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Monaxius and Plinta Quake

Winter or Spring of 419 AD

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

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

Textual Evidence

Section
Introduction
Annales by Marcellinus Comes
Sermon XIX by Augustine
Chronicon by Idatius (aka Hydatius)
Consularia Constantinopolitana

Introduction

Textual accounts for this earthquake come from contemporaneous and slightly later authors all of whom were residing far from Palestine. Levenson (2004:431-432) suggests that the four sources (Augustine, Idatius, Marcellinus Comes, and the Consularia Constantinopolitana) based their commentary/report on a letter from Praulius who was the Bishop of Jerusalem in 419 CE. Levenson (2004:431-432) also suggests that there may be some conflation in these texts with descriptions of the Cyril Quake seeping into the report on the Monaxius and Plinta Quake. An excerpt from Levenson's (2004:431-432) discussion on this topic is repeated below:
A letter sent by the Jerusalem bishop reporting Palestinian earthquakes in or around 419

This letter, no longer extant, but which can be reconstructed from references to it in Augustine, Hydatius, Marcellinus Comes, and the Consularia Constantinopolitana93, shares a number of significant parallels with the letter on the rebuilding of the Temple: an address to all the churches of the world; a report of the collapse of many Palestinian cities in an earthquake; an account of the conversion and baptism of Jews and pagans followed by the appearance of the sign of the cross on the garments of those baptized. It is also possible that the letter of 419 contained an account of a procession to the Mt. of Olives, similar to the one awkwardly inserted into the Syriac letter, since Marcellinus Comes refers to a Christophany on the Mt. of Olives in his report of the events of 419.

Footnotes

93 Hydatius, Chronicon 71a (AD 419) (ed. A. Tranoy, Hydace. Chronique [SC 219; 1974], 1:124; R.W. Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius and the Consularia Constantinopolitana [1993], 86); Consularia Constantinoplitana AD 419 (ed. T. Mommsen,Chronica minora 1 [MGHaa 9; 1894], 246; Burgess, The Chronicle, 244); Augustine, Sermo 19.6 (ed. C. Lambot, [CCSL 41; 1961], 258); Marcellinus Comes, Chronica (ed. T. Mommsen, Chronica minora 2 [MGHaa 11; 1893], 74). For the chronological problems of the notices in Hydatius (which appears to belong to 417) and the Consularia Constantinopolitana (which incorrectly gives John as the bishop of Jerusalem in 419), see Burgess, The Chronicle, 43-44 and 206 (cf. S. Muhlberger, The Fifth-Century Chroniclers [1990], 207).

Annales by Marcellinus Comes

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

(translated by Google and Williams)

English

(419) 2. Monaxii and Plinta

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

Latin

(419) II. Monaxii et Plintae

1 Valentinianus iunior apud Rauennam patre Constantio et Placidia matre V nonas Iulias natus est.
2 Multae Palaestinae ciuitates uillaeque terrae motu conlapsae.
3 Dominus noster Iesus Christus semper ubique praesens et super montem oliueti Hierosolymae uicinum sese de nube manifestauit. Multae tunc utriusque sexus uicinarum gentium nationes tam uisu quam auditu perterritae atque credulae sacro Christi fonte ablutae sunt omniumque baptizatorum in tunicis crux saluatoris diuinitatis nutu extemplo inpressa refulsit.
Marcellinus dates the earthquake to the same Olympiad year that Valentinian was born. Valentinian was born on July 9, 419 AD and since the Olympiad year starts on roughly July 20 or August 20, this would date this earthquake to between July/August 418 and July/August 419. Marcellinus further places the earthquake under the heading of Monaxius and Plinta who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire in consulship in 419 AD. This further constrains the date of the earthquake to 1 January 419 to July or August 419.

Sermon XIX by Augustine

Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD) was the Bishop of Hippo Regius in what is now Annaba, Algeria which is where he was living when he wrote Sermon XIX. Guidoboni et. al. (1994) and Ambraseys (2019) supply similar quotes from Sermon XIX while Russell (1985) notes that Sermon XIX is undated, Guidoboni et al (1994)'s quote is listed below
English

Great earthquakes are reported from the East. Some great cities suddenly collapsed in ruins. Jews, pagans and catechumens in Jerusalem were terrified, and all were baptised.

Latin

Terrae motus magni de orientalibus nuntiantur. Nonnullae magnae repentinis conlapsae sunt civitates. Territi apud Hierosolvmam qui inerant iudaei, pagani, catechumini, omnes sunt baptizati. Dicuntur fortasse baptizati septem millia hominum. Signum Christi in vestibus iudaeorum baptizatorum apparuit. Relatu fratrum fidelium constantissimo ista nuntiantur.
This quote suggests shaking in Jerusalem and collapse in the the many cities mentioned by Marcellinus Comes. Damage in Jerusalem, however, is not mentioned. It may have just shook there and caused terror. Ambraseys (2009) notes that since this account was placed in a sermon, some poetic license in exaggerating the effect of the earthquake may have been applied.

Chronicon by Idatius (aka Hydatius)

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

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

23 (Margin Note - 417 AD)

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

24 (Margin Note - 418 AD)

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

25 (Margin Note - 419 AD)

After a quarrel broke out between Gunderic, the king of the Vandals, and Hermeric, the king of the Sueves, the Sueves were blockaded in the Erbasian Mountains by the Vandals.
Valentinian, the son of Constantius and Placidia, was born.
Many terrifying signs which appeared in the city of Biterrae in Gallic territory are described in a widely-circulated letter of Paulinus, bishop of that same city.
The text for the earthquake description in Latin reads as follows
Durante episcopo quo supra grauissimo terremotu sancta Hierosolimis loca quassantur et cetera, de quibus ita gestis eiusdem episcopi scripta declarant.
Guidoboni et. al. (1994) notes that
the manuscripts place Hydatius' entry under the year 418, but as A.Tranoy, the editor of the text, has shown, the scribe seems to have confused a mention of bishop John of Jerusalem (who was already dead by this time) with one of bishop Eulalius of Rome, who is referred to in paragraph 66 of the Chronicle. Tranoy dates the earthquake to 419 on the basis of evidence from Marcellinus and the Consularia Constantinopolitana.
The error of the wrong Bishop is not present in the edition by Burgess (1993). It appears that Ambraseys (2009) did not access the edition by Burgess (1993) and either did not recognize the error of the wrong Bishop or made a poor correction as he inserted a note in his catalog entry noting that "this same bishop" was Saint Zosimus who ruled from ruled March 417 until his death on 26 December 418. This led Ambraseys (2009) to state that Idatius dated the earthquake to within the papacy (aka the bishop of Rome) of Saint Zosimus. See footnote [1] for an explanation of how Ambraseys (2019) came up with an incorrect date.

Considering that apparently Eulalius was bishop of Rome when the this earthquake struck, this constrains the date of the earthquake to 27 December 418 - 3 April 419 when Eulalius was the antipope in Rome. Since Marcellinus Comes dates the earthquake to the consulships of Monaxius and Plinta which was in 419 AD, this earthquake is further constrained to approximately the first quarter of 419 CE - 1 January 419 to 3 April 419.

Consularia Constantinopolitana

I was unable to access this text but it can be found here.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Archaeoseismic evidence is summarized below

Location Status Intensity Comments
Khirbet Shema no evidence
Khorazin needs investigation
Aphek/Antipatris needs investigation ≥ 7
Avdat/Oboda possible ≥ 8 ridge effect may be present at site
Mampsis possible ≥ 8 Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) characterized this as a strong earthquake with an epicenter at the north, and an EMS-98 scale intensity of IX or more with an epicenter some distance away

Kamai and Hatzor (2005) and Kamai and Hatzor (2007) estimate Intensity of ~7 - 8 based on DDA of a dropped keystone in an arch in Mampsis.
Haluza possible ≥ 8
Yotvata possible to probable ≥ 8
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a
Petra - ez-Zantur and other sites possible but debated
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 8
Khirbet Tannur possible ≥ 8 McKenzie et al (2013) suggested that the End of Period III seismic damage was caused by the southern Cyril Quake but the Monaxius and Plinta Quake is also a possible candidate


Archaeoseismic Evidence is examined on a case by case basis below

Khirbet Shema

Chronology

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

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

Khorazin

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

Antipatris aka Aphek

Names

>
Transliterated Name Source Name
Tel Afek Hebrew תל אפק‎‎
Kŭlat Râs el 'Ain Arabic كولات راس يل 'اين
Binar Bashi Ottoman
Surdi fontes Early Frankish ‎‎
'Auja Arabic 'اوجا
Abu Butrus Arabic ابو بوتروس
Antipatris Hebrew ‎‎אנטיפטריס
Antipatris Ancient Greek Αντιπατρίς‎‎
Pegae Hellenistic Period
Introduction

Aphek is located about 12 km. east of Tel Aviv. It has a long history of habitation appearing for example in 19th century BCE Egyptian Execration texts (Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi in Stern et al, 1993). Aphek is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in a list of conquered Canaanite cities (Joshua 12:18, etc.) and as the base from which the Philistines set out to fight Israel (1 Samuel 4:1, 1 Samuel 29:l) (Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi in Stern et al, 1993). In the Hellenistic period, the city of Pegae occupied the mound. It was expanded by Herod the Great and renamed Antipatris, after his father (Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi in Stern et al, 1993). It was also occupied in Helenistic, Early Arab, and Ottoman times .

Chronology

Karcz and Kafri (1978: 244-245) reported that tilted and distorted walls and subsiding arches were encountered in the excavations of the Byzantine town of Antipatris (Aphek) which led Kochavi (1976) and Kochavi (personal communication to Karcz) to attribute the end and decay of the town to the earthquake of 419 AD. In his preliminary report on excavations Kochavi (1975) reported that very little was uncovered in the Early Byzantine Period and suggested that Byzantine Antipatris, as a city of any importance, probably came to its end around the beginning of the 5th century B.C.E. while Kochavi (1981) reports that the entire city of Antipatris was destroyed by an earthquake in 419 CE. Golan (2008) does not present any earthquake evidence but mentions that Kochavi thought that the city was destroyed by the Cyril Quake of 363 CE.
The fact that most of the coins dated to the second half of the fourth century CE suggests that the cardo may have been abandoned at the beginning of the Byzantine period, which seems to corroborate the excavators’ conclusions (Kochavi 1989) that assumed the city was destroyed in the year 363 CE.
The latest coins reported by Kochavi (1975), apparently come from the Early Byzantine level, dated to Constantine the Great (308-337 C.E.), Constantius II (337-361 C.E.), and Arcadius (395-408 C.E.).

Jones (2021) added
Caution must be exercised in interpreting the numismatic data, however, as the ceramic fords included PRS 3 forms dating to the mid-5th-6th century (Golan 2008: fig. 5.5-6). More troubling is the apparent presence of `Mefjar ware' (i.e. Islamic Cream Ware), which dates no earlier than the late 7th century (see Walmsley 2001), in the `earthquake stratum' (Neidinger 1982: 167). This may indicate multiple destructions, but without more complete publication of the excavations, this is difficult to evaluate. It is, however, worth noting the presence of a bishop of Antipatris at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 (Dauphin 2000; Frankel and Kochavi 2000: 23, 31). This may be explained, as Fischer (1989: 1806) suggests, by assuming that the role of Antipatris `was filled with a great number of smaller settlements' like Khirbat Dhikrin (Zikrin) after the 418/419 earthquake, but it is equally likely that Antipatris was simply not abandoned in the early 5th century.
I was unable to access the final report on the excavations (Kochavi (1976:52)). Absent solid stratigraphic information, this archeoseismic evdience cannot be evaluated and is classified as needs investigation.

Seismic Effects

Karcz and Kafri (1978: 244-245) reported that tilted and distorted walls and subsiding arches were encountered.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Location Intensity
Arch Damage VI +
Tilted Walls VI +
Folded Walls VII +
This archaeoseismic 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) .

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.

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

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 الخلصة
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.
1st Earthquake - late 3rd - mid 6th century CE - perhaps around 500 CE

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) surmised that the first earthquake struck in the Byzantine period between the end of the 3rd and the mid-6th centuries A.D.. Citing Avraham Negev, 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.

2nd Earthquake - Post Byzantine - 7th or 8th century CE ?

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 below:
Seismic Effects

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

1st earthquake

It is presumed that at least some of the Seismic Effects categorized as Earthquake Damage Restorations were a result of the 1st earthquake so these will be used to estimate Intensity for the 1st earthquake.

Effect Description Intensity
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in walls and drums in columns 18 VIII +
Displaced Walls 17 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) .

2nd earthquake

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 (1999)'s seismic characterization

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

References

Yotvata

Stratigraphy of Yotvata Fig. 7

West baulk of Room 4, showing the mud-brick collapse

JW: Stratigraphy of Yotvata - burnt layer at bottom is overlain by mud brick collapse layer and sedimentation until the top Early Islamic layer

Davies and Magness (2015)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Yotvata Hebrew יׇטְבָתָה
Iutfata Arabic يوتفاتا
Ein Ghadian Arabic يين عهاديان
Introduction

Yotvata is located in a small oasis about 40 km. north of Eilat. The modern name Yotvata is based on Jotbathah, one of the stops of the Israelites in the journey of the Exodus (Deuteronomy 10:7 and Numbers 33:33-34). There is as yet no proof for this identification (Zeev Meshel in Stern et al, 1993). Due Yotvata's water source and location at a crossroad, it has been settled during different periods although although there is no mound or multiperiod central site (Zeev Meshel in Stern et al, 1993). Sites are located in different places. Zeev Meshel in Stern et al (1993) summarizes the sites:
Remains can be divided into four main groups: ...

The settlements excavated so far date to the [following periods]
  1. Chalcolithic
  2. the Early and Middle Bronze Ages
  3. The beginning of the Iron Age
  4. Nabatean
  5. Roman
  6. Early Arab
The sites from the last four periods were probably fortresses or way stations
A Roman fortress is present at the site .

Chronology

Davies and Magness (2015) excavated a Roman Fort at Yotvata from 2003-2007. A monumental Latin inscription discovered earlier (1985) outside of the east gate suggests that the fort at Yotvata was built when Diocletian transferred the Tenth Legion Fretensis from Jerusalem to Aila in the last decade of the third century. Two destruction layers were described after establishment of the fort - a burned layer and a collapse layer. The authors noted that the first phase of Roman occupation at our fort, which is associated with coins that go up to ca. 360, ended with a violent destruction evidenced by intense burning throughout. Reconstruction is said to have occurred immediately after this destruction as documented by a series of successive floor layers throughout. The cause of the burned layer was not established but the authors suggested a a possible connection with the Saracen revolt against Rome led by Queen Mavia, ca. 375–378 noting the documented successes of her forces against Roman field armies and that the inclusion of former foederati among her troops suggest that her forces would have been capable of taking and destroying the fort at Yotvata. Whatever the specific cause, the excavators strongly believed that human agency rather than the southern Cyril Quake of 363 AD was the general cause noting that there was no visible evidence of structural damage or a collapse layer. One of the excavators, Gwyn Davies (personal communication 2020) noted that
We are confident that the fort was destroyed in a violent attack as we encountered signs of intense burning across most contexts and, even more suggestively, the stone frame of the main gate was fire-seared as well. If the fire had been more localized and associated with signs of toppling collapse, then ‘natural causes’ may have been more persuasive or, indeed, that this represented an accidental destruction. Instead, the evidence suggests to us that the fort was put to the torch quite deliberately
Another of the excavators, Jodi Magness (personal communication 2020) related the following
In addition to the lack of evidence of visible structural damage that could be attributed to an earthquake in the earliest destruction level, the absence of whole (restorable) pottery vessels and other objects in that level suggests an earthquake did not cause the destruction, as one would expect these artifacts to be buried in a sudden collapse. Therefore, we attributed the destruction by fire to human agents.
As for the collapse layer, it is dated to after the abandonment of the fort in the late 4th century.
The Late Roman occupation ended with an orderly evacuation and abandonment, as indicated by the fact that the rooms were cleared out. The absence of a reference to a fort at Osia [i.e. the fort excavated near Yotvata] in the Notitia Dignitatum, together with a reference to the ala Constantiana being stationed at Toloha (Or. 34.34), ca. 110 km to the north of Yotvata, suggest that our fort was abandoned by the early fifth century. Soon thereafter an earthquake—perhaps the earthquake of 419—toppled the walls of the fort. An ephemeral Byzantine period occupation was established on top of the collapse, without any attempt at leveling.
A limited amount of debris between the fort's presumed abandonment and the collapse layer led the authors to suggest the Monaxius and Plinta Earthquake of 419 AD as a possible cause of the collapse layer. Although the ensuing ephemeral Byzantine period occupation was undated due to a lack of recovered pottery, significant sediment accumulated between the Byzantine layer and the well dated Early Islamic layer suggesting that these two layers are a century or two apart. This eliminates several potential local earthquake candidates - e.g. the Inscription at Areopolis Quake (late 6th century), the Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-622 CE), and the Sword in the Sky Quake (634 CE). Archeoseismic evidence at Yotvata for the Monaxius and Plinta earthquake of 419 AD should be considered as possible to probable - The excavators say possible and I say probable.

Seismic Effects

Seismic effects include collapsed walls (mud brick collapse) and toppled steps at the fort .

Intensity Estimates

Effect Location Intensity
Collapsed Walls various locations 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) .

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 the location of an ancient city in Southern Jordan which 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.

Petra - ez-Zantur and other sites
Map of 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


Archeoseismic Evidence for the Monaxius and Plinta Quake has been claimed at several sites in Petra - ez-Zantur, in a structure outside the Urn Tomb, and in Structure I of the NEPP Project. Jones (2021) provides a discussion below which disputes this
Within Petra, the 418/419 earthquake has been suggested as the cause for the destruction of three structures: At the Urn Tomb, a 363 earthquake destruction has been suggested for a cave below the tomb (Zayadine 1974: 138) as well as House II, which was partially rebuilt afterwards and by the 6th century was being `used as a quarry' (Zeitler 1993: 256-57). Taking this quarrying as evidence for a 5th century abandonment of House II, Kolb (2000: 230; 2007: 154-55) suggests a second destruction in the 418/419 earthquake, primarily based on analogy to al-Zantur I. As only a preliminary report has appeared for House II, it is not possible to evaluate the archaeological evidence for this attribution, but a 5th century abandonment of House II may instead be related to the modification of the Urn Tomb for use as a church in 446 (Bikai 2002: 271).

NEPP Structure I has not been excavated, and the claim that it was destroyed in the 418/419 earthquake is based on surface finds and reference to al-Zantur I (Fiema and Schmid 2014: 431). Without excavation, the actual date and nature of the building's destruction remain uncertain. The claim for damage at Petra related to the 418/419 earthquake rests primarily, therefore, on the evidence from al-Zantur I.

Kolb (1996: 51, 89; 2000: 238, 244; 2007: 157) attributes the destruction of the final occupation phase of al-Zantur I, Spatromisch II, to the 418/419 earthquake. As with many of the sites discussed above, this attribution is based primarily on numismatic finds, which decline sharply after the 4th century. Like most other regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, however, a lack of 5th century coinage is typical for sites in southern Jordan. For example, in their discussion of coins collected (and purchased) in Faynan, Kind et al. (2005: 188) note a decline in coin frequencies after about 420 AD. While this does not rule out an earthquake, many sites that seem to lack 5th century coinage were, on close inspection, occupied during the 5th century.

The discussion of the coin finds at al-Zantur I also gives cause for pause. The author states,
An end of the settlement of ez Zantur after the earthquake of 419 AD could be harmonized well with the coin series, if not for the discovery of a small bronze coin of Marcianus, which was minted in the years 450-457 AD, discovered in the ash layer of Room 28, in the immediate vicinity of the remains of a kitchen inventory destroyed in an earthquake. (Peter 1996: 92, translation I. Jones)
Peter goes on to point out that, as the only mid-5th century coin at the site, it may be intrusive, which would allow for an earthquake destruction of Spatromisch II in 418/419. It is worth noting, however, the presence of 25 unidentifiable small bronze coins, 15 of which could be dated to the 4th-5th century (Peter 1996: 98-100, nos 89-113). At least some of these are likely to be issues of the 5th century.

The discussion of the ceramic assemblage follows a similar pattern. The latest imports present at Spatromisch II are African Red Slip Ware (ARS) Forms 91C and 93B, both dated by Hayes (1972: 144, 148) to the 6th century (Schneider 1996: 40). Schneider (1996: 41) argues that Hayes's (1972) dating for the southern Levant is not entirely secure, and the presence of these forms in Spatromisch II is evidence for an early 5th century appearance. At production sites in Tunisia, however, neither form appears before the mid-5th century (Mackensen and Schneider 2002: 127-30). Likewise, Form 93 does not appear in Carthage until the 5th century, and first appears at Karanis, in the Fayyum, in the '420s CE or later' (Pollard 1998: 150). It is very unlikely that these forms appeared at al-Zantur earlier than they did in North Africa.

The `local' ceramic assemblage from Spatromisch II also contains several forms that postdate 419. Of note are several `Aqaba amphorae (Fellman Brogli 1996: 255, abb. 766-67), which date no earlier than the early 5th century (Parker 2013: 741); Magness's (1993: 206) Arched-Rim Basin Form 2, dating to the 6th-7th century (Fellman Brogli 1996: 260, abb. 790); and local interpretations of late 5th-6th century ARS, e.g. Forms 84 and 99 (Fellman Brogli 1996: 263, abb. 809-10). Gerber (2001: 361-62) also notes the similarity of the Spatromisch II ceramics to those apparently from 6th century phases at the Petra Church, although these contexts are not secure enough to make this comparison definitive.

Overall, the argument that Spatromisch II was destroyed in the 418/419 earthquake is rather circular. A lack of 5th century coinage is presented as evidence of this destruction, and this in turn is used to dismiss a mid-5th century coin as intrusive. If this is accepted, an earlier date must also be accepted for the otherwise mid-5th-6th century ceramics. When considering the evidence together, however, the more parsimonious explanation is that al-Zantur I was occupied, perhaps on a small scale or even intermittently, into the 6th century, which would bring al-Zantur I into line with other sites in Petra and the broader region with 363 and (late) 6th century destruction layers (see Table 1).

If an earthquake did cause the destruction of Spatromisch II, the best candidate would seem to be the Areopolis earthquake of c. 597 AD. This event is known primarily from an inscription that describes repairs performed in the year 492, of the calender of the province of Arabia (597/8 AD), following an earthquake, found by Zayadine (1971) at al-Rabba (ancient Areopolis), on the Karak Plateau (see also Ambraseys 2009: 216-17). Rucker and Niemi (2010: 101-03) have argued, primarily on the basis of the continued use of the Petra Church into the last decade of the 6th century, as evidenced by the Petra Papyri, that this earthquake is a better fit for the 6th century destructions in Petra previously attributed to the earthquake of 551. Accepting c. 597 as the date of the destruction of Spatromisch II is not critical to this paper's argument, but it follows from accepting the excavators' identification of an earthquake destruction and considering the events postdating 418/419 that could plausibly have affected southern Jordan. The possible events listed in the most recent Ambraseys (2009: 179, 199-203, 216-17) catalogue are the 502 Acre earthquake, which seems to have caused little damage inland; the 551 Beirut earthquake, an attribution Ambraseys explicitly rejects due to the lack of major destruction in Jerusalem; and the c. 597 Areopolis earthquake, which is the most likely possibility if the first two are ruled out. Of course, it is not possible to rule out destruction during a later earthquake, an otherwise unknown earthquake, or due to another cause entirely. Likewise, the destruction of the building does not necessarily coincide with the end of the occupation; it is entirely possible for an earthquake to destroy a previously abandoned building. Regardless of the exact date of the destruction, the evidence discussed above indicates that occupation continued into the 6th century.

The ceramics from al-Zantur are an important chronological anchor in the Petra region, and it has generally been accepted that those from Spatromisch II date to the narrow period between 363 and 419. Expanding the dating of this phase to the late 4th-6th century, therefore, has implications for the dating of other sites in Petra, notably the Petra Church.
A much more extensive discussion of dating evidence and interpretation can be found in Jones (2021). Some of his conclusions follow:
A critical review of the dating evidence from al-Zantur I Spatromisch II indicates that this destruction has been misdated by at least a century. Spatromisch II was occupied at least into the 6th century, and if an earthquake was responsible for its destruction, the Areopolis earthquake of c. 597 is a more likely candidate. This returns the emergence of the Negev wheel-made lamp to the 6th century, in line with essentially every other site where it occurs. This revision also has implications for the dating of the Petra Church, which relied heavily on comparison to the material from al-Zantur, and other sites in Petra. Taken on its own, the evidence indicates that the Petra Church was built in the early 6th century, rather than the mid-5th.
A summary of archeoseismic evidence in Petra from Jones (2021) 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)


Notes and Further Reading

Jones, I. W. N. (2021). "The southern Levantine earthquake of 418/419 AD and the archaeology of Byzantine Petra." Levant: 1-15.

Kolb, B. 1996. Die Spatromischen Bauten. In, Bignasca, A., Desse-Berset, N., Fellman Brogli, R., Glutz, R., Karg, S., Keller, D., Kolb, B., Kramar, C., Peter, M., Schmid, S. G., Schneider, C., Stucky, R. A., Studer, J. and Zanoni, I. (eds), Petra — Ez Zantur Ergebnisse der Schweizerisch- Liechtensteinischen Ausgrabungen 1988-1992: 51—89. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Kolb, B. 2000. Die spatantiken Wohnbauten von ez Zantur in Petra and der Wohnhausbau in Palastina vom 4.-6. Jh. n. Chr. In, Schmid, S. G. and Kolb, B. (eds), Petra — Ez Zantur Ergebnisse der Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinischen Ausgrabungen: 195-311. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Kolb, B. 2007. Nabataean private architecture. In, Politis, K. D. (ed.), The World of the Nabataeans: Volume 2 of the International

Bernhard Kolb, G., Growher (1998). "Swiss-Liechtenstein Excavations on Az-Zantur in Petra, 1998 " Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 43.

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

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

Khirbet Tannur

Khirbet Tannur Khirbet Tannur

photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Khirbet et-Tannur Arabic خربة التنور
Introduction

Khirbet Tannur, a Nabatean Temple located atop a flat desolate summit in southern Jordan, was excavated by Nelson Glueck in 1937. The Temple contains three central altars nested like Russian Nesting Dolls The smallest altar was built first in Period I after which a second altar was built around it during Period II. Finally, a third altar was built encompassing the first two.

Chronology

Phasing

As the Temple at Khirbet Tannur was built in a seismically active area, it is thought that most rebuilding episodes were initiated soon after earthquakes damaged parts of the Temple. Glueck (1965:128) and Glueck (1965:138) identified three separate building phases (Periods I, II, and III) and a post-Temple Byzantine squatter occupation. McKenzie et al (2013) redated Periods I, II, and III utilizing an improved understanding of the chronology that can be derived from pottery as well as comparison to other excavated sites in the region. Both Glueck (1965:138) and McKenzie et al (2013) anchored their chronology to the start of Period II which was then extrapolated to starting dates for Periods I and III. Glueck (1965:138) dated the start of Period II to the last quarter of the 1st century BCE based on a dedicatory inscription found during excavations. The inscription created a terminus ante quem of 8/7 BCE as it referred to the second year of a Nabatean King whose wife was named Huldu. This would refer to Aretas IV whose first wife was Huldu and whose reign began in 9 BCE. McKenzie et al (2002:50), however, noticed that the the inscription was not found in situ and that a bowl found underneath paving stones that were put in place soon before Period II construction dates to the late first century CE along with two other bowls which date to the first half of the second century CE. This pottery and comparison to other sites led them to date Period II construction to the first half of the second century CE. McKenzie et al (2013:72) considered it likely that the inscription with a 7/8 BCE date referred to the Period I Temple rather than the Period II Temple as was assumed by Glueck (1965:138). It is unclear why McKenzie et al (2013) date initial Nabatean worship at the site to the late 2nd century BCE if the inscription suggests that Period I construction began shortly before 8/7 BCE. Perhaps initial worship at the site preceded construction of surviving structures. McKenzie et al (2013)'s dates are used in the table below:

Period Start Date End Date Comments
I Late 2nd century BCE 1st half of 2nd century CE
  • Glueck (1965:138) describes the first altar as box-like and resting on top of a crude rubble platform.
II 1st half of 2nd century CE 3rd century CE
  • Glueck (1965:138) reports construction during this period of an inner Altar-Base with steps on its west side which was built around the previous altar.
  • Glueck (1965:106) was not entirely sure that Period II ended with an earthquake stating that earthquake tremors or age or both may have brought about the collapse of the Period II Altar-Base.
  • McKenzie et al (2013:62) suggests that Period III construction which would have occurred soon after the end of Period II probably began in the 3rd century CE in association with other repairs after an earthquake.
III 3rd century CE 363 CE
  • McKenzie et al (2013:62) suggests that Period III construction probably began in the 3rd century CE in association with other repairs after an earthquake
  • McKenzie et al (2013:47,62) dates the end of Period III to the middle of the 4th century CE attributing Period III destruction to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.
Byzantine 363 CE 634 CE ?
  • A squatter's house was later constructed on the site. Based on pottery finds, this construction was dated to the Byzantine period. (Glueck, 1965:140).

Dedicatory Inscription Earthquake - Late 1st century BCE

A dedicatory inscription dated to 8/7 BCE indicates building activity around this time which could have been a response to seismic damage.

End of Period I Earthquake - 1st half of 2nd century CE

Glueck (1965:92) found Altar-Base I from Period I severely damaged probably by an earthquake which may have precipitated the rebuild that began Period II. McKenzie et al (2013:47) dated Period II construction, which would have occurred soon after the End of Period I earthquake, to the first half of the 2nd century CE. McKenzie et al (2002:50) noted that a bowl found underneath paving stones that were put in place soon before Period II construction dates to the late first century CE along with two other bowls which date to the first half of the second century CE. This pottery and comparison to other sites led them to date Period II construction to the first half of the second century CE.

End of Period II Earthquake (?) - 3rd century CE

The end of Period II would have occurred shortly before Period III construction which McKenzie et al (2013:62) suggests probably began in the 3rd century CE in association with other repairs after an earthquake. It appears that this date is extrapolated from the date for Period II construction which is chronologically anchored by pottery found in stratigraphic position. McKenzie et al (2002:73) noted similarities in the sculpture of Period III with late antique sculpture in Egypt which suggests the possibility of a date in the third century A.D.. Glueck (1965:106) was not entirely sure that Period II ended with an earthquake stating that earthquake tremors or age or both may have brought about the collapse of the Period II Altar-Base. Glueck (1965:106) characterized Altar-Base II as aesthetically attractive but architecturally weak noting shoddy internal construction particularly the bottom foundation stones (Glueck, 1965:107).

"Further" Earthquake of McKenzie et al (2013) - 3rd - 4th century CE

McKenzie et al (2013:62) reports a further earthquake after Period II construction damaged the colonnades of the Court and that the steps of the Altar Platform were repaired using column drums.

End of Period III Earthquake - 3rd-4th centuries CE

Period III ended when a violent earthquake undoubtedly destroyed [the] entire temple (Glueck, 1965:122). McKenzie et al (2013:47,62) date the end of Period III to the middle of the 4th century CE attributing Period III destruction to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. McKenzie et al (2013:159) used the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE as a terminus ante quem for some glassware that they concluded were of a 3rd or early to mid 4th century CE date indicating that they may have used the date of the 363 CE earthquake to refine dating of some artefactual remains rather than the other way around. Hence although they may be right that Period III ended in 363 CE, I am expanding the possible dates for this seismic destruction to the 3rd-4th centuries CE.

Seismic Effects
End of Period I Earthquake - 1st half of 2nd century CE

  • Plan of Khirbet Tannur from McKenzie et al (2013)
Seismic Effects
  • Glueck (1965:90) found that the entire eastern face facade of the Period I Altar had been destroyed, perhaps by an earthquake except for part of the molded angle block on the southeast corner.
  • Glueck (1965:142) reports that the eastern facade of the Period I Altar had been destroyed, down to the bases of three of it's columns
  • Glueck (1965:92) reports that the Period I Altar had to be rebuilt because it had been damaged severely, probably by an earthquake. In addition to the east face being almost completely destroyed, it's north side [was] leaning dangerously outward

End of Period II Earthquake (?) - 3rd century CE

  • Plan of Khirbet Tannur from McKenzie et al (2013)
Seismic Effects
  • The ornate pylon of the east facade of the raised inner temple enclosure collapsed at the end of Period II. (Glueck, 1965:156) - speculative
  • Near the northeast corner of the forecourt are the remains, now only one course high, of the outline of a 2 m square altar, seemingly originally to have belonged to Period II. Destroyed or badly damaged at the end of that period, it was repaired and enlarged in Period III. (Glueck, 1965:157)
Notes
  • Glueck (1965:106) characterized Altar-Base II as aesthetically attractive but architecturally weak noting shoddy internal construction particularly the bottom foundation stones. (Glueck, 1965:107)
  • Glueck (1965:106) states that earthquake tremors or age or both may have brought about the collapse of the Period II Altar-Base indicating that he was not entirely sure that the end of Period II coincides with earthquake destruction.

"Further" Earthquake of McKenzie et al (2013) - 3rd - 4th century CE

  • Plan of Khirbet Tannur from McKenzie et al (2013)
Seismic Effects
  • McKenzie et al (2013:62) reports a further earthquake after Period II construction damaged the colonnades of the Court and that the steps of the Altar Platform were repaired using column drums.

End of Period III Earthquake - 3rd-4th centuries CE

  • Plan of Khirbet Tannur from McKenzie et al (2013)
Seismic Effects
  • The violent earthquake that undoubtedly destroyed the entire Temple of Tannur in Period III, caused what was left of the south wall of Altar-Base III to bulge out and made its steps sag. (Glueck, 1965:122)

Intensity Estimates
End of Period I Earthquake - 1st half of 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Glueck (1965:90) found that the entire eastern face facade of the Period I Altar had been destroyed, perhaps by an earthquake except for part of the molded angle block on the southeast corner. VIII +
Tilted Walls Glueck (1965:92) reports that the walls of the Period I Altar was leaning dangerously outward on it's north side VI +
Fallen Columns Glueck (1965:142) reports that the eastern facade of the Period I Altar had been destroyed, down to the bases of three of it's columns 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)

End of Period II Earthquake (?) - 3rd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls The ornate pylon of the east facade of the raised inner temple enclosure collapsed at the end of Period II. (Glueck, 1965:156) - speculative VII +
Collapsed Walls Near the northeast corner of the forecourt are the remains, now only one course high, of the outline of a 2 m square altar, seemingly originally to have belonged to Period II. Destroyed or badly damaged at the end of that period, it was repaired and enlarged in Period III. (Glueck, 1965:157) 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) . However, there are indications that this may have been a weak structure. Glueck (1965:106) characterized Altar-Base II as aesthetically attractive but architecturally weak noting shoddy internal construction particularly the bottom foundation stones (Glueck, 1965:107). Glueck (1965:106) was also unsure that an earthquake damaged Period II structures stating that earthquake tremors or age or both may have brought about the collapse of the Period II Altar-Base. Considering this, the Intensity estimate is downgraded to VI-VII (6-7).

"Further" Earthquake of McKenzie et al (2013) - 3rd - 4th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fallen Columns McKenzie et al (2013:62) reports a further earthquake after Period II construction damaged the colonnades of the Court and that the steps of the Altar Platform were repaired using column drums. V +
Displaced Masonry Blocks in Columns McKenzie et al (2013:62) reports a further earthquake after Period II construction damaged the colonnades of the Court and that the steps of the Altar Platform were repaired using column drums. VIII +
This Intensity estimate should be considered tentative as it is based on secondary use of building stones making it difficult to know how those building stones were damaged and when they were damaged. Although 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) , the Earthquake Archeological Effects listed are speculative and beset with uncertainty. Because of this Intensity is bracketed to between V and VIII.

End of Period III Earthquake - 3rd-4th centuries CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Masonry Blocks The violent earthquake that undoubtedly destroyed the entire Temple of Tannur in Period III, caused what was left of the south wall of Altar-Base III to bulge out and made its steps sag. (Glueck, 1965:122) VIII +
Folded steps and kerbs The violent earthquake that undoubtedly destroyed the entire Temple of Tannur in Period III, caused what was left of the south wall of Altar-Base III to bulge out and made its steps sag. (Glueck, 1965:122) 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
References

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Paleoseismic evidence is summarized below:
Location Status Intensity Notes
al-Harif Syria possible wide spread in ages
MW = 7.3-7.6 based on 4.2 m of slip
Bet Zayda no evidence
ICDP Core 5017-1 possible 6 2.7 cm. thick turbidite
En Feshka good evidence 8-9 2 cm. thick intraclast breccia (Type 4)
En Gedi possible 5.5-7 0.5 cm. thick Type 1 seismite
Nahal Ze 'elim possible 8-9 5 cm. thick intraclast breccia (Type 4)
Same seismite dated to 419 CE by Kagan et. al. (2011) and to 363 CE by Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) and Williams (2004)
Taybeh Trench possible Event E3
MW > 6.5
Qatar Trench possible Event E6 - one of several candidates between 9 BCE and 492 CE
MW > 6.5


Displaced Aqueduct at al Harif, Syria

Sbeinati et. al. (2010) report a seismic event X which they dated to 335 AD +/- 175 years at a displaced 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)
Calculator

Strike-Slip Fault Displacement - 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
  

Bet Zayda

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

Bet Zeyda Earthquakes
Figure 9

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

Wechsler at al. (2014)


ICDP Core 5017-1
Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake. CalBP is reported as 1513 +/47. This works out to a date of 437 CE with a 1σ bound of 390-484 CE. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 2.7 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VI which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.09 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( 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 419 AD date to a 2 cm. thick intraclast breccia at a depth of 210 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
Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 419 AD date to 0.5 cm. thick seismite at a depth of 237 cm (2.37 m). Williams et. al.(2012) varve counted part of the same 1997 GFZ/GSI core that Migowski et. al. (2004) worked on and produced an estimate of varve count uncertainty based on distance from a well dated "anchor" earthquakes which in this case are the Josephus Quake of 31 BC and the Sabbatical Year Quake of 747/749 AD. These anchor quakes are between 329 and 394 years away from the Cyril Quake of 363 AD and/or the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 AD. Assuming a worst case scenario of 394 years, the 8% varve count error estimated by Williams et al (2012) constrains Migowski et. al.'s (2004) 419 AD to +/-32 years - i.e. between 387 and 451 AD. Two conclusions can be drawn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



ZA-1
Image Description Source
Age Model Agnon et al (2006)
Dated Litho-section Ken-Tor et al. (2001a)
Dated Litho-section - Big Ken-Tor et al. (2001a)
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
Klinger et. al. (2015) identified a seismic event (E6) in a trench near Qatar, Jordan in the Arava which they modeled between 9 BCE and 492 CE. The large spread in age caused them to consider two possible earthquakes as the cause; the Incense Road Quake between 110 CE and 114 CE and the southern Cyril Earthquake of 363 CE. They preferred the Cyril Earthquake of 363 CE based on weighing other evidence> not related to their paleoseismic study and noted that further investigation was required. Although they did not consider the Monaxius and Plinta Earthquake of 419 CE as a possibility, it fits within their modeled ages.

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

Paleoclimate - Droughts

Footnotes

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

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

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

References