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Sabbatical Year Quakes

~16-18 January 749 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Gold Coin dated AH 131 in Bet She'an
Near Mint condition gold dinar from A.H. 131 (31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE) found
in a coin hoard beneath a collapse layer in Bet She'an - Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)

Introduction & Summary

Introduction & Summary

UNDER CONSTRUCTION - once my current article is accepted for publication, Introduction and Summary will be added here.

Intensity Estimates

Intensity Estimates

Sabbatical Year Quakes
South Araba Quakes

Textual Evidence

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Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Damage and Chronology Reports from Textual Sources
Byzantine and Syriac Writers - Introduction and Discussion
Byzantine Writers - Paul the Deacon Latin
Biography

Paul the Deacon (c. 720s - 796/7/8/9 wrote in Latin at the end of the 8th century CE while living at a monastery on Lake Como in Italy. He was able to read Greek sources due to an early education in the language. He describes both earthquakes in his book Historia Romana written around 770 CE.

Christian End of the 8th c. CE Lake Como, Italy
Account

Paul the Deacon wrote about two earthquakes spaced roughly three years apart. The year provided for the first of these two earthquakes (The Holy Desert Quake) is suspect when compared with archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an which provides a terminus post quem of 749 CE for this earthquake - which struck the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. In order to avoid chronological confusion, these two earthquakes will be referred to by names rather than dates.

The Holy Desert Earthquake is described as striking first at 10 am in January although the time likely represents the time when the subsequent Talking Mule Quake struck. The Holy Desert Quake was described as a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria where an innumerable multitude perished - many tens of thousands and churches and monasteries collapsed. The worst was in the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem).

The Talking Mule Quake was described as striking Syria in the same year (A.M.a 6241 - 25 Mar. 748 to 24 Mar. 749 CE) that Leo the Khazar was born to Constantine V. Paul reports that many died and that a spring [moved ?]. He adds that in another place in the mountains, a village moved for about six miles with its walls and homes intact and without any small thing dying. The sliding village appears to be an embellished account of a translational landslide known as a a block slide. Paul finishes with in Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand [feet?] and out of the chasm came a different soil which was white and sandy and out of this chasm emerged a spotless mule speaking in a human voice which predicted an invasion by a foreign army into the land of the Arabs - this came true. Despite the appearance of an oracular Talking Mule, which proved to be a very popular part of this story, the description of an earth fissure and sand boils is seismically credible.

Byzantine Writers - Anastasius Bibliothecarius Latin
Biography

Anastasius Bibliothecarius worked as the chief librarian and archivist for the Bishop of Rome and was fluent in Greek. He wrote the historical work "Chronographia Tripartita" in Latin between 871 and 874 CE ( Neil, 1998:42). He was more of a compiler than a writer - copying text from other authors. Textual analysis suggests that Anastasius had access to an earlier version of Theophanes text than the copy of Theophanes that we currently have access to - perhaps what might be termed an 'unfinished' and therefore less redacted copy.

Orthodox (Byzantium) 871-874 CE Rome
Account

Anastasius Bibliothecarius wrote about two earthquakes spaced roughly one year apart. The year provided for both earthquakes (The Holy Desert Quake) is suspect when compared with archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an which provides a terminus post quem of 749 CE for the first earthquake account (The Holy Desert Quake) - which struck the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. In order to avoid chronological confusion, these two earthquakes will be referred to by names rather than dates.

The Holy Desert Earthquake is described as striking first at 10 am in January in A.M.a 6238 (25 Mar. 745 to 24 Mar. 746 CE). The Holy Desert Quake was described as a powerful earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria where thousands died - an innumerable multitude perished and churches and monasteries collapsed, and it was worst in the desert of the Holy City. [Jerusalem].

The Talking Mule Quake was described as striking Syria in A.M.a 6239 (25 Mar. 746 to 24 Mar. 747 CE). Anastasius reports that many died and a spring [moved?]. He adds that in another place in the mountains, a village moved with its walls and homes intact for 6 Roman miles. The sliding village appears to be an embellished account of a translational landslide known as a a block slide. Anastasius finishes with in Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand feet and out of the chasm came a white sandy soil and a spotless mule which spoke in a human voice and prophesied that the Arab lands would be invaded by a foreign army - and this prophecy came true. Despite the appearance of an oracular Talking Mule, which proved to be a very popular part of this story, the description of an earth fissure and sand boils is seismically credible.

Byzantine Writers - Theophanes Greek
Biography

Theophanes (c. 758/60-817/8) wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. Theophanes' Chronicle covers the period from 284 CE, where the Chronicle of George Synkellos ends, until 813 CE (Neville, 2018:61). Neville (2018:61) notes that Theophanes explains that George had asked him to complete the task of compiling the history and had given Theophanes the materials he had gathered. Neville (2018:61) describes Theophanes' Chronicle as follows:

It is one of few Byzantine texts that is a true chronicle, in that it enumerates every year, and lists events for each year. The entry for each year begins with a listing of the year of the world, the year since the Incarnation, the regnal year of the Roman Emperor, the Persian Emperor, and the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. After the conquest of the Persian Empire, it uses years of the rulers of the Arabs in place of the Persian Emperors. Despite the impression of chronological accuracy, many of these dates are mistaken. Scholars also debate whether these dates were integral to Theophanes’ original Chronicle or were added by a later copyist.
Mango and Scott (1997:xci) characterize Theophanes' Chronicle as a "file" of sources and list at least 17 sources which informed his Chronicle (Mango and Scott, 1997:lxxiv-lxxxii). Hoyland (2011:10) noted that Theophanes made extensive use of an "eastern source" for events in Muslim-ruled lands during the the time period of the 630s-740s and continued to narrate events occurring in Muslim-ruled lands, until ca. 780 either making use of another chronicle for these three decades or, more likely, [] had at his disposal a continuation of the ‘eastern source’. Theophanes' ‘eastern source’ has been the source of much scholarly investigation and debate.

Orthodox (Byzantium) 810-815 CE Vicinity of Constantinople
Account

Theophanes wrote about two earthquakes spaced roughly three years apart and a third earthquake in ~756/757 CE which is treated separately as the By No Means Mild Quake. The year provided for the first of these two earthquakes (The Holy Desert Quake) is suspect when compared with archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an which provides a terminus post quem of 749 CE for this earthquake - which struck the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. In order to avoid chronological confusion, these two earthquakes will be referred to by names rather than dates.

The Holy Desert Earthquake is described as striking first at 10 am on 18 January although this time and date likely represents the time and approximate date when the subsequent Talking Mule Quake struck. The Holy Desert Quake was described as a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria where numberless multitudes perished and churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City [Jerusalem].

The Talking Mule Quake was described as striking Syria in the same year (A.M.a 6241 - 25 Mar. 748 to 24 Mar. 749 CE) that Leo the Khazar was born to Constantine V. Theophanes reports that some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so, while others slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout. The sliding village appears to be an embellished account of a translational landslide known as a a block slide. Theophanes added that eyewitnesses affirmed that the ground in Mesopotamia was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy, in the midst of which, they said, there came up an animal like a mule, quite spotless, that spoke in a human voice and announced the incursion of a certain nation from the desert against the Arabs, which indeed came to pass. Despite the appearance of an oracular Talking Mule, which proved to be a very popular part of this story, the description of an earth fissure and sand boils is seismically credible.

Byzantine Writers - Nicephorus Greek
Biography

Nicephoros I of Constantinople was born in Constantinople in 757 or 758 CE. He began his career as an imperial secretary and in 806 CE was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. He was deposed in 814 CE when he objected to Emperor Leo V’s (r. 813– 820) efforts to remove icons from public places. Nicephoros then retired to a monastery where he died in 828 CE. He wrote Chronography in Greek the early 9th century CE (Neville, 2018:72).

Orthodox (Byzantium) Early 9th c. CE Constantinople
Account

Nicephoros only wrote about the Talking Mule Quake. He did not provide an account of the Holy Desert Quake. In his account he stated that at the same time as Leo the Khazar was born to Constantine V, a severe earthquake occurred in Syria where some cities were destroyed and others only partially so. The ground is reported to have opened up around some cities. Some cities were shifted from their high positions and slipped down entire, with their walls and houses, to the plains below, moving a distance of as much as six miles, more or less, from their original situation . Nicephoros reports that in Mesopotamia (near Syria) a crack was formed in the ground for a distance of two miles in which a sandy white soil erupted and brought forth a female mule who spoke prophecy in a human voice and predicted that a tribe would come from the desert beyond and slaughter many Arabs without resistance.

Byzantine Writers - Georgius Monachus Greek
Biography

Despite the popularity of his Chronicle, little is known about Georgios Monachus (George the Monk) who was also known as George Hamartolus (George the Sinner). His Chronicle covers "Creation" until 842 CE (Neville, 2018:87). Neville (2018:87-88) noted the following about George's Chronicle

The work is notable for including numerous amusing and moralizing stories, many of which do not have much to do with specific historical events. In some cases, we can tell that the author highlighted moral lessons to be drawn from an episode, but disregarded the chronological placement of the episode within his source material. George has been characterized as a “short-story” writer. By one count, the text includes forty-four discrete stories about bishops, monks, the destiny of the soul, heroic chastity and martyrdom, and pagans, Jews, and iconoclasts.
George wrote the Chronicle in Greek in the last half of the 9th century CE. There are two variants of the text (Neville, 2018:87).

Christian Last half of 9th c. CE Constantinople
Account

George the Monk only only wrote about the Talking Mule Quake which he described as a powerful earthquake in Syria where some cities were destroyed and others only partly so. He reported that in one place, a village moved with its walls and buildings intact and in Mesopotamia, the earth split three thousand feet and a white sandy soil came out of the chasm followed by an onager which spoke prophecy and predicted a foreign invasion - which happened a short time later.

Byzantine Writers - Megas Chronographos Greek
Biography

A 10th century manuscript (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 194.r) of Chronicon Paschale contains excerpts of another text which is labeled as being from the Great Chronographer (Megas Chronographos). The excerpts document natural and political disasters from the 5th to 8th centuries ( Neville, 2018:85). Neville (2018:85) notes that although this text was originally thought to have been composed in the 8th century CE and served as source material for Theophanes and Nicephorus, further research has "shown fairly conclusively that it is the other way around". The anonymous work of Megas Chronographos is now thought to be a compilation of the mid 9th century CE.

Christian mid-9th c. CE ?
Account

Megas Chronographos only writes about the Holy Desert Quake which it describes as striking during the reign of Constantine V (r. 741-775 CE). The earthquake occurred in Palestine and the Jordan and all the Syrian land. Many tens of thousands, innumerable people indeed, are dead, and churches and monasteries are fallen.

Byzantine Writers - Cedrenus Greek
Biography

Neville (2018:162-163) provides a succinct description of George Cedrenus (~11th century CE) and Synopsis istorion (aka A Concise History of the World)

In the late eleventh or early twelfth century, extant histories were combined and edited to compile a massive unified history from Creation to 1057, entitled the Synopsis istorion. The opening of the text names its author as George Kedrenos. A poem describing the history, found in a later manuscript of the text, says that George was a proedrus. This history was written after that of John Skylitzes in the late eleventh century, and before our oldest manuscript, which is stylistically dated to the first half of the twelfth.

For the years 811– 1057, the Kedrenos text copied the history by John Skylitzes precisely. For the period prior to 811 it extracts the histories of Pseudo-Symeon, Symeon the Logothete, and George the Monk. For the sixth and seventh centuries he used the Chronicle of Pseudo-Symeon, which was relying on Theophanes.

Although Kedrenos does not provide any independent information about the past, and often clings to the wording of texts he is compiling, his editorial choices can vary the meanings and implications of the stories he preserves. Scott and Maisano argue that his choices regarding the inclusion and framing of his material display his ideas about history.

Orthodox (Byzantium) late 11th or early 12th century CE Anatolia
Account

George Cedrenus wrote about the Holy Desert Quake and the Talking Mule Quake.

The Holy Desert Earthquake is described as striking at 10 am on January 18 although this time and date likely represents the time and approximate date when the subsequent Talking Mule Quake struck. The Holy Desert Quake was described in two seperate passages. In one passage it was described as a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria where an innumerable multitude perished - thousands and churches and monasteries collapsed. The worst was in the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem). In another passage George Cedrenus wrote that there were many earthquakes in various places and in the mountains in the wilderness of Saba, a village was swallowed.

For the Talking Mule Quake, Cedrenus wrote that there was a serious earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria where some cities were destroyed [and] others partly destroyed. He added that in the mountains, a village[s?] slid down the mountain for a distance of 6 miles with their houses and buildings intact. The sliding village appears to be an embellished account of a translational landslide known as a a block slide. Cedrenus finishes with in Mesopotamia the earth was split for two thousand steps [~feet] and out of that chasm came a different type of white soil from which a emerged a mule who spoke a prophecy in a human voice - that a nation from the desert would invade the Arab lands - the prophecy came true Despite the appearance of an oracular Talking Mule, which proved to be a very popular part of this story, the description of an earth fissure and sand boils is seismically credible.

Byzantine Writers - Minor Chronicles Greek AnonymousChristian ? ?
Account

Schreiner (1979:87) translated Minor Chronicles to German from the original Greek. The entry of interest is brief (747 Jan 18 - Earthquake in Palestine) and appears to describe the Holy Desert Quake. The date provided by Schreiner (1979:87) may be derived from Theophanes with a a one year correction (adding a year to go from 746 to 747).

Byzantine Writers - Joannes Zonaras Greek
Biography

Little is known about Joannes Zonaras's life. The offices of Grand Commander of the Palace Watch (Μέγας δρουγγάριος τῆς βίγλης) and First Secretary of the Chancery (Prôtoasêkritês), both duly noted in headings of several manuscripts of his works, mark the apex of his public career (Banchich and Lane, 2006:2). At some point, he retreated to the monastery of St Glyceria on present-day Ineir Adasi in the Bay of Tuzla, where he completed his Epitome of Histories in time for the mid-twelfth-century historian Michael Glycas to quote him by name. The date, place, and circumstances of his death are unknown (Banchich and Lane, 2006:2-3). Banchich and Lane (2006:1) characterize Epitome of Histories as follows:

John Zonaras’ Epitome of Histories recounts events from creation through the death of the emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1118— about 6,619 years by Byzantine reckoning. Composed in the first half of the twelfth century and the most substantial extant historical work written in Greek between Cassius Dio’s Roman History of the early third century AD and the fall of Constantinople, it comprises three substantial volumes and slightly more than 1,700 pages of text in its best modern edition. The production of the original copy would have required much time, labor, and expense: the large number of manuscripts of the Epitome and its early translation into a number of languages are measures of the esteem it long commanded. Yet since the advent of modern scholarship in the nineteenth century, few have thought there was any good reason to read the whole Epitome, fewer have attempted to do so, and fewer still have finished the job.

This was not so much because the Epitome was dull or inaccurate as because it was largely derivative. Indeed, Zonaras explains in his Prologue that he aimed at originality only in his wish to make earlier histories more accessible by presenting them in a new fashion. For him this entailed staking out a middle ground between barebones abbreviation and overly detailed recapitulation. He would eschew speeches and learned excurses, but, at the same time, maintain a style, tone, and level of engagement with his material worthy of an intelligent readership. In the event, the outcome was neither proper history in a classicizing mode nor chronicle, but a unique epitome of histories.
Epitome of Histories (aka Annales ) is subdivided into 18 books. Book XV covers 717 - 829 CE. Over 72 manuscripts exist. A Slavonic version was translated in the 14th century CE and an Aragonese version also exists (Neville, 2018:196).

Christian 1st half of 12th c. CE vicinity of Constantinople
Account

I only accessed an Aragonese translation of Joannes Zonaras' Annales so the earthquake account may be abbreviated. In the Aragonese translation, Zonaras may have written about one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes stating that on the 23th of September, there was a powerful earthquake where many homes and churches were destroyed however he followed this statement with a description of building damage in Anatolia. This indicates their he either amalgamated earthquake accounts or wrote about an earthquake in Anatolia and not about one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes.

Byzantine Writers - Michael Glycas Greek
Biography

Neville (2018:206-207) wrote about Michael Glycas (12th century CE) as follows:

Michael Glykas was a writer and theologian active in the second half of the twelfth century. He served as an imperial secretary in the court of Manuel Komnenos (r. 1143– 1180) and earned the title grammatikos. In addition to his history, Glykas wrote a long theological treatise in the form of questions and answers, a refutation of Manuel Komnenos’s defense of astrology, various poems, and collected proverbs. Some of his answers to theological questions appear to refer to events that occurred in the 1180s. Glykas’s history was written after that of Manasses, which he used.

Glykas wrote the poem “Verses while in Prison,” leading some scholars to believe that at one time he had been imprisoned. The manuscript of the poem provides a note explaining that Glykas had been unjustly blinded. Given what we currently understand about twelfth-century literary culture and poems similar to Glykas’s, it now seems more likely that the poem depicts a fictional scenario and that the “I” speaking in the poem does not reveal information about Glykas’s own life. Scholars trying to find a political context for Glykas’s imprisonment have supposed that he had been linked to one of Manuel’s advisors, Theodore Styppiotes, who was accused either of treason, or of practicing astrology and dark magic, and blinded in 1159. Glykas’s continued career as a writer into the 1160s indicates that he was not blinded, casting doubt on the witness of the manuscript note. It is not necessary to assume an imprisonment.
Book 4 of Glykas' Chronicle covers the time period from Constantine (r. 306-337 CE) until Alexios Komnenos (r. 1081-1118 CE) (Neville, 2018:206). Glycas showed an interest in Natural History (Neville, 2018:206).

Christian 2nd half of the 12th century CE vicinity of Constantinople
Account

Michael Glycas wrote about the Talking Mule Quake stating that the land split in Mesopotamia and a mule came out speaking of the affairs of men and predicted invasion by a foreign army. He did not attribute this to an earthquake although clearly he drew upon earlier earthquake accounts.

Syriac Writers - Introduction
Syriac Writers - Dionysius of Tell-Mahre Syriac
Biography

Dionysius of Tell-Mahre was the Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 818 until his death in 845 CE (wikipedia). He wrote Annals in Syriac in the first half of the 9th century CE. Annals is a two volume history which covers events from 582 - 843 CE. The first volume is devoted to church history - the second to secular history. Each volume is subdivided into 8 books each. Only a few fragments of his original work survives however he is a source in other author's chronicles such as Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234. Michael the Syrian explicitly cites Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source and Brock(1976) suggests that "the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the main sources" for Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 during "this period". Further details on Dionysius of Tell-Mahre can be found in a book by Abramowski (1940).

Syriac Orthodox Church first half of the 9th century CE Antioch, Syria
Account

Both Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 provide an extensive list of seismic effects primarily from the Talking Mule Quake although, in the case of Michael the Syrian, other unrelated earthquakes are amalgamated in. In his preface, Dionysius of Tell-Mahre states that he used Theophilus of Edessa as a source ( Hoyland, 1997:416-419). Theophilus was a contemporary source who, later in his life was court astrologer for Al-Mahdi, the 3rd Abassid Caliph. Al-Mahdi was 4 or 5 years old when the earthquakes struck - living close to the southern part of the Arava in Humeina. Theophilus would have known a great deal about these earthquakes. As such, Theophilus by way of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre appears to have provided us with a wealth of seismic information - albeit filtered through textual transmission into the accounts of Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and possibly others. Theophilus' Chronicle, like that of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is lost however Hoyland (2011) attempted to reconstruct it from dependent sources and that reconstruction is shown in this catalog.

Syriac Writers - Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Syriac Writers - Theophilus of Edessa Syriac
Biography

Theophilus of Edessa was a medieval astrologer and scholar from Edessa in northern Mesopotamia ( Hoyland, 2011:6). He is said to have translated books from Greek to Syriac - indicating fluency in both languages ( Hoyland, 2011:7). His work later in his life as the court astrologer for Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi indicates fluency in Arabic. He may have been in his 50's when the earthquakes struck and is a contemporaneous source ( Hoyland, 2011:6) who, due to his linguistic skills, could have accessed much information about these earthquakes. Unfortunately, the Chronicle he wrote in Syriac is lost. However, this Chronicle appears to show up in a number of later sources (e.g. Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and Agapius) and may have been utilized by Theophanes and other Byzantine authors by way of an intermediary.

Chalcedonian Christian Last Half of the 8th century CE Edessa ?, Baghdad ? see the accounts of Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234.
Syriac Writers - Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre Syriac
Biography

This Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin is now thought to have been composed by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Parts 3 and 4 cover events from 488 - 775 CE. There is apparently a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE. Harrak (1999) opines on the opening page of his translation that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin. If Harrak is correct, this is a contemporaneous source. The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162), now in the Vatican (shelf mark Vatican Syriac 162).

Eastern Christian 750-775 CE Zuqnin Monastery
Account

Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre told a moralizing tale of an earthquake that collapsed a church and crushed and killed the congregants of a rival (Chalcedonian) church faction in Mabbug. Before the earthquake struck, the roar from a distant earthquake was felt and heard the night before. It sounded something like the noise of a roaring bull and was heard from a great distance. This is the chronological clue which unlocks the mystery of the Sabbatical Year Earthquake sequence.

The distant earthquake heard and felt in Mabbug the night before was the Holy Desert Quake which struck the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley. In Pseudo-Dionysius' telling, the next morning the Bishop ordered the entire congregation to line up and march to church to pray. The Bishop is said to have said this distant tremor was due to people's sins - an attribution and belief that is common in Christian literature of this time. After they had entered the church and begun to pray, a new earthquake struck and the church collapsed killing everyone, including the bishop. They were all crushed as if in a wine-press.

The time it would take to assemble the congregants, march to the church, and initiate a possibly impromptu prayer service suggests a mid morning earthquake in Mabbug which happens to approximately coincide with the time (4th hour - ~10 am) that some of the Byzantine authors said the Holy Desert Earthquake struck. This suggests that it was the Talking Mule Quake which struck at ~10 am and the Holy Desert Quake struck the night before. Somehow, it appears that the timing got transposed in the 'eastern source' of the Byzantine Chroniclers.

Syriac Writers - Earthquake Sound Travel and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Syriac Writers - Elias of Nisibis Syriac and Arabic
Biography

Elias of Nisibis was a cleric of the Church of the East, who served as bishop of Beth Nuhadra (1002–1008) and archbishop of Nisibis (1008–1046) (wikipedia). He wrote a number of texts but is best known for Chronography which he composed in the early 11th century CE. Enclclopedia Iranica describes Chronography as follows:

His renowned Chronography on history is preserved in a single manuscript with only a few major lacunae. It is divided into two parts, in Syriac with Arabic translation following each paragraph for most of the first part. The first part, modeled on the Chronicle of Eusebius, treats universal and ecclesiastical history up to 1018 C.E. in the form of tables, usually with accurate references given to the sources. The second part is a manual of the different calendars used in the Orient.

Church of the East Early 11th c. Nusaybin, Turkey
Account

Elias of Nisibis (975-1046 CE) wrote that A.H. 131 (31 August 748 -19 August 749) was a year in which there were many earthquakes suggesting that there were two or more sizable earthquakes and aftershocks. He said that many places were ruined and that a valley [located] near Mount Tabor was transported for 4 miles with its houses and properties where not a single grain of dust fell from the houses and no man or animal died - not even a chicken. This bears a strong similarity to the translational landslide account that the Byzantine authors associate with the Talking Mule Quake which they seem to locate in Northern Syria. Elias probably mislocated the landslide for theological reasons - to show that displeasure with sins in the form of an earthquake affected "sacred geography". Mount Tabor is and was the location of the traditional pilgrimage site for the influential New Testament story of the Transfiguration. Like Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, Elias also wrote about the church collapse in Mabbug.

Syriac Writers - Michael the Syrian Syriac
Biography

Michael the Syrian also known as Michael I Rabo and Michael the Great was born in Melitene from a clerical family in 1126 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). He studied at the Monastery of Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo where he stayed on as a Monk and a Prior. In 1166, he was elected Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church. While acting as Partriach he collected manuscripts of theological and historical content and restored and compiled hagiographical and liturgical works (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) reports that his canonistic work is partly conserved in later collections, but the greater part is lost, as is his treatise on dualist heresies composed for the Lateran Council. Michael the Syrian is best known for his Universal Chronicle which covered "creation" until 1195 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) describes Michael's Chronicle and various editions as follows:

The text is not preserved in its entirety, and the layout of Michael’s chronicle was distorted through the process of copying. Chabot’s edition is a facsimile of a documentary copy written for him in Edessa (Urfa) from 1897 to 1899. While the scribes tried to imitate the layout, a number of mistakes were introduced. Its Vorlage, the only extant ms., was written in 1598 by a very competent scribe. It is kept by the community of the Edessenians in Aleppo. In view of the loss of the original, this beautiful manuscript is the best witness for the layout of the chronicle. Fortunately it will soon be made available in print. This ms. was probably the Vorlage for an Arabic translation, which also sought to preserve some of the visual features, while changing others. The Arabic translation has much the same lacunae as the Syriac text. By comparing his version with the Arabic translation preserved in ms. London, Brit. Libr. Or. 4402 (which is one of several Arabic copies), Chabot detected some details lost in the Syriac text. No further research has been done so far on this problem.

The historical material was originally organized in four columns, the first being designated as the ‘succession of the patriarchs’, the second as ‘succession of the kings’, the chronological canon as ‘computation of the years’. No title of the additional column, which contains mixed material, is now known. Chapters with excursus were inserted, which interrupted the system of columns. After an open and abrupt end, six appendices follow. The first appendix is a monumental synopsis of all the kings and patriarchs mentioned. It was supposed to function as a directory. The second appendix is a treatise on the historical identity of the Syrians, who are connected to the Ancient Oriental Empires, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Arameans. When the chronicle was translated into Armenian, in two different translations, in 1246 and 1247, it was transformed according to Armenian interests.
Michael died in 1199 CE.

Syriac Orthodox Church late 12th century CE Probably at the Monastery of Mar Bar Sauma near Tegenkar, Turkey
Account

Michael the Syrian described an earthquake which lasted for days and shook Damascus like leaves on trees. Myriads of people died in Ghuta and Darayya. Bostra, Nawa, Der'at, and Baalbek were swallowed up completely. Water in the springs of Baalbek turned to blood. At Beit Qoubayê (location unknown) a fortress collapsed and 80 people died. Many also died in the surrounding city. A seismic sea wave was described which destroyed many cities on unnamed shores. In Balqa' or Moab, a seismic sea wave moved a fortress 3 miles. Tiberias was destroyed except for one house. 30 synagogues fell down and structures around a thermal bath were destroyed. The spring next to Jericho moved 6 miles. In Mabbug, a church and walls collapsed killing many. A village near Mount Tabor moved four miles from its place with all its homes and buildings intact. Neither a stone nor a small mud brick fell. Nor did any person or animal die - not even a chicken!. Unrelated seismic destruction in Constantinople, Nicea, and other nearby cities was also described.

Syriac Writers - Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Syriac
Biography

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 may have been written in Edessa and was composed at the beginnings of the 13th century CE. This anonymous chronicle is described by Brock(1976)

Next to Michael's Chronicle this world chronicle (sometimes referred to as the 'Anonymous of Edessa') contains the most detailed account of events in the seventh century that is available in Syriac. It is largely independent of Michael's work, and the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the compiler's main sources for this period. The text is preserved in a unique manuscript (perhaps of the fourteenth century) that was in private hands in Constantinople at the beginning of the century.

beginning of the 13th c. CE possibly in Edessa or the Monastery of Mar Bar Sauma near Tegenkar, Turkey
Account

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 describes an earthquake which lasted for days and shook Damascus and the whole region. Innumerable people died in Ghuta and Darayya. Bostra and Nawa were entirely swallowed up. Much of Baalbek collapsed and its water sources became like blood. At Beth Qubayeh (location unknown) a palace collapsed and 800 people died. Many also died in the surrounding city. A seismic sea wave was described which destroyed many cities on an unnamed coast. In Balqa' or Moab, a seismic sea wave moved a palace 3 miles. Tiberias was destroyed except for one house. 30 synagogues fell down and structures around a healing spring were destroyed. The river next to a spring in Jericho moved 6 miles and structures on the river collapsed. In Mabbug, there was widespread destruction and many died. Also in Mabbug, a church collapsed killing everyone inside. Walls in Mabbug collapsed down to their foundations. The writer of Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 describes a source document which describes many more seismic effects but which were not entered in his account.

Christian Writers in Arabic - Agapius of Menbij Arabic
Biography

Agapius of Menbij (aka Agapius of Hierapolis) wrote in Arabic in the 10th century CE when he was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (aka Mabbug, Hierapolis Bambyce). Kitab al-‘Unvan (trans. Book of History) is his best known work. The book is divided into two parts with the second part covering the time period for these earthquakes.

Melkite 10th century CE Manbij, Northern Syria
Account

Agapius of Menbij described an earthquake which struck in January and affected the sea coast of Palestine. Many places were devastated and many died, especially in Tiberias, where more than 100,000 men succumbed. 100,000 seems an exaggeration. Agapius did not supply a reliable year.

Christian Writers in Arabic - al-Muqaffa Arabic
Biography

Severus ibn al-Muqaffa was a Monk who became a Coptic Bishop. He is regarded as the redactor of an earlier series of biographies written in Coptic which he translated into Arabic in the 10th century CE (Coptic Encyclopedia). This collection of biographies is known as the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria (aka History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church). The earthquake is mentioned in the biography of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) who was the Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria from 744-767 CE. The earthquake account is written in the first person and purports to be an eyewitness account written by a companion of Michael I.

Coptic Christian 10th century CE Egypt
Account

Severus ibn al-Muqaffa's account describes what purports and seems to be eye-witness testimony of seismic shaking experienced from Egypt - probably in Alexandria. The year is not specified in the text but the date and time of day are. Seismic shaking was experienced at night on the 21st of Tuba. Although the witness experienced strong shaking, he reported that there were no collapses or casualties in Egypt except for Damietta which is likely prone to liquefaction and in the part of the Nile Delta closest to the Dead Sea Transform. The witness goes on to report that shaking was experienced from Gaza to Persia where 600 towns and villages experienced destruction. Many ships were also reported to have sunk that night which suggests a tsunami struck the coasts. Due to the nature of communications at that time, the witness would not have known that this was an earthquake couplet where the first quake with a closer epicenter, the Holy Desert Quake, struck at night and the second Quake, the Talking Mule Quake struck the next morning. He would have thought that the shaking he experienced at night in Egypt would have been the same earthquake that was felt to the farthest extremities of Persia. When we combine this Egyptian account with Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre's account of a destructive morning earthquake in Northern Syria and Jazira that was preceded by a distant rumble the night before, we realize the timing of these earthquakes. The Holy Desert earthquake struck at night. The Talking Mule Quake struck the next morning. In Egypt, they thought it was a universal night-time earthquake. In northern Syria/Jazira, they thought it was a universal day-time earthquake. The 21st of Tuba equates to 16 Jan. in 749 CE and 17 Jan. in 748 CE.

Christian Writers in Arabic - al-Makin Arabic
Biography

al-Makin (1205-1273 CE) was a Coptic Christian, born in Cairo, who wrote in Arabic. He also lived in Damascus where he worked as a military scribe. He retired in Damascus and died there. His sole surviving work is entitled al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection). It was written between 1262 and 1268 CE. The first portion runs from Adam down to the 11th year of Heraclius. The second half is a history of the Saracens, which extends from the time of Mohammad to the accession of the Mameluke Sultan Baybars in 1260 CE.

Coptic Christian 1262-1268 CE Damascus (parts may have also been written in Cairo)
Account

al-Makin wrote about the earthquake in two separate passages and gave a very similar description to that of al-Muqaffa. An earthquake struck at night and was experienced in Egypt on the 21st of Tuba. The earthquake was said to be cosmic - affecting all regions, out to the Far East. Depending on the passage, 100 or 600 cities were overturned and many humans and animals died. Many ships were engulfed at sea. It is not possible to determine the year of the earthquake from al-Makin's account.

Christian Writers in Arabic - Chronicon Orientale Arabic
Biography

The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia reports that the Chronicon Orientale is chronicle of world history composed by an unknown thirteenth-century author who put events he thought important into a table of secular and ecclesiastical rulers. Its chronological bases are the Old Testament for the pre-Christian era, the Roman emperors for the period from the time of Christ to Muhammad, and thereafter the Arab regimes in Syria and Egypt, along with a history of the caliphs to his own time (1260). The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia further reports that the dates are in good order but untrustworthy as to actual calendar years.

Coptic Christian 13th century CE
Account

Chronicon Orientale reports that during the reign of Merwan (r. 744 - 25 Jan. 750 CE) a night-time earthquake struck in the east (from Egypt) and razed 600 forts, towns, and cities to the ground, killed an innumerable number of man and beast, and made the timbers of the gates and walls come out of their place. It also says that many ships sank on the same night.

Judaic Texts - Ra'ash shvi'it (רעש שביעית) Hebrew
Biography

Ra'ash shvi'it is a poem - a type of poem known as a Piyyut (פיוט). Piyyutim (i.e. Piyyuts) are a type of Jewish liturgical poetry. This difficult to date (year wise) poem refers to a fast on 23 Shvat in memory of the victims of an earthquake which struck Tiberias and elsewhere. Ra'ash shvi'it literally translates as 'Seventh Noise' or 'Seventh Earthquake' but it can also translated as 'The Sabbatical Year Quake'.

Judaism Difficult to date
Account

The poem refers to a fast observed on the 23rd of Shvat in memory of the victims an earthquake that caused destruction in Tiberias and elsewhere. If one examines the correspondence of 23 Shvat with Julian Calendar dates between 745 and 752 CE, one will notice that 23 Shvat encompasses part of the 18 Jan. date provided by Theophanes and Cedrenus for the Holy Desert Quake in 749 CE and only in 749 CE. Although 23 Shevat and 18 Jan. are close in 746 CE, the archaeoseismic coin evidence from Bet She'an precludes this year because 746 CE is before the terminus post quem of A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE). Thus we have a dating coincidence between two independent traditions which points to the year 749 CE and a date around 18 January.

Judaic Texts - 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza Hebrew
Account

The 23 Shvat fast is also referred to in a prayer found in a 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza.

Judaism 10th-11th c.
Account

Margalioth (1960) hypothesized that the Hebrew word translated as in wrath in the 23 Shvat fasting prayer found in the Cairo Geniza prayer book might contain a hidden code which would reveal the year when this earthquake struck. By using one of the more common Gematria ciphers, he arrived at the number 679 for in wrath. Since the name Ra'ash shvi'it suggests that the earthquake struck during a Sabbatical Year and 679 is evenly dividable by 7, 679 qualifies as a Sabbatical (7th) year. The next challenge that emerged was to ascertain the start date for the Hebrew Calendar in the mid 8th century CE. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Hebrew Calendar used 70 CE as a start year. Thus if one adds 70 to 679, one comes up with a year of 749 CE which just so happens to be the same year that 23 Shvat and 18 January fall on the same day. There is, however, one complication. By the early 10th century CE, the way the Hebrew calendar was reckoned changed into the system that is currently used today (Stern, 2012:334-335). In this new modern reckoning, 70 CE is no longer the start year for the Hebrew Calendar and 749 CE is no longer a Sabbatical Year. How exactly the Hebrew Calendar was reckoned in the mid 8th century CE before this early 10th century calendar reform is uncertain. Nevertheless, the excerpt provided by Karcz (2004) seems to define a 70 CE start date - since destruction of Jerusalem to the date it happened in Land of Israel the count of "in wrath". Thus the real uncertainty here is whether gematria was coded into the prayer and which cipher is meant to be used.

Samaritan Sources - Abu l’Fath Arabic
Biography

Abu l'Fath, a Samaritan, wrote Kitab al-Ta'rikh in 1355 CE and cited sources (Crown, 1989:221). The document exists in multiple differing manuscripts (Karcz, 2004). Karcz (2004:784) described Abu l'Fath's texts as follows:

The 14th century chronicle of Abu l’Fath [] exists in many manuscript versions and «was plagiarized, summarized, abstracted, paraphrased and edited for several other chronicles which were then presented as different old chronicles» (Stenhouse, 1989). The chronicle has a shorter original version which brings the text up to the rise of Mohammed and an expanded version to bring it more up to date. Abu l’Fath wrote the chronicle in 1355, following a discussion he had with the High Priest in 1352 lamenting the virtual absence of materials on history of the Samaritans (Payne-Smith, 1863; Vilmar,1865; Stenhouse, 1981). He used some extinct (or not found) Samaritan sources and is thought to have used extensively materials then available in Damascus and Gaza. Thus it is not clear whether the [excerpt] of an earthquake is based on primary notes

Samaritan 1355 CE
Account

Abu l'Fath described an extraordinarily powerful earthquake which struck everywhere while Marwan II ruled (4 December 744 – 25 January 750 CE). Houses collapsed on their inhabitants and untold numbers of people perished. Those who survived it stayed out in the open for many days while the earth was still shaking underneath them.

Samaritan Sources - Chronicle Adler Arabic ?
Biography

Chronicle Adler consists of Samaritan texts of debated origin but which are thought to rely heavily on Kitab al-Ta'rikh by Abu l’Fath (Crown, 1989:222). Karcz (2004:784) stated that Chronicle Adler is thought to represent a relatively recent compilation.

Samaritan Chronicle Adler described a great earthquake while Marwan II ruled (4 December 744 – 25 January 750 CE).
Armenian Sources - Mekhitar d’Airavanq chronicle Armenian Mekhitar of Ayrivank (1230/35 – 1297/1300) was an Armenian monk who composed a brief chronicle at the medieval monastery of Geghard. Before 1300 CE Medieval monastery of Geghard The Mekhitar d'Airavanq chronicle apparently dates the earthquake to 751 CE.
Muslim Writers - Introduction
Muslim Writers - al-Masudi Arabic
Biography

al-Masudi was born in Baghdad around 896 CE, traveled extensively, and died in Egypt around 956 CE. He wrote Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems in Arabic in the middle of the 10th century CE.

Muslim - Shi’ite mid-10th century CE Egypt ? al-Masudi wrote that Caliph al-Mahdi (r. 775-785 CE) rebuilt Jerusalem, which had been devastated by earthquakes
Muslim Writers - Description of Syria including Palestine by al-Maqdisi Arabic
Biography

al-Maqdisi was perhaps the best representative of Arabic geography in the second half of the 10th century CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). Little is known about his life. He was born in Jerusalem in c. 946 CE, traveled extensively, and died perhaps around 990 CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). He wrote Description of Syria including Palestine in Arabic in c. 985 CE (Le Strange, 1886) and is estimated to have written The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions between 985 and 990 CE (Miquel, 1967:xxxiv).

Muslim ca. 985 CE Jerusalem ? al-Maqdisi wrote that earthquakes threw down the main building of Al Aqsa Mosque, except for the Mihrab, in the days of the Abbasids (who began their rule on 25 Jan. 750 CE). The Caliph of the day financed rebuilding by having each Governor build a colonnade.
Muslim Writers - The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions by al-Maqdisi Arabic
Biography

al-Maqdisi was perhaps the best representative of Arabic geography in the second half of the 10th century CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). Little is known about his life. He was born in Jerusalem in c. 946 CE, traveled extensively, and died perhaps around 990 CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). He wrote Description of Syria including Palestine in Arabic in c. 985 CE (Le Strange, 1886) and is estimated to have written The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions between 985 and 990 CE (Miquel, 1967:xxxiv).

Muslim ca. 985 - 990 CE Jerusalem ? haven't yet accessed this text
Muslim Writers - Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi Arabic
Biography

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi (ca. 1185 - 1256 CE) was the grandson of Ibn al-Jawzi and was raised by Ibn al-Jawzi in Baghdad (Keany, 2013:83). Sibt in Arabic means grandson through one of the grandfather's daughters. After his grandfather's death, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi moved to Damascus where he was a Preacher as well as a Historian (Keany, 2013:83). Keany (2013:83) noted that he carefully documented his sources.

Hanbali Sunni Muslim - may have had Shi'a tendencies (Keany, 2013:83) 13th c. CE Damascus
Account

Karcz (2004) states

it is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.

Muslim Writers - al-Dhahabi Arabic
Biography

al-Dhahabi was an Arab theologian, lawyer, professor, and historian who was born in Damascus or Mayyafarikin in 1274 CE and died in Damascus in either 1348 or 1352/1353 CE (en Cheneb and De Somogyi in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2, 1991:214-216). He traveled and studied extensively with a long sojourn in Cairo. en Cheneb and De Somogyi in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2 (1991:214-216) characterize his written works as that of a compiler like practically all the post-classical Arab authors whose works are distinguished by careful composition and constant references to his authorities. His most notable work is Great History of Islam (Ta'rikh al-Islam al-Kabir) which begins with the genealogy of Muhammad and ends in the year A.H. 700 (1300/1301 CE). It follows the template of Kitab al-muntazam by Ibn al-Jawzi. Great History of Islam had continuators including al-Dhahabi himself and also appears many times as abridged editions - including abridgments made by al-Dhahabi (en Cheneb and De Somogyi in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2, 1991:214-216)

Muslim Early 14th century CE Damascus
Account

al-Dhahabi wrote that there was a prodigious earthquake in Sham (Syria) during the month of Ramadan in A.H. 130 (4 May 748 - 2 June 748 CE}. The earthquake was the most violent earthquake in Jerusalem and many of the faithful (Ansars or no) were victims. The houses of Shaddad ibn Aws fell on him and his guests. Muhammad ibn Shadda was saved, but he lost his property under the ruins. al-Dhahabi quotes another report which said that the western and eastern parts of Al Aqsa mosque were damaged during the earthquake of A.H. 130. Rebuilding of the Mosque was financed by stripping plates of silver and gold which had covered the Mosque's doors.

Muslim Writers - al-Mansouri Arabic I can't find any info on al-Mansouri Muslim Sbeinati et al (2005) supplied an excerpt which stated that in A.H. 132 [20 August 749 CE to 8 August 750 CE] there was an earthquake at Al-Sham (Greater Syria).
Muslim Writers - Jamal ad Din Ahmad Arabic
Biography

Le Strange (1890:10) relates that this text was composed by Jamal ad Din Ahmad, a native Jerusalemite, in 1351 CE. The work is described as a topographical description of the Holy City.

Muslim 1351 CE Jerusalem ?
Account

Jamal ad Din Ahmad wrote that the western and eastern parts of Al Aqsa mosque were damaged during the earthquake of A.H. 130. Caliph Al-Mansur (r. 754-775 CE ordered repairs made. The repairs were financed by stripping plates of silver and gold which had covered the Mosque's doors. A subsequent earthquake caused the repaired mosque to fall to the ground. The mosque was still in ruins when Caliph Al-Mahdi (r. 775-785 CE) ordered a rebuild but to different dimensions.

Muslim Writers - Ibn Tagri Birdi Arabic
Biography

Ibn Tagri Birdi was born in Cairo around 1410 CE. His father was a mamluk who became commander of the Egyptian armies in 1407 CE, a viceroy in ~1410 CE, and died in 1412 CE leaving Ibn Tagri Birdi to be raised by his sister - the wife of the cheif qadi (W. Popper in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 1, 1991:138). Ibn Tagri Birdi studied under many noted scholars, participated in military campaigns, and authored books on History and Biography. The shining stars in the kings of Egypt and Cairo (al-Nudjum al-Zahira fi Muluk Misr wa 'l-Kahira) is a history of Egypt from 641 CE - 1467 CE (W. Popper in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 1, 1991:138). Ibn Tagri Birdi died in 1470 CE.

Muslim 15th c. CE Cairo
Account

Ibn Tagri Birdi wrote that a strong earthquake in Syria in A.H. 131 (31 August 748-18 August 749) destroyed Jerusalem where the inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert. They stayed for forty days which suggests aftershocks. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232) state that Tagri Birdi's chronicle dates the earthquake to A.H. 130 (11 Sept. 747 - 30 Aug. 748 CE) but that in the same section, Ibn Tagri Birdi adds that there existed another, less common, tradition according to which the earthquake occurred in A.H. 131 (31 August 748-18 August 749).

Muslim Writers - as-Suyuti Arabic
Biography

as-Suyuti is presently recognized as the most prolific author in the whole of Islamic literature (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). He was widely read and famous across the Islamic world during his lifetime and was known for extreme self-confidence in his mental abilities (e.g. he had memorized 200,000 hadiths and was a polymath) which mingled with arrogance and created acrimonious relations inside Egypt (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9 (1991:913-916) describes his procedure as scientific in so far as he quotes his sources with precision and presents them in a critical way and states that he cannot be considered as a mere compiler. He may have authored close to a thousand books writing on many subjects (e.g., History, Biography) besides religion and Islamic jurisprudence. as-Suyuti was born in Egypt in 1445 CE and at the age of eighteen taught Shafi'i law at the mosque of Shaykhu and gave juridicial consultations. In 1472 CE, he became a teacher of hadith at the same mosque. In 1486 CE at the age of 40, as-Suyuti retired from public life. By 1501 CE, he had completely isolated himself in his home on Rawda Island in Cairo where he worked on the editing and revision of his literary works. He died there in 1505 CE (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). His book Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes is a valuable reference for historical earthquakes and is one of the earliest extant earthquake catalogs.

Sufi Muslim 15th c. CE Cairo
Account

as-Suyuti described two earthquakes in Damascus in A.H. 130 (11 Sept. 747 - 30 Aug. 748 CE) and A.H. 131 (31 August 748-18 August 749). In the A.H. 130 earthquake, the Dajaj suq [poultry market] fell from the "Great Rocks" and the inhabitants of Damascus left town. Several days later people dug through part of the ruins and found someone still alive. The flight out of town and delay in relief efforts suggests continuing aftershocks. In the A.H. 131 earthquake, the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen which suggests a daytime earthquake (otherwise they would have seen stars). A subsequent shock is said to have closed the gap up again. The A.H. 130 and 131 Damascus earthquakes could be the same earthquake repeated twice due to chronological confusion in as-Suyuti's sources.

Muslim Writers - Mujir al-Din Arabic
Biography

Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi was born in Jerusalem in 1456 CE. He studied there from a young age until he moved to Cairo at the age of eighteen to pursue further studies for about 10 years before returning to Jerusalem. He worked as a public servant and was appointed qadi (Shari’a judge) of Ramla in 1484 CE. He became the chief Hanbali qadi of Jerusalem in 1486 CE and held that position for nearly 3 decades until he retired in 1516 CE. He wrote several books but only one - The glorious history of Jerusalem and Hebron (al-Uns al-Jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds wal-Khalil) - was published (wikipedia).

Hanbali Sunni Muslim ca. 1495 CE Jerusalem
Account

Mujir al-Din described an earthquake which struck Jerusalem and damaged Al Aqsa Mosque which he dated to A.H. 130 (11 Sept. 747 - 30 Aug. 748 CE). Three instances of eyewitness testimony sourced through a chain of witnesses (isnad) was provided which describes an earthquake which struck at night. One witness described two earlier daytime foreshocks which may have struck in the afternoon. One eyewitnesses' testimony may contain a discrepancy in that the earthquake was described as striking on a black and cold night, full of rain and wind yet the same earthquake breached the roof of Al Aqsa Mosque such that the stars appeared (can one really see the stars on a black rainy night ?). Otherwise, the testimony of the witnesses appears compatible.

In another passage, Mujir al-Din described an earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque in A.H. 130 (11 Sept. 747 - 30 Aug. 748 CE) which led to a repair during the reign of Caliph Al-Mansur (ruled 754-775 CE). A second undated earthquake is described as destroying the repaired Mosque leading to a second reconstruction to different dimensions during the reign of Caliph Al-Mahdi (ruled 775-785 CE).

Muslim Writers - Other Muslim Writers Arabic Muslim
Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Damage and Chronology Reports from Textual Sources

Master Chronology Table - Time of Day - All Authors

Date of Composition Author Holy Desert Quake Talking Mule Quake Notes
775 CE Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre the night before the Talking Mule Quake mid morning
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon 10 am not specified Byzantine authors likely specified the time when the Talking Mule Quake struck rather than the Holy Desert Quake
9th century CE Anastasius Bibliothecarius 10 am not specified Byzantine authors likely specified the time when the Talking Mule Quake struck rather than the Holy Desert Quake
810-815 CE Theophanes 10 am not specified Byzantine authors likely specified the time when the Talking Mule Quake struck rather than the Holy Desert Quake
11th century al-Muqaffa night time not reported copied from earlier biography - first person testimony
9-11th century Ra'ash Shvi'it night time not reported dark chaos in Tiberius may refer to a nighttime earthquake
ca. 1495 CE Mujir al-Din ~7 pm not reported first person testimony presented - Holy Desert Quake preceded by foreshocks at ~3 pm and ~6 pm

Master Chronology Table - Dates - All Authors

Date of Composition Author Holy Desert Quake Talking Mule Quake Notes
775 CE Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre not reported 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE or 1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE 1059 A.G.
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon 18 June 746 - 17 June 747 CE 25 March 749 - 31 Aug. 750 CE no corrections applied
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon 18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE 18 June 749 - 24 March 752 CE corrections applied
9th century CE Anastasius Bibliothecarius 18 June 746 - 24 March 749 CE 18 June 747 - 24 March 750 CE corrections applied
810-815 CE Theophanes 18 June 746 - 24 March 749 CE 1 January 749 - 24 March 752 CE corrections applied - outliers removed
Early 9th century CE Nicephoros not reported 1 Jan. 749 - 31 Dec. 750 CE no corrections - around the time of the birth of Leo
Mid 9th century CE (estimate) Megas Chronographos 1 Jan. 746 - 31 Dec. 747 CE not reported no corrections - date range solely based on plague
9th - 11th century Judaic Texts 17/18 January 749 CE not reported 23rd Shvat for day and month, Year from coincidence of 23 Shevat with 17/18 January 749 CE. Year also interpreted from text via Gematria and speculation about Sabbatical Year calculations for this period of time.
Early 11th Century Elias of Nisibis not reported 31 August 748 - 19 August 749 A.H. 131 for Talking Mule Quake
Early 14th century CE al-Dhahabi 4 May - 2 June 748 CE not reported Ramadan A.H. 130 for Holy Desert Quake
1351 CE Jamal ad Din Ahmad 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 not reported A.H. 130 for Holy Desert Quake
15th century CE Ibn Tagri Birdi 11 Sept. 747 - 19 Aug. 749 CE not reported A.H. 130 or A.H. 131 for Holy Desert Quake
15th century CE As-Soyuti not reported 11 Sept. 747 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 130 for Talking Mule Quake, A.H. 131 for Talking Mule Quake Quake

Master Seismic Effects Tables - All Authors

Holy Desert Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Palestine Earthquake - many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus, Minor Chronicles
By the Jordan Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus
All of Syria Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus could represent conflation with the Talking Mule Quake
Desert outside Jerusalem Churches and Monasteries collapsed Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus Megas Chronographos did not supply a location where the churches and monasteries collapsed.
Wilderness of Saba Village Swallowed Cedrenus
Various Places Many Earthquakes Cedrenus Cedrenus is echoing Luke 21:11. Elias of Nisibis in discussing Talking Mule Quake also says this was a year of many earthquakes. See also Master Seismic Effects Table for the Talking Mule Quake and the row for aftershocks.
Unspecified Many homes destroyed by an earthquake Zonaras, al-Muqaffa, al-Makin, Agapius of Menbij Zonaras - many homes and churches were destroyed
al-Muqaffa - 600 cities and villages affected, many houses ruined in all the cities
al-Makin - 100 or 600 cities damaged or destroyed
Agapius of Menbij - many places devastated
Jericho Spring moved Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum Paul the Deacon and Anastasius Bibliothecarius do not specify a location and associate this movement with Talking Mule Quake. Michael the Syrian locates the spring in Jericho. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 locates this in Jericho but says the spring stayed put and the nearby river moved 6 miles.
Coastal Palestine Tsunami destroyed many villages on the coast Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, al-Muqaffa, al-Makin, Judaic Texts Some tsunami reports could really be describing the Dead Sea and/or the Sea of Galilee rather than coastal Palestine however al-Muqaffa and al-Makin, reporting from Egypt, said many ships sank which suggests a coastal tsunami. Final conclusion is there probably was a tsunami that struck coastal Palestine and there may have also been destructive seiches in the Dead Sea and/or the Sea of Galilee.
Coastal Palestine Earthquake on the the coast - many places devastated, many died Agapius of Menbij
Moab (N Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee) fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 both refer to a fortress in Moab inhabited by Yemenite Arabs who Michael the Syrian specifically refers to as the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe. Ambraseys (2009) suggests the possibility that this account of the destruction of a fortress in Moab where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived may refer to a possible earthquake in Yemen in 742 CE (see Ambraseys et al, 1994:25-26).
Jerusalem many houses collapsed or destruction al-Dhahabi, Ibn Tagri Birdi, Mujir al-Din
al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem damaged al-Maqdisi, al-Dhahabi, Jamal ad Din Ahmad, Mujir al-Din
Tiberias destroyed Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, Agapius of Menbij, Judaic Texts
Egypt felt only but Damietta suffered damage al-Muqaffa


Talking Mule Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Syria Earthquake, Destruction, and Death Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities partially destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Unspecified or Mount Tabor Translational Landslide Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus, Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Byzantine Authors do not locate landslide and by implication locate it in Syria. Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 locate the landslide on Mount Tabor possibly for literary/theological reasons indicating that they may have mis-located it. If this landslide did occur on Mount Tabor, it would have been a seismic effect of the Holy Desert Quake.
Mesopotamia Earth Fissure and Sand Boils Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus, Glycas Glycas does not mention the sand boils.
PGA of sand boils estimated at 0.2 - 0.5 g according to Fig. 9 of Obermeier (1996). PGA = 0.2 - 0.5 g equates to I = 6.7 - 8.2 using transform of Wald et al (1999).
Damascus earthquake with aftershocks for days Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, al-Soyuti al-Soyuti mentions earthquakes experienced in Damascus in A.H. 130 and A.H. 131. In the A.H. 130 earthquake, he mentions damage to the Dajaj suq (poultry market), collapsed buildings and ruins leading to deaths, people being forced to leave town, and a delay of several days in digging the ruins to retrieve victims which implies continuing aftershocks. In the A.H. 131 earthquake, he mentions multiple shocks and damage to a mosque. Abu l’Fath (Samaritan - see Notes), not specifying which quake (but probably Holy Desert Quake), states that Those who survived it stayed out in the open for many days while the earth was still shaking underneath them. Michael the Syrian states that there was an earthquake at Damascus which lasted for days and shook her like leaves on trees. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 similarly states that there was an earthquake at Damascus and in the whole surrounding area, which lasted for days, and in which the area trembled and was shaken. Elias of Nisibis states that it was a year in which there were many earthquakes. Ibn Tagri Birdi states In that year, there was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem. The sons of Shaddad ibn Aws (in Jerusalem ?) died there. The inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert, where they stayed for forty days. It is said to have happened in the year 131.
Beit Qubayeh fortress overthrown - deaths Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 This could be a seismic effect for Holy Desert Quake or Talking Mule Quake depending on the fortress' location. Hoyland (2011:270-273) notes that Muslim sources know of a place called the palace (qasr) of Hajjaj, that was just outside Damascus, in view of the Jabiya gate (e.g. Dhahabi. 9.286: Yaqut. `Qasr Hajjaj' ). but this may not be what is meant. Ambraseys (2005:124,footnote 20) states The location of Beit Qoubaya is uncertain. There is a site in northern Lebanon called al-Qubayyat (35.57°N, 36.29°E) (see Dussaud, 1927. 90, 94-95) southwest of Homs. However, damage to Homs, an important urban centre, is not mentioned.
Ghautah and Dareya many died Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Bosrah and Nawa entirely swallowed up or razed to their foundations Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Daraat entirely swallowed up Michael the Syrian Sbeinati et al (2005) locate this as the modern Syrian town of Daraa
Ba'albek much of it collapsed, spring "turned to blood" Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Mabbug destruction everywhere - Church and Walls collapsed Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Elias of Nisibis only mention church collapse.
Unspecified Aftershocks Elias of Nisibis a year of many earthquakes
Unspecified Many places ruined Elias of Nisibis

Master Seismic Effects Tables - Byzantine Authors only

Holy Desert Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Palestine Earthquake - many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus, Minor Chronicles
By the Jordan Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus
All of Syria Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus
Desert outside Jerusalem Churches and Monasteries collapsed Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus Megas Chronographos did not supply a location where the churches and monasteries collapsed.
Wilderness of Saba Village Swallowed Cedrenus
Various Places Many Earthquakes Cedrenus Cedrenus is echoing Luke 21:11
Unspecified Many homes destroyed by an earthquake Zonaras


Talking Mule Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Syria Earthquake, Destruction, and Death Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities partially destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Unspecified Spring moved ? Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius
Unspecified Translational Landslide Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Mesopotamia Earth Fissure and Sand Boils Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus, Glycas Glycas does not mention the sand boils


Byzantine and Syriac Writers - Introduction and Discussion

Was there one earthquake or two ?

The earliest Byzantine authors report two earthquakes - one which struck in the vicinity of the Jordan Valley and another which struck further north in Syria. The damage reports from all the sources (Byzantine and otherwise) also suggest two earthquakes. The region simply seems seismically incapable of of producing a single earthquake which would create damage over such a wide geographic area (Gaza to Mesopotamia).

Names for the Two Earthquakes - the Holy Desert Quake and the Talking Mule Quake

Due to the chronological confusion present in the various earthquake accounts (Byzantine and otherwise), I am going to refer to the two earthquakes described in the earliest accounts by names rather than dates. The first earthquake described by the Byzantine sources is the Holy Desert Quake. The second is the Talking Mule Quake. The Byzantine accounts are presented in chronological order as shown in the table below. There is a trend where earliest Byzantine accounts mention two earthquakes and later accounts, with the exception of Cedrenus, mention only one. You may notice that Anastasius Bibliothecarius is second before Theophanes even though his date of composition is after Theophanes. This is because textual analysis suggests that he copied his account from an older and more reliable version of Theophanes that we don't have access to. It is effectively an older Theophanes.

Date of Composition Author Holy Desert Quake Talking Mule Quake Notes
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon yes yes
9th century CE Anastasius Bibliothecarius yes yes Anastasius copied from an earlier version of Theophanes
810-815 CE Theophanes yes yes
Early 9th century CE Nicephorus no yes
9th century CE Georgius Monachus no yes
Mid 9th century CE (estimate) Megas Chronographos yes no
1050's CE Cedrenus yes yes
? Minor Chronicles yes no
12th century CE Zonaras yes no
12th century CE Glycas no1 yes

Chronological Ambiguities and Corrections

The Anno Mundi Calendar, Theophanes, and Indictions

The Anno Mundi Calendar

Several of the Byzantine sources used the Anno Mundi (A.M.) calendar. This calendar is based on the Julian calendar however the year does not begin on 1 January and the starting day, month, and year of this calendar was a point of contention as it was based on an estimate for the start of "creation" (among other things) as interpreted through the Septuagint - a Greek translation of the Old Testament. An ongoing several hundred year long theological debate over when Biblical "creation" began led to multiple versions of the A.M. calendar.

The Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi Calendar

Earlier Byzantine sources used the Alexandrian version (A.M.a) of the Anno Mundi Calendar. This version of the calendar has a starting date of 25 March 5492 BCE or 25 March 5493 BCE. Grumel (1958:219) explained the two starting dates as follows

The Alexandrian era of Panodorus began in 5493 BCE. The Alexandrian era of Annianos began in 5492 BCE. The Alexandrian Era of Annianos is what is commonly called the Alexandrian era.
I use the Alexandrian era of Annianos which starts in 25 March 5492 BCE as does Guidoboni et al (1994) and Ambraseys (2009).

The Byzantine version of the Anno Mundi Calendar

Megas Chronographos, a later source, used the Byzantine version (A.M.Byz) of the Anno Mundi calendar. This version has a starting date of 1 September 5509 BCE (Bickerman, 1980:73-74).

Calendaric inconsistencies in Theophanes

Historical scholars (e.g. Proudfoot, 1974:373-374, Grumel, 1934:407, and others) have noted that Theophanes A.M.a in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265 are frequently a year too low. One of these problematic A.M.a spans encompasses the years in which the Sabbatical Year earthquakes are reported (A.M.a 6238 and A.M.a 6241).

Indictions

An indiction (Latin: indictio, impost) was a periodic reassessment of taxation in the Roman Empire which took place every fifteen years. In Late Antiquity, this 15-year cycle began to be used to date documents and it continued to be used for this purpose in Medieval Europe. Indictions refer to an individual year in the 15 year cycle; for example, "the fourth indiction" came to mean the fourth year of the current indiction. Since the cycles themselves were not numbered, other information is needed to identify the specific year. When an ancient author supplies an indiction along with an A.M. date, the result may be greater chronological precision. For our dating purposes, indictions began in 312 CE when they were introduced by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The indiction was first used to date documents unrelated to tax collection in the mid-fourth century. By the late fourth century it was being used to date documents throughout the Mediterranean. In 537 CE, Roman Emperor Justinian decreed that all dates must include the indiction. Outside of Egypt, the year of the indiction generally began on 1 September (Bickerman, 1980:78).

Indictions and Grumel's synchronisms MA and MB for Theophanes

Proudfoot (1974:374) noted that the problem of whether Theophanes regarded the year as commencing on March 25 according to the Alexandrian world-year or on September 1 according to the Byzantine indiction cycle has not been resolved with [] clarity. Grumel (1958) thought about this differently and believed that Theophanes occasionally altered the start date for his indictions to match his A.M.a. Grumel (1958) developed two "synchronisms" to explain this.
Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms
Synchronism Explanation
MA Theophanes’s indictions begin in March - the start date for A.M.a
MB Theophanes’s indictions begin in September after the March starting date for A.M.a
Grumel (1958) recommended using MA and MB as shown in the table below.
Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms by time period
Synchronism Years A.M.a (approx.) Date Range CE Historical Markers
MA ? - 6102 ? - 5 Oct. 610 until the end of the reign of Phocas (ruled 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610 CE)
MB 6102 - 6206 5 Oct. 610 - 3 June 713 starting with the reign of Heraclius (ruled 5 Oct. 610 – 11 Feb. 641 CE) and ending right before the start of the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE)
MA 6206 - 6220 4 June 713 CE - 24 March 728 starting with the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE) until A.M.a 6220
MB 6221 - 6266 1 Sept. 728 - 31 Aug. 774 A.M.a6221 - 6266
MA 6267 - ? 25 March 774 - ? A.M.a6267 - ?
Anastasius Bibliothecarius copied an earlier version of Theophanes

Because Anastasius Bibliothecarius' 'Chronographia Tripartita' is thought to have copied an earlier version of Theophanes' Chronicle, chronological peculiarities in Theophanes are repeated in Anastasius.

The 'Eastern Source'

The three earliest Byzantine sources (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes in that order1) speak of two earthquakes separated by 3 years. The similarity of the ten Byzantine accounts, dates of composition, and the distance of the authors from the region (e.g., writing in Constantinople or Italy) suggests that the accounts are derived from a shared local source(s) and each other. None of the three earliest Byzantine authors could have experienced the earthquakes firsthand. As none of the Byzantine authors cite a source, the shared source - often referred to as the ‘eastern source’ - is a matter of conjecture2. Several scholars (e.g., Brooks, 1906) have suggested that the ‘eastern source’ was cobbled together by a Melkite3 monk who wrote around 780 CE. After civil unrest led to the dissolution of Melkite monasteries in Palestine and Syria, a number of Melkite Monks ended up in Constantinople in 813 CE (Brooks, 1906:587). One of the monks may have brought this text with him – a text that would eventually find its way into the hands of Theophanes. How this source was cobbled together is also a matter of conjecture. Two authors whose works are now lost have been proposed as promising candidates in providing source material - John son of Samuel of whom nothing is known beyond that he lived in Western Syria and Theophilus of Edessa. Theophilus, who wrote in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic, was in his 50’s and living in the region when the earthquakes struck4. John’s Chronicle is thought to have ended in 746 CE (supposedly5) and the unknown editor of ~780 CE may have been a continuator – meaning he added his own version of events from ~746 to ~780 CE. He may have also incorporated Theophilus’ text, simply used Theophilus alone, or used other texts and information. Further, he may have been a redactor meaning that he modified John and/or Theophilus’ original text in addition to adding his own events. Some hypothetical possibilities are shown in Fig. 2. However this ‘eastern source’ came to be, since the Byzantine accounts write about earthquakes which affected Palestine, Syria, and Jazira (northern Mesopotamia), it would appear that the original report(s) of these earthquakes came from these territories.

Footnotes

1 Although Anastasius Bibliothecarius wrote after Theophanes, Neil (1998:46) points out that Anastasius likely based his account on an earlier non-extant and perhaps ‘unfinished’ version of Theophanes thus making his account effectively older than the extant copies of Theophanes we currently have access to.

2 Brooks (1906:587) was one of the first scholars to hypothesize about who wrote the ‘eastern source’. Subsequent work on the subject is discussed in multiple publications including but not limited to Proudfoot (1974), Mango and Scott (1997: lxxxii – lxxxiv), Conrad (1992, 2004), Hoyland, (2011:10), and Conterno (2014).

3 Melkites were supporters of the Council of Chalcedon (i.e., Chalcedonians) who resided in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. In the church schisms of the time, Chalcedonians were allied with the same faction as Byzantine writers such as Theophanes and wrote in Greek and Syriac thus producing texts which could have been read by the Greek reading Byzantine authors.

4 Theophilus’ Lost Chronicle is known to have directly informed Arabic writer Agapius of Menbig and indirectly informed later Syriac authors such as Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 (Hoyland, 2011:11-15). All three of these authors wrote about the Sabbatical Year Quakes.

5 The dates of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes may suggest that it ended in 749 CE.

Hypothetical dependencies for Theophanes' eastern source
Figure 2 - Three hypothetical source dependencies for Theophanes. Dashed arrows indicate uncertain textual transmission. Solid lines are certain. Other Sources refers to some of the many sources thought to have informed Theophanes Chronicle. Mango and Scott (1997: lxxiv-lxxxviii), for example, list 20 possible sources for different time periods and subjects. Other local source refers to unknown sources of information for the Continuator. Alternative source dependencies are also possible. - Williams (in press)


The Seleucid Era calendar used by the Syriac writing authors and how this may have impacted the Byzantine authors

Background

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) and Karcz (2004) both discussed the possibility that the 'eastern source' thought to have been used by Theophanes might have used a Seleucid Era Calendar which used Babylonian reckoning instead of Macedonian reckoning and this may have led to a calendar error if Theophanes converted Seleucid Era dates to A.M.a dates using Macedonian reckoning. Both Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) and Karcz (2004) noted that such an explanation did not solve the calendaric conundrum present in the dating of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes. In fact, it is unlikely that Theophanes' "eastern source" would have used Babylonian reckoning as this was not a standard practice for the time (Sebastian Brock, personal communication 2021)

The Seleucid Era calendar used by the Syriac sources

The Seleucid Era calendar, also known as the A.G. calendar, is the calendar that was was used by several of the Syriac writing sources. This calendar has two different starting dates. In what is known as the Macedonian reckoning, the A.G. calendar starts in the Autumn 312 BCE with a starting date that eventually got fixed to 1 October 312 BCE. In the Babylonian reckoning, the starting date of the calendar is 2 April 311 BCE. The Syriac writing authors would have likely used the Macedonian reckoning as this was the standard usage among these authors for the Seleucid era (Sebastian Brock, personal communication, 2021).

Byzantine Writers - Historia Romana by Paul the Deacon

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Paul the Deacon (c. 720s - 796/7/8/9 wrote in Latin at the end of the 8th century CE while living at a monastery on Lake Como in Italy. He was able to read Greek sources due to an early education in the language. He describes both earthquakes in his book Historia Romana written around 770 CE. Historia Miscella is an expansion and continuation of Paul's book Historia Romana by Landolfus Sagax who wrote around 1100 CE.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Holy Desert Quake

Excerpts

English

In the 6th year of Constantine, there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria; in the month of January at the 4th hour. An innumerable multitude perished - many tens of thousands. Churches and Monasteries collapsed. The worst was in the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem).

Latin

Anno sexto imperij Constantini, factus et terraemotus magnus in Palestina, & circa lordanem, & totam Syriam, mense lanuario, hora quarta, & multa milia, quin & innumerabilia mortua funt, ecclesiaeq; ac monasteria corruerút, & maxime penes eremum Sanctae ciutatis.

Chronology
Year(s)
Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 746 to 17 June 747 CE In the 6th year of Constantine none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started 18 June 741 CE
Time and Date
Time and Date Reference Corrections Notes
~10 am in January in the month of January at the 4th hour. none
  • 4th hour refers to the 4th hour of daylight
Seismic Effects
  • there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria
  • An innumerable multitude perished - many tens of thousands
  • Churches and Monasteries collapsed
  • The worst was in the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem)
Locations
  • Palestine
  • by the Jordan
  • all of Syria
  • the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem)

Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English

9th year of Constantine ...

[Porrò] On the 8th of February [eiusdem] 3rd indiction, the son Leo was born to emperor Constantine from the daughter of Chagan of Chazaria. That same year there was an earthquake in Syria, an enormous and terrible [calamity]. Many died. A spring [moved ?]. In another place in the mountains, a village moved for about six miles with its walls and homes intact and without any small thing dying. Finally, In Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand [feet?] and out of the chasm came a different soil which was white and sandy. Out of this chasm emerged a spotless mule speaking in a human voice which predicted an invasion by a foreign army into the land of the Arabs. This came true.

Latin

Anno nono imperij Constantini ...

Porrò octaua Kalendas Februarij eiusdem tertię Indictionis, natus est Imperatori Constantino filius quem nominauit Leonem, ex Chaiani Cazariae filia. Anno verò eodem terraemotus factus est in Syria, & ingens ac terribilis caſus, vnde ciuitatum aliae quidem penitùs extermininatae ſunt, aliae verò mcdiocriter, aliae autem à motanis ad fubiecta campeſtria cum muris & habitationibus ſuis integrae migrauerunt & laluę quaſi ad miliaria ſex, vel etiam modicum quid vltrà. Denique aſſeuerauerút hivqui proprijs viſibus terram Mesopotamiae contemplati ſunt, in longitudine diſruptam fuiſſe ad miliaria duo, & ex profundo eius afcendiffe aliam terram nimis albam & hareno fam, de cuius medio aſcendit, vt aiunt, animal mulinum incontaminatum, loquens humana voce, & praenuncians gentis incurſionem ab eremo aduerſus Arabes. quod & factum eſt.

Chronology
Year(s)
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Sept. 749 to 31 Aug. 750 CE 3rd indiction none
18 June 749 to 17 June 750 CE 9th year of Constantine none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started 18 June 741 CE
Seismic Effects
  • there was an earthquake in Syria
  • Many died
  • A spring [moved ?]
  • block slide type of landslide - in the mountains, a village moved for about six miles with its walls and homes intact and without any small thing dying.
  • Sand boils appeared in an earth fissure - In Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand [feet?] and out of the chasm came a different soil which was white and sandy.
Despite any possible exaggerations, these describe real secondary effects of an earthquake. As noted by Karcz (2004), the translational landslide and the sand boils would be more likely to occur in the rainy season when water table was higher. Sand boils are a common liquefaction effect and can be used to estimate a minimum intensity. There was also an oracular talking mule which, though only a secondary seismic effect in fiction, may have been the most memorable part of the story to subsequent readers and authors. All the Byzantine authors listed in this catalog who describe the Talking Mule Quake mention the talking mule and by the time we get to Glycas, the talking mule is all that remains in his shortened account. He doesn't even mention the earthquake.

Locations
  • Syria
  • Mesopotamia

Sources
The Eastern Source

As Paul wrote earlier than Theophanes, the similarity of their accounts suggests that they likely shared the same source. Karcz (2004), citing Brooks (1906:587), Proudfoot (1974), and Mango and Scott (1997) introduced a theory by a number of historical researchers that Theophanes' source was a Palestinian or Syrian Melkite monk who wrote in Greek not long after 780 CE while Hoyland (2011:7-10) suggested that the source is the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa. There are other possibilities including the possibility that the common source was a redacted account derived largely from Theophilus of Edessa and an additional Palestinian or Syrian source. But one thing seems to be clear - they shared a local source. The shared source is known as the Eastern Source in historical scholarship.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Byzantine Writers - Chronographia Tripartita by Anastasius Bibliothecarius

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Anastasius Bibliothecarius worked as the chief librarian and archivist for the Bishop of Rome and was fluent in Greek. He wrote the historical work "Chronographia Tripartita" in Latin between 871 and 874 CE ( Neil, 1998:42). He was more of a compiler than a writer - copying text from other authors. Textual analysis suggests that Anastasius had access to an earlier version of Theophanes text than the copy of Theophanes that we currently have access to - perhaps what might be termed an 'unfinished' and therefore less redacted copy.

Unlike the other Byzantine writers who placed the two earthquakes three years apart, Anastasius placed the earthquakes only a year apart.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Holy Desert Quake

Excerpts

English from Niebuhr (1828)

Anno Mundi 6238, divine incarnation year 738. In the 6th year of Constantine there was a powerful earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria in January, at the 4th hour. Thousands died, an innumerable multitude perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, and it was worst in the desert of the Holy City.

Latin from Niebuhr (1828)

Mundi anno 6238, divinae incarnationis anno 738, anno vero imperii Constantinl sexto factus est terrae motus magnus in Palaestina et circa lordanem et totam Syriara mense lanuario, hora quarta, et multa milia, quin et innumcrabllla mortua sunt, eccleslaeque ac monasteria corruerunt, et maxime penes eremum sanctae civitatls.

Latin from Niebuhr (1828) - embedded



Chronology

Because Anastasius Bibliothecarius apparently copied from an earlier version of Theophanes, the same corrections applied to Theophanes' dates are applied to Anastasius' dates.
Year(s)
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 Mar. 745 to 24 Mar. 747 CE A.M.a 6238 extra year added in case Anastasius' A.M.a is a year too low
25 March 746 to 24 March 747 CE divine incarnation year 738 none
18 June 746 to 17 June 747 CE In the 6th year of Constantine none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started 18 June 741 CE
Time and Date
Time and Date Reference Corrections Notes
~10 am in January in January, at the 4th hour none
  • 4th hour refers to the 4th hour of daylight
Seismic Effects
  • there was a powerful earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria
  • Thousands died, an innumerable multitude perished
  • churches and monasteries collapsed
  • it was worst in the desert of the Holy City
Locations
  • Palestine
  • by the Jordan
  • all of Syria
  • the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem)

Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English from Niebuhr (1828)

Emperor Constantines 9th year

... That year there was an earthquake in Syria, a terrible calamity. Many died. A spring [moved?]. In another place in the mountains, a village moved with its walls and homes intact for 6 Roman miles. Finally in Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand feet and out of the chasm came a white sandy soil and a spotless mule which spoke in a human voice and prophesied that the Arab lands would be invaded by a foreign army. And this prophecy came true.

Latin from Niebuhr (1828)

Anno imperii Constantini 9

... Anno vero eodem factus est terrae motus in Syria, et ingens ac terribilis casus, unde civitatum aliae quidem penitus exterminatae sunt, aiiae vero mediocriter, aliae autera a montanis ad subiecta campestria cum muris et habitationibus suis integrae migraverunt et salvae quasl ad miliaria sex vel etiam modicum quid ultra. denique asseveraverunt hi qui propriis visibus terram Mesopotamiae contemplati sunl, in iongitudinem diruptam fuisse ad miliaria duo, ct ex profundo eius ascendisse aiiam terram nimis albam et arenosam, de cuius medio ascendit, ut aiunt, animal mulinum incontaminatum, loquens humana voce, et praenuntians gentis incursionem ab eremo adversus Arabes. quod et factum est. Praeterca sequenti anno quartae indictionis, solemnitate sanctae pentecostes , coronavit Constantinus imperator Leoncm filium suum imperatorem per Anastaslum patrlarcham consentaneum suum.

Latin from Niebuhr (1828) - embedded



Chronology
Year(s)
Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 749 to 17 June 750 CE Constantine's 9th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started 18 June 741 CE
Seismic Effects
  • there was an earthquake in Syria
  • Many died
  • A spring [moved ?]
  • block slide type of landslide - in the mountains, a village moved for about six miles with its walls and homes intact and without any small thing dying.
  • Sand boils appeared in an earth fissure - In Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand [feet?] and out of the chasm came a different soil which was white and sandy.
Despite any possible exaggerations, these describe real secondary effects of an earthquake. As noted by Karcz (2004), the translational landslide and the sand boils would be more likely to occur in the rainy season when water table was higher. Sand boils are a common liquefaction effect and can be used to estimate a minimum intensity. There was also an oracular talking mule which, though only a secondary seismic effect in fiction, may have been the most memorable part of the story to subsequent readers and authors. All the Byzantine authors listed in this catalog who describe the Talking Mule Quake mention the talking mule and by the time we get to Glycas, the talking mule is all that remains in his shortened account. He doesn't even mention the earthquake.

Locations
  • Syria
  • Mesopotamia

Sources
Anastasius's Sources

Anastasius's work was compiled from the Greek writings of Theophanes, Nicephorus, and George Syncellus ( Neil, 1998:45). As discussed below by Neil (1998:46), Anastasius had access to an older copy of Theophanes Chronographia that we don't have.

Anastasius' Chronographia consisted of excerpts of the Chronographia of Theophanes57 which extended up to the year 813, the Opuscula historica of Patriarch Nikephoros58 and the Chronicle of George Synkellos59. Anastasius' Chronographia Tripertita has been edited by de Boor,60 who found that, while it is an often inconsistent rendition of the Greek, Anastasius' version of Theophanes' Chronographia was based on an early and more reliable version of the original than now survives.61 For this reason, it has been useful in some places for establishing the original text where the direct transmission offers a degenerate version, although Anastasius unfortunately does not provide a full translation of his original.62
Footnotes

57 Ed. C. de Boor, Theophanis Chronographia, v. 1 (Leipzig, 1883); recently translated with commentary by C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History, AD 284-813 (Oxford, 1997).

58 Ed. C. de Boor, Nicephori Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani Opuscula Historica, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1880). It is also edited in the version of I. Bekker, Sancti Nicephori Patriarchae Constantinopolitani Breviarum Rerum post Mauricium gestarum (Bonn, 1837; repr. Ann Arbor, 1988). This covers the seventh and eighth centuries from the death of Emperor Maurice. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (806-815), was a continuator of Theophylact Simocatta.

59 George Synkellos' Chronicle covers the history of the world from creation up to the rule of Diocletian. It is edited by C. de Boor, Georgii monachi chronicon, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1904; 2nd ed. with corrections by P. Wirth, Stuttgart, 1978).

60 De Boor, v. 2 (Leipzig, 1885).

61 De Boor, v. 2, pp. 401-435. Mango and Scott, op. cit., pp. xcvi f. draw our attention to the existence of two late ninth-century manuscripts of Theophanes, one of which was wrongly dated to the late tenth century by de Boor, and the other not used by him at all. These also offer an inferior text to that consulted by Anastasius.

62 De Boor, v. 2, pp. 413-415.

Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Theophanes' Calendaric Inconsistencies

Author Inconsistencies
Theophanes Theophanes used the Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi calendar even though it was out of favor at the time and would be obsolete by the 9th century CE. He did so because his Chronicle was a continuation of George Syncellus Chronicle which itself used the Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi calendar. Proudfoot (1974:374) noted that the problem of whether Theophanes regarded the year as commencing on March 25 according to the Alexandrian world-year or on September 1 according to the Byzantine indiction cycle has not been resolved with [] clarity.
Theophanes Grumel (1934:407), Proudfoot (1974:373-374), and others have pointed out that Theophanes A.M.a in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265 are frequently a year too low. The indictions, however, are thought by many more likely to be correct.

Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms
Synchronism Explanation
MA Theophanes’s indictions begin in March - the start date for A.M.a
MB Theophanes’s indictions begin in September after the March starting date for A.M.a
Note: Outside of Egypt, Indictions began on 1 September
Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms by time period
Synchronism Years A.M.a (approx.) Date Range CE Historical Markers
MA ? - 6102 ? - 5 Oct. 610 until the end of the reign of Phocas (ruled 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610 CE)
MB 6102 - 6206 5 Oct. 610 - 3 June 713 starting with the reign of Heraclius (ruled 5 Oct. 610 – 11 Feb. 641 CE) and ending right before the start of the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE)
MA 6206 - 6220 4 June 713 CE - 24 March 728 starting with the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE) until A.M.a 6220
MB 6221 - 6266 1 Sept. 728 - 31 Aug. 774 A.M.a6221 - 6266
MA 6267 - ? 25 March 774 - ? A.M.a6267 - ?
Martin (1930:12-13) states the following:
The indiction runs from Sept. 1st, the Alexandrian A.M. from March 25th, but Theophanes probably dates the latter for calendar purposes from Sept. 1st2, to correspond with the Indiction.
...
In two periods (607-714 and 726-774) the A.M. and the indictions do not correspond 3. It was formerly supposed that the Indictions were most likely to be correct, and therefore they must be made the foundation for a true chronology. But a suggestion was made by Bury (Later Roman Empire, II, p. 425). and worked out by Hubert (Byzant. Zeitschrift, VI, pp. 491 sqq.), that in 726 Leo III raised double taxes and put two indictions in one year, while in 774 or 775, Constantine remitted a year's taxation and spread one indiction over two years. This suggestion has been generally accepted. On the other hand, it is purely conjectural. Ginis (Das Promulgationsjahr d. Isuar. Ecloge. Byz. Zeitsch., XXIV, pp. 346 sqq.) would trace the error to Theophanes having confused the April of Indiction 10 (Sept. 1st, 726, to Aug. 31st, 727), with April of the 10th regnal year of Leo (March 25th, 725, to March 24th, 726). E.W. Brooks (Byz. Zeitsch., VIII, pp. 82 sqq.) explains the error by differences in the chronological systems of the sources used by Theophanes.

Byzantine Writers - Chronicle of Theophanes

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Theophanes (c. 758/60-817/8) wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. Theophanes' Chronicle covers the period from 284 CE, where the Chronicle of George Synkellos ends, until 813 CE (Neville, 2018:61). Neville (2018:61) notes that Theophanes explains that George had asked him to complete the task of compiling the history and had given Theophanes the materials he had gathered. Neville (2018:61) describes Theophanes' Chronicle as follows:

It is one of few Byzantine texts that is a true chronicle, in that it enumerates every year, and lists events for each year. The entry for each year begins with a listing of the year of the world, the year since the Incarnation, the regnal year of the Roman Emperor, the Persian Emperor, and the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. After the conquest of the Persian Empire, it uses years of the rulers of the Arabs in place of the Persian Emperors. Despite the impression of chronological accuracy, many of these dates are mistaken. Scholars also debate whether these dates were integral to Theophanes’ original Chronicle or were added by a later copyist.
Mango and Scott (1997:xci) characterize Theophanes' Chronicle as a "file" of sources and list at least 17 sources which informed his Chronicle (Mango and Scott, 1997:lxxiv-lxxxii). Hoyland (2011:10) noted that Theophanes made extensive use of an "eastern source" for events in Muslim-ruled lands during the the time period of the 630s-740s and continued to narrate events occurring in Muslim-ruled lands, until ca. 780 either making use of another chronicle for these three decades or, more likely, [] had at his disposal a continuation of the ‘eastern source’. Theophanes' ‘eastern source’ has been the source of much scholarly investigation and debate.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Holy Desert Quake

Excerpts

English from Mango and Scott (1997)

[A.M. 6238, AD 745/6] II In this year there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January, in the 4th hour. Numberless multitudes perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City. IIa

II In the same year a pestilence that had started in Sicily and Calabria travelled like a spreading fire all through the 14th indiction1 to Monobasia2, Hellas, and the adjoining islands, thus scourging in advance the impious Constantine and restraining his fury against the Church and the holy icons, even though he remained unrepentant like Pharaoh of old. This disease of the bubonic plague spread to the Imperial City in the 15th3 indiction. All of a sudden, without visible cause, there appeared many oily crosslets upon men's garments, on the altar cloths of churches, and on hangings. The mysteriousness of this presage inspired great sorrow and despondency among the people. Then God's wrath started destroying not only the inhabitants of the City, but also those of all its outskirts. Many men had hallucinations and, being in ecstasy, imagined to be in the company of certain strangers of terrible aspect who, as it were, addressed in friendly fashion those they met and conversed with them. Taking note of their conversation, they later reported it. They also saw the same men entering houses, killing some of the inmates, and wounding others with the sword. Most of what they said came to pass just as they had seen it.

In the spring of the 1st indiction4 the plague intensified and in the summer it flared up all at once so that entire households were completely shut up and there was no one to bury the dead. Because of extreme necessity a way was devised of placing planks upon animals saddled with four paniers each5 and so removing the dead or piling them likewise one upon the other in carts. When all the urban and suburban cemeteries had been filled as well as empty cisterns and ditches, and many vineyards had been dug up and even the orchards within the old walls6 to make room for the burial of human bodies, only then was the need satisfied7. When every household had been destroyed by this calamity on account of the impious removal of the holy icons by the rulers, straight away the fleet of the Hagarenes sailed from Alexandria to Cyprus, where the Roman fleet happened to be. The strategos of the Kibyraiots fell upon them suddenly in the harbour of Keramaia8 and seized the mouth of the harbour. Out of 1,000 dromones9 it is said that only three escaped. IIb
Footnotes

a Cf. Agapios, 261 (Jan.): earthquake in Palestine, esp. at Tiberias, where more than 100,000 were killed.

Mich. Syr. ii. 509-10; Chr. 1234, 254. 33 ff. (without date): damage at Damascus, Tiberias, Mabbug, and elsewhere.

Ps.-Dion. Chron. 42-3, AG 1059: Chalcedonian bishop of Mabbug crushed with his flock.

b Cf. Nik. 67. 4-43,- 68. 3-11. Kleinchronik, 1. 17 (Schreiner, i. 45) abbreviates Theoph. as regards the plague.



1 AD 745/6.

2 Monemvasia on the east coast of the Peloponnese.

3 dB mistakenly prints '5th'.

4 AD 747/8. This is the date given for the plague in Kleinchronik, 2. 4 (Schreiner, i. 47).

5 Reading Sia £AIA V aayp novp.4vu v vno TETpaKavdr/Xov. For the meaning of this expression see I. Rochow, Klio, 69 (1987), 571-2.

6 The Constantinian walls.

7 On the plague see also Theodore Studites, Laud. Platonis, PG 99: 805D. Nik. Antirrh. Ill, PG 100: 496B-D, adds that the emperor betook himself during the plague to the suburbs of Nicomedia. So also Geo. Mon. 754 and Epist. ad Theophilum, PG 95: 364B.

8 Situation unknown. See Sir George Hill, A History of Cyprus, i (Cambridge, 1940); 262 n. 5; L. Philippou, KvnpiaKai Sirovhal, 6 (1942), 1-5, who believes the battle did not take place in Cyprus. According to Nik. the conflict was initiated by Constantine, who sent a fleet against the Arabs.

9 Thirty in Anast., probably correctly.

English from Mango and Scott (1997) - embedded



English from Turtledove (1982) - embedded



Chronology
Year(s)
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 Mar. 745 to 24 Mar. 747 CE A.M.a 6238 extra year added in case Theophanes A.M.a is a year too low
1 Sept. 745 to 31 Aug. 746 CE 14th indiction none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • If we use Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms, the 14th indiction is in synchronism MB and should date from 1 Sept. 745 to 31 Aug. 747 CE (see Theophanes' Calendaric Inconsistencies under Notes)
18 June 746 to 17 June 747 CE Constantine, 6th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started 18 June 741 CE
4 Dec. 746 - 3 Dec. 747 CE Marouam, 3rd year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started on 4 December 744 CE
4 Dec. 753 - 3 Dec. 754 CE Zacharias, 13th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • consecrated on 4 or 6 December 741 CE
1 Jan. 746 - 30 Dec. 747 CE Anastasios, 17th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • installed 730 CE
1 Jan. 746 - 30 Dec. 747 CE Theophylaktos, 3rd year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • installed 744 CE
1 Sept. 745 to 31 Aug. 746 CE In the same year a pestilence that had started in Sicily and Calabria travelled like a spreading fire all through the 14th indiction none
  • The 14th indiction went from 1 Sept. 745 to 31 Aug. 746 CE (calculated using CHRONOS)
Time and Date
Time and Date Reference Corrections Notes
~10 am on 18 January on 18 January, in the 4th hour none
  • 4th hour refers to the 4th hour of daylight
Seismic Effects
  • there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria
  • Numberless multitudes perished
  • churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City.
Locations
  • Palestine
  • by the Jordan
  • all of Syria
  • the desert of the Holy City [Jerusalem]1
Footnotes

1 Ambraseys (2009) makes a tenuous argument that the desert of the Holy City would somehow refer to Moab, however the Holy Desert seems to be well located as the desert east of Jerusalem where many churches and monasteries were built in the area where Jesus is reported to have spent 40 days alone after his baptism by John the Baptist. Further, Theophanes mentions damage along the nearby Jordan River which is where the seismically active Jordan Valley Fault is located.

Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English from Mango and Scott (1997)

[A.M. 6241, AD 748/9] In this year Marouam was pursued by the Maurophoroi, who captured him and killed him after waging a very heavy war1. They were commanded by Salim, son of Alim2, one of the aforementioned fugitives who had sent Aboumouslim on his mission3. The rest of them gathered in Samaria and Trachonitis3 and awarded their leadership by lot to Aboulabas4, and next to him to his brother Abdela5, and next to the latter to Ise Ibinmouse6. II They appointed Abdela, son of Alim and brother of Salim, to be commander in Syria; Salim himself to be commander in Egypt; while Abdela, brother of Aboulabas (from whom he received the nomination to the command) they appointed over Mesopotamia. IIb Aboulabas himself, who was in supreme authority, established his seat in Persia, the government and all the seized treasure (which Marouam had carried away) having been transferred to him and his Persian allies from Damascus. Marouam's surviving sons and relatives went from Egypt to Africa, whence they crossed the narrow sea that separates Libya from Europe next to the Ocean at a place called Septai and settled until this day in Spain of Europe, where some kinsmen and correligionists of theirs had come to dwell at an earlier time — the latter being descendants of Mauias who had suffered shipwreck there7. The devastation in the days of Marouam lasted six years and in the course of it all the prominent cities of Syria lost their walls except Antioch, which he planned to use as a refuge. Innumerable Arabs were also killed by him for he was very cunning in civil matters. He belonged to the heresy of the Epicureans, that is Automatists, an impiety he had imbued from the pagans who dwell at Harran8.

II On 25 January of the same 3rd indiction9 a son was born to the emperor Constantine by the daughter of the Chagan of Chazaria and he called him Leo. In the same year there was an earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria, as a result of which some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so, while others slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout10. Eyewitnesses affirmed that the ground in Mesopotamia was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy, in the midst of which, they said, there came up an animal like a mule11, quite spotless, that spoke in a human voice and announced the incursion of a certain nation from the desert against the Arabs, which indeed came to pass.

The next year, in the 4th indiction12, on the feast of holy Pentecost the impious emperor Constantine conferred the imperial crown on his son Leo by the hand of the false patriarch Anastasios who shared his views. IIc
Footnotes

a Cf. Chr. 1234, 258. 33 ff., with many details.

b Ibid. 264. 5-8; Agapios, 272.

c Cf. Nik. 69. 1-70. 2


1 In Aug. 750: Caetani, Chron., AH 132, no. 39.

2 Salih b. Ali: Caetani, Chron., AH 132, no. 16. See also Chr. Z234, 258.33; Agapios, 267-9.

3 East of the Jordan.

4 The Caliph Abu-l-Abbas al-Saffah, proclaimed at Ktifa in Nov. 749.

5 Abdallah AbuDja'far, appointed governor of Mesopotamia, Armenia, etc. (Elias Nis. 82 (AH 133) ).

6 Isa ibn Musa, Al-Saffah's cousin. Cf. Agapios, 273.

7 The passage of the Umayyads to Spain 'in the days of Justinian Rhinotmetos' is recorded by Const. Porph. DAI 21. 28-32, who adds that these events 'are not recorded by our historians'. He confuses the first conquest of Spain (711) with the establishment of the emirate of Cordova by 'Abd al-Rahman (756). Cf. Bury, BZ 15 (1906), 527-9.
8 Mich. Syr. ii. 508 says that Marwan did not believe in God.

9 AD 750.

10 According to Mich. Syr. ii. 5 10 and Chr. 1234, 255. 28 ff. a village near Mount Tabor was moved 4 miles with all its houses intact, and a source near Jericho was shifted 6 miles. Cf. Elias Nis. 82 (AH 131).

11 A female mule in Nik. 69.

12. AD751. Pentecost fell on 6 June.

English from Mango and Scott (1997) - embedded



English from Turtledove (1982) - embedded



Chronology
Year(s)
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 Mar. 748 to 24 Mar. 750 CE A.M.a 6241 extra year added in case Theophanes A.M.a is a year too low
1 Sept. 749 to 31 Aug. 750 CE 3rd indiction none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • If we use Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms, the 3rd indiction is in synchronism MB and should date from 1 Sept. 749 to 31 Aug. 750 CE (see Theophanes' Calendaric Inconsistencies under Notes)
18 June 749 to 17 June 750 CE Constantine, 9th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started 18 June 741 CE
4 Dec. 749 to 3 Dec. 750 CE Marouam, 6th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • reign started on 4 December 744 CE
4 Dec. 756 to 5 Dec. 757 CE Zacharias, 16th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • consecrated on 4 or 6 December 741 CE
1 Jan. 749 to 30 Dec. 750 CE Anastasios, 20th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • installed 730 CE
1 Jan. 749 to 30 Dec. 750 CE Theophylaktos, 6th year none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • installed 744 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Constantine's son Leo was born. none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE which was in A.M.a 6242
  • possible forced synchronicity - Did Marwan really die on the same day that Leo was born ?
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Marwan (aka Marouam) died none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • Marwan died on 25 January 750 CE which was in A.M.a 6242
  • possible forced synchronicity - Did Marwan really die on the same day that Leo was born ?
Seismic Effects
  • there was an earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria
  • some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so
  • block slide type of landslide - others slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout
  • Sand boils appeared in an earth fissure - the ground in Mesopotamia was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy
Despite any possible exaggerations, these describe real secondary effects of an earthquake. As noted by Karcz (2004), the translational landslide and the sand boils would be more likely to occur in the rainy season when water table was higher. Sand boils are a common liquefaction effect and can be used to estimate a minimum intensity. There was also an oracular talking mule which, though only a secondary seismic effect in fiction, may have been the most memorable part of the story to subsequent readers and authors. All the Byzantine authors listed in this catalog who describe the Talking Mule Quake mention the talking mule and by the time we get to Glycas, the talking mule is all that remains in his shortened account. He doesn't even mention the earthquake.

Locations
  • Syria
  • Mesopotamia

Sources
Source Discussions

Natural phenomenon in Theophanes

Conterno (2014:106-107) considers the following regarding reports of natural phenomenon in Theophanes:

However, in examining this type of information two aspects must be kept in mind: on the one hand the fact that they represented the main content of the chronological lists linked to the city archives, on the other hand the fact that events of this type could very likely be the subject of independent recording by several sources and, especially in the case of the most impressive phenomena, their memory could also be passed down orally for a long time. The importance of the registers of the archives of Antioch and Edessa in relation to the Syriac and Greek chronicles was highlighted by Muriel Debié. As emerges from one of his studies, in fact, the registers of documents kept in the city and patriarchal archives - the so-called "archive books" - probably also contained annotations, in calendar or annalistic form, of the most relevant local events, references to which they could be contained in the documents and administrative acts themselves: construction of buildings, destruction due to wars or fires and floods, natural disasters and exceptional events of various kinds (plagues, famines, eclipses and other astronomical phenomena ...)

From these registers, short chronological lists were extracted and circulated independently and from which authors of both Greek and Syriac chronicles could draw, as can be seen from the testimony of Giovanni Malalas. To these must also be added the episcopal lists, lists of rulers and lists of synods and councils, and it is precisely to these thematic lists, which circulated independently and in different versions, that the material centered on Edessa, Antioch and Amida which is found in the later chronicles. According to Debié, any dating discrepancies found in the various chronicles can be attributed, on the one hand, to the fact that the chroniclers had different lists available and often crossed the data from the lists with those taken from other chronicles; on the other hand, the probable difficulties encountered by chroniclers in matching the different dating systems or in obtaining absolute datings from chrono related logies, or even to their precise intention to modify the chronological data for ideological reasons. Debié therefore hypothesizes a large production and circulation of these lists, which in fact constituted a concrete form of scheduling relevant events at the local level, primarily for practical purposes. Being instruments of use rather than compositions of a historiographical nature, they were not intended to cover very large periods, but were rather relatively short clips. An aspect that emerges clearly from his study, moreover, is that in these lists the relative chronology was just as and perhaps more important than the absolute one, since the fixing of memorable facts and their concatenation was essentially aimed at establish reference points for the chronological location of other events.

Theophanes' 7th and 8th century Sources

The 'Eastern Source'

The three earliest Byzantine sources (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes in that order1) speak of two earthquakes separated by 3 years. The similarity of the ten Byzantine accounts, dates of composition, and the distance of the authors from the region (e.g., writing in Constantinople or Italy) suggests that the accounts are derived from a shared local source(s) and each other. None of the three earliest Byzantine authors could have experienced the earthquakes firsthand. As none of the Byzantine authors cite a source, the shared source - often referred to as the ‘eastern source’ - is a matter of conjecture2. Several scholars (e.g., Brooks, 1906) have suggested that the ‘eastern source’ was cobbled together by a Melkites3 monk who wrote around 780 CE. After civil unrest led to the dissolution of Melkite monasteries in Palestine and Syria, a number of Melkite Monks ended up in Constantinople in 813 CE (Brooks, 1906:587). One of the monks may have brought this text with him – a text that would eventually find its way into the hands of Theophanes. How this source was cobbled together is also a matter of conjecture. Two authors whose works are now lost have been proposed as promising candidates in providing source material - John son of Samuel of whom nothing is known beyond that he lived in Western Syria and Theophilus of Edessa. Theophilus, who wrote in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic, was in his 50’s and living in the region when the earthquakes struck4. John’s Chronicle is thought to have ended in 746 CE (supposedly5) and the unknown editor of ~780 CE may have been a continuator – meaning he added his own version of events from ~746 to ~780 CE. He may have also incorporated Theophilus’ text, simply used Theophilus alone, or used other texts and information. Further, he may have been a redactor meaning that he modified John and/or Theophilus’ original text in addition to adding his own events. Some hypothetical possibilities are shown in Fig. 2. However this ‘eastern source’ came to be, since the Byzantine accounts write about earthquakes which affected Palestine, Syria, and Jazira (northern Mesopotamia), it would appear that the original report(s) of these earthquakes came from these territories.

Footnotes

1 Although Anastasius Bibliothecarius wrote after Theophanes, Neil (1998:46) points out that Anastasius likely based his account on an earlier non-extant and perhaps ‘unfinished’ version of Theophanes thus making his account effectively older than the extant copies of Theophanes we currently have access to.

2 Brooks (1906:587) was one of the first scholars to hypothesize about who wrote the ‘eastern source’. Subsequent work on the subject is discussed in multiple publications including but not limited to Proudfoot (1974), Mango and Scott (1997: lxxxii – lxxxiv), Conrad (1992, 2004), Hoyland, (2011:10), and Conterno (2014).

3 Melkites were supporters of the Council of Chalcedon (i.e., Chalcedonians) who resided in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. In the church schisms of the time, Chalcedonians were allied with the same faction as Byzantine writers such as Theophanes and wrote in Greek and Syriac thus producing texts which could have been read by the Greek reading Byzantine authors.

4 Theophilus’ Lost Chronicle is known to have directly informed Arabic writer Agapius of Menbig and indirectly informed later Syriac authors such as Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 (Hoyland, 2011:11-15). All three of these authors wrote about the Sabbatical Year Quakes.

5 The dates of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes may suggest that it ended in 749 CE.

Hypothetical dependencies for Theophanes' eastern source
Figure 2 - Three hypothetical source dependencies for Theophanes. Dashed arrows indicate uncertain textual transmission. Solid lines are certain. Other Sources refers to some of the many sources thought to have informed Theophanes Chronicle. Mango and Scott (1997: lxxiv-lxxxviii), for example, list 20 possible sources for different time periods and subjects. Other local source refers to unknown sources of information for the Continuator. Alternative source dependencies are also possible. - Williams (in press)


Proudfoot (1974)'s discussion of the 'Eastern Source'

Proudfoot (1974:405-409) summarized Brook's pioneering work on Theophanes' eastern source in several run on sentences (only the first part is shown below)

Exposition of this source might profitably be preceded by discussion of the pioneer studies of Brooks towards identification of the common source underlying much of the seventh and early eighth century narratives of Theophanes and Michael the Syrian, the development and the corroboration of this work in the light of more recently published primary sources and of other chronicle traditions, and its contribution to the emerging perspective of a single Byzantino-Syriac tradition for the historiography of the seventh century. A Monophysite Syriac chronicle extending to 746 written soon after that date by the otherwise unknown John son of Samuel and citing an unknown chronicle composed 724-31 (wherein much of the more detailed material was attributable to a source written either within or on the frontier of the Caliphate before 717) (2) was transmitted to Theophanes through the intermediary of a Melchite monk of Palestine writing in Greek c. 780 whose work was brought to Constantinople in 813 after the dissolution of the Syrian monasteries and the dispersal of their personnel, and to Michael the Syrian through Denis of Tellmahre -writing c. 843-6, while the chronicle dated to 724-31 was one of the sources of the monk of Karthamin whose work was written c.785 and continued as the Chronicon ad 846 pertinens (3). The last notice Theophanes drew from the Melchite continuator of the common source was apparently (780) the persecution of Christians by al-Mandi (775-85) the first caliph of the Abbasid jihad ...

Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Theophanes' Calendaric Inconsistencies

Author Inconsistencies
Theophanes Theophanes used the Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi calendar even though it was out of favor at the time and would be obsolete by the 9th century CE. He did so because his Chronicle was a continuation of George Syncellus Chronicle which itself used the Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi calendar. Proudfoot (1974:374) noted that the problem of whether Theophanes regarded the year as commencing on March 25 according to the Alexandrian world-year or on September 1 according to the Byzantine indiction cycle has not been resolved with [] clarity.
Theophanes Grumel (1934:407), Proudfoot (1974:373-374), and others have pointed out that Theophanes A.M.a in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265 are frequently a year too low. The indictions, however, are thought by many more likely to be correct.

Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms
Synchronism Explanation
MA Theophanes’s indictions begin in March - the start date for A.M.a
MB Theophanes’s indictions begin in September after the March starting date for A.M.a
Note: Outside of Egypt, Indictions began on 1 September
Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms by time period
Synchronism Years A.M.a (approx.) Date Range CE Historical Markers
MA ? - 6102 ? - 5 Oct. 610 until the end of the reign of Phocas (ruled 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610 CE)
MB 6102 - 6206 5 Oct. 610 - 3 June 713 starting with the reign of Heraclius (ruled 5 Oct. 610 – 11 Feb. 641 CE) and ending right before the start of the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE)
MA 6206 - 6220 4 June 713 CE - 24 March 728 starting with the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE) until A.M.a 6220
MB 6221 - 6266 1 Sept. 728 - 31 Aug. 774 A.M.a6221 - 6266
MA 6267 - ? 25 March 774 - ? A.M.a6267 - ?
Martin (1930:12-13) states the following:
The indiction runs from Sept. 1st, the Alexandrian A.M. from March 25th, but Theophanes probably dates the latter for calendar purposes from Sept. 1st2, to correspond with the Indiction.
...
In two periods (607-714 and 726-774) the A.M. and the indictions do not correspond 3. It was formerly supposed that the Indictions were most likely to be correct, and therefore they must be made the foundation for a true chronology. But a suggestion was made by Bury (Later Roman Empire, II, p. 425). and worked out by Hubert (Byzant. Zeitschrift, VI, pp. 491 sqq.), that in 726 Leo III raised double taxes and put two indictions in one year, while in 774 or 775, Constantine remitted a year's taxation and spread one indiction over two years. This suggestion has been generally accepted. On the other hand, it is purely conjectural. Ginis (Das Promulgationsjahr d. Isuar. Ecloge. Byz. Zeitsch., XXIV, pp. 346 sqq.) would trace the error to Theophanes having confused the April of Indiction 10 (Sept. 1st, 726, to Aug. 31st, 727), with April of the 10th regnal year of Leo (March 25th, 725, to March 24th, 726). E.W. Brooks (Byz. Zeitsch., VIII, pp. 82 sqq.) explains the error by differences in the chronological systems of the sources used by Theophanes.

Byzantine Writers - Chronography (aka Chronographikon Syntomon) by Nicephoros

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Nicephoros I of Constantinople was born in Constantinople in 757 or 758 CE. He began his career as an imperial secretary and in 806 CE was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. He was deposed in 814 CE when he objected to Emperor Leo V’s (r. 813– 820) efforts to remove icons from public places. Nicephoros then retired to a monastery where he died in 828 CE. He wrote Chronography in Greek the early 9th century CE (Neville, 2018:72). He only wrote about the Talking Mule Quake. He did not provide an account of the Holy Desert Quake.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English from Mango (1990)

69. Thereafter a son was born to the emperor, whom he named Leo. At the same time a severe earthquake occurred in Syria, causing enormous damage. For some cities that were there (were completely destroyed and) the ground round about opened up to a great extent, while others suffered this fate but partially. Others were shifted from their high positions and slipped down entire, with their walls and houses, to the plains below, moving a distance of as much as six miles, more or less, from their original situation. Some affirmed they had seen the ground in Mesopotamia (which is near Syria) crack deeply along (a distance) of two miles, and another ground, sandy and very white, thrown up from below; and that along with the latter was cast up a female mule, which proclaimed in a human voice the destruction of the Arabs. A short time thereafter a tribe appeared from the desert beyond and slew many multitudes (of Arabs) without resistance.

Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
~749/750 CE around the time of the birth of Leo none
  • Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE according to Theophanes and 8 February 750 CE according to Paul the Deacon
Seismic Effects
  • a severe earthquake occurred in Syria, causing enormous damage
  • some cities that were there were completely destroyed
  • the ground round about opened up to a great extent
  • others suffered this fate but partially
  • block slide type of landslide - Others were shifted from their high positions and slipped down entire, with their walls and houses, to the plains below, moving a distance of as much as six miles, more or less, from their original situation
  • Sand boils appeared in an earth fissure - Some affirmed they had seen the ground in Mesopotamia (which is near Syria) crack deeply along (a distance) of two miles, and another ground, sandy and very white, thrown up from below
Locations
  • Syria
  • Mesopotamia (which is near Syria)

Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Missing Holy Desert Quake

Karcz (2004) speculated that the Holy Desert Quake may not be in Nicephoros' Book due to a lacuna or illegible paragraph in the manuscript(s).

Byzantine Writers - Chronicle by Georgius Monachus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Despite the popularity of his Chronicle, little is known about Georgios Monachus (George the Monk) who was also known as George Hamartolus (George the Sinner). His Chronicle covers "Creation" until 842 CE (Neville, 2018:87). Neville (2018:87-88) noted the following about George's Chronicle

The work is notable for including numerous amusing and moralizing stories, many of which do not have much to do with specific historical events. In some cases, we can tell that the author highlighted moral lessons to be drawn from an episode, but disregarded the chronological placement of the episode within his source material. George has been characterized as a “short-story” writer. By one count, the text includes forty-four discrete stories about bishops, monks, the destiny of the soul, heroic chastity and martyrdom, and pagans, Jews, and iconoclasts.
George wrote the Chronicle in Greek in the last half of the 9th century CE. There are two variants of the text (Neville, 2018:87). Eduard von Muralt published a full volume of the text which was reprinted in Patrologia Graeca Volume 100. George only discussed the Talking Mule Quake.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English

That year there was a powerful earthquake in Syria. Some cities were destroyed - others only partly so. In one place, a village moved with its walls and buildings intact. In Mesopotamia, the earth split three thousand feet and a white sandy soil came out of the chasm. Then an incredible thing - an onager emerged speaking of human affairs and predicted a foreign invasion - which happened a short time later.

Latin

In Syria vero maximus terrae motus urbes subvertit, quarum aliae omnino, aliae es parte tantum destruciae sunt , aliae ab editis in subjacentes campos, seu a duobus circiter milliariis integrae illaesaeque cum muris ac domibus fuerunt translatae . In Mesopotamia autem terra spatio trium milliariorum ſissa , aliam ebulit alliam arenosamque terram, de cujus medio ( res incredibilis ! ) exortum est bemionium humana voce loquens el praedicens populi incursuin , quod paulo post contigit.

Greek

( 39 ) Εν δε " γε τη Συρία γέγονε σεισμός μεγιστης και πολεων πτώσεις, ώστε αι μεν των πόλεων ολόκληροι εδαφίσθησαν, οι δε εξ ημισείας, έτεραι δε destruclæ sunt, από των αερίων εις τα υποκείμενα πεδία μετά των pos, τοίχων και των οικημάτων άρδην μετέστησαν αβλαβείς ώς από μιλίων β ': η δε γή 10 της Μεσοπο. ταμίας, επί μίλια γ ' σχισθείσα και ετέραν αναβρά. , σασαν 11 λευκήν και αμμώδη γήν, ανήλθε παραδόξω ; εκ μέσου ταύτης ημίονος ανθρωπίνη φωνή φθεγγο- μένη και προμηνύουσα επιδρομήν έθνους ", ( περ ) puli incursuin , φιού paulo post contigit . και γέγονε ( μετ ' ολίγον . )

Chronology

The earthquake account is bracketed by intrigue in Bulgaria which might help date this passage.

Seismic Effects
  • there was a powerful earthquake in Syria
  • Some cities were destroyed - others only partly so
  • block slide type of landslide - In one place, a village moved with its walls and buildings intact
  • Sand boils appeared in an earth fissure - In Mesopotamia, the earth split three thousand feet and a white sandy soil came out of the chasm
Locations
  • Syria
  • Mesopotamia

Online Versions and Further Reading

Byzantine Writers - Megas Chronographos

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

A 10th century manuscript (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 194.r) of Chronicon Paschale contains excerpts of another text which is labeled as being from the Great Chronographer (Megas Chronographos). The excerpts document natural and political disasters from the 5th to 8th centuries ( Neville, 2018:85). Neville (2018:85) notes that although this text was originally thought to have been composed in the 8th century CE and served as source material for Theophanes and Nicephorus, further research has "shown fairly conclusively that it is the other way around". The anonymous work of Megas Chronographos is now thought to be a compilation of the mid 9th century CE. Megas Chronographos only writes about the Holy Desert Quake.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Holy Desert Quake

Excerpts

English from Whitby and Whitby (1989)

1. In the reign of Copronymus, an earthquake occurred in Palestine and the Jordan and all the Syrian land. And many tens of thousands, innumerable people indeed, are dead, and churches and monasteries are fallen.

And at the same time a pestilential disease, starting from Sicily and Calabria and spreading like a fire, crossed to Greece and the islands. ...12.

Footnotes

12 Earthquake in Levant and plague at Cpl. in 747; cf. Nic. 62. 24-64. 9; Theoph. 422. 25-424. 3; Cedr. ii. 7. 17-9. 1.

GC is closer to Theophanes than to Nicephorus in that it records an earthquake in the Levant before turning to the plague, but both the other two have more information than is preserved in GC (including an exact date for the earthquake in Theophanes). The earthquake is not mentioned by Nicephorus, but he regularly omitted information that was available in the chronicle source which he shared with Theophanes. This common source did record some major events in the near east, including the earthquake of 750 (Nic. 64. 22-65. 7, Theoph. 426. 16-26; see below on GC 13), so that it could have contained a reference to the earthquake of 747. Theophanes also had an independent eastern chronicle source, which has parallels with Syriac chronicles down to 746, and contained further information probably added by a writer in Palestine c.780 (see E. W. Brooks, 'The Sources of Theophanes and the Syriac Chroniders', BZ xv, 1906, 578-87), but the example of the 750 earthquake shows that not all eastern information in Byzantine chronicles should be traced to it.

GC 12, as it stands, cannot have been the common source of Theophanes and Nicephorus because of their fuller treatment (cf. Whitby, 'Chronographer' 11-12). However, GC's account of the plague is disordered when compared with the other versions, in that it mentions the burial arrangements for the victims before the apparition of oily crosses on the garments of the afflicted, and it does not contain any of the anti-iconoclast interpretations of the plague included by the orthodox authors. One must assume, therefore, either (i) that it is an inaccurate derivation from Theophanes by an excerptor who deliberately eliminated Theophanes' anti-iconoclast interpretation of the plague, although this would run counter to the excerptor's use of the epithet Copronymus for Constantine; or (ii) that it is an inaccurate and abbreviated version of the common source used by Theophanes and Nicephorus, the distortions being caused by the excerptor's belief that he was running out of space on folio 242r (cf. p.192 above). We find the latter assumption easier, but for the alternative, see Mango, Nicephorus' 546-7.

Note by Williams: Copronymus or Copronym is a play on words with the name of Constantine combining the greek words κόπρος (kopros) which means feces and ὄνομα (onoma) which means name. The hostility of the authors who use this epithet against "Emperor Poop-onymous" derives from bitter doctrinal disputes within Christendom such as disputes over iconoclasm.

Chronology

Karcz (2004) found this account chronologically tenuous because it places an account of a 746 or 747 CE earthquake after the 750 CE birth of Leo which was described in an earlier section.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Sept. 745 to 31 Aug. 746 CE around the same time as the plague crossed from Sicily and Calabria to Greece none
  • In Mango and Scott (1997:585)'s translation of Theophanes, this is dated to the 14th indiction.
  • The 14th indiction went from 1 Sept. 745 to 31 Aug. 746 CE (calculated using CHRONOS)
1 Sept. 746 to 31 Aug. 747 CE ? A.M.Byz 6255 ? none
1 Sept. 746 to 31 Aug. 747 CE ? Indiction XV ? none
Seismic Effects
  • an earthquake occurred in Palestine and the Jordan and all the Syrian land
  • many tens of thousands, innumerable people indeed, are dead
  • churches and monasteries are fallen
Locations
  • Palestine
  • the Jordan
  • all the Syrian land

Online Versions and Further Reading

Byzantine Writers - Synopsis Historion by Cedrenus (aka George Kedrenus)

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Neville (2018:162-163) provides a succinct description of George Cedrenus (~11th century CE) and Synopsis istorion (aka A Concise History of the World)

In the late eleventh or early twelfth century, extant histories were combined and edited to compile a massive unified history from Creation to 1057, entitled the Synopsis istorion. The opening of the text names its author as George Kedrenos. A poem describing the history, found in a later manuscript of the text, says that George was a proedrus. This history was written after that of John Skylitzes in the late eleventh century, and before our oldest manuscript, which is stylistically dated to the first half of the twelfth.

For the years 811– 1057, the Kedrenos text copied the history by John Skylitzes precisely. For the period prior to 811 it extracts the histories of Pseudo-Symeon, Symeon the Logothete, and George the Monk. For the sixth and seventh centuries he used the Chronicle of Pseudo-Symeon, which was relying on Theophanes.

Although Kedrenos does not provide any independent information about the past, and often clings to the wording of texts he is compiling, his editorial choices can vary the meanings and implications of the stories he preserves. Scott and Maisano argue that his choices regarding the inclusion and framing of his material display his ideas about history.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Holy Desert Quake

Excerpts

English from Becker (1838) - 1st passage

there were many earthquakes in various places1; in the mountains in the wilderness of Saba, a village was swallowed in the [wilderness] of Saba.
Footnotes

1 JW: this appears to echo an eschatological prophecy uttered by Jesus in Luke 21:11 which may reflect both the language and spirit of the original source(s) and reflect a tendency by various Christian chroniclers to amalgamate multiple earthquakes into to one large doomsday-like event. In the Armenian translation of Michael the Syrian, this is stated explicitly - "for they believed that these numerous strange signs were omens of the coming end of the world". και σεισμοί κατά τόπους in the Greek of Cedrenus text echoes σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι, και κατά τόπους of the New Testament.

Latin from Becker (1838) - 1st passage

magna quoque siccitas fuit et multi terrae motus variis locis; adeoque et montes in solitudine Saba inter se coiverunt, et pagus terra absorptus est.

Greek from Becker (1838) - 1st passage

γέ γονε δε άβροχία πολλή και σεισμοί κατά τόπους , ως ενωθήναι όρη προς άλληλα κατά την έρημον Σαβά , και κώμην υπό γήν καταποθήναι .

English from Becker (1838) - 2nd passage

Year 4 - A great comet appeared in Syria.

...

Year 6 - There was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January at the 4th hour. An innumerable multitude perished - thousands. Churches and Monasteries collapsed. The worst was in the wilderness by the Holy City (Jerusalem).

Latin from Becker (1838) - 2nd passage

Anno 4 in Syria magnus cometa apparuit.

...

Anno sexto magnus fuit in Palaestina terrae motus, et ad Iordanem perque universam Syriam, die mensis Ianuarii 18, hora 4, innumenraque hominum perierunt milia, corruerunt templa et monasteria, maxime per solitudinem urbis sanctae.

Latin from Becker (1838) - embedded

Chronology
Year
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 Mar. 743 - 17 June 750 CE between A.M.a 6236 and Constantine V's 9th year none
  • I can't currently figure out a precise year
  • Earlier in the text (Becker, 1838:3), there is a marker of A.M.a 6236 (25 Mar. 743 to 24 Mar. 744 CE)
  • Later in the text (Becker, 1838:9), there is a marker of Constantine V's 9th year (18 June 749 to 17 June 750 CE)
~747 CE Two A.M.a's after the comet none
  • In the second passage, a comet is mentioned ~2 years prior to the earthquake.
  • Hoyland (2011:245) lists three sources ( Theophanes, Agapius, and Michael the Syrian) reporting a comet in Syria in 745 CE.
Time and Date
Time and Date Reference Corrections Notes
~10 am on 18 January on 18 January at the 4th hour in the 2nd passage none
  • 4th hour refers to the 4th hour of daylight
Seismic Effects
  • there were many earthquakes in various places1
  • in the mountains in the wilderness of Saba2
  • a village was swallowed in the [wilderness] of Saba
  • There was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria
  • An innumerable multitude perished - thousands
  • Churches and Monasteries collapsed
  • The worst was in the wilderness by the Holy City (Jerusalem)
Footnotes

1 Many earthquakes in various places could suggest multiple aftershocks, an inability to sort out the various earthquakes that struck the Middle East during this time period, or it could be evoking scripture for literary purposes. As for the latter, this appears to echo an eschatological prophecy uttered by Jesus in Luke 21:11 which may reflect both the language and spirit of the original source(s) and reflect a tendency by various Christian chroniclers to amalgamate multiple earthquakes into to one large doomsday-like event. In the Armenian translation of Michael the Syrian ), this is stated explicitly - "for they believed that these numerous strange signs were omens of the coming end of the world". και σεισμοί κατά τόπους in the Greek of Cedrenus text echoes σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι, και κατά τόπους of the New Testament.

2 The wilderness of Saba is in the Judean desert between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. For example, in the vicinity of the Mar Saba Monastery

Locations
  • Palestine
  • by the Jordan
  • all of Syria
  • the wilderness of Saba2
  • the wilderness by the Holy City (Jerusalem)
Footnotes

2 The wilderness of Saba is in the Judean desert between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. For example, in the vicinity of the Mar Saba Monastery

Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English from Becker (1838)

In the ninth year of Constanine, Marnamus was killed in the war with the Abbasids. On 25 January, a son Leo was born to Constantine [from his wife] Irena, the daughter of Chazara.

At the same time, there was a serious earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria. Some cities were destroyed [and] others partly destroyed. In some place[s?], in the mountains, a village[s?] slid down the mountain for a distance of 6 miles with their houses and buildings intact. Further, in Mesopotamia the earth was split for two thousand steps [~feet] and out of that chasm came a different type of white soil from which a emerged a mule who spoke a prophecy in a human voice - that a nation from the desert would invade the Arab lands. The prophecy came true.

Latin from Becker (1838)

Anno Constantini nono Marnamus a Maurophoris, qui et Chrysaro nitae, invaditur, gravissimaque commissa pugna occiditur. die vigesima quinta Ianuarii mensis Constantino ex Chazara Irena filius nascitur, cui Leoni nomen fecit.

eodem tempore in Syria gravis terrae motus terri biles edidit ruinas, quibusdam urbibus prorsus, quibusdam ad mediam partem prostratis, nonnullis etiam a montanis in subiectas planities cum muris et aedificiis absque ullo damno traiectis usque ad sex miliaria. porro in Mesopotamia terra in longum ad duo milia passuum rupta est, exque eius imo terra albissima atque arenosa egesta, de cuius medio animal muli forma adscendit, humana voce loquens et praedicens popu lan quendam e solitudine in Arabas incursionem facturum. quod et sic evenit.

Greek from Becker (1838)

Το θ ' έτει καταδιώκεται Μαρουάμ υπό των Μαυροφόρων των λεγομένων Χρυσαρωνιτών , και βαρυτάτου πολέμου κροτηθέν τος κτείνεται . τη δε κε ' του Ιανουαρίου μηνός γεννάται τώ ασε βεϊ Κωνσταντίνο υιός έκ της Χαζάρας Ειρήνης , δν επωνόμασαν Λέοντα . τω αυτώ χρόνω γέγονε σεισμός εν Συρία και μεγάλη και φοβερά πτώσις , όθεν αι μεν των πόλεων ολοκλήρως ηφανί σθησαν αι δε μέσως . έτεραι από των ορεινών εις τα υποκείμενα πεδία συν τοϊς τείχεσι και τοϊς οικήμασιν ολόκληροι σώαι μετέστη σαν ως από μιλίων εξ . έν Μεσοποταμία δε εις μήκος μίλια δύο ερράγη η γή , και εκ του βυθού αυτής ανήχθη γη λευκοτάτη και αμμώδης , ής εκ μέσου ανήλθε ζώον μουλικών άσπιλον , λαλούν ανθρωπίνη φωνή , προμηνύον έθνους επιδρομήν εκ της ερήμου κατά των Αράβων · δ και γέγονε .

Latin from Becker (1838) - embedded

Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 749 - 17 June 750 CE Constantine, 9th year none
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Constantine's son Leo was born. none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE which was in A.M.a 6242
  • possible forced synchronicity - Did Marwan really die on the same day that Leo was born ?
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Marwan (aka Marnamus) died none
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • Marwan died on 25 January 750 CE which was in A.M.a 6242
  • possible forced synchronicity - Did Marwan really die on the same day that Leo was born ?
Seismic Effects
  • there was a serious earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria
  • Some cities were destroyed [and] others partly destroyed
  • block slide type of landslide - in the mountains, a village[s?] slid down the mountain for a distance of 6 miles with their houses and buildings intact
  • Sand boils appeared in an earth fissure - in Mesopotamia the earth was split for two thousand steps [~feet] and out of that chasm came a different type of white soil from
Locations
  • Syria
  • Mesopotamia

Online Versions and Further Reading

Byzantine Writers - Minor Chronicles

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Schreiner (1979) translated Minor Chronicles to German from the original Greek. The entry of interest is brief and appears to describe the Holy Desert Quake.

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Holy Desert Quake

Excerpts

English from Schreiner (1979)

747 Jan 18 - Earthquake in Palestine

Chr. 1/16
Theoph. 422, 25-28.

The note agrees verbatim with Theophanes; the earthquake is also exactly dated there59.
747 Sept-748 Aug - See: 745 Sept-748 Summer

750 Jan 25 - Miraculous signs at the birth of Emperor Leo
Footnotes

59 GRUMEL, Chronologie 479 did not take into account that in this period the year for Theophanes is a year behind and therefore dates the earthquake to the year 746.

German from Schreiner (1979)

747 Jan 18 Erdbeben in Palästina

Chr. 1/16
Theoph. 422, 25-28.

Die Notiz stimmt wörtlich mit Theophanes überein; das Erdbeben ist dort auch genau datiert59.
747 Sept.-748 Aug.

Siehe: 745 Sept.-748 Sommer

750 Jan. 25

Wunderzeichen bei der Geburt Kaiser Leons
Footnotes

59 GRUMEL, Chronologie 479 hat nicht beachtet, daß in diesem Zeitraum die Jahresangaben bei Theophanes um ein Jahr zurückliegen und datiert das Erdbobon daher in das Jahr 746.

Chronology

Schreiner (1979:87)'s entry supplied the date of 18 Jan. 747 CE. Based on his accompanying footnote (59), it appears that this date is derived from Theophanes with a correction of adding a year.

Seismic Effects
  • Earthquake in Palestine
Locations
  • Palestine

Online Versions and Further Reading

Byzantine Writers - Epitome of Histories (aka Annales) Book XV by Joannes Zonaras

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Little is known about Joannes Zonaras's life. The offices of Grand Commander of the Palace Watch (Μέγας δρουγγάριος τῆς βίγλης) and First Secretary of the Chancery (Prôtoasêkritês), both duly noted in headings of several manuscripts of his works, mark the apex of his public career (Banchich and Lane, 2006:2). At some point, he retreated to the monastery of St Glyceria on present-day Ineir Adasi in the Bay of Tuzla, where he completed his Epitome of Histories in time for the mid-twelfth-century historian Michael Glycas to quote him by name. The date, place, and circumstances of his death are unknown (Banchich and Lane, 2006:2-3). Banchich and Lane (2006:1) characterize Epitome of Histories as follows:

John Zonaras’ Epitome of Histories recounts events from creation through the death of the emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1118— about 6,619 years by Byzantine reckoning. Composed in the first half of the twelfth century and the most substantial extant historical work written in Greek between Cassius Dio’s Roman History of the early third century AD and the fall of Constantinople, it comprises three substantial volumes and slightly more than 1,700 pages of text in its best modern edition. The production of the original copy would have required much time, labor, and expense: the large number of manuscripts of the Epitome and its early translation into a number of languages are measures of the esteem it long commanded. Yet since the advent of modern scholarship in the nineteenth century, few have thought there was any good reason to read the whole Epitome, fewer have attempted to do so, and fewer still have finished the job.

This was not so much because the Epitome was dull or inaccurate as because it was largely derivative. Indeed, Zonaras explains in his Prologue that he aimed at originality only in his wish to make earlier histories more accessible by presenting them in a new fashion. For him this entailed staking out a middle ground between barebones abbreviation and overly detailed recapitulation. He would eschew speeches and learned excurses, but, at the same time, maintain a style, tone, and level of engagement with his material worthy of an intelligent readership. In the event, the outcome was neither proper history in a classicizing mode nor chronicle, but a unique epitome of histories.
Epitome of Histories (aka Annales ) is subdivided into 18 books. Book XV covers 717 - 829 CE. Over 72 manuscripts exist. A Slavonic version was translated in the 14th century CE and an Aragonese version also exists (Neville, 2018:196).

The relevant passage amalgamates earthquakes and may discuss the Holy Desert Quake or may refer entirely to an unrelated Anatolian earthquake.

Excerpts
English from Rodriguez (2006)

On the 23th of September, there was a powerful earthquake where many homes and churches were destroyed. During that same time an ancient temple built by the elinios (?) collapsed - a great and well made building. In front of it, the magnificent Church of Nicea of the Holy Fathers collapsed. Afterwards in May, a sign appeared in the sky looking like a star of the tail(?) of the sun, what the Greeks call a comet; (f. 154d/Zon.XVIII 9 D)

Aragonese from Rodriguez (2006)

a los XXIII días del mes de setiembre, fue feito un gran terremoto mui terrible por el cual muitas eglesias e cassas se derrocaron. En el cual tempo se derrocó un templo antigo, el cual fue edificado de los elinios1845, muit grant e bien obrado. Encara aquel día mesmo se derrocó la maravillosa eglesia de Nicea de los Santos Padres. E aprés en el mes1846 de mayo parexió un senyal en el cielo en manera de estrella de çaga del sol, que se clama en griego comiti; ... (f. 154d/Zon.XVIII 9 D)
Footnotes

1845 En gr., : Eλληνikòν (téμƐνoς).

1846 En el ms., «mas»

Chronology

It is difficult to tell if this short passage refers to one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes. If so, it dates it to 23 September. Afterwards, there is a reference to an unrelated Anatolian Quake that struck Nicea - something common in later sources such as Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234. A comet is also described. Cedrenus also described a comet ~2 years prior to the Holy Desert Quake.

Seismic Effects
  • there was a powerful earthquake where many homes and churches were destroyed1
Footnotes

1 Zonares' account may refer entirely to an unrelated earthquake that occurred in northwest Anatolia - possibly one that struck on 26 Oct. 740 CE (see Ambraseys, 2009:227) or it may amalgamate one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes with an unrelated Anatolian earthquake.

Sources
Sources according to Neville (2019)

The main sources for Books 13-18 seem to be Malalas, George the monk, Skylitzes, and Psellos (Neville, 2019:196).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Byzantine Writers - Biblios Chronike (aka Annals) by Michael Glycas

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Neville (2018:206-207) wrote about Michael Glycas (12th century CE) as follows:

Michael Glykas was a writer and theologian active in the second half of the twelfth century. He served as an imperial secretary in the court of Manuel Komnenos (r. 1143– 1180) and earned the title grammatikos. In addition to his history, Glykas wrote a long theological treatise in the form of questions and answers, a refutation of Manuel Komnenos’s defense of astrology, various poems, and collected proverbs. Some of his answers to theological questions appear to refer to events that occurred in the 1180s. Glykas’s history was written after that of Manasses, which he used.

Glykas wrote the poem “Verses while in Prison,” leading some scholars to believe that at one time he had been imprisoned. The manuscript of the poem provides a note explaining that Glykas had been unjustly blinded. Given what we currently understand about twelfth-century literary culture and poems similar to Glykas’s, it now seems more likely that the poem depicts a fictional scenario and that the “I” speaking in the poem does not reveal information about Glykas’s own life. Scholars trying to find a political context for Glykas’s imprisonment have supposed that he had been linked to one of Manuel’s advisors, Theodore Styppiotes, who was accused either of treason, or of practicing astrology and dark magic, and blinded in 1159. Glykas’s continued career as a writer into the 1160s indicates that he was not blinded, casting doubt on the witness of the manuscript note. It is not necessary to assume an imprisonment.
Book 4 of Glykas' Chronicle covers the time period from Constantine (r. 306-337 CE) until Alexios Komnenos (r. 1081-1118 CE) (Neville, 2018:206). Glycas showed an interest in Natural History (Neville. 2018:206).

Excerpts, Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Locations
Talking Mule Quake

Excerpts

English from Migne (1866)

the land split in Mesopotamia and a mule came out speaking of the affairs of men and predicted invasion by a foreign army.

Latin from Migne (1866)

Cumque terra dehisceret in Mesopotamia, mulus exiit, humanaque voce secutoros hostium incursus denuntiavit.

Seismic Effects
  • Earth Fissures in Mesopotamia - the land split in Mesopotamia
Locations
  • Mesopotamia

Sources
Sources according to Schriener (1989)

His main sources for the chronicle were George Monachos, John Skylitzes and his continuators, John Zonaras, and Constantine Manasses (Schriener, 1989).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Syriac Writers - Introduction

The earliest writers in Syriac (Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell Mahre and Elias of Nisbis) appear to give reports of seismic effects from the Talking Mule Quake while the later writers Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad 1234 amalgamated several earthquakes into one including unrelated earthquakes in Anatolia and possibly Yemen. Despite this, the later writers provide a rich, albeit likely exaggerated, description of seismic effects. The challenge with the later writers, however, lies in sorting through which earthquakes they were describing in their dramatic narratives. The Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa from Hoyland (2011) is helpful in this regard. As with the Byzantine sources, the accounts are presented in chronological order according to date of composition.

Syriac Writers - Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (aka Denys of Tell-Mahre)

Dionysius of Tell-Mahre was the Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 818 until his death in 845 CE (wikipedia). He wrote Annals in Syriac in the first half of the 9th century CE. Annals is a two volume history which covers events from 582 - 843 CE. The first volume is devoted to church history - the second to secular history. Each volume is subdivided into 8 books each. Only a few fragments of his original work survives however he is a source in other author's chronicles such as Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234. Michael the Syrian explicitly cites Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source and Brock(1976) suggests that "the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the main sources" for Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 during "this period". Both Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 provide an extensive list of seismic effects primarily from the Talking Mule Quake although, in the case of Michael the Syrian, other unrelated earthquakes are amalgamated in. In his preface, Dionysius of Tell-Mahre states that he used Theophilus of Edessa as a source ( Hoyland, 1997:416-419). Theophilus was a contemporary source who, later in his life was court astrologer for Al-Mahdi, the 3rd Abassid Caliph. Al-Mahdi was 4 or 5 years old when the earthquakes struck - living close to the southern part of the Arava in Humeina. Theophilus would have known a great deal about these earthquakes. As such, Theophilus by way of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre appears to have provided us with a wealth of seismic information - albeit filtered through textual transmission into the accounts of Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and possibly others. Theophilus' Chronicle, like that of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is lost however Hoyland (2011) attempted to reconstruct it from dependent sources and that reconstruction is shown in this catalog. Further details on Dionysius of Tell-Mahre can be found in a book by Abramowski (1940).

Syriac Writers - Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre are not the same work nor were they composed by the same author. Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is largely lost. It only exists in fragments. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is extant. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin as it is thought to have been composed by a monk at the monastery of Zuqnin before it was falsley attributed to Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the reason why the author is referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. To complicate matters further, Chabot (1895) published a French translation of Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre which he mistakenly titled Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Well, it was actually titled Annals by Denys of Tell-Mahre which is another name for Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.

Syriac Writers - Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Theophilus of Edessa was a medieval astrologer and scholar from Edessa in northern Mesopotamia ( Hoyland, 2011:6). He is said to have translated books from Greek to Syriac - indicating fluency in both languages ( Hoyland, 2011:7). His work later in his life as the court astrologer for Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi indicates fluency in Arabic. He may have been in his 50's when the earthquakes struck and is a contemporaneous source ( Hoyland, 2011:6) who, due to his linguistic skills, could have accessed much information about these earthquakes. Unfortunately, the Chronicle he wrote in Syriac is lost. However, this Chronicle appears to show up in a number of later sources (e.g. Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and Agapius) and may have been utilized by Theophanes by way of an intermediary.

Excerpts
English from Hoyland (2011)

  • from Hoyland (2011:270-273)
  • Hoyland (2011) attempted to reconstruct Theophilus' lost Chronicle from dependent sources and produced an extensive entry for one amalgamated earthquake (Holy Desert Quake and Talking Mule Quake combined) in 749 CE. As this reconstruction comes via textual transmission from significantly later sources, it cannot be expected to faithfully reproduce Theophilus' original account however it has great value in summarizing reported seismic effects. It's chronology, however, should likely be ignored as chronology is often the first victim of textual transmission.
  • Bold text comes from Hoyland (2011) and represents passages shared by Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 (see also footnote 818)
(749) A severe earthquake in Syria, Jordan and Palestine817

Theophanes: There was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January, in the fourth hour. Numberless multitudes perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City. | There was an earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria, as a result of which some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so, while some slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout. Eyewitnesses affirmed that in Mesopotamia the ground was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy, in the midst of which, they said, there came up an animal like a mule, quite spotless, that spoke in a human voice and announced the incursion of a certain nation from the desert against the Arabs, which indeed came to pass.

Agapius: There was a violent earthquake in January on the sea coast of Palestine. Many places collapsed there and many people perished in them, especially at Tiberias, where 100,000 people or so were lost.

[Note by Williams: Hoyland refers below to the Lost Chronicle of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and not to the Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (aka the Chronicle of Zuqnin). This indicates that Hoyland's account of Dionysius is also "reconstructed" and therefore subject to the errors of textual transmission.]

Dionysius:818 In the year 1060 of the Greeks and 134 of the Arabs819 disorder gripped the world not only in affairs of the civil sphere, but also those of the church, as we have recounted and written in our book on ecclesiastical matters. I mean the schisms and confrontations that took place in the time of the patriarch John and Athanasius Sandalaya, the arguments and fights with which the church was filled, and the way in which creation itself acknowledged these events and proclaimed God's anger towards mankind. I shall now, therefore, speak of those things which happened in the west at this time: of earthquakes and submersions, of fires and death in many forms, of the removal of villages and forts from their places, of springs the waters of which are mutated, of the shifting of rivers and water sources and other calamities which a mind is incapable of describing, such that Marwan, king of the Arabs, who did not even believe in God, when he heard these things and saw them with his own eyes, he was shaken and terrified, and wrote a letter of penitence and admonition to all regions of the kingdom of the Arabs that all should give up the evil they were doing and beseech God with remorse and tears to constrain and withhold these chastisements from the world.820

[Note by Williams: End of "reconstructed" Lost Chronicle of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.]

There was at Damascus (Chron 1234: and the whole of its region) an earthquake which lasted for days and which shook the city (Chron 1234: and made it quiver / MSyr: like leaves on trees). At Beth Qubayeh there was a palace built by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf821, on which he had lavished much (Chron 1234: care and) expense; it collapsed from top to bottom and more than (MSyr: 80 / Chron 1234: 800) persons were (MSyr: suffocated / Chron 1234: fell and were buried) in it. In the city itself many perished. In the Ghuta and Darayya822 innumerable people died in this earthquake. Bostra, Nawa (MSyr: and Adraa) were entirely swallowed up823. At Baalbek (Chron 1234: much of it collapsed and) the sources of water became as though blood were in them; (MSyr: after the penitence of its inhabitants and frequent prayers it returned to its usual colour). In the sea there was an extraordinary (Chron 1234: and unusual) storm such that its waves reached (Chron 1234: so it seemed) to the sky and its foam boiled like a cauldron on the fire, making a terrifying and fearful noise. It gushed forth and surpassed its usual limits, destroying many (MSyr: cities and) villages on the coast. (Chron 1234: Many other things are narrated which, if recorded, would make much work for their writer and the reader.) In the region of the Balqa', that is, Moab, there was a palace situated on the sea:824 inhabited by Yemeni Arabs, which was struck by the waves of the sea, uprooted from its foundations and flung three miles away.

This earthquake destroyed the city of Tiberias, except for the villa of a man named `Isa Galba. It knocked down thirty synagogues of the Jews and some wonderful natural sites there. The baths, a fine structure erected by Solomon (MSyr: son of David / Chron 1234: the King), collapsed and fell down. There was there a healing spring (Chron 1234: given by God for the health of men), above which marvellous buildings had been erected and all around it was everything necessary825 for the use of those who came in search of a (MSyr: cure / Chron 1234: purge). (Chron 1234: They say that) placed there were earthen jugs skillfully arranged, on each one of which was written how many times it flushed the stomach of the one who drank it. Thus each person chose a jug according to how much he desired (Chron 1234: to be purged). All those buildings have now been (Chron 1234: destroyed and) expunged. Near Mount Tabor826 a village was moved ( Chron 1234: and transported) four miles, along with its houses and contents, without a stone or a piece of plaster falling from its buildings and without a man or beast dying, not even a hen.

The spring of water next to Jericho, the one on which were built palaces827, gardens and mills by Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Malik, remained in place, but the river from which it arose was transported and moved six miles. away from its place where it had been flowing. All the structures which Sulayman had erected on this river were thus destroyed. At Mabbug there was destruction everywhere and many people perished as a result of it. At its church, at the time of the sacrifice of our Lord, while the priest was standing with his hands held over the offering, suddenly perdition struck them; it (the church) fell down and they were unable to get out of the holy building and all who, were in it were trampled and destroyed, priests as well as lay people. Instead of hymns and spiritual psalms, sighs and lamentations were heard throughout the city. Also the walls collapsed down to their foundations. When these things had come to pass, and even greater things, men still did not refrain from wicked and impious deeds. The affairs of the church were particularly troubled at this time. For this reason people were crushed by much affliction: heavy taxes, poor harvests, wars and shedding of blood in all regions828
Footnotes

817 Theophanes, 422 | 426; Agapius, 521: Msyr 11.XXII. 466-67/508-10; Chron 1234, 325-28. Cf. Chron Zuqnin, 191 (AG 1059); Elias of Nisibis, 171-72 (AH 131 = 748-49; AG 1059 = 747-48). citing Daniel the Miaphysite (see n. 743 above). Theophanes has two notices about earthquakes, both occurring in January, but it makes more sense to assume that he has two different sources for the same event, which he assigns to different years, rather than that there were two very major earthquakes occurring in the same month only two years apart. For the date of this earthquake see Tsafrir and Foerster. 'The dating of the earthquake of 749 CE'.

818 Since this is a very long account, with a lot of material common to both Msyr and Chron 1234 (highlighted in bold). I do not give each version separately, but present them as one narrative with the extra phrases. principally from Chron 1234, indicated within brackets.

819 An incorrect synchronisation: AG 1060 = 748-49: 134 AH = 751-52.

820 This paragraph is only from Chron 1234 where it serves as a kind of foreword to the account of the earthquake. It is not in Msyr, except for the point about Marwan writing a letter, which, though the wording is almost the same, is linked by Msyr to a plague and famine (see n. 752 above), not to this earthquake.

821 Muslim sources know of a place called the palace (qasr) of Hajjaj, that was just outside Damascus, in view of the Jabiya gate (e.g. Dhahabi. 9.286: Yaqut. `Qasr Hajjaj' ). but this may not be what is meant.

822 The Ghuta is the agricultural land surrounding Damascus: Darayya was a small village some 5 miles south of Damascus (now it is a suburb in south Damascus).

823 Bostra, Nawa and Adraa (modern Der'a) are all towns in modern south Syria, near the border with Jordan.

824 Moab was the territory on the eastern side of the Dead Sea; the Balqa' corresponded to modern north and central west Jordan and had Amman as its capital. Thus the northernmost portion of the Dead Sea is probably meant here. unless Moab is being used in a general way to refer to the east side of the Jordan. and then the Sea of Tiberias (Lake Galilee) could possibly be meant.

825 Chron 1234 has 'n'nqy'. plausibly representing Greek anagkel 'need' (the Latin translation has latrinae): Msyr has 'nqy'. behind which lies, says Chabot, the Greek pandokeial guesthouse.

826 In the Galilee, northern Palestine, south-west of Tiberias: the site of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

827 Hesne: see n. 112 above. The clear attribution of these buildings at Jericho to Sulayman may mean that the construction of Khirbat al-Mafjar, an Umayyad palace at Jericho, usually attributed to the caliph Hisham or his nephew Walid II. should perhaps be placed earlier. See El. 'Khirbat al-Mafdjar'.

828 For this paragraph I only give the version of Chron 1234, since Msyr is extremely brief, just noting that: 'The spring of water next to Jericho was moved from its place six miles. At Mabbug, at the time of the offering, it (the church) fell down, and people were killed, and cattle. for great churches and walls collapsed. At Constantinople the statues of the kings fell and many buildings: the same was true of Nicaea and other cities.'

Chronology

See the Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 for the Chronology of their accounts. Warning: both accounts are of very limited use chronologically.

Seismic Effects
Seismic Effects Table

The reconstruction by Hoyland produces an excellent compendium of Seismic Effects which are summarized in the table below:

Location Damage Description Earthquake
Damascus an earthquake which lasted for days and which shook the city
Beit Qubayeh At Beth Qubayeh there was a palace built by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, on which he had lavished much; it collapsed from top to bottom and more than 80 or 800 persons were buried in it. In the city itself many perished. Location unknown - could be either.
Ghautah and Dareya innumerable people died in this earthquake
Bosrah and Nawa entirely swallowed up
Ba'albek much of it collapsed, spring "turned to blood"
Sea Tsunami destroyed many villages on the coast
Balqa', that is, Moab fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Balqa' is north of Moab. Balqa' suggests Sea of Galilee tsunami. Moab suggests Dead Sea tsunami.
Tiberias destroyed. It knocked down thirty synagogues of the Jews and some wonderful natural sites there. Destroyed buildings around a healing spring. Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (very likely mis-located) Translational Landslide Talking Mule Quake (possibly Holy Desert Quake) - see discussion below
Jericho spring or river moved 6 miles Difficult to say. Jericho suggests Holy Desert Quake but the earliest Byzantine sources associated this with the Talking Mule Quake and did not specify a location.
Mabbug destruction everywhere - Church and Walls collapsed Talking Mule Quake
The translational landslide is recounted by the three earliest Byzantine authors (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes) as an effect of the Talking Mule Quake and is not located near to Mount Tabor - which is a better fit for the Holy Desert Quake. These three early Byzantine authors do not locate the translational landslide and, by implication, they indicate that the landslide took place in Syria. It is only the three latest Syriac sources (Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234) which specify that the landslide took place in a village near Mount Tabor. The significance of Mount Tabor should not be lost when reading the accounts of these theologically minded authors. Mount Tabor is the traditional pilgrimage site for the high mountain where the New Testament story of the transfiguration takes place - where, according to the Gospels, Jesus revealed to his disciples for the first time both his identity as the messiah and his divine status. Thus, a translational landslide in Syria may have been relocated to Mount Tabor for literary effect. The extracts above from Hoyland make notes of the schisms in Christianity at this time, laments them, and views the earthquakes as divine punishment. For example, in the reconstructed account of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, we can read about the arguments and fights with which the church was filled, and the way in which creation itself acknowledged these events and proclaimed God's anger towards mankind.. In the reconstructed account by Theophilus of Edessa, we can read: When these things had come to pass, and even greater things, men still did not refrain from wicked and impious deeds. The affairs of the church were particularly troubled at this time. What better way to show divine displeasure than to take a poorly located Syrian landslide and relocate it to the top of the "Holy Mountain" where "God's son" first revealed the full import of his mission.

Locations
  • Damascus
  • Beit Qubayeh - Location unknown
  • Ghautah
  • Dareya
  • Bosrah
  • Nawa
  • Ba'albek
  • Sea - which one (Mediterranean Coast, Sea of Galilee, and/or Dead Sea) is not clear
  • Balqa'/Moab (Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee)
  • Tiberias
  • Village near Mount Tabor (very likely mis-located)
  • Jericho
  • Mabbug
Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Issues of chronology in Theophilus' Lost Chronicle

Hoyland (2011:19) discusses issues of chronology in Theophilus' Lost Chronicle

THEOPHILUS’ CHRONICLE

From a comparison of Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius it becomes immediately apparent that their notices for the seventh and eighth century follow a chronological order. A few are misplaced, but the intention was clearly to progress through history from some point in the past up until the author’s own day. Yet it is also evident from the frequency with which Dionysius and Agapius either begin a notice with ‘at this time’ or else disagree with each other on dating that Theophilus’ work was not annalistic and was indeed rather sparing with dates.63 This is an important point, for modern scholars often rely upon Theophanes for ascertaining the date of an event. But it is because he is writing an annalistic work that he puts notices under specific years, not necessarily because these notices were dated in the sources he is using. And in the case of the notices on eastern affairs, Theophanes often had to place them just where he thought best.

What the start and end point were for Theophilus is a difficult question. Since he is quoted as saying that there were 5197 years separating Adam from Seleucus, Theophilus is usually thought to have made Creation his starting point. But this is hardly cogent, for as an astrologer he would often have been obliged to make chronological calculations, or it could well be that he prefaced his chronography with some such computation.64 Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius are clearly dependent on a common source from the notice on Abu Bakr’s despatch of four generals in 634 onwards.
Footnotes

63 Theophilus may have proceeded by simply narrating events, arranging his entries in chronological order as far as possible and occasionally giving synchronisms after the fashion of Eusebius; e.g. ‘In the year 34/35/37 of the Arabs, 10/13 of Constans and 9 of ‘Uthman. Mu'awiya prepared a naval expedition against Constantinople’ (Theophanes. 345; Agapius. 483; Msyr 1 l.XI, 430/445; Chmn 1234, 274).

64 Agapius. 455. gives a calculation of the years from Adam before proceeding to relate amr al- ‘arab/'the affairs of the Arabs’, but it seems somewhat corrupt. Conrad, ‘The Mawâli, 388, is perhaps the most recent to state, without explanation, that Theophilus' chronicle began with Creation.

Mango and Scott (1997:lxxxiv n. 104) discuss the possible calendar used by Theophilius.
The Chronography of Gregory Abu '1-Faraj. . . known as Bar Hebraeus, trans. E. A. W. Budge, i (London, 1932,1, 116. Cf. A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Liteiatur (Bonn, 1922), 341-2. Note that Theophilos appears to have used the Byzantine era, since he calculated AG as starting in 5197 from Adam: Budge, 40 [39]; F. Nau, ROC 4 (1899), 327.
The references are
Excerpt from Budge (1932:40)
And SELEUCUS reigned alone over SYRIA, and over all GREATER ASIA, and BABYLON as far as INDIA, for twenty-one years. And with him began the reckoning by the years of the GREEKS (i.e. the Era of the Greeks) which we SYRIANS use, even though it be called after ALEXANDER. SELEUCUS built ANTIOCH, and SELEUCIA, and LATAKIA, and APAMEA, and URHAI (EDESSA), and BEROEA, and PILAS, and GERMANIKI, which iS MAR'ASH.

From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to EUSEBIUS, iS 4,889 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to ANDRONICUS, is 5,083 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to GIWARGI (GEORGE) the most ex-cellent Elder, is 5,085 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to AFRICANUS, is 5,083 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to THEOPHILUS of EDESSA, is 5,197 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to JACOB of EDESSA, is 5,149 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to GEORGE, bishop of the Arab peoples, is 4,929 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to ANIANUS, is 5,180 years and 10 months.

And with this last the Greek Septuagint agreeth. The reckoning which the Greeks use in our time agreeth with that of THEOPHILUS of EDESSA. Now if we add to 5,197 years the complete years of SELEUCUS, and one month to the complete months of the incomplete year, which beginneth with the FIRST TESHRIN (OCTOBER), there are gathered together for US the complete solar years from ADAM, and the months from the incomplete year which beginneth with 'ILUL (SEPTEMBER). What then in respect of the day which remaineth (?), the tenth of 'ILUL [of the] year of the GREEKS 1587 ? Let us add five thousand one hundred and ninety-seven to one thousand five hundred and eighty-six, and their total is six thousand seven hundred and eighty-three ; then add to the eleven months one month and they become twelve months. Let us add then one year to the complete years, and they become six thousand seven hundred and eighty-four. And we say that the tenth of 'ILUL belongeth to the incomplete year, that is to say, the year six thousand seven hundred and eighty-five.
Excerpt from Nau (1899:327)
In another place (Hist. Dyn., p. G3 of Pococke's translation) Bar-Hebreus tells us that Theophilus of Edessa placed the beginning of the Era of the Seleucids in the year 5197 of the world. The same author (Book of the Ascension of the Spirit, p. 199) tells us again: "Nowadays, the people around us use six chronologies. One, which the Greeks use, starts from Adam. There are various opinions to his knowledge,the most famous,in our time, reproduces that of Theophilus of Edessa. The chronology of Theophilus, who thus placed the birth of N.-S. the year 5508 5197 H-- 311), is based on the text of the Septuagint.

JW: Nau's years of 5508 and 311 may be a year off. The starting date for the Byzantine reckoning of the Anno Mundi Calendar is 1 Sept. 5509 BCE. The starting date for Macedonian reckoning of the A.G. calendar is 1 Oct. 312 BCE. Add 5197 to 312 and you arrive at 5509 BCE. This suggests that Theophilius of Edessa made use of Byzantine reckoning of the A.M. calendar ( which was the standard of the time and Macedonian reckoning of the A.G. calendar (which was standard among Syriac writers of the time - Sebastian Brok, personal communication, 2021)

Syriac Writers - Chronicle of Zuqnin (aka Annals Part IV) by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

This Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin is now thought to have been composed by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Parts 3 and 4 cover events from 488 - 775 CE. There is apparently a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE. Harrak (1999) opines on the opening page of his translation that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin. If Harrak is correct, this is a contemporaneous source. The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162), now in the Vatican (shelf mark Vatican Syriac 162).

Excerpts
English from Harrak (1999)

[747-748] The year one thousand and fifty nine:

A powerful and terrible earthquake took place in the Western region:

The earth is utterly broken apart,
the earth is split open,
the earth is shaken violently.
The earth staggers like a drunkard
and sways like a shack.
5


The earth shall shake violently, the earth shall move exceedingly, and it shall swing like a hut5. The iniquities, sins and evil doings that are done by us everyday bring about these things, similar ones, and others which are much worse. Where can we show the causes of the earthquakes if these were not brought on by the sins of people? Is it the case that the earth becomes feable, and then, when she quakes and quivers, does she call upon her Maker to come and strengthen her? I do not believe so! But that she cries for help as she quakes, it is because of the wicked deeds that are on her, as she clearly indicated once in the following event.

A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance. When the morning came, the bishop emphatically ordered that all must gather and go out for prayer, saying that this happened because of sins. When everyone came to the prayer, they went out of the city altogether to a shrine called Church of the Mother of God, which was located outside the city of Mabbug in the West6. Those people were also Chalcedonians and their bishop marched before them. When they arrived, they all went inside the shrine like goats inside the fold. As they cried out together in prayer, a tremor suddenly occurred. The church collapsed on them, crushing them to death, along with their bishop. None came out alive; all were abruptly crushed in fatal and horrifying fashion, as if in a wine-press. The righteous perished alongside the sinner.
Footnotes

5. Isaiah 24:19-20

6. Elias I 172: Same date as above. Michael IV 467 [II 5101].

Syriac - embedded



Chronology
Date
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE A.G. 1059 none
  • calculated for Macedonian reckoning CHRONOS
  • Macedonian reckoning with a New Year starting on 1 October would be the standard for Syriac sources of the time (Sebastian Brock, personal communication - 2021).
  • The date range for Babylonian Reckoning is 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE (calculated using CHRONOS)
  • This account, unlike later author Elias of Nisibis, does not specify that the earthquake struck on a Sunday. In fact, the account suggests that the priest ordered the parishioners to attend an impromptu prayer service. This is potentially important because 18 January 749 CE fell on a Saturday (calculated using CHRONOS).
Time of 1st shock - the Holy Desert Quake
Time of Day Reference Corrections Notes
during the night
  • A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance
none
  • al-Muqaffa, al-Makin, and Chronicon Orientale, all reporting from Egypt, described an earthquake which struck at night.
  • Mujir al-Din, reporting from Jerusalem, also described an earthquake which struck at night.
  • The nighttime earthquake was the Holy Desert Quake which would have been felt in Egypt and cause damage in Jerusalem
  • Thus, the tremor experienced in Mabbug which took place during the night and was heard from a great distance was the Holy Desert Quake
Time of 2nd shock - the Talking Mule Quake
Time of Day Reference Corrections Notes
mid morning
  • When the morning came, the bishop emphatically ordered that all must gather and go out for prayer, saying that this happened because of sins.
  • they went out of the city altogether to a shrine called 'Church of the Mother of God', which was located outside the city of Mabbug in the West
  • their bishop marched before them
  • When they arrived, they all went inside the shrine
  • As they cried out together in prayer, a tremor suddenly occurred. The church collapsed on them, crushing them to death, along with their bishop
none
  • The time it took to march to the shrine, gather inside, and start prayer from when the morning came suggests the time of the church collapse was mid morning
  • Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes all specified that the Talking Mule Quake struck at ~10 am - i.e., mid morning
Seismic Effects
  • A powerful and terrible earthquake took place in the Western region
  • A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance
  • a tremor suddenly occurred. The church collapsed on them, crushing them to death, along with their bishop
Locations Sources
Sources according to Harrak (1999)

Part 3

Harrak (1999:28) discussed sources in Part 3

The sources of Part III have already been identified by Witakowski,2 and they are given in the footnotes of the present translation where appropriate. The second part of the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus is the major source of Part III.3 ... Thus in Part III, our Chronicler was a mere copyist, writing down existing statements even in the first person.
Footnotes

2 Witakowski, OrSu 40 (1991) pp. 252ff.

3 See Van Ginkel, John of Ephesus: A Monophysite Historian in Sixth-Century Byzantium

Part 4

Harrak (1999:28-32) discussed sources in Part 4

In the introduction to Part IV, he bemoans the fact that he was unable to find "reliable" sources dealing with the period between A.D. 586, which ends the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus, and the year A.D. 775, "apart from some bits and pieces". Despite the Chronicler's claim that he used few sources, Conrad has recently suggested that Part IV is a composition of four layers, each composed by a different author.6a In support of his conclusion, Conrad noticed two misplaced events within the chronological frame of Part IV, the first being the earthquake in Edessa of 717-718, which was placed after the entry for the year 731-732, and the second being the shooting stars episode of 742-743, which was placed after the account of the year 748-749. In these misplacements as well as in the Chronicler's supposed mistranslations of the Arabism musawwadah (even though he knew Arabic),1b Conrad saw a change of authors.

The reasons Conrad gives for his conclusion that Part IV is comprised of four layers are open to question.2b First, misplacing events is a common phenomenon in Part IV, even in the section which has been assigned to the Chronicler by common scholarly consent (see below).3b So, for example, the event of 760-761 (the rebuilding of Malatya of Cappadocia by the Arabs) was placed after an event in 763-764 (epidemic of horses). The flood of the Tigris which occurred in 762-763 was placed after 764-765, the year in which Severus, Bishop of Amida, died. This lack of concern for precise chronological sequence cannot be ascribed to a change of author or authors but must be attributed to the Chronicler himself, who, furthermore, explicitly states in his introduction that he was unconcerned about such trivia: "It is of no consequence to intelligent and God-fearing people if an event is dated one year earlier or one or two years later ..."4b This unorthodox practice of our Chronicler is vividly pointed up by parallel accounts in Syriac, Greek and Arabic, which have been noted in the present translation, and which offer dates of events often at variance with the Chronicler's.

Second, the Chronicler clearly understood the Arabism musawwadah, despite the fact that he partially mistranslated it. In the passage where we find the Arabism, he writes as follows about the 'Abbasids: "All their clothes were black ... and for this reason they were called musawwadah."5b Yet, he failed to give a literal translation of this Arabism into Syriac, translating it simply "black" instead of "black-cloaked", as did Theophanes, the 9th-century Byzantine historian, who more aptly translated it as [Greek text].6b Near the end of his work, our Chronicler committed a genuine mistake, when he confused an Arabic case ending, by rendering Arabic 'yn fin 'bny flny instead of 'yn fin 'bnw flny "where is so-and-so son of so-and-so?".7b

Although it is not possible to determine precisely at what point in Part IV we should begin speaking of the Chronicler's uniquely personal contribution, one can start at least from folio 128 onward. In this folio the Chronicler wrote about the death of the Ummayad Caliph Hisham and the political upheaval that followed it; he dated these events to S. 1055 (A.D. 743-744). He then wrote an account about a famine and a bubonic plague that occurred in Syria in the year Hisham died. It is revealing that in his description of the mid-8th-century plague, the Chronicler used the lengthy narrative of John of Ephesus about the Great Plague of Justinian's reign as a model. Though he had previously copied verbatim the account of John of Ephesus for Part III of his Chronicle, in Part IV, the Chronicler reproduced John's outline, leading ideas, and individual expressions, including even the jeremiad, from John's account of the Great Plague. In other words, John's account was used by our Chronicler as a kind of mould into which he poured his own information about the plague that occurred during his own lifetime.

...

In light of the various pieces of information we have been able to uncover, the Chronicler seems to have composed the history of the period between 743 and 775. The fact that in 775 A.D. he wrote from memory about events dated as early as 743 A.D. means that his contribution covered the history of at least 32 years, using oral and personal information. This span of time is well within the range of human memory. The early section of Part IV, comprising events dated to the 7th and early 8th centuries, may well be based on written sources of some kind, as well as on oral tales about holy men. The written items were mostly lists of dates that furnished the Chronicler with conflicting data, about which he himself complains, as we have noted above. Palmer has given some indication as to the nature of the sources from which the Chronicler drew information about the 7th century,1c but nothing more can be said about their authors.

In addition to the scant written sources and oral traditions used in the early portion of Part IV, the Chronicler had recourse to "old people" and other eyewitnesses, including himself, as sources of information for most of Part IV. This explains why his information is so plentiful and often very detailed. Sometimes he explicitly refers to his oral sources1d and at least on one occasion hints at his personal skepticism, when he valiantly attempts to justify their testimony. Such is the case of the rainbow reported to have been seen by some, turned upside down. The Chronicler felt obliged to add the note: "If someone does not want to believe this matter, let him search in the preceding chapters where he will find an occurrence just like it."2d He also discloses when and where he was himself witness to an event, as in the following passage dealing with Christians who apostatised to Islam: "I was in Edessa at this time for some event that took place there ... "3d

Some 58 folios out of the 179 of Codex Zuqninensis were devoted to the writing Part IV of the Chronicle. To write his own personal contribution, the Chronicler filled 51 out of the 58 folios of Part IV. In other words, nearly 29% of the entire Chronicle and almost 88% of Part IV is the author's own contribution.
Footnotes

6a Conrad, "Syriac Perspectives on Bilad al-Sham During the Abbasid Period," 24-26.

1b See below p. 179. 2

2b Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw it, chapter 8, also expressed doubt about Conrad's conclusion.

3b Tisserant noticed the same phenomenon in other parts of the Chronicle; Codex, xii. 4

4b See below p. 139. 5

5b See below p. 179. 6

6b See below p. 178 n. 1.

7b See below p. 330 and n. 11.

1c See Palmer, The seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles, 69f.

1d See below p. 212. 2

2d See below p. 213. The earlier information is found in Chabot, Chronicon I, 263:20-21 and Chronicon II, 4:7-12 (below p. 39).

3d See below p. 328.

Background Information
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre are not the same work nor were they composed by the same author. Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is largely lost. It only exists in fragments. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is extant. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin as it is thought to have been composed by a monk at the monastery of Zuqnin before it was falsley attributed to Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the reason why the author is referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. To complicate matters further, Chabot (1895) published a French translation of Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre which he mistakenly titled Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Well, it was actually titled Annals by Denys of Tell-Mahre which is another name for Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.

Online Versions and Further Reading
Online versions including the supposed autograph (original copy)

The sole surviving manuscript at the Vatican (Cod. Vat. 162) - This manuscript is claimed by some to be the autograph - the first draft of the manuscript. No further recension, or copy, is known.

Annals Part by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre in Syriac at archive.org

References

Harrak (2017:xvi) notes major sources identified in Parts I and II of the Zugnin Chronicle had been discussed in great detail by Witakowski.

Witakowski, Study, p. 124-135

Witakowski, "The Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Second Part of his Chronicle," in J.O. Rosenqvist (ed.), AEIMΩN Studies Presented to Lennart Ryden on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (Uppsala, 1996), pp. 181-210

Witakowski, "Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Christian Epoch of the First Part of his Chronicle," in G.J. Reinink and A.C. Klugkist (eds.), After Bardaisan: Studies on Continuity and Change in Syriac Christianity in Honour of Professor Han J.W. Drijvers (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters en Department Oosterse Studies, 1999), pp. 329-366.

text in original Syriac

The sole surviving manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162) at the Vatican - online and open access

Manuscript Cod. Vat. 162 is claimed by some to be the autograph - the first draft of the manuscript. No further recension, or copy, is known.

Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre at syri.ac

Wikipedia page for the Zunqin Chronicle - many links and references

Notes
Misc. Notes

A good example of the effect of textual transmission is illustrated in Pseudo-Dionysius' description of the prayer service. Pseudo-Dionysius does not supply the day of the service and implies that it was prompted by the Priests' observation of the distant seismic shock from the night before. It appears to be an impromptu prayer service. By the time Elias of Nisibis tells this story in the early 11th century CE, however, a day is supplied - Sunday. Elias adds that the earthquake struck at the time of mass. When Michael the Syrian tells the story in the 12th century, the church collapse again takes place at Sunday Mass but when Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 tells the story in the 13th century, the earthquake struck not only at mass but at the exact time the priest was raising his hands over ablation for the Sunday sacrifice. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 reports that all inside the church perished; indicating that there were no witnesses. Obviously, if there were no witnesses to report that the earthquake struck at the very moment in the service described, the timing of the earthquake striking at that moment is a literary invention. Specifying that the earthquake struck on a Sunday at mass appears to be either a literary invention or a misinterpretation from sources. As this was a time of schisms in Christendom, it can also be noted that Pseudo-Dionysius specifies that the Church was of the Chalcedonians while Elias of Nisibis specifies that it was a Jacobite church. These rival factions emerged in schisms that appeared after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE where what we know today as the geographically western churches of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants descend from the Chalcedonians and the geographically eastern churches of the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Indian, and Syriac (aka Jacobite) churches descend from Christian groups that rejected the Council of Chalcedon. The schisms were apparently very bitter and the church faction in these reports was very likely reported as a faction of a rival church to the author of the account. The individual author likely viewed the church collapse as "God's punishment" for engaging in what the author believed to be some form of heresy. This illustrates the nature of these chronicles which were composed primarily as moral instruction with history as a backdrop. This is the reason why, for example, I take a skeptical view when seismic effects are potentially re-located compared to other authors to a place that would have had biblical significance to the author of the work (e.g. the landslide re-located to Mount Tabor and the spring move located at Jericho). The days of the week for 18 January between 746 and 750 CE are noted below:

Date Day of the Week
18 January 746 CE Tuesday
18 January 747 CE Wednesday
18 January 748 CE Thursday
18 January 749 CE Saturday
18 January 750 CE Sunday
Only 750 CE has an 18 January date on a Sunday, which is roughly one to two years after A.G. 1059. Apparently, by the 4th Century CE, the days of the week were shared across all groups in the Roman empire despite their using different calendars. This habit apparently continued long after the Western Roman Empire fell at the end of the 5th century CE. The fourmilab converter was used to construct the table.

Syriac Writers - Earthquake Sound Travel and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

In the Chronicle of Zuqnin, Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell Mahre reports on the sound of a distant earthquake the night before the earthquake which struck Manbij (aka Mabbug). In an English translation of Part 4 by Harrak (1999:177-178) we can read:

[747-748] The year one thousand and fifty nine:

...

A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance.
While earthquake sound perception depends on a number of factors, it is feasible that a large earthquake, for example from the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, could have been heard ~450 km. away in Manbij (aka Mabbug). Tosi et al (2012) developed a relationship for earthquake perceptibility by examining a survey of ~70,0000 respondents in Italy from smaller magnitude earthquakes (M 5.0-5.5). The input variables are magnitude and distance. In the calculator below, this relationship predicts that ~20% of a population would notice an M 7.0 earthquake at a distance of 450 km. However, it is likely that this relationship underestimates perceptibility for larger magnitude earthquakes (e.g. M 7.0). In this eyewitness account from the 1994 M 6.7 Northridge earthquake, a respondent describes earthquake sounds which woke them up ~115 km. from the epicenter. Because Earthquake sound perception depends on a number of factors, it is difficult to predict so the only conclusion that can be made is that the report by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell Mahre that a distant earthquake perhaps 450 km. away was heard as a rumble the night before is a credible one. Earthquake researcher Patrizia Tobi contributed the following comments (personal communication, 2021) regarding the perception of earthquake sounds.
In my paper the results are based on many earthquakes and the phenomenon may appear continuous, but in reality the earthquake sound is very variable and does not depend only on the intensity of the ground motion. For example, the study of infrasound showed that waves propagating through the atmosphere are produced by earthquakes through 3 distinct mechanisms: direct generation from seismic waves below the station, propagation of the sound wave produced in the epicenter region by strong ground motion, and radiation from a secondary source such as a high mountain. This implies that the soil composition, rock type, and topography of each site cannot be neglected. These factors, added to others that affect sound propagation in the atmosphere, such as pressure and temperature variations, make the problem very complicated to model.
Calculator - Earthquake perception at distance - Tosi et al (2012)

Source - Tosi et al (2012) - based on a study of earthquakes and fitted for Local Magnitudes between 5.0 and 5.5

The Higher Magnitude Adjustment is a thought experiment to extend the equation of Tosi et al (2012) to higher magnitude (and therefore louder) earthquakes. If, for example, the eyewitness testimony from the 1994 M 6.7 Northridge earthquake indicates an earthquake loud enough to wake someone up at a distance of 115 km. from the epicenter, we can assign a perceptibility of 100% at this distance and create a calibration point. An addition of 51% would need to be added to the result of Tosi et al (2012)'s equation to achieve 100% perceptibility. Adding this 51% to the perceptibility of one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes results in a perceptibility of ~72% for an M 7 earthquake where the nearest fault break was at the north end of the Sea of Galilee ~450 km. away. Without the Higher Magnitude Adjustment, perceptibility is ~21%. Thus we can likely constrain perceptibility to between 21% and 72%. In other words, between 21% and 72% of the people in Manbij (aka Mabbug) likely did experience a rumble from the Sabbatical Year earthquake the night before a large earthquake is reported to have collapsed a church in Manbij (aka Mabbug)

Variable Input Units Notes
km.
unitless
unitless
Variable Output Units Notes
% Percentage of people who hear the rumble
  

Experimental Calculator - Earthquake Sound - Tosi et al (2000)

Source - Tosi et al (2000)

Variable Input Units Notes
Moment Magnitude
g/cc Crust Density
km. Source Distance
km./s P wave Velocity in the crust (?) - Typical values are 5-8 km./s
Radiation Pattern of the P-wave
sec. Rise time
Hz. Frequency
? Transmission Coefficient of the compressional wave in the passage ground-air, function of the angle of incidence ϴ - value needed
kg/m3 Air density
m/s Speed of sound in air
Variable Output Units Notes
N-m Seismic Moment
µ? Ground Displacement
µ? Ground Displacement at frequency
µbar Pressure
dB Pressure
  

Notes

Theoretical Model of Earthquake Sound Theoretical Model of Earthquake Sound

Tosi et al (2000)


Units
1 Pa = 1 N/m2
1 dyne is the force required to accelerate 1 gram 1 cm/s2
1 N = 100,000 dynes
1 bar = 10^6 dynes/cm2

References

Tosi, P., et al. (2012). "Earthquake sound perception." Geophysical Research Letters 39.

Tosi, P., et al. (2000). "Spatial patterns of earthquake sounds and seismic source geometry." Geophysical Research Letters 27(17): 2749-2752.

Brune, J. N. (1970). "Tectonic stress and the spectra of seismic shear waves from earthquakes." Journal of Geophysical Research (1896-1977) 75(26): 4997-5009.

Sbarra, P., et al. (2014). "How Observer Conditions Impact Earthquake Perception." Seismological Research Letters 85: 306-313.

Google Scholar Page for Patrizia Tosi

Earthquake Sounds by Michael, A. J. at the Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

Thouvenot, F. and M. Bouchon (2008). What is the Lowest Magnitude Threshold at Which an Earthquake can be Felt or Heard, or Objects Thrown into the Air?: 313-326.

Davison, C. (1938), Earthquake sounds, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 28, 147-161.

Gold, T., and S. Soter (1979), Brontides: Natural explosive noises, Science, 204, 371-375

Hill, D. P., F. G. Fisher, K. M. Lahr, and J. M. Coakley (1976), Earthquake sounds generated by body-wave ground motion, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 66, 1159-1172.

Le Pichon, A., J. Guilbert, A. Vega, M. Games, and N. Brachet (2002), Ground-coupled air waves and diffracted infrasound firm the Arequipa earthquake of June 23, 2001, Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(18), 1886

Artru et al (2004) Acoustic waves generated from seismic surface waves: propagation properties determined from Doppler sounding observations and normal-mode modelling

Mikumo, T. (1968), Atmospheric pressure waves and tectonic deformation associated with the Alaskan earthquake of March 28,1964, J. Geophys. Res., 73, 2009-2025

Sylvander, M., and D. G. Mogos (2005), The sounds of small earthquakes: Quantitative results from a study of regional macroseismic bulletins, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 95, 1510-1515

Sylvander, M., C. Ponsolles, S. Benahmed, and J.-F. Fels (2007), Seismo-acoustic recordings of small earthquakes in the Pyrenees: Experimental results, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 97, 294-304

Tosi, P., V. De Rubeis, A. Tertulliani, and C. Gasparini (2000), Spatial patterns of earthquake sounds and seismic source geometry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 2749-2752

Young, J. M., and G. E. Greene (1982), Anomalous infrasound generated by the Alaskan earthquake of 28 March 1964, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 71, 334-339

Catalog of Earthquake-Related Sounds Compiled by Karl V. Steinbrugge - Recording #21 has sounds recorded 250 km. away from the epicenter 1983 M 7.7 earthquake.

Eyewitness testimony about Earthquake sound ~115 km. from the epicenter of the 1994 M 6.7 Northridge Quake

Earthquake reports from the 1813 New Madrid earthquakes (M = 7.2-8.20

Syriac Writers - Chronography by Elias of Nisibis (aka Elijah Bar Shinajah)

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Elias of Nisibis was a cleric of the Church of the East, who served as bishop of Beth Nuhadra (1002–1008) and archbishop of Nisibis (1008–1046) (wikipedia). He wrote a number of texts but is best known for Chronography which he composed in the early 11th century CE. Enclclopedia Iranica describes Chronography as follows:

His renowned Chronography on history is preserved in a single manuscript with only a few major lacunae. It is divided into two parts, in Syriac with Arabic translation following each paragraph for most of the first part. The first part, modeled on the Chronicle of Eusebius, treats universal and ecclesiastical history up to 1018 C.E. in the form of tables, usually with accurate references given to the sources. The second part is a manual of the different calendars used in the Orient.

Excerpts
English from Delaporte (1910)

Year 131 [A.H.]

Begins on Friday 30 Ab of the year 1059 of the Greeks [30 August 748 AD]

A year in which there were many earthquakes; many places ruined; a valley [located] near Mount Tabor was transported from its place to 4 miles with its houses and properties, without a single grain of dust falling from its houses, and without either a man nor an animal dying , or even a hen [sic]. In which the Church of the Jacobites, at Mabug, collapsed on a Sunday at the time of the Mass and many people perished there (Kuwarazmi'. - Daniel the Jacobite).

French from Delaporte (1910)

An 131. — - A commence le vendredi 30 Ab de l'an 1059 des Grecs [30 aout 748 de J.-C.].

En lequel il y eut beaucoup de tremblements de terre; beaucoup dendroits s'ecroulerent; une ville [situee] pres du mont Tabor fut transportee de son lieu a 4 milles avec ses maisons et ses biens, sans qu'un seul grain de poussiere tombat de ses maisons, et sans que mourut ou un homme, ou un animal, ou meme un coq [sic]. — En lequel l'eglise des Jacobites, a Mabug, s'ecroula un dimanche au moment de la messe et beaucoup de gens y perirent (Kuwarazmi'. — Daniel le Jacobite)

French from Delaporte (1910) - embedded



Syriac - embedded

  • not bookmarked


Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 131 none
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
  • Elias specifies the year of this earthquake as A.H. 131 (31 August 748 -19 August 749) while providing an explanation that A.H. 131 began on 30 Ab (August) of A.G. 1059 which is correct within a day.
  • 30 Ab A.H. 131 falls within A.G. 1059 whether one uses Babylonian reckoning or the Macedonian reckoning that was the standard among Syriac authors (Sebastian Brock, personal communication 2021).
  • Elias of Nisibis states that the church collapsed in Mabbug on a Sunday at the time of Mass unlike Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre who did not specify a day, did not describe the service as Mass, and seemed to describe an impromptu prayer service.
Seismic Effects
  • A year in which there were many earthquakes1
  • many places ruined
  • a valley [located] near Mount Tabor2 was transported from its place to 4 miles with its houses and properties, without a single grain of dust falling from its houses, and without either a man nor an animal dying , or even a hen [sic]
  • the Church of the Jacobites3, at Mabbug, collapsed on a Sunday at the time of the Mass and many people perished there
Footnotes

1 could refer to two or more earthquakes in the same year and aftershocks.

2 probably mislocated for theological reasons - i.e., to show that mankind's "sins" created earthquakes which affected "sacred geography". Mount Tabor was and is the the traditional location and pilgrimage site for the influential New Testament story of the Transfiguration. Byzantine authors associated this landslide with the Talking Mule Quake which would place it in or around northern Syria/Jazira.

3 Pseudo-Dionysius said they were Chalcedonians. This illustrates the propensity of authors of this time, particularly Syriac Authors, to emphasize seismic suffering by members of rival church factions as part of a belief that they were being punished for their sin of belonging to a rival faction.

Locations
Footnotes

2 probably mislocated for theological reasons - i.e., to show that mankind's "sins" created earthquakes which affected "sacred geography". Mount Tabor was and is the the traditional location and pilgrimage site for the influential New Testament story of the Transfiguration. Byzantine authors associated this landslide with the Talking Mule Quake which would place it in or around northern Syria/Jazira.

Sources
Elias of Nisibis cited his sources

Elias of Nisibis cited his sources - the lost history of Musa al-Khwarizmi’ and Daniel the Jacobite (aka Daniel, son of Moses of Tur Abdin).

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Chronography in Syriac

Bibliography from Encyclopedia Iranica

The Syriac and Arabic text of the Chronography is found in Opus chronologicum, ed. and tr. E. W. Brooks, Scriptores Syriacae, 3rd ser., VII-VIII, Paris, 1909-10 (Figure 1).

A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, Bonn, 1922, pp. 287 f.

Idem and A. Rücker, “Die aramäische und syrische Literatur,” HO I/3, Leiden, 1964, p. 196.

R. Duval, La littérature syriaque, Paris, 1899, pp. 211 f., 304, 394 f.

G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur II, Rome, 1947, pp. 177-89.

Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 400 ff.

Syriac Writers - Chronicle by Michael the Syrian

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Michael the Syrian also known as Michael I Rabo and Michael the Great was born in Melitene from a clerical family in 1126 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). He studied at the Monastery of Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo where he stayed on as a Monk and a Prior. In 1166, he was elected Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church. While acting as Partriach he collected manuscripts of theological and historical content and restored and compiled hagiographical and liturgical works (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) reports that his canonistic work is partly conserved in later collections, but the greater part is lost, as is his treatise on dualist heresies composed for the Lateran Council. Michael the Syrian is best known for his Universal Chronicle which covered "creation" until 1195 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) describes Michael's Chronicle and various editions as follows:

The text is not preserved in its entirety, and the layout of Michael’s chronicle was distorted through the process of copying. Chabot’s edition is a facsimile of a documentary copy written for him in Edessa (Urfa) from 1897 to 1899. While the scribes tried to imitate the layout, a number of mistakes were introduced. Its Vorlage, the only extant ms., was written in 1598 by a very competent scribe. It is kept by the community of the Edessenians in Aleppo. In view of the loss of the original, this beautiful manuscript is the best witness for the layout of the chronicle. Fortunately it will soon be made available in print. This ms. was probably the Vorlage for an Arabic translation, which also sought to preserve some of the visual features, while changing others. The Arabic translation has much the same lacunae as the Syriac text. By comparing his version with the Arabic translation preserved in ms. London, Brit. Libr. Or. 4402 (which is one of several Arabic copies), Chabot detected some details lost in the Syriac text. No further research has been done so far on this problem.

The historical material was originally organized in four columns, the first being designated as the ‘succession of the patriarchs’, the second as ‘succession of the kings’, the chronological canon as ‘computation of the years’. No title of the additional column, which contains mixed material, is now known. Chapters with excursus were inserted, which interrupted the system of columns. After an open and abrupt end, six appendices follow. The first appendix is a monumental synopsis of all the kings and patriarchs mentioned. It was supposed to function as a directory. The second appendix is a treatise on the historical identity of the Syrians, who are connected to the Ancient Oriental Empires, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Arameans. When the chronicle was translated into Armenian, in two different translations, in 1246 and 1247, it was transformed according to Armenian interests.
Michael died in 1199 CE.

Excerpts
English from Chabot (1899-1910)

Meanwhile there was an earthquake at Damascus1 which lasted for days and shook her like leaves on trees. In Beit Qoubayê2 (?), there was a fortress that had been built at great expense by Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. It was overthrown from top to bottom and more than 80 people suffocated inside. Many in the city itself perished. Myriads of people died in Ghautah and Dareya3. Bosrah, Nawa4, Der'at, and Ba'albek were swallowed up completely . The water in the springs of Baalbek turned to blood. It returned to normal after much prayer and repentance by the townsfolk.

There was an extraordinary storm in the Sea. Its waves rose to the sky. The waves surged with a terrifying and horrid noise like a cauldron boiling from the flames of a fire. The sea overflowed and breached its banks destroying many towns and villages on its shores.

In the land of Balqa5, that is to say Moab, there was a fortress on the shore of the sea, where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived. It was struck by the sea's waves, the foundations were torn out, and it was deposited three miles away.

This earthquake destroyed the city of Tiberius except for house of a man named 'Isa. It overthrew thirty synagogues and wonderful natural things. The thermal baths - that wonderful building - built by Solomon the son of David, collapsed and was destroyed. There was a spring with purgative water and amazing constructions above it, surrounded by hotels6 (inns) for the sick who sought to be healed. There were clay pots artistically made and arranged. On each pot was written how many times it purged the bowels of those who drank from it. Each person chose a pot according to how much they wanted to drink. All these buildings are gone.

A village near Mount Tabor moved four miles from its place with all its homes and buildings intact. Neither a stone nor a small mud brick fell. Nor did [467] any person or animal die - not even a chicken!

The spring next to Jericho moved six miles from its original location.

In Mabboug, the quake struck during mass. People and animals died because the great churches and walls collapsed.7

In Constantinople, the statues of the emperors fell as well as most of the buildings. The same thing happened in Nicaea and in the other cities.8

Around this time, Const[antinus] drove out Germanus, their patriarch, from the church, and installed Anasta[si]us.9
Footnotes

1. Cf. Theoph., Ad ann. 741.

2. The Arabic version omits these two words. | |

3. Ar.: | |. I believe the first name should be read | |

4. Ar.: | |, like our ms. Correct | |

5, Ar.: | |

6. The word translated as hotels (inns) is corrupt. Arabic appears to have been read | | and translated | |" and the necessary things”. But, from the letters, it is likely that the original text was a transcription of the Greek | |

7. Cf. Ps.-Denys, ad ann. 1059 (trans., P. 42).

8. THEOPH., Ad ann. 732.

9. It was Leo III who forced Germanus to renounce the Patriarchy of Constantinople; cf. THEOPH., Ad ann. 721.

English Translation by Bedrosian (1870-1871) of an Armenian version of Michael the Syrian

Background
Background

Michael the Syrian's Chronicle was also translated into Armenian twice in the first half of the 13th century. Over 60 Armenian manuscripts have survived. These manuscripts are, however, abridged and edited. The fact is we don't have an original copy of Michael the Syrian's Chronicle. We have multiple differing versions. An Armenian translation to English is included below because it contains some celestial observations which might assist with deciphering the true chronology. The excerpt below was translated into English from Classical Armenian editions found in Jerusalem by Robert Bedrosian in the years 1870 and 1871.

[ 142 ]

Taking auxiliaries, Constantine came to Constantinople, blinded and exiled Artawazd, and established himself [on the throne]. He had a son whom he called Leo after his father. The Byzantines ceased their warfare with the Arabs. This was even more so for the Armenians.

In this period very great signs appeared from the month of March to the end of April. The air was full of dirt and dust to the point that day seemed like night. Then there appeared in the north three columns of fiery clouds [visible] for three days. These arose and descended. After this there appeared [g344] an unknown star, the size of the moon. Each day it rose in the east and travelled to the west, being visible to people for the entire day. There were flashes of the stars all night which flew against the Milky Way.

After this there was a severe earthquake and, [in places] where the earth was torn asunder, fountains arose, the color of blood. After this there was a huge churning in the Great Sea [the Mediterranean] with waves rising to the heavens one would think, and [seemingly] boiling down to its depths. Many people and animals near the shores died from the thunderbolts. A fortress which belonged to the children of Ammon which had been built in the midst of the sea was torn from its foundations. The great tower which had been built with great care by Solomon over a fountain he had discovered in the water collapsed and sank.

Following this there was a great famine and a plague accompanied by sore throats which killed 20,000 people a day in Basra. It is said that monkeys in the country of the Midianites became enraged and caused great damage by attacking people and animals. When Caliph Marwan of Damascus, who had moved his capital to Harran, saw all of this he repented [g345], seeing his death before him, and wrote [edicts] to all his realm [urging] repentance.

The ground trembled, tears flowed, and everywhere fasts and prayer vigils were undertaken. For they believed that these numerous strange signs were omens of the coming end of the world. Indeed, extraordinary marvels occurred. For example, there was a village at the foot of Mount Tabor which an earthquake moved from its place and transported two miles distant without disturbing any structures and without losing a single chicken. The city of Manbij sank in its place. A third of the city of Constantinople collapsed, while Nicaea was completely demolished. Moreover, many cities in Bithynia were destroyed.

However, the Chalcedonians did not repent or cease their evil doing for those living in Antioch bribed Marwan and established Theophilus — called the son of Mazman [Theophlact Bar Qanbara] as their patriarch. He went to Harran and, again through bribes, took over the church of the Syrian Orthodox. [A monk associated with] Archbishop Theophilus struck the altar with his hand and declared: "O desecrated altar, tomorrow you will be sanctified by Orthodox blessings and mass." As soon as he said this, he caught fire and burned to death and great fear seized the patriarch Theophilus. That night they gathered up the charred bones and fled, and the city remained Orthodox [Monophysite].

French from Chabot (1899-1910)

Au milieu de ces choses, il y eut h Damas un tremblement de terre1 qui dura des jours et qui la secoua comme la feuille des arbres. Il y avait à Beit Qoubayê2 (?), une forteresse qui avait été bâtie par Hadjdjadj, fils de Yousef, et pour laquelle il avait fait de grandes dépenses. Elle fut renversée de fond en comble et plus de 8O personnes y furent suffoquées; dans la ville même, beaucoup périrent. Dans la Ghautah et à Dâreiya4 plusieurs myriades de gens périrent. Boçra, Nawa4, Der'at, Ba'albek furent totalement englouties. Les sources d'eau qui se trouvaient dans cette dernière (ville) furent changées en sang; après la pénitence de ses habitants et de fréquentes rogations, les eaux revinrent à leur état naturel.

Il y eut aussi dans la mer une tempête extraordinaire, telle que ses vagues s'élevaient jusqu'au ciel: ses flots bouillonnaient comme un chaudron bouillonne sous l'action d'une flamme de feu, avec des bruits terribles et épouvantables. Aussi, elle déborda et sortit de ses limites, détruisant beaucoup de villes et de villages sur ses bords.

Dans la région de Balqa5 c'est-à dire de Mo'ab, il y avait une forteresse située sur le rivage de la mer, dans la-quelle habitaientdes Taiyayê yéménites: quand les flots de la mer se heurtèrent contre elle, ils l'arrachèrent de ses fondements, et la projetèrent a trois milles.

Ce tremblement de terre détruisit la ville de Tibériade, à l'exception de la maison d'un homme nommé 'Isa. Il y renversa trente synagogues des Juifs, et de merveilleuses choses naturelles. Les thermes, édifice admirable, bâti par Salomon, fils de David, furent renversés et s'écroulèrent. Il s'y trouvait une source d'eau purgative; il y avait audessus de merveilleuses constructions, et, tout autour, des hôtelleries6 à l'usage de ceux qui y venaient chercher la guérison; il s'y trouvait des cruches de terre rangées avec art, et sur chacune d'elles était écrit combien de fois elle actionnait le ventre de celui qui la buvait, et ainsi chacun choisissait une cruche selon la quantité qu'il désirait. Tous ces édifices ont disparu.

Près du mont Thabor, un village se déplaça de quatre milles, avec ses maisons et ses constructions, sans qu'une pierre ou un peu de pisé tombât de ses bâtisses; et pas un [467] homme n'y périt, ni aucun animal, pas même une poule.

La source d'eau qui était à côté de Jéricho s'éloigna dé sa place de six milles.

A Mabboug, le tremblement survint au moment de l'oblation; les hommes et les bêtes furent tués, car les grandes églises furent renversées ainsi que les murs7.

A Constantinople, les statues des empereurs tombèrent ainsi que la plupart des édifices. Il en fut de même à Nicée et dans les autres villes.8

A cette époque, Const[antinus] chassa de l'église Germanus, leur patriarche, et fit ordonner Anasta[si]us.9
Footnotes

1. Cf. Theoph., Ad ann. 741.

2. The Arabic version omits these two words. | |

3. Ar.: | |. I believe the first name should be read | |

4. Ar.: | |, like our ms. Correct | |

5, Ar.: | |

6. The word translated as hotels (inns) is corrupt. Arabic appears to have been read | | and translated | |" and the necessary things”. But, from the letters, it is likely that the original text was a transcription of the Greek | |

7. Cf. Ps.-Denys, ad ann. 1059 (trans., P. 42).

8. THEOPH., Ad ann. 732.

9. It was Leo III who forced Germanus to renounce the Patriarchy of Constantinople; cf. THEOPH., Ad ann. 721.

English Translation by Bedrosian (1870-1871) of an Armenian version of Michael the Syrian - embedded



French from Chabot (1899-1910) - embedded



Syriac from Chabot (1899-1910) - embedded

  • bookmarked to page 467
  • hand copied manuscript which shows some of the original layout
  • appears to be the manuscript which was written for Chabot between 1897 and 1899 CE in Edessa
  • ordered right to left
  • from Chabot (1899-1910)
  • from archive.org


Chronology

Michael the Syrian's account is of limited use for chronology because he doesn't mention a year, he amalgamated several earthquakes into one, and he provides divergent time markers. However, it has great value for Seismic Effects - provided that they are disentangled from the multiple earthquakes he is describing. For an example of Michael's confused chronology regarding years, consider the last line in the excerpt from Chabot (1899-1910) - Around this time, Const[antinus] drove out Germanus, their patriarch, from the church, and installed Anasta[si]us. Germanus was ousted as Patriarch during the reign of Leo III the Isaurian who ruled from 717 to 741 CE. Ambraseys (2009) provided the following discussion on Michael's unreliable chronology:
Michael does not date the events he describes. He inserts the notice between others, which are not arranged within a chronological order: the accession of al-Walid II in AD 743, the earthquake in the Yemen in AD 742, the partial eclipse of the sun in AD 743 and the accession of Theophilactus in AD 721. What is important is that the year of the earthquake, i.e. ASG 1059, is not given by Michael but by the editor of his work, J. B. Chabot.
Like Elias of Nisibis, Michael states that the church in Mabboug collapsed during the day at mass.

Seismic Effects
Seismic Effects Table

A table of seismic effects, in the order described by Michael, is presented below. Michael's account, which explicitly refers to one earthquake rather than multiple earthquakes, appears to amalgamate the Holy Desert Quake, the Talking Mule Quake, possibly the By No Means Mild Quake, and an unrelated earthquake(s) in Anatolia (e.g. one in Constantinople in 740 CE). Ambraseys (2009) suggests the possibility that the account of the destruction of a fortress in Moab where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived may refer to a possible earthquake in Yemen in 742 CE (see Ambraseys et al, 1994:25-26). This table should not be used for developing Intensity Maps.

Location Damage Description Comments
Damascus earthquake lasted for days and shook her like leaves on trees
Beit Qubayeh a fortress that had been built at great expense by Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. It was overthrown from top to bottom and more than 80 people suffocated inside. Many in the city itself perished. location unknown making it hard to identify which earthquake was responsible.
Ghautah and Dareya many died
Bosrah, Nawa, and Daraat (Daraa according to Sbeinati et al (2005) swallowed up completely
Ba'albek swallowed up completely, spring "turned to blood"
Sea There was an extraordinary storm in the Sea. Its waves rose to the sky. The waves surged with a terrifying and horrid noise like a cauldron boiling from the flames of a fire. The sea overflowed and breached its banks destroying many towns and villages on its shores.
In the land of Balqa, that is to say Moab a fortress on the shore of the sea, where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived. It was struck by the sea's waves, the foundations were torn out, and it was deposited three miles away. Balqa' is north of Moab
Tiberias destroyed. overthrew thirty synagogues and wonderful natural things. The thermal baths - that wonderful building - built by Solomon the son of David, collapsed and was destroyed. There was a spring with purgative water and amazing constructions above it, surrounded by hotels. All these buildings are gone. Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (likely mis-located - see Theophilus) Translational Landslide
Jericho The spring next to Jericho moved six miles from its original location. The location of Jericho suggests the Holy Desert Quake however the Byzantine sources associate this with the Talking Mule Quake and did not specify a location for the movement of the spring.
Mabboug Churches and Walls collapsed Talking Mule Quake
Constantinople most buildings and statues fell spurious - damage and destruction caused by a different earthquake
Nicea and other cities most buildings and statues fell spurious - damage and destruction caused by a different earthquake

Locations
  • Damascus
  • Beit Qubayeh - Location unknown
  • Ghautah
  • Dareya
  • Bosrah
  • Nawa
  • Daraat (Daraa according to Sbeinati et al (2005)
  • Ba'albek
  • Sea - which one (Mediterranean Coast, Sea of Galilee, and/or Dead Sea) is not clear
  • Balqa'/Moab1 (Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee)
  • Tiberias
  • Village near Mount Tabor (very likely mis-located)
  • Jericho
  • Mabbug
Note: Constantinople and Nicea omitted because they are clearly in error.
Footnotes

1 Balqa' is north of Moab and encompasses Amman. Thus, when Michael said Balqa' which is in Moab, he introduced some geographical ambiguity such that when describing the effects of a seismic sea wave, the location could be either the Dead Sea or the Sea of Galilee.

Sources
Michael's Sources

Hoyland, 1997:416-419 notes that Michael explicitly cites Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source who in turn cited Theophilus of Edessa as a source. Ambraseys (2009) suggests that Michael used Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source and may have also used Elias of Nisibis as a source. Brooks (1906) wrote the following about Michael the Syrian's sources:

For the period 582—843 the work of Michael is mainly based on that of Dionysius the patriarch1 [JW: the real Dionysius of Tell Mahre], whom he probably reproduces almost in full, and we find also mention of James of Edessa and John the Stylite of Litarba 2.
Brooks (1906) went on to add:
To sum up, Michael used Dionysius (843—6), and Theophanes used a Palestinian Melchite author who wrote in Greek not long after 780, while both of these last used a chronicler who wrote not long after 746, whoin there is some reason to identify with John the son of Samuel, though we cannot positively assert that he was not Theophilus of Edessa.
If you are confused by Dionysius of Tel-Mahre and Pseudo Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, scroll up to Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre for an explanation.

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Michael the Syrian's work is extant in a single manuscript written in 1598 CE in Syriac in Serto script. This was copied from an earlier manuscript, itself copied from Michael's autograph. The manuscript is today held in a locked box in a church in Aleppo, and recently became accessible to scholarship (wikipedia).

Digital fascimile of the sole surviving Syriac manuscript of Michael the Syrian's Chronicle

Syriac text from the manuscript which was written for Chabot between 1897 and 1899 CE in Edessa

Michael the Syrian at syri.ac

Syriac Writers - Chronicon Ad Annum 1234

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 may have been written in Edessa and was composed at the beginnings of the 13th century CE. This anonymous chronicle is described by Brock(1976)

Next to Michael's Chronicle this world chronicle (sometimes referred to as the 'Anonymous of Edessa') contains the most detailed account of events in the seventh century that is available in Syriac. It is largely independent of Michael's work, and the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the compiler's main sources for this period. The text is preserved in a unique manuscript (perhaps of the fourteenth century) that was in private hands in Constantinople at the beginning of the century.

Excerpts
English from Hoyland (2011)

There was at Damascus and the whole of its region an earthquake which lasted for days and which shook the city and made it quiver. At Beth Qubayeh there was a palace built by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, on which he had lavished much care and expense; it collapsed from top to bottom and more than 800 persons were fell and were buried in it. In the city itself many perished. In the Ghuta and Darayya innumerable people died in this earthquake. Bostra, Nawa were entirely swallowed up. At Baalbek much of it collapsed and the sources of water became as though blood were in them. In the sea there was an extraordinary and unusual storm such that its waves reached so it seemed to the sky and its foam boiled like a cauldron on the fire, making a terrifying and fearful noise. It gushed forth and surpassed its usual limits, destroying many villages on the coast. Many other things are narrated which, if recorded, would make much work for their writer and the reader. In the region of the Balqa', that is, Moab, there was a palace situated on the sea: inhabited by Yemeni Arabs, which was struck by the waves of the sea, uprooted from its foundations and flung three miles away.

This earthquake destroyed the city of Tiberias, except for the villa of a man named `Isa Galba. It knocked down thirty synagogues of the Jews and some wonderful natural sites there. The baths, a fine structure erected by Solomon the King) collapsed and fell down. There was there a healing spring given by God for the health of men, above which marvellous buildings had been erected and all around it was everything necessary for the use of those who came in search of a purge. They say that placed there were earthen jugs skillfully arranged, on each one of which was written how many times it flushed the stomach of the one who drank it. Thus each person chose a jug according to how much he desired to be purged. All those buildings have now been destroyed and expunged. Near Mount Tabor a village was moved and transported four miles, along with its houses and contents, without a stone or a piece of plaster falling from its buildings and without a man or beast dying, not even a hen.

The spring of water next to Jericho, the one on which were built palaces, gardens and mills by Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Malik, remained in place, but the river from which it arose was transported and moved six miles. away from its place where it had been flowing. All the structures which Sulayman had erected on this river were thus destroyed. At Mabbug there was destruction everywhere and many people perished as a result of it. At its church, at the time of the sacrifice of our Lord, while the priest was standing with his hands held over the offering, suddenly perdition struck them; it (the church) fell down and they were unable to get out of the holy building and all who, were in it were trampled and destroyed, priests as well as lay people. Instead of hymns and spiritual psalms, sighs and lamentations were heard throughout the city. Also the walls collapsed down to their foundations. When these things had come to pass, and even greater things, men still did not refrain from wicked and impious deeds. The affairs of the church were particularly troubled at this time. For this reason people were crushed by much affliction: heavy taxes, poor harvests, wars and shedding of blood in all regions.

English from Ambraseys (2009)

On the insurrections and ruin which happened at this time in the West, and the fall of the city of Mabbug. For in the year 1060 of the Greeks, 134 of the Arabs, great upheaval afflicted the world . . .

And there was an earthquake at Damascus and in the whole surrounding area, which lasted for days, and in which the area trembled and was shaken. It also [affected] Beth Cubaye, a citadel which had been built by Hagag the son of Joseph with much effort and at great expense. This was overturned and was destroyed down to its foundations, and more than eighty people were killed and buried in the middle of it. And in the same city many people died. Likewise in Gutah [a suburb] of Dareya, countless people died in this earthquake. Bosra and Neve (sic.) were razed to their foundations. And a great part of Baalbek collapsed, and the springs of water there became like blood.

There was an unusual and unexpected storm in the sea. The waves were seen to be lifted up to the sky: like a pot boiling over a blazing fire, the waves boiled with a terrible sound which made those who heard them tremble. And [the sea] rushed up and overflowed its bounds, destroying many coastal villages. Many other things are also told which, if they were recorded, would be a great burden for the writer and his readers.

They say also that in the region of Belca or the Moabitide, a certain citadel located on the shore of the sea, inhabited by Yemenite Arabs, was razed down to its foundations when waves poured into it from the depths; and it was hurled three miles. This earthquake completely overthrew the city of Tiberias, except for the house of a monk called ‘Isa. Also thirty synagogues of the Jews were overturned there and some natural wonders which were in that city. The baths built by King Solomon, a wonderful edifice, were completely overthrown and collapsed. There was also in that city a purgative spring of water given by God for the health of man. And above it had been erected fine buildings . . . These buildings were all razed and destroyed. And another village, near Mt Tabor, was moved and shifted four miles from its site, with its houses and goods, and not a single stone or piece of adobe fell; and not a man or animal died, not even a chicken.

And a spring of water situated close to Jericho, near which there were citadels, gardens and mills founded by Solomon the son of Abdamalich, itself stayed where it was, but the river which has its source there moved six miles back from the place in which it flowed, so that all that Solomon had built by this river perished.

And Mabbug [became] no insignificant ruin, and many people died there; for at the time of the Sunday sacrifice, as the priest stood raising his hands over the oblation, the church collapsed, killing those on whom it fell, and all who were inside were crushed and perished, the priests together with the people; and instead of canticles and spiritual psalms, crashes and lamentation were heard in the entire city. The foundations of the walls were also shattered. (Chron. 1234, 325–327/254–255).

Latin

  • bookmarked to the page which describes the earthquake


Syriac

  • bookmarked to the start of the secular section


Chronology

Chronicon Ad Annum specifies conflicting years for this earthquake in two different calendars producing dates which are in disagreement. Like Elias of Nisibis and unlike Pseudo Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 states that the church collapsed in Mabbug on a Sunday at the time of Mass. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 also states that the church fell down at the exact moment when the priest was standing with his hands held over the offering however it also states that everyone died. So, there were no witnesses to specify the moment of the church collapse.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
26 August 751 -17 July 752 CE A.H. 134 none
1 Sept. 748 - 31 Aug. 749 CE A.G. 1060 none
  • calculated with Macedonian reckoning using CHRONOS
  • Babylonian reckoning dates A.G. 1060 to 2 April 749 - 1 April 750 CE (calculated using CHRONOS)
Seismic Effects
Seismic Effects Table

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 is almost identical to Michael the Syrian's account. The only notable exception is that, unlike Michael the Syrian, there is no mention of seismic damage in Constantinople, Nicea, and other cites in Anatolia due to an unrelated earthquake(s). Ambraseys (2009) suggests the possibility that the account of the destruction of a fortress in Moab where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived may refer to a possible earthquake in Yemen in 742 CE (see Ambraseys et al, 1994:25-26). This table should not be used for developing Intensity Maps.

Location Damage Description Comments
Damascus an earthquake which lasted for days and which shook the city and made it quiver
Beit Qubayeh a palace built by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, on which he had lavished much care and expense; it collapsed from top to bottom and more than 800 persons were fell and were buried in it.In the city itself many perished. location unknown making it hard to identify which earthquake was responsible.
Ghautah and Dareya innumerable people died
Bosrah, and Nawa entirely swallowed up
Ba'albek much of it collapsed and the sources of water became as though blood were in them"
Sea sea there was an extraordinary and unusual storm such that its waves reached so it seemed to the sky and its foam boiled like a cauldron on the fire, making a terrifying and fearful noise. It gushed forth and surpassed its usual limits, destroying many villages on the coast.
In the region of the Balqa', that is, Moab In the region of the Balqa', that is, Moab, there was a palace situated on the sea: inhabited by Yemeni Arabs, which was struck by the waves of the sea, uprooted from its foundations and flung three miles away. Confusing Geography as Balqa' is north of Moab
Tiberias destroyed the city of Tiberias. It knocked down thirty synagogues of the Jews and some wonderful natural sites there. All those buildings [around the healing spring] have now been destroyed and expunged. Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (likely mis-located - see Theophilus) Translational Landslide
Jericho The spring of water next to Jericho, the one on which were built palaces, gardens and mills by Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Malik, remained in place, but the river from which it arose was transported and moved six miles. away from its place where it had been flowing. All the structures which Sulayman had erected on this river were thus destroyed. The location of Jericho suggests the Holy Desert Quake however the Byzantine sources associate this with the Talking Mule Quake and did not specify a location for the movement of the spring.
Mabboug Churches and Walls collapsed Talking Mule Quake

Locations
  • Damascus
  • Beit Qubayeh - Location unknown
  • Ghautah
  • Dareya
  • Bosrah
  • Nawa
  • Ba'albek
  • Sea - which one (Mediterranean Coast, Sea of Galilee, and/or Dead Sea) is not clear
  • Balqa'/Moab1 (Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee)
  • Tiberias
  • Village near Mount Tabor (very likely mis-located)
  • Jericho
  • Mabbug
Footnotes

1 Balqa' is north of Moab and encompasses Amman. Thus, when one says Balqa' which is in Moab, you introduce some geographical ambiguity such that when describing the effects of a seismic sea wave, the location could be either the Dead Sea or the Sea of Galilee.

Sources
Sources

Brock(1976) suggests that the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the compiler's main sources for this period. Hoyland, 1997:416-419 notes that Dionysius of Tell-Mahre cited Theophilus of Edessa as a source.

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

There are two volumes to this Chronicle. Vol.1 deals with secular history and Volume 2 deals with ecclesiastical history. For our purposes, we are interested in Volume 1.

Both Volumes in Syriac - bookmarked to the start of the secular section

Latin translation bookmarked to the page which describes the earthquake

syri.ac on CHRONICON AD ANNUM 1234 (Scroll down to see it)

Notes
Hoyland (2011:36) discusses translations of Chronicon Ad Annum 1234

Hoyland (2011:36) notes the following about translations of Chronicon 1234:

Chronicle of 1234: this Syriac text was edited with a Latin translation by J.B. Chabot, Chronicon ad annum Christi 1234 pertinens (CSCO 81/109 sen syri 36/56; Paris, 1916/1937). It is available in an English translation for the years 582-717 (Palmer, WSC, 111-221), and in French for the period after 775 (A. Abouna, CSCO 354 scr. syri 154; Louvain, 1974). But the period 717-75 is still only available in Latin, and so my translation here represents the first translation into a modern language. The translation of Palmer is quite free (as befits the fact that he was trying to make a large body of text accessible and readable) and so I have done my own translations, making it as close to the text as is stylistically possible, except for a few very long passages, where readability is more important, and so I have then used Palmer’s translation (as noted in the footnotes).118 The chronicler of 1234 seems to make very little recourse to any other source besides Theophilus (via Dionysius of Telmahre’s history) for civil matters of the period 590-750s, except for the Arab conquests and the first Arab civil war, for which he draws on Muslim sources, and so what is translated below represents almost all of his non-ecclesiastical notices for this period.

Christian Writers in Arabic - Book of History (Kitab al-‘Unvan) by Agapius of Menbij

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Agapius of Menbij (aka Agapius of Hierapolis) wrote in Arabic in the 10th century CE when he was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (aka Mabbug, Hierapolis Bambyce). Kitab al-‘Unvan (trans. Book of History) is his best known work. The book is divided into two parts with the second part starting with Julius Caesar and extending until the mid 8th century CE.

Excerpts
English from Vasilev (1909)

In the month of Kanoun II (January), there was a violent earthquake on the coast of the sea of Palestine. Many places were devastated, and many people perished, especially in Tiberias, where more than 100,000 men succumbed.

English from Vasilev (1909) - embedded



Chronology

The month of January is specified. The year is not specified.

Seismic Effects
  • violent earthquake on the coast of the sea of Palestine
  • Many places devastated
  • many people perished, especially in Tiberias, where more than 100,000 men succumbed
Locations
  • Tiberias
  • Coastal Area of Palestine
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Agapius of Menbij - Part 1

Agapius of Menbij - Part 2

Agapius of Menbij - Part 2 - Translator's introduction

Vasilev, A. (1909) Agapius, Universal History - online open access at tertullian.org

Hoyland (2011:35) states that these are machine translations from Vasilev's French translation.

Notes
Chronological Notes

The earthquake is preceded by an account of Constantine V's conquest of Germanikeia (Modern Marash) in 746 CE and followed by the initiation of the Abassid Revolution by Abu Muslim on 9 June 747 (25 Ramadan 129 A.H.).

Christian Writers in Arabic - History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria by Sawirus (Severus) ibn-al Muqaffa

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Severus ibn al-Muqaffa was a Monk who became a Coptic Bishop. He is regarded as the redactor of an earlier series of biographies written in Coptic which he translated into Arabic in the 10th century CE (Coptic Encyclopedia). This collection of biographies is known as the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria (aka History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church). The earthquake is mentioned in the biography of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) who was the Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria from 744-767 CE. The earthquake account is written in the first person and purports to be an eyewitness account written by a companion of Michael I.

Excerpts
English from Evetts (1910)

Then we returned to Misr [i.e. Egypt] on the night of the 21st of Tuba, the night on which our Lady, the Virgin Mary, went to her rest. And that night there came great wrath from God, for there was a great earthquake in the land, and many houses were ruined in all the cities, and none was saved from them, not a single soul, and likewise on the sea many ships were sunk on that night. This happened all over the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia. And they counted the cities that were wrecked that night, and they were six hundred cities and villages, with a vast destruction of men and beasts. But the land of Egypt was uninjured, except only Damietta. And at Misr there was only great fear, without any death or ruin of houses; for though the beams in the doorways and walls were moved out of their places, they went back again to their places after two hours.We were assured by one whose word we trust that none of the churches of the Orthodox nor of their dwellings was destroyed throughout the east.

Chronology
Date and Day of the Week

The date is specified as the 21st of Tuba on the day of Dormition - a feast dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Tuba (طوبه) is the Arabic name for Tobi - the 5th month of the Coptic calendar.

The year is not specified in the text. Calculations are shown below for an earthquake which struck at night but before midnight in 748 or 749 CE. Calendar pages for 21 Tuba in 748 and 749 CE are also shown in collapsible panels.

748 CE
Date Reference Corrections Notes
Wednesday night 17 Jan. 748 CE night time 21st of Tuba (طوبه) none Calculated using CHRONOS
749 CE
Date Reference Corrections Notes
Thursday night 16 Jan. 749 CE night time 21st of Tuba (طوبه) none Calculated using CHRONOS
Coptic Calendar for the year 748 CE
Coptic Calendar for the year 749 CE
More detailed discussion of the year in the text

The earthquake takes place shortly after the imprisonment of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) from the 11th of Tut to the 12th of Babah (p. 135). Karcz (2004), using the same translation by Evetts (1910), reports that al-Muqaffa dated this to A.H. 130 although no such dates are to be found in the text. Even earlier in the text on page 134, the author alludes to the Abassid Revolution which became an open revolt on 9 June 747 (Ramadan 25, 129 A.H.). None of these years sync up with the probable year of the earthquake.

Time of Day

A distant earthquake experienced at night in Egypt would explain the tremor felt in Mabbug the night before the Talking Mule Quake - as described by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre:

A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance.
That distant earthquake was likely the Holy Desert Quake which would have been felt in Egypt. The much further away Talking Mule Quake would not have created as much shaking in Egypt as was described in History of the Patriarchs.

Seismic Effects

Although this account amalgamates the earthquakes describing seismic destruction from Gaza to Persia, the shaking in Egypt experienced by whoever the original source was would have been caused by the Holy Desert Quake. Seismic Effects are summarized below:
  • "Many houses ruined in all the cities"
  • Possible tsunami report - Ships sunk at sea
  • This happened all over the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia
  • 600 cities and villages affected
  • Egypt uninjured except for Damietta
Locations
  • from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia
  • Egypt uninjured except for Damietta
Sources
Sources

The biographies translated by al-Muqaffa have a complex textual history of various authors and continuations. The biography of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) was apparently written by a companion who is described below by the Coptic Encyclopedia:

The third author in this list is John, called John I by Johnson (1973). He was the spiritual son of MOSES, bishop of Awsim, and a close companion of KHA’IL I (744-767). From some passages toward the end of the life of this patriarch, it can be inferred that John, a native of Giza, was a monk and a deacon, and that he must later have been a bishop himself, although we do not know of which see. John I wrote the lives 43-46, covering the period from 705 to 768. Besides John, an editorial note mentions two persons both called Maqarah (Macarius), in relation to this same series of patriarch lives. It is so far unclear what their contribution may have been.

Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Reckoning of hours among Copts

The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia provides information on the reckoning of hours among Copts:

The civil day of Christians in Egypt began in the morning, as did that of the ancient Egyptians and the Romans; but their liturgical day began, then as now, at sunset, like the Jewish, Muslim, and Greek days.
See also Lane (1846) who also provides some information on the reckoning of the Coptic day.

Karcz (2004) supplies some references he used which could be helpful in the future: Garitte, 1958 and Gamber, 1984.

Christian Writers in Arabic - The blessed collection (al-Majmu` al-Mubarak) by al-Makin

Aliases

Aliases in Arabic
Jirjis al-Makīn جرجس امكين
Ibn al-ʿAmīd بن العميد
George Elmacin (Anglicized)
Georgius Elmacinus (Latin)
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Makin (1205-1273 CE) was a Coptic Christian, born in Cairo, who wrote in Arabic. He also lived in Damascus where he worked as a military scribe. He retired in Damascus and died there. His sole surviving work is entitled al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection). It was written between 1262 and 1268 CE. The first portion runs from Adam down to the 11th year of Heraclius. The second half is a history of the Saracens, which extends from the time of Mohammad to the accession of the Mameluke Sultan Baybars in 1260 CE.

Excerpts
First Passage from Ambraseys (2009)

(a.460 Diocl. = 17 January 744) ... on the 21st Tuba [17 January 744] a great earthquake [occurred] which ruined several cities and caused a sizable number of people to die under the ruins, and a number of ships perished. It is said that this was a cosmic earthquake, affecting all countries, as far as the East where 100 cities were overturned on that day and so many men and beasts killed.' (al-Mak. HM 460).

Second Passage from Ambraseys (2009)

(a. H. 120) And then there was great upheaval in Egypt on 21st Tuba [16 January], when a great earthquake during the night destroyed many cities, the inhabitants perishing under the ruins; and many ships were engulfed in the sea. And they say that this was a cosmic earthquake, affecting all regions, out to the Far East; and on the same night 600 cities in the East were uprooted, and men and innumerable animals were wiped out.' (al-Mak. HS i. 83).

Chronology

Year is specified by editor not the author. The editor supplies two years - 744 CE and A.H. 120 (29 December 737 - 17 December 738); both of which are way off. Both passages date the earthquake to the 21st of Tuba in agreement with al-Muqaffa. The second passage specifies that the earthquake struck at night. The reason why 21st of Tuba is dated to 16 January in one account and 17 January in another has to do with whether the year supplied by the editor was a Coptic Leap Year. Thus, we have a second Egyptian source who specifies that the Holy Desert Quake struck at night on the 21st of Tuba.

Seismic Effects

This account, like al-Muqaffa, amalgamates the earthquakes.
  • cosmic earthquake - affecting all regions, out to the Far East
  • 100 or 600 cities damaged or destroyed (the two passages differ on the exact number)
  • Probable tsunami - Many ships sunk at sea
  • many deaths
Locations

This account, like al-Muqaffa, amalgamates the earthquakes.
  • Egypt
  • affecting all regions, out to the Far East
Sources
Sources

The Wikipedia entry on al-Makin states that Al-Makin made extensive use of Al-Tabari.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Christian Writers in Arabic - Chronicon Orientalen

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia reports that the Chronicon Orientale is chronicle of world history composed by an unknown thirteenth-century author who put events he thought important into a table of secular and ecclesiastical rulers. Its chronological bases are the Old Testament for the pre-Christian era, the Roman emperors for the period from the time of Christ to Muhammad, and thereafter the Arab regimes in Syria and Egypt, along with a history of the caliphs to his own time (1260). The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia further reports that the dates are in good order but untrustworthy as to actual calendar years.

Excerpts
English from Cheiko (1903)

That night God showed his wrath and there was a terrible earthquake. Many cities collapsed. Not even one escaped destruction. Many ships sank on the same night. The earthquake shock made the timbers of the gates and walls come out of their place. This calamity occurred in the east during the reign of Merwan. It was discovered that 600 forts, towns, and cities were razed to the ground and an innumerable number of man and beast perished. When Abd al-Malik [Umayyad Governor of Egypt] the son of Musa saw the wrath of God, he dismissed the man.

Latin from Cheiko (1903)

Porro ea nocte furorem suum Deus ostendit, contigitque horribilis terraemotus, quo multae urbes corruerunt, nec vel unus e ruina evasit: multae praeterea naves eadem nocte submersae sunt:eaque fuit terraemotus quassatio, ut ligna portarum et parietum e suo loco prodirent.Quae quidem calamitas accidit in Oriente in toto Meruani Imperio. Recensitis autem, quae ea nocte per Orientem diruta fuerunt, locis, deprehensum est, sexcenta fuisse castella, oppida et urbes, numerumque hominum ac iumentorum infinitum interiisse. Cum igitur Dei furorem Abd-almalik filius Musa videret, hominem dimisit.

Latin and Arabic from Cheiko (1903) - embedded

Chronology Seismic Effects
  • there was a terrible earthquake
  • Many cities collapsed
  • Many ships sank on the same night
  • The earthquake shock made the timbers of the gates and walls come out of their place
  • This calamity occurred in the east
  • 600 forts, towns, and cities were razed to the ground and an innumerable number of man and beast perished
Locations
  • Egypt by implication (the author is a Coptic Christian)
  • in the east
Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
The author of Chronicon Orientale

The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia reports

The Copt ABU SHAKIR ibn Butrus al-Rahib (aka Petrus Ibn Rahib in Karcz (2004) has been taken to be the author since the Chronicon's first translation into Latin was done by a Maronite, Abraham Ecchelensis (Chronicon orientale, nunc primum latinitate donatum . . . , Paris, 1651; Paris, 1685). This translation was revised by J. ASSEMANI and published with four added dissertations in Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae (Vol. 17, Venice, 1729). - VINCENT FREDERICK
Sidarus (2014:223) reports
Since the publication by the Maronite scholar Abraham Ecchellensis (alias Ibrāhīm al-Ḥaqillānī, 1605-1664) of the so-called Chronicon Orientale (ChronOr), Ibn al-Rāhib (IR) – erroneously identified as Buṭrus Ibn al-Rāhib – has been universally considered the author of this work
Sidarus (2014:224-225) reports on the biography of Ibn al-Rāhib
We may recall that Nushū’ al-Khilāfa Abū Shākir Ibn (Buṭrus) al-Rāhib (c. 1205/10-1295) was an illustrious representative of the Golden Age of Copto-Arabic literature in the thirteenth/fourteenth century. He belonged to a prominent family of notables, men of the Church who were also senior civil servants in the Ayyubid state. He himself held high office at the Armies Ministry (Dīwān al-juyūsh) and was a deacon serving the important al-Mu‛allaqa church in Fusṭāṭ Miṣr (Old Cairo).

The somewhat late literary output of our polymath was limited to the period 1257-1270, and comprises four works of an encyclopaedic nature, almost entirely unpublished. For Copto-Arabic literary history, if not that of Arabic Christianity in general, IR’s work is unique. For one thing, all the writings are precisely dated. For another, two autograph copies of two works have come down to us, showing that one of them has known three different ‘editions’

Judaic Texts - Ra'ash shvi'it (רעש שביעית)

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Ra'ash shvi'it is a poem - a type of poem known as a Piyyut (פיוט). Piyyutim (i.e. Piyyuts) are a type of Jewish liturgical poetry. This difficult to date (year wise) poem refers to a fast on 23 Shvat in memory of the victims of an earthquake which struck Tiberias and elsewhere. Ra'ash shvi'it literally translates as 'Seventh Noise' or 'Seventh Earthquake' but it can also translated as 'The Sabbatical Year Quake'.

Excerpts

Raban (1989:10) translated a few lines of the poem into English as did Karcz (2004) although Karcz (2004)'s lines may be disconnected. Karcz (2004) also described the poem.
English from Raban (1989)

Multitudes drowned violently
those dwellers in the Shefela [coastal lowlands of Israel]
and in the Sharon valley
A current appeared
Women and children were drowned
along with preachers of the Bible and Mishna

English from Karcz (2004)

rage in fear and dark chaos will capital Tiberias
in wrath and anger sunk crowds in plains in Sharon Valley
I heard how disaster befell the city and
the old and young in it have perished

Description of the poem by Karcz (2004)

Karcz (2004) describes the poem (Zolai, 1937; Margalioth, 1941) as lamenting an earthquake that caused a widespread destruction and extensive casualties in Tiberias and a catastrophic flooding in the plain of Sharon" noting that, although the Sharon Valley currently exclusively refers to the coastal plain of Israel, Eusebius in the 4th century CE used the term Sharon Valley to refer to a part of Jordan and Yizrael Valleys between Mt.Tabor and Tiberias (Weitz, 1939; Brawer, 1940). Karcz (2004) further noted that wrath could refer to an earthquake; something common in Byzantine Chronicles (e.g. Malalas). Karcz (2004) added the following saga of exegesis and exploration of Ra'ash shvi'it which commemorates an ancient day of fasting on the 23rd of Shvat (17/18 January in 749 CE):
The poem repeatedly refers to a fast in memory of this earthquake, observed on the 23rd of Shvat. Zolai (1937) was unable to decide if the title of the poem refers to a seventh shock in course of the same earthquake swarm, or to a seventh earthquake in a series of events preserved in some extinct tradition. In his opinion, however, the form and style dated the poem to 10th-12th century, a period during which Tiberias was damaged only in 1033/1034 A.D. and in 1202 A.D. Since in [the] end [of the] 11th century, the Jewish community in Tiberias was too small for its misfortunes to trigger a nationwide day of fasting, he concluded that the fast of 23rd of Shevat commemorated the earthquake that in 1033/1034 hit Tiberias, Jerusalem, Ramle and other towns and villages. This date was rejected by Margalioth (1941), who argued that the fast of 23rd Shvat was mentioned already by Pinneas the Poet, who in a 10th century text was mentioned amongst «ancient» authors and that the poem includes a veiled reference to Moslem rulers. He assumed therefore that the earthquake should be backdated and placed between the Arab conquest (about mid 7th century) and the beginning of 9th century, a period he regarded as consistent with the literary form and style of the poem. Having found no evidence that successive earthquakes that hit the Holy Land were counted in numerical order, he read the title of the poem as «Earthquake of the Seventh (feminine)» rather than «Seventh (masculine) Earthquake». The «Seventh» (feminine) stands for a sabbatical (fallow) year and Margalioth indicated that in the above time range only the earthquakes of 712/713 A.D. and 747/748 A.D. occurred in a sabbatical year. Having found no details about the former he dismissed it as unimportant and dated the earthquake to 23rd Shvat (28 January), 748 A.D. in agreement with two late Arab chronicles of Mukaddasi (d.14th century) and Ibn Tagri Birdi (d.15th century) who transmit news of an earthquake in AH 130 (747/748 A.D.). Twenty years later, Margalioth (1960) found a reference to the 23rd Shvat fast in a 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Genizza depository

Chronology

The poem refers to a fast observed on the 23rd of Shvat in memory of an earthquake that caused destruction in Tiberias. If one examines the correspondence of 23 Shvat with Julian Calendar dates between 745 and 752 CE, one will notice that 23 Shvat encompasses part of the 18 Jan. date provided by Theophanes and Cedrenus for the Holy Desert Quake in 749 CE and only in 749 CE. Although 23 Shevat and 18 Jan. are close in 746 CE, the archaeoseismic from Bet She'an evidence precludes this year because 746 CE is before the terminus post quem of A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE). Thus we have a dating coincidence between two independent traditions which points to the year 749 CE and a date around 18 January.
Julian Calendar Dates for 23 Shevat from 746 – 752 CE
Calculated using fourmilab
Hebrew Year Julian Date Julian Year
4506 Sundown 19 January - Sundown 20 January 746
4507 Sundown 7 February - Sundown 8 February 747
4508 Sundown 28 January - Sundown 29 January 748
4509 Sundown 17 January - Sundown 18 January 749
4510 Sundown 5 February - Sundown 6 February 750
4511 Sundown 24 January - Sundown 25 January 751
4512 Sundown 13 February - Sundown 14 February 752
Seismic Effects
  • Multitudes drowned violently
  • A current appeared
  • Women and children were drowned along with preachers of the Bible and Mishna
  • rage in fear and dark chaos will capital Tiberias
  • in wrath and anger sunk crowds in plains in Sharon Valley
  • disaster befell the city
  • the old and young in it have perished
Locations
  • in the Shefela [coastal lowlands of Israel] and in the Sharon valley1
Footnotes

1 Karcz (2004:785) and Ambraseys (2005:118) noted that while flooding specified in the plain of Sharon in Ra’ash Shvi’it would specify Israel’s coastal plain in the modern lexicon, this geographic designation could have, at the time of composition, referred to parts of the Jordan and Yizrael (aka Esdraelon) Valleys (e.g., by Eusebius in the 4th century CE).

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Gil, M. (1992). A History of Palestine, 634-1099, Cambridge University Press

Moshe Gil on Wikipedia

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) noted that:

This piyyut has been preserved in two manuscripts, Oxford 2852/8 (fol. 40b) and Adler 2038 (fol. 5b), which provide slightly different readings. Both MSS give the dates as the 23rd of Shevat. The Adler MS, which is preferred by Margaliot, mentions the fast of the Ra'ash Shevi'it on the 23rd (day) of it ( = Shevat). The Oxford version names the earthquake Ra'ash Shevi`i. Margaliot bases himself on the version of the Adler manuscript, thus interpreting the term Ra'ash Shevi'it as the earthquake of the sabbatical (= seventh) year (Shemittah: Deut. 15).

Notes
Rabbi Pinhas

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) noted that:

Margaliot also shows that the catastrophe is mentioned by the poet Rabbi Pinhas — a hymnologist active no later than the early ninth century in his piyyut of Qiddush Yerahim (poem on the sanctification of the New Moon), in the part referring to the month of Shevat.

Online Calendar converter from fourmilab (can convert Hebrew ↔ Julian)

from fourmilab. This converter uses modern Hebrew Calendar rules



Judaic Texts - 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

The 23rd Shvat fast is also referred to in a 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza.

Excerpts
English from Karcz (2004)

On 23 Shevat a fast to the Land of Israel, since the land trembled and many cities fell and sages and pious and the just and the [etc.]... died under the ruins. And it is referred to in texts ‘in wrath the earth will pace ahead’ and since destruction of Jerusalem to the date it happened in Land of Israel the count of in wrath

Chronology

Margalioth (1960) hypothesized that the Hebrew word translated as in wrath in the 23 Shvat fasting prayer found in the Cairo Geniza prayer book might contain a hidden code which would reveal the year when this earthquake struck. By using one of the more common Gematria ciphers, he arrived at the number 679 for in wrath. Since the name Ra'ash shvi'it suggests that the earthquake struck during a Sabbatical Year and 679 is evenly dividable by 7, 679 qualifies as a Sabbatical (7th) year. The next challenge that emerged was to ascertain the start date for the Hebrew Calendar in the mid 8th century CE. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Hebrew Calendar used 70 CE as a start year. Thus if one adds 70 to 679, one comes up with a year of 749 CE which just so happens to be the same year that 23 Shvat and 18 January fall on the same day. There is, however, one complication. By the early 10th century CE, the way the Hebrew calendar was reckoned changed into the system that is currently used today (Stern, 2012:334-335). In this new modern reckoning, 70 CE is no longer the start year for the Hebrew Calendar and 749 CE is no longer a Sabbatical Year. How exactly the Hebrew Calendar was reckoned in the mid 8th century CE before this early 10th century calendar reform is uncertain. Nevertheless, the excerpt provided by Karcz (2004) seems to define a 70 CE start date - since destruction of Jerusalem to the date it happened in Land of Israel the count of "in wrath". Thus the real uncertainty here is whether gematria was coded into the prayer and which cipher is meant to be used.

Seismic Effects
  • the land trembled and many cities fell and sages and pious and the just and the [etc.]... died under the ruins
Locations
  • the Land of Israel
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Margalioth (1960) The Date of an Earthquake at Tiberias: PERA.

Stern, S. (2012). "Calendars in antiquity : empires, states, and societies."

Notes
Cipher Calculations

  • [in wrath = b z a’ m] - possibly בזעם
  • If one employs the Mispar Gadol (Large Sofit) cipher using this Gematria Calculator, you will arrive at the number 679 for [בזעם]
  • Karcz (2004) provided the gematria as b = 2, z = 7, a = 70, and m = 600 which adds up to 679
Gematria Calculator



Samaritan Sources - Kitab al-Ta'rikh (aka Annals) by Abu l’Fath

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Abu l'Fath, a Samaritan, wrote Kitab al-Ta'rikh in 1355 CE and cited sources (Crown, 1989:221). The document exists in multiple differing manuscripts (Karcz, 2004). Karcz (2004:784) described Abu l'Fath's texts as follows:

The 14th century chronicle of Abu l’Fath [] exists in many manuscript versions and «was plagiarized, summarized, abstracted, paraphrased and edited for several other chronicles which were then presented as different old chronicles» (Stenhouse, 1989). The chronicle has a shorter original version which brings the text up to the rise of Mohammed and an expanded version to bring it more up to date. Abu l’Fath wrote the chronicle in 1355, following a discussion he had with the High Priest in 1352 lamenting the virtual absence of materials on history of the Samaritans (Payne-Smith, 1863; Vilmar,1865; Stenhouse, 1981). He used some extinct (or not found) Samaritan sources and is thought to have used extensively materials then available in Damascus and Gaza. Thus it is not clear whether the [excerpt] of an earthquake is based on primary notes

Excerpts
English from Karcz (2004)

In the days of Marwan an extraordinarily powerful earthquake struck everywhere. Houses collapsed on their inhabitants and untold numbers of people perished. It was a terrible earthquake that had no precedent. Those who survived it stayed out in the open for many days while the earth was still shaking underneath them. (Dr. Paul L. Stenhouse, pers. comm. to Karcz: from MS Samaritain, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris).

Arabic with a Latin Preface



Chronology

Date Reference Corrections Notes
4 December 744 – 25 January 750 CE In the days of Marwan none Context in the text indicates that this refers to Marwan II.
Seismic Effects
  • an extraordinarily powerful earthquake struck everywhere
  • Houses collapsed on their inhabitants and untold numbers of people perished
  • Aftershocks - Those who survived it stayed out in the open for many days while the earth was still shaking underneath them
Online Versions and Further Reading

Samaritan Sources - Chronicle Adler

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Chronicle Adler consists of Samaritan texts of debated origin but which are thought to rely heavily on Kitab al-Ta'rikh by Abu l’Fath (Crown, 1989:222). Karcz (2004:784) stated that Chronicle Adler is thought to represent a relatively recent compilation.

Excerpts
English from Adler and Seligsohn (1902)

In the time of Merwan a great earthquake, never was it so terrible.

French from Adler and Seligsohn (1902)

a l’epoque de Merwan un grand tremblement de terre et lieu, jamais il n' eu eut d’aussi terrible.

Chronology
Date Reference Corrections Notes
4 December 744 – 25 January 750 CE In the days of Marwan none
Seismic Effects
  • a great earthquake
Online Versions and Further Reading

Armenian Sources - Mekhitar d’Airavanq chronicle

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Mekhitar of Ayrivank (1230/35 – 1297/1300) was an Armenian monk who composed a brief chronicle at the medieval monastery of Geghard.

Excerpts
Characterization by Karcz (2004)

Finally the Mekhitar d'Airavanq chronicle (Brosset, 1869) mentions an earthquake in 751 A.D., in times of Constantine Copronymus. This later date is supported also by lack of reference to the day and month date of 18 January, which is the day on which the Armenians in the Holy Land celebrate Christmas (12 days later than elsewhere).

Chronology
Date Reference Corrections Notes
751 CE Karcz (2004:783) states that the Mekhitar d'Airavanq chronicle (Brosset, 1869) mentions an earthquake in 751 A.D., in times of Constantine Copronymus. none
Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Brosset (1869)'s characterization of Mekhitar d’Airavanq chronicle

Brosset (1869) reports the following:

Studies on the Armenian historian Mekhithar of Airi. vank, XIIT S.; Tre and II Parts, from the creation of the world to the beginning of the Christian era; Part III, until 1289 of J.-C.; by Mr. Brosset.
...
I will therefore face Mekhithar as a chronograph and not be successively in review the three parts of which his book is composed: the work of the six days, which, naturally, will stop me little; historical times, from Adam to the Christian era; finally the history from J.C., until the time when his compilation ends, in 1289. To concentrate in 69 pages the chronology of 6487 years is not, strictly speaking, to write a story, but only to present series of personages and facts, which, if the latter are well chosen, simply form a framework

Muslim Writers - Introduction

Chronology

All the Muslim writers who supply a year wrote late - from the 13th to 15th centuries. Among the muslim writers who supply a year, A.H. 130 (11 Sept. 747 - 30 Aug. 748 CE) and A.H. 131 (31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE) are the years they supply except for al-Mansouri who supplied a year of A.H. 132 (20 Aug. 749 - 8 Aug. 750 CE). The table below lists the years reported (except for al-Mansouri) accompanied by a brief description of where they reported damage:

Date of Composition Author A.H. 130 A.H. 131 Notes
13th c. Sibt ibn al-Jawzi Can't currently access excerpt
Early 14th c. al-Dhahabi Jerusalem and Syria al-Dhahabi provided a date of Ramadan A.H. 130 (4 May - 2 June 748 CE)
1351 CE Jamal ad-Din Ahmad Jerusalem
15th c. Ibn Tagri Birdi Jerusalem and Syria Jerusalem and Syria Guidoboni et al (1994) supplied a quote dated to A.H. 131. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) state that in another part of the text, there is a description of an A.H. 130 earthquake. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) state that Ibn Tagri Birdi quotes Sibt ibn al-Jawzi
15th c. As-Suyuti Damascus Damascus
1495 CE Mujir al-Din Jerusalem
Locations
  • Damascus
  • Jerusalem - with an emphasis on Al Aqsa Mosque
  • Syria (Sham) - presumably Greater Syria

Muslim Writers - Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems by al-Masudi

مُرُوج ٱلذَّهَب وَمَعَادِن ٱلْجَوْهَر by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي by أَبُو ٱلْحَسَن عَلِيّ ٱبْن ٱلْحُسَيْن ٱبْن عَلِيّ ٱلْمَسْعُودِيّ

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
al-Masudi أَبُو ٱلْحَسَ
Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī al-Masʿūdī أَبُو ٱلْحَسَن عَلِيّ ٱبْن ٱلْحُسَيْن ٱبْن عَلِيّ ٱلْمَسْعُودِيّ
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Masudi was born in Baghdad around 896 CE, traveled extensively, and died in Egypt around 956 CE. He wrote Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems in Arabic in the middle of the 10th century CE.

Excerpts
English from Lunde and Stone (1989)

QAHIR DEMANDS A TRUE HISTORY OF THE CALIPHATE

The following story originates from Muhammad ibn Ali al-Misri, the historian and native of Khurasan, who was an intimate of Qahir:
... It was Mahdi who rebuilt the mosque at Mecca and that of the Prophet at Medina in the form they stand today, and he rebuilt Jerusalem, which had been devastated by earthquakes.

Chronology
Date Reference Corrections Notes
Before 785 CE [Caliph al-Mahdi (r. 775-785 CE)] rebuilt Jerusalem, which had been devastated by earthquakes. none
Seismic Effects
  • he rebuilt Jerusalem, which had been devastated by earthquakes.
Locations
  • Jerusalem
Online Versions and Further Reading

Muslim Writers - Description of Syria including Palestine by al-Maqdisi

وصف سوريا بما في ذلك فلسطين (?) by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
al-Muqaddasi ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Maqdisī شَمْس ٱلدِّيْن أَبُو عَبْد ٱلله مُحَمَّد ابْن أَحْمَد ابْن أَبِي بَكْر ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Banna' al-Shami
al-Bashshari
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Maqdisi was perhaps the best representative of Arabic geography in the second half of the 10th century CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). Little is known about his life. He was born in Jerusalem in c. 946 CE, traveled extensively, and died perhaps around 990 CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). He wrote Description of Syria including Palestine in Arabic in c. 985 CE (Le Strange, 1886) and is estimated to have written The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions between 985 and 990 CE (Miquel, 1967:xxxiv).

Excerpts

Here we can read about earthquake damage inflicted on Al-Aqsa mosque from more than one earthquake.
English from Le Strange (1886)

But in the days of the Abbasides occurred the earthquakes which threw down most of the main building; all, in fact, except that portion round the Mihrab. Now when the Khalifa of that day obtained news of this, he enquired and learned that the sum at that time in the treasury would in no wise suffice to restore the mosque. So he wrote to the Governors of the Provinces and to other Commanders, that each should undertake the building of a colonnade.

English from Le Strange (1886) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
after 25 Jan. 750 CE in the days of the Abbasides none
Seismic Effects
  • Earthquakes (plural) are mentioned
  • threw down most of the main building of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
  • only the part of the Mosque around the Mihrab was spared
Online Versions and Further Reading

Muslim Writers - The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions by al-Maqdisi

أفضل الأقسام في معرفة المناطق (?) by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
al-Maqdisi
al-Muqaddasi ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Maqdisī شَمْس ٱلدِّيْن أَبُو عَبْد ٱلله مُحَمَّد ابْن أَحْمَد ابْن أَبِي بَكْر ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Banna' al-Shami
al-Bashshari
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Maqdisi was perhaps the best representative of Arabic geography in the second half of the 10th century CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). Little is known about his life. He was born in Jerusalem in c. 946 CE, traveled extensively, and died perhaps around 990 CE (A. Miquel in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 7, 1991:492-493). He wrote Description of Syria including Palestine in Arabic in c. 985 CE (Le Strange, 1886) and is estimated to have written The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions between 985 and 990 CE (Miquel, 1967:xxxiv).

Excerpts

I have not been able to access this book so I don't know if the earthquakes are described within it.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Muslim Writers - Mirror of time in histories of the notables by Sibt ibn al-Jawzi

مرآة الزمان في تواريخ الأعيان by سبط ابن الجوزي

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
Sibṭ ibn al-Jawzi سبط ابن الجوزي
Shams al-din Abu al-Muzaffar Yusuf ibn Kizoghlu
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi (ca. 1185 - 1256 CE) was the grandson of Ibn al-Jawzi and was raised by Ibn al-Jawzi in Baghdad (Keany, 2013:83). Sibt in Arabic means grandson through one of the grandfather's daughters. After his grandfather's death, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi moved to Damascus where he was a Preacher as well as a Historian (Keany, 2013:83). Keany (2013:83) noted that he carefully documented his sources. Sibt ibn al-Jawzi wrote a 23-volume encyclopedic biographical History titled Mirror of time in histories of the notables (Mir’at al-Zamān fī Tawarīkh al-'Ayān - مرآة الزمان في تواريخ الأعيان) in Arabic in the 13th century CE.

Excerpts
Characterization from Karcz (2004)

It is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.

Original Document - Arabic



Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Mirror of time in histories of the notables in Arabic

Manuscript - 1506, Sibt b. al-Jawzi, Mir'at al-zaman fi ta'rikh al-ceyan. BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE, PARIS

Sibt b. al-Jawzi, Mir'at al-zaman, ed. Haydarabad 1951.

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232 footnote 16) list manuscripts for Mir'at al-Zaman as follows:

  • MS British Museum, Add. 23, 277, fol. 135b, 11. 11-17

Notes
Ibn al-Jawzi vs. Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi

Ibn al-Jawzi lived in Baghdad and completed Kitab al-muntazam shortly before his death in 1200 CE. The work is arranged chronologically from "Creation" until A.H. 574 - 1178/1179 CE (de Somogyi, 1932:55).

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi (ca. 1185 - 1256 CE) was the grandson of Ibn al-Jawzi and was raised by Ibn al-Jawzi in Baghdad (Keany, 2013:83). Sibt in Arabic means grandson through one of the grandfather's daughters. After his grandfather's death, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi moved to Damascus where he was a Preacher as well as a Historian (Keany, 2013:83). Sibt ibn al-Jawzi wrote Mirror of time in histories of the notables (Mir’at al-Zamān fī Tawarīkh al-'Ayān - مرآة الزمان في تواريخ الأعيان) in 23 volumes in the 13th century CE.

Muslim Writers - Great History of Islam by al-Dhahabi

تاريخ الإسلام by الذهبي

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
Shams ad-Dīn adh-Dhahabī شمس الدين الذهبي
Shams ad-Dīn Abū ʿAbdillāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿUthmān ibn Qāymāẓ سهامس ادءدين ابو عابديللاه موحامماد يبن احماد يبن عوتهمان يبن قايماظ يبن عابديللاه اتءتوركوماني الءفاريقي ادءديماسهقي (?)
ʿAbdillāh at-Turkumānī al-Fāriqī ad-Dimashqī عابديللاه اتءتوركوماني الءفاريقي ادءديماسهقي (?)
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Dhahabi was an Arab theologian, lawyer, professor, and historian who was born in Damascus or Mayyafarikin in 1274 CE and died in Damascus in either 1348 or 1352/1353 CE (en Cheneb and De Somogyi in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2, 1991:214-216). He traveled and studied extensively with a long sojourn in Cairo. en Cheneb and De Somogyi in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2 (1991:214-216) characterize his written works as that of a compiler like practically all the post-classical Arab authors whose works are distinguished by careful composition and constant references to his authorities. His most notable work is Great History of Islam (Ta'rikh al-Islam al-Kabir) which begins with the genealogy of Muhammad and ends in the year A.H. 700 (1300/1301 CE). It follows the template of Kitab al-muntazam by Ibn al-Jawzi. Great History of Islam had continuators including al-Dhahabi himself and also appears many times as abridged editions - including abridgments made by al-Dhahabi (en Cheneb and De Somogyi in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2, 1991:214-216). The (unabridged?) work comprises 50 volumes.

Excerpts
English from Ambraseys (2009)

All these events took place at the time of the first earthquake, in the month of Ramadan of 130. God knows best.
In that year there was a prodigious earthquake in Sham: we know this from Ibn Jusa, whose source is Muhammad ibn Shaddad ibn Aws al-Ansary, whose source in turn is his grandfather. According to this chain of witnesses it is known that in the year 130 there was the most violent earthquake in Jerusalem. Many of the faithful (Ansars or no) were victims of it. The houses of Shaddad ibn Aws fell on him and his guests; Muhammad ibn Shadda was saved, but he lost his property under the ruins, recovering only the Prophet's sandals. According to another report, Abu Ja'far al-Mansur, the prince of believers, was asked, "O prince of believers, the western and eastern parts of the mosque were damaged during the earthquake of 130: if you would have the damage repaired, that would be very good." The caliph replied that he had no money. Therefore they took off the plates of silver and gold which had covered the doors since the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and broke it down to the last dinars and drachmas, which financed the rebuilding.

English from Guidoboni et al (1994)

[In that year] there was a strong earthquake in Syria [...]. When the Province of Syria was struck by earthquakes in the year 130 [of the Hegira = 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 AD ], the strongest shocks occurred in Jerusalem, causing the death of many conquering troops and others.

Original Document - Volume 39 - Arabic - embedded



Original Document - Volume 40 - Arabic - embedded



Chronology
1st Earthquake
Year Reference Corrections Notes
4 May 748 - 2 June 748 CE Ramadan A.H. 130 none
2nd Earthquake
Year Reference Corrections Notes
after 2 June 748 CE after Ramadan A.H. 130 none
Seismic Effects
  • there was a prodigious earthquake in Sham - Bilad al-Sham, a large province which, at the time, encompassed what we know as the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.
  • there was the most violent earthquake in Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem - Many of the faithful (Ansars or no) were victims of it.
  • Jerusalem - The houses of Shaddad ibn Aws fell on him and his guests
  • Jerusalem - Muhammad ibn Shadda was saved, but he lost his property under the ruins, recovering only the Prophet's sandals.
  • Jerusalem - the western and eastern parts of the mosque [Al Aqsa] were damaged during the earthquake of 130
  • the strongest shocks occurred in Jerusalem, causing the death of many conquering troops and others
Locations
  • Sham - Bilad al-Sham, a large province which, at the time, encompassed what we know as the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine
  • Jerusalem
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Ta'rikh al-Islam al-Kabir in Arabic - online - open access

Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2 (1927) open access - archive.org - online

Encyclopedia of Islam v. 2 (modern and updated) subscription site - online

Brockelmann, II, 46-8; S II, 45-7 (with enumeration of the Oriental references and the manuscripts)

G. Sarton, Introduction to the history of science, iii, the fourteenth century, Baltimore 1947-8, 963-7

Fr. Rosenthal, A history of Muslim historiography, Leiden 1952, 30 (n. 8), 129-30

J. de Somogyi, The Ta*rikh al-islam of adh-Dhahabi, in JRAS 1932, 815-55

idem, Ein arabisches Kompendium der Weltgeschichte. Das Kitdb duwal al-islam des ad-Dahabi, in Islamica 1932, 334-53

idem, A Qasida on the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols, in BSOS 1933, 41-8

idem, Adh-Dhahabi's Ta'rikh al-isldm as an authority on the Mongol invasion of the Caliphate, in JRAS 1936, 595-604

idem, Ein arabischer Bericht uber die Tataren im Ta*rify al-isldm des ad-Dahabi, in Islamica 1937, 105-30

idem, Adh-Dhahabi's record of the destruction of Damascus by the Mongols in 699-700/1299-1301, in Ignace Goldziher Memorial Volume I, Budapest 1948, 353-86.

Muslim Writers - al-Mansouri

Al-Tarikh Al-Mansouri by al-Mansouri

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
al-Mansouri
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

I can't currently find any info on al-Mansouri.

Excerpts
English from Sbeinati et al (2005)

In the year 132 A.H. [20 August 749 CE to 8 August 750 CE] there was an earthquake at Al-Sham.

Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
20 August 749 CE to 8 August 750 CE A.H. 132 none Calculated with CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • there was an earthquake at Al-Sham
Locations
  • Al-Sham
Online Versions and Further Reading

Muslim Writers - The Exciter of Desire (for Visitation of the Holy City and Syria) by Jamal ad Din Ahmad

موتهير الءعهيرام (Muthîr al-Ghirâm) by جامال اد دين اهماد (?)

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
Jamal ad Din Ahmad جامال اد دين اهماد (?)
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

Le Strange (1890:10) relates that this text was composed by Jamal ad Din Ahmad, a native Jerusalemite, in 1351 CE. The work is described as a topographical description of the Holy City.

Excerpts
English from Le Strange (1890)

On the authority of 'Abd ar Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur ibn Thabit, from his father, who had it from his father and grandfather. In the days of 'Abd al Malik, all the gates of the mosque were covered with plates of gold and of silver. But in the reign of the Khalif Al Mansur, both the eastern and the western portions of the mosque had fallen down. Then it was reported to the Khalif, saying,
O commander of the faithful, verily the earthquake in the year 130 (a.d. 746) did throw down the eastern part of the mosque and the western part also; now, therefore, do thou give orders to rebuild the same and raise it again.
Khalif replied that as there were no moneys in his treasury, (to supply the lack of coin) they should strip off the plates of gold and of silver that overlaid the gates. So they stripped these off and coined therefrom Dinars and Dirhams, which moneys were expended on the rebuilding of the mosque until it was completed. Then occurred a second earthquake, and the building that Al Mansur had commanded to be built fell to the ground. In the days of the Khalif Al Mahdi, who succeeded him, the mosque was still lying in ruins, which, being reported to him, he commanded them to rebuild the same. And the Khalif said that the mosque had been (of old) too narrow, and of too great length - and (for this reason) it had not been much used by the people — so now (in rebuilding it) they should curtail the length and increase the breadth. Now the restoration of the mosque was completed on the new plan during the days of his Khalifate.

English from Le Strange (1890) - embedded

  • see bottom paragraph on page 92 starting with On the authority of 'Abd ar Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur ibn Thabit
  • from Le Strange (1890:92)
  • from archive.org


Chronology
1st Earthquake
Year Reference Corrections Notes
11 September 747 - 30 August 748 CE A.H. 130 none Calculated with CHRONOS
2nd Earthquake
Year Reference Corrections Notes
Between 10 June 754 and 24 July 785 CE After the rebuild by Caliph Al-Mansur (r. 10 June 754 – 6 October 775 CE) and before the second rebuild by Caliph Al-Mahdi (r. 6 October 775 – 24 July 785 CE) none
Seismic Effects

1st Earthquake
  • the earthquake in the year 130 did throw down the eastern part of the mosque and the western part also
2nd Earthquake
  • Then occurred a second earthquake, and the building that Al Mansur had commanded to be built fell to the ground
Locations

1st Earthquake
  • Al Aqsa Mosque - Jerusalem
2nd Earthquake
  • Al Aqsa Mosque - Jerusalem
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Le Strange, G. (1890). Palestine under the Moslems. A description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. London, Alexander P. Watt for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.

Le Strange (1910:10) relates that an excellent MSS of this work, which has never yet been printed, are preserved in the Bibliotlieqne Nationale at Paris, and from these the translations given have been made. For a full description of the MSS., and an account of Jamal ad Din's life, I may refer to my paper on Suyuti (who has copied Jamal ad Din), in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xix , new series, p. 250.

Muslim Writers - The shining stars in the kings of Egypt and Cairo by Ibn Tagri Birdi

النجوم الزاهرة في ملوك مصر والقاهرة by بردي يبن

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
Jamal al-Din Yusuf bin al-Amir Sayf al-Din Taghribirdi جمال الدين يوسف بن الأمير سيف الدين تغري بردي (?)
Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf ibn Taghrī-Birdī ابو الءماحاسين يوسوف يبن تاعهريءبيردي (?)
Abū l'-Maḥāsin Djamal al_Din Yūsuf ibn TaghrīBirdī ابو الءماحاسين يوسوف يبن تاعهريءبيردي (?)
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

Ibn Tagri Birdi was born in Cairo around 1410 CE. His father was a mamluk who became commander of the Egyptian armies in 1407 CE, a viceroy in ~1410 CE, and died in 1412 CE leaving Ibn Tagri Birdi to be raised by his sister - the wife of the cheif qadi (W. Popper in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 1, 1991:138). Ibn Tagri Birdi studied under many noted scholars, participated in military campaigns, and authored books on History and Biography. The shining stars in the kings of Egypt and Cairo (al-Nudjum al-Zahira fi Muluk Misr wa 'l-Kahira) is a history of Egypt from 641 CE - 1467 CE (W. Popper in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 1, 1991:138). Ibn Tagri Birdi died in 1470 CE.

Excerpts
English from Guidoboni et al (1994)

In that year, there was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem. The sons of Shaddad ibn Aws died there. The inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert, where they stayed for forty days. It is said to have happened in the year 131 (al-Nujum al-Zdhira 1.311)

Original Document - Arabic - embedded

Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE It is said to have happened in the year A.H. 131 none
11 September 747 - 30 August 748 CE A.H. 130 none
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
  • Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232) state that Tagri Birdi's chronicle dates the earthquake to A.H. 130 but that in the same section, Tagri Birdi adds that there existed another, less common, tradition according to which the earthquake occurred in A.H. 131 (31 August 748-18 August 749).
Seismic Effects
  • there was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem
  • The sons of Shaddad ibn Aws died there
  • Aftershocks - The inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert, where they stayed for forty day
Locations
  • Syria
  • Jerusalem
Sources
Sources

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232) relate that Tagri Birdi's earthquake account quotes from the book Mir'at al-Zaman by 13th century writer Sibt ibn al-Jawzi. Karcz (2004) states the same thing perhaps on the authority of Amikam Elad.

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira in Arabic and Latin (?) at hathi trust

al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira in Arabic and Latin (?) as a Google Play ebook

Parts of al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira in Arabic

A short summary al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira in Arabic

Possibly all volumes

Massoud, S. (2007). The Chronicles and Annalistic Sources of the Early Mamluk Circassian Period, Brill.

Popper (1976) History of Egypt, 1382-1469 A.D.: 1399-1411 A.D by Ibn Taghribirdi

Cited by Ambraseys (2009)

Ibn Taghribirdi, Abu’l Mahasin, Hawadith al-duhur fi mmada ‘l-ayyamm wa ‘l-shuhur, ed. W. Popper, in Semitic Philology, vol. 8, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1930–42; partly trans. W. Popper, New Haven, 1967.

Ibn Taghribirdi, Abu’l Mahasin, Al-nujum az-zahira fi‘muluk Misr w‘al-Qahira, ed. F. M. Shlatut, Cairo, 1929–72, 16 volumes; also ed. and partly trans. in W. Popper, The History of Egypt 1382–1469 AD, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915–60 [P].

Cited by Guidoboni and Comastri (2005)

Ibn Taghribirdi, al-Nujum al-zahira, ed. F.M.Shaltut et al., 16 vols., Cairo 1929-72.

Ibn Taghribirdi, Hawadith al-duhar fi mada 'l-ayyam wa 'l-shuhur, ed. W.Popper, Pubis in Semitic Philol., vol.VIII, Berkeley-Los Angeles 1930-42.

Karcz (2004)

SHALTUT, F.M. (1929):Ibn Tagri Birdi, Abu l’Mahasin al Nu-jum al Zahira Fi Muluk Misr wal Quhira, Cairo, v. 1,p. 311.

Notes
Notes on Ibn Tagri Birdi

Ibn Tagri Birdi explained

Aliases of Ibn Tagri Birdi

List of aliases for Ibn Tagri Birdi


Aboul Mahasin ibn Tagri-Bardi
Abū al-Maḥāsin
Abū al-Maḥāsin, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf
Abū al-Maḥāsin Ibn Taghrībirdī
Abū al-Maḥāsin Ibn Taġrībirdī
Abū al-Maḥāsin Jūsuf Ibn Taghrībirdī
Abū al-Maḥāsin Taġrībirdī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf
Abū al-Maḥāsin, Yūsuf
Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taghrībirdī
Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf ibn Taġrī-Birdī
Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taġrībirdī
Abu-'l-Ma.hāsin Ibn-Taġrībirdī
Abū'l-Maḥaāsin Yūsuf Ibn-'Abdallāh Ibn-Taġhrībirdī
Abū 'l-Maḥāsin
Abū-l-Maḥāsin ibn Taghri-Bardi
Abu l-Maḥasin Ibn Taghrî Birdî
Abū 'L-Mahasin ibn ẗagri
Abu-l-Maḥasin Jūsuf Ibn-Taġrī-Bardī
Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn-Taġrībirdī
Abu-'l-Maḥāsin, Yūsuf Ibn-Taġrībirdī al-Atābakī Ǧamāl-ad-Dīn
Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn-ʿAbdallāh Ibn-Taġrībirdī
Abu l-Mahászin ibn Tagríbirdi
al-Atabaki, Yusuf ibn Taghri Bardi
al-Atabiki, Yusuf ibn Taghri Birdi
Atābakī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf b. Taġrībirdī al-
Atābakī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf b. Taġrībirdī al-
Atābakī, Yūsuf b. Taġrībirdī al-
Atabaki, Yusuf ibn Taghri Bardi
Atābikī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf b. Taġrībirdī al-
Atābikī al-Rūmī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taġrī Bardī al-
Atābikī al-Rūmī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taġrī birdī al-
Atābikī al-Rūmī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taġrībardī al-
Atābikī al-Rūmī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taġrībirdī al-
Atābikī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf b. Taġrībirdī al-
Atābikī, Yūsuf b. Taġrībirdī al-
Atabiki, Yusuf ibn Taghri Birdi
Bardī, Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn Taġrī
Birdî, Abu l-Maḥasin ibn Taghrî
Birdī, Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Ibn Taġrī
Džamāl ad-Dīn Jūsuf bin al-Amīr Sajf ad-Dīn Taghrībirdī
Filii Togri-Bardi, Jemalledin
Ibn Taghri Bardi, Abu al-Mahasin Yusuf
Ibn Taghrī Birdi
Ibn Taghri Birdi, Abou el-Mahasen Yousef
Ibn Taghrî Birdî, Abû ʹl-Maḥâsin
Ibn Taghrî Birdî, Abû -al Mahasin
Ibn Taghrī Birdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taghrî Birdî, Abu l-Maḥasin
Ibn Taghribardi, Abu al-Mahasin Yusuf
Ibn Taghribirdi
Ibn Taghrībirdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Jūsuf
Ibn Taghrībirdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taghrībirdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf ibn ʿAbdallāh
Ibn Taghribirdi (ägyptischer Historiker)
Ibn Taghribirdi (dichter uit Egypte (1410-1470))
Ibn Taghribirdi (Historian)
Ibn Taghrībirdī, Yūsuf al-Ẓāhirī al-Juwaynī
Ibn Taġrī Bardī
Ibn Taġrī Bardī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn-Taġrī Bardī, Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Bardī al-Atābakī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Bardī al-Atabakkī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Bardī al-Atābikī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Bardī, Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Birdī
Ibn Taġrī-Birdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī birdī al-Atābakī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taǧrī Birdī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Birdī, Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Burdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrī Burdī, Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībardī
Ibn Taġrībardī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībardī al-Atābakī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībardī, Yūsuf
Ibn-Taġrībirdī
Ibn Taġrībirdī, Abu al-Ma.hāsin Yūsuf Ibn 'Abdallāh
Ibn Taġrībirdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin
Ibn Taġrībirdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn-Taġrībirdī, Abu-'l-Ma.hāsin Yūsuf Ibn-'Abdallāh
Ibn Taġrībirdī, Abū l-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn-Taġrībirdī, Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Yūsuf Ibn-ʿAbdallāh
Ibn Taġrībirdī al-Atābakī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībirdī al-Atābakī, Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībirdī al-Atābikī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībirdī al-Atābikī, Abu-ʾl-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taǧrībirdī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībirdī, Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrībirdī, Yūsuf Abū al-Maḥāsin
Ibn-Taġrībirdī, Yūsuf Ibn-ʿAbdallāh
Ibn Taġrīburdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
Ibn Taġrīburdī, Yūsuf
İbn Tağrıberdi
Jamāl al-Dīn Abī al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf ibn Taghrībirdī
Jemaleddin Togri-Bardius
Jemaleddinus (Filius Togri-Bardii)
Jemalleddin filius Togri-Bardi
Jemalledin filii Togri-Bardi
Tagribirdi, Abu al-Mahasin Yusuf
Taġrībirdī, Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf al-
Taġrībirdī, Ǧamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf al-
Taġrībirdī, Yūsuf al-
Togri-Bardi, Jemaleddin
Togri-Bardius
Yūsuf Ibn Taghrībirdī
Yūsuf ibn Taġrī-Birdī
Yūsuf ibn Taġrībirdī
Yūsuf Ibn-Taġrībirdī, Abu-'l-Maḥāsin Ǧamāl-ad-Dīn
Yūsuf Ibn-Taġrībirdī al-Atābakī, Ǧamāl-ad-Dīn Abu-'l-Maḥāsin
Yūsuf Ibn-ʿAbdallāh Ibn-Taġrībirdī
Ибн Тагриберди
أبو المحاسن، جمال الدين،
أبو المحاسن يوسف بن تغرى بردى
أبو المحاسن، يوسف بن تغرى بردى، جمال الدين،
ئیبن تەغری
ابن تغرى
ابن تغري
ابن تغري بردي
ابن تغري بردي، أبو المحاسن يوسف،
ابن تغري بردي، ابو المحاسن يوسف،
ابن تغري بردي، جمال الدين يوسف،
ابن تغري بردي، يوسف،
ابن تغري بردي, يوسف أبو المحاسن
ابن تغري بردي، يوسف ابو المحاسن،
ابن تغري، يوسف،
ابن تغريبردي، أبو المحاسن يوسف،
ابن تغريبردي، ابو المحاسن يوسف،
ابن تغری بردی
الاتابكى، يوسف بن تغرى بردى،
البشقاوي، يوسف بن تغري بردي،
الحنفي، يوسف بن تغري بردي،
الظاهري، يوسف بن تغري بردي،
القاهري، يوسف بن تغري بردي،
بن تغرىبردى، أبو المحاسن يوسف،
يوسف بن تغري بردي،

Comments by Karcz (2004)

Karcz (2004) adds:

It is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.

Muslim Writers - Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes by Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti

كتاب كشف الصلصلة عن وصف الزلزلة by عبد الرحمن بن كمال الدين أبي بكر بن محمد سابق الدين خضر الخضيري الأسيوطي

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
Al-Suyuti
As-Suyuti
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti
Abu 'l-Fadl 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr ibn Muhammad Djalal al_Din al-Khudayri
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Suyuti is presently recognized as the most prolific author in the whole of Islamic literature (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). He was widely read and famous across the Islamic world during his lifetime and was known for extreme self-confidence in his mental abilities (e.g. he had memorized 200,000 hadiths and was a polymath) which mingled with arrogance and created acrimonious relations inside Egypt (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9 (1991:913-916) describes his procedure as scientific in so far as he quotes his sources with precision and presents them in a critical way and states that he cannot be considered as a mere compiler. He may have authored close to a thousand books writing on many subjects (e.g., History, Biography) besides religion and Islamic jurisprudence. as-Suyuti was born in Egypt in 1445 CE and at the age of eighteen taught Shafi'i law at the mosque of Shaykhu and gave juridicial consultations. In 1472 CE, he became a teacher of hadith at the same mosque. In 1486 CE at the age of 40, as-Suyuti retired from public life. By 1501 CE, he had completely isolated himself in his home on Rawda Island in Cairo where he worked on the editing and revision of his literary works. He died there in 1505 CE (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). His book Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes (Kashf as-Salsalah 'an wasf Az-zalzalak) is a valuable reference for historical earthquakes and is one of the earliest extant earthquake catalogs.

Excerpts
English from Ambraseys (2009)

A.H. 130

In Tadkirat al-Wada'i the following tradition is reported after `Abd-Allah ibn kathir al-Qari who said,
We were victims of an earthquake in Damascus in 130: the inhabitants had left their town; the Dajaj suq [poultry market] fell from the "Great Rocks". Several days after the catastrophe they started to dig through a part of the ruins and then it was that a man was found alive...


A.H. 131

[`Abd-Allah ibn kathir al-Qari also] said,
I was told that at the time of the catastrophic earthquake of 131, the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen; another earthquake following after this last one closed the gap up again.


(al-Suyuti 17-19/9-10.)

English from Sprenger (1843)

A.H. 130. There was an earthquake at Damascus, which was so violent, that the people were obliged to leave the town.

A.H. 131. Several new shocks in Damascus

English from Sprenger (1843) - embedded



An Original Manuscript - Arabic

  • The Noor book courtesy of Najib Abou Karaki (personal correspondence, 2022)



























Chronology

It is possible that as-Suyiti is repeating the same earthquake twice and giving two different A.H. years due to chronological confusion in his sources.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
11 September 747 - 30 August 748 CE A.H. 130 none
daytime (?) 31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 131 none
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
  • the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen suggests a daytime earthquake. If it was a nighttime earthquake, they would have seen stars.
Seismic Effects

A.H. 130 earthquake
  • an earthquake in Damascus in 130
  • the Dajaj suq [poultry market] fell from the "Great Rocks"
  • they started to dig through a part of the ruins
  • people obliged to leave town and that fact that rescue efforts were delayed a few days suggests strong aftershocks in the days after the main shock
A.H. 131 earthquake
  • the catastrophic earthquake of 131
  • the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen; another earthquake following after this last one closed the gap up again.
Sources
Sources according to Karcz (2004)

Karcz (2004) provided the following summary of As-Suyuti's stated source:

As-Suyuti cites the eye witness evidence of Abdalla al Katir, a well known historian and scientist (d. AH 196, 811/812 A.D.), transmitted by al Wadai (d. AH 716, 1316/1317 A.D.)

Notes and Further Reading
References

Sprenger (1843). "As-Soyuti's work on Earthquakes, ." Journal of The Asiatic Society of Bengal 12(141): 741-749.

Nejjar, S. (1973-1974). Traité du tremblement de terre / Jalal ad-Din as-Suyut'i ; trad. annotée [de l'arabe] de Saïd Nejjar. Rabat, Cahiers du centre universitaire de la recherche scientifique.

Al-Sadani, A. (1971). (Jalal-Eddine Al-Suyouti) Kasff Al-Salsala Wa Wasf Al-Zalzalah, in Arabic. Rabat, Morocco.

References from the Encyclopedia of Islam

al-Suyuti's biography, written by his disciple 'Abd al-Kadir al-Shadhili, Bahdjat al-adbidin bitardjamat Djaldl al-Din (mss. in London, Dublin, Kuwayt)

Shams al-Din al-Dawudi, Taradjamat al-Suyuti (ms. Tubingen)

Nadjm al-Din al-Ghazzi, al-Kawakib al-sa'ira bi-a'ydn al-mi'a a al-'ashira, Beirut 1945, i, 226-31.

E.M. Sartain, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti - remains the most complete study in a Western language

eadem, Jalal al-Din as-Suyuti's relations with the people of Takrur, in JSS, xvi (1971), 193-8.

S. Abu Djib mentions several studies in Arabic (op. cit., 331-2).

In his Muhammad's birthday festival (Leiden 1993, 45-70), N.J. Kaptein presents and translates al-Suyuti's fatwa which validates the practice of the mawlid nabawi

Muslim Writers - The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron by Mujir al-Din

التاريخ المجيد للقدس والخليل (?) by مجير الدين

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi مجير الدين العليمي (?)
al-’Ulaimi العليمي (?)
'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-'Ulaymi مجير الدين عبدالرحمن الحنبلي العليمي الشهير بأبن قطينه (?)
Ibn Quttainah يبن قوتتايناه (?)
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi was born in Jerusalem in 1456 CE. He studied there from a young age until he moved to Cairo at the age of eighteen to pursue further studies for about 10 years before returning to Jerusalem. He worked as a public servant and was appointed qadi (Shari’a judge) of Ramla in 1484 CE. He became the chief Hanbali qadi of Jerusalem in 1486 CE and held that position for nearly 3 decades until he retired in 1516 CE. He wrote several books but only one - The glorious history of Jerusalem and Hebron (al-Uns al-Jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds wal-Khalil) - was published (wikipedia).

Excerpts
English from Ambraseys (2009) - an account of the earthquake which destroyed Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time

The history of the holy Rock at Jerusalem on the night of the earthquake, according to Abu Umayr who held the Jundub which pertained to Rustum al- Farisi:
At the time when the first earthquake occurred, they requested me to give the call to prayer, and I answered that that was not my business. They asked me the same when the second [earthquake] occurred and I gave the same answer. Come the third earthquake, I was very frightened and I approached the mosque. All the houses had been destroyed. One of the guards of the holy Rock asked me, 'Quick, go and get news of my family and I will tell you the prodigy.' I went to find out and brought him back the news. Then he said to me, 'The dome lifted itself up, [so that] one could see the stars in the sky, and then it settled again. I heard some unknown people giving orders: here, a bit more, since it was not in its correct place.
According to another version (that of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Qaramany), taken from Amr and Rustum himself:
There were ten guards at each gate: when I brought him news of his family, my guard related to me that the dome had been dropped down (depose´), [so] that the stars had been visible, and that before I returned, rustlings had been heard, then a voice saying ‘Put it down’ three times, and the dome was put back in its place.
Al-Walid ibn Hamad gives an account taken from Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Mansur ibn Thabit, who gives the following version passed down from his father and grandfather:
Abu ‘Uthman was sounding the evening prayer, after the prayer of Qyam [the breaking of the fast], on the black square. During the evening prayer, he heard the roar of an earthquake, and cries of people’s distress across the town. It was a black and cold night, full of rain and wind. He heard a voice (without seeing anyone) which said, “Lift it up gently, in the name of God”, and the dome was lifted up so that the stars appeared, and at the same time people felt drops of water on their faces, until the time of the call to prayer. After this the voice said, “Put it down, put it in place, in the name of God.” And the dome returned to its place.
(al-’Ulaimi, al-Uns. i. 237–238).

English from Sauvaire (1876) - accounts of two instances of seismic damage and repairs made to Al Aqsa mosque

Abd-er-Rahman ibn Mohammad ibn Mansoûr ibn Tàbet reported from his father who reports from his grandfather that all the doors [of Al-Aqsa Mosque] were covered with gold and silver plates up to the time of Abd-el-Malek. Now, when the Abbasid Abu-Dja'far El-Mansoûr came, the eastern and western parts of the mosque had fallen. He said [to the Caliph]:
Commander of the Believers, the eastern and western parts of the mosque were overthrown by the earthquake in the year 130. If you gave the order to rebuild this Mosque and restore it, I do not have the money [to do so].
Then he [the Caliph] ordered him to tear off the gold and silver plates which covered the doors. They were torn off and they made dinars and dirhams which were used for the expenses of the reconstruction until it was completed.

The caliphate of El-Mansoùr began in the year 136. He was the second caliph of the Abbasids who built Baghdad. Construction started in the year 145. He [El-Mansoùr] died on Saturday the 6th of the month of Dhu l'Hijja, year 158 (AD October 7, 775), at the age of fifty-eight years and was buried in Mecca.

Some time later the second earthquake struck and overturned the buildings executed by the order of Abu-Dja'far. Subsequent to this time, that is to say after the death of the Caliph, [the new Caliph] El-Mahdy came and with the constructions in ruins, the state of things was explained to him. He ordered repairs saying:
This Mosque is narrow and long and empty of followers. Decrease the length and make it wider.
The building was completed under his caliphate. His full name is Abu-'Abd-Allah Mohammad, son of Abd-Allah El-Mansoûr, and his honorary nickname is El-Mahdy.

French from Sauvaire (1876) - accounts of two instances of seismic damage and repairs made to Al Aqsa mosque

'Abd-er-Rahman ebn Mohammad ebn Mansoûr ebn Tàbet a rapporté d'après son père qui le tenait de son aïeul, que toutes les portes étaient revêtues de plaques d'or et d'argent à l'époque d' 'Abd-el-Malek. Or, lorsque vint Abou-Dja'far El-Mansoûr. l'Abbâsîde, les parties orientale et occidentale du Masdjed étaient tombées : « Com- mandeur des Croyants, lui dit-on_, les parties orientale et occidentale du Masdjed ont été renversées par le tremblement de terre, en l'année 130; si tu donnais l'ordre de reconstruire ce Masdjed et de le restaurer ? — Je n'ai pas d'argent, » répondit-il. Puis, il ordonna d'arracher les plaques d'or et d'argent qui recouvraient les portes. Elles furent arrachées, et on en fabriqua des dinars et des derhems qui servirent aux dépenses de la reconstruction, jusqu'à ce que celle-ci fut achevée.

Le khalifat d'El-Mansoùr commença en l'année 136. Deuxième khalife des 'Abbâsides, c'est lui qui construisit Baghdàd; la construction en fut commencée l'an 145. Il mourut le samedi 6 du mois de dou'l heddjeh, l'année 158 (7 octobre 775 de J.-C.), à l'âge de cinquante-huit ans, et fut enterré à la Mekke.

Quelque temps après eut lieu le second tremblement de terre qui renversa les constructions exécutées par l'ordre d'Abou-Dja'far. Postérieurement à cette époque, c'est-à-dire après la mort du khalife, El-Mahdy étant venu et ces constructions se trouvant en ruines, on lui exposa l'état des choses: il ordonna de faire les réparations, en disant: « Ce Masdjed est étroit et long, et vide de fidèles; diminuez-en la longueur et faites-le plus large. » La bâtisse fut achevée sous son khalifat. Son nom entier est Abou-'Abd-Allah Mohammad, fils d' 'Abd-Allah El-Mansoûr, et son surnom honorifique El-Mahdy.

French from Sauvaire (1876) - accounts of two instances of seismic damage and repairs made to Al Aqsa mosque - embedded



Original Document - Arabic - embedded

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Chronology
Dates for the two earthquakes which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque

Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time
Year Reference Corrections Notes
11 September 747 - 30 August 748 CE A.H. 130 none Calculated with CHRONOS
Earthquake which destroyed Al Aqsa Mosque the 2nd time
Year Reference Corrections Notes
10 June 754 – 6 October 775 CE Sometime during the reign of Caliph Al-Mansur (r. 10 June 754 – 6 October 775) none
  • The caliphate of El-Mansoùr began in the year 136 (specifically 10 June 754 CE)
  • Some time later the second earthquake struck and overturned the buildings
  • Subsequent to this time, that is to say after the death of the Caliph, [the new Caliph] El-Mahdy (r. 6 October 775 – 24 July 785) came and with the constructions in ruins, the state of things was explained to him
  • He (El-Mahdy) ordered repairs
  • Notes

The Main Shock from the Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time struck at night

Three instances of eyewitness testimony sourced through a chain of witnesses (isnad) describes a main nighttime shock. A nighttime earthquake is compatible with the timing of the Holy Desert Quake reported by al-Muqaffa, Al-Makin, Chronicon Orientalen, and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. The table below summarizes eyewitness testimony for a nighttime earthquake.

Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time struck at night
Source Quotes
Abu Umayr
  • The dome lifted itself up, [so that] one could see the stars in the sky
‘Ubayd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Qaramany
  • the dome had been dropped down, [so] that the stars had been visible,
Al-Walid ibn Hamad
  • Abu ‘Uthman was sounding the evening prayer, after the prayer of Qyam [the breaking of the fast]
  • During the evening prayer, he heard the roar of an earthquake, and cries of people’s distress across the town
  • It was a black and cold night, full of rain and wind
  • the dome was lifted up so that the stars appeared
  • at the same time people felt drops of water on their faces, until the time of the call to prayer
  • Notes
    • The account from Al-Walid ibn Hamad states that the earthquake struck during an evening prayer that happened after the prayer of Qyam [the breaking of the fast]. It appears that the prayer of Qyam can take place any time during the night.
    • Caveat : the earthquake was described as striking on a black and cold night, full of rain and wind yet the same earthquake breached the roof of Al Aqsa Mosque such that the stars appeared and at the same time people felt drops of water on their faces. How likely is it that one can see the stars on a black rainy night ?

Foreshocks from the Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time

Two earlier daytime foreshocks were also described according to Abu Umayr.

Descriptions of Foreshock timing
Shock Number Quotes
1
  • At the time when the first earthquake occurred, they requested me to give the call to prayer,
2
  • They asked me the same (give the call to prayer) when the second [earthquake] occurred
The foreshocks are described as occurring soon before calls to prayer. Muslim prayer times are shown below.
Muslim Prayer Times
Prayer Name Prayer Time
Fajr prayer ~ 6 am - between dawn and sunrise
Zuhr prayer 12 pm - noon
Asr prayer ~ 3 pm - midway between noon and sunset
Maghrib prayer ~ 6 pm - just after sunset
Isha prayer ~ 7 pm - nighttime

Seismic Effects

Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time
  • All the houses had been destroyed
  • The dome [of Al Aqsa Mosque] lifted itself up, [so that] one could see the stars in the sky, and then it settled again
  • the dome had been dropped down, [so] that the stars had been visible
  • he heard the roar of an earthquake, and cries of people’s distress across the town
  • the eastern and western parts of the mosque were overthrown by the earthquake in the year 130
Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 2nd time
  • Some time later the second earthquake struck and overturned the buildings
Locations mentioned

Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 1st time
  • Jerusalem
Earthquake which damaged Al Aqsa Mosque the 2nd time
  • Jerusalem
Sources
Sources

Elad (1995:2) reproduced Mujir ad-Din's Introduction which discusses some of his sources and shows why this text, despite being late, may contain reliable information.

What motivated me to write this [i.e. book] is that the majority of cities in the Islamic world gained the interest of the scholars, who wrote about matters related to their history, helpful things that are instructive of their true events in olden times. Though with respect to Jerusalem, I did not come across any writing of this kind about it, devoted only to it ... I saw (therefore) that people yearn for something of this type, an example of which I turned to do; for a few for one] of the scholars wrote something connected to praise [of Jerusalem] only; several of them deal with a description of `Umar's conquest and the construction of the Umayyads; a few of them note Salah al-Din's conquest, found it sufficient, and did not mention what occurred after it; and some of them wrote a history in which they discussed some distinguished Jerusalemites, which is not of much use.

And lo, I wish to gather all the notations on the construction, the praise, the conquests and the biographies of the esteemed persons and to mention some of the famous events in order to construct a complete history.4

Footnotes

Mujir al-Din, vol. I (Amman ed.), p. 5 (Bulaq's ed., vol. I, p. 6); mentioned by Goitein, "Jerusalem During the Arabic Period," p. 7.

Elad (1995:2) notes that Mujir al-Din's sources for Umayyad and possibly early Abbasid periods relies on the "Literature in Praise of Jerusalem". Elad (1995:6-7, 10-11) describes this literature as follows:
The "Literature in Praise of Jerusalem" upon which Mujir al-Din based most of the first part of his book, which discusses the early period of the city, is mainly from the 12th to 15th centuries. This literature is predated by earlier writings which the later authors copied. Among these are the books by Abu Bakr al-Wasiti (beginning of the 11th century), Fada'il al-Bayt al-Muqaddas and by al-Musharraf b. al-Murajja (middle of the 11th century), Fada'il Bayt al-Maqdis wa-al-Sham wa-'l-Khalil, which is the largest and most important of the In-Praise-of-Jerusalem literature. A number of scholars used Ibn al-Murajja's manuscript for their research.

The "Literature of Praise" (Fada'il) is considered a part of the hadith literature. This literature is usually regarded as reflecting trends and developments in the early Muslim state in the 1st/7th and 2nd/8th centuries. The classic approach of the important hadith scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries was to examine the hadith chiefly through the matn, i.e., internal and external analysis and examination of the content of the hadith. This type of analysis provides historical, religious, social, economic, etc. data incorporated into the hadith. Sometimes it is possible to point precisely to trends of a specific hadith (though less possible to give an exact date of its creation) by comparing it with known historic processes or events. As noted, with the exception of single instances, just on the basis of the criterion for examining the matn alone, it is very difficult to establish an exact chronology or to date the creation of the tradition before the end of the 1st/7th century. During the last twenty years extensive progress has been made in the study of early Muslim historiography, especially in the broad field of hadith literature. More and more emphasis is being given to the study of the isnad, i.e., to the chain of transmitters. Efforts are being made in these studies to develop a method and establish criteria that will aid in finding data, particularly chronological (though also others) about the hadith.
Elad (1995:13-20) suggested that In-Praise-of-Jerusalem literature contained a number of traditions that came from the Umayyad period.
Research on Jerusalem in the early Muslim period in general and on the In-Praise-of-Jerusalem literature in particular took a decisive turn following Kister's studies. He further developed the method Goldziher used in studying the hadith and clearly showed that a great number of the traditions of the Praise literature are very old and were created in the Umayyad period, or in his own words:
We can say with certainty that they were well known and widely circulated as early as the beginning of the second century after the hijra.... Jerusalem Praise Literature emerged in the second half of the first century of the hijra (the end of the seventh century C.E.) and was put into writing in the first half of the second century of the hijra (eight century C.E.).
Recently, Juynboll has argued, basing his argument on other methods, that this literary type (the Fada'il) as a whole (not just the "Literature in Praise of Jerusalem") is among the older types of hadith, if not the oldest, and was already circulated from the middle to the end of the 1st/7th century. 38 Other scholars reached identical conclusions through analysis and treatment of another type of hadith literature, al-Fitan wa-'l-Malahim (events and wars of the "End of Days")."

I rely to a great extent in this book on Jerusalem Praise Literature and in particular on two compositions that Le Strange did not see, namely, that of al-Wasiti and of Ibn al-Murajja (beginning to the middle of the 11th century). The years these authors lived and when they died date their compositions to pre-Crusader times. The assumption of other scholars that a large part of the In-Praise-of-Jerusalem literature was composed after the Crusader period is mistaken. Analysis of the historic background (the Umayyad period) which was conducive to the creation of the Praise literature and the conclusions of the studies quoted above lead to the conclusion that most of the traditions in the Jerusalem Praise compositions are from the Umayyad period. They can, therefore, be traced back to the end of the 1st/7th century or the beginning to middle of the 2nd/8th century. The collection of the old Praise-of-Jerusalem traditions that appear in the books of al-Wasiti and Ibn al-Murajja served the later authors of the 12th to the 15th centuries; the latter copied what lay before them. If they added anything, they usually noted it; sometimes they deleted material. Comparison of tens of traditions in the books of al-Wasiti and Ibn-al-Murajja, that were accurately copied by later authors is proof of this. Evidently, the reason for the caution and relative preciseness in copying these traditions was because they were part of the hadith literature. This is one of the basic characteristics of the hadith literature and also of Muslim history: ancient compositions and traditions can "disappear" for hundreds of years and reappear in later compositions....

Other arguments can lead to the attribution of an early date to the Praise-of-Jerusalem Traditions:
  1. Many traditions with an identical isnad exist in early hadith collections or early exegesis of the Qur'an as well as in Fada'il works. (There is a large body of evidence of this type, hence it would be superfluous to discuss it here.)
  2. A great number of traditions (sometimes many scores) were transmitted at a certain stage by one transmitter, one isnad chain going back from him to the alleged originator of the report. One of these transmitters, al-Walid b. Hammad al-Ramli, who wrote in the mid-9th century, has been discussed elsewhere. The fact that each different transmitter, some living in the 9th-10th centuries, had an accumulation of so many traditions makes it likely that they already possessed a book or big collection of "Traditions in Praise of Jerusalem".
  3. Juynboll argues that during the last two decades of the 1st century of the hijra (700-720), interest was awakened in hadith literature in the different centres of the Caliphate, and he adds:
    I have come to recognize that the vast majority of isnads, as far as their three oldest transmitters are concerned, can be considered as being particular to one centre. At a somewhat later stage, say, during the first few decades of the second century (the 720's-750's A.D.), contacts do seem to have been established between centres and witness the emergence of isnads that can be labelled as being particular to more than one centre.
    An analysis of the isnad of a great many traditions in Praise-of-Jerusalem shows that at least the first three scholars, beginning from the Successors onwards, lived in Palestine or in the towns of southern Syria. This is particularly evident in the traditions dealing with or providing information on the topography of Jerusalem (and not merely from a geographico-historical point of view). I shall insist and comment on this point many times during my discussion. It has important demographic and cultural implications, and a special study needs to be devoted to this in the future.
  4. The place the tradition was transmitted or heard is often given in the isnad itself, and sometimes even the date of transmission. There are many such testimonies in the "Traditions in Praise of Jerusalem" in Ibn al-Murajja's work. The dates are generally from the 9th century onwards, although some are earlier
  5. Many key traditions, often those with the greatest historical value for the history of Jerusalem during the Umayyad period and later, were transmitted by a chain of transmitters from one Jerusalem family. Such a family, the Salama b. Qaysar, with all its branches, has been discussed elsewhere. 48.
    Another very important family is that of `Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Mansur b. Thabit of Jerusalem. Eight traditions transmitted by members of this family are found in al-Wasiti's work. 49
    1. Abd al-Rahman lived in the mid-9th century. He transmitted all eight traditions mentioned above to al-Walid b. Hammad al-Ramli (mid-late 9th century).
    2. His father, Muhammad b. Mansur, was active in the last quarter of the 8th century and early 9th century. He was active at least during the reign of Caliph al-Mahdi (reigned 775-785), since he tells of the church which al-Mahdi ordered al-Fadl b. Salih (b. `Ali b. `Abdallah b.`Abbas) to renovate and construct. This renovation may have been carried out during al-Madhi's visit to Jerusalem in the year 163/780. From another source it is learned that Salih b. `Ali was in al-Mahdi's retinue when he came to Jerusalem in the year already mentioned. Another tradition tells that the Muhammad b. al-Mansur in question lived in the period of Muqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767-8) and even heard [hadith] and transcribed from him on the Haram.
    3. Mansur b. Thabit. Nothing more is known about him.
    4. Thabit b. Istanibiyadh, al-Firisi al Khumsi lived during al-Mahdi's reign. He reports on al-Mahdi's visit to Jerusalem in 780 in an important tradition. In another he reports from Raja' b. Haywa (d. 112/730) on the building of the Dome of the Rock. And in yet another, he reports on the earthquake which occurred in 130/747. The members of this family are discussed in detail since the information they provide in their traditions is of the greatest importance for the history of Jerusalem in the early Islamic period. At least in connection with the "Traditions in Praise of Jerusalem" which were examined, it is concluded that the family traditions are an extremely important source. This differs from Schacht, who almost totally negates such traditions in the field of legal hadith.
  6. The isnad in many "Traditions in Praise of Jerusalem" does not "originate" with the Prophet or with one of the Companions of the Prophet (Sahaba), but with a Successor or the Successor of a Successor, who generally lived in the first or second half of the 8th century. In this respect the words of Schacht should be noted, that "isnads have a tendency to grow backwards," or that:
    In the course of polemical discussions . . . traditions from Successors become traditions from Companions and traditions from Companions become traditions from the Prophet.... We must as a rule ... consider the opinions of the Successors as the starting point, and the traditions from the Companions and from the Prophet as secondary development, intended to provide a higher authority for the doctrine in question.
    In another place he says:
    Generally speaking, we say that the most perfect and complete isnads are the latest.
    Juynboll develops this basic idea of Schacht's as follows:
    • Where did a specific hadith originate? Probably in the region where the traditionist mentioned at the Successor's level in its isnad operated.
    • When did a specific hadith originate? ... at the earliest sometime during the life of the Successor of the isnad .
    • Who may be held responsible for bringing a tradition into circulation? ... It is again in most cases the Successor who can be held responsible as the earliest likely candidate ... but the class of so-called Successors of Successors are even more likely candidates.
    It can be said with certainty that traditions concluding with a Successor or Successor of a Successor were widespread during the Umayyad period, at least at the time when the last transmitter lived.
  7. In many traditions of this kind, the earliest personality signing the isnad was a scholar living in one of the cities of Palestine or at least a Syrian scholar, with close ties to Palestine and its scholars. The information they transmitted was thus of great importance; it is often unique historical or historico-topographical information. Traditions of this kind were transmitted by mu'adhdhiniin of Jerusalem, but mainly by religious scholars, some who served in administrative posts during the Umayyad reign. Such men included
    • Khalid b. Ma`dan (d, 103 or 104/721 or 722), who was both a transmitter of traditions and chief of the "police" (sahib al-shurfa) of Caliph Yazid b. Mu`awiya (reigned 60/680-63/683)
    • or the famous scholar, Raja' b. Haywa (d. 112/730), born in Beit Shean in Palestine, who was in charge of the construction of the Dome of the Rock, and served the Umayyad caliphs from `Abd al-Malik (reigned 65/685—86/705) to ` Umar b. `Abd al-'Aziz (reigned 99/717-101/720)
    • or Ibrahim b. Abi `Abla (d. 152/769-770 or 153/770), who lived in Ramla, and was in close contact with the Caliphs
      • al-Walid b. `Abd al-Malik (reigned 86/705-96/715)
      • Sulayman b. `Abd al-Malik (reigned 96/715-99/717)
      • `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz
      • Hisham b. `Abd al-Malik (reigned 99/724-125/743)
      • and Marwan b. Muhammad (reigned 125/744-132/749)
    Al-Walid b. `Abd al-Malik used to send him from Damascus to Jerusalem to distribute the pensions which the government gave to the Arabs there (`ata').

    In another tradition, Ibrahim testifies that al-Walid b. `Abd al-Malik used to send gold bands with him to be distributed among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In another place his explanation of a verse of the Qur'an is transmitted with an early, very important topographical identification. Ibrahim served as secretary to Hisham and was in charge of diwan al-khritam during Marwan b. Muhammad's reign. There are many other such examples. One further unique example is the last tradition in al-Wasiti's book. The isnad concludes with Damara b. Rabi`a al-Ramli (d. 202/817), the pupil of Ibrahim b. Abi `Abla, from Khalid b. Hazim, who recounts in the first person that Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, the famous scholar (d. 124/ 742), came to Jerusalem:
    and I began to go around with him in these (holy places) so that he could pray there. He said:
    I said here is [a]shaykh, who recites from the holy books (inna hahuna shaykhan yuhaddithu 'ani ''-kutubi), called `Uqba b. Abi Zaynab. What do you think of sitting in his company?
    ...

    He said:
    And we sat by him and he began to transmit traditions in praise of Jerusalem. And since he dwelt at length (on these), al-Zuhri said, oh shaykh, you will never reach the level reached by Allah.
    He said:
    Glory to (Allah) who did take his Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts we did bless.
    And he (the shaykh) was angered and said:
    The resurrection of the dead will not come to pass until the bones of Muhammad, may Allah pray for him and save him, are transferred to Jerusalem.
    From this tradition one learns of the early ziyara to holy places in Jerusalem during the Umayyad period; of the study of non-Muslim religious literature on the Haram by Muslims; of the identification of Jerusalem with the well known Qur'an verse of the Prophet's Isra; of the activity of al-Zuhri, the important scholar, and of two early Jerusalem scholars, mentioned by name. This is in fact an historical tradition, with isnad, of course. Many traditions of this kind are to be found in the collections of the Fada'il.

    In light of all of the above, and based on my understanding of the traditions of the "Literature of Praise", I attempt to trace the earliest historical and topographical processes in the Muslim period in Jerusalem. This brings us back to the Umayyad period, in which great efforts were made by the rulers to exalt Syria (including Palestine: al-Sham), and in which Jerusalem received a special status within the framework of these efforts.

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Sauvaire, H. (1876). Histoire de Jérusalem et d'Hébron depuis Abraham jusqu'à la fin du XVe siècle de J. C: Fragments de la Chronique de Moudjir-ed-Dyn, E. Leroux. - French translations of some parts of Mujr ad-Din

Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi (ca. 1495) "The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron" (al-Uns al-Jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds wal-Khalil) (Online - in Arabic)

Elad, A. (1995). Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship: Holy Places, Ceremonies, Pilgrimage, E.J. Brill.

Elad, A. (1982:36-37) An Early Arabic Source Concerning the Markets of Jerusalem. Cathedra, vol. XXIV (1982), pp. 31-40 (in Hebrew).

Kister, M.J. "A Comment on the Antiquity of Traditions Praising Jerusalem." The Jerusalem Cathedra, voI. I (1981), pp. 185-186.

Schacht, J. The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1979.

Juynboll, G.H.A. Muslim Tradition. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Abu '1-Ma'ali, al-Musharraf b. al-Murajja. Fada'il Bayt al-Maqdis wa-'l-Sham wa-'l-Khalil. Ms. Tubingen VI 27.

Abū 'l-Maՙālī al-Musharraf b. al-Murajjā b. Ibrāhīm al-Maqdisī. (1995). Faḍā'il bayt al-maqdis wa al-khatīl wa-faḍa'il al-shām. ed. Ofer Livne-Kafri, Almashreq, Shfaram.

DBpedia contains numerous links to online versions of Mujir al-Din's works

Excerpts and publications

from wikipedia

Mujir al-Din's writings are quoted extensively in the works of 19th century Orientalists and 20th and 21st century scholars alike. It is particularly valuable for what it reveals about the topography and social life of 15th century Jerusalem. A number of copies of manuscripts of al-Uns al-Jalil are kept in libraries in Paris, London and Vienna. El Wahby, a Cairo-based publishing house printed his work in full. A French translation of excerpts of his work with a foreword by Henry Sauvaire was published under the title, Histoire de Jérusalem et d'Hébron depuis Abraham jusqu'à la fin du XVe siècle de J.-C. : fragments de la Chronique de Moudjir-ed-dyn (1876). This compilation was made up of excerpts of his work translated from a manuscript procured in Jerusalem and from the Egyptian edition.

Translated excerpts of al-Uns al Jalil can be found in the work of Joseph Toussaint Reinaud and Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall. Guy Le Strange references the work of Mujir al-Din throughout his book Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500 (1890), drawing upon his descriptions of various monuments to determine their state, appearance, and measurements at his time of writing.

Notes
Notes

Two Jerusalem families which provided chains of transmitters

Notes from Elad

Elad (1995:78-79)
One such tradition (with an isnad of the family of `Abd al-Rabman, the Jerusalemite) relates that Abtu `Uthman al-Ansari used to spend the nights of Ramadan in prayer on the Black Paving-Stone. This tradition, in which legendary elements, miracles, etc. are interwoven, also describes the earthquake of 130/748 and its effect on the Dome of the Rock.6

Footnotes

6 Al-Wasiti, p. 80, no. 135, and the parallel sources therein.

Elad (1995:40)
In the year 130/747-748 there was an earthquake which apparently destroyed the eastern and western walls of al-Aqsa Mosque.79

Footnotes

79 Al-Wasiti, pp. 83-84, no. 137; see also ibid., pp. 79—81, nos. 133-135; al-Dhahabi, Ta'rikh, (Beirut, hawddith wa-wafayat 120-140), pp. 29-30; [Cairo ed., 1367 H., vol. V, p. 39] for an interesting description of the earthquake which hit Jerusalem and destroyed the house of Shaddad b. Aws, the Companion of the Prophet; on this, see also Gil, op. cit., pp. 89-90, no. 102 [= vol. I, p. 74]; al-Suyiiti, Kashf al $alsala, fol. 422a; Nujam, vol. I, p. 311, II. 12-14; Le Strange, Palestine, p. 92.

Praise of Jerusalem References

Gatein
Creswell
Gil

Muslim Writers - Other Muslim Writers

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) relate the following:

on the other traditions, from al-Wasiti onwards, see Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wasiti, al-Bays al Muqaddas, (ed.) I. Hasson (Jerusalem, 1979), 84.
Karcz (2004) states:
It is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Bet She'an definitive ≥ 8 Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) report that a coin hoard was found underneath a debris and collapse layer. The latest coin was in near mint condition and dated to A.H. 131 (31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE). This coin provides a terminus post quem for the earthquake and, due to its near mint condition, likely a terminus ante quem as well. Because it is part of a hoard, it is unlikely to be intrusive. Widespread and extensive destruction indicates that Bet She'an experienced high levels of Intensity.
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jerash - Church of Saint Theodore probable ≥ 8 Crowfoot (1929:19) attributed destruction of the Church of Saint Theodore to a mid 8th century CE earthquake noting that this date fits the latest class of objects which we found upon our floor levels. Crowfoot (1938:223-4) reports extensive evidence of destruction.
Jerash - Northwest Quarter possible to probable ≥ 8 Coins, pottery, and radiocarbon dating point towards a mid 8th century CE earthquake evidenced in the collapse of a multi-story Umayyad house ( Daugjberg et al, 2022, Lichtenberger, 2016:643). Extensive evidence of seismic destructions attributed to an earthquake in 749 CE is reported by Kalaitzoglou et al (2022) from multiple trenches. Seismic effects include collapsed walls, columns, and roofing along with a skeleton with fractured bones and a strongly folded mosaic floor.
Jerash - Umayyad Congregational Mosque possible The Congregational Mosque of Jerash was uncovered in the 2000s and is located in the south half of Jerash just north of the Oval Plaza. Walmsley (2018:248-250) dates initial construction to between ca. 725 and ca. 735 CE. Archaeoseismic evidence for the 749 CE event is limited to rebuilding evidence which is not tightly dated due to the disturbed condition of the archaeological deposits which prevented development of a stratigraphic framework. This led to a chronology which was developed primarily from Hugh Barnes’s observed architectural sequence (Walmsley, 2018:248-250). Potential archaeoseismic damaged attributed to a 749 earthquake by El-Isa (1985) may refer to a structure in northeastern Jerash that was discovered and identified as a mosque in 1981 (Naghawi, 1982) but whose identification as such is now considered somewhat doubtful (Walmsley and Daamgaard, 2005:364)
Jerash - Umayyad House possible Gawlikowski (1992) dates destruction to after 770 CE which, if correct, suggests an earthquake later than mid 8th century CE
Jerash - Macellum possible ≥ 8 Uscatescu and Marot (2000:298-299) identified a destruction level composed of ashlar blocks and voussoirs from the fallen walls and vaults which was disturbed and thus difficult to date. The destruction layer was not specifically attributed to an earthquake and was approximately dated to second half of the eighth or early ninth centuries CE.
Jerash - Southwest Hill (Late Antique Jarash Project) possible Blanke (2018) reports rebuilding evidence for the 749 earthquake in Southwest Hill (Late Antique Jerash Project)
Jerash - Temple of Zeus probable ≥ 8 Excavated cistern revealed a violent seismic event. The collapse layer contained architectural fragments and a human skeleton. After this event, the cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned. The seismic event was dated based on the layer below (Layer 1). Ceramics dated up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE with many pieces from the Umayyad period and an Umayyad coin struck at Jerash dated to 694-710 CE (Rasson and Seigne, 1989).
Jerash - Hippodrome probable ≥ 8 Ordered fall of masonry in eastern half of the carceres suggests seismic destruction. The stone tumble contained no ceramic or coin deposits. Dating is based on the layer below which contained material from the 3rd-8th centuries including a coin from the 1st half of the 8th century CE which provided a terminus post quem (Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz, 2020 and Ostrasz, 1989).
Jerash - Wadi Suf possible to probable n/a Lichtenberger et. al. (2019) examined three soil profiles in Wadi Suf (surrounding Jerash) using OSL (Optically Stimulated Luminescence). They interpreted the profiles to indicate that a change from fluvial to colluvial deposition in A.D. 760 ± 40 was due to a combination of climatic and social (wars and plagues) factors along with failure of the slope-terrace system and associated irrigation due to shake and liquefaction from the 749 A.D. earthquake together with loss of hinterland land management as agricultural demand from the city declined (due to the same earthquake).
Amman - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Amman Citadel - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Amman - Ummayad Palace probable ≥ 8 Alamgro et al (2000) dated seismic destruction based on a limited amount of pottery which was clearly from the Umayyad period and seems to be from the later part of the Umayyad period. Archaeoseismic evidence suggests high levels of Intensity. A ridge effect is possible at the site.
Umayyad Congregational Mosque on the Citadel in Amman possible ≥ 8 Arce (2000) did not provide dating evidence in a stratigraphic context but identified remains of what appears to be an Umayyad Congregational Mosque whose architectural and structural elements suggest that it was an Umayyad construction. The demise of the Mosque was interpreted as a result of collapse due to an earthquake - presumably the earthquake of A.D. 749. Collapse evidence suggests high levels of local intensity. In addition to evidence of wall and arch collapse, there is evidence of foundation damage. A ridge effect is possible at the site. The Mosque was built on the highest part of the citadel.
Khirbet Yajuz probable ≥ 8 An Early Abbasid terminus ante quem from Khalil and Kareem (2002) combined with an Umayyad terminus post quem from Khalil (1998) produces tightly dated archaeoseismic evidence. Extensive seismic damage uncovered at the site.
Al-Muwaqqar possible ≥ 8 Two seismic destruction events were identified by Najjar (1989). Wall damage or collapse was presumed in the earliest of the two destructions based on rebuilding evidence. A terminus ante quem between 730 and 840 CE was established for this event based on Abbasid pottery above the "destruction" leading to a conclusion that the site was damaged during one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.
Jerusalem - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jerusalem - Umayyad Structures South and Southwest of Temple Mount probable ≥ 8 Mazar (1969) excavated a shaft at the SW corner of Haram esh-Sharif (Temple Mount) and concluded that Umayyad stratum A1 ended with an earthquake. The overlying stratum was classified as Post Umayyad. The earthquake is reported to have collapsed columns and walls and produced a rubble layer in Umayyad structures S and SW of Haram esh-Sharif that were destroyed a generation or two after initial construction. Ben Dov (1985:275-276) examined artifacts from a sewage canal that collected refuse from before Building 2 (S of Haram esh-Sharif) was destroyed. In the canal, he found pottery (Khirbet Mafjar ware) dating to the first half of the 8th century CE. Ben-Dov in Yadin et al (1976:97-101) reports that coins from the 8th century CE were also found in the sewer. Ben Dov (1985:321) reports archaeoseismic evidence in Building 2 that includes cracked walls, warped foundations, fallen columns, and sunken floors. Partial repairs are also reported from the second half of the 8th century CE in the Abbasid Period.
Jerusalem's City Walls possible ≥ 7 Magness (1991) examined a report from a previous excavation of the Roman-Byzantine walls near the Damascus Gate and established a terminus post quem of the 1st half of the 8th century CE for wall repairs. Magness (1991) characterized the level used to establish the terminus post quem as one of the most securely dated assemblages of published Byzantine and Umayyad pottery from an excavation in Jerusalem. Magness (1991) re-examined another previous report and provided a date of the 7th-8th century CE for wall rebuilding of the Roman-Byzantine walls near the Armenian Garden. Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni (2011:421) dated partial damage, probably by an earthquake, of the Roman-Byzantine walls to the mid 8th century CE. Evidence of renovations was also reported.
Baalbek No archaeoseismic evidence has been reported that we know of.
Damascus No archaeoseismic evidence has been reported that we know of.
Tiberias - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Tiberias - Galei Kinneret probable ≥ 7 Marco et al (2003) observed 0.35-1.0 m of what appears to be coseismic dip slip displacement accompanied by Type I (normal stress) masonry fractures - all on land. Hazan et al (2004) examined lake level curves from the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea and concluded that more than 4 m of dip slip displacement was likely present offshore - due to the same earthquake. 4 m of dip slip displacement translates to MW between 7.0 and 7.2. Seismic effects observed by Marco et al (2003) are constrained between Umayyad walls which were faulted and Abassid structures which are unfaulted.
Tiberias - Beriniki Theatre probable ≥ 8 Ferrario et al (2020) report on a Roman theater with extensive seismic effects underneath unfaulted debris flow deposits and unfaulted Abassid-Fatimid structures. The date of the seismic damage observed in the Berniki Theater and the Southern Gate is constrained from 530 CE to the 11th century CE. If the faulted Umayyad Reservoir is considered (and is correctly dated as Umayyad), dating is constrained from 661 CE to the 11th century CE.
Tiberias - Southern Gate probable ≥ 8 Ferrario et al (2020) report warped walls with a pure normal component of displacement and ca. 45 cm. of total throw. The terminus post quem for the wall damage is 530 CE. The date of the seismic damage observed in the Berniki Theater and the Southern Gate is constrained from 530 CE to the 11th century CE. If the faulted Umayyad Reservoir is considered (and is correctly dated as Umayyad), dating is constrained from 661 CE to the 11th century CE.
Tiberias - Ummayad Water Reservoir probable Ferrario et al (2020) report numerous fractures in an Umayyad reservoir which, if correctly identified as Umayyad, provides a terminus post quem of 661 - 750 CE for the fracturing.
Tiberias - Seismo-Tectonics n/a n/a n/a
Tiberias - The Umayyad Mosque possible Cytryn-Silverman (2015:208) notes that the covered hall of the Umayyad mosque was refurbished at some stage by the introduction of a row of columns in the middle of the aisles probably following the earthquake of 749, and aimed at giving extra support to the roof.
Tiberias - Mount Berineke possible Cytryn-Silverman (2015:199), citing Hirschfeld (2004b), lists modifications made to the church on Mount Berineke presumably after an earthquake in 749 CE. Ferrario et al (2014) performed a preliminary archeoseismic examination of the Church on Mount Berineke. The apparent archaeoseismic evidence is undated.
Tiberias - Basilica possible ≥ 8 Hirschfeld and Meir (2004) report that the eastern wing was probably destroyed in the earthquake of 749 CE.
Tiberias - House of the Bronzes no evidence reported
Tiberias - Other sites needs investigation
Hippos Sussita probable ≥ 8 Segal et al (2004:65) reports that chronological evidence for the one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes "destroying" Hippos Sussita has been confirmed by the objects found in the sealed contexts at the [northwest] church such as the coins and pottery (including oil lamps): see our Report 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively. Seismic Effects at the site include a displaced wall and fallen columns. The potential for a topographic or ridge effect appears to be present at this location
Kedesh possible ≥ 8 The Roman Temple at Kedesh exhibits archaeoseismic effects and appears to have been abandoned in the 4th century CE; possibly due to the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Archaeoseismic evidence at the site could be due to 363 CE and/or other earthquakes in the ensuing ~1600 years including the possibility that one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes damaged the Temple. See Fischer et al (1984) and Schweppe et al (2017)
Omrit Overman in Stern et al (2008) reports that an earthquake in the middle of the eighth century CE appears to have brought about the final destruction of the site and its abandonment.
Minya possible ≥ 8 Kuhnen et al (2018) reports that excavations indicate that the palace was not completely finished before it was damaged by an earthquake which they presume to have struck in the mid 8th century CE. Collapse evidence was found in a foundation trench.
Beit Alpha possible ≥ 8 Based on numismatic evidence, Sukenik (1932) dated seismic destruction and a collapse layer to sometime after the 1st quarter of the 6th century CE
Jericho - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jericho - Hisham's Palace possible Although Whitcomb (1988) dates major damage due to a later earthquake, Whitcomb (1988:63) suggests that there was an initial destruction around the mid 8th century CE.
Arbel possible ≥ 8 Ilan and Izdarechet in (Stern et al, 1993) suggested that the synagogue appears to have been destroyed in the mid-eighth century CE based on coins found at the surface. The site hasn't been systematically excavated
Gadara possible ≥ 8 El-Khouri and Omoush (2015:15) noted the presence of ancient wall destruction (fallen stone layers) in many squares underneath the Abbasid layers, especially in Squares F5 and F6. They also noted the reuse of architectural elements in Abbasid constructions as well as prior destruction of a mosaic floor (El-Khouri and Omoush, 2015:16-17). Dating was based on pottery.
Tall Zira'a possible Kenkel and Hoss (2020:116, 271, 273) report that the earthquake of 749 CE caused destruction in Tall Zira'a and destroyed parts of nearby Gadara.
Hammat Gader needs investigation
Lod/Ramla probable 7 Seismic damage was precisely dated by Gorzalczany (2009b) using ceramics. Seismic effects reported by Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) indicates that the site experienced liquefaction. Thus, the Intensity estimate derived from the EAE chart is downgraded from 8 to 7 - i.e. a lower bedrock intensity is required to explain the observed seismic effects. Rosen-Ayalon (2006) dated a rebuilding phase (2) of the White Mosque in Ramla to ~788/789 CE based on a comparison of unique architectural features found in a nearby cistern whose construction was by dated by inscription to 788/789 CE. Rosen-Ayalon (2006) suggested that the rebuilding phase was a response to seismic damage.
Horvat Bira possible Taxel (2013:169) states that a building that was formerly a Byzantine Church in Horvat Bira was destroyed and abandoned, perhaps due to the 747–749 c.e. earthquake(s) - according to the excavators. However, some parts of the chronology of this site is debated (e.g., see Taxel, 2013:169-170).
Horvat Hermeshit possible Taxel (2013:173) reports that Greenhut (1998) claimed that a wine press found on the site went out of use at the beginning of the Early Islamic period and was damaged during the 747–749 c.e. earthquake(s), after it had already been abandoned.
Kafr Jinnis possible Taxel (2013:173) reports that Messika (2006) attributed destruction of the Church and the entire Umayyad settlement to the 747–749 c.e. earthquake(s) or to violent actions related to religious or political struggles Taxel (2013:173) noted that this suggestion could not be confirmed based on the fragmentary evidence available.
Ṣarafand al-ʿAmar possible to probable ≥ 8 Stratum X Collapse - 8th century CE - Kohn-Tavor (2008) identified a collapse layer from the end of Stratum X (dated as Umayyad - mid 7th - mid 8th centuries CE). Part of a building in Area F continued in use during the Abbasid period and another part, which was destroyed at the end of the Umayyad period, was filled with crushed pottery vessels and sealed with stone collapse (Fig. 3).
Mazliah probable 7 Archaeoseismic evidence found here is the same as discussed for Lod/Ramla
Mishmar David possible 8th century CE earthquake - Yannai (2014) noted that in Area B Stratum VI was destroyed in an earthquake (possibly in 749 CE), after which a number of new walls were built in the area (Stratum V). Yannai (2014) noted that in sub-Area C1 the buildings and tower of Stratum VI were destroyed by an earthquake, perhaps in 749 CE after which a new quarter of private houses (Stratum V) was built above the previous dwellings. Yannai (2014) noted that in sub-Area C3 Stratum VI structures were destroyed in an earthquake which would date to ~749 CE based on the Stratum (VI).
Capernaum possible ≥ 8 Debated chronology. See Tzaferis (1988) and Magness (1997)
Qasrin probable ≥ 8 Ceramics from undisturbed loci beneath a destruction layer in Synagogue B date to late 7th/early 8th century CE (Ma'oz and Killebrew, 1988). Ceramics in a stone tumble layer in House B date to the mid 8th century CE.
Kursi possible Vassilios Tzaferis in Stern et al (1993) states that Kursi was destroyed and abandoned after an earthquake in the middle of the 8th century CE.
Ramat Rahel possible ≥ 8 Lipschitz et al (2011) found evidence of collapse and conflagration which they dated to 8th century CE/Umayyad noting that it was possibly caused by one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes.
Kathisma no evidence Much of the remains are missing - pilfered long after its demise and it is this pilfering which may have removed any obvious archeoseismic evidence from earthquakes which struck in the mid 8th century CE.
Pella probable ≥ 8 Extensive destruction including collapsed structures and skeletons of humans and animals was found in Area IV as reported by Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al (1982). Pottery and other finds date the destruction level to the middle 8th century CE and numismatic evidence provides a terminus post quem of A.H. 126 (743/744 CE). Walmsley (2013) suggested that the presence of animals indoors suggests that the earthquake struck in the winter. The earthquake killed apparently sleeping humans and domiciled animals further suggesting that the causative earthquake struck at night. Walmsley in McNicoll et al (1982:127) noted that one of the human skeletons in Area IX was found lying, as if sleeping and that a skeleton on the ground levels in Area IV was wearing a cloak or was wrapped in a blanket (Walmsley in McNicoll et al, 1982:138). Walmsley in McNicoll et al (1982:185) also reported on the discovery of two human skeletons (male and female) that had apparently fallen through the house from the main living area on the second story and were covered in textiles (blankets ?).
Beit-Ras/Capitolias possible ≥ 8 Mlynarczyk (2017) dated archaeoseismic evidence from Area 1-S to the mid 8th century CE based on ceramics.
al-Sinnabra/Beth Yerah possible ≥ 7 Greenberg, Tal, and Da'adli (2017:217) noted that the site was dismantled down to the foundations after abandonment thus obscuring potential archaeoseismic evidence. It is possible that foundation cracks reported by Greenberg and Paz (2010) were caused by a mid 8th century CE earthquake which would indicate high levels of local intensity.
Karak no evidence We are not aware of any published or unpublished pre-Crusader excavations in Karak.
Mount Nebo needs investigation
Abila possible ≥ 8 Mare (1984) dated destruction of a triapsidal basilica in area A to approximately the 8th century CE based on Umayyad pottery sherds found in the vicinity of the Apse.
Umm al-Jimal possible ≥ 8 de Vries (1993) noted that Umm al-Jimal was nearly totally abandoned after 750 CE and speculated that an earthquake could have been the cause. While specific archeoseismic evidence was not mentioned in his report, collapsed masonry and debris are mentioned frequently in the various reports and articles about the site and de Vries (1993:448) found Umayyad pottery in the collapse debris in the apse of the Numerianos Church. In a later report, de Vries (2000) characterized the town as having undergone collapse in the 8th century and abandonment in the 9th century CE. Al-Tawalbeh et al (2019) examined the Roman barracks and, while not providing an explicit date, estimated a SW-NE strong motion direction and intensities of VII-VIII (7-8) using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).
Iraq el-Amir no evidence El-Isa (1985) observed clear and intensive earthquake deformations at the site however this archaeoseismic evidence is undated. El-Isa (1985) suggested the 31 BCE Josephus Quake as a possible candidate.
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater possible Jones (2021:3 Table 1) states that the Phase VII destruction of the Main Theatre is difficult to date, as the structure had gone out of use long before. Destruction tentatively dated to 6th-8th centuries CE but may have occurred later. See also Hammond (1964).
Petra - Temple of the Winged Lions possible ≥ 7 Dating presented in Hammond (1975) was based on analogy to Petra Theater. Philip Hammond excavated both the Petra Theater and Temple of the Winged Lions
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 8 Mikkola et al (2008) characterized seismic destruction as major leading to collapse of the church's semidome and columns of the atrium as well as tilting of a wall towards the south. Dating appears to be based on iconoclastic defacing found inside the church which the excavators date, based on historical considerations, to the early 8th century. The excavators presume that the seismic destruction followed soon after the iconoclastic activity.
Petra - Petra Church possible ≥ 8 Fiema et al (2001) characterized structural destruction of the church in Phase X as likely caused by an earthquake with a date that is not easy to determine. A very general terminus post quem of the early 7th century CE was provided. Destruction due to a second earthquake was identified in Phase XIIA which was dated from late Umayyad to early Ottoman. Taken together this suggests that the first earthquake struck in the 7th or 8th century CE and the second struck between the 8th and 16th or 17th century CE.
Petra - Blue Chapel and the Ridge Church ≥ 6 Perry in Bikai et al (2020:69-70) attributed fallen columns to a mid 8th century earthquake. A terminus post quem was established by 14C dating an animal bone found underneath one column. Dating indicates that the animal died between A.D. 658 and 782 CAL before being consumed by the inhabitants. The column fell shortly after that. Perry in Bikai et al (2020:470) also lists ceramic evidence as supporting this date of destruction. A collapsed vault and fallen columns which dented the floor of the bema suggest high levels of local Intensity.
Aqaba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Aqaba - Ayla probable ≥ 8 Damgaard (2008) and Damgaard (2011, Appendices:12) identified collapse and rebuilding evidence due to an 8th century CE earthquake. Whitcomb (1994) suggested an earthquake struck the site in the mid 8th century CE in his phasing for the site. al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) identified two seismic destructions at the site and provided a terminus ante quem of ~750 CE for the first earthquake. al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) estimated an intensity of IX or more for the first earthquake and surmised that the epicenter was close - a few tens of kilometers away - and to the NE. The site appears to be susceptible to liquefaction. Ayla was built on a sandy beach close to the Gulf of Aqaba. Modern excavators encountered a shallow water table.
Aqaba - Aila possible ≥ 8 Evidence presented in Thomas et al (2007) suggests that Earthquake III is fairly well dated and struck in the 8th century CE.
Haluza possible ≥ 8 Korjenkov and Mazor (2005) identified numerous seismic effects from two earthquakes at the Haluza. The 2nd post-Byzantine earthquake has an apparently reliable terminus post quem of the 7th century CE but is missing a terminus ante quem due to abandonment. Korjenkov and Mazor (2005) estimated an Intensity of 8-9 with epicenter a few tens of kilometers away to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE.
Rehovot ba Negev possible ≥ 8 Seismic Effects uncovered by Tsafrir et al (1988) and Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggests an earthquake struck in the 7th or 8th century CE. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimate Intensity at 8-9 and appear to locate the epicenter to the ESE. There is a probable site effect present as much but not all of Rehovot Ba Negev was built on weak ground (confirmed by A. Korzhenkov, personal communication, 2021)
Shivta possible ≥ 8 Erickson-Gini (2013) identified earthquake collapse at Shivta which she dated to possibly in the Middle Islamic period after the site was abandoned at the end of the Early Islamic period. Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) identified a post Byzantine earthquake which struck after 7th century CE abandonment. The terminus ante quem for this earthquake is not well established. Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimated an Intensity of 8-9 for the post Byzantine earthquake and placed the epicenter a few tens of kilometers away in the WSW direction. They also report that a site effect is not likely at this location.
Hama Needs investigation. Walmsley (2013:89) reports possible earthquake evidence in Hamah in the 8th century CE:
The mound at Hamah apparently was walled (or re-walled) in the eighth century (Ploug 1985: 109-11), and although Ploug opts for a Byzantine date an Umayyad one fits better.
Aleppo no evidence Gonnella (2006:168-169) reports that textual sources report wall repairs after the muslim conquest (~636-638 CE) were necessary due to prior earthquake damage, Very few pre-Ayyubid remains have been found at this site (the Citadel). No evidence has been uncovered thus far for an 8th century CE earthquake at Aleppo.
Reṣafa possible Sack et al (2010) reports seismic destruction that led to abandonment of Basilica B which probably took place before the middle of the seventh century and certainly before the building of the Great Mosque was begun in the second quarter of the eighth century. Al Khabour (2016) notes that the Basilica of St. Sergius (Basilica A) suffered earthquake destructions but did not supply dates. The apse displays fractures that appear to be a result of earthquakes or differential subsidence . Sack et al (2010:307) reported that from the building of the church [Basilica A first built in the 5th century CE] up to the abandonment of the city in the 13th century, earthquakes and the building ground weakened by underground dolines [aka sinkholes] have caused considerable damage.
Palmyra possible ≥ 8 Intagliata (2018:27) reports that water pipes are believed to have been laid in Umayyad times, but were destroyed after a disastrous earthquake and then replaced in the ʿAbbāsid era (al-Asʿad and Stępniowski 1989, 209–10; Juchniewicz and Żuchowska 2012, 70). Juchniewicz and Żuchowska (2012:70) report the following:
Excavation in the Camp of Diocletian, in the area of Water Gate revealed pipeline which is dated by Barański to the Abbasid Period ( Baranski, 1997, 9-10). This pipeline, as well as the earlier one dated to Omayyad Period, is clearly visible in the Great Colonnade, running along the Omayyad suq (al-Asʿad and Stępniowski 1989, 209–10). The Omayyad pipeline was replaced by the later one probably after earthquake. Some of the monumental architraves from the Great Colonnade fell down and destroyed the Omayyad conduits.
Gawlikowski (1994:141) suggests that an earthquake struck the then abandoned Basilica around 800 CE leading to wall collapse.
Tel Taninnim Needs investigation. Taxel (2013:83 n. 65) reports that da Costa (2008) in her review of Stieglitz et al (2006) suggests that the cause for the destruction of the Byzantine-Umayyad settlement [at Tel Tanninim] was the major earthquake of 749.
Caesarea possible 7-8 Based on Raban and Yankelevitz (2008:81) and Arnon (2008:85), Dey et al (2014) reports evidence for mid 8th century CE seismic destruction adjacent to the Temple Platform and, based on Holum et al (2008:30-31), probably adjacent to the Octagonal Church as well. Dey et al (2014) also interpreted landward marine layers that included a complete human skeleton as tsunamogenic and likely caused by one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes. The marine layer lies in a coastal strip between the Temple Platform and the Theater and is dated to between ~500 and 870 CE.
Baydha no evidence No evidence has been uncovered as of yet but Sinibaldi (2020:96-97) reports a Byzantine phase underneath Mosque 1 (aka the Eastern Mosque)
Tel Jezreel possible Moorhead (1997:147-148) speculated that a fissure in the bedrock in the apse of a Church in Area E may have been a result of an earthquake. However, there is debate as to the date of the fissure and whether an earlier structure was from the Byzantine or Crusader period. Grey (2014) reports that this debate was never resolved.
el-Lejjun possible ≥ 8 Evidence reported by Groot et al (2006:183) for the 4th earthquake at el-Lejjun was found in Area B in the Barracks but dating can only be constrained to between ~600 and 1918 CE (assuming that the 3rd earthquake was the late 6th century Inscription at Areopolis Quake). deVries et al (2006:196) suggests that Umayyad abandonment of the Northwest Tower was likely triggered by a collapse and deVries et al (2006:207) found evidence of full scale destruction above layers of the 3rd earthquake in the northwest tower which perhaps occurred in the Umayyad period.
Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible ≥ 8 Clark (1987:489-490) attributed collapse evidence to an earthquake which likely struck at the end of the Umayyad period.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Bet She'an



Jerash - Introduction



Jerash - Church of Saint Theodore



Jerash - Northwest Quarter



Jerash - Umayyad Congregational Mosque



Jerash - Umayyad House



Jerash - Macellum



Jerash - Southwest Hill (Late Antique Jarash Project)



Jerash - Temple of Zeus



Jerash - Hippodrome



Jerash - Wadi Suf



Amman - Introduction



Amman - The Citadel - Introduction



Amman- Umayyad Palace and Umayyad Structures on the Citadel



Amman - Umayyad Congregational Mosque on the Citadel



Khirbet Yajuz



Al-Muwaqqar



Jerusalem - Introduction



Jerusalem - Umayyad Structures South and Southwest of Temple Mount



Jerusalem - City Walls



Baalbek



Damascus



Tiberias - Introduction



Tiberias - Galei Kinneret (adjacent to the Stadium)



Tiberias - Beriniki Theatre (aka The Theatre)



Tiberias - The Southern Gate



Tiberias - Umayyad Water Reservoir



Tiberias - Seismo-Tectonic Considerations from the Theatre, Southern Gate, and Umayyad Water Reservoir



Tiberias - The Umayyad Mosque



Tiberias - Mount Berineke



Tiberias - Basilica



Tiberias - House of the Bronzes



Tiberias - Other Sites



Hippos Sussita



Kedesh



Omrit



Minya



Beit Alpha



Jericho and environs - Introduction



Jericho and environs - Hisham's Palace at the Khirbet el-Mefjer site



Arbel



Gadara



Tall Zira'a



Hammat Gader



Lod/Ramla



Horvat Bira



Horvat Hermeshit



Kafr Jinnis



Ṣarafand al-ʿAmar



Mazliah



Mishmar David



Capernaum



Qasrin



Kursi



Ramat Rahel



Kathisma



Pella



Beit-Ras/Capitolias



al-Sinnabra/Beth Yerah



Karak



Mount Nebo



Abila



Umm al-Jimal



Iraq el Amir



Petra - Introduction



Petra - Petra Theater



Petra - Temple of the Winged Lions



Petra - Jabal Harun



Petra - The Petra Church



Petra - The Ridge Church and the Blue Chapel



Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction



Aqaba/Eilat - Ayla



Aqaba/Eilat - Aila



Haluza



Rehovot ba Negev



Shivta



Hama



Aleppo



Reṣafa



Palmyra



Tel Taninnim



Caesarea



Baydha



Tel Jezreel



el-Lejjun



Castellum of Qasr Bshir



Landslide Evidence

1 PGA to Intensity conversions use Wald et al (1999).
Location (with hotlink) Status Minimum PGA (g) Likely PGA (g) Likely Intensity1 Comments
Umm el-Qanatir probable 0.36 0.5 8.2 Archeoseismic evidence suggests Intensity ≥ 8
Fishing Dock Landslide possible 0.15 - 0.5 0.5 8.2 undated landslide
Ein Gev Landslide possible 0.37 ? ≥7.7 dated to younger than 5 ka BP
Gulf Of Aqaba possible Kanari et al (2015) suggest that two anomalous [coarse grain] events in the submarine core P27 correspond to mass flow events triggered by the earthquakes of 1068 AD and 1458 AD. Even if these events did not generate a destructive tsunami, they may may have recorded seismic activity. Dating presented, however, is not entirely convincing and what was interpreted as due to the 1068 CE earthquake may have flowed in the mid 8th century CE. Ash-Mor et al (2017:45) state that according to Kanari (2016), unit P27C in the canyon core coincides, within the error range, with a ~7MW earthquake which occurred in 948 years BP (1068 CE) and caused heavy destruction to Aqaba (Ambraseys et al., 1994; Ben-Menahem, 1991; Kagan et al., 2011).
Location (with hotlink) Status Minimum PGA (g) Likely PGA (g) Likely Intensity1 Comments
Umm el-Qanatir



Fishing Dock Landslide



Ein Gev Landslides



Gulf Of Aqaba



Tsunamogenic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Caesarea and Jisr al-Zakra probable Goodman-Tchernov et al (2009) identified tsunamites in cores taken immediately offshore of the harbor of Caesarea which Goodman-Tchenov and Austin (2015) dated to the 5th - 8th century CE. Tyuleneva et. al. (2017) identified what appears to be the same tsunamite in a core (Jisr al-Zarka 6) taken offshore of nearby Jisr al-Zakra. This core was located ~1.5-4.5 km. north of the Caesarea cores. The tsunamite deposit from Jisr al-Zarka was more tightly dated to 658-781 CE (1292-1169 Cal BP) – within the time window for the Holy Desert Quake of the Sabbatical Year Earthquake sequence.
Dead Sea possible No physical tsunamogenic evidence from the Sabbatical Year Quakes has been conclusively identified in the Dead Sea. However, Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 both refer to a fortress in Moab inhabited by Yemenite Arabs which was moved 3 miles by a seismic sea wave. There is some ambiguity about location (the location could have been located in the Sea of Galilee) but the most probable interpretation of the text is that this took place on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea. The source for the accounts by Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 may have been the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Caesarea and Jisr al-Zakra



Dead Sea



Paleoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Hacipasa Trenches possible ≥ 7 The oldest event identified in the Ziyaret Trench dated to before 983 CE. A lower bound on age was not available due to insufficient radiocarbon dates.
Kazzab Trench possible ≥ 7 Ambiguous paleoseismic event ?S2 expressed as displacements along faults F2 and F3. Although Daeron et al (2007) favored an interpretation where this displacement was created during event S1 (dated 926-1381 CE) as a 'mole-track' like feature, they considered another interpretation that ?S2 was caused by a separate seismic event. Their age model date for ?S2 as a separate event spanned from 405 to 945 CE (2σ).
Jarmaq Trench possible ≥ 7 Nemer and Meghraoui (2006) date Event Z to after 84-239 CE. They suggested the Safed Earthquake of 1837 CE as the most likely candidate.
al-Harif Aqueduct possible ≥ 7 Sbeinati et al (2010) state that Event Y, characterized from paleoseismology, appears to be older than A.D. 650–810 (unit d, trench A) and younger than A.D. 540–650 (unit d3 in trench C). The results of archaeoseismic investigations indicate that ages of CS-1 (A.D. 650–780) and tufa accumulation CS-3-3 (A.D. 639–883) postdate event Y. Combined together, this constrains Event Y to 540-780 CE.
Qiryat-Shemona Rockfalls no evidence
Bet Zayda probable ≥ 7 Event CH2-E1 (675-801 CE) from Wechsler et al (2018) - Estimated Magnitude 6.9-7.1.
Jordan Valley - Tel Rehov Trench possible moderate Event III of Zilberman et al (2004) could correspond to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes as it is dated to the 8th century CE. Zilberman et al (2004) indicate that the event produced no vertical displacement and was identified as fractures which crossed Units 1-3. They speculated that the epicenter might have been distant which is also to say that local Intensity may have been moderate.
Jordan Valley - Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed Trenches possible ≥ 7 Ferry et al (2011) detected 12 surface rupturing seismic events in 4 trenches (T1-T4) in Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed; 10 of which were prehistoric. One of the two historical events (Y and Z) could correlate to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes however these events are not precisely dated. The tightest chronology came from the Ghor Kabed trenches (T1 and T2) where Events Y and Z were constrained to between 560 and 1800 CE.
Jordan Valley - Dir Hagla Trench possible ≥ 7 Event B dated to 700-900 CE
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a n/a
Dead Sea - ICDP Core 5017-1 possible 7 16.5 cm. thick turbidite - age 702 CE ± 44 (658-746 CE) indicating that this turbidite could alternatively have been triggered during the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 CE.
Dead Sea - En Feshka probable 8 - 9 (both seismites) two seismites are closely spaced to each other
  • a 2.5 cm. thick brecciated (Type 4) seismite at 126.5 cm. depth with modeled Ages of 826 CE ± 31 (1σ) and 797 CE ± 68 (2σ)
  • a 1 cm. thick brecciated (Type 4) seismite at 125 cm. depth with modeled Ages of 831 CE ± 30 (1σ) and 802 CE ± 69 (2σ)
Dead Sea - En Gedi possible 5.6 - 7 0.2 cm. thick linear wave (Type 1) seismite
Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim probable 8 - 9 Site ZA-2, 2 cm. thick brecciated (Type 4) seismite - Modeled Age (1σ) of 774 AD ± 75
Araba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Araba - Qasr Tilah possible ≥ 7 Event III dated to 7th - 10th centuries CE
Araba - Taybeh Trench possible ≥ 7 Event E3 - modeled age 551 CE ± 264
Araba - Qatar Trench probable ≥ 7 Klinger et. al. (2015) reports two earthquakes [E4 and E5] which had to happen very close in time as cracks associated with each event end within a very short distance in our trench. Klinger et. al. (2015) adds: The existence of the distinct unit D [] prevents any ambiguity about the fact that two distinct events are recorded here. Based on our age distribution, the time bracket that includes the two earthquakes is 671 C.E.–845 C.E.. Event E4, the latter of the two earthquakes, produced more ground disruption than Event E5.
Araba - Taba Sabhka Trench possible but unlikely ≥ 7 Although Allison (2013) suggests that EQ IV, the oldest and most strongly expressed seismic event in the trench, was likely caused by a mid 8th century CE earthquake, when two discarded radiocarbon samples are included in developing an age-depth relationship, EQ IV appears to have struck earlier - e.g. between 400 and 100 BCE
Araba - Shehoret, Roded, and Avrona Alluvial Fan Trenches possible ≥ 7 Events 7, 8, and 9 in Trench T-18 have a wide spread of ages however, taken together, the evidence suggests the 1212 CE, 1068 CE, and one earlier earthquake, perhaps between ~500 CE and 1000 CE, struck the area.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Hacipasa Trenches

The oldest event identified in the Ziyaret Trench dated to before 983 CE. A lower bound on age was not available due to insufficient radiocarbon dates.



Kazzab Trench

Ambiguous paleoseismic event ?S2 expressed as displacements along faults F2 and F3. Although Daeron et al (2007) favored an interpretation where this displacement was created during event S1 (dated 926-1381 CE) as a 'mole-track' like feature (see above), they considered another interpretation that ?S2 was caused by a separate seismic event. Their age model date for ?S2 as a separate event spanned from 405 to 945 CE (2σ).

Fig. 7. - Sketches showing the sections of (a) angular-ridge type and
(b) bulge-type mole tracks. Both types of mole tracks were produced by
horizontal compression (indicated by short arrows). The angular-ridge
type mole track was produced by flexural slip folding and faulting of
the top rigid layer. The bulge-type mole track formed mainly by folding
and shortening of the unconsolidated to weakly consolidated alluvial
deposits. - Lin et al (2004)




Jarmaq Trench

Nemer and Meghraoui (2006) date Event Z to after 84-239 CE. They suggested the Safed Earthquake of 1837 CE as the most likely candidate.



Displaced Aqueduct at al Harif, Syria

Sbeinati et al (2010) state that Event Y, characterized from paleoseismology, appears to be older than A.D. 650–810 (unit d, trench A) and younger than A.D. 540–650 (unit d3 in trench C). The results of archaeoseismic investigations indicate that ages of CS-1 (A.D. 650–780) and tufa accumulation CS-3-3 (A.D. 639–883) postdate event Y. Combined together, this constrains Event Y to 540-780 CE.



Qiryat-Shemona Rockfalls

Kanari, M. (2008) examined rockfalls in Qiryat-Shemona which were attributed to earthquakes. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating was performed on soil samples beneath the fallen rocks. Kanari et al (2019) did not see any rockfalls which dated to around the time of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.



Bet Zayda (aka Beteiha)

Mid 8th century earthquakes fit within Modeled Ages for Event CH2-E1 (675-801 CE) from Wechsler et al (2018).



Tel Rehov Trench

Event III of Zilberman et al (2004) could correspond to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes as it is dated to the 8th century CE. Zilberman et al (2004) indicate that the event produced no vertical displacement and was identified as fractures which crossed Units 1-3. They speculated that the epicenter might have been distant which is to say that local Intensity may have been moderate.



Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed Trenches

Ferry et al (2011) detected 12 surface rupturing seismic events in 4 trenches (T1-T4) in Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed; 10 of which were prehistoric. One of the two historical events (Y and Z) could correlate to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes however these events are not precisely dated. The tightest chronology came from the Ghor Kabed trenches (T1 and T2) where Events Y and Z were constrained to between 560 and 1800 CE.

Note: Although Ferry et al (2011) combined archaeoseismic interpretations, their paleoseismic evidence, and entries from earthquake catalogs to produce earthquake dates and some overly optimistic probabilities, only the paleoseismic data is presented here. Ferry et al (2011)'s archaeoseismic data was researched and is treated separately. It was used to help fill out the Archaeoseismic Evidence section.



Dir Hagla Trenches

Reches and Hoexter (1981) saw possible evidence for this earthquake in Event B in trenches dug close to and east of the Dir Hagla Monastery near Jericho.



Dead Sea - Seismite Types



Dead Sea - ICDP Core 5017-1

Lu et al (2020a) associated a turbidite in the core to a middle 8th century earthquake. CalBP is reported as 1248 ± 44 yr B.P. This works out to a date of 702 CE with a 1σ bound of 658 - 746 CE indicating that the Jordan Valley Quake, Sword in the Sky Quake, or one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes are all possibilities. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 16.5 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).

See the following from Lu et al (2020b) regarding estimating intensity from turbidites:

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

Previous studies in Chilean lakes have indicated that the (cumulative) thickness of historic turbidites across multiple cores correlates with seismic intensity, and can thus be used to infer paleo-intensities in this setting (Moernaut et al., 2014). However, in the case of the Dead Sea core 5017-1, there is a random relationship (a correlation factor of 0.04) between the thickness of prehistoric turbidites and seismic intensity (Figure 5a).


Dead Sea - En Feshka

Kagan et. al. (2011) identified a 2.5 cm. thick brecciated (Type 4) seismite at a depth of 126.5 cm. which they assigned to one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes.



Dead Sea - En Gedi

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 749 CE date to a 0.2 cm. thick linear wave (Type 1) seismite at a depth of 192.07 cm. (1.9207 m) in the 1997 GSI/GFZ core in En Gedi.



Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim

At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 748 CE date to a 2 cm. thick brecciated (Type 4) seismite at a depth of 242 cm.



Araba - Introduction



Qasr Tilah

Haynes et al. (2006) dated Event III to between the 7th and 10th centuries CE. Event III could have been due to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.



Araba - Taybeh Trench

Event E3 in the Taybeh Trench (LeFevre et al. (2018)) matches well with a 749 CE date however the spread of ages for this event is quite large and a number of other earthquakes are possible candidates.



Araba - Qatar Trench

Events E4 & E5 of Klinger et. al. (2015) could have been caused by one of mid 8th century CE earthquakes. E5 struck first and produced lower levels of local intensity at the site. Parts of Klinger et. al. (2015)'s discussion is reproduced below:

The two earthquakes [E4 and E5] had to happen very close in time as cracks associated with each event end within a very short distance in our trench. The existence of the distinct unit D, however, prevents any ambiguity about the fact that two distinct events are recorded here. Based on our age distribution, the time bracket that includes the two earthquakes is 671 C.E.–845 C.E.
...
Evidence at our trench site and evidence for damage in the ancient city of Aila (Thomas et al. 2007) during the same time window suggest one large earthquake in the southern part of the Dead Sea fault, E4, which caused major ground disruption. This event was preceded slightly earlier by another event, E5, of smaller magnitude, or alternatively quite distant, which triggered cracks with minor deformation at our site.


Taba Sabhka Trench

Allison (2013) suggests that EQ IV, the oldest and most strongly expressed seismic event in the trench, was likely caused by a mid 8th century earthquake. However, this trench study suffered from a limited number of non outlier radiocarbon samples. Allison (2013) suggests that EQ IV struck (relatively soon) before a date provided by radiocarbon Sample 1 (774-943 CE) however there are two radiocarbon samples between Sample 1 and the termination (i.e. top) of EQ IV both of which suggest an older age - Sample 17 (428-591 CE) and Sample 18 (345-43 BCE). Allison (2013) suggested that Sample 18 was reworked.

Note: Earthquakes are labeled I-IV in all diagrams but when Allison (2013) discusses the possibility that there were two or three earthquakes instead of four, she relabels the earthquakes. This relabeling is reflected in the Google sheets table below for the 2 and 3 earthquake models.



Shehoret, Roded, and Avrona Alluvial Fan Trenches

Events 7, 8, and 9 in Trench T-18 have a wide spread of ages however, taken together, the evidence suggests the 1212 CE, 1068 CE, and one earlier earthquake, perhaps between ~500 CE and 1000 CE, struck the area.



Notes

Absent Accounts

Karcz (2004) notes that the following authors fail to mention either earthquake;

Notes on these accounts
  • Partial translations of Eutychius of Alexandria on RogerPearse.com here (scroll to bottom paragraph) don't show any earthquakes during the reign of Marwan II. All of Roger Pearse's Eutychius translations are here
  • Karcz (2004) appears to be technically incorrect about Michael Glykas as Glykas does mention the Mesopotamian Earth Fissure along with the Talking Mule from the Talking Mule Quake. However, Glykas does not mention anything else or even the fact that there was an earthquake. According to Glykas, the Talking Mule apparently appeared after a spontaneous opening of the earth.
  • There is mention of an earthquake which appears to have struck northern Anatolia during the reign of Copronymous in Chronographia by Leonis Grammatici here

See Also - Ambraseys (2009)

Other Reports - Karcz (2004)

Even less definite are reports such as that of the 10th century Mukadassi (Le Strange, 1887) who writes that «earthquake in the days of the Abbasids threw down the sanctuary except the part round the mihrab», which may refer to the 750 A.D. event (i.e. after Marwan’s death and ascent of Abbasides) but also to one of the later earthquakes, or the statement in «Commemoratorium de Casis Dei» (808: Tobler and Mollinier, 1880) that the Church of Maria Nea is still in ruins after having been damaged by an earthquake, but it is not clear which earthquake of the 8th century it was.
Karcz (2004) also supplied the following about later reports including al-Makin who is listed under Textual Evidence.
The 13th century compilers al Makin (Erpenius, 1625) and Petrus Ibn Rahib (Cheiko, 1903) report a widespread destruction of cities and loss of life under the ruins and flooding along the coast, but do not mention any specific localities. The day and month date of 21 Tuba follows Severus [aka al-Muqaffa], but the year appears to have been misrepresented. The text suggests that rather than the year of the earthquake, AH 120, 460th year of Diocletianus (two incompatible dates of 737/738 A.D. and 744/745 A.D.) refers not to the earthquake but to the year of ascent of Patriarch Abnachajil (Kail, Michael), in course of whose 23 year long tenure the earthquake took place. While the Diocletianus year agrees with the official chronology of Patriarchs of Alexandria, the Hejira dates of al Makin and Erpenius do not. Indeed Michael’s ascent is given as AH 120 (737/738 A.D.) rather than the now known date of 743 CE and the ascent of the preceding Patriarchs Cosmas and Theodoros is respectively AH 108 (726/727 A.D.) instead of 729 A.D. and AH 109 (727/728 A.D.) instead of 730. In view of al Makin’s Coptic background this may seem strange, but similar apparent inconsistencies appear also in Ibn Rahib chronicle, who tabulates the succession of patriarchs using the Alexandrine-Africanus era. The dates of ascent and duration of service, differ from both al Makin and from the official chronology of the patriarchs and chronological calibration of the dates is inconsistent.

Finally the Mekhitar d’Airavanq chronicle (Brosset, 1869) mentions an earthquake in 751 A.D., in times of Constantine Copronymus. This later date is supported also by lack of reference to the day and month date of 18 January, which is the day on which the Armenians in the Holy Land celebrate Christmas (12 days later than elsewhere).

Ambraseys (2009)

AD 746 Jan 18 Palestine

Considerable confusion surrounds the dating of earthquakes in the Middle East during the middle of the eighth century, a period during which a series of major earthquakes occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean region and in the Middle East. On 26 October 740 a large earthquake on the eastern coast of the Marmara Sea caused widespread damage in Constantinople and to the southeast of the city (Ambraseys and Finkel 1991). In 742 there was an earthquake in the Yemen; and in the spring of 743 there was another large earthquake in north-central Iran (Ambraseys and Melville (1982).

Then, on 18 January, some time between 746 and 749 AD, there followed what modern writers consider to be a major earthquake in the Jordan Valley, the effects of which extended over an enormous area, from Egypt across to Turkey and from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River in Iraq (Sieberg 1932a, 802; Russell 1985, 48; Ben-Menahem 1991; Guidoboni 1989; Guidoboni et al. 1994, 366–370; Tsafrir and Foerster 1992, 231, 234, pl. iii).

Finally, in 763, there was another destructive earthquake in Khorassan (Ambraseys and Melville 1982).

The question we ask here is that of whether the earthquake of 18 January 746–749 was responsible for all the effects described in the sources, or whether these effects could have been cumulative from more than one event occurring months or years apart with different epicentres in Syria and Palestine. If the historical sources do indeed refer to a single earthquake, such an event should have been of unprecedented magnitude and deserves reappraisal insofar as it would affect the earthquake hazard in the region.

Information on the effects of earthquakes during this period is available from Byzantine, Syrian, Arabic and Jewish sources. The period is a little too early for contemporary Arabic literary and archival sources of information, and the region is rather removed for Byzantine chronographers.

The most-contemporary author who mentions these earthquakes in Syria and Palestine in the middle of the eighth century is Theophanes. The dating in Annus Mundi used by Theophanes follows the Alexandrian system (AMa), which in relation to our era has a starting point of 25 March 5492 BC, and differs from the Byzantine Annus Mundi (A.M.Byz.), which was used by other Byzantine chroniclers, which starts from 1 September 5509 BC. In consequence, a year in AMa has two indictions, being one year behind. For the problems arising from the conversion of Theophanes’s AMa dates to our Dionysian era, see Grumel (1934, 407).

There is little doubt that, in common with later Syrian sources, such as Denys of Tel-Mahre (Chabot 1894; Chronicle, 72/63), Chronicon 1234 (325–327/254– 255), Michael the Syrian (xi. 22/ii. 509–511; Arm. 258), and other sources which are now extinct, Theophanes had access to earlier Syrian writers. It is obvious that the dates he assigned to events he should have converted to (AMa) from the dating systems in his sources, e.g. from the Seleucid (ASG) and Chaldean (ASC) dating systems, the former starting from 1 October 312 BC and the latter from 1 April 311 BC. In such cases the presumption must be that the dates in Theophanes’s text have been borrowed from these sources and that they are more likely to be correct than the AMa dates, the latter being simply the result of Theophanes’s own calculation.

For the decade AMa 6238–6248 or AD 746–757, Theophanes mentions three earthquakes in Syria, Palestine and along the Jordan. The first earthquake he puts in AMa 6238, during the sixth year of Constantine Copronymous; and he says

. . . that in that year there was a great earthquake in Palestine, along the Jordan and the whole of Syria on 18th January, at the 4th hour, and many thousands, countless people, were killed; and churches and monasteries fell, especially in the desert of the Holy City . . .
Note that Theophanes employs Byzantine location names, so that the Jordan should be the Jordan River or the region along it, rather than Jund Urdun of the Arabs, and that Syria of his time extended from the Moab in the south to the Euphrates in the north, with Mesopotamia bordering on the east. Note also that the desert of the Holy City should not be confused with the wilderness of Judah or the desert of Sabba. In the ninth century AD the territory of Jerusalem was considered to include everything within a radius of 40 miles (the Arab ‘mil’ was borrowed from the Byzantines, who had borrowed it from the Persians, who reckoned a mile at about 1.8 km) or 70 km from the city, and its desert part must be sought east of Sughar, extending to the east up to Madaba into Jund Urdun (Muqad. 173). It would appear therefore that what Theophanes implies here is that damage was more serious in this part rather in Jerusalem itself.

Theophanes places the second earthquake two to three years later, in AMa 6241, of the third indiction, in the ninth year of Constantine Copronymous. He says that
. . . on 26th January of the same 3rd indiction a son was born to the Emperor Constantine. At that time an earthquake and a great and terrible collapse occurred in Syria, as a result of which some cities were completely destroyed, others perhaps half-demolished, and others in their entirety, with their walls and houses, were moved intact from the mountains to the plains beneath, some six miles [11 km] distance or more [sic.]. And eyewitnesses said that the land of Mesopotamia was rent over a length of two miles [3.6 km], and from its depths rose up (?) a different sort of earth, very white and sandy . . . (Theoph. 657).
Note that it need not be supposed that the earthquake happened, as Theophanes says, ‘at that time’, which was the birth of Constantine V Copronym’s son Leo on 26 January 750. In Greek, the words he uses have alternative meanings, meaning also during that period, or during that year.

The third earthquake, which Theophanes (663) says ‘was not small’, occurred again in Syria and Palestine, ten years after the first event, on 9 March AMa 6248, during the 16th year of Constantine Copronymous; Mesopotamia is not mentioned.

It is interesting that, contrary to the habit of chroniclers, before and after Theophanes, of amalgamating earthquakes into one event, he not only keeps these events separate but dates two of them fully.

There are no earlier Byzantine writers who mention these events. Megas Chronographos does not seem to be an eighth-century work, as it was once supposed to be, but rather a post-ninth-century or later compilation of extracts concerning various disasters from the last quarter of the fifth to that of the eighth century, added in an eleventh-century hand on a manuscript. This derivative work draws from Theophanes and borrows from later Byzantine writers.

It is not clear how Schreiner (1975, 44; 1977, 87) dates the event to 18 January 747 or 6255 AMa, of the 15th indiction.

The Byzantine chroniclers who noticed two earthquakes during this period are Anastasius (1376; 143; 1499/909), Cedrinus (462A/ii. 7; 463A/ii. 9) and Glycas (284C/515, 527). Nicephorus (sub ann.), George Hamart (sub ann.) and Zonaras (i. 1139) largely replicate Theophanes and only in passing mention the first earthquake, adding no new details. Other near-contemporary and later writers ignore these earthquakes altogether.

In the narratives of these chroniclers information concerning the earthquakes is intercalated between other notices about other unassociated events with no chronological order. This practice is also followed by Syriac writers, making it impossible to reckon the year of an earthquake from the years of events that preceded and followed it. A typical example is in the Analecta, where, if the year of the first earthquake in Theophanes (8 January 746) is calculated from the chronological sequence of the events preceding and following it, it should have occurred in AD 741 (Papadopoulos-Kerameus 1898, iii. 4).

Syrian chroniclers are geographically closer to the AD 746–757 earthquakes in Syria and Palestine and naturally present a broader view, providing the most information, although they are no more consistent about dates than the Byzantine chroniclers.

Setting aside Byzantine sources, which are to some extent derivative but nonetheless useful, there are only two Syrian chroniclers whose information comes from primary sources, the works of Denys (Chabot 1894; Chronicle, 72/63) and the Chronicon Pseudo-Dionysius (191/146). Both writers, who draw from the same extinct sources, mention two separate events: one in the morning, sometime in ASG 1059 (September 747 to August 748), which was preceded by a foreshock the previous night, and another earthquake in the middle of the night of Thursday, 3 Adar ASG 1067 (3 March 756). These shocks, they say, were felt in Mabug and in the region to the west of the town, as well as in Khabura on the Euphrates River.

Later Syrian sources combine this information, attributing it to a single earthquake and reporting only one earthquake. An extensive description of the effects of all three earthquakes in Theophanes and of other earthquakes put together is given by Michael the Syrian (xi. 22/ii. 509–511; Arm. 258), who was writing late in the twelfth century, and also by the derivative chronicle Chronicon 1234. Michael says
. . . In the middle of these matters [portentous occurrences] there was an earthquake at Damascus which lasted for days and shook the city . . . At Beit Qoubaye there was a fortress which . . . was completely overturned and more than 80 people suffocated there; even in the city, many perished. In Ghutah and at Daraiya many thousands of people died. Bosra, Nawa, Derat and Baalbek were completely swallowed up. The springs of water in the last-mentioned town were turned into blood . . ., the waters returned to their natural state. There was also an extraordinary storm in the sea, such that the waves rose up to the sky, . . . Also it flooded and overran its limits, destroying many coastal towns and villages. In the region of Balqa, that is, Moab, there was a fortress built on the seacoast . . . when the waves dashed against it, they tore it from its foundations, and hurled it three miles. This earthquake destroyed Tiberias, with the exception of a house . . . It overturned thirty Jewish synagogues there . . . The baths . . . were overturned and collapsed. There used to be a purgative spring there . . . and edifices above; and all around hostelries. . . all these things and buildings disappeared. Near Mt Tabor, a village moved four miles, with its houses and [other] buildings, without any stone . . . falling from the buildings . . . The spring of water which was by Jericho moved six miles. At Mabug, the earthquake happened at the moment of the Liturgy; men and beasts were killed, while great churches were overturned together with the walls. At Constantinople the statues of the emperors collapsed together with most of the buildings. It was the same in Nicaea and in other towns . . .
Throughout his narrative Michael uses the word earthquake in the singular form and gives the impression that what he describes was the result of single earthquake.

Michael’s chronicle, like the Chronicon 1234, which was derived partly from Denys (Chabot 1894; Chronicle, 72/63) and probably also partly from Elias (Bar Sinaia) mentions, without any detail and without naming Syria or Palestine, an earthquake in ASG 1059 (October 747 to September 748) west of Khabura in Mesopotamia.

Those of the Muslim writers who mention the earthquakes, mostly not contemporary or even nearcontemporary, are brief, almost telegraphic, and name only Egypt, Mt Tabor, Damascus, Misis and Mabug. The exception is Jerusalem, for which they give a long description of the effects of the earthquake on the Aksa mosque. (One element of interest here, apart from the problem of dating and possible amalgamation of events, is the damage reported to the Aksa mosque in Jerusalem. Later Muslim authors refer to a second shock, in the reign of al Mahdi, which damaged the restorations carried out after the first earthquake.)

Muqaffa says that an earthquake happened across the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia (Theoph. 418; Cedr. 805–806/i. 884), where 600 cities and villages were destroyed. He adds that no religious buildings of his own faith were damaged (Sev. ibn-al Muqadd. f. 987/139–140). His reference to Persia obviously betrays an amalgamation with the coeval earthquake of AD 743 at the Caspian Gates.

Of the other Muslim writers that are known, there are only four who expressly mention two separate earthquakes: Dhahabi (al-Dhah. Tar. Islam v. 39–40), who mentions one in Jerusalem during Ramadan a.H. 130 (4 May to 2 June 748), which was also felt in Damascus the same year, al-Suyuti (17–19/9–10), Mujir (Mujir alDin 59–60) and al-’Ulaimi (i. 237–238). A second earthquake in a.H. 131 (31 August 748 to 19 August 749), which was felt in Jerusalem, is mentioned by the same authors.

If it is assumed that the damage caused by earthquakes during the decade AD 746–757 was important enough for Syrian and even for the more-removed Byzantine chroniclers to record, it is difficult to explain why Muslim writers say so little about it when the earthquakes happened in their own territory.

An eighth- or ninth-century piyyut, a medieval Jewish liturgical poem, refers to the disastrous earthquake effects on Tiberias and Shephelah and the ‘flooding’ (In fact the text says . . . in anger plunged the people in the Sharon Valley’) of the Valley of Sharon in a Sabbatical year, which was commemorated by the Fast of the Seventh Year Earthquake on 23 Shevat (Gil 1983 sub ann.; 1992, 89ff.). It is not known, however, whether the ‘flooding’ of the Sharon Valley was caused by the earthquake or whether the Valley of Sharon is the coastal Plain of Sharon or the valleys of Jezreel and Esdraelon, west and southwest of Tiberias. No mention is made of Jerusalem, or of any other location.

It can be shown (Tsafrir and Foerster 1992, 233), that 23 Shevat fell on 18 January, which is the date in Theophanes for his first earthquake, which is a remarkable coincidence. This does not solve the dating problem, however, since this happened only in AD 749, which was not a sabbatical year (Margaliot 1959; 1960).

Another document adds some evidence for placing the ‘Sabbatical Earthquake’ in the 679th year since the Destruction of the Temple, i.e. AD 748–749 (Margalioth 1959). However, a complication is added to this by the existence of three different dates for the Sabbatical Year in which the Temple is believed to have been destroyed, namely 69–70 (Hananeel’s date), 67–68 (Rashi) and 68–69 (Maimonides). A sixteenth-century rabbinical conference decided in favour of Maimonides’ date, which would place this event in AD 747–748. However, if Rashi’s system were used, the year would be AD 746–747, while according to Hananeel’s system it would be AD 748–749 (Russell 1985, 28).

More recently, Elitzur (2004) tried to establish the time of the poet Pinkhas using as reference the earthquake, to which she assigned, solely on the basis of Jewish sources, the rather questionable date AD 749.

Excavations of a collapsed commercial street of the Byzantine and early Arab period in Scythopolis (Bet Shean) unearthed a small coin hoard. The earliest coin dates from a.H. 78 (AD 697–698), the latest, which has survived in mint condition (Tsafrir and Foerster 1992, 231, 234, pl. II), from a.H. 131. Since, by virtue of its location, it is possible that Bet Shean could not have escaped damage, this numismatic evidence suggested a terminus post quem of 31 August 748 to 19 August 749.

There is also some numismatic evidence for the destruction of Gerasa (Jerash), Pella, Ramat Rahel and Khirbet al-Karak. In the case of the Ramat Rahel, the town was already impoverished and dilapidated owing to its destruction in AD 659. The walls of Khirbet al-Karak had been severely damaged by the AD 659 earthquake, and the remains were levelled. In addition, the construction of Khirbet al-Mefjer seems to have been abandoned as a result of the AD 747–749 earthquake event: this destruction has been dated from ceramics found there. A note of caution regarding pottery as a means of dating is sounded in the case of Philadelphia (Amman): only preAbassid (i.e. pre-AD 747) glazed ware is found there, but regional variation could mean that this type of pottery was in fact in use later than it appears elsewhere (Russell 1985, 52ff.).

As discussed above, Michael gives the impression that what he describes was the result of a single earthquake, which of course cannot be true, since to the places damaged he adds Mabug, Constantinople and Nicaea, more than 600 km from Tiberias. It is also known that the damage in Constantinople was from the earlier earthquake of 26 October 740 (Theoph. 412–413; Cedr. 801/880), which Michael (xi. 22/ii. 504; xi. 23/ii. 511; Arm. 259) mentions here for the second time.

Michael does not date the events he describes. He inserts the notice between others, which are not arranged in a chronological order: the accession of al-Walid II in AD 743, the earthquake in the Yemen in AD 742, the partial eclipse of the sun in AD 743 and the accession of Theophilactus in AD 721. What is important is that the year of the earthquake, i.e. ASG 1059, is not given by Michael but by the editor of his work, J. B. Chabot.

The separation and identification of the events responsible for the damage described by some writers, such as by Michael, would have been easier if they were less general in their narratives and more specific with dates and damage information. The sources, however, survive only in an abbreviated form, so it is not possible to disentangle the chronology of Michael’s narrative to identify individual events. Almost all the notices that exist today are fragmentary abridgements of the primary source, making certainty of interpretation virtually impossible. Once the discrepancies in the sources are seen to be due to muddle, which is the rule with sources of that period, they no longer require a comprehensive explanation.

Some historical events are clearly distinct owing to the geographical separation of the places affected. It is less clear, however, when more than one earthquake is transformed into a single sizable event. This is understandable, in view of the tendency of early writers to amalgamate or duplicate seismic events, often synchronised with significant political or military events. Sites may have been damaged or destroyed by separate earthquakes, which occurred during the same week, month or year, and, for the early period, even during the same century, but these are not differentiated in the sources.

It has been shown that Syrian writers mention an earthquake in ASG 1059 (October 747 to September 748) west of Khabura in Mesopotamia. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992) assume that this is the same earthquake as that which affected Palestine, but Denys (Chronicle, 72/63) also mentions a second earthquake, near Khabura, at midnight on Tuesday on 3 Adar ASG 1067 (3 March 756), which makes the year ASG 1059, which Tsafrir and Foerster assume to be very tenuous. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992) also notice that Elias dates one of the earthquakes in two calendars: to ASG 1059 and also to a.H. 131. From the overlapping parts of these years they conclude that the earthquake described by Michael must have occurred on 18 October 749. However, they do not notice that Chronicon 1234, which, for all practical purposes, is identical with Michael’s, dates the event in two calendars, e.g. in ASG 1060 and a.H. 134, which do not overlap, suggesting that, where dates are muddled in the sources, agreement is likely to be fortuitous.

Confusion and inconsistencies of various kinds do occur and some sources, other than Theophanes, also give two events, frequently in different calendars, with incompatible years, most probably due to miscalculation from the primary source, copyists’ errors, or deliberately, to emphasise the significance of the earthquake by relating it to another important religious or political happening.

Archaeological evidence in this case hardly helps. A strong case against the date deduced from archaeological excavation at Bet Shean is that the destruction layer discovered might, in fact, belong to the earthquakes of 9 March 6248 AMa (757) or to those during AD 768–775. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992) mention neither and give the impression that they treat all the sources from this period as referring to a single earthquake. Thus the numismatic evidence cannot exclude the destruction of Bet Shean in one or other of these later events as well as in an AD 747–749 earthquake.

Although there is uncertainty in all the dates derived from texts, coins and ceramics it is obvious that the distinct descriptions in Theophanes, imply three distinctly different events. Whatever the exact dates might have been, the conspicuous duality of accounts in many of the independent sources textually reflects more than one earthquake, particularly in Theophanes, who was contemporary with these events (AD 752–818), which fact cannot be ignored.

It seems that the reason why some modern writers argue in favour of a single event is that they have dismissed dating inconsistencies in Byzantine, Syrian Arabic and Hebrew sources as a mere artefact of the different systems of dating used by individual writers. Also there is the fact that Michael’s chronicle seems to imply that there was only one major earthquake in ASG 1059 (Russell 1985, 48).

Our chief interest is in deciding whether what we have here refers to one or more earthquakes. We ought to explain, however, why one is inclined to think that, regardless of whether the dates of the events are exact, there should have been at least three sizable earthquakes, if not more, during the period AD 746–757.

First, let us assume that there was only one earthquake responsible for the effects described by Michael. He enumerates the places affected as Damascus, Ghouta, Daraiya, Bosra, Nawa, Darat, Baalbek, Balqa, Tiberias, Mt Tabor, Constantinople and Nicaea. Later authors add Cairo, Damietta, Gaza, Jerusalem, Khabura and Mabug. The assumption of a single earthquake, the damaging effects of which extended from Egypt to Turkey and from the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River, Iraq and Persia, over an area of radius about 500 km, is simply not tenable purely on seismological grounds. If the epicentral region of such a large earthquake were placed on the Jordan Rift Valley, near Lake Tiberias, there is no doubt that the shock would have been felt in Khabura and Mabug 600 km away, but at such distances it would have caused no damage.

Second, if this single earthquake, as our authors attest, also ruined Khabura and Mabug, the earthquake must have been of unprecedented size. Such an event should have obliterated the whole of Syria, Palestine and modern Jordan, for which there is absolutely no evidence in the texts, and it should have caused very serious damage to towns on the Mediterranean coast as well as further inland, particularly to the urban areas of Hims, Antioch and Aleppo. Yet, no document suggests the slightest effect on these and other urban sites west of the Rift Valley, which are more important than those mentioned in the texts.

One further consideration is worth mentioning. It is very likely that, in borrowing from earlier sources and in amalgamating the effects of distinct earthquakes into one or more events, authors are likely to have kept the names of the localities affected in the same order or groups in their narrative as they found them in their sources. Setting aside the uncertainty that exists regarding the dates, the texts may be arranged in groups according to the sequence in which they name the localities affected in order to test the hypothesis that the number of consistent groups is equivalent to the number of separate earthquakes.

In the first group Theophanes mentions Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Jerusalem. Then Agapius mentions Palestine and Tiberias, while Michael and Chronicon 1234 give Tiberias, Tabor and Damascus. Abu Bakr and Dahabi name only Jerusalem. Elias and Khawarizmi mention Tabor and al-Suyuti names Jerusalem and Damascus. With the exception of Michael, who does not date the event, all place the earthquake in AMa 6238, a.H. 130 or ASG 1059–60.

The second group is formed by Theophanes, who gives Syria and here introduces Mesopotamia, the Chronicon Pseudo-Dionysius, which repeats Mesopotamia and adds Mabug, and Khawarizmi, who gives only Mabug, a locality given also by Elias, Michael and Chronicon 1234. Again, with the exception of Michael, all date the event to AMa 6241, a.H. 131, or ASG 1059–60. The Chronicon Pseudo-Dionysius adds Khabura in Mesopotamia, with inconsistent dates AMa 6248 and ASG 1067.

In the third group Theophanes omits Mesopotamia and gives only Palestine and Syria. Dahabi and al-Suyuti mention only Jerusalem. No details of this shock have been recovered in other sources and there is little evidence to help assess its location.

These groupings confirm that there were at least three events as mentioned by Theophanes.

It is concluded that the first earthquake, on 18 January 746, affected Palestine, Jordan and Syria. Starting from the north, some parts of Baalbek collapsed, and the spring there temporarily turned red.

Further south in Damascus, although the earthquake was strong, creating panic and causing some of the inhabitants to flee the city, the only evidence for damage in the city itself is the collapse of the Dajaj suq (poultry market), which fell from the ‘Great Rocks’. However, in the surrounding, well-watered and fertile plain of Ghautah damage and loss of life was considerable, particularly at Daraiya. It is said that, further south, Nawa and Deraat were destroyed and even Bosra was ruined, but details are lacking.

A fortress at Beit Qoubaya was completely destroyed and more than 80 people were killed, in addition to those who perished in the town. The location of Beit Qoubaya is uncertain. There is a site in northern Lebanon called al-Qubayyat (35.57◦ N, 36.29◦ E) southwest of Homs. However, damage to Homs, an important urban centre, is not mentioned.

West of Daraat, Tiberias was almost totally destroyed, including 30 Jewish synagogues, the baths of Solomon and the edifice of a purgative spring; all these buildings disappeared. (This was first suggested by Margaliot (1941).) It is said that at Tiberias, more than 100 000 (sic.) men died (Agap. 521/261), which is obviously a grossly exaggerated estimate.

Tentatively, it is possible to consider sites close to the southernmost limit of the epicentral area for which there is some archaeological evidence for coeval damage, i.e. Khirbet al Karak, near the south coast of Lake Tiberias, and also Bet Shean, which should have been affected. For the site at Kinneret, just north of Khirbet al Karak, there is also coeval palaeoseismological evidence of surface faulting (Marco et al. 2003).

Near Mt Tabor the earthquake triggered a landslide, as a result of which a village situated on it moved four miles (sic.), with its houses and people undamaged (Elias Bar Sinaia). Landslides are not uncommon in this area, even without the help of earthquakes. We are told that the people of the Sharon Valley were ‘plunged’. It is not clear whether this means that the valley was flooded as a result of the earthquake or due to some other cause. Also, it is not known whether this was the Plain of Sharon, near the Mediterranean coast, or the inland valley of Jezreel, southwest of Tiberias. A plausible explanation would be that this description refers to the effects of widespread liquefaction of a low-lying plain, probably around Tiberias and to the south of it along the Jordan Valley (Margaliot 1941).

There is no literary evidence that the earthquake caused damage worth reporting to the south of Lake Tiberias all the way to Jericho, where the only effect reported is of a spring of water which moved six miles, most probably the drying up of a spring and the appearing of a new spring at another place. Although it is possible that Jerusalem sustained some damage, the sources do not refer to it. They do describe at some length the repairable and irreparable damage caused to the Aksa mosque around its mihrab, but details about damage to other buildings and houses in Jerusalem are lacking (Theoph. 422; al-Dhah. Tar. Islam v. 39–40).

There is some evidence that the shock was felt in Gaza and in Misr (Egypt), in Damietta and at Fustat (Cairo), where the shock caused some concern (Sev. ibnal Muqadd. f. 987/139–140).

Aftershocks continued to be felt for days (alSuyuti 17–19/9–10).

There remain two more points worth considering regarding this earthquake.

The first is that in his narrative Michael talks also about the effects of an extraordinary storm at sea, as a result of which waves rose up (damaging waves in lakes, fjords and large reservoirs can be generated by submarine slumping of large masses of loose sediments triggered by an earthquake or by its aftershocks), flooding the land and destroying coastal towns and villages, including a fort in the region of Balqa, that is, in the Moab, a site probably somewhere near the northeastern coast of the Dead Sea. The storm he clearly does not associate with the earthquake and this event may be as exotic as the damage caused in Constantinople and Nicaea, which Michael inserts for the second time at the end of his narrative (Mich. Syr. xi. 22/ii. 504; xi. 23/ii. 511; Arm. 259).

The second point is the reference by Byzantine writers to another earthquake in AD 742 in the ‘desert of Sava’ or ‘Sava’ (Theoph. 349/641; Agap. 510/250; Cedr. 460/ii. 5). The latter may correspond to the monastery of Savva, southeast of Jerusalem. Michael, however, says that the earthquake occurred in the ‘desert of the Taiyeye’ (Arabs), which may be equated to Sava or Saba in the Yemen. A location in the Yemen is supported by the fact that this notice includes an account of another event in the Yemen during that year (Ambraseys et al. 1994, 25– 26). The shock caused landslides and many villages were overwhelmed by collapsing mountain sides (Mich. Syr. xi. 22/ii. 507).

The exact location of the epicentral region is not supported by clear evidence but can be inferred from the association of its long and narrow shape aligning with the Jordan Rift. It is interesting that the earthquake affected the region to the east of the Jordan Rift more than it did that to the west. For instance, there is no evidence of damage in towns and trading ports along the Mediterranean coast and hardly any evidence from further inland, west of the River Jordan. It seems that much of the damage was done to towns lying east of the river along the trade route that ran from Palmyra via Damascus to Maan and Tabuk, towns far less important than those in the west.

With so few details at this stage of the study, it is clearly not possible to assess intensities with objectivity or to suggest either an epicentral location or an area of perceptibility, except to say that the fact that chroniclers so widely record the earthquake suggests that it must have been a relatively large event.

The only indication that the earthquake was perhaps associated with surface faulting is the palaeoseismological evidence at Kinneret (Marco et al. 2003). This is supported by the location and the north–south extent of the damaged region. Clearly the data do not clarify how far the rupture would have extended, but suggest that perhaps the rupture to the north reached a point halfway between Tiberias and Baalbek and that to the south went halfway to Jerusalem, a length of about 100 km to a first approximation.

The second earthquake, which occurred in AD 749 or early in AD 750, affected only Mesopotamia and presumably the adjacent part of northern Syria, where towns, which are not named, were destroyed or halfdemolished. In Mabug, and in the region west of the town, it is said that many people died and the earth was rent for two miles (Theoph. 422; Khawarizmi sub ann.).

At Mabug, preceded by a foreshock a few hours earlier, the earthquake happened at the moment of the Liturgy, destroying the Great Church, in which all perished (Chron. Ps.Dion. 191/146; Elias Bar Sinaia). Three villages near Khabura on the Euphrates River also collapsed and many people perished, together with others in the many other places that the earthquake destroyed (Chron. Ps.Dion. 191/146).

Little is known about the third earthquake on 9 March 757. It is described as of some size, affecting Palestine and Syria, and the second earthquake to occur in Jerusalem, where it destroyed the repairs that had just been made to the Aksa mosque after the first earthquake. It was said that at the time of the third earthquake the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen. Another earthquake following after this one closed the gap up again (al-Suyuti 17–19/9–10).
Notes

(a.M. 6238) In that year there was a great earthquake in Palestine and Jordan and the whole of Syria on 18th January, at the 4th hour, and many thousands, countless people, were killed; and churches and monasteries fell, especially in the desert of the Holy City.’ (Theoph. 422).


‘(a.M. 6255, Ind. xv, 18 January) In the reign of Copronym an earthquake happened in Palestine and Jordan and through the whole of Syria. And countless multitudes of people were killed, and churches and monasteries fell.’ (Meg. Chron. 16).


‘In the month of latter Kanun [January] there was a violent earthquake on the marine littoral of Palestine. Many places were deserted and many people died, above all at Tiberias, where more than 100 000 men succumbed.’ (Agap. 521/261).


In the middle of these matters [portentous occurrences] there was an earthquake at Damascus which lasted for days and shook the city like the leaves of the tree. At Beit Qoubaye(?) there was a fortress which had been built by Hajjaj the son of Yusef, on which he had spent a great deal. It was completely overturned and more than 80 people suffocated there; even in the city, many perished. In Ghautah and at Dariya many thousands of people died. Bosra, Nawa Der’at and Ba’albek were completely swallowed up. The springs of water in the last-mentioned town were turned into blood; after the inhabitants had done penance and performed frequent rogations, the waters returned to their natural state.

There was also an extraordinary storm in the sea, such that the waves rose up to the sky, boiling like a cauldron over a blazing fire, with terrible and frightening noises. Also it flooded and overran its limits, destroying many coastal towns and villages.

In the region of Balqa, that is, Mo’ab, there was a fortress built on the sea coast, in which Yemenite Taiyaye [Arabs] lived: when the waves dashed against it, they tore it from its foundations, and hurled it three miles.

This earthquake destroyed Tiberias, with the exception of the house of a man named ‘Isa. It overturned thirty Jewish synagogues there, and some wonderful natural features (et de merveilleuses choses naturelles). The baths, admirable buildings erected by Solomon, the son of David, were overturned and collapsed. There used to be a purgative spring there, and marvellous edifices above; and all around hostelries for the use of those who had come for the cure . . . All these things and buildings disappeared.

Near Mt Tabor, a village moved four miles, with its houses and [other] buildings, without any stone’s or a piece of adobe’s falling from the buildings; and not a single man died, nor any animal, not even a chicken.

The spring of water which was by Jericho moved six miles.

At Mabbug, the earthquake happened at the moment of the oblation [the Liturgy?]; men and beasts were killed, while great churches were overturned together with the walls.

At Constantinople the statues of the emperors collapsed together with most of the buildings. It was the same in Nicaea and in other towns.(Mich. Syr. xi. 22/ii. 509–511).


On the insurrections and ruin which happened at this time in the West, and the fall of the city of Mabbug. For in the year 1060 of the Greeks, 134 of the Arabs, great upheaval afflicted the world . . .

And there was an earthquake at Damascus and in the whole surrounding area, which lasted for days, and in which the area trembled and was shaken. It also [affected] Beth Cubaye, a citadel which had been built by Hagag the son of Joseph with much effort and at great expense. This was overturned and was destroyed down to its foundations, and more than eighty people were killed and buried in the middle of it. And in the same city many people died. Likewise in Gutah [a suburb] of Dareya, countless people died in this earthquake. Bosra and Neve (sic.) were razed to their foundations. And a great part of Baalbek collapsed, and the springs of water there became like blood.

There was an unusual and unexpected storm in the sea. The waves were seen to be lifted up to the sky: like a pot boiling over a blazing fire, the waves boiled with a terrible sound which made those who heard them tremble. And [the sea] rushed up and overflowed its bounds, destroying many coastal villages. Many other things are also told which, if they were recorded, would be a great burden for the writer and his readers.

They say also that in the region of Belca or the Moabitide, a certain citadel located on the shore of the sea, inhabited by Yemenite Arabs, was razed down to its foundations when waves poured into it from the depths; and it was hurled three miles. This earthquake completely overthrew the city of Tiberias, except for the house of a monk called ‘Isa. Also thirty synagogues of the Jews were overturned there and some natural wonders which were in that city. The baths built by King Solomon, a wonderful edifice, were completely overthrown and collapsed. There was also in that city a purgative spring of water given by God for the health of man. And above it had been erected fine buildings . . . These buildings were all razed and destroyed. And another village, near Mt Tabor, was moved and shifted four miles from its site, with its houses and goods, and not a single stone or piece of adobe fell; and not a man or animal died, not even a chicken.

And a spring of water situated close to Jericho, near which there were citadels, gardens and mills founded by Solomon the son of Abdamalich, itself stayed where it was, but the river which has its source there moved six miles back from the place in which it flowed, so that all that Solomon had built by this river perished.

And Mabbug [became] no insignificant ruin, and many people died there; for at the time of the Sunday sacrifice, as the priest stood raising his hands over the oblation, the church collapsed, killing those on whom it fell, and all who were inside were crushed and perished, the priests together with the people; and instead of canticles and spiritual psalms, crashes and lamentation were heard in the entire city. The foundations of the walls were also shattered.’ (Chron. 1234, 325–327/254–255).


‘(a.460 Diocl. = 17 January 744). . . on the 21st Tuba [17 January 744] a great earthquake [occurred] which ruined several cities and caused a sizable number of people to die under the ruins, and a number of ships perished. It is said that this was a cosmic earthquake, affecting all countries, as far as the East where 100 cities were overturned on that day and so many men and beasts killed.’ (al-Mak. HM 460).


‘(a.H. 120) And then there was great upheaval in Egypt on 21st Tuba [16 January], when a great earthquake during the night destroyed many cities, the inhabitants perishing under the ruins; and many ships were engulfed in the sea. And they say that this was a cosmic earthquake, affecting all regions, out to the Far East; and on the same night 600 cities in the East were uprooted, and men and innumerable animals were wiped out.’ (al-Mak. HS i. 83).


‘And that night there came great wrath from God, for there was a great earthquake in the land, and many houses were ruined in all the cities, and none was saved from them, not a single soul, and likewise on the sea many ships were sunk on that night. This happened all over the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia. And they counted the cities that were wrecked that night, and they were six hundred cities and villages, with a vast destruction of men and beasts. But the land of Egypt was uninjured, except only Damietta. And at Misr there was only great fear, without any death or ruin of houses; for though the beams in the doorways and walls were moved out of their places, they went back again to their places after two hours.’ Evett’s translation of Sawirus (Severus) ibn-al Muqaffa (Sev. ibn-al Muq. f. 987/139–140).


‘In the year 1059 there was a great and violent earthquake in the lands of the West . . .’ (Chron. Ps.Dion. 191/146).


‘(a.H. 130–158) The history of the holy Rock at Jerusalem on the night of the earthquake, according to Abu ‘Umayr who held the Jundub which pertained to Rustum alFarisi: “At the time when the first earthquake occurred, they requested me to give the call to prayer, and I answered that that was not my business. They asked me the same when the second [earthquake] occurred and I gave the same answer. Come the third earthquake, I was very frightened and I approached the mosque. All the houses had been destroyed. One of the guards of the holy Rock asked me, ‘Quick, go and get news of my family and I will tell you the prodigy.’ I went to find out and brought him back the news. Then he said to me, ‘The dome lifted itself up, [so that] one could see the stars in the sky, and then it settled again. I heard some unknown people giving orders: here, a bit more, since it was not in its correct place.’ ”.

According to another version (that of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Qaramany), taken from Amr and Rustum himself: “There were ten guards at each gate: when I brought him news of his family, my guard related to me that the dome had been dropped down (depos ´ e´), [so] that the stars had been visible, and that before I returned, rustlings had been heard, then a voice saying ‘Put it down’ three times, and the dome was put back in its place.”.

Al-Walid ibn Hamad gives an account taken from Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Mansur ibn Thabit, who gives the following version passed down from his father and grandfather:

Abu ‘Uthman was sounding the evening prayer, after the prayer of Qyam [the breaking of the fast], on the black square. During the evening prayer, he heard the roar of an earthquake, and cries of people’s distress across the town. It was a black and cold night, full of rain and wind. He heard a voice (without seeing anyone) which said, “Lift it up gently, in the name of God”, and the dome was lifted up so that the stars appeared, and at the same time people felt drops of water on their faces, until the time of the call to prayer. After this the voice said, “Put it down, put it in place, in the name of God.” And the dome returned to its place.’ (al-’Ulaimi, al-Uns. i. 237–238).


‘All these events took place at the time of the first earthquake, in the month of Ramadan of 130. God knows best. “In that year there was a prodigious earthquake in Sham: we know this from Ibn Jusa, whose source is Muhammad ibn Shaddad ibn Aws al-Ansary, whose source in turn is his grandfather. According to this chain of witnesses it is known that in the year 130 there was the most violent earthquake in Jerusalem. Many of the faithful (Ansars or no) were victims of it. The houses of Shaddad ibn Aws fell on him and his guests; Muhammad ibn Shadda was saved, but he lost his property under the ruins, recovering only the Prophet’s sandals. According to another report, Abu Ja’far al-Mansur, the prince of believers, was asked, “O prince of believers, the western and eastern parts of the mosque were damaged during the earthquake of 130: if you would have the damage repaired, that would be very good.” The caliph replied that he had no money. Therefore they took off the plates of silver and gold which had covered the doors since the caliphate of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and broke it down to the last dinars and drachmas, which financed the rebuilding.’ (al-Dhah. Tar. Islam v. 39–40).


‘In Tadkirat al-Wada’i the following tradition is reported after ‘Abd-Allah ibn kathir al-Qari who said, “We were victims of an earthquake in Damascus in 130: the inhabitants had left their town; the Dajaj suq [poultry market] fell from the “Great Rocks”. Several days after the catastrophe they started to dig through a part of the ruins and then it was that a man was found alive . . .

[‘Abd-Allah ibn kathir al-Qari also] said, “I was told that at the time of the catastrophic earthquake of 131, the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen; another earthquake following after this last one closed the gap up again.”.’ (al-Suyuti 17–19/9–10).


See also (Ibn Taghri Birdi, i. 311; Abu Bakr; Grumel 1954, 128 and passim; Anast. 1376; 143; 1499/909; Baethgen 1884, 126; Papadopoulos-Kerameus 1898, iii. 4; Syriac fragments (Brooks 1900); Chronicon 813, 247/188; Muralt 1855, 352, 353, 357; Eutych. ii. 192; Le Strange 1905, 131; Muqad. 173; Brice 1981, 19; Dussaud 1927, 90, 94–95; Karcz 2004).

References

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

Sbeinati et al (2005)

〈049〉 749 January 18

(It seems to be that there are two earthquakes, the first is in Southern Syria while the second is in the northern part and Mesopotamia that Manbej could be affected).

  • Mount Tabor: VII-IX
  • Baalbak: VIII
  • Bosra: VII
  • Nawa: VIII
  • Balqa: VIII
  • Al-Quds: VII
  • Beit Qubayeh: VII-VIII
  • Tabaryya: VII
  • AlGhouta and Manbej: VII
  • Darayya: VI
  • Damascus and Daraa: V-VI
  • Ariha
  • Surface faulting and liquefaction in Mesopotamia
  • Landslide at Mount Tabor
Sources
  • Al-Suyuti: In the year of 130 A.H. (started from 747 September 11) a shock occurred in Damascus causing panic and the Hens Souk fell down. In the year 131 A.H. (started from 748 August 31) a great shock occurred in Damascus, fracturing the roof of the Mosque.

  • Al-Mansouri: In the year 132 A.H. (started from 749 August 20) there was an earthquake at Al-Sham

  • Theophanes: 749 January 18, a violent earthquake occurred in Palestine, Jordan and in all of Syria, many tens of thousands of casualties, churches and monasteries fell down especially near Jerusalem. Some cities were completely destroyed and some partly. In Mesopotamia, the land was opened for 2 miles where the eyewitness saw an ancient statue. Landslide for one city completely

  • Michael the Syrian: 749 January 18, an earthquake was in Damascus for some days; one fortress was completely destroyed and 800 casualties in the city. In Ghouta and Daraya, many casualties. Bosra, Nawa, Dar’a, Baalbak were completely swallowed up. In the region of Balqa (Mu’ab), a fortress was taken and thrown 3 miles away. City of Tiberias destroyed. Near the mount of Thabor, a village was moved for 4 miles without damage. A source of water near Ariha was moved 6 miles. In Maboug, the earthquake was during the prayer time.

  • Chronicon Pseudo-Dionysus of Tell-Mahre: 749 January 18, in Manbej, and during the time of prayer, the church fell down.

  • Chronicle of 1234: 749 January 18, there was an earthquake for some days in Damascus, a fortress at Beit Cubaya was destroyed, 800 casualties, the same in Ghuotah and Daraya, many casualties were heavily damaged, Bosra, Nawa and Baalbak fell down partially, a fortress in Mo’ab was thrown for 3 miles. The city of Tabaria was destroyed and a village near Thabor Mountain was shifted without damage. Mabboug was destroyed.

  • Elias of Nisibis: 749 January 18, many earthquakes occurred and many places fell down. A village near Tabor Mountain was shifted for 4 miles. The church of Mabboug fell down over the people.

  • Agapius of Menbij: 749 January 18, a violent earthquake hit the coast of Palestine, many villages were hit and many casualties in Tiberias more than 100000 casualties

  • Georgius Cedrenus: 749 January 18, a big earthquake took place in Palestine, Jordan and all of Syria. There were many thousands of casualties. Monasteries and temples fell down.

  • Nicephorus of Costantinopolis: 749 January 18, a violent earthquake hit Syria, the cities were swallowed up and some buildings were shifted for 7 miles. In Mesopotamia, a deep hollow was formed.

  • Georgius Monachus: 749 January 18, a big earthquake destroyed the cities, some completely and other partially, the tall buildings fell down or shifted. In Mesopotamia, a deep hollow was formed for three miles.

  • Al-Dhahabi: A strong earthquake in Syria. It was the strongest in Jerusalem, causing many casualties.

  • Ibn Tagri Birdi: A violent earthquake in Syria destroyed Jerusalem.
Parametric Catalogs
  • Plassard and Kogoj (1981): They considered that there were two events, the first was on 746 January 18 (I=V) in Palestine with destruction (Anastase; Perrey; Sieberg) and the second was in 748 (I=VII) at Damascus with destruction (AlSuyuti).

  • Ben-Menahem (1979): 746, January 18, wednesday evening after 16 h, 32.0N, 35.5E, fault extended northwards over 120 km, I0=XI, Ml=7.3, felt in Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Mesopotamia. Great damage in Tiberias (30 synagogues destroyed), Jerusalem, led, Arad and to monasteries north of the Dead Sea. About 600 settlements in Judea, Samaria and Galilee were hit and many casualties reported. Destruction of Hisham palace near Jerico and the city of Gerasa. Tsunami in the Dead Sea and possible flooding of Dead Sea southern basin (Al-Sinawi and Ghalib; Amiran; Avi-Yonaha; Bahat et al.; Michel the Syrian; Neev and Emery; Plassard and Kogoj; Sieberg; Willis).
Seismological compilations
  • Guidoboni et al. (1994): 749 January 18, Baalbak, Beit Qubayeh, Bosrah, Damascus, Daraa, Darayya, Al-Ghouta, Jerico, Jerusalem, Mabbug, Nawa, Tiberias, Mt. Tabor, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Syria (Jerusalem and Mabbug IX ≤ I ≤ X), in the mid 8th century, a powerful earthquake struck Palestine, inflicting serious damage at Jerusalem and Tiberias, and causing a landslide at a village near Mt. Tabor. There are two problems relating date of this event and either it was a single earthquake or a series of tremors, however it dated back to 18 January 749 (Tsafrir and Foerster, 1992). A powerful earthquake dated back to 18 January 747 occurred in Palestine, along the Jordan River and throughout Syria, killing thousands of people and collapsing churches and monasteries, especially in the desert near Jerusalem (Theophanes). There was a strong earthquake in Syria during the year (11 September 747-30 August 748), where the strongest shocks occurred in Jerusalem, causing the death of many conquering troops and others (Al-Dhahabi). There was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem, during the year (31 August 748-19 August 749) (Ibn Tagri Birdi). A severe and powerful earthquake in the West, the temple of Mambej collapsed totally in the year 747-748 (Pseudo-Dionysius). During the year (30 August 748-19 August 749) there were many earthquakes and many places were reduced to ruins, a village near Mt. Tabor moved four miles from its original position and in that year a church in Mambej collapsed (Elias of Nisibis). A tremor at Damascus lasted for days, a fortress in Beit Qubayeh collapsed and many people were killed, many myriads of people perished in Al-Ghouta and Dareya, while Bosra, Nawa, Dar’a and Baalbak were completely swallowed up, changing the color of water spring in the city, sea waves destroyed most of the cities and villages along the coast, the fortress of Balqa on the coast was uprooted, Tiberias collapsed, a village near Mt. Tabor was moved four miles with its houses and other buildings without any destruction, a water spring near Jerico changed its original place for six miles, destruction of churches and deaths in Mambej, most the buildings in Constantinople, Nicea and other cities collapsed (Michael the Syrian). Regarding (Tsafrir and Foerster, 1992) chronological analysis, they considered the Babylonian dating instead of the Antiochene sys- tem, they dated this event back to 749 January, 18. An earthquake in Mesopotamia and Syria in the year of 749-750, causing various levels of destruction in many cities and large-scale surface faulting in Mesopotamia (Theophanes).

  • Ambraseys et al. (1994): 747 January 18, morning, 31.8N-35.7E, I ≤ VI. In 747 January 18, a large earthquake centering the Dead Sea region was felt in Egypt, some damage was caused in Damietta, in Fustat the shock was strongly felt and caused fear but no damage. There is a considerable confusion over the dating of this event, which the Arabic sources put in 130 A.H. began 11 September 747 (Al-Dhahabi; Al-’Ulami; AlSuyuti; Caetani; Sibt Ibn Al-Jawzi; Taher), and January 748 has recently been proposed as the correct date (Ben-Menahem; Gil; Russell; Sieberg), the effects of the earthquake are frequently confused with those of another event that affected parts of Syria two years later (AlKhwarazmi; Tsafrir and Foerster).

  • Russell (1985): 748 January In January 18, 747, a great earthquake occurred in Palestine, around the Jordan, and in all of Syria, to such an extent that many innumerable and countless people perished in its power, and churches and monasteries collapsed (Theophanes). On 18th day of January at the 4th hour in the 6th year, there was a great earthquake in Palestine, and towards the Jordan, and throughout all of Syria. Many thousands of people perished, and churches and monasteries collapsed (Cedrenus). Russell evaluated the date to be from June 746 through May 747. That night there was a great earthquake in the land from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia, many houses were ruined in all the cities, and none was saved from them. On the sea, many ships were sunk on that night. Six hundred cities and villages were wrecked with a vast destruction of men and beasts, but Egypt was uninjured, except Damietta. At Misr, there was only great fear without damage (Severus Ibn Al-Muqaff). There was an earthquake at Damascus which lasted for days, a fortress in Beit Qubayeh collapsed and many people were killed, many myriads of people perished in AlGhouta and Darayya, while Bosra, Nawa, Dar’a and Baalbak were completely swallowed up, sea waves destroyed most of the cities and villages along the coast, the fortress of Balqa on the coast was uprooted, Tiberias was destroyed except for a house, a village near Mt. Tabor was moved four miles with its houses and other buildings without any destruction, a water spring near Jericho changed its original place for six miles, destruction of churches and deaths in Mabbug (Michael the Syrian). Russell suggested a date between September 747 and August 748 for this event. There were many earthquakes where many regions gave way. A village near Mt. Tabor was displaced 4 miles along with houses and their possessions, but without damage. The church of the Jacobites in Mabbug collapsed on Sunday and many people perished in it (Elias of Nisibus). Russell also suggested that this event occurred between September 747 and August 748.
Monographs
  • Tsafrir and Foerster (1992): A major earthquake occurred in 749 January 18 (according to Margaliot and archaeological evidences found in Bet Sheam), in Palestine and throughout Syria, destroying Jerusalem, Gerasa, Jericho, Pella, Capernaum, Sussita, Bet Sheam and many sites along the Jordan Valley, killing many tens of thousands of people (Cedrenus; Dionysus of Tellmahr; Ibn Tagri Birdi; Ibn Al-Muqaffa; Margaliot; Michael the Syrian; Sibt Ibn Al-Jawzi; Theophanes).
References

Sbeinati, M. R., R. Darawcheh, and M. Monty (2005). "The historical earthquakes of Syria: An analysis of large and moderate earthquakes from 1365 B.C. to 1900 A.D.", Ann. Geophys. 48(3): 347-435.

Guidoboni et al (1994)

(249) the morning of 18 January 749

  • Ba'albek
  • Beit Qubayeh
  • Bosrah
  • Damascus
  • Dar`at
  • Darayya
  • al-Ghouta
  • Jericho
  • Jerusalem
  • Mabbug
  • Nawa
  • Tiberias
  • Mt.Tabor,
  • Palestine
  • Mesopotamia
  • Syria
  • landslides
  • surface faulting
  • seismic sea-wave
sources 1
  • Theoph. 422, 426
  • [Dion. Tellmahr.] 2.191-2
  • Elias Nisib. Syr.versio 171-2
  • Mich. Syr. 466-7
  • al-Dhahabi, Ta'rikh al-Islam 5.39
  • Ibn Tagri Birdi, al-Nujum al-zahira 1.311
sources 2
  • Georg. Mon. 2.760
  • Niceph. 64-5
  • Cedren. 807, 809
  • Zon. 2.108
literature
  • Margaliot (1960)
  • Russell (1985)
  • Tsafrir and Foerster (1992)
catalogues
  • Manetti [1457]
  • Ligorio [1574-7]
  • Bonito (1691)
  • von Hoff (1840)
  • Mallet (1853)
  • Willis (1928)
  • Sieberg (1932 a)
  • Amiran (1950-51)
  • Grumel (1958)
  • Ambraseys (1962 b)
  • Ben-Menahem (1979)
  • Guidoboni (1989)
In the mid-8th century, a powerful earthquake struck Palestine, inflicting serious damage at Jerusalem and Tiberias, and causing a landslide at a village near Mt.Tabor. The earthquake is recorded in a substantial group of Byzantine, Syriac and Arab sources. The date of the earthquake, however, has remained a much debated problem to this day. Because they use different dating styles, the sources themselves are in apparent disagreement over the matter, to the extent that one is tempted to suppose that there was a whole series of tremors rather than a single earthquake. Even the modern scholars who have tackled the problem from time to time are not in agreement. For example, the earliest compilers of Palestinian earthquake catalogues dated this earthquake to 746 A.D. (Willis 1928, p.80; Amiran 1951-2, p.226), whereas Russell (1985, pp.47-9) suggested 748, and Margaliot (1960) 749. During recent excavations at Beth-shan, Tsafrir and Foerster (1992) have discovered new archaeological and numismatic evidence concerning this earthquake, and their thorough examination of the very complex chronological problems involved has led them to the conclusion that it occurred on 18 January 749 A.D., thereby adding weight to the hypothesis put forward by Margaliot (1960).

The source nearest to the events being narrated is Theophanes. He records an earthquake on 18 January in the year of the world 6238 [747 A.D.]:
In this year, on 18 January, at the fourth hour [c.11 a.m.], there was a powerful earthquake in Palestine, along the river Jordan and throughout Syria, and countless thousands of people were killed, and churches and monasteries also collapsed, especially in the desert near the Holy City [Jerusalem]
Cedrenus and Zonaras take up the information provided by Theophanes. In examining the sequence of events related by Theophanes before the passage about the earthquake, Russell (1985, pp.47-8) concluded that Theophanes may have made a chronological error, and that the earthquake is to be dated to 748 A.D. rather than 747. The 13th-14th century Arab historian al-Dhahabi dates the earthquake to the year 130 of the Hegira and states that the worst damage occurred at Jerusalem:
[In that year] there was a strong earthquake in Syria [...]. When the Province of Syria was struck by earthquakes in the year 130 [of the Hegira = 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 AD ], the strongest shocks occurred in Jerusalem, causing the death of many conquering troops and others.
The 15th century Arab historian Ibn Tagri Birth supports a different chronological tradition, which dates the earthquake to the year 131 of the Hegira:
In that year, there was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem. The sons of Shaddad ibn Aws died there. The inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert, where they stayed for forty days. It is said to have happened in the year 131 [of the Hegira = 31 August 748 -19 August 749 A D.].
The Syriac sources also supply a certain amount of detail in describing this earthquake. Pseudo-Dionysius of Tellmahre reports that the temple at Mabbug collapsed while the people were gathering there, and dates the earthquake to the year 1059 of the Seleucid era which, by traditional calculations, corresponds to 747-748 A.D.:
In the year 1059 [of the Greeks; i.e. 747-748 AD.], there was a severe and powerful earthquake in the West [...]. There was a tremor at night, and from far away it sounded like the bellowing of a bull [...]. And everyone had gone out of the city to pray at the temple dedicated to the Mother of God outside the city, I mean at Mabbug, in the West [...]. When everybody had arrived and reached the temple and gone inside [...] there was a sudden tremor and the temple collapsed on top of them, and crushed them all with their bishop. All were killed, and nobody escaped alive.
Elias of Nisibis also records the collapse of the temple at Mabbug, as well as a geological phenomenon which seems to have been a massive landslide at a village near Mt. Tabor. It is interesting to note the double dating which he provides in this case: the year 131 of the Hegira [31 August 748 -19 August 749] — the same year as that given by Ibn Tagri Birth — is made to coincide with the year 1059 of the Seleucid era. But that makes the year 1059 coincide with 748-749 AD. instead of the traditional 747-748 A.D. Elias of Nisibis writes:
The year 131 [of the Hegira] began on Friday 30 August [748 A.D.] in the year 1059 of the Greeks. Kuwarazmi. Daniel the Jacobite. In that year there were many earthquakes, and many places were reduced to ruins. A village near Mt.Tabor moved 4 miles [c.6 km] from its original position, with all its houses and properties while no earth at all fell from the houses, and neither people nor animals lost their lives, not even a hen. And in that year, in the city of Mabbug, the church of the Jacobites collapsed on a Sunday at the time of the Mysteries [during Solemn Mass] and many people perished in it.
The late 12th century writer Michael the Syrian provides a long description of the effects of the earthquake. In addition to Mabbug and Mt.Tabor, he mentions many more localities than earlier authors. According to him, for example, Tiberias was almost completely destroyed, together with 30 synagogues in the area. No specific date is given for the earthquake, but it is reasonable to suppose that the year 1059 of the Seleucid era is intended, since some of the expressions he uses are so like those of the earlier Syriac chroniclers.

The information he provides has to be treated with caution, however, because he seems to associate earthquake effects in the region of Palestine with damage to buildings in Constantinople and Nicea, whereas the latter was almost certainly the result of a different earthquake, which is hard to identify in our present state of knowledge. Michael the Syrian writes:
Meanwhile, there was a tremor at Damascus and it lasted for days, shaking the city like leaves on a tree. And at Beit Qubayeh there was a fortress built by Hajaj Bar Yusef at great expense. It collapsed in ruins, and more than 80 people suffocated inside; and many people perished in the city. Many myriads of people perished in Gautah [al-Ghouta] and Dareya [Darayyd], while Bosrah, Nawa, Dar`at and Ba'albek were completely swallowed up. The water in the springs of the city turned into blood, but it returned to its natural state after the repentance of the inhabitants and continuous prayers.

In the sea, too, there was an extraordinary storm, so that the waves rose up to the sky; and, just as a cauldron is made to boil by the flames of a fire, so the waves surged with a horrible and terrifying noise. The sea boiled and overflowed, and it destroyed most of the cities and villages along the coast.

In the land of Balqa — that is to say, Moab — there was a fortress situated on the coast, inhabited by Yemenite Tayayes. When the flood of the sea struck, it was uprooted from its foundations and set down three miles away.

This tremor caused the collapse of the city of Tiberias, except for the house of a man called `Isa; and it destroyed thirty Jewish synagogues and natural marvels. And that wonderful building, the bath built by Solomon, the son of David, was destroyed and collapsed. There was a spring of purgative water in it, with amazing constructions above it, and all around were inns (?) for those who sought to be healed. There were skilfully made clay pots, on each of which was written how many times it moved the bowels of the person who drank from it, and each person chose a pot according to the quantity he wanted. All those constructions were blotted out.

A village near Mt.Tabor was moved four miles from its place with its houses and other buildings, while no stone or clod of earth fell from its buildings, nor did any person or animal die, not even a cock.

The spring of water near Jericho was moved six miles from its place. At Mabbug, the collapse took place at the time of the mass. Both men and animals were killed, because the great churches and the walls collapsed in ruins. In Constantinople, the statues of the emperors and most of the buildings collapsed. The same thing happened at Nicea and in other cities.
In order to solve the puzzle of the chronological information provided by the Syriac sources, Tsafrir and Foerster (1992, pp.234-5) suggest a calculation not according to the Antiochene system but by the Babylonian system common in the eastern parts of the Seleucid Empire. In this chronological system, the point of departure is not 1 October 312 B.C. but 2 April 311 B.C.: thus the year 1059 of the Seleucid era would fall between April 748 and April 749 A.D., which corresponds to the year 131 of the Hegira (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 A.D.), as Elias of Nisibis suggests. On this basis, the date 18 January — the day and month given by Theophanes — in the year 749 A.D. fits both eras, as Tsafrir and Foerster suggest.

This dating also fits very well with the discovery of 31 gold dinars during the recent archaeological excavations at Beth-shan which we mentioned above. The coins were found in the ruins of a building which collapsed towards the mid-8th century A.D., and, significantly enough, the latest coin was dated to the year 131 of the Hegira [31 August 748 -19 August 749 A.D.]. As Tsafrir and Foerster (1992, p.234) point out, this discovery supplies a clear terminus post quem for the earthquake no earlier than the end of August 748.

The above considerations make it seem likely that another passage in Theophanes may actually refer to the 749 A.D. earthquake, even though it is given a slightly different date. Theophanes describes an earthquake in Mesopotamia and Syria in the year of the world 6242 [749-750 A.D.], the year in which Leo IV was born, in the third indiction. He records the various levels of destruction caused in many cities, unfortunately without giving their names, as well as large-scale surface faulting:
In the same year, there was an earthquake in Syria which caused widespread and terrible destruction. Some cities were completely destroyed, others were only partly destroyed, and yet others moved 6 miles [c.10 km] or more from the mountains towards the plains below, remaining completely intact, with their houses and walls. Those who witnessed the earthquake say that the ground in Mesopotamia split open over a distance of 2 miles [c.3 km] and that there came out of the fissure a different kind of white and sandy earth, from which appeared, so they say, an animal like a mule, quite spotless. And speaking with a human voice, it predicted that a people from the desert would attack the Arabs; and that did indeed subsequently happen.
Georgius Monachus provides the same information.

References

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

Salamon et. al. (2011)

746 01 18 morning: Tsunami, possibly on the Levant coasts ?

Guidoboni et al. (1994), after Michael the Syrian, describe:

In the sea, too, there was an extraordinary storm, so that the waves rose up to the sky; and, just as a cauldron is made to boil by the flames of fire, so the waves surged with a horrible and terrifying noise. The sea boiled and overflowed, and it destroyed most of the cities and villages along the coast.
This event is difficult to explain since this is the only source that deals with these waves and there is no mention of where the waves rose. Therefore, locating this tsunami is a matter of interpretation, and although the stormy waves and scope of damage (cities and villages) may suggest that the tsunami occurred in the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee cannot be ruled out. Ambraseys (2009), however, interprets the same information differently, and concludes that a storm hit at the northeastern coast of the Dead Sea and was not associated with the earthquake. This event is also mentioned by Karcz (2004) and Ambraseys (2005).

As for the probable tsunamigenic source, Guidoboni et al. (1994, after Theophanes), note that
… there was a powerful earthquake in Palestine, along the river Jordan and throughout Syria, and countless thousands of people were killed, and churches and monasteries also collapsed, especially in the desert near the Holy City (Jerusalem).
Paleoseismic evidence for this event was found along the Jericho segment of the Dead Sea Transform (DST) (Reches and Hoexter, 1981) and in Tiberias along the western coast of the Sea of Galilee (Marco et al., 2003). Additionally, seismogenic mixed layers at the Dead Sea basin (Migowski et al., 2004; Agnon et al., 2006) have been associated with this event. Ambraseys (2005) estimated MS = 7.0 for this earthquake, which he concludes was not associated with the documented storm.

Several authors suggest different scenarios: Shalem (1956) suggests an earthquake and a tsunami on 746 01 18; Ambraseys (1962) lists a tsunami on 746 01 18; Ben-Menahem (1991) notes an earthquake on 746 01 18; Ambraseys et al. (1994) place the date of the earthquake on 747 01 18; Amiran et al. (1994) report an earthquake and a tsunami on 749 01 18; and Soloviev et al. (2000) mention an earthquake and possibly a tsunami in 746. Recent studies of Karcz (2004) and Ambraseys (2005, 2009), however, suggest the occurrence of at least three events: an earthquake and a sea storm in Israel on 746 01 18; another event in 749 or early in 750 that affected Mesopotamia and presumably the adjacent part of northern Syria; and an earthquake on March 9, 757, that affected Palestine and Syria.

References

Salamon, A., et al. (2011). "A critical evaluation of tsunami records reported for the Levant Coast from the second millennium bce to the present." Isr. J. Earth Sci. 58: 327-354.

Ambraseys et al (1994)


Fig. 2.6 747 January 18, Dead Sea. (from Ambraseys et al, 1994)

747 January 18 Dead Sea

A large earthquake centring in the Dead Sea region was felt in Egypt (see Figure 2.6). Some damage was caused in Damietta; in Fustat the shock was strongly felt and caused fear but no damage.1

There is considerable confusion over the dating of this event, which the Arabic sources put in 130 H (began 11 September 747),2 and January 748 has recently been proposed as the correct date.3 The effects of the earthquake are frequently confused with those of another event that affected parts of Syria two years later.4

Footnotes

1 Sawirus b. al-Muqaffa' (ed. Evetts), p. 139-40. He gives the date 21 Tuba/16 January; Agapius, p. 521 (who does not mention Egypt) has Kanun II/January. Neither specify the year.

2 Caetani, V, 1649 (re- 129/747?), 1664-5 (re. J 30/748). Sibt b. al-Jauzi, fol. 235VO, and al-Dhahabi, V, 39-40 both have 130 H. Though late sources, they are generally reliable. Al-'Ulaimi (ed. Najaf), I, 237-8, has Ramadan 130/May 748. See also al-Suyuti, pp. 23-4/9-10; Taher (1979), p. 18/28-30.

3 See Russell (1985), pp. 48-9, with a detailed discussion of the non-Muslim accounts, of which that by Theophanes (late eighth century) is the most important. The date 748 is also adopted by Gil (1992), pp. 89-90. Sieberg (1932b), p. 193, and Ben-Menahem (1979), p. 261, have 746 January 18, disregarding the systematic error in Theophanes

4 For the second earthquake, see e.g. al-Khwarazmi (fl. c. 847) in Baethgen (1884), p. 126, under 131 H (began 31 August 748). Recently, Tsafrir and Foerster (1992), who discovered a coin dated 131 H buried under earthquake destruction at Bet Shean, assign the year 749 to one event amalgamated from all sources.

References

Ambraseys, N. N., et al. (1994). The seismicity of Egypt, Arabia, and the Red Sea : a historical review. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Abou Karaki (1987)

746

* (18 Jan. 746 A.D., Year 128 A.H.)?

Syrian and Egyptian Coasts, (AMBR2) Wednesday 18 Jan. 746 (Julian calendar), after 4:00 p.m. in the year 4506, SHVAT 23 of the Hebrew calendar, associated major earthquake at the Jericho fault, 32°N-35.5° E felt in Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia; major destructions in Tiberias, Jerusalem Lod, Arad, and in the monasteries to the north from the Dead Sea, to Jerash east of the Jordan; tsunami in the Dead Sea, destruction of the palace of Muslim Caliph Hisham near Jericho, I0 = XI, ML = 7.0 (BM1) as for the earthquake of the year 31 BC., this event could be correlated with the effects produced by an earthquake, evidenced by trench studies, on the Jericho Fault (Reches et Al. 1981)

NAJA:

  1. Here we have noticed an anomaly: indeed the date of 128 A.H.! is mentioned in (AMBR2) for this event while the date of 128 A.D., has already been mentioned for another event according to (will). A comparison between the descriptions relating to these two dates and the elements we currently have do not allow us to know if it is a type I error in (Will) or if it is on the contrary a simple coincidence between these two dates.

  2. The effects of earthquakes are visible everywhere in Jerash (27 km east of the Jordan).

    We were able to see these destructions, which, despite restoration work, are still very evident. We will come back on the one hand to this aspect and on the other hand to the earthquake of the year 746 as it is described in (BM1) in light of the earthquake discussion that follows.
French

* (18 Jan. 746 apr. J.C, Année 128 apr. H.) ?

Côtes syriennes et Egyptiennes, (AMBR2) Le mercredi 18 Jan. 746 (calendrier julien), après 16 h de l'année 4506, le 23 SHWAT du calendrier hébreu, séisme majeur associé à la faille de Jéricho, 32°N-35°,5E ressenti en Egypte, en Syrie, en Arabie, en Mésopotamie; ,destructions majeures à Tibérias, Jerusalem Lod, Arad, et dans les monastères au nord de la Mer Morte, à Jérash à l'est du Jourdain ; tsunami en Mer Morte, destruction du palais du Calife musulman Hisham près de Jéricho, I0 = XI, ML = 7,0 (BM1) comme pour le séisme de l'année 31 av. J.C, cet événement pourrait se corréler avec les effets produits par un séisme, mis 'en évidence par des études de tranchées, sur la faille de Jéricho (Reches et AL. 1981)

NAJA :

  1. Ici nous avons noté une anomalie : en effet la date de 128 apr. ! H est mentionnée dans (AMBR2) pour cet événement alors que la date de 128 apr. J.C.,a été déjà mentionnée pour un autre événement d'après (will). L a comparaison entre, les descriptions relatives à ces deux dates et les éléments dont nous disposons actuellement ne nous permettent pas de savoir s'il s'agit d'une erreur du type I dans (Will) ou s'il s'agit au contraire d'une simple coïncidence entre ces deux dates.

  2. Les effets de tremblements de terre sont visibles partout à Jérash (27 km à l'est du Jourdain).

    Nous avons pu constater ces destructions, qui, malgré des travaux de restauration, sont encore très évidentes. Nous reviendrons d'une par sur cet aspect et d'autre part sur le séisme de l'année 746 tel qu'il est décrit dans (BM1) à la lumière de la discussion du séisme qui suit.

748

* J = 19 MAY ±15 748 A.D., Ramadan 130 A.H.

  • In the month of Ramadan in the year 130 AD, after the break of fasting. Paroxysm in Jerusalem, Damascus is damaged. From a long description in (TAHA), we can conclude that at least 3 close shocks occurred. (Naja: our formula gives J = 19. MAY ± 15 days. 748, calculations reported on the 15th of the month of Ramadan, hence an uncertainty of a fortnight)

  • In (PTAH) there is an illustration of an error type II potential: indeed according to (PTAH)

  • Ramadan 130 A.H., the year 747 A.D., Jerusalem I = IX (PTAH)

  • 131 A.H., the year 749, DAMASCUS (PTAH).
We notice that the conversion of dates with a formula that is too approximate has thus resulted in two dates which cannot correspond in reality, namely Ramadan 130 AD H and 747 AD.. We have seen that, according to the exact calculation, the date, according to the Julian calendar, it should be mid-748. We estimate that this is probably how doublets occur, due to type II errors. It is also reasonable to assume that some references will mention the year 747 exclusively. Now, if we try to find by the application of a formula that is too approximate, the date corresponding to the year 747 AD., in the Muslim calendar, we arrive, by applying the formula (Pareja 2) for example, to the value 128.9, a value which is likely to become 128 A.H.; we believe that this could be the concrete example that allows us to ask ourselves seriously the question of whether the "events" of 746 AND 748 do not simply correspond to a single main major earthquake. Before concluding on this point, we continue the analysis of the effects of this major earthquake according to the various authors.

During the earthquake of the year 130 A.H., the east and west walls of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem were destroyed; the mosque was repaired. But, destroyed again on the occasion of another earthquake, it was then rebuilt, its length diminished and its width increased at the time of the Muslim Caliph, AL-MANSOUR (alias Al-Muhtadi), who became Caliph on the 6th. Dhu al Hijjah 158 A.H., (NAJA: D=7 OCT. 775), (TAHA, TAHF)

In the year 131 A.H., several new shocks in Damascus (AMBR1)

NAJA: We have highlighted a type I error in (BM1) which associated the year (130 A.D.) an earthquake linked to faults in the Bekaa area, an earthquake felt strongly in Damascus
French

* J = 19 MAI. + 15 j. 748, ramadan 130 apr. H

  • Au mois de ramadan de l'an 130 apr.H, après la rupture du jeûne. Paroxysme à Jerusalem, Damas est endommagée. A partir d'une longue description dans (TAHA), on peut conclure que au minimum 3 chocs rapprochés se sont produits. (Naja : notre formule donne J = 19. MAI + 15 jours. 748, calculs rapportés au 15 du mois du ramadan d'où une incertitude d'une quinzaine de jours)

  • Dans (PTAH) on trouve l'illustration d'une erreur potentielle du type II : en effet d'après (PTAH)

  • ramadan 130 apr. H, l'année 747 apr.. J.C, Jerusalem I = IX (PTAH)

  • 131 apr. H, l'année 749, DAMAS (PTAH).
On remarque que la conversion des dates avec une formule trop approximative a ainsi abouti à deux dates qui ne peuvent se correspondre en réalitétà savoir ramadan 130 apr. H et 747 apr. J.C. Nous avons vu, que, selon le calcul exact, la date, d'après le calendrier Julien, devrait être la mi-748. Nous estimons que c'est probablement ainsi que se produisent les doublets, dûs aux erreurs du type II. Il est par ailleurs raisonnable de supposer que certaines références vont mentionner l'année 747 exclusivement. Maintenant, si l'on tente de retrouver par l'application d'une formule trop approximative, la date correspondant à l'année 747 apr. J.C., en calendrier musulman, on aboutit, en appliquant la formule (Pareja 2) par exemple, à la valeur 128,9, valeur qui a toutes les chances de devenir 128 apr. H.; nous pensons qu'il pourrait y avoir là l'exemple concret qui permet de se poser sérieusement la question de savoir si les "événements" de 746 ET 748 ne correspondent pas simplement à un seul séisme majeur principal. Avant de conclure sur ce point, nous poursuivons l'analyse des effets de ce séisme majeur d 'après les différents auteurs.

Lors du séisme de l'année 130 apr. H, les murs Est et Ouest de la mosquée Al-kkâa à Jérusalem ont été détruits; la mosquée fut réparée. Mais, détruite à nouveau à l'occasion d'un autre tremblement de terre, elle a été alors reconstruite, sa longueur diminuée et sa largeur augmentée à l'époque du calife musulman, AL-MANSOUR (alias Al-Muhtadi), devenu Calife le 6. Dhu al Hijjah 158 apr. H, (NAJA : J = 7 OCT. 775), (TAHA, TAHF)

En l'année 131 apr. H, plusieurs chocs nouveaux à Damas (AMBR1)

NAJA : Nous avons souligné une erreur du type I dans (BM1) qui a associé l'année (130 apr. J.C.) à un séisme lié aux failles de la zone de la Békaa, séisme ressenti fortement à Damas
  • ML = 6,1 (BM1), alors qu'il a calculé
  • ML = 7,3 pour l'événement de l'année "746"
En conclusion, nous pensons que, d'après la discussion ci-dessus concernant les erreurs du type II, l'hypothèse que toutes les descriptions qu l'on trouve dans la littérature, relatives aux séismes de la période 746 à 749 apr. J.C. soient en fait dues à un unique séisme majeur, et à ses conséquences, nous semble une hypothèse raisonnable, la date la plus probable de l'événement majeur étant le 19 -MAI. 15 de l'année 748. Cette conclusion est encore confirmée par les remarques suivantes:
  1. La date 746 apr. J.C. est une date vraissemblablement calculée d'après la date approximative de 128 apr. H. (voir AMBR2).
  2. (BMI) mentionne l'année 746 comme étant la date d'un tremblement de terre majeur ayant une magnitude ML = 7,3 (maximum pour cette zone), et il ne mentionne pas d'événement majeur pour l'année 748 alors que c'est l'inverse dans (TAHA, TAHF, PTAH) ; or cela, en soi, est une anomalie notable qui indique que ces deux "séismes" majeurs ne font en réalité qu'un.
  3. Sans que cela soit absolument exclu, mais pour des raisons physiques, il nous semble extrêmement improbable que deux événements de Magnitude pratiquement maximale pour une zone donnée, se soient produits dans la même zone, séparés par un laps de temps aussi réduit (2 années) et (ML > 7).
  4. En dehors de l'identité de la zone macrosismique dans les deux descriptions relatives aux deux dates il y a un élément de convergence supplémentaire, c'est "le temps origine" du séisme, d'une part après 16 h d'après (BM1), et d'autre part la rupture du jeûne d'après (TARA) : ces deux heures sont tout à fait compatibles.
Il reste à savoir si la date mentionnée dans (BM1) d'après le calendrier hébraïque est une date originale ne correspondant donc pas à une date calculée. Dans ce cas, la conversion de cette date en son correspondant du calendrier Julien ou selon l'Hégire pourrait bien trancher cette question, qui n'est pas simple, le calendrier hébraïque étant un calendrier lunaire particulier, dont l'année est constituée de 12 ou de 13 mois selon que l'année est commune ou embolisme- voir, pour un aperçu au sujet des calendriers, Ephémérides Astronomiques 1967

Cette discussion souligne à la fois la nécessité d'éviter l'utilisation de formule. trop approximave de conversion - des dates, et l'importance, en matière de sismicité historique, d'indiquer si une date proposée est originale ou par contre calculée, cela afin d'évitér des erreurs multiples, qui ont sérieusement affecté la représentativité des échantillons statistiques, fondés sur les données de la sismicité historique, jusqu'à présents avec les conséquences qui en découlent en matière d'implications sismotectonique, - nous y reviendrons - .

References

Abou-Karaki, N. (1987). Synthèse et carte sismotectonique des pays de la bordure Orientale de la Méditerranée: sismicité du système de foilles du Jourdain – Mer Morte, University of Strasbourg, France. Ph.D. Diss.

Russell (1985)

The Earthquake of January 748

[JW: Warning - Russell (1985) made a litany of chronological errors and omissions some of which are commented on below]


An account of this earthquake in Theophanes' Chronographia reads:

This year, on the 18th day of the month of January at the 4th hour, a great earthquake occurred in Palestine, around the Jordan, and in all of Syria, to such an extent that many innumerable and countless people perished in its power. and churches and monasteries collapsed, and all around the greatest of holy places there were deserted cities" (1839: 651).
The date given was A.M. 6238, dating this earthquake to January 18, 747. However. Theophanes noted the initial Abbasid revolt against Marwan prior to presenting his earthquake narrative, dating the revolt to 745/6 (A.M. 6237; 1838: 650). The commonly accepted date is June 747 as derived from Arabic sources (Hitti 1951: 530), which suggests the possibility of an error in Theophanes' dating.

Cedrenus also recorded this earthquake, largely replicating the previous account and dating of Theophanes.
In the 6th year there was a great earthquake in Palestine, and towards the Jordan, and throughout all of Syria, on the 18th day of January at the 4th hour. Many thousands of people perished, and churches and monasteries collapsed, from the greatest of holy places through deserted cities (1839: 7)
The sixth year of the reign of Constantine V would have been from June, 746 through May, 747, but this dating is ultimately derived from Theophanes (1839: 635). [JW: Theophanes and Cedrenus wrote about two earthquakes which Theophanes dated to AMa 6238 and 6241]

Another account of this earthquake exists in a 10th century Arabic manuscript on the history of the patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria by Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa, bishop of Ashmunein (fl. ca. 955-987). Evett translates the relevant passage:
And that night there came great wrath from God, for there was a great earthquake in the land, and many houses were ruined in all the cities; and none was saved from them, not a single soul; and likewise on the sea many ships were sunk on that night. This happened all over the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia. And they counted the cities that were wrecked that night, and they were six hundred cities and villages, with a vast destruction of men and beasts. But the land of Egypt was uninjured, except only Damietta. And at Misr there was only great fear, without any death or ruin of houses; for though the beams in the doorways and walls were moved out of their places, they went back again to their places after two hours (Severus ibn-al-Muqaffa 1910: 139-40).
Al-Muqaffa presented this narrative while recounting events in the life of the patriarch Michael 1 (744-768). However, according to his account, this earthquake occurred on the 21st of Tuba (1910: 139), the Arabic name for the Egyptian month of Tybi. Since this month began on the 27th of December (see Bickerman 1974: 50), the 21st of Tuba would have been the 16th of January [JW:Except during Coptic Leap years when it is 17 January - which was the case in 748 CE]. Al-Muqaffa also noted the initial Abbasid revolt against Marwan (1910: 134) prior to his presentation of the earthquake narrative, thereby suggesting that this earthquake occurred on January 16, 748 according to the accepted date of the initial Abbasid revolt.

Two other accounts further support a 748 date. The first is given in the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian. This is also the most regionally detailed account of this earthquake. Chabot's French translation of the relevant Syriac text reads:
Au milieu de ces choses, i1 y eut a Damas un tremblement de terre qui dura des jours et qui la secoua comme la feuille des arbres. Il y avait a Beit Qoubaye (?) une fortresse qui avait ete bate par Hadidjad], fils de Yousef et pour laquelle it avait fait de grandes depenses. Elle fut renversee de fond en comble et plus de 80 personnes y furent suffoquees; dans la ville meme, beaucoup perirent. Dans la Ghautah et a Dareiya plusieurs mvriades de gens perirent. Bocra, Nawa, Der at. Ba'albek furent totalement englouties.

Dans la region de Balqa, c'est-a-dire de Mo'ab, y avait une fortresse situee sur le rivage de la mer, dans la-quelle habitaient des Taiyave yemenites: quand les flocs de la mer se heurterent contre elle, ils l'arracherent de ses fondements. et la projetereint a trois milles.

Ce tremblement de terre detruisit la ville de Tiberiade, a l'exception de la maison d'un hommc nomme Isa. Il y renversa trente synagogues des Juifs, et de merveilleuses chases naturelles. Les thermes, edifice admirable, bati par Solomon, fils de David, furent renverses et s'ecroulerent.

Pres du mont Thabor, un village se desplaca de quatre milles, avec ses maisons et ses constructions, sans qu'une pierre ou un peu de pise tomhat de ses batisses; et pas un homme n'y peril, ni aucun animal, pas meme une poule.

La source d'eau qui etait a cote de Jericho s'eloigna de sa place de six milles.

A Mabboug, le tremblement survint au moment de l'oblation; les hommes et les betes furent tues, car les grandes eglises furent renversees ainsi qu les murs (1901: 509-10).
Since Michael recorded these events for the year A.G. 1059, a date between September 747 and August 748 is suggested. [JW: Michael did not supply a date and his chronology is mangled in this part of his book] The second supportive account comes from the 11th century Chronographia of Elias of Nisibus.

Further, there were many earthquakes and regions gave way. And miraculously. a sillag adjacent to Mount Thabor was displaced four miles away from its own location along with houses and their possessions, and not one piece of wall plaster fell from those houses, and not a single person perished in it, nor animal nor cock. And further, the church of the Jacobites in the city of Mabbug collapsed on Sunday at the time of the Eucharist, and many people perished in it (1954: 82).
The date of A.G. 1059 given in Elias' text would again place the occurrence of this earthquake between September 747 and August 748 [JW: Elias did not date it to A.G. 1059. He dated it to A.H. 131 and used a date in the A.G. calendar - 30 Ab A.G. 1059 to reference, more or less correctly, the start of A.H. 131]. Finally, a 748 date agrees with that given by the 16th century Egyptian polygrapher As-Soyuti for a severe earthquake in Damascus (A.H. 130 = September 747 through August 748; Ambraseys 1962: 78) [JW: As-Soyuti provided dates of A.H. 130 and A.H. 131], as well as the "quake in the sabbatical year" apparently recorded in Talmudic literature (Ben-Dov 1976: 101; Mazar 1975: 269).

While a final resolution of this temporal problem cannot yet be offered, a 748 date is probable and has been adopted here. However, regardless of whether a 747 or 748 date is ultimately determined to be correct, only one earthquake occurred in the study area during this period.

As suggested for the earthquake of July 9, 551, the region affected by that of 748 apparently stretched from northeastern Egypt through northern Mesopotamia. The 748 earthquake has been correlated with destruction evidence at Khirbet al-Mefjer (Baramki 1942), Pella (Smith 1973: 166), and Jerusalem (Ben-Dov 1976: 101; Mazar 1975: 269). The final destruction of the basilica at Mt. Nebo also appears to correlate with this earthquake (Schneider 1950: 2-3), as do the collapsed Omayyad structures uncovered in 1949 on the Amman citadel (Harding 1951). At Jerash, this earthquake apparently brought an end to the impoverished "squatter" occupation in the Church of St. Theodore (Crowfoot 1929: 25. 1938: 221) and parts of the churches of St. John the Baptist, St. George, and SS. Cosmas and Damianus (Crowfoot 1938: 242, 244). Finally, Umm al-Jamal apparently suffered damage at this time and was subsequently abandoned (de Vries 1981: 65, 71).

References

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

Russell, K. W. (1981). The earthquake chronology of ancient Palestine and Arabia from the 2nd to the 8th century A.D. Anthropology. Salt Lake City, UT, University of Utah. MS.

Other Earthquakes

Nicea 740 CE

Ambraseys (2009)

AD 740 Oct 26 Nicaea

This was a destructive earthquake in the eastern part of the Sea of Marmara. Many churches, monasteries, public buildings and private houses in Bithynia were destroyed or ruined, with a great loss of life.

In Bithynia the walls particularly of Nicomedea (Izmit), Praenetos (now Karamursel) and Nicaea (Iznik) were seriously damaged to the extent that they required immediate restoration. It is said that in Nicaea only one church was left standing.

In Constantinople the shock caused damage to buildings, houses and, in particular, free-standing structures: the statues of Attalus and Constantine at the Gate of Attalus, that of Theodosius at the Golden Gate and the statue of Arcadius on the column in the Forum were thrown to the ground. The church of St Irene was damaged, together with many others and the nearby walls of the city. Also the interior of St Sophia was probably affected, but details are lacking. The earthquake caused a breach in the land walls and a good part of the inner walls fell. Several extant inscriptions record the repairs executed by Leo III.

So extensive and widespread was the damage that, to meet the extraordinary expenditure for repairs and reconstruction, the emperor was obliged to impose additional taxation. The event was commemorated by the church.

In some places (not named) the sea drew back from the shores, changing the coastline permanently. It is not clear whether this was the result of the uplift of the coast.

Aftershocks probably continued for a year, and people possibly camped outside the city for up to two years.

Theophanes, who gives most of the details of the earthquake, dates it to a.M. 6232, 26 October, fourth day, eighth hour = AD 740 (MB) Wednesday 26 October, 2 pm. Nicephorus Callistus adds that the church of St Irene, near the Hagia Sophia, was destroyed in particular, and, like Theophanes, notes that aftershocks lasted for a year. Georgius Monachus (writing in the ninth century) claims that aftershocks lasted for two years, and adds that villages in Thrace were also damaged. Cedrenus (writing in the eleventh or twelfth century) largely copies Theophanes, but puts the duration of the aftershocks at 11 months.

Michael the Syrian gives a brief notice of this event, dating it to a.S. 1050 (AD 738–739), a year too low. The same author has a double of this earthquake associated with the Palestine/Syria earthquake of AD 747. The Armenian version of Michael the Syrian has a wildly exaggerated account, in which this event is syncretised with all the mid-eighth-century Middle Eastern earthquakes.

Another indication of the human upheaval caused by this earthquake is that it is commemorated in the Byzantine liturgical calendar to this day, together with the Constantinople earthquake of 25 October 989; it also appears in the ninth-century Greek Menology of Basil I.

Two inscriptions commemorating Leo’s rebuilding survive on the old walls of Constantinople: on the seventh tower of the Theodosian Wall, north of the Sea of Marmara, and on the ninth tower north of the Golden Gate (Millingen 1899, 98) For additional details see also Meg. Chron. 314–315; Zon. xv.4 /i. 1324–1325; Nersessian (1940, 104–107); and Muller-Wiener (1977, 87, 113, 293, ¨ 250, 297).

Note that in the eighth century the district (thema) of Thrace, which is mentioned by Georgios Monachos as having been damaged by the earthquake, included the region of Constantinople itself and consequently Georgios does not mean that damage extended to the west of the city into modern Thrace in Greece and Bulgaria.

Papazachos and Papazachou (1997, 7, 20, 143), misled by Samothrakis (1963), consider that damage extended 300 km from Constantinople to Anchialos and further west to Veroia (Kara Feria or Stara Zagora) in Bulgaria. Papazachos and Papazachou also confuse Stara Zagora with Veria in Macedonia, which is 700 km from Constantinople (Papazachos and Papazachou 1989, 322).

Notes

‘(a.M. 6232) And in that year a great and terrible earthquake happened in Constantinople on the 26th of the month of October, in the 9th indiction, the 4th day, the 8th hour. Churches and monasteries fell, and many people died. The statue of Constantine the Great with the statue of Attalus and the Atalian Gate also fell, and the statue of Arcadius on the column of the Xerolophus; also the statue of Theodosius the Great at the Golden Gate and the land walls, and towns and villages in Thrace, and Nicomedea in Bithynia, Praenetus, and Nicaea, where a single church survived. The sea retreated from its bounds into various places, and the earthquake continued for twelve months.

And then the Emperor, seeing that the walls of the city had fallen, addressed the people, saying, “You do not have much for rebuilding the walls, and so I have put this matter to the district governors. They will demand a miliarision in the standard coinage, and the Empire will take the money and with it rebuild the walls.” And thus the customary procedure of paying two surtaxes was successful.’ (Theoph. 412–413).


‘In the time between [the sending of the legation to the Chazars’ leader and the sending of Leo’s daughter to marry the Chazar leader’s son] an earthquake struck Byzantium, also severely affecting other cities and villages. And it threw down many houses, holy churches and colonnades, some of which were razed to their foundations. In addition it damaged the splendid church, which is dedicated to St Irene, located very near the Great Church [the Hagia Sophia]. And the statue of Arcadius, a Roman ruler of old, which stood on a carved column on the Xerolophus fell down to the ground. The shaking lasted for a year, with the result that many of the citizens went out beyond the walls and dwelt in huts.’ (Niceph. Call. post Maur. 66).


‘At these times a great and most frightening earthquake happened, and many churches and houses and the land walls of the city and many prisons fell, together with the villages of Thrace. And countless people died, and the earth shook for two years, so that the sea drew back from its bounds . . .’ (Georg. Mon. PG 636/924).


‘In the 24th year [of Leo] the market-places (agorai) were burned by the Hieracites, and many of them were executed. On 26th October, which is the feast of St Demetrius, on the 4th day, at the 8th hour, a great and terrifying earthquake happened in Constantinople and churches, monasteries and houses fell, and many people died. Also the statue of Arcadius in the Xerolophus and many other [statues?], the land walls of the city, and cities and villages in Thrace, together with Nicaea, Nicomedea and Praenetus, all fell. The sea left its bounds in certain places. The earthquake lasted for eleven months.

When the Emperor saw that the walls of the city had fallen, he addressed [the people] saying, “You, the citizens, are not able to restore the walls, but we have given orders to the district governors to demand one miliarision in the standard coinage, and the Empire will take this and rebuild the walls.” And this customary procedure was successful, producing [the standard] surtax (ta dikerata) for the district governors. This surtax (keratia) was 12 folles or nummi [= sestertii].’ (Cedr. 801/880).


‘In the year 1050 there was an earthquake in Constantinople; the most part of the city collapsed.’ (Mich. Syr. xi. 22/ii. 504).


‘At Constantinople, the statues of the Emperors collapsed together with most of the buildings. It was the same in Nicaea and in other cities.’ (Mich. Syr. xi. 23/ii. 511). ‘[Same time as Palestine earthquake] Three-quarters of the city of Constantinople fell in ruins; the town of Nicaea was completely destroyed, together with several other cities in Bithynia.’ (Mich. Syr. Arm. 259).


‘[26 October] On the same day we commemorate the love shown to us men in the affliction of the terrible and unspeakable threat of the earthquake [which occurred] owing to our many sins in the 6249th year, in which was the 5th cycle of the moon, the 16th of the sun, the 9th indiction, in the reign of the lawless enemy of icons, Leo of Isauria.’ (Synax. CP. 166/2).


‘On the same day [26 October]: Commemoration of the great earthquake.

In the 24th year of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian [Leo III], in the 9th indiction, in the month of October, on the 26th day, on the Feast of St Demetrius, Constantinople was shaken by a terrible earthquake, so that all the houses and churches collapsed, and a countless multitude of people were killed. And so to commemorate this terrible earthquake we have instituted rogations, in which we process to the great and holy shrine of the most immaculate and glorious Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, which is in Blachernes . . .’ (Men. Bas. 146/129).


‘On the seventh tower of the Theodosian Wall, north of the Sea of Marmara: “Leo with Constantine, wielders of the sceptre, erected from the foundations this tower which had fallen”.

On the ninth tower north of the Golden Gate, in brick letters: “Many be the years of Leo and Constantine, Great Kings and Emperors”.’ (Millingen 1899, 98).

References

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

Yemen 742 CE

Ambraseys et al (1994)

742 Yemen

Byzantine authors of the ninth and tenth centuries describe an earthquake in the Spring of 742 in the 'desert of Sava' or 'Sava'.1 The latter may correspond to the monastery of Savva, south of Jerusalem; but Michael the Syrian (twelfth century) says the earthquake occurred in the 'desert of the Taiyeye' (Arabs), which can be equated with Sava or Saba. This is probably somewhere round the edges of the desert between Shabwa in Hadramaut and Ma'rib. The earthquake caused large landslides and many villages were overwhelmed by collapsing mountain sides.2

The date and details of this event have been greatly misrepresented in some earthquake catalogues, where it is located in Libya, 4000 km away.3 However, a location in the Yemen is supported by the fact that this notice is followed by the account of another event in the Yemen during that year.4

With so few details, it is clearly difficult to suggest either an epicentral location or area of perceptibility for this event, which should have been relatively large, considering that its occurrence is recorded by chroniclers writing in Constantinople and Upper Mesopotamia.

Footnotes

1 Theophanes, p. 349/641; Agapius, p. 510/250; Cedrenus, p. 460/ II, 5; see also Ambraseys and Melville (1983). 'Byzantine' authors do not again show an interest in events in Arabia till the extension of the Ottoman Empire into that region at the turn of the sixteenth century.

2 Michael the Syrian, XI, 22/II, 507.

3 Sieberg (1932a), p. 872, puts this event near Murzuq in Libya in 704 and again (1932b), p. 188, in 742, saying much damage was caused in Egypt by an earthquake located in Libya. Sieberg misquotes the sources used by earlier cataloguers, such as Hoff (1840), pp. 195 - 6, and Mallet (1853), p. 11. The account of 600 towns being destroyed in fact follows Sawirus's account of the earthquake of 747, see next entry. Sieberg's mislocation is followed by later writers, e.g. Campbell (1968) and Kebeasy (1980).

4 Michael the Syrian mentions that monkeys attacked and ate some people in the Yemen!

References

Ambraseys, N. N., et al. (1994). The seismicity of Egypt, Arabia, and the Red Sea : a historical review. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References

References

Contextualising the earthquake of 749 CE From high definition archaeology to global history - abstracts

Contextualising the earthquake of 749 CE From high definition archaeology to global history - Event

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

ANTONOPOULOS, J. (1980). "Data from investigation on seismic Sea-waves events in the Eastern Mediterranean from 500 to 1000 A.D." Annals of Geophysics.

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Wells, D. L. and K. J. Coppersmith (1994). "New empirical relationships among magnitude, rupture length, rupture width, rupture area, and surface displacement." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 84(4)

Zilberman, et al (2004). Neotectonic and paleoseismic study : Bet She'an Valley. Jerusalem, Geological Survey of Israel.

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

Zohar et al (2019) - updated catalog





Ancient Texts

Anastasius Bibliothecarius. PL 129. J.-P. Migne.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastasius_Bibliothecarius
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/16002b.htm

Cedrenus, G., et al. (1838). Georgius Cedrenus, Ioannis Scylitzae ope, E. Weber.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WM0GAAAAQAAJ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Kedrenos
https://archive.org/details/georgiuscedrenu00scylgoog

Anonymous "Chronicle of 1234."

http://www.doaks.org/research/byzantine/resources/syriac/chronicles#section-21
https://archive.org/details/AnonymiAuctorisChroniconAdAnnumChristi1234PertinensIVersioCSCO109OCR
https://archive.org/details/ChroniconAdAnnumChristi1234PertinensVolume2
https://archive.org/details/chroniconanonymi01chab
http://archive.org/stream/ChroniconAdAnnumChristi1234PertinensVolume2/Chronicon1234ChabotVol2#page/n123/mode/1up
http://archive.org/stream/chroniconanonymi01chab#page/n327/mode/1up
http://www.doaks.org/research/byzantine/resources/syriac/chronicles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronicle_of_1234
http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-the-medieval-chronicle/chronicle-of-1234-SIM_00201?s.num=76&s.rows=100

Chabot, J. B. (2010). Chronique de Denys de Tell-Mahre, Part, Kessinger Publishing.

http://books.google.com/books?id=VXzVYgEACAAJ
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronique_du_Pseudo-Denys_de_Tell-Mahr%C3%A9
https://archive.org/details/chroniquededeny00chabgoog

Elias, B. o. N. "Opus Chronologicum."

https://archive.org/details/OpusChronologicumByEliasBishopOfNisibis

Glykas, M. "Chronicle of events from the creation of the world to the death of Alexius I Comnenus."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Glycas
https://archive.org/details/michaelisglycae00leungoog

Gil, M. (1992). A History of Palestine, 634-1099, Cambridge University Press

Moshe Gil on Wikipedia

MichaelTheSyrian Chronicle.

https://archive.org/details/ChronicleOfMichaelTheGreatPatriarchOfTheSyrians
http://rbedrosian.com/Msyr/msyrtoc.html

Syrian, Michael the (1963). Chronique 4 volumes N. Chabot. Brussels.

https://archive.org/details/ChroniqueDeMichelLeGrand
https://archive.org/details/ChroniqueDeMichelLeSyrienT.1Fasc.1translation
https://archive.org/details/MichelLeSyrien2
https://archive.org/details/MichelLeSyrien3
http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2009/02/26/michael-the-syrian-preface-to-his-history/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_the_Syrian

Gregoras, N., et al. (2012). Nicephori Gregorae Byzantina historia: Graece et Latine, Cambridge University Press.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vfMb_RdGufUC
https://archive.org/details/byzantinahistor00bekkgoog
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicephorus_Gregoras

Pseudo-Dionysus Works.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/dionysius
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/dionysius/works.html

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

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

Zonaras, J., et al. (2011). Ioannou Tou Zonara Epitome Historion Ioannis Zonarae Epitome Historiarum Cum Caroli Ducangii Suisque Annotationibus Edidit Ludovicus Dindorfius, BiblioBazaar.

http://books.google.com/books?id=8d0gywAACAAJ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Zonaras
https://archive.org/details/ioannoutouzonara03zonauoft





Ancient Arabic Texts

Dahab. Tarikh: al-Dahabii, Tarikh al-Islam, MS BL Or. 49 and 50; Paris MS Ar. 1581; Kitab al-'ibar fi khabar man ghabara, 5 volumes, ed. S. Munajjid, Kuwait, 1960-66; Kitab duwa al-Islam al-kabir, MS BM Or. 48-50, with Dhail ed. al-Sakhawi, Hyderabad, 1919; trans. A. Negre, Damascus 1979, p. 13.

(Sawirus), M. I. a.-M. (1943). History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church. A. a.-M. and and Burmester. Cairo.

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_hermopolis_hist_alex_patr_00_eintro.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Patriarchs_of_Alexandria
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severus_ibn_al-Mukaffa
http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_hermopolis_hist_alex_patr_00_intro.htm

al-Suyuti, J. a.-D. K. (1971). Kashf al-salsala 'an wasf al-zalzala. A. a.-L. Sa'adan. Fez.

http://makashfa.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/works-books-of-imam-jalaluddin-suyuti/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Suyuti

al-'Ulaimi (1866 (A.H. 1283)). al-Uns al-jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds. wa'l-Khalil. Cairo.



Judaic Texts

Margalioth, M. (1941), ‘Dating the Seventh-year earthquake’, Bull. Israel Explor. Soc., 8, 97–104 (in Hebrew).

Margalioth, M. (1959), ‘A new document on the Seventh-year earthquake’, Tarbiz, 29, 339–344 (in Hebrew).

Tsafrir, Y., Foerster, G. (1992), ‘The dating of the ‘earthquake of the Sabbatical year’ of 749 C.E. in Palestine’, Bull. SOAS, 55, 231–235.

Gil, M. (1983), Palestine during the First Muslim Period 634–1099, 3 volumes, Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defence

Elitzur (2004) in Hebrew

Elizer (2005) in Hebrew



Samaritan Texts

Stenhouse, P. (1980). "The Kitāb al-Tarīkh of Abu'l Fath: a new edition."

"The Samaritan Chronicle of Abu '1 Fatch, the Arabic text from the MS in the Bodleian Library", DVJ, 2 (1863), pp. 304-335, 430-459.

The Kitab al-Ta'rikh of Abu 'l-Fath, Ph. D Thesis, Sydney University (1980).

The Kitab al-Ta'rikh of Abu 'l-Fath, Translated with Notes (The Mandelbaum Trust, Sydney, University Press 1985).

Crown, A. D. (1989). The Samaritans. Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).