was cut by a wall which continued south to form the west wall of the South Building. Before this event it appears that this building had covered a considerably greater area; now to the west of the north-south Umayyad wall the earlier walls were razed level with the new and final occupation surface of a courtyard. Into this surface were dug lightly fired clay tabuns. Although the date of the demolition of the western sector of the South Building and of the construction of the north-south wall is uncertain, the slight build-up of detritus on this surface points to a time not far removed from the final destruction of A.D. 746/7. Tentatively we ascribe these alterations to the period following the earthquake of A.D. 717.
This earlier paper by Walmsley (1982) appears to provide an earthquake date (717 CE) which was revised to 659/660 CE in the later paper - Walmsley (2007). The earthquake of 717 CE refers to an earthquake which Ambraseys (2009) and Guidoboni et. al. (1994) locate in Syria and Upper Mesopotamia. None of the sources mention specific localities except for a conflation mistake by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tellmahre. However, reports from Upper Mesopotamia suggests an epicenter far from Pella indicating that another closer earthquake was likely responsible for this tentatively identified and dated archeoseismic evidence. Archeoseismic evidence at Pella is labeled as possible and needs further investigation.

Monastery of Euthymius

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Hirschfeld (1993:354) reported on the results of excavations at the Monastery of Euthymius. He dated seismic destruction apparently based on reconstruction evidence and the report of its destruction in the Maronite Chronicle.
The severity of the destruction in the monastery of Euthymius may be deduced from the results of the excavations. During our excavation at the site, it became clear that most of the monastery – except for the crypt, whose vaults remained intact, and another vault which survived at the north end of the church – was rebuilt after the earthquake of 659. At this stage, the basilical church was reconstructed over the vaults; the latter are not Byzantine, as Chitty suggests, but early Muslim.[39] The floor of the church was decorated with fine mosaic patterns. These have also been dated, on the basis of their style, to the early Muslim period, i.e., following the earthquake of 659. Reconstruction of the monastery probably took place not long after the earthquake, in the second half of the 7th century.

Footnote

[39]. Chitty seems to have dated the church to 482, even before beginning the excavation, see: Chitty and Jones, “The Church” (above, note 1), pp. 175-176. This was done despite the fact that the mosaics of the church were dated by the Dominican archaeologist Père Savignac to the 7th-8th centuries (ibid.). The early dating of the church was reiterated by Chitty later, see: Chitty, “The Monastery” (above note 1), p. 194
Due to added textual support from the Maronite Chronicle, this archeoseismic evidence is labeled as probable. Although reconstruction presumably may have obscured archeoseismic evidence, near total destruction of the monastery would merit an intensity of at least VIII based on the multitude of damaged features which could be imagined using the Earthquake Archaeological Effects Chart of Rodriguez-Pascua (2013:221-224).

Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh

Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Intensity Estimate

Taxel (2009: 186) reports damage, based on ceramic and numismatic finds, around the middle of the 7th century CE concluding that "it is highly likely that the observed damage and subsequent repairs in Khirbet es-Suyyagh were caused by one or more earthquakes." Damage descriptions follow:
Damaged architectural remains can be recognised throughout the site. Signs of destruction and nearly immediate rebuilding combined with absence of signs of man-made violent actives are typical earthquake-related features.

The area of the large courtyard (Fig. 2.1:8-10) had been completely rebuilt after a destructive event. An earlier construction phase, which is observed south of the centre of the courtyard (Fig. 2.1:9), is covered by a later floor. Fallen masonry and subsequent repairs were observed in the southern part of the apse of the church, with its inner face remaining asymmetric. Since the damage is observed close to the foundations of the church it seems that the damage had a pervasive affect on the entire structure. A section of about 10 m in the southern end of W33 seems also to have been rebuilt. Similarly, in W100 there is a warped contact in room 19, where two different styles of masonry meet but are misaligned.

Another type of damage appears in two broken door thresholds, that of the main gate and that of the small courtyard in the south of the monastery. The large, monolithic and nicely carved stones are placed in-situ but broken by a width wise crack into two pieces. Assuming the thresholds were carved from intact rocks without significant fractures, we can envision strong vertical acceleration, perhaps of the order of lg, which caused the fracturing. Such strong shaking is known based on modern earthquakes to occur either near the epicentre of strong earthquakes (of the order of magnitude 7 and above) or in places with strong local amplification of seismic waves.

Each of the damaged elements alone would not suffice to indicate an earthquake as the damaging agent. However, the occurrence of many such elements, the extensive repair and reconstruction of features without any sign of human violence and in short time, together with the frequent occurrence of earthquakes in the region supports the association of the damage to earthquake/s.
This suggests that the Jordan Valley Quake, the Sword in the Sky Quake and/or possibly even the Sign of the Prophet Quake damaged the site with the Jordan Valley Quake the most likely candidate. Archeoseismic evidence at the Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh is labeled as possible . Seismic Intensity is estimated at IX (1 g).

Caesarea

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Caesarea
Caesarea Maritima
Keysariya Hebrew ‎קֵיסָרְיָה
Qesarya Hebrew ‎קֵיסָרְיָה
Qisri Rabbinic Sources
Qisrin Rabbinic Sources
Qisarya Arabic قيسارية
Qaysariyah Early Islamic Arabic قايساريياه
Caesarea near Sebastos Greek and Latin sources
Caesarea of Straton Greek and Latin sources
Caesarea of Palestine Greek and Latin sources
Caesarea Ancient Greek ‎Καισάρεια
Straton's Tower
Strato's Tower
Stratonos pyrgos Ancient Greek
Straton's Caesarea
Introduction

King Herod built the town of Caesarea between 22 and 10/9 BCE, naming it for his patron - Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. The neighboring port was named Sebastos - Greek for Augustus (Stern et al, 1993). Straton's Tower, a Phoenician Port city, existed earlier on the site. When the Roman's annexed Judea in 6 CE, Caesarea became the headquarters for the provincial governor and his administration (Stern et al, 1993). During the first Jewish War, Roman General Vespasian wintered at Caesarea and used it as his support base (Stern et al, 1993). After he became Emperor, he refounded the city as a Roman colony. Caesarea is mentioned in the 10th chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as the location where, shortly after the crucifixion, Peter converted Roman centurion Cornelius - the first gentile convert to the faith. In Early Byzantine times, Caesarea was known for its library and as the birthplace of the Christian Church historian and Bishop Eusebius. After the Muslim conquest of the 7th century, the city began to decline but revived again in the 10th century (Stern et al, 1993). Crusaders ruled the city for most of the years between 1101 and 1265 CE (Stern et al, 1993). After the Crusaders were ousted, the town was eventually leveled in 1291 CE and remained mostly desolate after that (Stern et al, 1993).

Chronology
Stratigraphic Framework of Toombs (1978)

  • Sketch plan of Caesarea Maritima from Toombs (1978) .
Toombs (1978) developed a stratigraphic framework for Caesarea after 4 seasons of excavations using the destruction layers overlying the latest Byzantine occupation as the stratigraphic key. The framework was developed primarily on balk sections from four fields - A, B, C, and H. It is considered most accurate for the Byzantine and Arab phases and least accurate for Late Arab and Roman levels. It is reproduced as a summarized table below:
Phase Period Date Comments
I Modern
II Crusader 1200-1300 CE‎
III.1 Late Arab 900*-1200 CE
III.2 Middle Arab
Abbasid
750-900* CE
III.3 Early Arab
Umayyad
640-750 CE
IV Byzantine/Arab 640 CE In A.D. 640 Caesarea fell to Arab invaders. This time the destruction was complete and irretrievable. Battered columns and the empty shells of buildings stood nakedly above heaps of tangled debris.
V Final Byzantine 614-640 CE In A.D. 614 Persian armies captured Caesarea, but withdrew by A.D. 629. This invasion caused widespread destruction and brought the Main Byzantine Period to a close, but recovery was rapid and the city was restored
VI.1 Main Byzantine 450/550*-614 CE
VI.2 Main Byzantine 330 - 450/550* CE
VII.1 Roman 200*-330 CE It seems probable that during the Late Roman Period a major catastrophe befell the city, causing a partial collapse of the vaulted warehouses along the waterfront, and the destruction of major buildings within the city. Such a city-wide disaster alone would account for the rebuilding of the warehouse vaulting and the buildings above it, as well as the virtual absence of intact Roman structures in the city proper.
VII.2 Roman 100*-200* CE
VII.3 Roman 10 BCE - 100* CE
Dates with an asterisk (*) were derived from Note 4 in Toombs (1978:232)

Toombs (1978)'s Stratigraphic framework with comparison between areas is shown below:

Stratigraphic Framework for Caesarea by Toombs (1978) Figure 4

Stratigraphic analysis of the results of the first four seasons at Caesarea, tabulated by Field.

Toombs (1978)

Stratigraphy in Ad et al (2017)

Ad et al (2017) excavated the Crusader Market and presented the following stratigraphy:

Stratum Period
I Modern
II Late Ottoman (Bosnian)
IIIa Crusader (Louis IX)
IIIb Crusader (pre-Louis IX)
IV Fatimid
V Abbasid
VI Umayyad
VII Late Byzantine/Early Umayyad
VIII Late Byzantine
IX Early Byzantine
X Late Roman
XI Roman
XII Early Roman
XIII Herodian

31 BCE Earthquake

Karcz (2004) without citing references states that 31 BCE archeoseismic evidence was claimed at Stratton's Tower.

Late 1st century CE Earthquake

  • View of ancient harbor of Caesarea from Reinhardt and Raban (1999)
Using ceramics, Reinhardt and Raban (1999) dated a high energy subsea deposit inside the harbor at Caesarea to the late 1st / early 2nd century CE. This, along with other supporting evidence, indicated that the outer harbor breakwater must have subsided around this time. They attributed the subsidence to seismic activity.
L4 — Destruction Phase

The first to second century A.D. basal rubble unit (L4) was found on the carbonate cemented sandstone bedrock (locally known as kurkar) and was characteristic of a high-energy water deposit (Fig. 2 ). The rubble was framework supported with little surrounding matrix and composed mainly of cobble-sized material, which was well rounded, heavily encrusted (e.g., bryozoans, calcareous algae), and bored (Lithophaga lithophaga, Cliona) on its upper surface. The rubble had variable lithologies including basalts, gabbros, and dolomites, all of which are absent on the Israeli coastal plain and were likely transported to the site as ship ballast (probably from Cyprus). The surrounding matrix was composed of shell material (mainly Glycymeris insubricus), pebbles, and coarse sand. The pottery sherds found in this unit were well rounded, encrusted, and dated to the first to second century A.D. The date for this unit and its sedimentological characters clearly records the existence of high-energy conditions within the inner harbor about 100-200 yr after the harbor was built. This evidence of high-energy water conditions indicates that the outer harbor breakwaters must have been severely degraded by this time to allow waves to penetrate the inner confines of the harbor (Fig. 3, A and B ).

Indication of the rapid destruction of the outer harbor breakwaters toward the end of the first century A.D. is derived from additional data recovered from the outer harbor. In the 1993 season, a late first century A.D. shipwreck was found on the southern submerged breakwater. The merchant ship was carrying lead ingots that were narrowly dated to A.D. 83-96 based on the inscription "IMP.DOMIT.CAESARIS.AUG.GER." which refers to the Roman Emperor Domitianus (Raban, 1999). The wreck was positioned on the harbor breakwater, indicating that this portion of the structure must have been submerged to allow a ship to run-up and founder on top (Raban, 1999; Fig. 3B). Because Josephus praised the harbor in grand terms and referred to it as a functioning entity around A.D. 75-79, and yet portions of the breakwater were submerged by A.D. 83-96, we conclude that there was a rapid deterioration and submergence of the harbor, probably through seismic activity.
Later they suggested that the subsidence had a neotectonic origin.
Evidence for neotectonic subsidence of the harbor has been reinforced by separate geologic studies (stratigraphic analysis of boreholes, Neev et al., 1987; seismic surveys, Mart and Perecman, 1996) that recognize faults in the shallow continental shelf and in the proximity of Caesarea; one fault extends across the central portion of the harbor. However, obtaining precise dates for movement along the faults is difficult. Archaeological evidence of submergence can be useful for dating and determining the magnitude of these events: however, at Caesarea the evidence is not always clear.
Neotectonic subsidence is unlikely. As pointed out by Dey et al(2014), the coastline appears to have been stable for the past ~2000 years with sea level fluctuating no more than ± 50 cm, no pronounced vertical displacement of the city's Roman aqueduct (Raban, 1989:18-21), and harbor constructions completed directly on bedrock showing no signs of subsidence. However, Reinhardt and Raban (1999) considered more realistic possibilities for submergence of harbor installations such as seismically induced liquefaction, storm scour, and tsunamis.
The submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. could have also been due to seismic liquefaction of the sediment. Excavations have shown that the harbor breakwaters were constructed on well-sorted sand that could have undergone liquefaction with seismic activity. In many instances the caissons are tilted (15°-20° from horizontal; Raban et al., 1999a) and at different elevations, which could be due to differential settling (area K; Fig. 1 ). However, the tilting could also be due to undercutting by current scour from large-scale storms (or tsunamis) and not exclusively seismic activity. Our data from the inner harbor cannot definitively ascribe the destruction of the harbor at the end of the first century A.D. to a seismic event, although some of the data support this conclusion. However, regardless of the exact mechanism, our sedimentological evidence from the inner harbor and the remains of the late first century A.D. shipwreck indicate that the submergence of the outer breakwater occurred early in the life of the harbor and was more rapid and extensive than previously thought.
Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) examined and dated cores taken seaward of the harbor and identified 2 tsunamite deposits (see Tsunamogenic Evidence) including one which dates to to the 1st-2nd century CE. Although, it is tempting to correlate the 1st-2nd century CE tsunamite deposits of Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) to the L4 destruction phase identified in the harbor ( Reinhardt and Raban, 1999), the chronologies presented by Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) suffer from some imprecision due to the usual paucity of dating material that one encounters with cores. Further, the harbor subsidence and breakwater degradation dated by Reinhardt and Raban (1999) may not have been caused by seismic activity. If it was related to seismic activity, the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake is a better candidate than the 115 CE Trajan Quake because it would have produced higher intensities in Caesarea.

Cyril Quake - 363 CE - tenuous evidence

Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) examined "a large hoard of 3,700 copper coins found in the excavations of" what may have been a synagogue. They describe the discovery of the coin hoard as follows:

In 1962, during the excavations at Caesarea, Avi-Yonah unearthed a large hoard containing 3,700 copper-alloy coins, in a building that he identified as a synagogue. The latest coins in the hoard date to 361 CE, suggesting that the synagogue was destroyed by the 363 CE earthquake. ... The finds from the excavation were only partially published. Much of the information, such as locus numbers, is not always clear and the exact location of the hoard is not marked on a plan or described by Avi-Yonah. Nevertheless, his written descriptions clearly state that the hoard was found in the building and the strata are fairly well defined. A photograph shows Avi-Yonah in the building during the excavation kneeling next to the in situ hoard (Fig. 1).
The coins were found in Stratum IV. The original excavator (Avi-Yonah) "gave no reason for the destruction of Stratum IV." In discussing evidence for seismic destruction in Caesarea, Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) provide the following:
None of the excavations revealed large scale damage in Stratum IV: "there is no evidence of wholesale destruction across the site, especially since the wall lines are still mostly intact based upon photographic record. Yet not much remains of the structure either in stratum IV or stratum V" (Govaars et al. 2009:132). After the earthquake debris was cleared, the synagogue was rebuilt. Stones from the previous synagogue were reused for the building of the stratum V synagogue, but the hoard was not found until Avi-Yonah's excavations. Govaars wrote "the direct relationship of the coin hoard to a structure is uncertain and, therefore the coin evidence cannot be used to date the still unknown structure" (Govaars et al. 2009:42). This is a somewhat peculiar statement considering the coins were found in the synagogue and are on the whole well preserved, homogeneous and well dated. Avi-Yonah was convinced that the hoard was directly related to the Stratum IV building: "The fact that a hoard of 3,700 bronze coins was found in the ruins of the synagogue itself that were buried in 355/356 AD indicates that this synagogue was built in the end of the third or the early fourth century, and was destroyed in the mid fourth century AD" (Avi-Yonah 1964:26 n. 5).

...

Evidence at Caesarea

The subject of earthquakes and tsunamis has been partially reviewed by several archaeologists who directed or participated in the excavations at Caesarea. None of the monumental buildings across the site revealed earthquake damage that dates to the fourth century CE.

The report of remains from the excavations of the Promontory Palace at Caesarea, dated between the early fourth century and early sixth centuries, does not mention destruction levels (Levine and Netzer 1986:176-184). In other excavations, the Roman and Byzantine-period warehouses and granaries (horreum) gradually fell into ruin over a considerable period. Neither the main streets, pavements, sewage and water systems, the theater, amphitheater nor the stadiums of the Late Roman and Byzantine periods show signs of destruction that suggested earthquake damage (Humphrey 1974:32; Porath 1996:114-120; Porath 2003 and Porath [pers. comm.]).

If the town was partially damaged or destroyed in the 363 CE earthquake, as the Harvard Syriac letter [i.e. the letter attributed to Cyril] describes, then other than the large coin hoard, the earthquake left no clear, tangible evidence. The damage was cleared and buildings were repaired or rebuilt. Although none of the archaeological reports mentions earthquake damage, several reports clearly describe the abandonment and/or the rebuilding of public buildings in the second half of the fourth century CE. None of the authors provided a reason for their destruction or abandonment.

Tectonic evidence such as collapsed columns, thick piles of debris or warped walls are elusive throughout the fourth century architecture of Caesarea. Why is this typical earthquake damage missing? Are the written sources and the numismatic evidence sufficient proof of the 363 CE earthquake in Caesarea? It is important to note that among the various violent, politically motivated upheavals that took place in the second half of the fourth century, one of the main candidates explaining destruction at archaeological sites is the Gallus Revolt (352 CE). However, none of the sources that describe this revolt mention Caesarea Maritima (Geller-Nathanson 1986:34)
1,453 coins from the hoard of coins were identifiable by mints and dates. They ranged in age from 315 CE to the first quarter of the 5th century CE. 110 of these coins ranged in age from 364 - 421 CE and post dated 363 CE. The bulk of the hoard, however, were struck between 341 and 361 CE. The authors noted that 11 of the post 363 CE coins may have been intrusive. An explanation for the other 99 post 363 CE coins was based largely on a comparison to a similarly dated coin hoard in Qasrin. The authors opined that the many coins from Julian II shows that the coins could not have been concealed before 355 CE ruling out the Gallus Revolt (352 CE) as a cause for the loss of the hoard. On the whole, this numismatic evidence for the Cyril Quake striking Caesarea seems tenuous however since Caesarea was mentioned as being partly ruined in Cyril's letter, it merits inclusion in this catalog.

7th century CE Earthquake

Langgut et al (2015) report that destruction of a building in Caesarea Maritima was tentatively attributed to the 659 CE earthquake by Raban et al (1993:59-61).

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Caesarea with principal sites mentioned by Dey et al(2014)
Dey et al (2014) report that evidence for seismic destruction due to one of the mid 8th century earthquakes is present adjacent to the Temple Platform and possibly at the octagonal church.
At Caesarea, the best evidence of destruction attributable to the 749 earthquake comes from Area TPS, on the S side of the Temple Platform, where a thick layer of debris marks the end of the Umayyad occupation of the Late Byzantine bath complex, which was subsequently mulled and built over in the later 8th century - see Raban and Yankelevitz (2008:81) and Arnon (2008:85). Another probable effect of the earthquake was the collapse of the octagonal church on the platform - see Stabler and Holum (2008:30-31).
In addition, there appears to be evidence of landward tsunami deposits. After the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, Caesarea depopulated. In the late 7th or early 8th century CE, the coastal strip south of where the Crusaders would later build their fortifications was transformed into lush terraced gardens irrigated by wells and cisterns ( Dey et al, 2014). Marine layers found on top of these gardens included Glycymeris, a non-edible deeper water bivalve. Atop the marine layer was, in some areas, a burial ground with a funerary inscription providing a terminus ante quem of 870 CE. A terminus post quem of c. 500 came from a reflecting pool fronting the Temple platform and overlain by the marine layer. Dey et al (2014) suggest that the most likely explanation for the transformation from gardens to burial ground was an intervening episode of tsunamogenic destruction. They discussed the potential landward tsunamogenic deposit as follows:
The most substantial strata attributable to a marine inundation of mid-8th-c. date appeared in the SW sector, along the coastal strip south of the Crusader fortifications. Extensive tracts of these deposits between the temple platform and the theater, a shore-parallel distance of nearly 800 m, were uncovered (and removed, usually mechanically) in the 1970s and early 1980s under the auspices of the Joint Expedition (JECM). The bulk of the deposits lay in a shallow depression situated c.10 m above mean sea-level (MSL) and separated from the sea by a low ridge 15 m above MSL. From the landward side of the ridge, beginning c.50 m from the shore, these marine layers stretched inland as far as 300 m from the sea. 14 They comprised two distinct, superimposed sequences, each consisting of a thick, lower layer of densely-bedded (and in some cases imbricated) shells, rubble and sherds up to 1.5 m thick, topped by a dark, silty layer 20-40 cm thick. Datable materials in the second, upper sequence placed its formation around the 14th c. 15 In the lower sequence, dated by the excavators approximately to the 8th c. on the basis of finds, numerous disarticulated human remains turned up, as well as at least one complete skeleton in Area C, interbedded with the surrounding strata of shells and silt. 16 Like the rest of the materials, this corpse was probably deposited by a (cataclysmic) natural event. As D. Neev and K. Emery indicated in their report, there were no signs of a man-made grave, and the surrounding horizontal strata were uninterrupted above and below the skeleton; such 'culturally non-appropriate burials' are now recognized as a typical feature of tsunami deposits.17 The most likely scenario would have corpses deposited by the retreating waters of the tsunami and immediately covered with more detritus, keeping the articulated skeleton undisturbed by scavenging animals or human intervention.

Seismic Effects
Late 1st century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects include

  • Liquefaction
  • Subsidence
  • Tsunami

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects include

  • Thick layer of debris in Area TPS on the south side of the Temple platform
  • Collapse of the octagonal church on the platform
  • Tsunami

Intensity Estimates
Late 1st century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Subsidence Submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. VI +
Liquefaction Submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. could have also been due to seismic liquefaction of the sediment. VII +
Tsunami IX +
Although the archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of IX (9) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) , such an Intensity would have leveled Caesarea and there is no accompanying evidence of damage to structures. An Intensity of IX (9) is a gross over estimate and highlights the probability that tsunamogenic evidence in Caesarea was likely derived from either far field tsunamis and/or localized offshore shelf collapse. Potential Intensity is downgraded to VI (6) to VII (7).

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Another probable effect of the earthquake was the collapse of the octagonal church on the platform VIII +
Tsunami IX +
Although the archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of IX (9) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) , such an Intensity would have leveled Caesarea and there is no accompanying evidence of widespread leveling of structures. An Intensity of IX (9) is a gross over estimate and highlights the probability that tsunamogenic evidence in Caesarea was likely derived from either far field tsunamis and/or localized offshore shelf collapse. Potential Intensity is downgraded to VII (7) to VIII (8).

Notes and Further Reading
References

Toombs (1978). The Stratigraphy of Caesarea Maritima. Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyon. R. M. a. P. Parr. Warminster. England, Aris and Phillips: 233-232.

Raban, A. (1996). The inner harbor basin of Caesarea: archaeological evidence for its gradual demise

Raban, A. and O. British Archaeological Reports (1989). "The Harbours of Caesarea Maritima. Results of the Caesarea Ancient Harbour Excavation Project, 1980-1985. Volume I: The Site and the Excavations." BAR International series 491.

Dey, H., et al. (2014). "Archaeological evidence for the tsunami of January 18, A.D. 749: a chapter in the history of Early Islamic Qâysariyah (Caesarea Maritima)." Journal of Roman Archaeology 27: 357-373.

Stabler, J, and K. Holum 2008. "The warehouse quarter (area LL) and the Temple Platform (area TP), 1996-2000 and 2002 seasons," in Holum, Stabler and Reinhardt 2008, 1-39. Reinhardt, E. G., et al. (2006). "The tsunami of 13 December A.D. 115 and the destruction of Herod the Great's harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel." Geology 34(12): 1061-1064.

Reinhardt, E. G. and A. Raban (1999). "Destruction of Herod the Great's harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel—Geoarchaeological evidence." Geology 27(9): 811-814.

Mart and Perecman(1996). Caesarea: Unique Evidence for Faulting Patterns and Sea Level Fluctuations in the Late Holocene. Caesarea Maritima: A Retrospective after Two Milennia. Leiden, Brill: 3-24.

Raban, A. and S. Yankelevitz 2008. "A Byzantine/Early Islamic bath on the S flank of the Temple Plat-form, excavations 1995," in Holum, Stabler and Reinhardt 2008, 67-84.

Holum, K. G., J. A. Stabler and E. G. Reinhardt (edd.) 2008. Caesarea reports and studies: excavations 1995-2007 within the Old City mid the ancient harbor (BAR 51784; Oxford).

Arnon, Y. D. 2008. Caesarea Maritima, the late periods (700-1291 CE) (BAR 51771; Oxford).

Raban A, Holum KG, Blakely JA. 1993. The combined Caesarea expeditions: field reports of the 1992 season. Haifa: University of Haifa.

Caesarea-Maritima.org

Caesarea-Maritima.org - Comprehensive Bibliography

Mount Nebo

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Mount Nebo English
Jabal Nibu Arabic جَبَل نِيْبُو‎
Har Nevo Hebrew הַר נְבוֹ‎
Pisgah Hebrew Bible פִּסְגָּה
Fasga Arabic ‎فاسعا
Jabal Siyāgha Arabic جابال سيياعها
Rās as-Siyāgha Arabic راس اسءسيياعها‎
Rujm Siyāgha Arabic ‎روجم سيياعها
Jabal Nabo local bedouin جابال نابو
Jabal Musa local bedouin جابال موسا
Introduction

Mount Nebo is famous as the location where in the 34th chapter of Deuteronomy Moses climbed its peak to view the promised land before passing away. Only ~ 7km. from Madaba, it provides a commanding view of the Dead Sea, Judah, and Samaria. The ridge of Mt. Nebo has been inhabited since remote antiquity, as the dolmens, menhirs, flints, tombs, and fortresses from different epochs testify (Michelle Piccirillo in Meyers et al, 1997). Several churches and a monastery were built there in the Byzantine era.

Chronology

Ambraseys (2009) notes that
Indeed, Russell remarks that it is impossible to ascertain the effects of this and the AD 632 (634) earthquake on the Mt Nebo monastery owing to the manner in which the excavations were conducted.
However Russell (1985) correlates archeoseismic destruction at Mount Nebo to the Mount Lebanon Thrust Quake of 551 CE and the Sabbatical Year Earthquake of 746/749.

July 9, 551 CE entry - p. 45

This earthquake also appears to have been responsible for the destruction and subsequent abandonment of the Town of Nebo (Saller and Bagatti 1949: 217, n. 2).
January 748 CE entry - p. 49

The final destruction of the basilica at Mt. Nebo also appears to correlate with this earthquake (Schneider 1950: 2-3),
Notes - p.54

At Mt. Nebo (Sailer 1941: 45-46) and Aereopolis (Zayadine 1971) in the region of ancient Moab, recovery after the 551 earthquake apparently did not occur until the end of the century. Related to this delayed recovery is the possibility that an influx of southeastern populations from decaying urban centers like Petra subsequent to the 551 earthquake was responsible for the intensified building during the late 6th and early 7th centuries in both Moab (Sailer 1941: 248) and the Negev (Kraemer 1958: 23. 28-29; Colt 1962: 21-22).
This archeoseismic evidence is labeled as needs investigation.

Ein Hanasiv

Karcz et. al. (1977) list archeoseismic evidence (oriented collapse, alignment of fallen masonry) in Ein Hanasiv in the 7th century AD based on Vitto (1975). Archeoseismic evidence at Ein Hanasiv is labeled as possible and needs investigation.

Giv’ati Junction

Baumgarten (2001) excavated a round pottery kiln at Giv' ati Junction dated to the 4th-7th century CE (Shmueli (2013)). Langgut et al (2015) report that four fired Late Roman Amphora (similar to those at Yavne) "were found inside the kiln’s collapsed firing chamber" covered by a thick layer of aeolian sand. Langgut et al (2015) noted that while "the excavator suggested that the kiln was destroyed during operation, possibly due to some technical fault, and was consequently abandoned (Baumgarten 2001)", they believe an earthquake should also be considered as a cause of destruction.

(Shmueli (2013)) excavated Stratum III in a rectangular building (L109, L119) at Giv'ti Junction in 2011 where, on the floor, they found three Gaza jars which were set upside down (Fig. 4) and broken. A fourth jar was found upright but also broken. Based on numismatic finds, they dated the beginning of the settlement to the fourth or fifth century CE. Construction and use of the rectangular building was dated to the fifth to seventh centuries CE. In the seventh century the installation and building went out of use.

Archeoseismic evdience at Giv’ati Junction is labeled as possible.

THE NEGEV

In surveys conducted in 1994 and 1996, Korjenkov (1999) identified and examined seismic features such as

Avdat

Avdat Acropolis Aerial View of Avdat Acropolis

Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Avdat Hebrew עבדת‎‎
Abdah Arabic عبدة‎
Oboda Ancient Greek ‎‎Ὀβόδα
Ovdat ‎‎
Obodat ‎‎
Introduction

Avdat started out in the 3rd or 4th century BCE as a Nabatean way station on the Incense Road (Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). By the 1st century BCE, the town was named Oboba after Nabatean King Obodas I. It was occupied continuously until it was abandoned in the 7th century . Situated at the end of a ~4 km. long ridge, Avdat may have suffered from seismic amplification during past earthquakes as it appears it may be subject to a topographic or ridge effect (terrain map ).

Chronology

Archeological excavations have uncovered several earthquakes which struck Avdat/Oboda. Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) noted approximate dates and Intensities:
  1. Substantial destruction in the early 2nd century CE
  2. Some damage due to an earthquake in 363 CE.
  3. A massive earthquake in the early 5th century CE
  4. A massive earthquake in the early 7th century CE
Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) conducted two archaeoseismic surveys at Avdat and were able to distinguish between 7th century CE seismic effects and effects from a "previous" earthquake where the "previous" earthquake would likely be the massive earthquake in the early 5th century CE.

Early 2nd century earthquake

Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) described the early 2nd century earthquake as follows:

There is indirect evidence of a more substantial destruction in the early 2nd century CE in which residential structures from the earliest phase of the Nabataean settlement east of the late Roman residential quarter were demolished and used as a source of building stone for later structures. Destruction from this earthquake is well attested particularly nearby at Horvat Hazaza, and along the Petra to Gaza road at Mezad Mahmal, Sha'ar Ramon, Mezad Neqarot and Moyat `Awad, and at `En Rahel in the Arava as well as at Mampsis (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003).
Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013) added
Evidence of an early second-century CE earthquake is found at other sites along the Incense Road at Nahal Neqarot, Sha'ar Ramon, and particularly at the head of the Mahmal Pass where an Early Roman Nabataean structure collapsed (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003; Erickson-Gini 2011). There is ample evidence of the immediate reconstruction of buildings at Moyat ‘Awad, Sha'ar Ramon, and Horvat Dafit. However, this does not seem to be the case with the Mahmal and Neqarot sites.
Earlier discussions dating archeoseismic destruction from around this time at Avdat/Oboda from the so-called Potter's Workshop is in the collapsible Notes panel for Avdat under Notes and Further Reading.

Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

Tali Erickson-Gini in Stern et al (2008) provided some information on the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

In 1999–2000 an area located east of the Byzantine town wall and the north tower at Oboda was excavated on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
...
Some structural damage, probably resulting from the 363 CE earthquake, is evident in the blockage of a few doorways and the collapse of one of the rooms (rooms 4, 7, 17).
one room of the earlier structure appears to have been utilized in the fourth century CE (room 7), and it apparently collapsed in the 363 earthquake.

the numismatic and ceramic evidence uncovered in this third phase indicate that the dwellings were destroyed in a violent earthquake several decades after that of 363 CE. Following this second, local earthquake, the area was abandoned and many of the building stones were robbed.
The second earthquake could be due the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE which fits as the early 5th century earthquake discussed below.

Early 5th century earthquake

An early 5th century earthquake suggests the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE where there appears to be archaeoseismic evidence in Yotvata. Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) described the early 5th century earthquake at Avdat/Oboda:

A massive earthquake took place in the early 5th century CE, substantial evidence of which was uncovered in the late Roman and early Byzantine residential quarter (Erickson-Gini 2010a: 91-93). All of the structures east of the town wall were abandoned and used as a source of building stone for the late Byzantine town. Following this earthquake, massive revetment walls were constructed along the southern wall of the acropolis in order to shore up the heavily damaged walls. In contrast, the late Byzantine citadel adjoining the temenos area of the acropolis has no revetment walls, certainly due to its construction following the earthquake. The two churches inside the temenos area were built using numerous early Roman ashlars and architectural elements originally from the Obodas Temple damaged in the earthquake.
Negev (1989) provided a wider range of dates for this earthquake which entertains the possibility that this archaeoseismic evidence was caused by the hypothesized Negev Quake which, if real, is dated to around 500 CE.
A decisive factor in determining this phase is the dating of a series of earthquakes, one or more of which shattered numerous buildings in some of the towns of the central Negev. Although literary evidence is scarce, there is ample archaeological evidence that testifies to these disasters. At Oboda the entire length of the old southern Nabatean retaining wall was thrust outwards, and for this reason it had to be supported by a heavy, slanting supporting wall. Similarly much damage was caused to a massive tower of the Nabatean period, identified in July 1989 as the temple of Obodas (?), which in the Late Roman - early Byzantine period was incorporated in the citadel occupying the eastern half of the acropolis hill. Most of the damage was caused to the western and southern walls of the temple, and for this reason these too had to be supported by still heavier stone taluses, blocking the original entrance to the temple on the southern wall. It is against this talus that the South Church was built. Similar damage was also caused to some of the nearby buildings in the so-called Roman Quarter south of the temple. We may thus place the date of the earthquake between the end of the third century A.D., when the latest building in this quarter was constructed, and A.D. 541, when the Martyrium of St. Theodore was already being used as a burial ground.

Early 7th century earthquake

7th century earthquake

Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) discussed the early 7th century earthquake.

The destruction of the town by a massive earthquake sometime in the early 7th century CE was one piece of a puzzle not mentioned by Negev. The earthquake certainly occurred after the latest inscription found at the site in the Martyrion of St. Theodore (South Church) in 617 CE (Negev 1981: 37). Direct evidence of the destruction and abandonment of the site was uncovered by Fabian, with massive destruction evident throughout the site, and particularly along the western face of the site with its extensive caves and buildings (Korjenkov et al., 1996). Mezad Yeruham, several kms further south, was apparently destroyed at the same time (Y. Baumgarten, personal communication), while the earthquake left a trail of damage at numerous sites. This is indicated by the early seventh-century construction of revetment walls around churches and private houses at Sobota (Shivta), Sa'adon, Rehovot in-the-Negev, and Nessana. Compared to other Nabataean sites in the Negev Highlands that indicate a continued occupation through the late Byzantine period well into the early Islamic period in the 9th c., Oboda was devoid of settlement in the early Islamic period. In place of a central town, such as Sobota (Shivta), Rehovot in-the-Negev, or Nessana, a significant number of early Islamic farming villages—many with open-air mosques—were found in close proximity to Oboda.
This would suggest the Sword in the Sky Quake of 634 CE with the potentially dubious Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-622 CE) and the Jordan Valley Quake of 656/660 CE as less likely possibilities.

Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects

In surveys conducted in 1994 and 1996, Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) examined hundreds of deformation features and selected 41 measurements of wall inclinations, 26 of wall collapse, 17 of block rotations, and 96 cases of through-going fractures, where [they] were certain of the non-static origin of dislocations. They divided the features of seismic destructioninto 2 groups based on diagnostic use.

  1. Seismic-related features, which can be used for the determination of the seismic origin of the destruction, and degree of seismic shaking - seismic intensity
    1. joints crossing through a few adjacent blocks
    2. rotation of arch or roof slabs around horizontal axis
    3. hanging stones in the arches
    4. later built supporting walls for the tilted walls and columns
    5. non-coincidence of lower rows of masonry with upper building construction
  2. Seismic indicators which can be used for the determination of epicentral direction
    1. inclination of walls
    2. shifting of complete walls or wall fragments
    3. collapse of arches and wall fragments
    4. rotation of building fragments in arches and walls around the vertical axis
Examples and summaries of observations are presented below:
Damage Type
Event
"Previous"
or
7th century
Location Figure Comments
JOINTS AS AN INDICATION OF THE SEISMIC NATURE OF THE DESTRUCTIONS 7th century Northern Church 4 Joints are mode 1 (dilatation) fractures developed as a result of extension (Engelder and Fisher. 1996). Joints confined to stone breaks often appear in old buildings. Interpretation of such joints is somewhat ambiguous: they could be erected tectonically, they could also be the result of weathering, i.e., repeated heating and cooling events. In contrast, joints passing through two or more adjacent blocks (through-going joints) could be formed only under high strains. Such joints require the application of tremendous amounts of energy to overcome the stress shadows, appearing along free surfaces at the block margins (Fisher et al., 1995: Engelder, and Fisher, 1996; Becker and Gross, 1996) and therefore cannot be related to the weathering process.
Numerous examples of through-going joints were observed during the study of the ruins of Avdat town. One such joint was found in the WSW external wall of the Northern Church (trend azimuth is 150°) in a corner of a small ledge (Figure 4). The joint crosses two adjacent blocks with a thickness of 50 cm each. What is most important in this case, is that the joint has passed straight through cement between the two blocks, without any bends. The length of the joint is 1 m. It starts 30 cm in from the upper corner of the upper block and it finishes 70 cm in from the lower corner of the lower block. The joint is inclined by an azimuth 174° L59° in its upper part, dip azimuth is 173° L68° in its lower part.
All of the above is evidence of an earthquake which took place in the region of Avdat town in the 7th century A.D., probably 631-633 A.D. However, there is other evidence in the town, dating back to the Late Roman period, of at least one more strong seismic event, probably the well known earthquake of 363 A.D. (Amiran, 1950-1952; Russell, 1980; Amiran et al., 1994), which terminated the Late Roman settlement of the city. Several years later, a new town was rebuilt on the ruins of the old one. This idea was suggested by P. Fabian (1996, 1997). Our study has confirmed his suggestion.
TREND DISCORDANCE OF FIRST LOWER ROWS OF MASONRY WITH UPPER WALL FRAGMENTS, AND TREND DEVIATION FROM PERPENDICULAR OF WALLS JOINING EACH OTHER "Previous" Room 10 of Court in South Quarter 3
5
Strange discordance of trends of first lower rows of masonry (usually one or two rows) and upper wall fragments is visible in some parts of Avdat. For example, there is counterclockwise rotation of the whole NW wall of room No. 10 of the court (see, Figure 3). Horizontal displacement was 45 cm. During rotation around the vertical axis the NW wall was not collapsed and townsmen, who settled there after the 363 A.D. shock, used the rotated wall for rebuilding (Fabian 1996, 1997). The original trend of the wall was 50°, preserved first and second lower rows testify about that building (Figure 5). Modern trend azimuth of rotated wall is 41°.
In some places, one can see a sharp deviation of trends for separate walls joining to each other perpendicularly. Such deviations can sometimes amount to an angle of 11° (see, for example, SE wall of room No. 2 of the court on the Figure 3).
SHIFTING OF UPPER PRESERVED FRAGMENTS OF WALLS AS COMPARED WITH LOWER ROWS OF STONES "Previous" Room 8 of Court in South Quarter 3
6
The shift of the building elements without rotation may be used in a similar manner to wall inclination or block collapse. The upper element of a construction is shifted toward or away from an epicenter due to inertia. In the Avdat such a displacement, of 80 cm, can be observed for the upper fragment of the NW wall of room No. 8 of the court (see, Figure 3) in a NW direction (Figure 6). Its former position (trend azimuth is 41°) is marked by one stone row of 20 cm height. The width of the shifted wall fragment is 70 cm, length is 165 cm, height of preserved fragment is 55-60 cm, its trend azimuth is 45°.
These facts apparently testify to the adaptation of the lower non-destroyed rows of masonry and preserved walls (only rotated slightly) for the regeneration of the town in Byzantine times. During Roman times at the same place, there was a settlement which was destroyed by an earthquake. Later the town was, again rebuilt on the site of the former settlement using the preserved lower rows of masonry and preserved whole walls (Fabian, 1996, 1997).
NONCOINCIDENCE OF LOWER STONE ROWS WITH UPPER BUILDING STRUCTURES "Previous" N yard of bath-house 7a
7b
Additional indirect evidence of possible seismic activity in the studied territory is non-coincidence of lower stone rows with upper building structures. Such patterns occurred when a building was partly destroyed during an earthquake, but ancient people decided not to restore it. They removed still standing preserved fragments of the destroyed building and smoothed out the piles of rubble. They built a new building on the site of the old one. Later, during recent archeological excavations, researchers discovered strange non-coincidence of lower stone rows with upper building structures (Fabian, 1996, 1997).
For example, such non-coincidence can be observed in the northern yard of the bath-house, which is located near the foot of the Avdat hill (Figure 7). The bottom row of the NW corner of the wall is pulled out to the west 13 cm if compared with the upper fragment of the wall, with the trend azimuth of 159° (see, Figure 7(a)). This non-coincidence is even larger - 28.5 cm if compared with the SE part of the wall, with the trend azimuth of 167°. The lower pulled row of the northern fragment of the wall continues to the NW over the perpendicular external wall of the yard (see Figure 7(b)). The probable explanation of this case is given in the previous paragraph.
SUPPORT-WALLS "Previous" Southern Church 8 Indirect evidence of more old shocks are special support-walls which were built solely for this purpose. One such wall was built to support the eastern corner of the Southern Church (P. Fabian, 1994, personal communication). The wall which needed support had an ENE trend (Figure 8). One more support-wall was built to support the external wall (with NE strike) of the South Quarter of the town, opposite the eastern corner of the Fort, later it was dismantled by archeologists during excavation (P. Fabian, personal communication, 1996). This building of supporting walls for city walls of the same trend is not isolated. Apparently, during the Roman earthquake these city walls were slightly tilted, but they were not collapsed. Ancient people built those support-walls specifically to prevent them from possible future collapse (Fabian, 1996, 1997).
CAVE DESTRUCTIONS "Previous" Caves As stated above, on the slope of Avdat hill there are many caves which were inhabited for living during Nabatean—Byzantine times. However, below the caves there are huge piles of rubble, which consist of debris from Avdat hill's rocks and from remains of domestic objects (pieces of Nabatean earthenware vessels, for example - T. Gini, personal communication, 1996). This fact also indicates a possible earthquake in 363 A.D. during which the collapse of inhabited caves took place. After that event ancient people cleaned out the caves and used them for living in for the second time. However, some of the caves were not cleaned after the 363 A.D. shock.
The caves near the top of the hill were the most severely damaged (T. Gini, 1996, personal communication). This fact can be explained by the "sky-scraper effect - maximum oscillation during earthquakes is in the upper part of the building (or the hill in the Avdat case).
A study of habitable (in the past) caves was made. They were dug up on a hill slope, on top of which there are main town buildings. This study shows numerous collapses of walls and cave vaults, and also considerable long fractures. The displacement of chisel traces on the cave ceilings was observed, where those traces are crossed by long fractures in limestone massif . The latest ones show subsidence on the first few centimeters of the middle parts of the limestone hill compared to the external parts. It is the opposite to what one would expect due to gravitation forces. Such graben-like subsidence of watershed parts of mountain ridges was observed during strong earthquakes in the Baikal Rift area (Khromovskikh, 1965) and in the Tien Shan seismic belt (Korjenkov and Chedia, 1986; Korjenkov and Omuraliev, 1993; Ghose et al., 1997). These seismogenic features are indicators of an earthquake intensity of IX—X.
The new Byzantine town existed until the beginning of the seventh century A.D., probably 633 A.D., and was then totally destroyed by an earthquake never to be rebuilt (Fabian, 1996, 1997). This may explain the absence of any Early Muslim period finds at the site in spite of the continued occupation of other Negev sites such as Nessana and Shivta (see Figure 1) that existed until the tenth century A.D. (E. Oren, personal communication, 1996). These towns were located west of Avdat and were probably less affected by the earthquake.
The following are the seismic features belonging to group 2, used for the determination of the seismic wave propagation direction. They belong to the seismic event which occurred in the 7th century.
INCLINATION OF BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION ELEMENTS mostly 7th century ? various locations 9
10
As in strong earthquakes throughout the world, a large number of structural elements were found to be preferentially inclined (Richter, 1958; Cloud and Scott, 1969; Bolt, 1978; Polyakov, 1978; Omuraliev et al., 1993a and others). A similar destruction was found in the ancient city of Avdat: forty one cases of preferentially inclined walls (Figures 9 and 10) and inclination of single stones within walls can be seen there. As seen in Figure 5, walls trending SE 130°-140° are systematically inclined to the SW. In contrast walls trending NE 40°-60° are inclined to NW and SE with no preferential direction. This observation seems to indicate that the seismic shock arrived along the NE—SW direction: the walls oriented roughly normal to the seismic wave direction were systematically collapsed or inclined, whereas walls oriented parallel to the seismic waves lost support, were tilted and collapsed randomly.
COLLAPSE FEATURES 7th century ? Agricultural Fences 11a
11b
12
13
Numerous ruins of agricultural fences remained on the top (Figure 11(a)) and near the foot of the Avdat hill (Figure 11(b)). The fences trending about EW reveal a clear systematic picture of the collapse: the lower part of the wall is intact (easily seen from its northern side), whereas the upper part of the fences fell southward (see Figure 11). Azimuth of preferred collapsed features are plotted in Figure 12 versus wall trend. One group of walls trending SE 90°-140° reveals collapse toward SW 180°-240°, whereas walls oriented in other directions fell on both sides of the original wall position, they did not show a systematic pattern of the collapse, and so they were not shown on the graph. This observation indicates that the direction of seismic wave propagation was roughly perpendicular to the SE-trending walls.
It is necessary to mention the cases of wall drags (rotations) because of wall collapse. Many rotated blocks or block fragments in Avdat were caused by the drag due to the collapse of a wall (Figure 13). Such rotations cannot be used to determine shear stresses, however the patterns of drag-caused rotations enable us to reconstruct the direction of wall collapse.
ROTATION OF BUILDING ELEMENTS 7th century ? various locations 13
14a
14b
15
Field study of the epicentral zones of the well-known strong earthquakes revealed that some building constructions or rock fragments were rotated clockwise, whereas others were rotated counterclockwise (Richter, 1958; Cloud and Scott, 1969; Bolt, 1978: Polyakov, 1978; Omuraliev et al., 1993b and others). Horizontal rotation of arch supports, separate blocks in arch supports and walls, or rotation of a large fragment of a wall with tens to hundreds of stones were measured in the ruins of Avdat town. Clockwise and counterclockwise patterns of rotation were observed. Some examples of the rotated elements are shown in Figure 14.
For the case of the Avdat ruins the pattern and degree of rotations were plotted against the wall trends (Figure 15 ). As can be seen in the graph, the only one case of clockwise rotation was found in a wall fragment with trend SE 140°, whereas counterclockwise rotations were found on walls trending NE 40°-60°.
The rotations described above were measured in well-preserved walls at some distance from the corners, so that a researcher could be confident, that the rotations were caused by a shear couple. However, many rotated blocks or block fragments in Avdat were caused by a drag which occurred due to collapse of a wall (see Figure 13). Such rotations cannot be applied to determine shear stresses, however, the patterns of drag-caused rotations enable us to reconstruct the direction of wall collapse, which, as described above, is an independent kinematic indicator.

Archaeoseismic Analysis

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) provided an extensive discussion regarding the analysis of their data. This discussion provides information for Avdat and explains the methodology used to examine archaeoseismic observations from other sites in the Negev. Due to it's value as a reference, much of the discussion is repeated below:
Archeoseismic Analysis

Study of the destruction in the Avdat ruins reveals a systematic type of dislocation:

  1. Walls of buildings trending SE 120° revealed strong preferential collapse or inclination toward south, whereas walls trending NE 20°-50° tilted and fell without a noticeable systematic pattern (see Figure 10 ). A similar structure of collapse was observed for the ruins of agricultural fences (see Figure 12 ). These observations indicate that the seismic shock arrived from the south in the case of a compressional wave, or from the north, if the wave causing the collapse was extensional. Thus, by this exercise the eastward and westward propagating seismic waves can be excluded.
  2. Most rotated blocks in the Avdat ruins are turned counterclockwise and they were found exclusively on NE-trending walls (see Figure 15 ). The only case of clockwise rotation was found in a wall fragment with trend SE 140°. The fact of the appearance of rotated blocks, as described above, indicates push movements (compression wave approaching the buildings). Thus, the only possibility left is a compressional seismic wave coming from the south. Rotation itself involves shear stresses acting along the walls, thus the seismic wave must have arrived at some angle to the walls.
Following the well-known strong earthquakes a large number of structural elements were found to be preferentially inclined toward the epicenter, however, in some cases the inclination was in the opposite direction. As in the case with the wall inclinations, the walls facing the seismic wave collapsed systematically toward the seismically induced compression strain, whereas the walls aligned parallel to the seismic wave lost support and collapsed in a random manner. Therefore, one has to look for a correlation between the trend of a construction element and the direction of collapse. The collapse debris form the shape of a cone, because the central part of a collapsing wall segment undergoes maximum oscillation during the seismic event (Figure 16 ).

The preferred direction of collapse or inclination of building elements may be either toward an epicenter or away from it. If the damaged site is located in the quadrangle of compression strain (Figure 17 ), the deformation will be caused by a push movement exerted on the ground, resulting in inclination and collapse toward the epicenter. In contrast, in the sites located in a tensional quadrangle, the deformations are induced by a pull movement causing inclination and collapse away from the epicenter. In either case, the line of collapse or relative motion can be determined. This line connects the original position of an object and its position after an earthquake, or corresponds to the dip azimuth of an inclined element. The intersecting points of the collapse lines measured in many places will converge at the area of the epicenter (Figure 18 ).

Shear stresses applied to an elongated element cause its rotation. The direction of rotation depends on two factors:
  1. orientation of principle stresses in a location and
  2. the orientation of the elongated element
Field study of the epicentral zones of the world-known strong earthquakes revealed that some building constructions or rock fragments were rotated clockwise, whereas others were rotated counterclockwise. A seismic wave approaching a building parallel or normal to its walls will result in collapse, shift or inclination with no rotation (Figure 20(a) ). The rotation should take place in the cases where the principle stresses are oblique to a construction element, and the resolved shear stresses are high (Figure 20(b) ). Thus, rotated elements situated on perpendicularly oriented walls should have an opposite direction of rotation, if the seismic shock came along the bisector of the two walls (Figure 20(c) ).

Two mechanisms of rotation, caused by tectonic movements, are known in geology (Figure 21 ):
  1. book-shelf structures, or synthetically rotated blocks, and
  2. asymmetric pull-aparts, or antithetically rotated blocks (Jordan, 1991)
As can be seen in Figure 21 , the same direction of rotation can be obtained by the different stress setups. These rotated blocks are termed "antithetical" or "synthetic" because with respect to the same simple shear couple two directions of rotation are possible. A synthetic structure is formed as a result of compression acting parallel to an element along axis, whereas the antithetical structure is developed when extension is parallel to an elongated element. Thus, in tectonics the interpretation of the rotation structures should be proceeded by a determination of the strain that occurred parallel to a rotated element. Such an ambiguity does not exist in seismic interpretations. Any lateral extension applied to a construction should lead to its collapse or inclination, whereas rotation could occur only under horizontal compression. This provides an additional criterion for the determination of strain accompanying an earthquake: the appearance of rotated blocks is an indication of a push movement. A scheme showing the direction of rotation, with respect to the direction of seismic wave propagation, is shown in Figure 20 .

This discussion leads to an additional conclusion explaining the lack of oriented inclination and collapse features in an epicentral area (and additionally, to the assumption that the point seismic source is not valid in the epicentral zone): the shock wave moving from a hypocenter under a high angle to the surface, results in a lateral extension applied to constructions. This explains why in recent earthquakes (Acapulco, 1962; Scopje, 1963; Tashkent, 1966 and others) the areas above a hypo-center do not reveal systematic inclination and collapse patterns (Muto et al., 1963; Binder, 1965; Medvedev, 1966; The Scopje Earthquake of 26 July 1963, 1968; Mirzoev et al., 1969; Liquidation of Consequences of Tashkent Earthquake, 1972), whereas some distance away inclination and collapse have pronounced directional patterns (Figure 22 ).

All said above is true for the features of destruction found in building constructions built on an isotropic massive foundation without a strong preferential orientation of the fabric in the basement rocks. In the studied case, Avdat was built directly on massive limestones. Thus, an input caused by rock anisotropy could be neglected. To avoid gravitational reasons for the city's destruction, the authors did not conduct the measurements on the slope of Avdat hill.

Avdat ruins have two perpendicular directions of walls (—NE 50° and —SE 140°), so the overall model can be represented as a single building (or room). To cause south-directed wall collapse by a compressional seismic wave, the shock should have come from south side. If the shock arrived exactly perpendicular to the NE-trending walls (i.e., from SW, Figure 23(a) ), the shear stresses along walls should be minimal and the rotations should appear only occasionally.

In contrast, maximal shear stresses would result if the seismic wave approached the buildings along a bisector line between the walls (Figure 23(b) ), i.e., from south. In this case rotations on both wall directions should be clearly pronounced, whereas both NE and SE-trending walls should reveal oriented collapse and inclinations to the south (SE and SW sides correspondingly).

In the case of Avdat the only NE-trending walls revealed oriented collapse and inclinations, and SE-trending walls demonstrate systematic counterclockwise rotations. Such a situation is possible if the compressional wave came from SSW (Figure 23(c) ).

Thus, the epicenter was located somewhere SSW from the Avdat settlement, and the scale of destruction indicates that the epicenter was situated 15 km south of Avdat, probably in the area of the Nafha Fault zone. The force (seismic intensity) of a shock resulting in the destruction of buildings was determined using the scale of earthquake intensity MSK-64. Buildings in Avdat town according to this scale are classed as B type - buildings from natural hewed stones. Quantitative characteristics of destruction: most buildings were destroyed (more then 75%). According to the degree of destruction Avdat town is classified as fourth degree:
  • through cracks and breaks in the walls
  • collapse of building parts
  • breaking of connections between separate parts of buildings
  • collapse of internal walls and walls of framework filling
All these features of destruction show on IX-X intensity of seismic shock on territory of Avdat town.
...
The destruction was caused by a compressional seismic wave and the epicenter was located SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev. The degree of town destruction during the historical earthquake according to Seismic Intensity Scale MSK-64 was IX-X.

Intensity Estimates

Distinguishing 7th century effects from "previous" earthquake effects

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) did not produce an Intensity or directional estimate for any of the earthquakes that preceded the 7th century CE event. However, by making use of their detailed descriptions of seismic effects and the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart, I produced Intensity estimates for both the 7th century CE earthquake and the "previous" one. "Previous" earthquake seismic effects were presumed to come from seismic effects associated with rebuilding as no rebuilding should be associated with the 7th century earthquake if it was, as the archaeologists (e.g. Peter Fabian) beleive, destroyed and then abandoned. Although I cannot rigorously distinguish whether my "previous" earthquake Intensity estimate is for the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE or the early 5th century CE earthquake, if Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) is correct that the southern Cyril Quake only caused some structural damage and the 5th century earthquake was massive, my Intensity estimate for the "previous" earthquake is likely effectively for the 5th century quake. So, it is labeled as such. An intensity estimate for the "363 CE earthquake" was derived from Cave dwellings which the archaeologists beleive were damaged or destroyed during this event.

Topographic or Ridge Effect

Terrain map



Citing a personal communication with Tali Erickson-Gini in 1996, Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999), noted increased seismic damage in upslope caves adjacent to the Avdat acropolis after the 363 CE earthquake. This suggests that a ridge effect may present at Avdat. A terrain map shows that Avdat is situated at the end of a ~4 km. long ridge Avdat. Orientation of the ridge further indicates that seismic energy arriving from the NE or the SW (orthogonal to the ridge) would be most likely to produce seismic amplification at the site. A slope effect may also be at play as Avdat surrounded by steep slopes on 3 sides.

Intensity Estimate for the 363 CE earthquake

Effect Location Intensity Comments
Collapsed Vaults Caves in the slopes adjacent to the Avdat Acropolis VIII + numerous collapses of walls and cave vaults
Collapsed Walls Caves in the slopes adjacent to the Avdat Acropolis VIII + numerous collapses of walls and cave vaults
These effects, dated to the 363 CE earthquake, were observed in the caves furthest upslope and suggest a site effect or what Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999) call a "sky-scraper effect". Either way, seismic amplification is indicated so while this archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf), it is downgraded one unit to VII (7).

Intensity Estimate for the early 5th century CE earthquake - the "previous" earthquake

Effect Earthquake
attribution
Location Intensity
Displaced Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
Room 10 in court in S Quarter
Fig. 5
Room 8 in court in S Quarter
Fig. 6
VII+
Displaced Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
N yard of bath-house
Fig. 7a
Fig. 7b
VII +
Tilted Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
Support Walls of Southern Church
Fig. 8
VI +
Collapsed Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
Caves VIII +
Collapsed Vaults "previous"
prob. 5th century
Caves VIII +
This archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Intensity Estimate for the early 7th century CE earthquake

Effect Earthquake
attribution
Location Intensity
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks 7th century many locations
an example from Northern Church
Figure 4
VI+
Tilted Walls 7th century various locations VI +
Collapsed Walls 7th century various locations
Fig. 9
VIII +
Collapsed Walls 7th century Agricultural Fences
Fig. 11a
Fig. 11b
VIII +
Arch damage 7th century various locations VI +
This archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s seismic characterization of the 7th century earthquake

As mentioned previously, Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) were able to sort a number of seismic effects by earthquake event - distinguishing whether the observed damage was due to the 7th century earthquake or one of the "previous" earthquakes (i.e the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE and/or the 5th century CE earthquake). As such, one can have confidence in the Intensity estimate Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) produced for the 7th century earthquake. Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s conclusion for the 7th century CE earthquake is that

The destruction was caused by a compressional seismic wave, the epicenter was located SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev, and the degree of town destruction [] according to Seismic Intensity Scale MSK-64 was IX-X.

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis by Kamai and Hatzor (2005)

Kamai and Hatzor (2005) performed Discontinuous Deformation Analysis (DDA) on a model

for displaced blocks on the western wall of the Roman Tower of Avdat. The tower, dated to 294 AD, was founded directly on bedrock, and has risen to a height of 12 m, from which only 6 m are left standing today. (Kamai and Hatzor, 2005 citing Negev, 1997). The best-fit simulation (Fig. 16A ) was run with the following seismic parameters:
  • Ah = l g
  • Av = 0
  • f =3 Hz.
  • Dh_avmax = 8 cm.
Kamai and Hatzor (2005:133-134) did not present single best fit parameters due to various limitations so this parameterization, though consistent with other estimates of Intensity, should only be considered approximate. A PGA of 1 g converts to an Intensity of 9.3 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). Although Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) did not explicitly attribute the bulges in the Roman Tower to the 7th century CE earthquake, the high PGA that comes from Kamai and Hatzor (2005)'s simulations suggests that this is the case as the 7th century earthquake was apparently a powerful and destructive earthquake which both destroyed Avdat and led to its abandonment.

Kamai and Hatzor (2007) noted that seismic amplification can be at at play at higher parts of a structure (i.e. the "Sky-scraper effect" mentioned by Korzhenkov) leading to potential amplification of bedrock PGA by as much as 2.5. This could in turn lead to a bracket of PGA values for The Roman Tower from 0.4 and 1.0 g. These PGA values convert to Intensities of 7.8 - 9.3 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). A final result can thus be that DDA modeling of the Roman Tower suggests bedrock Intensities between 8 and 10 during this earthquake. Note that this ignores seismic amplification due to a ridge effect over the entire site. The ridge effect could add an additional amplification factor.
Variable Input Units Notes
g Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
  

Model and Lab derived properties

Model was run in qk.mode using a sinusoidal input function. The authors noted that in the case of Avdat the obtained ground-motion parameters may be higher than reasonably expected (e.g. l g at Avdat). Therefore, they do not argue at this stage for exact historical ground motion restoration. Soil-structure and rock-structure interactions were not part of the analysis and considering that Avdat may be subject to a ridge effect, 1 g could be reasonable and could explain the unusual wall bulge at the Roman Tower at Avdat which appears to have been generated by a significant seismic force. Although the authors date this seismic effect to the 3rd or 4th century CE, Erickson-Gini (2014)'s characterization of the 363 CE earthquake as causing the least damage to the site of the 4 recognized earthquakes suggests that this is not the case.

Lab Measurements of original stones from Avdat

Property Value Units
Density 2555 kg./m3
Porosity 5 %
Dynamic Young's Modulus 54.2 Gpa
Dynamic Shear Modulus 20.4 Gpa
Dynamic Poisson's Ratio 0.33 unitless
Interface friction angle 35 degrees



Notes and Further Reading

References

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Mazor (1998). "Seismogenic Origin of the Ancient Avdat Ruins, Negev Desert, Israel." Natural Hazards 18: 193-226.

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Mazor (1999). "Structural reconstruction of seismic events: Ruins of ancient buildings as fossil seismographs." Science and New Technologies 1: 62-74.

Rodkin, M. V. and A. M. Korzhenkov (2018). Estimation of maximum mass velocity from macroseismic data: A new method and application to archeoseismological data. Geodesy and Geodynamics.

Fabian, P. (1998). Evidence of earthquakes destruction in the archaeological record–the case of ancient Avdat. Pp. 21E-26E in The Annual Meeting of the Israel Geological Society, Mitzpeh Ramon.

Erickson-Gini, T. (2014). "Oboda and the Nabateans." STRATA - Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 32.

Tali, E.-G. and I. Yigal (2013). "Excavating the Nabataean Incense Road." Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies 1(1): 24-53.

Erickson-Gini, T. (2000). Nabataean or Roman? Reconsidering the date of the camp at Avdat in light of recent excavations. XVIIIth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, Amman, Jordan.

Kamai, R. and Y. Hatzor (2005). Dynamic back analysis of structural failures in archeological sites to obtain paleo-seismic parameters using DDA. Proceedings of 7th International Conference on the Analysis of Discontinuous Deformation (ICADD-7).

Negev, A. (1974). The Nabatean Potter's Workshop at Oboda, Habelt.

Goren, Y. and P. Fabian (2008). "The Oboda Potter's Workshop Reconsidered." Journal of Roman Archaeology 21.

Negev, A. (1997). "THE ARCHITECTURE OF OBODA: FINAL REPORT." Qedem 36: III-214..

Notes on the so-called Potter's Workshop

Russell (1985) cited archeoseismic evidence for the Incense Road Quake at Avdat citing Negev (1961:123,125) and Negev (1974:24) where Russell (1985) states

At Avdat, an imperial coin struck at Alexandria and tentatively identified as Trajanic was apparently found in association with the collapse of the potter's workshop (Negev, 1974:24).
Ambraseys (2009) supplied the following comments:
Negev argues instead that these destructions were caused by invading Safaitic and Thamudic hordes in the mid first century (Negev 1976), basing his thesis on the period of pottery debris found in a workshop at Oboda. This solution might seem preferable, since it is best not to assume an earthquake unless there is written evidence for it. However, apart from the complexity of the multiple dates of the pottery discovered by Negev (and the fact that later potters often imitated earlier styles), the appearance of a second-century coin among the pottery (Russell 1981, 8) seems to refute his thesis. Of course, this coin does not prove that Oboda was destroyed by an earthquake; it merely shows that Negev has made a mistake. What may suggest an earthquake is the sheer severity and extent of the destruction. Russell believes that neither a Roman annexation of the territory nor sacking by Safaitic or Thamudic hordes could, in any case, have done so much damage.
Negev (1976:229) states
Several years ago I suggested, on account of the results of the excavations at Oboda, a new chronological division for the archaeological history of the Nabateans in the central Negev, based on three phases, focusing at that time my attention on what I named the Middle Nabatean Period. The archaeological data indicated that this period, which began at the end of the reign of Obodas II, terminated abruptly during the generation following the death of Aretas IV, after the middle of the first century CE. I attributed the destruction of Oboda and several road stations along the Petra-Gaza road to attacks of Arab tribes who penetrated from Arabia, and left their imprints in the thousands of Safaitic and Thamudic graffiti in the central Negev, to the east of the Arabah, and also in northern Arabia itself.

The evidence on which I based this chronological scheme was purely archaeological — pottery and coins under a destruction layer, and on the basis of the finds in the Nabatean potter's workshop at Oboda 145 which all pointed to a break in the settlement of the central Negev sometime after the middle of the first century CE.
Goren and Fabian (2008) re-examined the so-called Potter's workshop at Avdat/Oboda and concluded that it was probably a 2nd to early 3rd century CE mill-bakery in the Roman Quarter of town. They noted, among other things, that the original excavations by Negev of the "Potter's workshop" were in unstratified deposits, had coins dating from Hellenistic to the 3rd-4th centuries CE, and geochemical and minerological analysis indicated that the pottery found there appeared to be imported rather than made locally. This suggests that Negev's original hypothesis that the so-called Potter's workshop at Avdat/Oboda showed a break in occupation in the 1st century CE due to invasion (as Negev suggested) or an earthquake (as Russell (1985) proposed) is not supported by the evidence.

Mizpe Shivta

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Mezad Yeruham

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Shivta

Broken and repaired lintel stone at Southern Church in Shivta Broken and repaired lintel stone (top of photo) at entrance to South Church in Shivta

photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Shivta Hebrew שבטה‎‎
Subeita Arabic شبطا‎
Isbeita Arabic يسبييتا‎
Sobata Ancient Greek ‎‎Σόβατα
Introduction

Occupation at Shivta began in the 1st century BCE when it was a station on the Incense Road ( Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). Occupation continued from Nabatean to Roman and Byzantine times until the Arab conquest after which the town declined. It was abandoned in the 8th or 9th century CE although some pottery found there suggests some type of occupation continued until the 13th or 14th century CE ( Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). .

Chronology

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that Shivta suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Seismic Effects

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) identified damage patterns in the ruins of Shivta which indicated previous devastation by earthquakes. These patterns stemmed from three recognizable earthquakes during the Roman, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine periods. Damage patterns are summarized in the table below:
Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Hanging keystone of arches not discussed for Shivta
Asymmetric arch distortion SE Corner of Southern Church 3 Seismic wave propagation was parallel to the arch trend
In such cases the direction of the seismic wave propagation was parallel to the arch direction. In the example given in Fig. 3 the arch trend was 61° and, hence, the seismic wave propagation was ENE-WSW.
Partially collapsed arch stones One of the courtyards of the northern quarter 4 Seismic waves arrived parallel to the direction of the arch
In this example the arch support stones are still standing though slightly displaced, a few stones of the arch are still in the air, and the rest of the stones lie on the ground. The direction of the seismic wave propagation was parallel, or nearly parallel, to the original arch trend. The arch trend was 238°, hence the direction of the seismic waves propagation was along an axis of about NE—SW.
Non-shifted collapse of arches various locations 5 Seismic waves arrived parallel to the arch direction
Arch stones that lie on the ground in a straight line below the original arch position (Fig. 4a) indicate that the seismic waves propagated in a direction that was parallel to the original arch trend. Eight cases have been observed at Shivta, indicating the seismic wave propagation along a SW—NE axis.
Crescent collapse patterns of arches various locations 5 Seismic waves arrived perpendicular to the arch direction
Arch stones that lie on the ground in a crescent pattern (Fig. 5b) indicate that the seismic waves arrived in a direction perpendicular to the original arch trend. Five such cases have been found at Shivta, indicating the seismic waves arrived in a SW-NE direction.
Systematic rotation of wall fragments around the vertical axis various locations 6c Indicating azimuth of epicenter and seismic intensity
Five clockwise rotations were observed at Shivta on walls trending 40°-50° and, in contrast, 4 cases of counterclockwise rotations were observed on the perpendicular walls, trending 120°-130° (Fig. 6c). Thus, the seismic waves came along the bisector of these wall trends, i.e., the seismic waves arrived from the WSW.
Rotation of single stones, wall fragments, or entire walls around a vertical axis indicate arrival of the seismic waves at some angle to the wall trend. The theoretical background of this phenomenon has been discussed in detail by Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a,b).
Similar rotational damage patterns were observed at the Suusamyr earthquake (I = 9-10, MSK-64 scale) as described by Korjenkov and Omuraliev (1993) and Omuraliev et al. (1993b). By analogy, it seems that the intensity of the seismic event that destroyed Shivta was at least I= 8-9 (MSK-64 scale).
Stones rotated around a horizontal axis in collapsed arches Courtyard of the west-central quarter 7a The direction of the seismic waves was inclined, indicating a nearby hypocenter
Two examples of arch stones lying on the ground, each stone being rotated around a horizontal axis, have been observed at Shivta. One example is shown in Fig. 7a, leading to the following conclusions:
  1. as the arch is observed to have fallen straight on the ground, the seismic waves arrived along an axis that was parallel to the trend of the arch, 44° in the studied case, hence the seismic waves arrived along a SW—NE axis
  2. the counterclockwise rotation of the individual stones indicates that the direction of seismic wave arrival was SW
  3. the rotation of the individual stones indicates that the direction of the arriving seismic waves was inclined to the ground surface and could not be vertical (hypocenter beneath the site), nor could it be sub-horizontal (the hypocenter being far away, as compared to its depth).
Hence, the seismic waves arrived in an oblique angle to the ground and the hypocenter was, therefore, rather close to the damaged site, probably in the order of a few tens of kilometers.
Sagged roof slabs rotated around a horizontal axis Building at the north quarter of Shivta 7b The direction of the seismic waves was inclined, indicating a nearby hypocenter
Figure 7b depicts a row of sagged roof slabs that were also rotated, at a building at the north quarter of Shivta. The tilting of the individual slabs indicates a rotational movement. By the same arguments discussed in the previous section, this indicates that the direction of the arriving seismic waves was inclined, which further indicates that the hypocenter was relatively close to the study location, a few tens of kilometers away. The trend of the row of roof slabs is 138°, hence the direction of the arriving seismic waves was along the SW—NE axis.
Systematic collapse of walls and agricultural fences various locations 8a
8b
8c
Indicating seismic intensity and "general direction" of seismic wave propagation
Figure 8a shows a wall of a building, trending SE 141°, that collapsed in a SW 231° direction.
Figure 8b depicts an agricultural wall trending SE, revealing a distinct collapse towards the SW.
Nineteen cases of such walls were observed at Shivta (Fig. 8c).
In 15 cases collapse was toward the SW in walls trending 100°-160°, whereas only in 4 cases collapse was toward the NE in walls of the same trend. This clearly preferred orientation of collapse leads to the following conclusions:
  1. the cause of destruction was an earthquake
  2. since the respective seismic intensity attributed for such collapse in adobe buildings is I = 7 according to the definitions of the MSK-64 scale, in the case of the stone buildings of Shivta the local seismic intensity was at least I = 8
  3. the seismic waves arrived along a general SW—NE direction.
Severe damage to about 75% of the buildings various locations n/a Indicating earthquake intensity of at least I = 8 (MSK-64)
The MSK-64 scale definitions relate to degrees of damage of buildings, starting at "slightly" damaged and ascending up to "severe" and "total" destruction. In addition, the MSK-64 scale defines general types of building qualities, starting from modern seismic-proof buildings (type A) and descending through stone buildings (type B), fired-brick buildings, adobe buildings, etc. Accordingly, the Byzantine city of Shivta, built of hard limestone stones placed on hard limestone bedrock, is composed of type B buildings
At Shivta more than 75% of the type B Byzantine buildings reveal severe damage, indicating destruction by earthquake of an intensity of at least I = 8 (MSK-64).
Significant spreading distances of collapse debris Northeast of town 8b A criterion of high intensity earthquake
The distance at which collapse debris is observed away from the structural foundations is a crucial indicator for a seismic or non-seismic cause (e.g., static loading, poor foundations, climatic weathering) and the intensity of the former. At Shivta the collapse debris of agricultural walls, which originally were, at most, 1 m high, is observed to reach distances of up to 8 m (Fig. 8b). Experience in building construction reveals that in the case of non-seismic destruction the collapse debris is thrown to a distance that is not more than 1/3 of the original height of the structure (0. Korjenkova, personal communication). The corresponding figure is 8/1 in the described cases of agricultural walls at Shivta. Hence, this very distinct distance of collapse debris spreading denotes destruction by an earthquake. The intensity of that earthquake can be estimated from other damage patterns, described above, e.g., collapse of walls, indicating seismic intensity of I = 8; high percentage of severely damaged walls (about 75%), indicating an intensity of I = 8 or more; and, as described below, joints that cross few adjacent stones in a wall. Thus, the intensity of the earthquake that spread the stones of agricultural stone fences to the described distances was at least I=8
The advantage of studying collapse features at ancient agricultural stone fences is that they are isolated, i.e., there is a distinct distance between them. In contrast, in dense urban complexes observations are hindered because
  1. the presence of other building elements touching a wall partially support it and severely complicate the destruction pattern
  2. it is often hard to identify the source of fallen stones.
In addition, experience reveals that damaged agricultural stone fences were not robbed by later inhabitants, in contrast to the common looting of stones from fancy buildings.
Preservation of walls in a preferred direction within a complex of ruins NE quarter of Shivta 9 Destruction was by an earthquake and seismic wave propagation was parallel to the preserved wall trend
Figure 9 clearly reveals a preferred orientation of preserved walls of the northern quarter of Shivta. This type of key observation is useful as a tool in the reconnaissance stage of an archeoseismic study. The preferred orientation of intact walls testifies that the destruction of the urban complex was definitely by an earthquake. In addition, the axis of the seismic wave propagation was parallel to the trend of the preserved walls. Walls trending around 68° at the northern quarter of Shivta are distinctly better preserved, hence the seismic wave propagation was along the ENE—WSW axis.
Systematic tilting of fallen roof slabs SW quarter of Shivta 10a 10b 10c Seismic waves propagated in the direction of the tilting
Figures l0a,b depict tilting of roof slabs in two adjacent rooms (Fig. 10c) at the southwest quarter of Shivta. In this case both walls that supported the roof slabs oscillated during the earthquake, and as a result the roof slabs collapsed and were tilted in the same direction in both rooms. The seismic wave propagation was perpendicular to the trend of the supporting walls. The trend of the supporting walls depicted in Fig. 10 was SE-NW, hence the direction of the seismic wave propagation was perpendicular, i.e. NE-SW.
Holes of missing stones
("shooting of stones")
Northern quarter of Shivta 11a 11b 11c Indicating "shooting" or "bursting" during strong earthquakes
Figures 11a and 11b,c were photographed in adjacent rooms at the northern quarter of Shivta, depicting the phenomenon of "shooting stones". Nearly a hundred cases of such "missing" stones have been observed at Shivta. This resembles two different phenomena
  1. mining bursting — the extrusion of single rocks from walls of mine galleries, as a mode of localized stress release
  2. shooting of single rocks out of rock exposures during the M = 7.3 (I = 9-10) 1992 Suusamyr, Kyrgyzstan, earthquake (Korjenkov and Omuraliev, 1993; Omuraliev et al., 1993).
It is concluded that the holes of missing single stones, seen in Figs. 11 a—c, similarly resulted from localized stress release during a strong earthquake. This conclusion is supported by the numerous other seismic damage patterns observed in conjunction with the phenomenon of shooting stones, e.g., the joint seen above the missing stone in Fig. 11a, or the rotation of the stone No. 19 as well as stones No. 8, 10, 13, and 15, seen in Figs. 11b,c.

In the Suusamyr earthquake mentioned, shooting of single rocks was observed within the isoseismal line of I = 8 and more. By analogy, it is suggested that the earthquake at Shivta, which caused shooting of single stones out of walls, had an intensity of at least I = 8. This is in good agreement with similar intensities concluded from other, above-described, observations, e.g., rotation of stones and other building elements, systematic collapse of walls and agricultural stone fences, high percentage of severely damaged buildings, and distances of thrown away collapse debris of agricultural fences.
Single stones partially pushed out of walls Northern quarter of Shivta 11b 11c Indicating damage by a strong seismic event
Figures 11b,c show not only holes of bursted out stones, but also reveal stones that were partially pushed out of the wall. For example, stones No. 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 19 (Figs. 11b,c) are pulled out southward 2.5-26.0 cm. Such pushed stones provide by them-selves a criterion of seismic damage.
Vertical joints passing through few adjacent stones 12a is in West Central Quarter
12b in Northern Church
13b in South Church
12a 12b 13b Minimum earthquake intensity I= 8x MSK-64 scale
The definition of damage patterns caused by earth-quakes of intensity I = 7 (MSK-64 scale) includes joints crossing a few adjacent high-quality bricks. The reason that such through-going joints are formed only as a result of high-intensity earthquakes is understandable in light of the high energy necessary to overcome the stress shadows of free surfaces at the stone margins (i.e., the free space between adjacent stones) as described by Fisher et al. (1995), Engelder and Fisher (1996), Becker and Gross (1996). Figures 12a,b depict through-going joints, not in bricks, but in hard limestone stones, and hence, the intensity of the damaging earthquake must have been higher than the I = 7, quoted for bricks. This is in agreement with other criteria that indicate that the earthquake that damaged Shivta was at least I = 8.
It is important to note that these cracks occur in stair-cases and doorsteps that by origin carried no load and in a doorpost of the type shown in Fig. 13b, which is shielded by an overlying arch-like structure. The lack of overload rules out static damage in these cases and makes seismic destruction evident.
Cracked doorsteps, staircases, and doorposts 13a in North Church
13b in South Church
13a 13b Cracks in structures in Shivta that carry no load
Upper parts of buildings more damaged than lower parts Southwest quarter 14 The "skyscraper effect"
The arches and roof slabs seen in Fig. 14 mark the ground floor of a building, and the overlying walls are the reminders of the second floor. In this case severe damage is seen in the upper part of the building, as compared to little damage in the lower part. This observation resembles the well-known "skyscraper effect" that results from the higher degree of oscillations of the higher part of the structure. A higher degree of destruction of upper parts of structures at Shivta is the rule, providing an independent reflection of seismically-induced damage.
Special walls supporting constructions that were tilted by a former earthquake location not specified 15 Figure 15 depicts an example of a well built inclined wall that supports a tilted section of a wall of a house at the west—central quarter. Similar support walls are observable at Avdat where these walls reveal a systematic trend, indicating the supported walls were tilted by an earthquake (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a). Similarly, the supporting walls of Shivta seem to reflect a former earthquake, in agreement with the above-listed observations that indicate earthquake damage. In certain cases, such support walls are themselves seismically damaged, indicating a second earthquake event.
Seismic damage of lately restored walls not discussed
Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) summarized their conclusions as follows:
  1. The ancient city of Shivta is situated on flat low-land, built of massive carbonate bedrock. Hence, no site-effects are expected to have affected the patterns of seismic damage.
  2. Walls of buildings and agricultural fences trending SE (130°±15°) reveal collapse in a preferential direction towards the SW (Fig. 8 ), whereas walls oriented NE (40°±20°) reveal random collapse.
  3. This key observation indicates that the seismic waves arrived either from the SW (in the case of a compression wave), or from the NE, if the collapse happened in an extensional quadrangle (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a). In any case, the SE and NW directions of seismic wave propagation can be excluded.
  4. Rotations of blocks are observed at the Shivta ruins to be clockwise at walls trending NE (40°-50°), and counterclockwise at walls trending SE (115°-130°), as shown in Fig. 6c . Such rotations could be caused only by push movements by compression waves. Thus, the seismic waves arrived from the SW.
  5. The Shivta ruins disclose two main perpendicular directions of walls: NE (30°-60°) and SE (120°-150°), as can be seen in Fig. lc . Hence, all the buildings of the Byzantine city can be modeled via a "representative room" depicted in Fig. 16 . Three possible scenarios warrant discussion:
    1. seismic waves arrived parallel to the NE-trending walls (Fig. 16a) — the shear stresses along the walls would be minimal, and hence no rotation would be caused, and only collapse of NW walls would be systematic
    2. seismic waves arrived from the west, i.e., along a line of the bisector between the wall directions—both NE and SE trending walls would reveal oriented collapse to the NW and SW sides respectively; walls with a NE trend would reveal clockwise rotation, and walls with a SE trend would reveal a more or less equal number of counterclockwise rotations
    3. seismic waves arrived from the WSW, i.e., at a different angle to each of the wall directions — the SE walls would manifest systematic collapse generally toward the SW, whereas the NE walls would show random collapse; rotations of elements of walls trending NE would be clockwise, whereas rotations of stones of the SE-trending walls would be counter-clockwise
    The field observations fit this solution (c).
  6. A few hundred individual observations, made at almost one hundred locations at the ancient city of Shivta, revealed the 19 types of damage patterns reported above. Part of these observations are useful in determining the axis along which the seismic waves propagated (WSW—ENE), other observations point out that the epicenter was located WSW of the city, and yet another group of observations points to an intensity of I= 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) of the earthquake that destroyed the Byzantine city in the 7th century.
  7. The distance of the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed Byzantine Shivta can be estimated from the following boundary conditions and considerations:
    1. the systematic pattern of destruction indicates dominance of horizontal seismic movements, which in turn rules out the possibility that the hypocenter was beneath the city (i.e., Shivta was not at site A of Fig. 17 )
    2. on the other hand, the dominance of a horizontal component of the seismic movements implies that the epicenter was at a distance that at least equaled the depth of the hypocenter (i.e., Shivta was at site B of Fig. 17)
    3. the intensity I = 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) limits the distance of the epicenter probably to less that 30 km, a conclusion that has to be checked by data from more sites from the Negev, applying the "triangulation method".
  8. An attempt to locate the epicenter of the post-Byzantine earthquake at Shivta is made by applying the reconstructed WSW direction of the epicenter, and the concluded epicenter distance of a few tens of kilometers. These boundary conditions were projected on the geological map of Israel: the concluded direction of the epicenter crosses the Zin fault at a distance of 10 km, and the adjacent Nafha fault crosses with the direction of the concluded epicenter at a distance of 50 km. In any case, the results clearly point out that the epicenter was in the Negev highlands and not in the Dead Sea Rift Valley.
  9. The seismic damage patterns described so far were observed on buildings built in the Byzantine period and in secondary walls added later on, leading to the conclusion that at least two earthquakes damaged the Byzantine and post-Byzantine constructions.
  10. The described variety of seismic damage patterns provides tools to establish certain characteristics of the involved earthquakes, e.g., seismic intensity, axis of seismic waves propagation, and in the case of systematic rotation, also the specific direction of the epicenter. In a more advanced stage of the archeoseismological study, the investigations in individual sites can be put together into a regional picture that provides more definite answers on the nature of the studied earthquakes. For example, the Negev data from several ancient ruin centers may be compiled, e.g., Mamshit, Avdat, Rehovot, Haluza, Hurvat Sa'adon, Shivta, and Nizzana (Fig. 1 ). In other words, the triangulation approach is recommended (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a , 1999b).
  11. The common descriptions of damage patterns typifying different earthquake intensities are based on the inventory of modern buildings. The present work brings up additional damage patterns observed in ancient architectural complexes, e.g., damage pattern of stone arches, systematic tilt, collapse and rotation of stone building elements, the distance to which collapse debris is thrown away from the respective foundation, as well as preferential collapse of colonnades observed in many published case studies.
  12. The described archeoseismological study has modern applications in regard to specifications of seismic safety to be taken into account in new constructions in the Negev highlands.
  13. Finally, the described archeoseismological work lends itself to inter-regional and international collaboration in the construction of a seismic archive that goes back thousands of years.
Intensity Estimates

Because the observations of Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) are derived from what is presumed to be 2 separate earthquakes (Byzantine and post-Byzantine), it is difficult to identify which seismic effect should be assigned to which earthquake. However, it is likely that much of the observed damage comes from the later post-Byzantine earthquake when repairs would have either been limited or not made at all. The table below should be considered tentative.
Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls VI +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks VI +
Displaced masonry blocks VIII +
Dropped keystones in arches or lintels in windows and doors VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimated a local Intensity of 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) for the 7th century (post-Byzantine) earthquake. They estimated that the epicenter was a few tens of kilometers away based on seismic effects which suggested high levels of intensity (i.e the epicenter had to be close) and rotated arch stones and roof fragments which indicates oblique incidence of the seismic waves. Oblique incidence would indicate that the hypocenter was close to the site. They also estimated that the epicenter was in the WSW direction. Directionality of the epicenter was based on orientation of damage patterns and observations about how wall orientation affected the extent and type of observed seismic damage. These patterns indicate an epicenter in the NE or SW direction. Choosing one of these two directions was apparently largely based on a preferred SW direction of wall collapse (inertia effect). Refining a WSW direction from a generally SW direction was apparently based on 9 rotated wall fragments which agreed with a model they showed in Figure 16c.

Notes and Further Reading

Korjenkov, A. and E. Mazor (1999). "Earthquake characteristics reconstructed from archeological damage patterns: Shivta, the Negev Desert, Israel." Israel Journal of Earth Sciences 48: 265-282.

Margalit, S. (1987). "The North Church of Shivta: The Discovery of The First Church." Palestine exploration quarterly 119(2): 106-121.

Erickson-Gini, Tali (2013-12-16). "Shivta Final Report" (125). Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel.

Tepper, Yotam; Bar-Oz, Guy (2016-05-04). "Shivta Preliminary Report" (128). Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel.

Segal, A. (1985). "Shivta-A Byzantine Town in the Negev Desert." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 44(4): 317-328

Röhl, Constanze (2010). "Shivta, Architektur und Gesellschaft einer byzantinischen Siedlung im Negev (PhD thesis); "Shivta, Architecture and Society of a Byzantine settlement in the Negev"" (in German). Cologne, Germany: University of Cologne.

Rehovot ba Negev

Tilted Walls at Rehobot ba Negev Fig. 12

Rehovot ba Negev, northward tilting and shifting of the southern wall of the Northern Church

Khorzhenkov and Mazor (2014)


Introduction

Rehovot Ba Negev

Chronology

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Tsafrir (1988: 26) excavated the Northern Church (aka the Pilgrim Church) of Rehovot ba Negev and came to the following conclusions regarding its initial construction :
A clear terminus ante quem for the building of the church is given by a burial inscription (Ins. 2) dated to the month Apellaios 383, which falls, according to the era of the Provincia Arabia, in November- December 488 C.E. The church probably was erected in the second half of the fifth century. (See below the subsequent general discussion of the triapsidal basilicas beginning on p. 47.). Although it is clear that several parts of the complex were built later than the main hall, such as the northern chapel (see 111. 1 15), there is no doubt that the entire complex was constructed within the same few year.
Later on he noted that
A date of approximately 460-470 for the building activity therefore seems reasonable, although the calculation remains hypothetical.
After initial construction, additional architectural elements were added; foremost among them a a revetment or support wall which is described and discussed below by Tsafrir (1988: 27).
The most important architectural addition was the talus, or sloping revetment, that was built around the walls of the church from the outside to prevent their collapse. Such revetments were common in the Negev. They supported the walls of churches as well as of private houses. They are found, for example, around the walls of St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. At Rehovot such walls may have been erected following an earthquake, but more probably it was necessary to reinforce them just because of poor quality masonry. To explain these retaining walls as having created a military defense post (as has been done in the case of the northern church at Shivta) is awkward.
Khorzhenkov and Mazor (2014: 84) identified what they believed were three (or more) earthquakes which had expressions in the walls of the northern church. The first two earthquakes struck after construction of the church around 465 CE and before the site was abandoned by its Christian inhabitants around 640 CE (when the Byzantine Empire permanently lost power in the area and could no longer support these peripheral outposts). A later earthquake struck during the Early Arab period - after ~640 CE.
The existence of revetment walls, supporting the southern wall of the Church from the south, indicates that the southern wall’s tilt occurred during the first of the Late Roman earthquakes. It seems that the southern wall began to tilt northward inside the building during the Early Arab earthquakes; additional evidence for this is the shift northwards of the upper part of the revetment wall. Stones of the perpendicular eastern wall are cracked in the small room marked on the plan. Nevertheless, this wall is better preserved (it is much higher) than the main southern wall of the North Church. This indicates that the seismic shocks during both earthquakes acted perpendicular to the main Church wall: it had freedom of oscillation and was significantly destroyed. The small eastern wall, oriented parallel to the effect of the seismic movements, withstood the seismic oscillations better, although many of its stones were significantly damaged. The whole northern wall of the Church (field station 12 in fig. 3) has a significant tilt to the south (figs. 8 a. b).
Khorzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) discussed the two late Byzantine quakes (between 465 CE and 640 CE) further
The destruction event (an earthquake), which deformed the original wall, occurred before the decline of the Byzantine Empire. There was then another seismic event which led to the destruction of the revetment wall itself. The last event was probably an end of ›civilized‹ life here.
Rodkin and Khorzhenkov (2019) noted that

Another strong earthquake occurred during the 7th century AD. This could be the same earthquake that destroyed Avdat [ Korjenkov and Mazor (1999), Fabian (1998)]. This earthquake could also drive the inhabitants out of Rehovot, which occurred soon after (or slightly before) of the Arab conquest.
This suggests that the Late Byzantine earthquakes that struck Rehovot ba Negev could include some combination of the following

Archeoseismic evidence at this location is labeled as possible.

Saadon

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Saadon
Horvat Sa'adon Hebrew
Khirbet as-Sa'adi Arabic كهيربيت اسءسا'ادي
Sudanon Greek σuδανον
Sa'adu Nabaten
Introduction

Horvat Sa'adon, a Byzantine era village in the Negev, was located on a secondary route connecting Rehovot-in-the-Negev with Shivta (Erickson-Gini, 2018). It may have been visited by the Anonymous pilgrim of Piacenza. Looting of the site in modern times may have obscured some archaeoseismic evidence.

Chronology

Erickson-Gini (2018) identified 3 phases for the Southwestern Church of Sa'adon.
Phase Start Date c. CE End Date c. CE Comments
1 5th- early 6th mid 7th The church appears to have been constructed in the Middle Byzantine period possibly as a monastery church.
2 mid 7th 8th The church was heavily damaged and subsequently repaired in the mid-7th century CE and continued to be used for several years in the Umayyad period (mid-7th— 8th centuries CE)
3 early 8th early 8th The church was abandoned sometime in the Early Islamic period, probably in the early 8th century CE.
Some time during the Umayyad period, this church, and possibly the entire town, was abandoned as attested by the Arabic graffiti and inscriptions on the walls of the abandoned church.(Erickson-Gini, 2018)

Seismic Effects

Erickson-Gini (2018) mentions the following seismic effects or seismic related repairs.
Location Observation
Southwestern Church A partially destroyed northern prayer niche
N Wall ofSouthwestern Church Structural damage and repairs were revealed along the north wall of the church. The damage and subsequent repairs can be attributed to earthquake damage possibly in the mid-7th century CE.
NW corner of Southwestern Church The upper section of a revetment (support) wall testifying to repairs an the exterior surface exists along the northwest corner of the church.
S Wall Southwestern Church In the second phase of occupation, the space between the square column and the southern wall was blocked and the blockage appears to have extended north of the column as well. ... The blockage of the space between the square column and the southern wall points to a contraction in the space of the church following the earthquake that required repairs in the northern wall.
S Wall in Western extension of the Southwestern Church Excavation in the western extension of the church revealed damage to the southern wall that was apparently left partially unrepaired. However the pavement in the nave survived in situ.
NE bank of Nahal Sa'adon The `wine-press' hewn along the bedrock shelf on the northeast bank of Nahal Sa'adon was apparently broken by the same seismic event.
Damage observations reveal that walls aligned in a WNW direction . were damaged.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls In the second phase of occupation, the space between the square column and the southern wall was blocked and the blockage appears to have extended north of the column as well. ... The blockage of the space between the square column and the southern wall points to a contraction in the space of the church following the earthquake VII+
Displaced Walls A partially destroyed northern prayer niche VII+
Tilted Walls The upper section of a revetment (support) wall testifying to repairs an the exterior surface exists along the northwest corner of the church.
Revetment Walls can be used to shore up tilted walls.
VI+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Erickson-Gini, T. (2018). Horvat Sa'adon - Excavations in the Roman Tomb and Byzantine Church. London, The Society.

Nessana

Aerial view of Nissana Aerial view of Nessana

Etan J. Tal - Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Nessana
Nitzana Hebrew ניצנה‎‎
Nizzana Hebrew ניצנה‎‎
Auja el-Hafir Arabic عوجة الحفير‎‎
el-Audja Arabic variant يلأودجا
'Uja al-Hafeer Arabic variant 'وجا الءهافيير
el Hafir Arabic variant يل هافير
Introduction

Nessana was located along the Incense Road and was settled from the Hellenistic to Early Arab periods (Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). There is a Neolithic site in the vicinity. The Nessana papyri was discovered at Nessana. .

Chronology

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that Nessana suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Mampsis

SE Mampsis Photo 2

Southeastern part of town [Mampsis] showing city-wall

Negev (1988)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Mamshit Hebrew ממשית‎
Kurnub Modern Arabic كورنوب
Kurnub Nabatean ?
Mampsis Byzantine Greek Μαμψις
Memphis Ancient Greek Μέμφις
Introduction

Mampsis was initially occupied at least as early as the 2nd century BCE when it was a station on a secondary part of the Incense Road (Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). It appears on the Madaba Map as Μαμψις (Mampsis). It went into decline or was abandoned in the 7th century CE .

Chronology

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) analyzed damage patterns at Mampsis utilizing 250 cases of 12 different types of deformation patterns which they were able to resolve into two separate earthquake events on the basis of the age of the buildings which showed damage. The fact that the two different events showed distinct directional patterns - the first earthquake with an indicated epicenter to the north and the second with an epicenter to the SW - was taken as confirmation that they had successfully separated out archeoseismic measurements for each individual event. The first earthquake, according to Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) struck around the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 4th century CE and the second struck in the 7th century CE - at the end of the Byzantine period. They provided the following comments regarding dating of the earthquakes
To determine exact ages of the destructive earthquakes, which destroyed the ancient Mamshit, was not possible by methods used in given study. It has to be a special pure archeological and historical research by specific methods related to that field. Age of the first earthquake was taken from a work of Negev (1974) who has conducted main excavation activity in the site. As concern to the second earthquake – the archeological study reveals that the seismically destroyed Byzantine cities were not restored. So, most probably, one of the strong earthquakes in VII Cent. A.D. caused abandonment.

Mamshit thrived, in spite of its location in a desert, thanks to runoff collecting dams, and storage of the precious rain water in public ponds and private cisterns. These installations were most probably severely damaged during the earthquake, cutting at once the daily water supply, forcing the inhabitants to seek refuge in the more fertile regions. This situation was most probably followed by looting by local nomads, turning a temporal seek of shelter into permanent abandonment.
Deciphering chronology at Mampsis has unfortunately been problematic.
First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

Negev (1974) dated the first earthquake to late 3rd/early 4th century via coins and church architectural styles however he dates construction of the East Church, where some archaeoseismic evidence for the first earthquake was found, to the 2nd half of the 4th century CE. Given this apparent contradiction, I am labeling the date of the first earthquake at Mamphis as "Early Byzantine ?".

Second Earthquake - 5th - 7th centuries CE ?

The date for the second earthquake also seems tenuous as Negev (1974:412) and Negev (1988) indicate that Mampsis suffered destruction by human agency long before the official Arab conquest of the Negev and the town ceased to exist as a factor of any importance after the middle of the 5th century. However, Magness (2003) pointed out that there is evidence for some type of occupation at Mampsis beyond the middle of the 5th century CE.

The small amount of Byzantine pottery published to date from Mamshit also indicates that occupation continued through the second half of the sixth and seventh centuries. There are examples of dipinti on amphoras of early fifth to mid seventh century date. Early Islamic presence is attested by Arabic graffiti on the stones of the apse of the East Church (Negev, 1988). More recently published evidence for sixth to seventh century occupation, as well as for early Islamic occupation, comes from a preliminary report on the 1990 excavations. The description of Building IV, which is located on the slope leading to the East Church, states that "the building continued to function in the Early Islamic period (7th century c.E.) with no architectural changes 122. The large residence, Building XII, contained mostly material dating to the fifth century, but pottery of the "Late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods" was also present 123. In 1993-94, T. Erickson-Gini conducted salvage excavations in several areas at Mamshit, under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The pottery she found includes Fine Byzantine Ware Form lA bowls, and examples of Late Roman "C" (Phocean Red Slip Ware) Form 3, African Red Slip Ware Form 105, and Cypriot Red Slip Ware Form 9 (Erickson-Gini, 2004). This evidence indicates that the occupation at Mamshit continued through the late sixth century and into the seventh century. The Arabic graffiti on the apse of the East Church reflect some sort of early Islamic presence at the site, the nature of which is unclear.
Considering this dating difficulty, I am labeling the date for the second earthquake as "5th -7th centuries CE ?".

Early 2nd century CE earthquake

Russell (1985) cited Negev (1971:166) for evidence of early second century earthquake destruction at Mamphis. Negev (1971) reports extensive building activity in Mamphis in the early second century AD obliterating much of the earlier and smaller infrastructure. However, neither a destruction layer nor an earthquake is mentioned. Citing Erickson-Gini (1999) and Erickson-Gini (2001), Korzhenkov and Erickson-Gini (2003) cast doubt on Russell (1985)'s assertion of archeoseismic damage at Mamphis stating that recent research indicates a continuation of occupation throughout the 1st and 2nd cent. A.D.. Continuous occupation could indicate that seismic damage was limited rather than absent.

Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects - First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ? - Lower parts of buildings (built in Nabatean and Roman Periods)

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Systematic Tilting of Walls E of West Church

Entire Site
3a
3b
3c
3d
Observed damage pattern: tilted walls or wall segments (Figs. 3 a. b). By convention, the direction of tilting is defined by the direction pointed by the upper part of the tilted segment. Only cases of tilting of most of the wall were included in this study.
Statistical observations: The data of surveyed cases of tilting are summed up in Tab. 1. 30 cases of tilting were observed at walls trending 55° to 105°, out of these 26 are tilted northward, and only 4 are tilted southward (Tab. 1 and Fig.3 c). In contrast, only 8 cases of tilting were observed in the perpendicular walls, with a 135° to 185° trend, and out of these the tilting is in 4 cases eastward and in 4 cases westward. Thus, a clear preference of northward tilting is observed at the Roman ruins of Mamshit.

Interpretation: Preferentially oriented tilts of the walls is becoming a common technique for recognition of a seismic nature of damage applied in archeoseimology ... An analysis of the seismic motions and resulting stresses in Mamshit is given in Fig. 3 d, leading to the conclusion that a seismic shocks arrived from north.
Lateral Shifting of Building Elements E of West Church
4 Observed damage pattern: northward shifting by 8 cm, as well as severe cracking of the lowest stone in a 175° trending arch (Fig.4). Thus, a large building element was shifted, and in addition slightly rotated clockwise. The location is at the eastern line of fodder-basins of a complex of stables, at a residential quarter east of the West Church.

Statistical observations: 14 cases of shifting were observed.

Interpretation: Displacement of the building elements is a known phenomenon of earthquake deformation in ancient buildings and was used for the determination of the seismic motions’ directions as wall tilt or collapse. The only process that could cause such shifting is an earthquake – no other mechanism is known. In Mamshit the seismic shocks arrived from north and the push movements were transmitted from the ground to the building foundations, causing the arch to move in an opposite direction, i e. towards the epicenter, due to inertia.
Rotation of Wall Fragments around a Vertical Axis ENE of West Church

Near Frescoes House

Entire Site
5a
5b
5c
5d
Observed damage pattern: 1. An example of clockwise rotation of stones within a wall trending 172°, in a room located ENE of the West Church (Fig. 5 a). Stone A was rotated 5° clockwise and stone B was rotated 10° clockwise, the horizontal displacement between these rotated stones being 21.5 cm.. An example of a counterclockwise rotation in the northern wall of the Frescoes House (Fig. 5 b); the trend of the wall was 59° and the azimuth of the rotated wall fragment is 57°.
Statistical observations: Walls trending 150° to 175° revealed 22 cases of rotation, and out of them 16 are clockwise and only 6 counterclockwise (Fig. 5 c). The perpendicular walls, trending 60° to 95° revealed 27 cases of rotation, out of which 24 cases are counterclockwise and only 3 cases are clockwise. Thus, a clearly systematic picture of rotations is seen: counterclockwise in ENE walls and clockwise in SSE walls (Fig. 5 c).

Interpretation: Rotation of individual stones, fragments of the walls, or whole walls around a vertical axis is common phenomenon during strong recent and ancient earthquakes. Pulling out of foundation stones accompanying by their rotation in spite of their solid cement testifies on just dynamic beating out of them in the process of sharp horizontal oscillations of the all wall (and not only of its upper part) relatively the foundation. Seismic ground motion is the only mechanism that can cause rotation of building elements, a conclusion well supported by the large number of observed rotation cases and the obvious directional systematics. The theoretical background of this phenomenon in the buildings was described in details by Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) and Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999b). In Mamshit an analysis of the direction of the seismic motion, as derived from the dominant rotation patterns is presented in Fig. 5 d, revealing that the epicenter was approximately at NNE.
Cracking of Door Steps, Staircases and Lintels Administrative Tower

E of West Church

Entire Site
6a
6b
6c
7a
7b
8
Observed damage pattern: A 175° trending doorstep of the entrance into one of the rooms of the Administrative Tower was cracked at its southern part (Fig. 6 a) and a similar damage pattern is seen in the doorstep of another room, located eastward within the same building (Fig. 6 b).
Cracks in a staircase of the Late Nabatean Building, located east of the West Church, is seen in Fig. 7 a. Double arrays there show direction of walls swinging. Because of pressure from tilting wall the doorstep got extra-loading which led to cracking of it.
Statistical observations: Fig. 8 reveals that out of 44 observed cases of distinct cracking in Roman buildings, 32 are in northward trending structures (mainly 180°), and only 12 cases are seen in structures included in the perpendicular walls (trending around 90°).

Interpretation: Cracks breaking special building elements, like doorsteps, staircases and lintels, are an important indicator for evaluation of the seismic damage. The cracking process of the doorsteps shown in Figs. 6 a. b are suggested in Fig. 6 c, and the damages seen in the staircase shown in Fig. 7 a is discussed in Fig. 7 b. The conclusion in each of these cases is that the southern wall was tilted northward by inertia in reaction to seismic shocks from the north, indicating the epicenter location was northward of Mamshit. The clear preferential occurrence of cracks in N-S trending walls is in agreement with this conclusion.
Slipped Keystones of Arches W of Eastern Church

Stables - E of West Church
9a
9b
9c
Observed damage pattern: A 174° trending arch, located in a room west of the Eastern Church, exhibits a keystone that slipped 6cm down of its original position, as can be seen in Fig. 9 a. A pair of keystones slipped 3cm down in a 175° trending arch located above the third fodder-basin in the Stables (Fig. 9 b). An important auxiliary observation is that in these cases the arches themselves were not deformed.

Statistical observations: Two cases of slipped keystones were observed, both in N-S trending arches.

Interpretation. Hanging keystones themselves are a strong evidence of seismic origin of such type of deformations, but they also can be used as a kinematic indicator telling about seismic motions direction of a historical earthquake. Displacement of an arch keystone reflects an event of brief extension, during which the keystone slipped, followed by rapid return to the regular state of compression that fixed the keystone in its present state. Such a brief state of extension discloses arrival of seismic shocks that was transmitted to the base of the arch, causing its upper part to be momentarily tilted in the direction of the epicenter, the part facing the epicenter being more effected, as depicted in Fig. 9 c. The observed slipping of the keystone could have occurred in a number of steps during a series of oscillations of the upper part of the arch. The observation that otherwise the arch remained in its original position indicates that the seismic push arrived from a direction parallel to the trend of the arch, as otherwise the arch would be tilted and collapse side wards. Thus, the described cases indicate that the seismic motions were parallel to the direction of the respective arches, i. e. along a N-S direction.
Jointing Administrative Tower
10a
10b
Observed damage pattern: At the western wall of the Administrative Tower, trending 178°, an 88cm long joint is seen crossing two stones (Fig.10 a). A 70cm long joint is seen at the lower support stone of a 178° trending arch, located in a room west of the Administrative Tower (Fig.10 b).

Statistical observations: 12 through-going joints were observed.

Interpretation: Joints crossing a few adjacent stones is one of the strong evidences of seismic origin of the deformations. Formation of such joints has been reported in many macroseismic studies. For example, Korjenkov and I. N. Lemzin described such joints formed in modern buildings during the Kochkor-Ata (Southern Kyrghyzstan) 1992 earthquake of a magnitude MLH = 6.2. Such through-going joints are formed only as a result of high intensity earthquake – high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of free surfaces at the stone margins (i. e., the free space between adjacent stones). ... At Mamshit the joints occurred together with the other listed seismic damage patterns.
Pushing of Walls by Connected Perpendicular Walls Entire site 11 Observed damage pattern: Clockwise and counterclockwise rotations of adjacent stones in a wall, caused by a push of a connected perpendicular wall (Fig. 11).

Statistical observations: 6 cases of such pushes were observed in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: A strong seismic event pushed the perpendicular wall. Hence, the seismic motions came along an axis parallel to the pushed wall. In the case of Mamshit this was along a N-S direction.
Percentage of Heavily Damaged Buildings Entire site The destroyed Roman buildings were rebuilt and, thus, many of the destroyed building parts were cleared away. The large number of deformation patterns that seen in the remaining parts of the Roman period buildings makes room to the assessment that practically all houses were damaged. Thus, the intensity of the tremor was IX EMS-98 scale or more.

Seismic Effects - Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ? - Upper parts of buildings (repaired and built in the Byzantine Period)

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Tilting of Walls S of West Church

Entire Site
12a
12b
12c
12d
Observed damage pattern: The upper row of stones of a N-S (176°) trending wall, in a room south of the West Church, is tilted westward by an angle of 75° (Fig. 12 a). The upper stones of a wall trending N-S (174°), in a room south of the premises of the West Church, are also tilted westward, in an angle of 75° (Fig. 12 b).

Statistical observations: 50 cases of tilting have been found on 145° to 185° trending walls, out of which 47 are tilted WSW and only 3 cases are tilted ENE (Fig. 12 c). In contrast, 50° to 100° trending walls revealed only 14 cases of tilting and with no systematic direction.

Interpretation: The seismic pulses arrived from WSW.
Rotation of Wall Fragments around a Vertical Axis E of West Church

House of Frescoes

Entire Site
13a
13b
13c
13d
Observed damage pattern: A 4° clockwise rotation is seen in the upper part of a N-S (172°) trending wall, situated in a room of the Late Nabatean Building (Fig. 13 a). In contrast, a counterclockwise rotation of 5° is seen in part of an E-W (62°) trending wall in the House of Frescoes (Fig. 13 b).

Statistical observations: Walls trending 60° to 85° reveal 9 cases of counter-clockwise rotation versus just 1 case of clockwise rotation (Fig. 13 c). In contrast, out of 14 cases of rotation in 155° to 180° trending walls, 13 are rotated clockwise, and only 1 counterclockwise.

Interpretation: The seismic shocks arrived from SW, i.e. in the direction of the bisector to the trend of the walls (Fig. 13 d).

Seismic Effects - Additional Imprints of Severe Earthquakes

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Blocking of Entrances West City Wall

XII quarter
14a
14b
Observation: Fig. 14 a depicts a gate in the western city wall, close to its SW corner, that was blocked by smaller stones. The wall edge is tilted towards the former entrance, disclosing that the latter was blocked in order to support the wall that was damaged, most probably by an earthquake. The blocking stones are tilted as well, possibly disclosing the impact of another earthquake. Fig. 14 b shows an entrance in the eastern wall of a room of the XII quarter that was blocked to support the lintel that was cracked (marked by arrows), most possibly during a former earthquake.

Statistical observations: 4 cases of blocked entrances one can observe in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: Earthquake(s) is one of possible reasons for such type of building activity. ... So, the entrances in some places at Mamshit were possibly blocked in a number of cases in order to repair observable seismic damage. In other instances damaged structures had to be turn down and occasionally rebuilt.
Mismatch of Lower Stone Rows and Upper Parts of Buildings E of East Church
15 Observation: The lower row of stones of the western wall of a room, east of the East Church, protrudes from the plane of the rest of the wall (Fig. 15).

Statistical observations: 12 cases of mismatching were observed in Mamshit.

Interpretation: Two stages of building are disclosed: the original structure was destroyed by an earthquake, dismantled, and a new wall was built, using the old foundation, but following a somewhat different direction. Such phenomenon was also observed in adjacent ruins of ancient Avdat and Shivta, which were damaged by strong historical earthquakes.
Supporting Walls South City Wall
16 Observation: Fig. 16 discloses a section of the southern city wall (trending 66°) that is tilted by 81° to SES (marked by a dashed line), and connected to it are seen the remains of a special support wall (shown by an arrow). Part of the support wall was dissembled during the archeological excavations, to expose the tilting of the original wall.

Statistical observations: One supporting wall was observed in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: Various segments of city wall were tilted at an earlier earthquake (most probably during the Roman period) and repaired later on (most probably during the Byzantine stage of rebuilding). Such supporting walls were observed in another cities in the Negev desert, like Avdat, Shivta, Rehovot-ba-Negev and Sa’adon. Together with another "pure" features of the seismic deformations, they can be used as additional supportive evidence of earthquake damage.
Secondary Use of Building Stones East Church
17a
17b
Observation: Fig. 17 a shows a secondary use of a segment of a column, western wall of the main hall of the East Church. Fig. 17 b displays the eastern wall of a room at the East Church quarter, disclosing a lower- right part that protrudes 7 to 12cm, as compared to the upper-left part that is built of reused smaller stones, disclosing a stage of repair and rebuilding.

Statistical observations: 9 walls with secondary use of building stones were found in Mamshit.

Interpretation: The rather common secondary use of building materials in the Byzantine buildings may well reflect the destruction of the Roman buildings that were severely damaged by the earthquake that is identified by the long list of damage patterns discussed so far.
Incorporation of Wooden Beams in Stone Buildings Administrative Tower
18a
18b
Observation: A high quality wooden beam is incorporated as a second lintel above a door in a room at the Administrative Tower (Fig. 18 a). Another beam is incorporated in the same building between two door steps (Fig. 18 b).

Statistical observations: 2 cases of wooden beams were found in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: The builders of Mamshit were aware of the seismic danger and incorporated wooden beams to absorb future seismic shocks. Horizontally placed beams lowered mainly the effect of the vertical component of seismic motions. Laying inside the walls of a regular longitudinal-diametrical framework from the wooden beams is a typical antiseismic method of Medieval Turkish construction noticed by A. A. Nikonov (1996) during his archeo-seismological study in Crimean Peninsular.
Bulging of Wall Parts West City Wall
19a
19b
Observation: The central part of the western city wall, trending SES (152°), is bulged westwards, as is seen in Fig. 19 in a photo and a sketch.

Statistical observations: 11 cases of bulging of central parts of the walls were observed in Mamshit.

Interpretation: The city wall is well built of massive stones and, thus, deformation due to poor building most probably can be ruled out. This seems to be the result of a strong earthquake.
Percentage of Heavily Damaged Buildings Entire Site Practically all the buildings of the Byzantine period were damaged, more that 50% are estimated to have been destroyed. Thus, the intensity of the tremor was IX at the EMS-98 scale or more.

Archaeoseismic Analysis

Archaeoseismic Analysis - First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) provided the following analysis for the first earthquake:

The Lower Parts of the Buildings, Reflecting Mainly the Earthquake of the End of the 3rd cent. or Beginning of the 4th cent.

The walls of the houses of Mamshit had a general orientation of around ENE (~ 75°) and SES (~165°). Hence, a quadrangle of these directions may serve as the basis for a general discussion of the observed damage patterns, in order to deduce the direction of arrival of the seismic movements.

Arrival of the seismic motions from north has been concluded for the 4th cent. event. Let us discuss in this context three possibilities:

  1. If the strong seismic pulses would have arrived from NWN, the walls perpendicular to this direction (ENE) would experience quantitative and systematic tilting (as well as collapse) toward the epicenter, whereas the perpendicular walls (SES) would have distinctly less cases of tilting and they would be in random to both NEN and NWN (Fig. 20 a ). Rotations would be scarce and at random directions. This is not the case of the lower parts of buildings (Roman period) at Mamshit.
  2. If the strong seismic shocks would have arrived along the bisector of the trend of the walls (i.e. from NEN), the walls trending ENE would have undergone both systematic tilting toward NWN and anticlockwise rotation, whereas the perpendicular walls (trending SES) would experience systematic tilting toward NEN and clockwise rotation (Fig. 20 b ), but this is not the case of the lower parts of buildings (Roman period) at Mamshit.
  3. If the epicenter was at the north, the ENE trending walls would undergo systematic tilting to the NWN and systematic counterclockwise rotations, whereas the SES trending walls would suffer of a few cases of random tilting but systematic clockwise rotations (Fig. 20 c ). This combination of damage pattern orientations fits the observations at the lower parts of the buildings at Mamshit, leading to the conclusion that the epicenter of the devastating earthquake at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. was north of Mamshit.
The systematic directional deformation patterns disclose that the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit, but to the north of it, and the concluded intensity of IX or more, suggests the epicenter was in several-first tens of km away. Future field investigations are recommended to check for evidence of recent tectonic activity in the Judean Desert.

Archaeoseismic Analysis - Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ?

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) provided the following analysis for the first earthquake:

The Upper Parts of the Buildings, Reflecting Mainly the 7th cent. Earthquake

The direction of the epicenter of the 7th cent. strong earthquake has been concluded to have been SW of Mamshit. In this connection let us examine three possibilities, bearing in mind that the walls of the houses of Mamshit had a general orientation of around ENE (~ 75°) and SES (~165°):
  1. If the strong seismic shocks would have arrived from WSW, the walls perpendicular to this direction (SES) would experience quantitative and systematic tilting toward the epicenter, whereas the perpendicular walls (ENE) would have distinctly less cases of tilting and they would be in random directions and not to the epicenter (Fig. 21 a ). Rotations would be scarce and at random directions. This is not the case of the upper parts of buildings (Byzantine period) at Mamshit.
  2. If the strong seismic pulses would have arrived along the bisector of the trend of the walls (i.e. from SWS), the walls trending ENE would have under¬gone both systematic tilting toward NWN and counterclockwise rotation, whereas the perpendicular walls (trending SES) would experience systematic tilting toward NEN and clockwise rotation (Fig. 21 b ), but this is not the case of the upper parts of buildings (Byzantine period) at Mamshit.
  3. If the epicenter was at SW, the SES trending walls would undergo systematic tilting to the SW and systematic clockwise rotations, whereas the ENE trending walls would suffer of a few cases of random tilting but systematic counterclockwise rotations (Fig. 21 c ). This combination of damage pattern orientations fits the observations at the upper parts of the buildings at Mamshit, leading to the conclusion that the epicenter of the devastating seventh century earthquake was SW of Mamshit.
The systematic directional deformation patterns disclose that the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit, but to the SW of it, and the concluded intensity of IX or more suggests the epicenter was in several-first tens of km away. Future field investigations are recommended to check for evidence of recent tectonic activity along E-W trending faults in the Negev Desert.

Intensity Estimates

First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

Effect Location Intensity
Tilted Walls E of West Church VI+
Displaced Masonry Blocks E of West Church
ENE of West Church
Near Frescoes House
VIII+
Folded Steps and Kerbs Administrative Tower VI+
Dropped Keystones in Arches W of Eastern Church
Stables - E of West Church
VI+
Penetrative fractues in Masonry Blocks Administrative Tower VI+
Displaced Walls Entire Site VII+
Collapsed Walls Entire Site VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (2003)'s Seismic Characterization

This was a strong earthquake with an epicenter at the north, and an EMS-98 scale intensity of IX or more. This is a minimum value because the wrecks of the most badly struck buildings had most probably been completely removed, leaving no trace. Thus, our observations are biased toward the lower end of the intensity scale.
...
In the present study the two earthquakes were resolved by the archeological identification that the Roman town was rebuilt at the Byzantine period, and the latter fell into ruins as well. The archeoseismological resolution of the two earthquakes is validated in the present case by the observation that the epicenters were at different directions – north in the first event and SW in the second.
...
The percentage of collapsed buildings of the Roman town is hard to estimate as most of them have been cleared away and rebuilt. Yet, an estimate can be done by the extended rebuilding - most of the second floors or upper parts of high structures were rebuilt at the Byzantine stage, leading to an estimate that at lest 15% of the Roman period buildings were destroyed at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. earthquake. Thus, according to the European Macroseismic Scale of 1998 (EMS-98) an earthquake intensity of IX or more is concluded.
...
Zero distance is ruled out in both studied earthquakes on the basis that most of the observed seismic deformations were caused by lateral movements. Hence, the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit.
...
The observed dominance of lateral movements in both earthquakes indicates the epicenter was away at some distance from the epicenter. Future studies will have to address this point.
...
The large body of damage patterns surveyed at Mamshit provides a fairly simple picture: devastation was caused mainly by lateral movements that arrived from the fault rupture zone. These observations were made for both earthquakes – the one at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. that had its epicenter at the north, and the second at the 7th cent. that had its epicenter at SW.

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis by Kamai and Hatzor (2005)

Kamai and Hatzor (2005) performed Discontinuous Deformation Analysis (DDA) on a model

for a dropped keystone in an arch near the Eastern Church in Mampsis. The optimal model , using a sinusoidal input with an amplitude of 0.5 g and a frequency of 1 Hz., produced 3.11 cm. of displacement vs. 4 cm. measured in the field. The conclusion was that the keystone dropped due an earthquake with a PGA of ~0.5 g and a center frequency of ~1 Hz.. 0.5 g translates to an Intensity of 8.2 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). In their modeling, Kamai and Hatzor (2005) found that low frequencies (e.g. 0.5 Hz.) resulted in strong fluctuations and high frequencies (e.g. 5 and 10 Hz.) resulted in a "locking" of the structure and very little displacement. Accelerations between 0.32 and 0.8 g produced reasonable values of keystone displacement although 0.5 g produced the most amount of displacement and the closest amount of displacement to what is observed in the field.

Kamai and Hatzor (2007) reiterated the same study at Mampsis noting that keystone displacement only occurred in the frequency range of 1.0 - 1.5 Hz. and that seismic amplification might have been at play at the higher parts of the structure (i.e. the "Sky-scraper effect" mentioned by Korzhenkov), thus amplifying bedrock PGA by as much as 2.5. This led to a bracket of PGA values for the dropped keystone between 0.2 and 0.5 g. These PGA values convert to Intensities of 6.7 - 8.2 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999).
Variable Input Units Notes
g Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
  

Model Values and Lab derived properties

Model Values

Property Value Units
Friction angle of arch 35 degrees
Friction angle of wall 40 degrees
Young's Modulus of arch 17 Gpa
Young's Modulus of wall 1 Mpa
Height of Wall above arch 0 m
Model was run in qk.mode. An unusually low model value of Young's Modulus for the wall (1 Mpa) was explained as reasonable when one considers the heterogeneity of the wall where spaces between the wall blocks are filled with soft filling materials.

Lab Measurements of original stones from Mampsis
Property Value Units
Density 1890 kg./m3
Porosity 30 - 38 %
Dynamic Young's Modulus 16.9 Gpa
Dynamic Shear Modulus 6.17 Gpa
Dynamic Poisson's Ratio 0.37 unitless
Interface friction angle 35 degrees

Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ?

Effect Location Intensity
Tilted Walls S of West Church
Entire Site
VI+
Displaced Masonry Blocks E of West Church
House of Frescoes
VIII+
Collapsed Walls Entire Site VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (2003)'s Seismic Characterization

At the end of the Byzantine period a second earthquake hit the place, the epicenter being this time to the SW, and the intensity was IX or more.
...
The percentage of collapsed buildings of the Byzantine town can be well estimated as the ruins were left untouched. The survey disclosed that at least 15% of the well built stone buildings of Byzantine Mamshit collapsed – practically no second floor structures survived with no severe damage. Hence, according to the EMS-98 an earthquake intensity of IX or more is deduced as well.
...
Zero distance is ruled out in both studied earthquakes on the basis that most of the observed seismic deformations were caused by lateral movements. Hence, the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit.
...
The observed dominance of lateral movements in both earthquakes indicates the epicenter was away at some distance from the epicenter. Future studies will have to address this point.
...
The large body of damage patterns surveyed at Mamshit provides a fairly simple picture: devastation was caused mainly by lateral movements that arrived from the fault rupture zone. These observations were made for both earthquakes – the one at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. that had its epicenter at the north, and the second at the 7th cent. that had its epicenter at SW.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Mazor (2003). "Archeoseismology in Mamshit (Southern Israel): Cracking a Millennia-old Code of Earthquakes Preserved in Ancient Ruins." Archäologischer Anzeiger: 51-82.

Negev, A. (1988). The architecture of Mampsis : final report. 1. The Middle and Late Nabatean periods, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Negev, A. (1988) The Architecture of Mampsis, Final Report, Vol. II: The Late Roman and Byzantine Period, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

A. Negev (1971), The Nabatean Necropolis of Mamshit (Kurnub), IsrExplJ 21, 1971, 110–129

Negev, A. (1974). "THE CHURCHES OF THE CENTRAL NEGEV AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY." Revue Biblique (1946-) 81(3): 400-421.

Erickson-Gini T. 1999 Mampsis: A Nabataean Roman Settlement in the Central Negev Highlands in Light of the Ceramic and Architectural Evidence Found in Archaeological Excavations During 1993 1994, Unpublished M.A. dissertation, Tel Aviv University.

Erickson-Gini, T. (2004). Crisis and Renewal-settlement in the Central Negev in the Third and Fourth Centuries C. E.: With an Emphasis on the Finds from Recent Excavations in Mampsis, Oboda and Mezad 'En Hazeva, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Erickson-Gini, New Excavations in the Late Roman Quarter in Avdat, Proceedings of the Twenty-Seventh Archaeological Congress in Israel, Bar Ilan University April 2–3, 2001

Erickson-Gini, T. (2010:47). Nabataean settlement and self-organized economy in The Central Negev: crisis and renewal, Archaeopress.

Kamai, R. and Y. Hatzor (2005). Dynamic back analysis of structural failures in archeological sites to obtain paleo-seismic parameters using DDA. Proceedings of 7th International Conference on the Analysis of Discontinuous Deformation (ICADD-7).

Kamai, R. and Y. H. Hatzor (2008). "Numerical analysis of block stone displacements in ancient masonry structures: A new method to estimate historic ground motions." International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics 32(11): 1321-1340.

Haluza

Fallen Column at Haluza Fig. 13 Haluza

Collapse of one of the columns of the Cathedral in a NE (45º) direction. Note lead bundle on the surface of the pedestal and traces of lead on the bottom of the fallen column

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2005)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Haluza Hebrew חלוצה‎
Elusa Byzantine Greek - Madaba Map ΕΛΟΥϹΑ
Chellous Greek Χελλοὺς
Halasa
asal-Khalūṣ Arabic - Early Arab الخلصة
Al-Khalasa Modern Arabic
Introduction

Haluza, ~20 km. southwest of Beersheba, was founded by the the Nabateans as a station along the Incense Road ( Avraham Negev in Meyers et al, 1997). The town reached a peak of prosperity in the Late Nabatean and Late Roman periods but continued as a major city of the Negev into the Byzantine period ( Avraham Negev in Meyers et al, 1997). Haluza remained inhabited after the Muslim conquest but eventually declined and was abandoned - like many other Byzantine cities in the Negev. These old cities preserve much archeoseismic evidence and have been rightly called fossil seismographs whose examination can help unravel the historically under reported seismic history of both sides of the Arava before ~1000 CE.

Chronology

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns from at least two heavy earthquakes. They surmised that the first earthquake struck in the Byzantine period between the end of the 3rd and the mid-6th centuries A.D.. Citing Negev (1976) Negev (1989), they discussed this evidence further
Negev (1989) pointed out that one earthquake, or more, shattered the towns of central Negev between the end of the 3rd and mid-6th centuries A.D.. Literary evidence is scarce, but there is ample archeological evidence of these disasters. According to Negev a decisive factor is that the churches throughout the whole Negev were extensively restored later on. Negev found at the Haluza Cathedral indications of two constructional phases. One room of the Cathedral was even not cleaned after an event during which it was filled with fallen stones and debris from the collapsed upper portion of a wall. In the other room the original limestone slabs of the floor had been removed but the clear impression of slabs and ridges in the hard packed earth beneath suggests that they remained in place until the building went out of use (Negev, 1989:135).

The dating of the discussed ancient strong earthquake may be 363 A.D., as has been concluded for other ancient cities around Haluza, e.g. Avdat37, Shivta38, and Mamshit39. However, Negev (1989:129-142) noticed inscriptions on walls and artifacts.
The inscriptions Negev noticed were discovered at Shivta which Negev (1989) discussed as follows:
A severe earthquake afflicted Sobata [aka Shivta].
...
The epigraphic evidence of Sobata may help in attaining a close as possible date both for the earthquake and for the subsequent reconstruction of the North Church. One of these inscriptions, that of 506 A.D., is clearly a dedicatory inscription of a very important building, which justified the participation of a Vicarius, a man of the highest rank, in the dedication of this building. This inscription was not found in situ. However, there is no question about the inscription of A.D. 512, in which year the mosaic floor of one of the added chapels was dedicated by a bishop and the local clergy. It is thus safe to assume that the whole remodeling of the North Church began in the first decade of the sixth century.
Although Negev (1989) and Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) suggested the Fire in the Sky Earthquake of 502 CE as the most likely candidate, its epicenter was too far away to caused widespread damage throughout the region. This suggests that the causitive earthquake is unreported in the historical sources - an earthquake which likely struck at the end of the 5th or beginning of the 6th century CE. This hypothesized earthquake is listed in this catalog as the Negev Quake.

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) also discussed chronology of the second earthquake.
The Early Arab – Second Ancient Earthquake

Negev (1976:92) suggested that a strong earthquake caused the final abandonment of Haluza. He summed up his observations at one of the excavated courtyards:
Voussoirs of the arches and extremely long roof slabs were discovered in the debris, just above the floor. It seems that either the destruction of the house occurred for a very short time after its abandonment or the house had to be abandoned because of its destruction by an earthquake.
Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) noted that while the Sword in the Sky Quake of 634 CE destroyed Avdat 44 and ruined other ancient towns of the Negev 45, archeological data demonstrate that occupation of the [Haluza] continued until at least the first half of the 8th cent. A.D.46. This led them to conclude that one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes was a more likely candidate. Unfortunately, it appears that we don't have a reliable terminus ante quem for the second earthquake.

Seismic Effects

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns in the ruins of Haluza which indicated previous devastation by at least two heavy earthquakes discussed above in Chronology. Damage patterns are summarized in the table below:
Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Through-going Joints Station 6 (Fig. 4) 
3
4
Joints crossing adjacent stones (Fig. 3 a. b) are a substantial evidence of seismic origin of deformation, i.e. opening of joints as a result of seismic vibrations. Formation of such joints has been reported in many macroseismic studies. S. Stiros supposed that opening and closing of vertical joints take place according to the direction of the acting seismic forces. For example, such joints formed in modern buildings during the Tash-Pasha (northern Kyrgyzstan) 1989 earthquake of a magnitude Mpva = 5.1 (Fig. 3 c) and Suusamyr (northern Tien Shan) 1992 earthquake of the magnitude MS = 7.3 (Fig. 3 d). Such through-going joints are formed only as a result of a high-intensity earthquake, as high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of the free surfaces at the stone margins (i.e. the free space between adjacent stones).
An example of such a joint is observable at Haluza at the lower part of the wall of the courtyard, west of the theater (Fig. 4). Here a subvertical joint passes two adjacent stones in the wall with a trend of 37º. The length of the joint is 25 cm. One can observe similar numerous joints in the ruins of all the ancient cities of the Negev: Avdat, Shivta, Mamshit and Rehobot-ba-Negev
Joints in a Staircase Theater
5 A subvertical joint, 58 cm long, maximal opening 1.5cm, and a strike of about 122°, crosses the staircase of the excavated theater (Fig. 5). It cuts through two adjacent staircase blocks that trend about 42°. It is important to note that all the staircase blocks are damaged to a certain degree – they are cracked.
The staircase was built close to a wall, the upper part of which is tilted toward NE (dip angle ~69°). The upper part of the staircase is also tilted, but less (dip angle ~83°), so there is a gap between the upper parts of the wall and the staircase. A similar joint in a staircase was also observed at Mamshit in a room near the Eastern Church and the Late Nabatean Building
Cracks Crossing Large Building Blocks Cathedral
6 Cracks crossing large building blocks can also be a result of a strong earthquake, but it is always complicated to prove their 100% seismic origin because the cracks can be also realization of the loading stress along the weak zone that existed in the rock. However, together with other »pure« seismic features, observed in the archaeological excavation area, these cracks can serve as an additional evidence of seismic damage. An example of such a crack was found at the marble column pedestal of the Cathedral. The pedestal of the northern column is broken by a sub vertical crack (Fig. 6). A seismic origin of this feature is supported by the left-lateral shift along the crack: it is hard to envisage that static loading can cause strike-slip movements. The left-lateral shift along the crack is 1 cm and the maximum crack opening is 1.5 cm. The crack is laterally widening toward NE (1.5cm) and narrowing toward SW (0.1 cm). The last phenomenon is difficult to explain just by loading from above. The strike azimuth of the crack is 35º and the length is 92 cm. A similar deformation can be observed at the pedestal of a column at the northern Church at Shivta
Cracked Doorsteps Station 28
7 Cracking of doorsteps is an important feature for the evaluation of a seismic damage. Their preferential occurrence in walls of the same trend can serve as a kinematic indicator of seismic motions that acted parallel to the trend of the doorstep stones.
Such features are abundant at the ruins Avdat, Shivta and Mamshit. At Haluza two vertical cracks can be seen in a long doorstep (strike azimuth 121º) in the excavated courtyard (Fig. 7). It is important to note that the doorstep and two stones standing on it (probably a fragment of a previous wall) are tilted toward NE (azimuth ~32º) at an angle of about 80º
Cracked Window Beams Cathedral
8 Cracked window beams are common features of seismic damage. Many of them were observed in ancient Negev cities. As in the case with doorsteps, their preferential occurrence in walls of the same trend can serve as a kinematic indicator of seismic motions acting parallel to the trends of window beams. Generally, these data are supportive material to ›strong‹ seismic deformations, but in some cases one can prove that the crack in a beam occurred because of static loading. For example, a crack in a beam above the window (in a room behind the Cathedral) can be explained by loading from above, but it is impossible to explain a crack in the window-sill (Fig. 8 a) in the same way. The strike azimuth of both broken beams is 126°. A model explaining this damage pattern is presented in Fig. 8 b.
Tilted Walls Theater (Fig. 10)
9
10
Tilting and (following) collapse of walls and columns are very common damage patterns described in many archeoseismological publications. However, tilting and collapse of buildings can be also caused by action of static loading or weathering in time, poor quality of a building or its design, consequences of military activity or deformation of building basement because of differential subsidence of the ground etc. However, a systematic pattern of the directional collapse of walls of the same trend proves a seismic origin of the damage. These patterns can be explained as an inertial response of buildings to propagation of seismic motions in the underlying grounds (Fig. 9).
For example the upper part of a wall of the Theater at Haluza is tilted toward NE43° at an angle of 69° (Fig. 10). Another wall of the same building was also tilted. It is preserved only up to its third row of stones (height is 83 cm above the ground), but the whole wall was tilted toward NE42° at an angle of 74°. Note an opening between stones of the tilted wall and the perpendicular one.
Perpendicular Trends of Collapsed and Preserved Arches Theater
11
12
At the ruins of ancient cities one can observe different types of arch deformations. In some cases the stones of a collapsed arch are found along a straight line on the ground, whereas in other cases arch stones are found in a crescent pattern. These cases provide indicators of the direction of the respective seismic wave propagation – at the first case the destructive seismic waves propagated parallel to the arch trend, whereas at the second case they propagated perpendicular to the arch trend. An arch at the Theater at Haluza collapsed in a crescent pattern (Fig. 11). Its trend was 130° and its stones collapsed toward 220°SW. The deviation of the collapsed stones from the straight line is 20.5 cm. This observation reveals that the propagation of the seismic waves was along a SW-NE axis. In contrast, an arch with a perpendicular strike (45°) in an adjacent room was preserved (Fig. 12).
Collapse of Columns Cathedral
13 Collapse of columns is a most spectacular feature of seismic destruction. A drum fragment is seen near the pedestal of a fallen eastern column in the Cathedral (Fig. 13). There are traces of lead on the surface of the pedestal, which was a binding matter between the pedestal and the upper column drum. Traces of lead were also preserved in the lower part of the column’s lower drum which collapsed toward NE45°. Thus, the seismic waves of an ancient earthquake propagated along the NE-SW axis.
Shift of Building Elements Theater (Fig. 15)
14
15
Horizontal shifts of the upper part of building constructions can be explained in the same way as tilting and collapse. The lower part of the structure moved together with ground onto direction of the seismic movements, but the upper part of the buildings stayed behind because of inertia (Fig. 14). Such displacements of building elements is a known phenomenon of earthquake deformation of ancient buildings and is used for determination of seismic motions’ direction, similar to the case of wall tilt and collapse.
At Haluza an external wall of the western part of the Theater has been shifted to SW 215º (Fig. 15). The upper row of stones was shifted by 7 cm, and it was also slightly tilted (dip angle is 81º) to the same direction.
Earthquake Damage Restorations Cathedral
16
17
18
Clustered repairs or changes of the building style of houses of the same age can serve as supportive evidence of a seismic origin of the deformation. These repairs and later rebuilding are usually of a lower quality than the original structures. Such poor rebuilding is typical for earthquake-prone regions in less-developed areas of the world even today.
The ruins of Haluza reveal features of later restoration, e. g. walls supporting Cathedral’s columns (Fig. 16) blocked former entrances (Fig. 17), secondary use of stones and column drums (Fig. 18), walls built later, features of repair of the water reservoir, the addition of the side apses to the original single-apse structure of the Cathedral etc. All these damage restorations provide solid evidence of a former strong earthquake.
Earthquake Debris Filling Part of a Corridor at the Theater Theater 19 Negev observed filling of part of a corridor at the Theater, and concluded »the bones and pottery vessels appear to be contemporary with the period of use of the theatre, and they may therefore represent the remains of meals taken during religious festivities conducted in the theatre. Similar filling of a corridor, surrounding a Buddhist temple, was found at the Medieval Koylyk archeological site (SE Kazakhstan) that was located along the Great Silk Route. In this case the researcher concluded that the filling of the corridor was to prevent future collapse of walls that were tilted during an earthquake (Fig. 19).
A Dump of Destructive Earthquake Debris Dumps located northwest of Haluza are another interesting feature. Excavation of one of the dumps revealed that it did not contain kitchen refuse, as was common, but mainly fine dust and some burnt bricks and clay pipes. It is also important to mention that the pottery, discovered by Colt’s expedition of 1938 in the city dumps, was not earlier than the late Roman period. Based on these data, Negev came to the conclusion that this garbage hill, as well as other huge dumps surrounding the city, was made by the local inhabitants that cleaned dust and threatening sand dunes, which finally doomed it.
Waelkens et al. (2000) described a large dump at ancient Sagalassos (SW Turkey), containing many coins, sherds, small stones and mortar fragments, including stucco, piled up against the fortification walls, so that the latter lost completely their defensive function. The authors concluded that the material inside this dump represents debris cleaned out from the city after a destructive earthquake. Existence of a significant quantity of burnt brick fragments and broken clay pipes at the Haluza dumps is an evidence of a strong earthquake, which partly or completely destroyed the city. As a result the city [was] abandoned for some time, and storms brought in dust from the desert. Later settlers cleaned the ruins from the dust, sand, broken pipes and bricks, which they could not use, but they reused sandstone and limestone blocks to restore the city. Similar dumps of garbage exist on the slopes of Avdat and the same interpretation was reached.


Intensity Estimates

Because the observations of Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) are derived from what is presumed to be 2 separate earthquakes (Byzantine and post-Byzantine), it is not entirely clear which seismic effect should be assigned to which earthquake. However, as the second earthquake is thought to be associated with abandonment, it can be assumed that most seismic effects are associated with the second earthquake. The table below lists some of these seismic effects but should be considered tentative.
Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls Fig. 10 VI +
Penetrative fractures in masonry Blocks Fig. 4 VI +
Fallen Columns Fig. 13 V+
Collapsed arches Fig. 11 VI +
Displaced Masonry Blocks Fig. 15 VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimated a minimum seismic intensity of VIII–IX (MSK Scale), an epicenter a few tens of kilometers away, and an epicentral direction to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE. Their discussion supporting these conclusions is repeated below:
Joints crossing several adjacent stones (e. g. Fig. 4 ) indicate destruction by a high-energy earthquake, as the energy was sufficient to overcome the stress-shadow of the empty space between the building stones. Tilts of the walls (Fig. 10 ), fallen columns (Fig. 13 ), shifted collapse of an arch (Fig. 11 ), shift of a stone row of the wall (Fig. 15 ) – all these observations disclose that the destructive seismic waves arrived along a NE-SW axis (~40º), most probably from NE. Although all of the buildings in the city were well built and had one or two floors, all of them were severely damaged by an earthquake. The significant seismic deformations observed in the buildings indicate a local seismic intensity of at least I = VIII–IX (MSK Scale). This requires a strong shock arriving from a nearby epicenter, most probably a few tens of kilometers from Haluza. This supposition is based on the fact that short-period seismic waves, which tend to be destructive to low structures (which have short-period harmonic frequencies), attenuate at short distances from the epicenter.
Notes and Further Reading

Halutza Excavation Project

Aqaba/Eilat

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Aqaba Arabic العقبة
al-ʿAqaba Arabic variant
al-ʿAgaba Arabic variant
ʿaqabat Aylah 12th century Arabic عقبة آيلة
Ayla Arabic آيلا
Aela Latin
Aila Latin
Ailana Latin
Haila Latin
Aila Byzantine Greek Άιλα
Berenice Ancient Greek Βερενίκη
Elath Ancient Semitic
Ailath Ancient Semitic
Ezion-Geber Hebrew עֶצְיֹן גֶּבֶר
Transliterated Name Source Name
Eilat Hebrew אֵילַת
Ilat Arabic إِيلَات
Umm al-Rashrāsh Arabic أم الرشراش
Introduction

Aqaba, located at the northern terminus of the Gulf of Aqaba has a long history of habitation punctuated by episodes of abandonment and decline. It's strategic location as the nearest port town to the copper mines of the Araba Valley made it a regional hub for copper production (smelting) and trade as evidenced at the Chalcolithic sites of Tall Hujayrat Al-Ghuzlan and Tall Al-Magass Klimscha (2011). The Hebrew Bible (e.g. 1 Kings 9:26-28 and 2 Chronicles 8:17-18) mentions nearby Elath and Ezion Geber as ports of departure for Solomon's merchant fleet to Ophir ( S. Thomas Parker and Donald S. Whitcomb in Meyers et al, 1997). According to the same Hebrew Bible, Eilat was later conquered by the Edomites in the late eighth century BCE (2 Kings 16:6). Nelson Glueck excavated the site of Tell el-Kheleifeh thinking it was Solomon's port city but subsequent work on the site suggests that this is not the case. Before the Roman annexation in 106 CE, Aqaba was a Nabatean port. In Roman and Byzantine times, the port was known as Aila. The town surrendered to the Muslims during the Muslim conquest of the Levant, and eventually a new Muslim town (Ayla) was built just outside the city walls of Byzantine Aila (aka Ailana) (Whitcomb, 1994).

The modern Israeli city of Eilat, named for ancient Elath, lies across the border from the Jordanian city of Aqaba.

Aila

Tilted Walls at Aila Jordan (southern Cyril Quake) Wall Collapse at Aila Jordan (southern Cyril Quake) Left - Tilted South Wall of Room 2 at Aila J-East

Right - Normal Faulting of a wall at Aila J-East

photos by Jefferson Williams


Introduction

Aila (aka Ailana) was the name of the Roman Byzantine town in Aqaba .

Chronology

Thomas et al (2007) excavated and examined area J-east between 1994 and 2003. The J-East area is a multiphase site incorporating Early Islamic to Byzantine domestic occupation and a late third to fourth-century monumental mudbrick structure that has been interpreted as a church (Parker 1998a; 1999a; Mussell 2001; Rose 1998; Weintraub 1999) ( Thomas et al, 2007). This site, in the Roman-Byzantine town of Aila, is located ~500 m north of the modern shoreline of Aqaba and ~500 m NW of the Islamic town of Ayla . Thomas et al (2007) identified 6 or 7 earthquakes from the 2nd century CE onward in J-east and divided up the timing as follows:



Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They described Earthquake II as follows:
The youngest earthquake (Earthquake I) recorded at this site ruptured faults very close to the modern ground surface.

...

The fault rupture of Earthquake I was capped by sand and disturbed modern car park construction deposits, thus preventing finer dating than post—mid to late eighth century.

Earthquake II - Abbasid - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They described Earthquake II as follows:
These deposits were ruptured and the buildings collapsed.

...

The pottery within layers capping Earthquake II is earlier than that found in the occupation deposit beneath it. These data suggest that Earthquake II occurred after the mid to late eighth century A.D..

Earthquake III - Umayyad/Abassid - mid 7th - late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

and described chronology as follows:
The fault rupture was capped by a later occupation dating to the mid to late eighth century. This dates Earthquake III between the mid seventh to mid, or possibly late, eighth century.
Since Earthquake IV was dated to the 7th and possibly 8th century and was likely due to one of the 7th century earthquakes (e.g. Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-624 CE), Sword in the Sky Quake (634 CE), or Jordan Valley Quake (659/660 CE) ), this suggests that Earthquake III was caused by one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.

Earthquake IV - Umayyad - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake IV) in a collapse layer which they suggested struck in the early to middle 7th century CE.
The pottery constrains the date of Earthquake IV to sometime between the seventh century and the mid seventh to eighth century. In this case, an early to middle seventh-century date would best fit the dating evidence.

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake V) in a collapse layer which they dated to the southern Cyril Quake. A terminus post quem of 360 CE for Earthquake V was established with coins and pottery.
Thin wall construction and surface layers produced pottery from the mid to late fourth century A.D. (similar types to Phase 2 described earlier). The latest pottery dates from about A.D. 360 onward (based on several examples of African Red Slip form 67, introduced ca. A.D. 360; Hayes 1972). However, over 100 coins were found on the final floor of this phase. The majority of these coins were found associated with the remains of a broken box in Room 2. The latest coins date to the reign of Constantius II who reigned from A.D. 337 to 361 (Parker 1999a) and provide a terminus post quem for this building phase.
They added
The very refined pottery and coin dates give a secure post A.D. 360 date for the Earthquake V event. The scarcity of post A.D. 360 pottery and the location of the coin hoard at the interface between occupation surface and collapse horizon indicate that this event cannot have occurred long after A.D. 360. We have interpreted this earthquake to be the historically attested earthquake of May 19, A.D. 363 (Russell 1980; Guidoboni 1994: 264-67).

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake VI) in a collapse layer which they dated to the 4th century but before the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. In describing the Phase 2 layer below the collapse layer they provided a terminus post quem of ca. 320 CE
During the early fourth century, the monumental building was expanded and concluded with the final addition of Rooms 11 and 12 constructed after ca. A.D. 320. The upper sequences of floors contained Early Byzantine pottery of the mid to late fourth century.
The terminus ante quem is 363 CE when the southern Cyril Quake is presumed to have created the damage observed in Earthquake V.
This seismic event must have occurred at some point in the mid to late fourth century A.D. but before the final extensive collapse of the complex in Earthquake V [363 CE].

Earthquake VII - Nabatean/Early Roman - Early 2nd century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. Earthquake VII was dated to the second century CE from Nabatean pottery found in the collapse layer and the layer below. There is a question whether the collapse layer was caused by human agency or earthquake destruction. The Romans annexed Nabatea in 106 CE and the authors noted that there is debate about the degree of Nabataean resistance to the annexation that might have resulted in destruction by human agency in this period (Bowersock 1983: 78-82; Parker 1986: 123-24; Fiema 1987; Freeman 1996). Nonetheless, Thomas et al (2007) noted that a complete section of collapsed wall might suggest earthquake destruction.

Seismic Effects

Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

The youngest earthquake (Earthquake I) recorded at this site ruptured faults very close to the modern ground surface.

...

Earthquake I ruptured Faults F and H. We measured a total displacement of 35 cm southwest dip-slip in figure 5C, with little or no apparent strike-slip. These faults trend more toward the west (N12°W and N34°W) than the fault rupture in previous earthquakes (ca. 10° more than II to III, and ca. 20° more than the Byzantine Earthquakes V to VI).
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

Earthquake II - Abbasid - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

These deposits were ruptured and the buildings collapsed. Slip on Fault A produced a left-lateral strike-slip of 5 cm on Wall J.1:26, and Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm (measured in fig. 5C). Wall collapse was minor despite the obvious energy of the earthquake.
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

Earthquake III - Umayyad/Abassid - mid 7th - late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

This major event shows rupture along four fault strands (B, C, F, and G), all within the same fault corridor. Faults G and F were clearly visible cutting post monumental building tumble in the [Roman Aqaba Project] RAP 2002 excavations of J.29 in Room 13.
Fault B caused left-lateral slip on Wall J.1:26 of only 4 cm . However, the dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm, suggesting a major event.
Earthquake III can also be seen in Section C of the south baulk of J-1 in Figure 5 (Faults B, C, F and G).

Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

Earthquake IV - Umayyad - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

Measured in Section C (fig. 5), Earthquake IV caused 12 cm of dip-slip across Fault D and up to 30 cm of lateral motion on Wall J.1.53. However, since Fault D also slipped in Earthquakes V and VI and appears to have caused more severe structural damage, strike-slip is probably minimal in this event.

...

Earthquake IV probably caused the collapse of the long-abandoned domestic structures.
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5 Section C

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Thomas et al (2007) described seismic effects from Earthquake V in J-East as follows:

The monumental building appears to have been violently shaken in Earthquake V. This is a more severe reactivation of Faults C and D but occurs along a slightly different rupture plane (through the Room 20 north wall - see Fig. 4) than during EQ VI. The amount of fault slip in this earthquake must exceed 23 cm of dip-slip (measured in sections A and B, fig. 5). Where Fault D shifted Wall J.1:53, a maximum of 30 cm of left-lateral strike-slip was measured. This slip is shared by reactivation in Earthquake IV and the previous Earthquake VI (discussed above). The collapse layer for Earthquake V exceeds 90 cm in places. The tumble is more evenly distributed throughout the site than was the case for the earlier Earthquake VI, with a bias to the north side of collapsing walls. This thick collapse horizon across the site suggests Earthquake V was stronger in intensity compared with Earthquake VI. The majority of the lateral slip across Fault D is likely to have occurred predominantly in Earthquake V (but also moves in Earthquakes VI and IV).
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 4
Figure 5 - Sections A and B

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described seismic effects from Earthquake VI in J-East as follows:

The monumental mudbrick structure experienced fault rupture and collapse of some walls, producing a tumble horizon. The southern wall of Room 13 was ruptured by Fault D and the northern wall of Room 21 by Fault C. This tectonic shift caused substantial localized damage. Earthquake VI produced a total of 10 cm of left-lateral strike-slip measured across Fault C on Wall J.1:26, north of Room 21. This damage from the fault was repaired after Earthquake VI. The strike-slip of Fault D in EQ VI could not be measured because Fault D reactivated in subsequent Earthquakes V and IV. The total strike-slip measured along Wall J.1:53 is 30 cm. Since there was no repair to the wall, this suggests that the majority of the slip was caused by EQ VI. Similarly, the dip-slip could not be directly measured, but later releveling of the southwest corner of the monumental building indicates subsidence did occur. Elsewhere on the site, damage appears not to have been quite as severe, but seismically induced wall failures were repaired in the subsequent occupation phase.
Plan of Area J-east

Earthquake VII - Nabatean/Early Roman - Early 2nd century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described seismic effects of Earthquake VII as follows:

These occupation deposits [Phase 0] were subsequently covered by a very thick layer of mudbrick collapse which contained whole or partial bricks visible in the section. The collapse dents the surfaces beneath, indicating a violent fall of the structures. Excavated in the RAP 2002 season, these layers were found to be in excess of 1 m in thickness.
...
No rupture for this possible earthquake (EQ VII) was documented in the present study because of the limited areas excavated to this depth (about 2 mast). Furthermore, subsequent building and reuse of the surviving walls have appreciably masked the original geometry.
Plan of Area J-east

At another site in Aila ( Area B ), Dolinka (2003:32) found that some structures exhibited inwardly collapsed walls and/or tumbled-over mudbricks (Fig. 14 ) which was attributed to earthquake destruction. 89

Intensity Estimates

Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps 35 cm southwest dip-slip VII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence 35 cm southwest dip-slip VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) however as so many structures at the now long abandoned site had already collapsed, there is limited archaeoseismic evidence and this is likely an under estimate. A minimum Intensity of VIII (8) is more likely. On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) and dip slip movement averaging 35 cm. also suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.5 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake II - Abbasid - after mid to late 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm. VII +
Displaced Walls Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm. VII +
Minor Wall Collapse VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm. VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) while dip slip movement averaging 42 cm. suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.5 (see Calculator below). Strike-Slip movement of 5 cm. suggests a lower Moment Magnitude MW of 5.9 however given the obvious energy of the earthquake described by Thomas et al (2007), the 42 cm. of dip slip and the general rule of Mcalpin (2009:312), Moment Magnitude MW is likely at least 6.5. The limited strike-slip and significant dip slip may just suggests a different stress regime.

Earthquake III - Umayyad/Abassid - mid 7th - late 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm. VII +
Displaced Walls dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm.
Figure 4 Walls J.1.26 Fault C and J.1.48 Fault F
VII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm. VI +
Conjugate Fractures in walls
made of either stucco or bricks
Figure 4 Wall J.1.26 Fault C
V +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) . However, since Thomas et al (2007) describe this as a major event and dip slip is 54 cm., I am going to upgrade minimum Intensity to VIII (8). On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) while dip slip movement averaging 54 cm. suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.6 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake IV - Umayyad - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip VII +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) however since the site was abandoned at the time, the walls may have been weakened. Since Thomas et al (2007) estimated that earthquakes V (S. Cyril Quake) and VI (Aila Quake) were more energetic at the site and an Intensity of VIII (8) was estimated for these earthquakes, it seems prudent to downgrade the intensity estimate one count to VII (7). On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312). 12 cm. of dip-slip movement suggests a Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.0 and 6.2. 10 cm. of strike-slip movement also suggests a Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.0 and 6.2. while the upper limit of 30 cm. of strike-slip movement suggests a maximum Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.4 and 6.6 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip VII +
Tilted Walls VI +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) while dip slip movement greater than 23 cm. suggests a minimum Moment Magnitude MW of 6.4 and maximum strike-slip movement of 30 cm. suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.4 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip VII +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312). 10-30 cm. of strike-slip movement suggests a Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.0 and 6.6 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake VII - Nabatean/Early Roman - Early 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Impact Block Marks Area J-east V +
Collapsed Walls Complete section of collapsed wall in Area J-east
Inwardly collapsed walls and/or tumbled-over mudbricks in Area B
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Calculators

Normal Fault Displacement

Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

Variable Input Units Notes
cm.
cm.
m/s Enter a value of 655 for no site effect
Equation comes from Darvasi and Agnon (2019)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude for Avg. Displacement
unitless Moment Magnitude for Max. Displacement
Variable Output - Site Effect Removal Units Notes
unitless Reduce Intensity Estimate by this amount
to get a pre-amplification value of Intensity
  

Strike-Slip Fault Displacement

Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

Variable Input Units Notes
cm. Strike-Slip displacement
cm. Strike-Slip displacement
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude for Avg. Displacement
unitless Moment Magnitude for Max. Displacement
  

Site Effect Explanation

The value given for Intensity with site effect removed is how much you should subtract from your Intensity estimate to obtain a pre-amplification value for Intensity. For example if the output is 0.5 and you estimated an Intensity of 8, your pre-amplification Intensity is now 7.5. An Intensity estimate with the site effect removed is helpful in producing an Intensity Map that will do a better job of "triangulating" the epicentral area. If you enter a VS30 greater than 655 m/s you will get a positive number, indicating that the site amplifies seismic energy. If you enter a VS30 less than 655 m/s you will get a negative number, indicating that the site attenuates seismic energy rather than amplifying it. Intensity Reduction (Ireduction) is calculated based on Equation 6 from Darvasi and Agnon (2019).

VS30 Explanation

VS30 is the average seismic shear-wave velocity from the surface to a depth of 30 meters at earthquake frequencies (below ~5 Hz.). Darvasi and Agnon (2019) estimated VS30 for a number of sites in Israel. If you get VS30 from a well log, you will need to correct for intrinsic dispersion. There is a seperate geometric dispersion correction usually applied when processing the waveforms however geometric dispersion corrections are typically applied to a borehole Flexural mode generated from a Dipole source and for Dipole sources propagating in the first 30 meters of soft sediments, modal composition is typically dominated by the Stoneley wave. Shear from Stoneley estimates are approximate at best. This is a subject not well understood and widely ignored by the Geotechnical community and/or Civil Engineers but understood by a few specialists in borehole acoustics. Other considerations will apply if you get VS30 value from a cross well survey or a shallow seismic survey where the primary consideration is converting shear slowness from survey frequency to Earthquake frequency. There are also ways to estimate shear slowness from SPT & CPT tests.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Ayla

Introduction

Around 650 CE, a new Islamic city was established outside the walls of the old Byzantine town . The new town was known as Ayla. Located near the coastline of the modern city of Aqaba, Ayla was excavated starting in 1993 ( S. Thomas Parker and Donald S. Whitcomb in Meyers et al, 1997). Ayla is likely subject to a site effect due to it susceptibility to liquefaction.

Chronology

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) undertook an archaeoseismic investigation in Ayla and saw evidence for two different earthquakes. The first earthquake struck in the 7th or 8th centuries CE and the second struck in 1068 CE. Their work was done at a restored site initially excavated by Donald Whitcomb. Whitcomb (1994) divided up the stratigraphy of Ayla into 5 phases as did Damgaard (2011) and Damgaard (2013)



First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Ayla Plan



The first earthquake was revealed in the constructions built during the late Rashidun period (644-656 A.D.) ( al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov, 2007) thus providing a terminus post quem of 644-656 A.D.. A terminus ante quem of ~750 CE was provided by the Early Abbasid structures built after the first seismic destruction. This suggests that the seismic damage was caused by the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 CE (less likely due to distance) or one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.

In reporting on excavations in 2008, Damgaard (2008) observed substantial infilling and leveling in Phase 3 which based on its artefactual yield, must be considered Abbasid in date and corresponds roughly to Whitcomb's `Phase B'. Damgaard (2008) suggested that this levelling appears to be associated with a period of widespread reconstruction following a significant collapse - most probably due to the 748 CE earthquake. Of particular interest was an east-west running wall perpendicular to a north-south running wall (L57/W13). Only the negative profile of this wall remains - i.e. it is a robber trench (Fig. 9 ). Although nothing of its foundation remains, the fact that the remnants of a wall [are] now gone was confirmed by a patterned collapse of mud-brick (including a carbonised wooden beam) on its south side. (Fig 10 ). Damgaard (2011, Appendices:12) also reports a collapse layer in Tower 2 dated to the mid 8th century. Thus, it appears that the terminus ante quem is fairly reliable for this archeoseismic evidence and suggests a mid 8th century CE earthquake. Khouri and Whitcomb (1988) report that the earlier Abbasid houses were fine stone and brick residences.

Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

The second earthquake was revealed in structures restored and/or built during the Fatimid period (1050-1116 A.D.) ( al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov, 2007) thus providing a terminus post quem of 1050-1116 AD. Abu Ali Ibn al-Banna reports that in Ayla all but 12 people who had gone fishing survived the 1068 CE earthquake ( Ambraseys, 2009:273) and al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) note that Donald Whitcomb discovered a destruction layer associated with this earthquake which he presumes led to abandonment of the village due to its destruction.

Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects - First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

.

Evidence type Location Station Figure Comments
Wall Repairs near N corner of Ayla City Wall
1 8 poor quality repairs of the Ayla city wall
Wall Repairs City quarter D
9 9 clear mismatch between the lower row of stones and the upper wall fragment. The height of the lower row is 40 cm above the bottom of the excavated trench, where the height of the upper wall fragment is 160 cm. The azimuth of the lower row is 34°, while that of the upper wall fragment is 25° showing a difference of 9°.
Supporting Walls City Quarter D
7 10 Wall perpendicular to the city wall has a supporting wall on its NE side. The latter wall was built later in order to strengthen the original one that was tilted toward the NE. The height of the original wall is 300 cm above the bottom of the excavation trench has a declination azimuth of 41° and a tilt angle of 83°.
Supporting Walls W corner of city wall
21 4b short secondary wall was built in order to support (apparently) a deformed column. Deformation of the column possibly occurred during the 748 Umayyad earthquake. Subsequently, both column and supporting wall were tilted toward SSW during the second-Fatimid earthquake of 1068.
Tens of supporting walls were observed in the ruins of Ayla, suggesting the hypothesis that during the first Umayyad period earthquake the city was seriously damaged. Building elements were tilted, shifted, distorted, and special supporting walls were subsequently built in order to reinforce damaged constructions.
Secondary use of building materials
in Early Abbasid buildings
City quarter D
9 11a column drum which is now inside of the street wall
Secondary use of building materials
in Early Abbasid buildings
City quarter F
13 11b two column drums belonging to a column likely damaged during the Umayyad earthquake. Another column drum (left in Fig. 11b) was later used in order to support the damaged column, while during the Fatimid earthquake, the column was finally destroyed and both drums were shifted out from their previous position.

Seismic Effects - Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

.

Evidence type Plan Station Figure Comments
Systematic tilting of walls
20
21
4a
4b
4c
4d
At Ayla, a wall in the southern room of the Sea Gate building complex K (Station 20 in Fig. 2 - Plan) is tilted toward SSW at an angle of up to 66° (in its central part) with a declination azimuth of 213° (Fig. 4a). Another example of the same damage pattern is in station 21 (in the western corner of the city wall), where a fragment of the wall is tilted at an angle of 72° with a declination angle of 210° (Fig. 4b).

The data of surveyed cases of tilting are summarized in Table 2 and in Fig. 4c. A 24 cases of tilting were observed at walls trending between 105° and 145°, 19 out of these are tilted toward SW and only 5 are tilted towards NE (Fig. 4c). In contrast, only 11 cases of tilting were observed in the perpendicular walls, with a 10°-45° trend, and no systematic tilting was observed.
Lateral shifting of building elements
1 5a
5b
5c
5d
In Ayla, a 75 cm wide wall attached and perpendicular to a major city wall (station no. 1 — close to the northern corner of the city wall) has an original trend of 120°. Its upper part is shifted towards SSW (210°) of about 16 cm (Fig. 5a). The lower and undisturbed portion of the wall is 44 cm above the bottom of the excavation trench. The height of the preserved shifted fragment is 18 cm. The wall is composed of cemented sandstone and granite blocks.

The upper part of the highly deformed wall attached and perpendicular to the city wall (Station 3 in city Quarter E) was shifted 7 cm toward SSW. The wall trend is 115°, while the direction of shifting is 205°. Total height of the wall is 81 cm above the bottom of the excavation trench. At a later stage, a supporting wall of 84 cm width was built from the southern side in order to impede the collapse from the original wall.

Other seven cases of clear shifting were observed (Fig. 5b). Most of them are in walls trending 105°-120°. Three wall fragments were pushed toward the SSW and in one case the wall part was moved towards the opposite direction.
Rotation of wall fragments around a vertical axis
2
10
6a
6b
6c
In Ayla, there is a rotation pattern in the northwestern wall of the 4th city tower (station no. 2). The height of the remaining wall is 139 cm above the bottom of the excavation trench. The trend of the undisturbed wall is 124°, while the strike of the rotated wall fragment is 115°, this suggesting a counterclockwise rotation on 9° with maximum degree of rotation for the lower row of the wall (Fig. 6a). The maximum horizontal offset between two wall fragments is 8 cm.

Another example is at station no. 12 (Ayla's city quarter A), where the upper part of the wall was rotated 15° clockwise by (Fig. 6b). The strike of the undisturbed wall is 117° and the strike of the rotated wall is 132°. The height of the undisturbed wall fragment is 40 cm, while the rotated part is 60 cm high. Width of the wall is 40-50 cm; its length is 2 m.

Walls striking 20°-45° revealed six cases of rotation and out of them five are counterclockwise and only one is clockwise (Fig. 6c). The perpendicular walls, trending 115°¬130° revealed five cases of rotation, out of which two cases are counterclockwise and three cases are clockwise. Thus, a systematic picture of rotations is obtained: counterclockwise in NNE trending walls and clockwise in ESE walls (Fig. 6c).
Fractures across walls
20
2
7
6a
Long through fissures cutting a whole wall are common phenomena among earthquake damage patterns (Stiros 1996; Korjenkov and Lemzin 2000). Several such patterns were also observed in Ayla. For example, a secondary wall attached and perpendicular to the main city wall (Station 3 in city Quarter E) was cut by a joint. The 55 cm long joint (left one in Fig. 7) crosses two stones of a 121° trending wall.

Another joint (Fig. 6a, shown by arrows) cutting through two adjacent stones which are located in the northwestern wall of the 4th city tower (station No. 2). The height of the wall is 139 cm above the bottom of the excavation trench. The trend of the wall fragment is 124°.

The described damage pattern occurred during last strong 1995 earthquake (I = VDT, Al-Tarazi 2000), was strong enough to cause significant damage in weak remnants of ancient buildings, especially those already excavated. Local site effects like liquefaction and subsidence could have increased the damage level.

Archaeoseismic Analysis

First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) provided the following analysis:

The percentage of collapsed buildings of the Rashidun town is hard to estimate as most of the buildings have been cleared away and rebuilt. Nevertheless, an estimate can be done because most of the second floors or upper parts of high structures were rebuilt at the Umayyad and Early Abbasid stage leading to the estimate that at least 15% of the buildings were destroyed by the earthquake occurred at the end of the Umayyad period. According to the EMS-98 an earthquake intensity of IX or more is inferred.

Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) provided the following analysis:

Fig. 4d

A clear preference of southwest tilting is observed at the ruins of Ayla. Accordingly, the seismic shock likely arrived from the SW (Fig. 4d). As it is known the DST is a sinistral strike-slip fault and Ayla is located on the eastern block that moves northwards during strong earthquakes. Therefore, the building constructions are tilted to opposite direction because of inertia (Fig. 4d).

...

Based on the above description of shifted building elements, the seismic shocks arrived from the SSW and the movements were transmitted from the ground to the building foundations, causing the upper wall fragments to move in an opposite direction due to inertia.

...

The analysis of the clockwise and anticlockwise rotations supports a likely NNE-SSW direction of the seismic motion.

...

Through-going joints are likely formed as a result of high intensity earthquake, while high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of free surfaces at the stone margins (i.e., the free space between adjacent stones).

...

The percentage of collapsed buildings of the Fatimid town can be well estimated as the ruins were left untouched. The survey disclosed that at least 15% of the well-built stone buildings of Fatimid Ayla collapsed and in practice no second floor structures survived with no severe damage. Again an EMS-98 intensity of IX or more is assumed.

Intensity Estimates

First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fallen Columns al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) - Fig. 11a V+
Tilted Walls al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) - Fig. 10 VI+
Collapsed Walls Damgaard (2008) - Fig 10 VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Seismic Parameters from al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007)

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) estimated an intensity of IX or more for the Umayyad period earthquake and surmised that the epicenter was close - a few tens of kilometers away. They estimated that the epicenter was to the NE.
Although based on limited observations the direction of tilt and resystematic block towards NE during Umayyad (748 A.D) and Fatimid (1086 A.D.) earthquakes are likely evidence of seismic motions radiated from the earthquake sources located NE of Ayla.

Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

Effect Figure Intensity
Tilted Walls 4a
4b
VI+
Displaced Masonry Blocks 5a VIII+
Displaced Masonry Blocks 6a
6b
VIII+
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks 7
6a
VI+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Seismic Parameters from al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007)

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) estimated an intensity of IX or more and the epicenter was some distance from the site. They estimated that the epicenter was to the NE.
Although based on limited observations the direction of tilt and resystematic block towards NE during Umayyad (748 A.D) and Fatimid (1086 A.D.) earthquakes are likely evidence of seismic motions radiated from the earthquake sources located NE of Ayla.

Site Effect

al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) suggest that the severity of seismic destruction at Ayla was significantly increased because of site effects. Citing Mansoor, N. (2004), they noted that the location lies in an area of high liquefaction susceptibility, due to the presence of saturated sands at shallow depth. Although previous speculation suggested that an active fault ran through the site, this was apparently disaffirmed by trenching performed by Rucker and Niemi (2005). al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) also reported that they did not discover offset and rotations affecting the NW town wall as described by Galli and Galadini (2001) and interpret the site history in terms of liquefaction and differential subsidence in agreement with Rucker and Niemi (2005). Ayla's location near the beach and shore strongly suggest that it is subject to liquefaction.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Al-Tarazi (2007). "Archaeoseismological investigation of the ancient Ayla site in the city of Aqaba, Jordan." Natural Hazards 42: 47-66.

Allison, A. J. (2013). Paleoseismology and Archaeoseismology along the Southern Dead Sea Transform in Wadi 'Arabah Near the municipality of Aqaba, Jordan, University of Missouri - Kansas City. PhD.

Mansoor, N. (2004). "A GIS-Based Assessment of Liquefaction Potential of the City of Aqaba, Jordan." Environmental & Engineering Geoscience - ENVIRON ENG GEOSCI 10: 297-320.

Whitcomb, D. (1994). Art and Industry in the Islamic Port of Aqaba. Special Publications. Chicago, IL, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago: 32.

Rucker, J. D. and T. M. Niemi (2005). "New excavations of the city wall at Islamic Ayla in ʻAqaba, Jordan." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 49: 501-508.

Parker, S. T., et al. (2014). The Roman Aqaba Project Final Report, Volume 1 The Regional Environment and the Regional Survey, The American Schools of Oriental Research.

Thomas, et al. (2007). "Structural damage from earthquakes in the second-ninth centuries at the archaeological site of Aila in Aqaba, Jordan: PERA." Bull Am Sch Orient Res 346: 59-77.

Khouri, R. G. and D. S. Whitcomb (1988). Aqaba: Port of Palestine on the China Sea, Al Kutba.

Damgaard, K., 2008. Final Report: The 2008 Season of the Islamic Aqaba Project. Circulated, unpublished report

Damgaard, K., 2011. Modelling mercantilism: an archaeological analysis of Red Sea trade in the early Islamic period (650-1100 CE). Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Damgaard, K., 2011. Appendices

Damgaard, K., Jennings, M.D., 2013. Once more unto the beach: a report on renewed archaeological investigations at Aylah. Annual of the Department of Antiquities in Jordan 57.

Damgaard, K., Abu-Laban, A., Jennings, M.D., Lorien, P., Seye, C., 2010. Jordan's Port on the China Sea: a preliminary report on the 2010 field campaign of the Aylah Archaeological Project.

The Aqaba Project - Whitcomb - University of Chicago

Aylah Archeological Project

el-Lejjun

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
el-Lejjun Arabic يل ليججون
Legio Latin
Betthorus Greek ? bετθορuσ‎
Baetarus
Introduction

The Lejjun Legionary Fortress which was probably Betthorus, the base of Legio IV Martia as specified in the Notita Dignitatum however no proof of this has been found on the site (Parker, 2006).

Chronology

Ceramic evidence suggests that the fort was first built around 300 CE and occupied until the early 6th century CE with later limited occupation in the Ummayad and Late Islamic periods (Parker, 2006). Three "identifiable earthquakes" (Southern Cyril Quake - 363 CE, Fire in the Sky Quake - 502 CE, and the 551 CE Beirut Quake) were interpreted as providing breaks in the stratigraphic sequence which is listed below (JW: the earthquake assignments of 502 and 551 CE are incorrect). There is additional evidence on the site for one or two more earthquakes.

Stratum Period Approximate Dates (CE)
VI Late Roman IV 284-324
VB Early Byzantine I 324-363
VA Early Byzantine II 363-400
IV Early Byzantine III-IV 400-502
III Late Byzantine I-II 502-551
Post Stratum III Gap intermittent use of site for camping and as a cemetery 551-1900
II Ottoman 1900-1918
I Modern 1918-
The stratigraphic framework was based on numismatic and ceramic evidence. The details of the stratigraphy are fairly complex. There are a number of apparent dating contradictions in their report that were explained as intrusive and, while this appears to have been necessary to make sense of the phasing and deal with incidences of stone robbing, etc., it does add some additional uncertainty to the dating. The dates for the 2nd and 3rd earthquakes provided by Parker (2006) are incorrect and may have been relied on to sort through the difficult chronology. Both the Fire in the Sky Quake of 502 CE and the 551 CE Beirut Quake were too far away to have caused the type of devastation reported at el-Lejjun absent some sort of unusual site effect - which does not appear to be present. The dates provided below are based on information in their report rather than their earthquake date assignments.
Possible predecessor earthquake in the early 4th century CE

Lain and Parker (2006:144) report that a beaten earth floor and ash layer in Room A.13 which ante-dated the 1st earthquake (Stratum VI-VB) was chock-full of tile fragments suggesting an apparent roof collapse due to an unknown cause. Such "collapse" debris was not found in any other excavation areas. The floor would have been built after initial construction of the fort which Parker (2006) dates to around 300 CE based on ceramic evidence.

1st Earthquake - 355 CE - 384 CE

Lain and Parker (2006:130) established a terminus post quem of 355 CE in the aedes where architectural installations from a rebuild after the 1st earthquake included a new floor. Underneath the new floor was a layer which yielded Early Byzantine pottery and two coins dated to 330-340 CE and 355 - 385 CE. A terminus ante quem comes from Room A.13 where Lain and Parker (2006:149) report on a 0.25-0.33 m thick beaten earth floor which was constructed from fill and leveled after the first earthquake. In an intrusive pit (A.13.009), a coin hoard was discovered with 249 bronze coins all dated from 326 to 383-384. The latest coin (Coin #461) was an issue of Arcadius dated to 383-384 which provides a terminus ante quem of 384 CE. This earthquake appears to have struck between 355 and 384 CE indicating that it is probable that the southern Cyril Quake was responsible for the seismic damage.

2nd Earthquake - ~450 - ~530 CE

Parker (2006:120) dates underlying Stratum IV to the 5th century CE however noted a relative scarcity of 5th century coinage - something he characterized as a regional phenomenon. Only a few early 5th century coins were recovered and none dated from 450-491 CE. Thus, the terminus post quem for this earthquake is 450 CE. It appears that the legion was demobilized in ca. 530 CE - as suggested by Procopius - according to Parker (2006:121). The latest closely dateable Byzantine coins [in overlying Stratum III] [] are issues of Justinian I dated 534-565 (Parker, 2006:121). There were signs in Stratum III of demobilization and conversion to civilian use such as dumping of debris on the via praetoria which Lain and Parker (2006:157) characterizes as an absence of normal military discipline, the relative dearth of evidence underneath the earthquake debris of the 3rd earthquake in the principia suggesting an orderly and systematic evacuation of the headquarters complex (Lain and Parker, 2006:157) and a corpse interred in Room N.2 something Parker (2006:121) characterizes as a clear loss of military discipline. Thus, the terminus ante quem for this earthquake is ~530 CE. The earthquake struck between ~450 and ~530 CE.

3rd Earthquake - ~530 - ~750 CE

Parker (2006:121) describes the last phase of significant occupation as follows:

The later phase (ca. 530-51) of Stratum III began with the demobilization of the legion ca. 530, as suggested by a passage in Procopius (Anecdota 24.12-14). It is notable that the latest closely dateable Byzantine coins from el-Lejjun are issues of Justinian I, dated 534-65, exactly what one would expect if Procopius' assertion were true. Some structures like the principia, were completely abandoned. Others, like the church, were extensively robbed. Large amounts of trash were dumped in barrack alleyways and even in major thoroughfares, such as the via praetoria. In Area N the rooms rebuilt rebuilt after 502 afterward witnessed little actual occupation. It is especially telling that a human corpse was interred in one room (N.2) that opened directly onto the via principalis a clear sign of the absence of military discipline.

Some inhabitants, perhaps discharged soldiers and their families or civilians from the surrounding countryside, continued to live within the fortress, however. The discovery of a human infant within the northwest angle tower in the debris of the earthquake of July 9, 551, implies that families were now living in the fortifications. The earthquake of 551 was a major catastrophe.

The numismatic finds and demobilization evidence described above provide a terminus post quem of ~530 CE for seismic destruction and final abandonment of the fortress at el-Lejjun. A terminus ante quem is not so well defined because after the 3rd earthquake, there is a Post Stratum Gap that lasted until 1900 CE. Parker (2006:121) notes that there is some evidence of camping and limited reoccupation of the domestic complex near the north gate in the Umayyad period (661-750 CE). Sherds and coins of Ayyubid/Mamluk (1174-1516) and Ottoman periods [also] attest [to] occasional later use of the fortress. Because Groot et al (2006:183) report discovery of a nearly complete Umayyad Lamp in Square 4 of Area B (Barracks) in the Post Stratum Gap, the Umayyad period (661 - 750 CE) is the terminus ante quem for this earthquake and the date for this earthquake is constrained to ~530 - 750 CE. deVries et al (2006:196) also found Umayyad sherds in the Post Stratum Gap in Rooms C.3, C.4, C.6, and C.7 of the northwest Angle Tower along with an Umayyad coin dated to 700-750 CE in locus C.4.018.

Although Parker (2006) attributed the 3rd earthquake to the 551 CE Beirut Quake, this is highly unlikely as the epicenter was far away - near Beirut. One of the sources for the 551 CE Beirut Quake (The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain) states that damage was limited south of Tyre and there are no reports of earthquake destruction in Jerusalem which is 121 km. closer to the epicenter than el-Lejjun. The most likely candidate for this earthquake is the Inscription at Areopolis Quake which struck Aeropolis - a mere ~12 km. from el-Lejjun - in the late 6th century - before 597 CE.

4th Earthquake - ~600 CE - 1918 CE

Groot et al (2006:183) report discovery of a nearly complete Umayyad Lamp in Square 4 of Area B (Barracks - B.6.038) in the Post Stratum Gap - above and later than the 3rd earthquake layer. Above the Ummayyad lamp was a 0.7 m thick layer of tumble containing some roof beams and many wall blocks (Groot et al, 2006:183). They note that the basalt roof beams found embedded in the lowest tumble level (B.6.032) suggests initial massive destruction rather than gradual decay over time. The wall blocks, found in the upper layer of tumble, contained one late Islamic (1174-1918 CE) and one Ayyubid/Mamluk (1174-1516 CE) sherd indicating a significant amount of time may have passed between the possibly seismically induced roof collapse and the wall collapse which was not characterized as necessarily having a seismic origin. This opens up the possibility that one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes or a later earthquake may have also caused damage at el-Lejjun. deVries et al (2006:196) suggests that Umayyad abandonment of the northwest tower was probably triggered by further major collapse. In the North Gate, deVries et al (2006:207) found evidence of full scale destruction in layers above 3rd earthquake debris and post-earthquake occupation layers which contained Late Byzantine/Umayyad and Umayyad sherds. Subsoil/tumble was found in C.9.008 (north room), C.9.009 (south room) and C.9.005 (stairwell) bear ample witness to the destruction of the rooms, perhaps in the Umayyad period. Although Late Byzantine sherds were found in Post Stratum layers in the North Gate, if one assumes that the 3rd earthquake was the Inscription at Aeropolis Quake which struck before 597 CE - probably within a decade of 597 CE, one can establish an approximate and fairly conservative terminus post quem for this earthquake of ~600 CE. While the terminus ante quem is the end of the post stratum III gap (1918 CE), it is probable that that the earthquake struck much earlier.

Seismic Effects

While there are many photos in the Final Report which suggest seismic effects (e.g. cracked lintels, tilted walls, secondary use of building elements, cracked staircases, displaced walls, etc.), only seismic effects described by the authors that appear to be reasonably well dated are listed in the sections below. That said, the many photos indicate that this site could produce a rich set of evidence from an archeoseismic survey of the site.
Possible predecessor earthquake in the early 4th century CE

Lain and Parker (2006:144) report that a beaten earth floor and ash layer in Room A.13 which ante-dated the 1st earthquake (Stratum VI-VB) was chock-full of tile fragments suggesting an apparent roof collapse due to an unknown cause. Such "collapse" debris was not found in any other excavation areas.

1st Earthquake - 355 CE - 384 CE

  • Plan of the Fort at El-Lejjun modified from Parker (2006)
Parker (2006:120) describes the seismic effects of this earthquake as follows:
At el-Lejjun, this earthquake had a profound impact on both the fortress and the vicus. The original limestone barracks in praetentura and possibly elsewhere in the fortress were leveled to their foundations. New chert barracks, only about half their former number, were erected along a slightly different alignment in both the praetentura and in the latera praetoria south of the principia. Rows of barrack-like rooms were erected on either side of the northern via principalis. The principia also seems to have suffered extensive damage, requiring some portions to be completely rebuilt, such as the interior of the aedes, the rooms in the official block north of the aedes, and the rooms north of the central courtyard [of the principia].

Reported seismic effects are summarized in the table below:
Location Source Description
praetentura Parker (2006:120) The original limestone barracks in praetentura and possibly elsewhere in the fortress were leveled to their foundations.
principia Parker (2006:120) The principia also seems to have suffered extensive damage, requiring some portions to be completely rebuilt, such as the interior of the aedes, the rooms in the official block north of the aedes, and the rooms north of the central courtyard [of the principia].
The mansio in the western vicus Parker (2006:120) The mansio in the western vicus was destroyed in 363 and never rebuilt.
principia Lain and Parker (2006:131) The earthquake brought down tile roofs throughout the principia
principia Lain and Parker (2006:131) The west arcade between the central courtyard and the cross hall of the principia fell while the major walls were left standing.
A.7 Lain and Parker (2006:133) Three engaged half and quarter columns with Nabatean style capitals were found in the earthquake debris
Wall A.8.003 in principia Lain and Parker (2006:151) The wall contains a substantial crack running through the center of its eastern end

2nd Earthquake - ~450 - ~530 CE

  • Plan of the Fort at El-Lejjun modified from Parker (2006)
Parker (2006:121) describes the seismic effects of the earthquake as follows:
At el-Lejjun, the earthquake is best attested stratigraphically in the Area B barracks. Some barrack rooms, such as B.4, collapsed and were permanently abandoned. Others, such as the B.1 storeroom in the centurion's quarters, partially collapsed but were reused.
Reported seismic effects are summarized in the table below:
Location Source Description
Area B Barracks Parker (2006:121) Some barrack rooms, such as B.4, collapsed and were permanently abandoned.
Area B Barracks Groot et al (2006:185) Room B.1 suffered collapse of two of it's three roofing arches
The B.1 room was backfilled to cover the collapsed roofing arches prior to laying a new floor and re-using the room for storage after the earthquake.
principia and other buildings in the fortress Parker (2006:121) The earthquake damaged the principia and many other buildings within the fortress.
Area N Schick (2006:233) Rooms severely damaged
Roofing system of rooms N.1 and N.3 collapsed completely

3rd Earthquake - ~530 - ~750 CE

  • Plan of the Fort at El-Lejjun modified from Parker (2006)
Parker (2006:121) describes seismic effects from this earthquake as follows:
At el-Lejjun, the seismic shock severely affected most parts of the fortress, including the principia, the barracks, the northwest angle tower, the church, and the rooms along the via principalis. Those structures attached to the deep foundations of the curtain wall, such as the horreum and the bath, seem to have better weathered the shock of 551, but even these structures partially collapsed. The fortress was apparently then almost completely abandoned.
Seismic effects are listed in the table below:
Location Source Description
principia Lain and Parker (2006:132) toppled original architecture which had survived the previous two earthquakes and created heavy architectural tumble from walls and installations.
principia Lain and Parker (2006:132) the direction of architectural collapse was from south to north and that much of the material fell in aligned patterns
groma - square A.7 Lain and Parker (2006:132) drums and capitals dislodged from half and quarter columns lay in aligned rows.
groma - square A.7 Lain and Parker (2006:132) ashlar limestone and chert blocks from adjacent walls tumbled into the groma's southwest corner
groma - square A.7 Lain and Parker (2006:132) The guardroom that adjoined the gate hall was filled with upended basalt roof beams
Square A.1 Lain and Parker (2006:132) arches of the south portico collapsed in aligned rows between piers of the colonnade
Square A.2 - officium Lain and Parker (2006:132) The entire south wall of the room had toppled northward to fill the officium with 18 rows of aligned wall blocks, representing collapsed courses of the wall. The fallen wall overlay roof tile debris that yielded Late Byzantine pottery.
aedes Lain and Parker (2006:132) first the roof tile caved in.
aedes Lain and Parker (2006:132) Next, the three sided podium collapsed, with blocks from its flagstone surface and barrel-vaulted substructures rolling down into the center of the shrine
aedes Lain and Parker (2006:132) Finally the aedes walls toppled, creating a sloping stratum of jumbled limestone wall blocks.
aedes Lain and Parker (2006:132) The debris from both the tumbled podium and the collapsed walls of the aedes yielded Late Byzantine pottery.
A.15 Lain and Parker (2006:134) A subsoil tumble layer in A.15.003 covered the entire square and exhibited marked declivity from south to north, contained ashlar limestone blocks, chert blocks, and basalt roof beams arrayed in patterns indicative of seismic collapse. The basalt beams were concentrated in the south end of the square above the sidewalk. The beams measured 1.75 m in length, and all lay with their short ends oriented north-south. The limestone and chert blocks lay in two fairly regular rows and extended east-west across the square, along the same line as the A.15.008 curb
A.13.007 Lain and Parker (2006:154) Collapsed Walls in tumble layer
Areas B and L Groot et al (2006:185) collapse of most of the remaining barrack rooms still standing in Areas B and L
Northwest Angle Tower - C.3 and C.7 deVries et al (2006:196) collapse of upper floors and ceilings
Northwest Angle Tower - C.3 and C.7 deVries et al (2006:196) destruction of all arches except the southern ones in Room C.3
Northwest Angle Tower - C.7 deVries et al (2006:192) collapsed ceiling caused by arch collapse- deVries et al (2006:192) notes that the earthquake which collapsed the ceiling must have been quite a force to destroy something so sturdy
Angle Tower - C.7 deVries et al (2006:193) The skeleton of an infant found in Angle Tower who apparently fell to his/her death from an upper story
Room N.2 Parker (2006) Collapsed Arches and Roofing slabs in room N.2 which probably fell during this earthquake
Horreum Crawford (2006:238) Stratum III occupation ended in all three rooms with massive wall collapse, perhaps resulting from the 551 earthquake

4th Earthquake - ~600 CE - 1918 CE

  • Plan of the Fort at El-Lejjun modified from Parker (2006)
Location Source Description
Barracks - Room B.6 Groot et al (2006:183) 0.7 m thick layer of tumble containing some roof beams and many wall blocks where the basalt roof beams found embedded in the lowest tumble level (B.6.032) suggests initial massive destruction rather than gradual decay over time
North Gate deVries et al (2006:207) full scale destruction in layers above 3rd earthquake debris and post-earthquake occupation layers which contained Late Byzantine/Umayyad and Umayyad sherds. Subsoil/tumble was found in C.9.008 (north room), C.9.009 (south room) and C.9.005 (stairwell) which bear ample witness to the destruction of the rooms, perhaps in the Umayyad period

Intensity Estimates

Possible predecessor earthquake in the early 4th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls Reported Roof collapse would be accompanied by wall displacement. VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

1st Earthquake - 355 CE - 384 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls The original limestone barracks in praetentura and possibly elsewhere in the fortress were leveled to their foundations. VIII +
Collapsed Walls The mansio in the western vicus was destroyed in 363 and never rebuilt. VIII +
Displaced Walls The earthquake brought down tile roofs throughout the principia
Roof collapse indicates displaced walls or arch damage
VII +
Arch damage The west arcade between the central courtyard and the cross hall of the principia fell VI +
Displaced masonry blocks in columns Three engaged half and quarter columns with Nabatean style capitals were found in the earthquake debris VIII +
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks The wall contains a substantial crack running through the center of its eastern end VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

2nd Earthquake - ~450 - ~530 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Some barrack rooms, such as B.4, collapsed and were permanently abandoned. VIII +
Collapsed Arches Room B.1 suffered collapse of two of it's three roofing arches VI +
Displaced Walls Roofing system of rooms N.1 and N.3 collapsed completely
Rooms [N.1 and N.2] severely damaged
Roof collapse implies Displaced Walls and/or Arch damage
VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

3rd Earthquake - ~530 - ~750 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls toppled original architecture which had survived the previous two earthquakes and created heavy architectural tumble from walls and installations VIII +
Displaced masonry blocks in columns drums and capitals dislodged from half and quarter columns lay in aligned rows VIII +
Collapsed Walls ashlar limestone and chert blocks from adjacent walls tumbled into the groma's southwest corner VIII +
Damaged Arches arches of the south portico collapsed in aligned rows between piers of the colonnade VI +
Collapsed Walls The entire south wall of the room had toppled northward to fill the officium with 18 rows of aligned wall blocks, representing collapsed courses of the wall. VIII +
Collapsed Vaults the three sided podium collapsed, with blocks from its flagstone surface and barrel-vaulted substructures rolling down into the center of the shrine VIII +
Collapsed Walls Finally the aedes walls toppled VIII +
Collapsed Walls A subsoil tumble layer in A.15.003 covered the entire square ...The limestone and chert blocks lay in two fairly regular rows and extended east-west across the square VIII +
Collapsed Walls A.13.007 - Collapsed Walls in tumble layer VIII +
Collapsed Walls collapse of most of the remaining barrack rooms still standing in Areas B and L VIII +
Collapsed Walls Northwest Tower - collapse of upper floors and ceilings VIII +
Arch Damage Northwest Tower - destruction of all arches except the southern ones in Room C.3 VI +
Arch Damage Northwest Tower - collapsed ceiling caused by arch collapse- deVries et al (2006:192) notes that the earthquake which collapsed the ceiling must have been quite a force to destroy something so sturdy IX + (upgraded to IX based on deVries et al (2006) observation
Arch Damage Room N.2 - Collapsed Arches and Roofing slabs in room N.2 which probably fell during this earthquake VI +
Collapsed Walls Horreum - Stratum III occupation ended in all three rooms with massive wall collapse VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of IX (9) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

4th Earthquake - ~600 CE - 1918 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls Barracks Room B.6 - 0.7 m thick layer of tumble containing some roof beams and many wall blocks where the basalt roof beams found embedded in the lowest tumble level (B.6.032) suggests initial massive destruction rather than gradual decay over time
Roof collapse caused by either displaced walls or arch damage
Note: Wall block tumble interpreted as coming from a later time and not necessarily seismically induced
VII +
Displaced Walls North Gate - full scale destruction in layers above 3rd earthquake debris and post-earthquake occupation layers which contained Late Byzantine/Umayyad and Umayyad sherds. Subsoil/tumble was found in C.9.008 (north room), C.9.009 (south room) and C.9.005 (stairwell) which bear ample witness to the destruction of the rooms, perhaps in the Umayyad period VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

Parker, S.T. 2006: The Roman Frontier in Central Jordan: Final Report on the Limes Arabicus Project, 1980–1989, Washington

Parker, S.T. (ed.) 1987: The Roman Frontier in Central Jordan: Interim Report on the Limes Arabicus Project, 1980–1985, BAR International Series 340, Oxford

Note: The final report refers back to Interim Report on some issues of dating and phasing and suggests that a complete report is to be had from both the Interim and Final Report

Parker, S.T. 1991: ‘Preliminary Report on the 1989 Season of the Limes Arabicus Project’, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Supplementary Studies 27, 117–54

Parker, S.T. 1990: ‘Preliminary Report on the 1987 Season of the “Limes Arabicus” Project’, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Supplementary Studies 26, 89–136

Parker, S.T. 1988: ‘Preliminary Report on the 1985 Season of the Limes Arabicus Project’, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Supplementary Studies 25, 131–74

Parker, S. T. (1982). "Preliminary Report on the 1980 Season of the Central "Limes Arabicus" Project." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research(247): 1-26.

Lander, J. and Parker, S. T. 1982: ‘Legio IV Martia and the legionary camp at El-Lejjun’, Byzantinische Forschungen 8, 185–210

Parker, S.T. 1986: Romans and Saracens. A History of the Arabian Frontier, Winona Lake, 58–74

Kennedy, D.L. 2000: The Roman Army in Jordan, London, 146–50

Kennedy, D.L. and Riley, D.N. 1990: Rome’s Desert Frontier from the Air, London, 131

legionaryfortresses.info page for El-Lejjun

Limes Arabicus

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Location Status Intensity Notes
al-Harif Syria possible Event Y
Bet Zayda possible Event CH3-E1
ICDP Core 5017-1 possible 7 16.5 cm. thick turbidite
En Feshka probable 8-9 3 cm. thick Type 4 microbreccia
En Gedi possible 5.5-7 0.5 cm. thick Type 1 seismite was assigned to 660 CE
Nahal Ze 'elim no evidence
Taybeh Trench possible Event E3 - 551 CE ± 264
Qatar Trench unlikely outside modeled ages for Events E4, E5, & E6
E4 - 758 CE ± 87
E5 - 758 CE ± 87
E6 - 251 CE ± 251


Paleoseismic Evidence is examined on a case by case basis below

Displaced Aqueduct at al Harif, Syria

Sbeinati et. al. (2010) report a seismic event Y which they dated to 657 AD +/- 32 years at a dispalced aqueduct at al-Harif, Syria (close to Masyaf, Syria).

Al Harif Aqueduct Seismic Events Fig. 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)


Image Description Source
Age Model Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Age Model - Big Sbeinati et. al. (2010)

Bet Zayda

Wechsler at al. (2014) may have seen evidence for this earthquake as Event CH3-E1 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).

Wechsler at al. (2014)


Dead Sea

ICDP Core 5017-1
Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to a middle 8th century earthquake. CalBP is reported as 1248 ± 44 yr B.P. This works out to a date of 702 CE with a 1σ bound of 658 - 746 CE indicating that the Jordan Valley Quake, Sword in the Sky Quake, the Sabbatical Year Quake, and the By No Means Mild Quake are all possibilities. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 16.5 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).

See the following from Lu et al (2020b) regarding estimating intensity from turbidites:
Previous studies have revealed that the intensity threshold for triggering historic turbidites are variable in different regions and range from MMI V½ to VII½ (Howarth et al., 2014; Moernaut, 2020; Van Daele et al., 2015; Wilhelm et al., 2016). The intensity threshold constrained from the Dead Sea data (≥VI½) is situated in the middle of this range.

Previous studies in Chilean lakes have indicated that the (cumulative) thickness of historic turbidites across multiple cores correlates with seismic intensity, and can thus be used to infer paleo-intensities in this setting (Moernaut et al., 2014). However, in the case of the Dead Sea core 5017-1, there is a random relationship (a correlation factor of 0.04) between the thickness of prehistoric turbidites and seismic intensity (Figure 5a).
En Feshka
Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 660 AD date to a 3 cm . thick Type B (microbreccia) seismite at a depth of 157.0 cm..

Image Description Source
Age Model Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model Kagan et al (2010)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2010)
En Gedi (DSEn)
Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a date of 660 AD to a 0.5 thick Type 1 (linear waves) seismite at a depth of 1.99 m.

En Gedi Core (DSEn)
Image Description Source
Floating Varve Chronology and Radiocarbon dates Migowski et al (2004)
Floating Varve Chronology and Radiocarbon dates -large Migowski et al (2004)
Migowski's Date shift Migowski (2001)
Recounted Age-depth plot Neugebauer at al (2015)
Recounted Age-depth plot - large Neugebauer at al (2015)
Correlated Age-depth plots of DSEn and ICDP 5017-1 Neugebauer at al (2015)
Comparison of paleoclimate proxies from DSEn to other sites Neugebauer at al (2015)
Core correlation - DSEn to ICDP 5017-1 Neugebauer at al (2015)
Core correlation - DSEn to ICDP 5017-1 -big Neugebauer at al (2015)
Nahal Ze 'elim
Kagan et. al. (2011) did not assign any seismites to a date of 660 AD.

ZA-2
Image Description Source
Age Model Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model with annotated dates Kagan (2011)
Age Model with annotated dates - big Kagan (2011)
Annotated Photo of ZA-3
ZA-3 = N wall of gully
ZA-2 = S wall of same gully
Kagan et al (2015)

Arava

On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312).
Taybeh Trench
LeFevre et al. (2018) might have seen evidence for this earthquake in the Taybeh Trench (Event E3).

Taybeh Trench Earthquakes
Figure S5

Computed age model from OxCal v4.26 for the seismic events recorded in the trench.

LeFevre et al. (2018)


Image Description Source
Age Model Lefevre et al (2018)
Age Model - big Lefevre et al (2018)
Trench Log Lefevre et al (2018)
Annotated Trench photomosaic Lefevre et al (2018)
Stratigraphic Column Lefevre et al (2018)
Stratigraphic Column - big Lefevre et al (2018)
Qatar Trench
The Jordan Valley Quake is just outside the modeled ages for Events E4 or E5 (Klinger et. al. (2015)).

Image Description Source
Age Model Klinger et al (2015)
Age Model - big Klinger et al (2015)
Trench Log Klinger et al (2015)
Simplified Trench Log Klinger et al (2015)

Notes

John Phokas

John Phokas may have been the author of Ekphrasis (or Concise Description) of the Holy Places which Ambraseys (2009) refers to as Descriptio Terrae Sanctae. This text was reproduced in an English translation as "The Pilgrimage of Johannes Phocas in the Holy Land (in the year 1185 AD)" by the Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society. As noted by Ambraseys (2009), seismic damage to the monastery of John the Baptist and Monastery of Father Euthymius (referred to as Mar Elias near Bethlehem by Ambraseys (2009) may have been caused by the Jordan Valley Quake. The relevant sections of this document are linked to and quoted below. On page 27 we can read the following :
XXII.

On the banks of the Jordan are built three monasteries, namely, that of the Forerunner, of Chrysostom . . . the monastery of the Forerunner having been levelled with the ground by an earthquake, now by the munificent hand of our Emperor, Manuel Comnenus Porphyrogenitus, crowned by God,* has been entirely re- built, the prior being entrusted with the superintendence of the restoration. At a distance of about two bowshots from hence flows Jordan, the most holy of rivers, wherein my Lord Jesus, having embraced poverty, wrought out by baptism the great mystery of my redemption ; and on its bank, about a stone's-throw distant, is a square vaulted building, wherein Jordan, bending back its stream, em- braced the naked body of Him who covereth the heavens with clouds, and the right hand of the Forerunner tremb- lingly touched His head, and the Spirit in the likeness of a dove descended upon i ts kindred Word, and the voice of the Father bore witness to the Redeemer's being His own Son.
On pages 30-31, we can read:
The city of Bethlehem is about six miles distant from the Holy City. Half-way between it and the Holy City stands the monastery of the holy prophet Elias, -which was built by godly men in very ancient times, but has been entirely thrown down by an earthquake. This, however, that universal benefactor, my master and Emperor,"has raised from its foundations, at the prayer of a Syrian, who is the chief of the community.

Early Islamic History, the Maronite Chronicle, and Theophanes

Although Islamic tradition places the date of Ali's assassination to Ramadan in January 661 CE (A.H. 40), Marsham (2013) notes that the Arabic tradition regarding the First Fitna (aka the first Muslim Civil War) is beset with chronological difficulties and based on the Maronite Chronicle and Theophanes, this may have occurred in 658 CE at the latest. Attempts to reconcile these accounts with early Islamic History is discussed further in Marsham (2013) and possibly Nodelke (1876:83).

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References





Ambraseys, N. (2009). Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East: a multidisciplinary study of seismicity up to 1900. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press.

http://books.google.com/books/about/Earthquakes_in_the_Mediterranean_and_Mid.html?id=x2veAAAACAAJ

Ben-Menahem, A. (1979). "Earthquake Catalogue for the Middle East, 92 BC - 1980 AD." Bolletino di Geofisica Teorica ed Applicata 21: 245-310.

http://books.google.com/books/about/Earthquake_Catalogue_for_the_Middle_East.html?id=YCSJNwAACAAJ

Ben-Menahem, A. (1991). "Four Thousand Years of Seismicity along the Dead Sea rift." Journal of Geophysical Research 96((no. B12), 20): 195-120, 216.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/91JB01936/abstract

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248793364_Four_Thousand_Years_of_Seismicity_Along_the_Dead_Sea_Rift

Grumel, V. (1934), ‘L’Ann´ee du Monde dans la Chronographie de Theophane’, Echos d’Orient, 33, 396–408.

Grumel, V. (1954), ‘Indiction Byzantine et Neon Etos’, Revue des Etudes Byzantines, 12, 128–143.

Grumel, V. (1958), La chronologie, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of ancient earthquakes in the Mediterranean area up to the 10th century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

Guidoboni et. al. (1994)

Haynes, J., et al. (2006). "Evidence for ground-rupturing earthquakes on the Northern Wadi Araba fault at the archaeological site of Qasr Tilah, Dead Sea Transform fault system, Jordan." Journal of Seismology 10(4): 415-430.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10950-006-9028-9
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226271202_Evidence_for_ground-rupturing_earthquakes_on_the_Northern_Wadi_Araba_fault_at_the_archaeological_site_of_Qasr_Tilah_Dead_Sea_Transform_fault_system_Jordan

Kagan, E., et al. (2011). "Intrabasin paleoearthquake and quiescence correlation of the late Holocene Dead Sea." Journal of Geophysical Research 116(B4): B04311.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010JB007452
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2010JB007452/abstract
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011JB008870/abstract

Karcz, I., et al. (1977). "Archaeological evidence for Subrecent seismic activity along the Dead Sea-Jordan Rift." Nature 269(5625): 234-235.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242863909_Archaeological_evidence_for_Subrecent_seismic_activity_along_the_Dead_Sea-Jordan_Rift
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v269/n5625/abs/269234a0.html
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/269234a0
https://www.academia.edu/4321286/Archaeological_evidence_for_Subrecent_seismic_activity_along_the_Dead_Sea-Jordan_Rift

Ken-Tor, R., Agnon, A., Enzel, Y., and Stein, M. (2001). "High Resolution Geological Record of Historic Earthquakes in the Dead Sea Basin." Journal of Geophysical Research 106(B2): 2221-2234.

Langgut, D., et al. (2016). "Resolving a historical earthquake date at Tel Yavneh (central Israel) using pollen seasonality." Palynology 40(2): 145-159.

https://www.academia.edu/13202919/Resolving_a_historical_earthquake_date_at_Tel_Yavneh_central_Israel_using_pollen_seasonality._Langgut_et_al._2015

Migowski, C., et al. (2004). "Recurrence pattern of Holocene earthquakes along the Dead Sea transform revealed by varve-counting and radiocarbon dating of lacustrine sediments." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 222(1): 301-314.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2004.02.015

Nodelke, T. (1876), ‘Zur Geschichte der Araber’, Z. deutsch. Morgenl. Gesellsch., 29, 76–98.

Russell, K. W. (1985). "The Earthquake Chronology of Palestine and Northwest Arabia from the 2nd through the Mid-8th Century A.D." Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 260: 37-59.

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1356863?uid=2129&uid=2134&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21103904944403

Taxel, I. (2013). "The Byzantine-early Islamic transition on the Palestinian coastal plain: a re-evaluation of the archaeological evidence." Semitica et Classica 6: 73-106.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285155841_The_Byzantine-early_Islamic_transition_on_the_Palestinian_coastal_plain_a_re-evaluation_of_the_archaeological_evidence

http://www.academia.edu/5979296/Taxel_I._2013._The_Byzantine-Early_Islamic_Transition_on_the_Palestinian_Coastal_Plain_A_Re-evaluation_of_the_Archaeological_Evidence._Semitica_et_Classica_6_73-106

Zohar, M., et al. (2016). "Reappraised list of historical earthquakes that affected Israel and its close surroundings." Journal of Seismology: 1-15.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10950-016-9575-7

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301343783_Reappraised_list_of_historical_earthquakes_that_affected_Israel_and_its_close_surroundings?pli=1&loginT=urltxczWWoX6n_aBjGyszn786eq5JQFBM9okIU32OHjnZBx-NaI_fA&uid=re14wRVtMWC39pb9ULNbe0fJcWeqa46VnGb7&cp=re370_fw_sl3_nosum_p1001&ch=reg

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301553164_Supplement_material_to_reappraised_list_of_historical_earthquakes_that_affected_Israel_and_its_close_surroundings?_sg=qXJ_C0IAOtcwLtqhmymGB1wtBFm8wR7_6GpkH2XrWOfg8t3NtcLb4_Ze7f2BMtS5FSHxYrGgOQZtjmyVBP5nvw.7HOG5LVbdteSFACB2Pak3ZAcVKIGkuxVtKD-16cTsWudxEFNwzJBkpg5xwSePdPvRBNhhkoyfJXfrXGiw9iaRw

(1587). Borchardi Descriptio Terrae sanctae, et regionum finitarum: Item itinerarium hierosolymitanum Barth. de Saligniaco, Kirchner.

http://books.google.com/books?id=I-hSAAAAcAAJ

Elias of Nisbis "Opus Chronologicum."

https://archive.org/details/OpusChronologicumByEliasBishopOfNisibis

Palmer, A., et al. (1993). The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles (includes The Syriac Chronicle of 724 and the Maronite Chronicle ), Liverpool University Press.

http://books.google.com/books?id=_DWQAAAAMAAJ

Mango, C. A., et al. (1997). The chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern history, AD 284-813, Clarendon Press.

http://books.google.com/books?id=6BIMAQAAMAAJ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophanes_the_Confessor
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14623a.htm
https://archive.org/details/TheChronologyOfTheophanes607-775
http://www.scribd.com/doc/202355147/The-Chronicle-of-Theophanes-Confessor-Byzantine-and-Near-Eastern-History-AD-284-813-Oxford-1997

Wechsler, N., et al. (2014). "A Paleoseismic Record of Earthquakes for the Dead Sea Transform Fault between the First and Seventh Centuries C.E.: Nonperiodic Behavior of a Plate Boundary Fault." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

http://www.tau.ac.il/~shmulikm/Publications/Wechsler-BSSA-2014.pdf
http://www.bssaonline.org/content/early/2014/05/20/0120130304.abstract