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Sabbatical Year Quakes

Friday 17 and Saturday 18 January 749 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

Introduction & Summary

These earthquakes are a beautiful conundrum but there is a possible solution. For those unfamiliar with these earthquakes, our conundrum is that we have roughly a couple dozen sources producing divergent dates for one or more earthquakes between the years of ~746 and ~750 CE. Although the dates are divergent, careful examination of the textual evidence combined with some archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an allows one to parse out a coherent narrative for this piece of seismic history. The narrative will now be explained. The first earthquake struck the southern Levant on the night of 17 January 749 CE. The second earthquake struck what is modern day Syria around 10 am on 18 January 749 CE. The short amount of time between the two earthquakes contributed to the chronological confusion present in the sources and led many of the time to conclude that there was one great earthquake which shook the Middle East from Gaza to Mesopotamia. Significant aftershocks may have continued for up to a year. What is presented below is one possible solution :

  1. The damage reported, from Gaza to Mesopotamia, is too large for one of the segmented faults of the Dead Sea transform to produce. There has to have been more than one earthquake.

  2. The Dead Sea Transform is known to produce couplets - pairs of earthquakes closely spaced in time. Notable examples include the Amos Quakes of the mid 8th century BCE (a few decades apart), the 1202 and 1212 CE earthquakes, the Baalebek Quakes of 1759 CE (less than a month apart), and the Cyril Quakes which struck within about ~6 hours of each other.

  3. What we have is, at a minimum, two earthquakes. One of them struck, relieved stress on the fault, and transferred that stress to other segments. The added stress caused another segment to break

  4. Our earliest reports come from three Byzantine authors (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes) , one Syriac author (Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre), and apparent eyewitness testimony from Egypt (al-Muqaffa). These authors didn't necessarily get everything right but they are the place to look for information about these earthquakes before textual transmission muddled the story.

  5. The three earliest Byzantine authors (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes) all report two earthquakes which they define geographically. I label these earthquakes by names rather than dates so that we don't participate in their chronological confusion.

  6. The Holy Desert Quake is described as striking along the Jordan River. This indicates that part of the Jordan Valley fault likely broke during this earthquake. At the end of the Byzantine Holy Desert Quake accounts, most of the authors say that damage was worst in the desert outside the Holy City where the Holy City refers to Jerusalem.

  7. The Talking Mule Quake struck what is modern day Syria. It is called the Talking Mule Quake because at the end of the story, the authors tell the story of a Talking Mule that emerged from an earthquake induced earth fissure in Mesopotamia and spoke prophecy. Obviously, we can't take this part of the story literally but it is a memorable name which provides some insight into the mindsets of the authors (Note: Seemingly all of the authors from all of the sources held some sort of ecclesiastical position in their respective religion).

  8. The three earliest Byzantine authors writing in far off Constantinople and Italy must have based their account on a local source(s). The textual similarities in all the Byzantine accounts strongly suggests that they predominantly relied on a shared source or each other. The source is matter of conjecture but an important point is that the local source may have used the A.G. Calendar to report the dates of the earthquakes and the three early Byzantine authors converted these dates into their own chronology - usually the A.M.a calendar. They may have made mistakes during this conversion and/or their source(s) may have made chronological mistakes regarding the year(s) of these earthquakes which led these three authors to report the earthquakes too early. A clear example of their chronological confusion comes from the time between the two earthquakes. Theophanes and Paul the Deacon place 3 years between the Holy Desert Quake and the Talking Mule Quake while Anastasius Bibliothecarius separates these two earthquakes by only a year. Textual analysis of Anastasius Bibliothecarius suggests he copied his account from an earlier and more reliable version of Theophanes that we don't have access to. The main point to take away is that the years of the three earliest Byzantine authors are questionable.

  9. A rare find of chronologically precise archeoseismic evidence allows us to establish a terminus post quem for the Holy Desert earthquake. In Bet She'an, which lies at the intersection of the Yizreel and Jordan Valleys, a coin hoard was found beneath mid 8th century earthquake induced rubble. The latest coin is in near mint condition and dates to A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE).

  10. The Byzantine sources fairly consistently report that the Holy Desert Quake struck in January. Many specify 18 January. They were a day off but this is an important date to remember.

  11. al-Muqaffa presents eyewitness testimony from the night of 17 January (21 Tuba in the Coptic Calendar) when an earthquake struck the Palestinian littoral. Geographical considerations identify this as the Holy Desert Quake. The Coptic source al-Makin also reports the Holy Desert Quake on 21 Tuba.

  12. Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre who appears to be our earliest source and a contemporaneous one reports a tremor felt in the Syrian town of Mabbug from a distant earthquake the night before the Talking Mule Quake. The nighttime tremor came from the Holy Desert Quake. He reports that the Talking Mule Quake struck the next morning at the end of what appears to be an impromptu morning prayer service. We could guess that the Talking Mule earthquake likely struck around mid morning.

  13. Several Byzantine sources report a 10 am earthquake (the 4th hour) on 18 January which they attribute to the Holy Desert Quake. However, from al-Muqaffa we know that the Holy Desert Quake struck on the night of 17 January. It was the Talking Mule Quake that struck at 10 am on 18 January. This agrees with the mid morning Syrian earthquake reported by Pseudo-Dionysius. The 10 am timing from the Byzantine sources indicates that the primary Byzantine source described events from Syria as that would have been the timing when they experienced the Talking Mule Quake and conflated it with the Holy Desert Quake. This makes sense as the seismic effects described by the Byzantine sources for the Talking Mule Quake are richer and more detailed than the seismic effects described for the Holy Desert Quake.

  14. Judaic sources supply a date of 23 Shevat for the Holy Desert Quake which suggests the year 749 CE for the Holy Desert Quake. As the Jewish day begins at sundown, 23 Shevat (Hebrew Calendar) ran from about 6 pm 17 January in 749 CE until about 6 pm 18 January in 749 CE. The coincidence of 23 Shevat with 17/18 January only occurs in 749 CE. It does not, for example, occur in 748 or 750 CE. Thus, according to Jewish sources the Holy Desert Earthquake struck on 23 Shevat which was in the evening of 17 January 749 CE.

  15. One very late Muslim source (Mujir al-Din) purports to record eyewitness testimony. If this reported eyewitness testimony is accurate, the main shock for the Holy Desert Quake on 17 January struck at ~7 pm and was preceded by two powerful foreshocks around 3 pm and 6 pm. The Talking Mule Quake struck the next day around mid morning according to Pseudo-Dionysius and around 10 am (the fourth hour) according to the Byzantine sources. Mid morning and the fourth hour are broadly equivalent.

  16. To summarize - The Holy Desert Quake struck the southern Levant on the night of 17 January 749 CE possibly around 7 pm and was possibly preceded by two foreshocks in the afternoon. The Talking Mule Quake struck Syria around 10 am on 18 January 749 CE. Most who lived in the region thought this was one large earthquake rather than two separate earthquakes on two separate fault segments. Aftershocks probably lasted up to a year and it is possible that another not particularly well documented earthquake struck up to about a year before the Holy Desert Quake and the Talking Mule Quake thus explaining the persistence of the A.H. 130 date in the Muslim sources (see below).

This narrative is built on several pieces of evidence and emphasizes the earliest sources and sources which appear to present reliable eyewitness testimony written in the first person (e.g. al-Muqaffa). I paid particular attention to the time of day these earliest sources present. This is partly based on personal experience. In 1994, I spent ~20 seconds not knowing whether I would live or die as the 1994 Northridge Quake shook the building I was living in in Los Angeles, California. I have a vivid memory of those ~20 seconds as well as the time of day that the earthquake struck - about an hour to an hour and a half before sunrise. I may have to look up the month and year of that earthquake but the time of day is something I will hold onto until the day I die. It is seared into my memory. This is not unique to me. People who live through such disasters remember the time and place they were when they experienced the event long after the event has passed. It is a useful clue.

The Muslim sources are one apparently contradictory piece of evidence to this narrative. Although many of the Muslim sources present a chain of witnesses (following a Hadith tradition), the ones which mention a year were written late - very late - from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Most speak of a tradition of an earthquake in A.H. 130 (11 September 747 - 30 August 748) and most concentrate on damage to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, the numismatic evidence from Bet She'an shows that the earthquake which struck Jerusalem (the Holy Desert Quake) and likely broke at least part of the Jordan Valley Fault happened in A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749) or later. In fact, if the Holy Desert Quake struck on the night of 17 January 749 CE, it struck in A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749). A few muslim sources (As-Soyuti, Ibn Tagri Birdi, and possibly al-Jawzi) mention earthquakes in A.H. 130 and A.H. 131. As-Soyuti's A.H. 130 and A.H. 131 earthquake descriptions sound so similar that one wonders if he wasn't repeating the same earthquake twice but with two different years. 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. If this is the case, we might have an explanation for the preponderance of A.H. 130 dates in the Muslim tradition - their earlier sources were confused about the year of the earthquake. It is possible that a smaller localized earthquake struck in A.H. 130 and this earthquake got conflated with the Holy Desert and/or Talking Mule Quakes of A.H. 131.

Unfortunately, my proposed solution is not infallible. Two of the four Syriac authors (Pseudo Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234) date the Syrian Talking Mule Quake to A.G. 1059. With Babylonian reckoning, this dates to 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE however if one uses the Macedonian reckoning that was the standard for Syriac authors of this time (Sebastian Brock, personal communication 2021), the date becomes 1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE. The Babylonian reckoning allows for a 17/18 January 749 CE date while the Macedonian reckoning does not. If the two Syriac authors were using the Macedonian reckoning and reporting their years accurately, this may suggest that the Talking Mule Quake preceded a 17/18 January 749 CE Holy Desert Quake by up to about a year. However, one Syriac author - Elias of Nisibis - our second account - early 11th century - dates the Talking Mule Quake to A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE). This does entertain the possibility that two earthquakes struck on 17/18 January 749 CE. The Syriac author Michael the Syrian did not supply a date and exhibited confused chronology in his account.

Thus, while we have the striking coincidence of 3 dates from three different independent traditions (18 January - Byzantine, 23 Shevat - Judaic, and 21 Tuba - Coptic) which can be parsed into a coherent narrative of earthquakes on the night of 17 January and the morning of 18 January 749 CE, other possibilities have not been eliminated and the only thing we can say with certainty is that two earthquakes struck the region between 746 and 750 CE, the archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an shows that the Holy Desert Quake struck no earlier than 31 August 748 CE (the start of A.H. 131), and there might have even been a third smaller earthquake which is not well documented.

Master Chronology Tables

Master Chronology Table - Time of Day

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

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

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

Intensity Estimates

Intensity Estimates - UNDER COSTRUCTION

Textual Evidence

Section
Byzantine Writers
Syriac Writers
Christian Writers in Arabic
Judaic Texts
Muslim Writers
Samaritan Texts

Byzantine Accounts - Christian Writers in Greek and Latin

Section
Damage Reports
Introduction and Discussion
Paul the Deacon
Anastasius Bibliothecarius
Theophanes
Nicephorus
Georgius Monachus
Megas Chronographos
George Cedrenus
Minor Chronicles
Joannes Zonaras
Michael Glycas
Damage Reports - Byzantine
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


Introduction and Discussion - Byzantine
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).

Order of composition

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

Calendars are important in understanding and deciphering the textual evidence. 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 earlier Byzantine sources used the Alexandrian version (A.M.a) of this calendar which has a starting date of 25 March 5492 BCE or 25 March 5493 BCE. I will follow Guidoboni et al (1994) and Ambraseys (2009) and assume that the starting date for the Alexandrian version was 25 March 5492 BCE - which is the starting date for what is commonly called the Alexandrian era (Grumel, 1958:219). Megas Chronographos, a later source, used the Byzantine version (A.M.Byz) with a starting date of 1 September 5509 BCE ( Bickerman, 1980:73-74).

In addition to A.M. ambiguities, there is the problem of calendaric conversion. The similarity of the Byzantine authors' earthquake descriptions suggests that they came from a similar source(s) - possibly a Melkite Chronicle which was either written in or translated to Greek (Karcz (2004), citing Brooks (1906:587), Proudfoot (1974), and Mango and Scott (1997)), the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa ( Hoyland, 2011:7-10), or some other source from the region where the earthquakes struck. It appears likely that the Calendar that was used by this source was the A.G. calendar - also known as the Seleucid Era. This is the Calendar that was was used by the Syriac sources. The A.G. calendar was apparently in widespread use by the writers in the region where the earthquakes struck and 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). This leads to several questions.

  • Did the hypothesized source report dates in the A.G. calendar ?
  • Were the A.G. dates in this source reported using Macedonian reckoning or Babylonian reckoning ?
  • Did the Greek speaking sources convert the year using Macedonian reckoning or Babylonian reckoning ?
There are no firm answers to these questions however two situations can be considered. The first is that the hypothesized source reported A.G. dates using Macedonian reckoning and the Greek speaking Byzantine writers converted A.G. dates to A.M. dates using Macedonian reckoning which would be the standard way a native Greek speaker would translate that calendar. In this situation, no error would be introduced. If, however, the source reported dates using the A.G. calendar with Babylonian reckoning and the Greek speaking sources converted A.G. dates to A.M. dates using Macedonian reckoning, a one year error in the date would be introduced.

Then there is yet another dating ambiguity. 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 a year too low. One of these problematic A.M.a spans encompasses the years in which the earthquakes are reported. The Byzantine sources in general appear to report A.M.'s that are low compared to other sources (e.g. Syriac and Muslim)

To represent the full range of possibilities in which these earthquakes are reported, I have created two "corrections" which I've labeled as the "Babylonian consideration" and the "Theophanes correction". These are explained below:
  • The Babylonian consideration is a method to add one year from Theophanes (and derivative accounts) original A.M.a and produce an additional second higher A.M.a. This is done to consider the possibility that A.G. years were converted using the Macedonian reckoning when the Babylonian reckoning should have been used instead. For example, Theophanes' year for the Holy Desert Quake is A.M.a 6238. After using the Babylonian consideration, we have two A.M.a's - 6238 and 6239.
  • The Theophanes correction is the widely used method of adding a year to Theophanes A.M.a date for the periods of A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265. The Theophanes correction is applied to both the A.M.a specified in the Byzantine text and the A.M.a that is one year higher after a Babylonian consideration is applied. For example, for the Holy Desert Quake, we have A.M.a 6238 and 6239 after the Babylonian consideration is applied. The Theophanes correction is then applied to both years leading to A.M.a 6239 and A.M.a 6240. These two A.M.a dates are then converted to Julian calendar.
These two corrections are applied while deriving a Julian date from the A.M.a of Theophanes and Anastasius Bibliothecarius who is believed to have compiled his account from an earlier and more reliable but lost version of Theophanes. No corrections are applied to other Byzantine sources although corrected and uncorrected dates are presented for Paul the Deacon. The Babylonian consideration is also applied to the indiction since if Theophanes made a bad A.G. to A.M.a conversion, he would also have made a bad A.G. to indiction conversion. Despite Proudfoot (1974)'s generalized assertion that Theophanes' indictions are correct and only the A.M.a is off in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265, the indictions in Theophanes for these earthquakes are in sync with his A.M.a dates. So, the same Theophanes correction applied to Theophanes' A.M.a is applied to his indictions. Anastasius did not supply an indiction. As for regnal years, only the Babylonian consideration is applied and only to Theophanes and Anastasius. Dates of historical events are not corrected because Theophanes and the other authors would have gotten these from other sources. Below is a summary of the correction methodology applied to Theophanes and Anastasius. As noted previously, Paul the Deacon's dates are presented with and without corrections where Paul's corrections utilize the same methodology as for Theophanes and Anastasius.

Date Reference Babylonian consideration Theophanes correction
A.M.a applied to Theophanes and Anastasius applied to Theophanes and Anastasius
Indictions applied to Theophanes applied to Theophanes
Regnal Years applied to Theophanes and Anastasius applied to Theophanes and Anastasius
Historical Events not applied not applied


In the chronological tables presented for the various authors, A.M., regnal years, and indictions are shown as reported in the texts. Any corrections applied are noted in the table and are only applied to the Julian dates. Paul the Deacon's dates are presented in both corrected and uncorrected form.

Historia Romana by Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon 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.
Holy Desert Quake

In a text printed from 1569 CE, we can read in Book XXII p. 696: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

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

Paul dates this earthquake to January in the 6th year of Constantine which places it in 747 CE if the earthquake did indeed strike in January. He also says it struck at the 4th hour. Corrected and uncorrected dates are presented below.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 746 - 17 June 747 CE Constantine's 6th year none reign started 18 June 741 CE
18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE Constantine's 6th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE


Seismic Effects

Paul says the earthquake struck Palestine, along the Jordan, and Syria and that the damage was worst in the desert outside (east) of Jerusalem noting that churches and monasteries collapsed

Talking Mule Quake

In the same 1569 CE edition, we can read in Book XXII p. 700-701: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

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

Chronology is summarized below. Paul's dates are presented with and without corrections. Note that Paul says that Leo was born on 8 February. Theophanes dated Leo's birth to 25 January. Paul specifies the same indiction as Theophanes. Corrected and uncorrected dates are presented below.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Sept. 749 - 31 Aug. 750 CE 3rd indiction none
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE A.M.a 6241 none same A.M. as Leo's birth
18 June 749 - 17 June 750 CE Constantine's 9th year none reign started 18 June 741 CE
1 Sept. 750 - 31 Aug. 752 CE 3rd indiction Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
25 March 750 - 24 March 752 CE A.M.a 6241 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied same A.M. as Leo's birth
18 June 749 - 17 June 751 CE Constantine's 9th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE


Seismic Effects

In the Talking Mule Quake account, Paul says that the earthquake struck Syria and mentions seismic effects in Mesopotamia. This suggests an epicenter to the north of the Holy Desert Quake. There is also a fair amount of seismic description in this second account which is listed below:

  • Earthquake in Syria - many died
  • A spring moved
  • There was a block slide type of landslide
  • There was an earth fissure in Mesopotamia
  • Sand boils appeared in the earth fissure in Mesopotamia


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.

Sources (both accounts)

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 apparently other possibilities as well but one thing seems to be clear - they shared a local source.

Notes

It is interesting that Paul the Deacon's corrected and uncorrected dates seem too low for the Holy Desert Quake while Paul's uncorrected dates seem correct for the Talking Mule Quake. This may be further evidence that the shared source of Theophanes, Paul, and Anastasius reported the earthquakes from Syria with correct dates for the Talking Mule Quake.

Chronographia Tripartita by Anastasius Bibliothecarius
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 he had access to an earlier and more reliable version of Theophanes than the copy of Theophanes that we currently have access to. This provides us with an important chronological clue because unlike the other Byzantine writers who placed the two earthquakes three years apart, Anastasius placed the earthquakes only a year apart. Anastasius wrote an account of both earthquakes.
Holy Desert Quake

In an edition by Niebuhr (1828:225) we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

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

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.
Chronology

Anastasius specifies the same A.M.a as Theophanes as well as the same regnal year for Constantine V. Because Anastasius Bibliothecaria apparently copied from an earlier version of Theophanes, the same corrections applied to Theophanes' dates are applied to Anastasius' dates. Possible Dates are listed in the table below. Calendaric conversions do not make use of a January date.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 747 - 24 March 749 CE A.M.a 6238 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
? divine incarnation year 738 This appears to be similar to the A.D. calendar but is dating Jesus birth ~9-10 years earlier - may be based on assigning an A.M. of 5500 to Jesus' birth.
18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE Constantine, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE


Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects are almost the same as Paul the Deacon.

Talking Mule Quake

In an edition by Niebuhr (1828:228) we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

Anno Mundi 6239, divine incarnation year 739, Emperor Constantines 7th 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

Mundi anno 6239, dlvinae incarnafionls anno 739, anno vero imperii Constantini septimo, occiditur Gregorius ab Arlrutensibus, et eviclt Maruham, ut praeluli.

...

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.
Chronology

Anastasius dates the Talking Mule Quake roughly a year after the Holy Desert Quake unlike Theophanes and Paul who place the two quakes ~3 years apart. Since there are indications that Anastasius had access to an earlier and more reliable version of Theophanes that we don't have access to, this is an interesting piece of chronology. Because Anastasius used Theophanes as a source, the same corrections are applied to Anastasius' dates as are applied to Theophanes' dates.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 748 - 24 March 750 CE A.M.a 6239 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied Theophanes dated this to A.M.a 6241
? divine incarnation year 739 none This appears to be similar to the A.D. calendar but is dating Jesus birth ~9-10 years earlier - may be based on assigning an A.M. of 5500 to Jesus' birth.
18 June 747 - 17 June 749 CE Constantine, 7th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE


Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects are the same as Paul.

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.

Chronology of Theophanes
Theophanes wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. 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.
Holy Desert Quake

In Mango and Scott (1997:585-586)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here), the entry for Theophanes' first earthquake - the Holy Desert Quake in A.M.a 6238 - reads as follows:

[A.M. 6238, AD 745/6]

Constantine, 6th year
Marouam, 3rd year
Zacharias, 13th year
Anastasios, 17th year
Theophylaktos, 3rd year

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.


Chronology

A day, month, and hour are all specified in this account - 18 January at the 4th hour. The year however is in question. The table below lists varying years that can be derived from Theophanes' entry. Calendaric calculations do not make use of the 18 January date.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 747 - 24 March 749 CE A.M.a 6238 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
1 Sept. 746 - 31 Aug. 748 CE 14th indiction Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE Constantine, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
4 Dec. 746 - 3 Dec. 748 CE Marouam, 3rd year Babylonian consideration applied reign started on 4 December 744 CE
4 Dec. 753 - 3 Dec. 755 CE Zacharias, 13th year Babylonian consideration applied consecrated on 4 or 6 December 741 CE
1 Jan. 746 - 31 Dec. 748 CE Anastasios, 17th year Babylonian consideration applied installed 730 CE
1 Jan. 746 - 31 Dec. 748 CE Theophylaktos, 3rd year Babylonian consideration applied installed 744 CE
745/746 CE start of the plague none applied years comes from footnote 1 in Mango and Scott's translation


Seismic Effects

Theophanes says the earthquake struck Palestine along the Jordan and Syria and that churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City [Jerusalem]. 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 Jordan River which is where the seismically active Jordan Valley Fault is located.

Talking Mule Quake

The Talking Mule Quake is dated to A.M.a 6241. In Mango and Scott (1997:588-589)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here), the entry for Theophanes' second earthquake - the Talking Mule Quake - in A.M.a 6241 reads as follows:

[A.M. 6241, AD 748/9]

Constantine, 9th year
Marouam, 6th year
Zacharias, 16th year
Anastasios, 20th year
Theophylaktos, 6th year

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.


Chronology

The table below lists varying years that can be derived from Theophanes' entry. The synchronicity of Marwan's (aka Marouam) death with Leo's birth is curious and may suggest alteration of dates for literary purposes but this won't be explored for now.



Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 750 - 24 March 752 CE A.M.a 6241 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
1 Sept. 750 - 31 Aug. 752 CE 3rd indiction Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
18 June 749 - 17 June 751 CE Constantine, 9th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
4 December 749 - 25 January 750 CE Marouam, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied but truncated by Marwan II's death on 25 Jan 750 CE reign started on 4 December 744 CE
4 December 756 - 3 December 758 CE Zacharias, 16th year Babylonian consideration applied consecrated on 4 or 6 December 741 CE
1 Jan. 749 - 31 Dec. 751 CE Anastasios, 20th year Babylonian consideration applied installed 730 CE
1 Jan. 749 - 31 Dec. 751 CE Theophylaktos, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied installed 744 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE Same A.M. as birth of Leo none applied Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE Same A.M. as the death of Marwan (aka Marouam) none applied Marwan (aka Marouam) died on 25 January 750 CE


Seismic Effects

In the Talking Mule Quake account Theophanes says the earthquake struck Syria and mentions seismic effects in Mesopotamia. This may suggest an epicenter to the north of the Holy Desert Quake. There is also a fair amount of seismic description in this second account which is listed below:

  • Some cities were destroyed
  • Some cities were partially ruined
  • There was a block slide type of landslide
  • Sand boils appeared in Mesopotamia
  • There was an earth fissure in Mesopotamia


Sources (both accounts)

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 (or translated a Syriac text to Greek) not long after 780 CE. Brooks (1906:587) and others suggest that Theophanes, Michael the Syrian, Nicephorus and others may have shared the same source thus accounting for the similarity in various Christian accounts of these earthquakes. Hoyland (2011:7-10) suggests that Theophanes also made use of the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa - who was a contemporaneous source for the earthquakes. Brooks (1906) suggested that Theophanes also made use of 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.

Chronography (aka Chronographikon Syntomon) by Nicephoros
Nicephoros I of Constantinople wrote Chronography in Greek the early 9th century CE. He only wrote about the Talking Mule Quake. He did not provide an account of the Holy Desert Quake.
Talking Mule Quake

In an English translation by Mango (1990:140-143), we can read:

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

Nicephorus dates this earthquake to around the time of the birth of Leo (25 January 750 CE according to Theophanes and 8 February 750 CE according to Paul the Deacon).
Year Reference Corrections Notes
749/750 CE around the time of the birth of Leo none Leo born around 25 Jan. 750 CE


Seismic Effects

The seismic effects very similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes with two additions
  • Numerous earth fissures are mentioned rather than just one in Mesopotamia.
  • The earth fissure and sand boils in Mesopotamia are located as being near to Syria


Sources

This account echoes much of Theophanes description of the second earthquake strongly suggesting that they were using the same source(s).

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).

Online Versions and Further Reading

The text in original Greek can be read here.

Chronicle by Georgius Monachus (aka George Hamartolos aka George the Monk)
Georgios Monachus wrote the Chronicle in Greek in the last half of the 9th century CE. Eduard von Muralt published a full volume of the text which was reprinted in Patrologia Graeca Volume 100. Georgius Monachus only discussed the Talking Mule Quake.
Talking Mule Quake

On page 946 of Patrologia Graeca Volume 100 (1857) we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

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.
Chronology

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

Seismic Effects

similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes.

Online Versions and Further Reading

All volumes in Greek may be here.

Megas Chronographos
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.

Holy Desert Quake

In an English translation by Whitby and Whitby (1989:197-198), we can read:

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

Ambraseys (2009) supplied a date for this as (A.M.Byz 6255, Ind. xv, 18 January) which apparently comes from Schreiner (1975:44,1977:87). Ambraseys (2009) commented that it is unclear how Schreiner produced this date and I agree as neither A.M.Byz, indiction, or a date is specified in the translation by Whitby and Whitby (1989:197-198). Nonetheless, a table is presented below with this dating information. 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. Although Byzantine Chronicles are known for placing events out of order, this is an important observation which illustrates how the Byzantine sources present a confused chronology and may not themselves have understood when the earthquakes struck or in which order they struck. Since I don't know the source for Megas Chronographos, I will not assume it is Theophanes or an earlier version of Theophanes. Hence, the Babylonian Consideration and the Theophanes correction are not applied.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 January 747 CE 18 January A.M.Byz 6255 none applied Byzantine A.M. places this in 747 CE for a date of January 18
18 January 747 CE Indiction XV none applied Indication XV places this in 747 CE for a date of January 18
746/747 CE around the same time as the plague crossed from Sicily and Calabria to Greece none applied In Mango and Scott's translation of Theophanes for the Holy Desert Quake, they date the start of the plague in 745/746 CE (footnote 1) which would date the plague's arrival in Greece in 746/747 CE


Seismic Effects

Similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes minus the specification that the damage was the worst in the desert by the Holy City (Jerusalem).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Further information about this text can be found in two german texts (Freund (1882:16), and Gastberger (2015)) and an English one (Farkas et al (2016)).

Synopsis Historion by George Cedrenus (aka George Kedrenus)
George Cedrenus wrote Synopsis Historion (aka A Concise History of the World) in the 1050's in Greek.
Holy Desert Quake

In Cedrenus Vol. 2 Becker Edition p.5 we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

A.M. 6236 ...

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

Latin

Anno mundi 6236 ...

magna quoque siccitas fuit et multi terrae motus variis locis1; adeoque et montes in solitudine Saba inter se coiverunt, et pagus terra absorptus est.

Footnote by Williams

1 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 (reproduced in Notes), 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.
On page 7 of the same book he appears to repeat the same earthquake: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)
English

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

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.
Chronology

Cedrenus appears to count years after an anchor A.M.a so A.M.a 6236 is not his date for this earthquake. It appears that the earthquake is reported ~6 years after A.M.a 6236 which would place it in A.M.a 6242 (differing from other Byzantine sources) and would indicate that Cedrenus was using the A.M.a calendar. This is discussed further in the Chronology section for the Talking Mule Quake. 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. This would appear to date this earthquake to around 747 CE.Cedrenus' chronology for the Holy Desert Quake is summarized below:
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 750 - 24 March 751 CE A.M.a 6242 none applied
~747 CE Two A.M.a's after the comet none applied A comet was observed in Syria in 745 CE


Seismic Effects

The second passage is similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes. The first passage appears to locate the damage in the desert by the Holy City in the wilderness of Saba. 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.

Talking Mule Quake

On page 9 we can read about another earthquake: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

In the ninth year of Constanine, Marnamus was killed in the war with the Abbasids. On 25 January, a son Leo was born 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

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.
Chronology

Cedrenus appears to provide an anchor A.M.a and then count 36-37 years to the next A.M.a in this part of Synopsis Historian. As sorting this out would force me to do more Latin translation than I am currently capable of or willing to do, I have decided to wait until the scholars at the University of Melbourne complete their English translation of Cedrenus. An example of Cedrenus chronological reckoning can be seen on page 20 where the next A.M.a mentioned in the text after the Talking Mule Quake is A.M.a 6273 which is preceded by years .... 35, 2, 3, and 5. As mentioned in Chronology for Cedrenus' account of the Holy Desert Quake, Cedrenus appears to use the A.M.a calendar whose A.M.a years start on 25 March. This is used in providing the date ranges for Leo's birth and Marwan II's death. If we look for a date range that is bracketed only by dates that match all three pieces of chronological information and make the assumption that the earthquake struck while Marwan II was still alive, we come up with a date range of 18 June 749 - 25 January 750 CE. Chronological clues from the text are summarized below.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 749 - 17 June 750 CE Constantine, 9th year none applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Constantine's son Leo was born none applied Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Marwan (aka Marouam) died none applied Marwan (aka Marouam) died on 25 January 750 CE


Seismic Effects

similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes.

Online Versions and Further Reading

A useful link to Cedrenus' texts online can be found at this site from the University of Melbourne where an English translation of Cedrenus is apparently close to completion.

Minor Chronicles
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.
Holy Desert Quake

747 Jan 18

Earthquake in Palestine
Chronology

Schreiner (1979) supplied the date of 18 Jan. 747 CE. This date should be treated with caution. Ambraseys (2009) commented on another date Schreiner supplied for the Holy Desert Quake in Megas Chrononographos:
It is not clear how Schreiner (1975, 44; 1977, 87) dates the event to 18 January 747 or 6255 AMa, of the 15th indiction
Neither A.M.a or indiction appears to be present in the text for the Holy Desert Quake from Megas Chrononographos. Karcz (2004) states that after the earthquake entry, Minor Chronicles reports a series of «wondrous events» after the birth of Leo in 750 A.D..

Annales Book XV by Joannes Zonaras
Joannes Zonaras wrote Annales (aka Extracts of History) in Greek in the 12th century CE. The work covers the time period from "creation" until 1118 CE. 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. Only the Holy Desert Quake is discussed.
Holy Desert Quake

In a critical edition of the Aragonese version (Rodriguez, 2006:329), we can read an excerpt which juxtaposes a short (too short) account of the Holy Desert Quake with an earthquake that occurred in northwest Anatolia around 740 CE (see Ambraseys, 2009 or Guidoboni et al, 1994): (translation by Williams)

English

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

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)
Chronology

This short passage may refer to the Holy Desert Quake which it dates to 23 September. Afterwards, there may be a reference to an unrelated Anatolian Quake - something common in later sources (e.g. 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

homes and churches destroyed.

Sources

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

This text can be read in Greek with a Latin translation by Pinder (1841) here. An older printing in Greek and latin may be available here or here. Three volumes are available at this last site. Volume 2 may be the one of interest.

Biblios Chronike (aka Annals) by Michael Glycas (aka Glyca, Glykas)
Michael Glycas wrote Chronicle in Greek in the second half of the 12th century CE. Book 4 covers emperors in Constantinople - from Constantine until Alexios Komnenos. He has a brief passage about the Talking Mule Quake which concentrates almost entirely on the Talking Mule.
Talking Mule Quake

On page 530 of Patrologia Graeca Vol. 158 - Migne (1866) we can read: (translation by Quick Latin and Williams)

English

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

Latin

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

lacking.

Seismic Effects

Earth Fissures in Mesopotamia.

Sources

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

Glycas can be read in the original Greek here

Christian Writers in Syriac

Section
Introduction
Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Theophilius of Edessa
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Elias of Nisibis
Michael the Syrian
Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
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.

Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (aka Denys of Tell-Mahre) and Theophilus of Edessa

Dionysius of Tell-Mahre wrote the 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).

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.

Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa

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 ( Hoyland (2011:7-10)). 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 which we can read below ( Hoyland, 2011:270-273). 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 and represents passages shared by Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 (see 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

Chronology won't be discussed here because the author Hoyland has, mistakenly in my view, dismissed the possibility of two earthquakes in the region striking so soon within one another. This belies the fact that
  1. Such a large earthquake causing damage from Gaza to Mesopotamia suggests a much larger earthquake than the segmented faults of the Dead Sea Transform are capable of producing.
  2. The three earliest Byzantine sources mention two earthquakes
  3. Elias of Nisibis speaks of a year in which there were many earthquakes.
  4. The Dead Sea transform is known to produce couplets of earthquakes in geologically short time periods where one earthquake places stress on another fault segment causing it to break. Notable examples include the Amos Quakes (a few decades apart), the 1202/1212 CE earthquakes, the Baalebek Quakes of 1759 CE (less than a month apart), and the Cyril Quakes which struck within six hours of each other.


Seismic Effects

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

Location Damage Description Earthquake
Damascus earthquake with aftershocks for days Talking Mule Quake
Beit Qubayeh fortress overthrown - deaths Location unknown - could be either.
Ghautah and Dareya many died Talking Mule Quake
Bosrah and Nawa entirely swallowed up Talking Mule Quake
Ba'albek much of it collapsed, spring "turned to blood" Talking Mule Quake
Sea Tsunami destroyed many villages on the coast Holy Desert Quake
Moab (N Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee) fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Holy Desert Quake
Tiberias destroyed Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (very likely mis-located) Translational Landslide Talking Mule Quake (possibly Holy Desert Quake) - see discussion below
Jericho 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.

Annals Part IV by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

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). 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 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].
Chronology

This account dates the earthquake to the year 1059 of the Seleucid era (A.G. Calendar) which, using Babylonian reckoning, dates the earthquake to 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE and, using Macedonian reckoning dates it to 1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE. 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). It should be noted that this account 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 was a Saturday.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE A.G. 1059 none Macedonian Reckoning
2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE A.G. 1059 none Babylonian Reckoning


Seismic Effects

This account indicates that there was a distant seismic shock the night before the earthquake which may have been from the Holy Desert Quake. The account further details the collapse of a church in Mabbug the next day which appears to be a description of the Talking Mule Quake.

Sources

Harrak (1999:31) suggests that the author of Annals Part IV relied on a mix of oral and personal information for the years from 743-775 CE supplying the following discussion:
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.
...
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
Online Versions and Further Reading

The text in it's original Syriac can be read here. The sole surviving manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162) at the Vatican can be read online here. This manuscript is claimed by some to be the autograph - the first draft of the manuscript. No further recension, or copy, is known. A well organized website dealing with works attributed to Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre can be found here. The wikipedia page for the Zunqin Chronicle contains many links and references.

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.

Chronography by Elias of Nisibis (aka Elijah Bar Shinajah)

Elias of Nisibis wrote Chronography in Syriac with some parts in Arabic (Woolf et al, 2011:p. 159 footnote 14) in the early 11th century CE. Most paragraphs in the first section are followed by an Arabic translation. In a French translation by Delaporte (1910:105), we can read:

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).
Chronology

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. 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).

Year Reference Corrections Notes
31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 131 none


Seismic Effects

The first observation to be had is Elias of Nisibis specifies many earthquakes - not just one. The collapse of the church in Mabug suggests that Elias is describing the Talking Mule Quake. Many earthquakes may refer to numerous aftershocks or hint at the other earthquake (the Holy Desert Quake) mentioned by the early Byzantine sources. Besides the church collapse in Mabug, Elias mentions a translational landslide which bears a striking similarity to the translational landslide described by the Byzantine sources for the Talking Mule Quake. The unlocated translational landslide discussed by the Byzantine writers is located by Elias - at Mount Tabor. This relocation appears to be in error and was likely done for literary and theological reasons (see Seismic Effects section for the reconstructed account of Theophilus of Edessa). Once this is considered, these seismic effects all appear to stem from the Talking Mule Quake.

Sources

Elias of Nisibis cites his sources - the lost history of Musa al-Khwarizmi’ and Daniel the Jacobite.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronography in Syriac can be read here

Chronicle by Michael the Syrian

Michael the Syrian (1126 AD - 1199 AD wrote The Chronicle in Syriac covering "Creation" until his times. Unfortunately only one Syriac manuscript has survived. In an excerpt from a French translation by Chabot (1899-1910: Volume 2, Book XI, Chapter XXII pp. 509-510) we can read: (translation by Google, Guidoboni et al (1994), and Williams)

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.
Chronology

Michael the Syrian's account is of limited use for chronology because he doesn't mention a year and he amalgamated several earthquakes into one but it has great value for Seismic Effects - provided that they are disentangled from the multiple earthquakes he is describing. Like Elias of Nisibis, Michael states that the church in Mabboug collapsed during the day at mass. For an example of Michael's confused chronology regarding years, see the last line in the excerpt above along with footnote 9. Michael says Germanus was ousted as Patriarch around the same time as the earthquake when these two events are separated by almost two decades. Ambraseys (2009) provided the following discussion on Michael's 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.
Seismic Effects

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 with aftershocks for days Talking Mule Quake
Beit Qubayeh fortress overthrown - deaths location unknown making it hard to identify which earthquake was responsible.
Ghautah and Dareya many died Talking Mule Quake
Bosrah, Nawa, and Daraat (Daraa according to Sbeinati et al (2005) swallowed up completely Talking Mule Quake
Ba'albek swallowed up completely, spring "turned to blood" Talking Mule Quake
Sea Tsunami destroyed many towns and villages Holy Desert Quake
Moab fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Talking Mule Quake
Tiberias destroyed Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (likely mis-located - see Theophilus) Translational Landslide Talking Mule Quake
Jericho spring moved 6 miles 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


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 Litarba2.

Footnotes

1) p. 112.
2) p. 357.
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

An English translation from Armenian manuscripts of Michael the Syrian can be found in the Notes section and is included in this catalog because it contains some celestial observations which might assist with deciphering chronology. The text from the sole surviving Syriac manuscript can be read here. A well organized website dealing with Michael the Syrian can be found here

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234

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.
As the only currently available translations of Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 that we can find are in Latin (bookmarked to the relevant page here), I will make use of Ambraseys' (2009) ample albeit slightly disconnected (e.g. he removed the bowel purging discussion at the hot spring in Tiberias) excerpt:
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).
Chronology

Like Elias of Nisibis, Chronicon Ad Annum states that the church collapsed in Mabbug on a Sunday at the time of Mass. Chronicon Ad Annum specifies conflicting years for this earthquake in two calendars - as A.H. 134 (26 August 751 -17 July 752) and as A.G. 1060 which equates to 2 April 749 - 1 April 750 CE using Babylonian reckoning (Macedonian reckoning places it even earlier - 1 Sept. 748 - 31 Aug. 749 CE). Obviously the dates are in disagreement.

Seismic Effects

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).

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

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 can be read in Syriac here where the link is bookmarked to the start of the secular section. A Latin translation is bookmarked to the page which describes the earthquake here. This web page has some well organized information about this Chronicle (scroll down to see it).

Christian Writers in Arabic

Section
Agapius of Menbij
al-Muqaffa
al-Makin
Book of History (Kitab al-‘Unvan) by Agapius of Menbij

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 our time period. In an English translation by Vasilev (1909) by we can read:

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.
Chronology

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

Seismic Effects
  • Destruction in Tiberias
  • Many places devastated
  • Coastal Area of Palestine affected
Seismic Effects suggest the Holy Desert Quake which was dated to January by Byzantine sources Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Theophanes, and Cedrenus.

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.).

History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria by Sawirus (Severus) ibn-al Muqaffa

Severus ibn al-Muqaffa is regarded as the redactor of an earlier series of biographies written in Coptic which he translated to Arabic in the 11th century CE (Coptic Encyclopedia) and titled 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 account below purports to be an eyewitness account by a companion of Michael I. In a translation by Evetts (1910:139-140) we can read:

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

As this is purported to be eyewitness testimony from Egypt, this earthquake would refer to the Holy Desert Quake. 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 also known as the Alexandrian calendar. The Coptic calendar is a solar calendar which has been in sync with the Julian calendar for roughly 2000 years. Each month has 30 days. The calendar is often abbreviated as A.M. where A.M. stands for Anno Martyrum. The year A.M. 1 corresponds to 29 August 284 to 28 August 285 CE in the Julian calendar. Tuba runs from 27 December – 25 January in the Julian calendar in a normal year and 28 December - 26 January during a leap year. 21 Tuba would thus correspond to 16 January in a normal year and 17 January in a leap year. Coptic leap years are determined by the A.M.. If A.M. is divisible by 4, it is a leap year. Otherwise it is a normal year. 749 CE corresponds to A.M. 484 which is divisible by 4 and therefore a Coptic Leap Year. Thus, the date of this account is 17 January if it occurred in 749 CE. An earthquake on the night of 17 January 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 was felt in Egypt. The Talking Mule Quake struck at roughly 10 am on the next day - January 18.

The year is not specified in the text however 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 however events are not accurately and precisely dated in the texts of this time and these years should not be considered determinative for the year in question. They loosely determine the year of the earthquake.

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 reports are summarized below:
  • "Many houses ruined in all the cities"
  • Possible tsunami report - Ships sunk at sea
  • 600 cities and villages affected
  • Egypt unaffected except for Damietta
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

The text can also be read here. The Coptic Encyclopedia provides reference material for people and events. The Coptic Encyclopedia also has an entry which details how to convert Coptic to Julian dates. An online calendar converter which converts Coptic to Julian date is available here however this calendar has not been tested to make sure it correctly accounts for Coptic leap years.

Notes

The 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.
Lane (1846) also provides some information on the reckoning of the Coptic day.

Karcz (2004) supplies the following information about the date of Dormition.:
The earthquake took place on 21 Tuba (17 January) on the day of our Lady, Dormition day, which in Coptic tradition was celebrated between 16 and 18 January, unlike in the Byzantine empire where since 6th century it was celebrated on 15 August (e.g., Garitte, 1958; Gamber, 1984).

al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection) by al-Makin (aka George Elmacin aka Ibn al-ʿAmīd)

al-Makin was a Coptic Christian, born in Cairo, who wrote in Arabic. 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. In an excerpt supplied by Ambraseys (2009), we can read :

(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).

In a separate excerpt supplied by Ambraseys (2009), we can read :
(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. Tuba is the name of a coptic month. 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 (see Chronology section of Al-Muqaffa for details). Thus, we have a second Egyptian source who specifies that the Holy Desert Quake struck on the 21st of Tuba.

Seismic Effects

This account amalgamates the earthquakes.
  • 100 or 600 cities damaged or destroyed
  • Possible tsunami - Ships sunk at sea
  • many deaths
Sources

The Wikipedia entry on al-Makin has a cited discussion which discusses Al-Makin's sources with a potentially useful list of references.

Online Versions and Further Reading

A latin translation titled Historia Saracenica by Thomas Erpenius (1625) is available here however the section translated appears to start around 809 CE. See the Wikipedia page on al-Makin for more details, citations and references. Roger Pearse also provides information on manuscripts, translations, and editions here.

Judaic Texts

Ra'ash shvi'it (רעש שביעית)

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 poem literally translates as 'Seventh Noise' but if it describes one of the earthquake(s) in question it might be more appropriately titled 'The Sabbatical Year Quake' (although some prefer 'the 7th Earthquake'). Parts of the poem translated into English by Raban (1989:10) are shown below:

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

Karcz (2004) provided some additional apparently disconnected excerpts:
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
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
Margalioth (1960) attempted to decipher Gematria he thought might be hidden in the text found in the Cairo Geniza and arrived at the 679th year since the destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.) obtaining an earthquake date of 23rd Shvat in 749 CE. In 749 CE, 23rd Shvat corresponds to 17/18 January, the same date for Theophanes' first earthquake. In other nearby years (e.g. 748 and 750 CE), 23 Shevat does not coincide with 17/18 January. Margalioth claimed support for the 749 CE year by assuming that the 8th century reckoning of Sabbatical Years followed an older system than the one currently used (Karcz, 2004 citing Wacholder, 1973) where a Sabbatical year neither falls in August 70 CE (date of destruction of the second Temple) nor 749 CE. The older system would presumably date the Temple destruction in 70 AD to a Sabbatical Year and would make January 749 CE fall in a Sabbatical Year as well. Karcz (2004) cautioned however that conversion tables used by Margalioth are not applicable in detailed calibration of pre 10th century month and day dates, when calendar and intercalation practices were not fully fixed. As noted by Ambraseys (2009), there is a history of ways to calculate the Sabbatical Year.

Online Versions and Further Reading

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

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.

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

The 23rd Shvat fast is referred to in a 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza. Karcz (2004) provided an excerpt:

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
Margalioth (1960) used one of the more common codes of Gematria to decipher [in wrath = b z a’ m], possibly בזעם which results in the number 679 using the Mispar Gadol (Large Sofit) cipher using this Gematria Calculator. Karcz (2004) provided the gematria as b = 2, z = 7, a = 70, and m = 600. If in an older system of counting Sabbatical years, the date of the destruction of the Second Temple in August 70 CE was in a Sabbatical Year (in the Hebrew calendar), one could count forward from that date and arrive at a number years which, if neatly divisible by 7 (i.e. no remainder or fraction), would also be a Sabbatical Year. 679 is neatly divisible by 7 and 679 + 70 = 749. Thus, if in some old reckoning the destruction of the second Temple in August 70 CE fell in a Sabbatical Year, it appears that January 749 CE would be in a Sabbatical Year as well.

Chronology

Date Reference Corrections Notes
Sunset Friday 17 January - Sunset Saturday 18 January 749 CE 23 Shevat for the day, Gematria and coincidence with Byzantine sources for the year none Holy Desert Quake


Seismic Effects
  • Tiberias Damaged or destroyed
  • Destruction in Shefala
  • Tsunami in Sharon Valley
As noted by Karcz (2004), the Sharon Valley at that time could have referred to Israel's coastal plain or a part of Jordan and Yizrael Valleys between Mt.Tabor and Tiberias (Weitz, 1939; Brawer, 1940). In terms of a tsunami report, this could reference a tsunami of the coast of Israel, the Sea of Galilee, or both.

Samaritan Sources

see Notes

Muslim Writers

Section
Introduction
al-Maqdisi 1
al-Maqdisi 2
al-Jawzi
al-Dhahabi
al-Mansouri
Jamal ad Din Ahmad
Ibn Tagri Birdi
al-Suyuti
Mujir al-Din
Other 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 century Sibt ibn al-Jawzi
Early 14th century CE al-Dhahabi Jerusalem, 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 century CE Ibn Tagri Birdi Jerusalem, Syria Jerusalem, 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 century CE As-Soyuti Damascus Damascus
1495 CE Mujir al-Din Jerusalem
Seismic Effects

Damage reports are limited to Jerusalem and Damascus with the greatest emphasis on Jerusalem and damage to Al-Aqsa mosque. Damage is also reported in Syria, presumably Greater Syria, but no specifics are given of localities damaged besides Jerusalem and Damascus.

Muslim writers are discussed below ordered by date of composition.

Description of Syria including Palestine by al-Maqdisi

وصف سوريا بما في ذلك فلسطين (?) by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي

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
al-Maqdisi wrote Description of Syria including Palestine in Arabic in c. 985 CE (Le Strange, 1886). On page 41 of an English translation by Le Strange (1886), we can read about earthquake damage inflicted on Al-Aqsa mosque from more than one earthquake:
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.
Chronology

Earthquakes are undated however earthquakes (plural) are mentioned. The causitive earthquakes which damaged Al-Aqsa mosque were likely the Holy Desert Quake and the By No Means Mild Quake

Seismic Effects

  • threw down most of the main building of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
  • only the part of the Mosque around the Mihrab was spared - this may be a legendary report as this has theological significance

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

أفضل الأقسام في معرفة المناطق (?) by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي

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
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

An English translation of this book by Collins was published in 2001. Various translations of al-Maqdisi are listed here.

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

مرآة الزمان في تواريخ الأعيان by سبط ابن الجوزي

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.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Mirror of time in histories of the notables can be read in Arabic here

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 (Year A.H. 130)
  • On the existence of the earlier source of al-Jawzi we have learnt from an unpublished study by A. El'ad, who collected the various Arabic sources and traditions concerning the earthquake.
Notes

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.

al-Mansouri

Introduction



Chronology

Sbeinati et al (2005) supply an excerpt

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


Seismic Effects

Online Versions and Further Reading

AL-HAMAWI, Muhammad Ibn Ali (1963): Al-Tarikh Al-Mansouri, Moscow.

Great History of Islam by al-Dhahabi

تاريخ الإسلام by الذهبي

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 (?)
al-Dhahabi wrote Great History of Islam (Ta'rikh al-Islam al-Kabir) in Damascus in Arabic in the early part of the 14th century CE. The work comprises 50 volumes and can be read in Arabic here. Ambraseys (2009) translated an excerpt which apparently comes from volumes 39 and/or 40:
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.
Guidoboni et. al. (1994) also supplied an excerpt:
[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.
Chronology

The first earthquake struck is reported during the month of Ramadan A.H. 130 (4 May 748 - 2 June 748). The date of subsequent earthquake is unspecified. Reference to destruction in Jerusalem appears to refer to the Holy Desert Quake however the author may be amalgamating another earthquake in his description. Sham refers to 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. Ibn Tagri Birdi, appears to describe the same event but dates it to A.H. 130 or A.H. 131 indicating that al-Dhahabi and Ibn Tagri Birdi dealt with some chronological uncertainty in dating these earthquakes.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
4 May 748 - 2 June 748 CE Ramadan A.H. 130 none probably Holy Desert Quake - struck Greater Syria, strongest shocks in Jerusalem


Seismic Effects
  • Earthquake in Sham (Greater Syria)
  • Earthquake in Jerusalem - many died - houses collapsed
  • Western and Eastern parts of Al Aqsa Mosque damaged

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 (?)

Le Strange (1910:10) 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. Le Strange (1910:92) translates and quotes the text as follows:

On the authority of 'Abd ar Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur il)n 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.
Chronology

Le Strange (1910:92) adds that From this account we learn that in A.H. 130 the Aksa was thrown down by earthquake and rebuilt by the Khalif Al Mansir.. A.H. 130 dates to 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 CE. Damage in Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa mosque) suggests that this describes the Holy Desert Quake. The second earthquake referred to in the account above may refer to the By No Means Mild Quake

Seismic Effects

  • both the eastern and the western portions of the [Al-Aqsa] mosque had fallen down
Online Versions and Further Reading

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.

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
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 (?)
Ibn Tagri Birdi wrote The shining stars in the kings of Egypt and Cairo (al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahirain) in Arabic in the 15th century CE. Guidoboni et. al. (1994) supplied an excerpt:
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
Chronology

Ibn Tagri Birdi appears to be describing the same earthquake as al-Dhahabi.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE A.H. 131 none probably Holy Desert Quake - struck Greater Syria, destroyed Jerusalem


Seismic Effects
  • Earthquake in Sham (Greater Syria)
  • Jerusalem destroyed
  • inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert suggests aftershocks and house collapses
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.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Parts of the al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira can be read in Arabic here. A short summary in Arabic is available here. The volumes may also be available here

Notes

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).

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.
A list of aliases for Ibn Tagri Birdi can be found here

Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes by Jalal al-Din al-Suyiti

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

al-Suyuti was a prolific Arabic language writer who wrote in Cairo in the 15th century CE. His Book Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes (Kashf as-Salsalah 'an wasf Az-zalzalak) contains an earthquake catalog. A shortened English version of this catalog was created from a translation by Sprenger (1843) where on page 742 we can read:

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

131. Several new shocks in Damascus
All dates are in A.H.. Ambraseys (2009) provided an expanded translation from (al-Suyuti 17-19/9-10.):

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 (Ibn Kathir - ابن كثير) 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.
Chronology

Earthquake felt in Damascus followed by another roughly a year layer. Years specified are A.H. 130 (11 September 747 - 30 August 748) and A.H. 131 (31 August 748 -19 August 749). As As-Soyuti describes both earthquakes as a catastrophe in Damascus, it is difficult to identify whether the Talking Mule Quake or the Holy Desert Quake was the cause. It is entirely possible that al-Suyiti is repeating the Talking Mule Quake twice and giving two different A.H. years due to chronological confusion.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
11 September 747 - 30 August 748 A.H. 130 none struck Damascus
31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 131 none struck Damascus


Seismic Effects

A.H. 130 earthquake
  • Violent earthquake experienced in Damascus
  • Poultry Market in Damascus fell from the "Great Rocks"
  • building collapsed and people died in Damascus
  • 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
  • Catastrophic earthquake in Damascus
  • Earthquake and aftershocks in Damascus
  • Mosque damaged in Damascus - roof collapse ?
Sources

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

Names in the text are reported in Arabic as ابن الأثير (Ibn al-Athir) and ابن كثير (Ibn Kathir). The similarity of the A.H. 130 and A.H. 131 accounts suggests that Al-Suyuti was describing the same earthquake twice but, due to confusion from his sources, were assigned two separate years.

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

التاريخ المجيد للقدس والخليل (?) by مجير الدين

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 (?)
Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi was a native Jerusalemite who wrote "The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron" (al-Uns al-Jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds wal-Khalil) in Arabic around 1495 CE. Ambraseys (2009) provided a translation of an excerpt from pages 237-238 of an edition published in Cairo in 1866.
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.
Chronology

Year, month, or day are not supplied in the excerpt above however the year of A.H. 130 is provided for the earthquake in the excerpt from an abbreviated French translation by Sauvaire (1876) - which is reproduced in the Online Versions and Further Reading section of this entry for Mujir al-Din. Mujir al-Din refers to the night of the earthquake as experienced in Jerusalem. The location (Jerusalem) identifies this as the Holy Desert Quake. In the first excerpt, two daytime foreshocks occur before the main shock at night. It is only after the third shock that the "witness" relates that he was frightened and that all the houses had been destroyed. The second excerpt relates that stars were seen from inside the mosque and the third excerpt relates that the quake struck during evening prayer (~7 pm). A nighttime earthquake is compatible with the timing of the Holy Desert Quake as reported by al-Muqaffa and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. If the witnesses are providing chronologically accurate recollections which can be reconciled, the above passages suggest approximate timing for three separate shocks:
Shock Prayer Name Prayer Time
1 - foreshock Asr prayer ~ 3 pm - midway between noon and sunset
2 - foreshock Maghrib prayer ~ 6 pm - just after sunset
3 - Main Shock Isha prayer ~ 7 pm - nighttime


Seismic Effects
  • earthquake and aftershocks experienced in Jerusalem
  • all the houses (of the muslim quarter?) destroyed in Jerusalem
  • Damage to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem - roof collapse
Seismic effects indicate that this is describing the Holy Desert Quake.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Histoire de Jerusalem et d’Hebron by Sauvaire (1876) contains an abbreviated French translation of The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron by Mujir al-Din. The part discussing earthquakes which struck Al-Aqsa mosque starts on page 59 where we can read: (translation by Google and Williams)
English

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

'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.

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.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location Status Intensity Notes
Bet She'an definitive ≥ 8
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a
Jerash - Church of Saint Theodore probable ≥ 8
Jerash - Umayyad Mosque possible needs investigation
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 - Temple of Zeus probable ≥ 8
Jerash - Hippodrome probable ≥ 8
Amman - Ummayad Palace probable ≥ 8
Khirbet Yajuz probable ≥ 8
Al-Muwaqqar needs investigation partial seismic destruction reported
Jerusalem possible ≥ 8 most of the damage may be due to the By No Means Mild Quake
Baalbek
Damascus
Tiberias - Introduction n/a n/a
Tiberias - Galei Kinneret probable ≥ 7
Tiberias - Beriniki Theatre probable ≥ 8
Tiberias - Southern Gate probable ≥ 8
Tiberias - Ummayad Water Reservoir probable
Tiberias - Seismo-Tectonics n/a n/a
Tiberias - Mount Berineke needs investigation
Tiberias - Basilica needs investigation
Tiberias - House of the Bronzes no evidence
Tiberias - Other sites needs investigation
Hippos Sussita probable ≥ 8
Jericho - Introduction n/a n/a
Jericho - Hisham's Palace possible major damage likely due to 1033 CE Quake
Arbel possible ≥ 8
Gadara needs investigation
Hammat Gader
Lod/Ramla probable 7
Capernaum debated
Qasrin probable ≥ 8
Kursi possible - needs investigation
Ramat Rahel possible ≥ 8
Kathisma no evidence
Pella probable ≥ 8
al-Sinnabra/Beth Yerah possible - no solid evidence ≥ 7
Karak no evidence
Mount Nebo needs investigation
Abila possible ≥ 8
Umm al-Jimal possible - needs investigation 7-8
Iraq el-Amir no evidence undated archaeoseismic evidence
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater possible
Petra - Jabal Harun indeterminate due to dating precision ≥ 8
Petra - Blue Chapel needs investigation ≥ 6
Aqaba - Introduction n/a n/a
Aqaba - Ayla probable ≥ 8 Site Effect likely present - susceptible to liquefaction.
al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) estimated an intensity of IX or more and surmised that the epicenter was close - a few tens of kilometers away. They estimated that the epicenter was to the NE.
Aqaba - Aila possible ≥ 8
Haluza possible ≥ 8 Korjenkov and Mazor (2005) estimate 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 probable site effect - built on weak ground
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimate Intensity at 8-9 and appear to locate the epicenter to the ESE
Shivta possible ≥ 8 site effect not likely
Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate Intensity of 8-9, place the epicenter a few tens of kilometers away in the WSW direction.
Hama needs investigation
Aleppo needs investigation
Caesarea possible 7-8
Baydha
el-Lejjun possible ≥ 8 4th earthquake - difficult to constrain dating but there are indications it struck during Umayyad period.
Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible ≥ 8 "likely" struck at the end of the Umayyad period


Bet She'an

Collapse from mid 8th century CE in Bet She'an Gold Coin dated AH 131 in Bet She'an Plate I (left) - Partially restored facade of shops in Bet Shean, showing in the lower half the collapsed upper courses of the walls and arcades of the portico.

Plate II (right) - Gold dinar excavated at Bet She'an, with the marginal legend: 'in the name of Allah, this dinar was minted in the year one hundred thirty one'.

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


Names

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

Beit She'an is situated at a strategic location between the Yizreel and Jordan Valleys at the juncture of ancient roadways (Stern et al, 1993). In Roman times, it was one of the cities of the Decapolis. Archeoseismic evidence for the Holy Desert Quake was found among a row of shops on the southeast side of a collonaded street just north of the ancient Tel (city plan ). The site of Bet She'an was occupied almost continuously from Neolithic to Early Arab times (Stern et al, 1993).

Chronology

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) reported on artifacts found beneath a destruction layer of earthquake induced rubble from what was once an arcaded commercial street in the Byzantine/Early Arab period in Bet She 'an. Among the many artifacts found were pottery, glass and metal vessels, balances, jewelry, and coins. The artifacts dated to the mid 8th century CE. None of the coins dated to later than the first half of the 8th century CE. Of particular significance was a coin hoard discovered in one of the shops. The hoard included 31 gold dinars. The earliest coin from this hoard dated to A.H. 78 (30 March 697 — 19 March 698 CE) and the latest (see Plate II above) was minted in A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE). This coin provides a terminus post quem for the earthquake that struck Bet She'an.

Seismic Effects Minimum Intensity of VIII (8) based on the Earthquake Archeological Effects Chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf).

Notes and Further Reading

References

Foerster, G. and Y. Tsafrir (1988). "Bet Shean Archaeological Project: B. Center of Ancient Bet Shean—North." Excavations and Surveys in Israel 6: 1987-1988. 32-5; 7-8,22. For the new discoveries and the hoard, see ibid., 9, 1990, 126-8.

Jerash

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


Names

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

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

Notes and Further Reading
References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Seigne publications at www.persee.fr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archeology in Jordan II, 2020

The Islamic Jerash Project

DAAHL Site Record for Jerash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerash - Church of Saint Theodore
Introduction

Crowfoot (1929:21) noted that the Church of Saint Theodore was located on the west bank of the river in the centre of town, close to the Temple of Artemis suggesting that it was the most important, if not the largest, of the Christian churches in Jerash. An inscription dated laying of the foundation to the autumn of 494 CE and completion of construction to around 496 CE (Crowfoot, 1929:22). The church was part of a larger ecclesiastical complex .

Chronology
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Ecclesiastical complex at Jerash including the Church of St. Theodore from Moralee (2006)
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 (1929:26) described the collapsed columns as follows:
The columns, fourteen in number, with their Corinthian capitals, were all lying where they had fallen ; not a single capital was missing, not a single drum had been removed, but not a single one was upon its base ; in the west half of the church the columns had fallen inwards, across each other, but in the east half most of them had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls, both of which in this part had fallen to the south. Masons' marks on the sections of the column drums showed that these columns had been used previously for the same building as the engaged columns and certain other carved blocks which we found built into the side walls ; the style of the Corinthian capitals suggests that this earlier building may have belonged to the beginning of the third century, and the lettering of the masons' marks appears to belong to the same period.
Crowfoot (1938:223-4) in Kraeling (1938) described the archaeoseismic evidence at the Church of St Theodore in Jerash.
It was quite clear from the condition of the basilica and the atrium that both had been destroyed by an earthquake. In the basilica all the columns were lying where they had fallen; not a single capital or drum had been carried away, but the bases only were in position. In the west half the columns fell inwards across each other; in the east half most of them had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls ; the apse fell outward into the Fountain Court. The violence of the shock which ruined the place was particularly clear at the entrance to the atrium, where some of the upper blocks seem to have turned a somersault in the air. In two of the side chambers there were signs of preparations to salvage building material. Fallen stones and tiles were found stacked in neat piles, but the place was ultimately abandoned wholly to squatters who converted the rooms and alleys round the atrium into stables for their animals and dwelling places for themselves.
Kraeling, C. (1938:260) noted that the west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks.

Seismic Effects
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Ecclesiastical complex at Jerash including the Church of St. Theodore from Moralee (2006)
Seismic Effects include
  • In the basilica all the columns were lying where they had fallen; not a single capital or drum had been carried away, but the bases only were in position.
  • In the west half the columns fell inwards across each other; in the east half most of them had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls
  • the apse fell outward into the Fountain Court.
  • at the entrance to the atrium, where some of the upper blocks seem to have turned a somersault in the air.
  • the west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks.

Intensity Estimates
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls in the east half most of them [columns] had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls VIII +
Fallen Columns In the basilica all the columns were lying where they had fallen; not a single capital or drum had been carried away, but the bases only were in position. V +
Displaced Masonry Blocks the west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks. VIII +
Collapsed Vaults the apse fell outward into the Fountain Court. VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Jerash - Umayyad Mosque
Chronology
mid 8th century CE Earthquake

El-Isa (1985) noted that the Umayyad mosque appears to have been demolished and removed and with a relic of its Mihrab the only indications left of its existence.

Jerash - Umayyad House
Introduction

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

Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake - based on rebuilding evidence

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

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

8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

Kehrberg (2018)


Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake

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

(translated by Google and Williams)

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

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

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

8th century CE Earthquake

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

(translated by Google and Williams)

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

Seismic Effects
7th century CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

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

8th century CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

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

Intensity Estimates
7th century CE Earthquake

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

8th century CE Earthquake

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

Jerash - Hippodrome
Hippodrome Jerash Restored Hippodrome at Jerash



Introduction

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

Chronology

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

Stratigraphy of the Hippodrome

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

Stratigraphy of Hippodrome at Jerash Figure 184

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

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)


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

3rd century CE Earthquake ?

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

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

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

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

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

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seismic Effects
Undated Seismic Effects

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

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


3rd century CE Earthquake ?

Seismic Effects include

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

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Possible seismic Effects include

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

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

Intensity Estimates
3rd century CE Earthquake ?

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

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

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

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Umayyad Palace and Umayyad Structures on the Citadel in Amman, Jordan

Broken Columns at Collonaded Street in Umayyad Palace in Amman, Jordan Broken Columns at Collonaded Street in Umayyad Palace Amman, Jordan
Photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Amman Arabic عَمَّان‎
Philadelphia Ancient Greek Φιλαδέλφεια‎
Rabbat Amman Ammonite
Rabbat Bnei ʿAmmon" Biblical Hebrew רבת בני עמון
Rabbaṯ Bəne ʿAmmôn Tiberian Hebrew
Rabbat Ammon Modern Hebrew
Bit Ammanu Assyrian
KURBīt Ammān Akkadian
Transliterated Name Language Name
Amman Citadel English
Jabal Al-Qal'a Arabic جبل القلعة‎
Transliterated Name Language Name
Umayyad Palace English
al-Qasr Arabic القصر
Introduction

Amman has a long history of habitation dating back to the 6th millenium with a period of very low occupancy reported by some visitors in the 14th and 15th centuries CE (Stern et al, 1993). The Amman Citadel was a center of settlement for thousands of years and contains the Umayyad Palace.

Chronology

Alamgro et al (2000) excavated Building F in the Umayyad Palace on the Amman Citadel between 1989 and 1995. There they concluded that the appearance of the remains leads us to believe that the ruin of the building, and specifically of the arches of the courtyard happened in a sudden and catastrophic way, in all probability as a result of an earthquake.

The instantaneous nature of the event is discussed below:
In the sector of the courtyard and those rooms that were not cleared of rubble - 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 and 14-15, there is evidence of the characteristic stratum produced by the violent destruction of the building. It is a layer which may be even greater than 1 m in depth, and which is characterised by ample building material: masonry, ashlars and even bricks in the courtyard, and particularly by the dark grey mortar and ash used in the Umayyad construction. The characteristics of the stratum in question prove that the collapse undoubtedly occurred instantaneously; we are not in any way dealing with the slow decay of an abandoned building, but rather with the devastating effects of a natural disaster.
The dating of the destruction layer is discussed below:
Unfortunately, there has been no discovery of any coins or anything else which might offer an exact dating. Generally speaking, the archaeological records are very scarce with regard to objects, and only the pottery findings are of relative significance (Fig. 15-17), even though they are scarce, but they are clearly from the Umayyad period, as has been shown from a detailed study. In fact, the pottery found seems to be from the later part of the Umayyad period, which has characteristic forms such as bowls painted in red over white slip, round cooking pots, and even the undoubtedly exceptional discovery of some glazed items. This refers to a set of items closely related to others dated as mid-eighth century, for example, the oldest level of Khirbat al-Mafjar, or the destruction of the Umayyad houses excavated by Bennet and Northedge in the same citadel of Amman.

...

The materials found, especially the pottery, make it possible to confirm that the event in question took place at about the middle of the eighth century.

Alamgro et al (2000) did not explicitly discuss dating evidence for the layer above the destruction layer but they did describe it.
After the catastrophe, in Building F there were a series of proceedings of minor importance from a constructive point of view, and which represent a rather regressive process, but which provide evidence of the reuse of the space in question at a time which we believe to be immediately after the earthquake, since there are no signs that point to an intermediate period when it was abandoned. Strictly speaking, the partial reuse of the building can hardly be considered as a new constructive phase, but what is clear is that they made good use of the existing walls and spaces. At any rate, after its destruction, the building was never again used for its original purpose, as a palatial residence.
Seismic Effects

Alamgro et al (2000) described archeoseismic evidence at Building F as follows:
The majority of the most fragile structures of Building F, particularly the series of arches in the courtyard, the entrance arches to the iwans and part of the roofing, were destroyed at some time near to their actual construction, because there is no previous evidence of the characteristic repairs to walls and, in particular, to paving, which is usually evidence of prolonged use of a building. The characteristics of the deep stratum of destruction affecting arches and columns give us some clues to understanding the ruin of this building. The level is composed exclusively of rubble among which it can easily be seen that the elements of construction have fallen in situ, and therefore they have not been brought from elsewhere. On the other hand, the fact that there is a lack of wind-deposited earth (soil erosion) and that there is an overwhelming presence of broken-up gypsum mortar between bricks and masonry shows that the collapse happened suddenly and so, consequently, we are not dealing with the effects of a slow process of destruction. There is no evidence of any charred remains to show that the cause might have been a fire or action of war.

...

The depth of the stratum of destruction varies according to the different spaces, since some were abandoned, other cleared up wholly or partially, and it seems that in some rooms they did not even suffer the collapse of the covering. At any rate, it always coincides with the height at which the plastering materials covering the walls is conserved. In fact, this layer seems to have fallen off all those walls that were left uncovered after the earthquake, and it has only been conserved in the parts of the walls that were buried under the rubble. In practically all the excavated areas, the height at which the layer is conserved coincides with the accumulation of rubble on the Umayyad floor.

...

A large part of the roofing, series of arches, and even the façades of the iwans collapsed, leaving huge quantities of rubble which in some parts reached a depth of more than one metre.
Seismic Destruction was particularly evident in the courtyard
The Courtyard

This is the space which provides the clearest evidence of the effects of the earthquake. On the paving we can find an important amount of rubble reaching a height of more than 1 m in some areas, acting as a support for the columns and arches of the portico, broken and shattered on the floor of the palace.

Among the building material, especially in the centre of the courtyard, a large number of square bricks were found, with remains of the characteristic lime mortar with ashes, identical to that of the walls they had been taken from. We are uncertain which part of the building these bricks were used in, although from their position among the collapsed rubble, and since there is no trace of them among the standing remains, we are inclined to think that they formed part of the construction over the series of arches of the courtyard, maybe a parapet. Bricks were hardly found in the perimeter corridor, between the series of arches and the walls, as they tended to fall towards the centre of the courtyard; however, a considerable number of yellowish limestone ashlars, cut in the shape of voussoirs were found, probably ones which formed part of the vaulting covering the portico. Remains of the plaster which covered the intrados were found on several of them.
Conclusions

Alamgro et al (2000)'s conclusions were as follows:
  1. The building was never completely finished: construction of the walls, vaults and columns was completed, but not the plastering of the walls, only the basic plaster. The same can be applied to the buildings of the eastern sector excavated by the Italian delegation, judging by the photographs we have seen. In any case, we are dealing with circumstances which did not affect the possibility of inhabiting the building.
  2. At the time of its destruction by the earthquake, the building hardly seems to have been inhabited, since in none of the sectors where rubble from the disaster has been excavated, have there been any signs of domestic utensils, organic remains, or even the bodies of people or animals which would normally accompany such levels in other sites and even in other parts of the citadel of Amman.
  3. Immediately after the earthquake, the building was partially and marginally re-exploited; this consisted basically of clearing up certain rooms and reusing them as simple dwellings. One of the iwans was even transformed into the workshop of the oven which was never put into use. This phase seems to have lasted only a short time, probably no more than some decades, and certainly it cannot date from long before the Abbasid period.
Intensity Estimates

Effect Intensity Notes
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Fallen Columns VI+ Destruction in the courtyard
Collapsed Vaults VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Archeoseismic Evidence at other locations on the Amman Citadel

Alamgro et al (2000) provided the following regarding other locations with evidence of seismic destruction:
The columns of the portico and the architrave of the magnificent temple of Hercules, which is a building from the middle of the second century A.D., which was already being used as a quarry, were demolished by the earthquake. In the sector that Northedge denominated "C", the remains of two houses from the Umayyad period were discovered, together with the street which separated them. The westernmost one was so seriously affected by the seismic movement that it could only be partially reused in later periods. The easternmost dwelling showed similar signs of destruction to the previous one, and of a partial reoccupation after the disaster; the human skeleton of one of the victims was discovered here ( Northedge and Bennett, 1992:143)
Harding (1951) excavated Umayyad structures on the Citadel in Amman. Although he did not attribute any damage due to earthquakes, he did describe wall collapse in Room H (Harding, 1951:10-11) associated with a fragments of a sandstone fire altar which he presumed was on a shelf before the wall collapsed. Russell (1985) cites Harding (1951) when reporting on collapsed Umayyad structures uncovered during excavation of the Citadel in 1949.

Notes and Further Reading

Khirbet Yajuz

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Khirbet Yajuz Arabic كهيربيت ياجوز
Khirbet Mudraj Arabic كهيربيت مودراج‎
Talat Nimr Arabic تالات نيمر
Introduction

Khirbet Yajuz is an archeological site ~11 km. NE of Amman, Jordan. It contains the remains of a village that was occupied from the Roman to Ayyubid/Mamluk period. Khalil and Kareem (2002) provided a site map (Fig. 1 ). Excavations at the site revealed numerous seismic effects which appears to be tightly dated to the mid 8th century CE.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Khalil (1998) excavated Khirbet Yajuz over three seasons from 1995 - 1997. In Area B, they found the remains of a small chapel. A Greek inscription found in mosaic tiles on the floor of the chapel was interpreted to date construction of the chapel to 508 CE. A destruction layer was discovered above the floor.
In the same room, above the mosaic floors, were found a ca. 15cm thick layer of ash and collapsed arches of the room. The preliminary study of the pottery sherds from this layer date to the Byzantine-Umayyad period, and perhaps the destruction of the chapel was caused by the 749 AD earthquake.
In Area C, they uncovered a mill and wine press and more potential archeoseismic evidence
To the west and the south of the mill building there are two adjacent large rooms with internal arches - the southern room has eight arches - with plastered floors. The building might have been used as living quarters or for storage purposes. The arches collapsed above the plaster floor probably due to an earthquake (Fig. 15 ).

A number of copper coins, beside complete vessels and pottery sherds, were retrieved in the mill and the wine press constructions can be dated to the Byzantine and Umayyad periods.
Although Khalil (1998)'s report on Area E was brief and did not mention archeoseismic evidence, Savage et al (2001:448), perhaps informed by personal communication with Lufti Khalil, produced the following description of archeoseismic evidence in Area E:
In area E, an earthquake that occurred in A.D. 748 is illustrated by the collapsed vaulted arches and the irregularities of the paved floor, which date to the Umayyad period. Later, the collapsed arches were reinforced and strengthened, and dividing walls were added. In addition, a layer of compact hawar was added on top of the pavement in order to make it level, and materials from previous periods were used (fig. 22 ). Two different types of pottery, associated with different architectural periods, were excavated at the area. Therefore, evidence suggests that the earthquake destroyed the building during the Umayyad period, and the building was later restored during the Abassid period.
Khalil and Kareem (2002) divided up the stratigraphy at Area E from top to bottom as follows:
Unit Description Notes
1 Topsoil, ashy and greyish layers
2 Brownish layers and stones These layers were between 60 and 90 cm. thick and produced a very rich assortment of Abbasid pottery.
3 Architectural features Many walls and the bases of arches were revealed within this unit.
A number of reinforced arches were found in the area, but only one arch (Loc. 11 in square 3) was still in situ (Fig. 5). All the others may have required reinforcement after the earthquake of AD 749.
the alignment of the two-row walls, the reinforcement of the arches, and the dividing walls, all suggest that the buildings were restored for habitation after the earthquake (Figs 4-7).
4A hawar layers and floors Two main types of floors which were related to the walls and bases of arches were discovered. The first were compact hawar floors.
4B Plaster floors Two main types of floors which were related to the walls and bases of arches were discovered.
The second type were made of plaster floors, made of mortar
5 Flagstone pavement Flagstone pavement was found underneath the hawar floor in square 7. Khalil and Kareem (2002) suggested that the irregularity of the flagstone pavement was probably caused by the AD 749 earthquake.
Khalil and Kareem (2002) dated an assemblage of pottery from Unit 2 which appears to provide a tight terminus ante quem for potential seismic destruction observed in Unit 5
The pottery assemblage described in this paper was recovered from loci dated after the major earthquake of AD 749, and covers a period most probably continuing until the beginning of the tenth century AD.

...

It is suggested that the pottery sherds under discussion can be dated to between the second half of the eighth century (749 AD) and the tenth century AD.
In addition, two copper coins and some lamp fragments found above Unit 5 (Fig. 25 ) dated as early Abbasid.
Two copper coins dated to the early Abbasid period 3 were found in Area E (Square 4, Locus 7, and Square 7, Locus 1). The lamps and their surface decoration in this assemblage are also helpful chronological indicators. Only two lamp fragments of the so-called 'Jerash type', dated between the sixth and the eighth centuries, were recorded in Area E during the last three seasons. The majority were dated to the ninth and tenth centuries AD.
When the terminus ante quem of Khalil and Kareem (2002) (Abassid) is combined with the terminus post quem of Khalil (1998) (Umayyad), this seismic destruction appears to be well dated to the mid-8th century CE.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Location Intensity Notes
Collapsed Walls Area B VIII + inferred from collapsed arches
Collapsed Walls Area C VIII + inferred from collapsed arches
Collapsed Vaults Area E VIII + characterization by Savage et al (2001:448)
Fractures.Folds, and Popups on Irregular Pavements Area E VI + Irregularity of flagstone pavement in Unit 5 - Khalil and Kareem (2002)
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

The google Scholar page for Lufti Khalil who supervised excavations at Khirbet Yajuz is here.

Al-Muwaqqar

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Al-Muwaqqar Arabic الموقر‎)
Qasr al-Muwaqqar Arabic الموقر‎)اققار
Introduction

Al-Muwaqqar is situated approximately 30 km to the southeast of Amman. The site is recorded by Yaqut el-Hamawi in Mu`jam al-Buldan (Najjar, 1989) and contains the remains of an Umayyad Palace or Desert Castle. Najjar (1989) excavated the site over roughly one month in 1989.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Najjar (1989) identified two destruction levels in Area IV at Al-Muwaqqar which he described as follows:
A second architectural phase and occupation was excavated in the Palace. It is obvious from Sq. D5 (W.12), A2 (W.4) and oven (tannur) loc.4, D3 (W.16, 17) and H 14 (W.18, 19) that all these walls belong to a second phase of occupation. It seems that after a partial destruction of the Palace by the earthquake of A.D. 747, the remains of the Palace were used by the local population. The destruction layer was cleared (the walls of the second phase were built directly above the flagstone pavement of the Umayyad Palace) and the Palace and its surrounding area (Sq. H14) were reoccupied.

After one century and probably slightly later the Palace was abandoned after another destruction (earthquake?) later in the 9th century (during this period Jordan was struck by earthquakes three times in 847, 853-54, 859-60)
Abbasid pottery was retrieved presumably above the lower destruction level and dated to between 730 and 840 CE.

Notes and Further Reading

Jerusalem

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jerusalem English
Yerushaláyim Modern Hebrew יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎
al-Quds Arabic القُدس‎
Ûrshalîm-Al Quds Arabic أورشليم القدس‎‎
Bayt al-Maqdis Arabic ‎بيت المقدس‎
Baitul Muqaddas Arabic ‎بايتول موقادداس
Iliya Arabic ‎يلييا
Ilya Bayt el-Maqdas Arabic ‎يليا بايت يلءماقداس
Hierousalḗm Greek Ἱερουσαλήμ‎
Hierosóluma Greek ‎Ἰεροσόλυμα
Aelia Capitolina Latin Aelia Capitolina
Erusałēm Armenian ‎Երուսաղեմ
Yerushalem Hebrew Bible
Salem Hebrew Bible
City of Judah Divided Monarchy ?
The City Lachish letters
Jebus Jebusites
Uruslimmu Sennacherib inscriptions (7th century BCE)
Urusalim el-Amarna letters (14th century BCE)
Rushalimum Egyptian Execration texts
(19th-20th centuries BCE)
Introduction

Jerusalem has a long continuous history of habitation with textual sources (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) documenting an occupation by a Canaanite tribe known as the Jebusites at the beginning of the Iron Age (Iron Age I). The city, according to the Hebrew Bible, was wrested from the Jebusites by King David around 1000 BCE and thereafter became the premier city of the Jewish religion and people. Later religions such as Christianity and Islam also made it a focal point. A continuous history of construction and destruction has led to a complex archeological history that appears to add some uncertainty to the chronology derived from excavations. On the other hand, abundant textual evidence appears to have assisted in sleuthing this chronology.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Umayyad Structures South and Southwest of Temple Mount

Mazar (1969) reported on the first season of excavations in an area known as Ard el-Khatuniyye adjacent to and south of Temple Mount and the southern terminus of the Western Wall near Robinson's Arch . There they examined the remains of an Ummayad Structure - possibly Dar al-Imara. and divided up the stratigraphy as follows:
Strata Period Description
A8
A7 After the Seljuk conquest of Jerusalem in 1071 CE ?
A6 Arab Fatimid
A5 Arab Fatimid
A4 Arab Fatimid
A3 Arab
A2 Arab Post Umayyad
A1 Early Arab Umayyad
B1 - B4 Byzantine
R1 - R2 Roman
H Herodian the period from Herod the Great to the destruction of the Second Temple
They concluded that stratum A1 ended with an earthquake which destroyed a large Umayyad Building south of Temple Mount about a generation or two after its construction. The earthquake was said to have collapsed its walls and columns and produced a considerable pile of rubble. They correlated the earthquake with one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. They further noted that there were partial repairs during the Abbasid period (second half of the 8th century A.D.) and that the paved street and the gateway of the building continued to be used in stratum A2, and the water system was modified drastically.

Although it appears that there is sufficient archeoseismic evidence, there is some chronological uncertainty as the seismic destruction could have been caused by the By No Means Mild Quake which, according to Muslim sources, completely destroyed Al-Aqsa Mosque while the the Holy Desert Quake caused repairable damage.

Roman-Byzantine Walls

Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni (2011:421) summarized exposures of the Roman-Byzantine wall:
the Roman-Byzantine wall was used continuously from the time of its construction until the mid-8th century, after which it was partially damaged, probably by an earthquake (Weksler-Bdolah, 2007:97). Evidence of renovations discovered in several places along its route indicate that the wall continued to be used after the mid-8th century.
Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground. While archaoelogical evidence does not show a destruction of all the fortification walls in Jerusalem after the summer of 746 CE, the possibility exists that perhaps limited or symbolic destruction took place in order for local authorities to be seen as complying with Marwan II's orders. This adds some uncertainty whether wall damage is seismic or anthropogenic.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Location Intensity
Collapsed Walls Umayyad Structure South of Temple Mount VIII +
Fallen Columns Umayyad Structure South of Temple Mount V +
Displaced Walls ? Roman-Byzantine Wall VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

Weksler-Bdolah, S., 2007 Reconsidering the Byzantine Period City Wall of Jerusalem. Eretz-Israel 28: 88-101. [Hebrew]

Galor, K. and G. Avni (2011). Unearthing Jerusalem: 150 years of archaeological research in the Holy City, Penn State Press.

Magness, J. (1991). "The Walls of Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period." The Biblical Archaeologist 54(4): 208-217.

Gevaʿ, H. (2019). Ancient Jerusalem revealed: archaeological discoveries, 1998-2018, Israel Exploration Society.

BEN Dov, M. (1985): In the shadow of the Temple, Keter, Jerusalem.

BEN Dov, M. (2002): Historical atlas of Jerusalem, Continuum, London. - site specific archeoseismic evidence is not presented.

WIGHTMAN, G.J. (1993): Walls of Jerusalem, Mediterranean Archaeology Studies Suppl. 4 (Med. Arch Univ. Sydney), p. 331.

WELLHAUSEN, J. (1973): The arab kingdom and its fall, Curzon Press, London, pp. 592.

מזר, ב. and B. Mazar (1971). "The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Near the Temple Mount — Second Preliminary Report, 1969—70 Seasons / החפירות הארכיאולוגיות ליד הר-הבית: סקירה שנייה, עונות תשכ"ט—תש"ל." Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה י: 1-34. (in Hebrew)

B. Mazar, The excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 1969), 20

Mazar, B. and M. Ben-Dov (1971). The excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount : preliminary report of the second and third seasons, 1969-1970.

B. Mazar: The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem, EI 9 (1969), pp. 161-174, ref.p. 173 (Hebrew).

Ben-Dov, M. 1983 Jerusalem's Fortifications: The City Walls, Gates and the Temple Mount. Tel-Aviv: Zemorah- Bitan. [Hebrew]

Ben-Dov, M. 1993 Jerusalem Fortifications and Citadel: Eighth to 11th Centuries. Pp. 793-95 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2, ed. E. Stern,Ben-Dov, M.

A. Lewinson-Gilboa, and J. Aviram. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society. 1994 Excavations and Architectural Survey of the Archaeological Remains along the Southern Wall of the Jerusalem Old City. Pp. 311-20 in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Broshi, M., and Gibson, S.1994 Excavations Along the Western and Southern Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Pp. 147-55 in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Ben-Dov, M. Broshi, M., and Tsafrir, Y.1977 Excavations at the Zion Gate

Hamilton, R. W.1944 Excavations Against the North Wall of Jerusalem, 1937—8. Quarterly of the Depart- ment of Antiquities of Palestine 10: 1-54.

Mazar, E. 2007 The Ophel Wall in Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period. Pp. 181-200 in The Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem 1968-1978 Directed by Benjamin Mazar, Final Reports, vol. 3: The Byzantine Period. Qedem 46. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2001 Jerusalem, The Old City Walls. Hadashot Arkheologiot / Excavations and Surveys in Israel 113: 79*-80*.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2003 The Fortifications of Jerusalem During Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods (3rd/4th to 8th cent.). M.A. thesis. Jerusalem: Hebrew University. [Hebrew]

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2005 Jerusalem, the New Gate. Excavations and Surveys in Israel: 117

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2006 The Old City Walls of Jerusalem: The Northwestern Corner. Atiqot 54: 95-119 [Hebrew]; 163-64 [English summary].

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2006-7 The Fortifications of Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period. Aram 18-19: 85-112.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2007 Reconsidering the Byzantine Period City Wall of Jerusalem. Eretz-Israel 28: 88-101. [Hebrew]

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2011 The Fortification System in the Northwestern Part of Jerusalem from the Early Islamic to the Ottoman Periods. Atiqot 65: 105-30 [Hebrew]; 73*-75* [English summary].

Weksler-Bdolah, S. forthcoming Jerusalem, Kikar Zahal's tunnel. Hadashot Arkheologiot.

Tsafrir, Y. 2000 Procopius and the Nea Church in Jerusalem. An Tard 8: 149-64.

Baruch, Y., and Reich, R. 1999 Renewed Excavations at the Umayyad Building III. Pp. 128-40 in New Studies on Jerusalem: Proceedings of the Fifth Conference, Dec. 23,1999, ed. A. Faust and E. Ba- ruch. Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press.

Ben-Dov, M. 1971 The Omayyad Structures near the Temple Mount. Pp. 37-44 in The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount: Second Preliminary Report 1969-70 Seasons, ed. B. Mazar. Jerusalem.

Ben-Dov, M. 1976 The Area South of the Temple Mount in the Early Islamic Period. Pp. 97-101 in Je- rusalem Revealed: Archaeology in the Holy City 1968-1974, ed. Y. Yadin. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mazar 1975, The Mountain of the Lord. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 269

Baalbek

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Baalbek Arabic بعلبك
Baalbek Syriac-Aramaic ܒܥܠܒܟ
Belbek Hebrew בעלבק
Heliopolis Greek Ἡλιούπολις
Heliopoleos Latin Heliopoleos
Introduction

Baalbek is located east of the Litani River (classical Leontes) in the Beqaa Valley (وادي البقاع‎) ~85 km from Beirut. The Beqaa Valley, known as Coele-Syria in classical times, is bordered on the west by the Lebanon mountain range and to the east by the Anti-Lebanon range. Two springs, Ras al-'Ain and 'Ain Lejouj, a short distance away, provided caravans with water in antiquity. Baalbek is strategically placed at the highest point on a well-established trade route from Tripoli that led into the Beqaa before proceeding to Damascus or to Palmyra in Syria (Meyers et al, 1997).

Chronology

Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground.

Seismic Effects



Intensity Estimates

Effect Description Intensity
Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

German Archeological Institute

Archaeological Research in Baalbek

Archaeology and History in Lebanon

Jidejian, Nina. Baalbek: Heliopolis "City of the Sun." Beirut, 1975.

Kalayan, H. (1975). "Baalbek, un ensemble recemment decouvert." Liban: Les grands sites, Tyr, Byblos, Baalbek= Dossiers d'Archeologie [Paris: Archeologia SA] 12: 29-30.

Ragette, Friedrich. Baalbek. London, 1980.

Damascus

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Damascus English
Damascus Latin Damascus
Damascus Ancient Greek Δαμασκός
Dimašq Modern Arabic دمشق‎
aš-Šām Local Arabic colloquialism الشَّام
Madīnat al-Yāsmīn Arabic ܕمَدِينَةُ الْيَاسْمِينِ
Darmswq Classical Syriac ܕܰܪܡܣܘܩ‎‎
Dammaśq Old Aramaic דמשק
Dammeśeq Biblical Hebrew דַּמֶּשֶׂק
Damask Modern Hebrew דמשק
T-m-ś-q Ancient Egyptian (15th century BCE)
Imerišú Akkadian
Dimasqa Amarna letters - Akkadian
Dimàsqì Amarna letters - Akkadian
Dimàsqa Amarna letters - Akkadian
Introduction

Damascus resides in a basin east of the Anti-Lebanon range, at the foot of Mt. Qasiyun. Despite low annual rainfall, the plain is well watered by the Barada River allowing Damascus to exist as an oasis. Damascus has one of the longest periods of occupation (perhaps the longest period of occupation) of any city in the world. Due to its high urban density, very little excavation has been possible in Damascus (Stern et al, 1993). In 661 CE, the Umayyad Caliphate moved the capital to Damascus where it remained until 744 CE when Caliph Marwan II moved the capital to Harran. It was during the Umayyad period that the the Great Mosque of Damascus was built on the site of a Christian Basilica dedicated to John the Baptist. Construction was completed in 715 CE. When the Abbasid Caliphate supplanted the Umayyad Caliphate in 750 CE, the capital of the Caliphate moved to Baghdad.

Chronology

Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground.

Seismic Effects



Intensity Estimates

Effect Description Intensity
Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Tiberias

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Tverya Hebrew טיבריות
Ṭabariyyā Arabic طبريا
Rakkath Biblical Hebrew (Joshua 19:35) רקבת
Chamath Ancient Israelite (Jewish tradition) חמת
Tiberiás Ancient Greek Τιβεριάς
Tiveriáda Modern Greek Τιβεριάδα
Tiberiás Latin Tiberiás
Tiberias English Tiberias
Introduction

Tiberias was founded between 18 and 20 CE by Herod's son Herod Antipas, who made it the capital of his kingdom; the city was named after the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Its location, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was then to the south of present-day Tiberias and to the north of the hot springs known as Hammath; the city's western boundary was marked by Mount Berenice, which rises to an altitude of approximately 200m above the level of the Sea of Galilee (Stern et al, 1993). In the 3rd century CE, the ruling institutions of the Jewish people moved to Tiberias and Tiberias became the Jewish capital of Palestine and the diaspora. The majority of the Palestinian (aka Jerusalem) Talmud was composed there (Stern et al, 1993). The city began to decline and moved north to present day Tiberais in the 9th and 10th centuries (Stern et al, 1993).

Atrash (2010) produced a map which shows the location of some of the sites that have been excavated and examined such as:
Location on Map Studies Notes
Stadium Marco et al (2003) Galei Kinneret Site is just south of the Stadium
Theatre to Southern Gate Ferrario et al (2020)
Basilica Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004)
Church Mount Berineke
Galei Kinneret (adjacent to the Stadium)
Archeoseismic Damage at Galei Kinneret Figure 2. Galei Kinneret site map.

A: Open fractures in Herod's stadium and overlying Byzantine walls.

B: Ummayad room that overlies fault (red lines) is tilted 23° westward. Its right side is on footwall, and its left side is on hanging wall. Arrow shows tear in wall.

C: Looking southward at section in alluvium and lake sediments, which buried Byzantine wall (right) and were later offset 40 cm by normal fault (red). White arrows point at offset layer; white bars are at bottom of unfaulted layers.

Foundation (pink) of Early Arabic (Abassid) wall is built into postfault layers. This stratigraphy constrains fault to eighth century. The only strong earthquake in this area occurred on 18 January 749.

Marco et al (2003)


Chronology and Seismic Effects

Marco et al (2003) examined Roman, Byzantine, and Early Arab structures that they report were abandoned in the 8th century CE due to a rising lake level at that time. These structures and the sediments that had accumulated on top of them exhibited earthquake related damage. They report damage as follows:
  1. Two extension fractures trending 305° and 320° were discovered crossing the earliest structure - a stadium apparently built during Roman times and described by Josephus. These fractures can be seen in Figure 2A . Marco et al (2003) report that the fractures are as wide as 10 cm. and extend upward into Byzantine and Early Arab walls that overlie the stadium. They also report that none of the fractures are limited to the stadium, indicating no deformation between the Roman period and the construction of the Ummayad walls.

  2. Marco et al (2003) also noted normal synsedimentary faults offsetting the lower part of the sedimentary sequence. They describe these as follows:
    Unfaulted layers as well as buildings of the Abassid period overlie these faults (Map in Fig. 2 above - tilting and faulting shown in Fig.s 2B and 2C - Note by JW). Fault planes typically dip 60°–70°. Flat pebbles and pieces of pottery are aligned with the fault planes, showing typical imbrication. In one locality, layers at the footwall near the fault are warped downward. Two major planes stand out; the western one strikes 354° with 35–50 cm offsets, and the eastern one strikes 320° with 90–100 cm vertical offsets. The downthrown side is always on the west. Smaller north-striking faults with ~10 cm off sets are also recognized, but the downthrown side is east. The ashlars from the upper part of the walls have fallen mostly westward. No liquefaction is observed in the sediments, probably owing to the large size of the clasts.

    This kind of faulting cannot be the dominant long-term pattern of activity because the structure of the Kinneret basin requires a downthrown block on the east. The observed faults reflect northeast-southwest extension, normal to the 450–500-m-high fault scarps west and south of Tiberias and smaller scarps at the lake bottom (Ben-Avraham et al., 1990). The faults postdate the Ummayad buildings and predate the later undisturbed sediments and Abassid buildings.
Marco et al (2003) attributed these seismic effects to one earthquake which struck in 749 CE. The presence of unfaulted Abassid structures, which they date to the late 8th century CE, on top of the deformed Roman, Byzantine, and Ummayad structures suggests that this is a good date assignment if the Abbasid structures are well-dated. It should be noted, however, that radiocarbon dating of the debris flow section above and inside the faulted interval in the debris flow deposits could provide better time constraints on the chronology of the damaging event. Figure 2C , for example, shows fault termination in the debris flow deposits. No radiocarbon dates were reported by Marco et al (2003).

The tectonic observations of Marco et al (2003) that the extensional stress exhibited at the site suggests normal faulting during the causitive earthquake is a valuable data point however caution is advised because their intensity map (Figure 3 in their paper - not repeated here) is flawed. The map was made before the widely read works of Karcz (2004), Ambraseys (2005), and Ambraseys (2009) showed that the Sabbatical Year earthquakes consisted of two earthquakes rather than one and before Alfonsi et al (2013) following Whitcomb (1988) redated the majority of archeoseismic damage at Hisham's Palace near Jericho to the 1033 CE earthquake rather than one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. The Intensity Map of Marco et al (2003) amalgamates the Holy Desert and Talking Mule Quakes together leading to the judgment that one large earthquake with Mw between 7.0 and 7.5 was responsible for all the reported damage. Their conclusion that sinistral slip along ~100 km. of the Jordan Valley terminating at the Dead Sea and and Kinneret pull apart basins with transformation into normal slip of the north-striking fault south of the Sea of Kinneret (aka Sea of Galilee) may be overstated. A shorter segment of the Jordan Valley Fault may have ruptured or the rupture could have been entirely along faults in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee.

Calculator

Normal Fault Displacement - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

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

Site Effect

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

VS30

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

Intensity Estimates

Seismic effects include The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Beriniki Theatre (aka The Theatre)
Archeoseismic Damage at the Theater Tiberias Figure 4. Surface faulting at the Tiberias Theatre:

a) map of ruptures across the Theatre, rose diagrams (bin size 15°) show fractures on archaeological relics from the whole site (red, n° 100) and on the orchestra floor (grey, n° 23); picture view angles (the figure number showing each picture is indicated) and trace of total station profiles are shown as well

b-c) details of the gravity graben displacing seat rows and walls

d) right dihedral best fit solution of fault slip inversion (15 fault planes in the limestone bedrock; Table S3)

e) detail of the limestone normal fault gouge (site is shown in a)

Ferrario et al (2020)


Introduction

Ferrario et al (2020) report that the Theatre was originally built in the 1st century CE and underwent several modifications in the ensuing centuries.

Chronology

Ferrario et al (2020) report that Atrash (2010) divided up the stratigraphy of the Theatre as shown below:

Stratigraphy at the Theater Tiberias Figure 3a) Historical periods in Israel and schematic stratigraphic column at the Theatre

Ferrario et al (2020)


Ferrario et al (2020) provided what they characterize as a tight terminus ante quem of not later than the 8th - 11th century CE for the damaging event at the Theatre based on the Fatimid-Abassid quarter (Fig. 5 from Atrash, 2010). These structures were built on top of the Theatre and debris flow deposits and followed a plan similar to the underlying Theatre. The Fatimid-Abassid structures, which were removed during excavations in 2009 in order to access the Theatre showed no faulting, damage, or deformation in photographs taken prior to removal. Damage, according to Ferrario et al (2020) was limited to the Roman-age flooring and to the debris flow sediments above it.
Ferrario et al (2020) noted this was particulalrly evident the photos from Figures 5 b-d . A terminus post quem was provided from the Southern Gate where a deformed Byzantine wall was archaeologically dated to ca. 530 CE. If the apparently seismically damaged Umayyad Reservoir is indeed Umayyad, this provides a later terminus post quem of 661 - 750 CE. Taken together, the seismic event is constrained at most to between 530 CE and the 11th century CE; possibly between 661 CE and the 11th century.

No radiocarbon dates were reported in the debris flow sediments which can be seen in Figure 5 b-d and possibly S10 . A trench was examined near the South Gate site but no earthquake evidence was found in the trench and the trench could not be deepened below the 11th century CE due to the discovery of human remains. This may explain why no radiocarbon dates were presented.

Seismic Effects

Ferrario et al (2020) described archeoseismic evidence at the Theatre as follows:
Cretaceous limestones outcrop in the NW side of the Theatre (Fig. 4a ), while the E side lies on loose alluvial deposits. At the contact, a bedrock fault zone (N60/60) is exposed inside the Theatre as a 1.5 m thick fault gouge (Fig. 4e ). Stress inversion of fault slip data (Fig. 4d and Table S3) indicates an almost pure extensional regime, with a T axis trending N62/13. The limestone - alluvial deposit contact has a clear morphological expression out of the Theatre area (i.e., lies at the base of the mountain escarpment) and is interpreted as tectonic in origin on the Israeli map of active faults (Sagy et al., 2016).

The Theatre preserves evidence of damage (Fig. 4a ), mainly aligned along a ca. 10 m wide, N140-trending, belt which is located ca. 30 m to the E of the bedrock fault gouge described above (Fig 4e ). These archaeoseismic effects include on-fault effects with vertical displacement (downthrown seat-rows and walls) and strain structures generated by permanent ground deformation (tilted and folded walls). All these features belong to the primary earthquake archaeological effects described by Rodriguez-Pascua et al. (2011). The most relevant evidence is a 5-m wide, at least 15 m long, coseismic gravity-graben affecting the orchestra limestone pavement and lower block of seats (Fig. 4b and 4c . High resolution topographic surveys carried out along several transects on features considered as a horizontal datum (i.e., flagstones and seat rows), show 50-to-60 cm of vertical net throw with downthrown side to the E (Fig. 7 ), including both discrete and distributed deformation.

Photos taken in 2009 during the archaeological excavation show that normal displacement affects Roman-age floorings as well as debris flow sediments covering the Theatre pavement (Fig. 5 ). The sediments are well-bedded for their entire exposure, except for a few meters wide zone, corresponding with the fault zone.
Ferrario et al (2015:158-161) showed the alignment of these features in the Bemiki Theatre in photographs in Figure 3 . They showed a map of all the sites studied in Figure 4 .

Intensity Estimates

Seismic effects reported by Ferrario et al (2020) for the Theatre, Southern Gate, and points in-between include:
Effect Location Photo Intensity
Penetrative fractures and cracks in masonry blocks Theatre Fig S14 VI +
Broken Corners Theatre Fig S14 VI +
Seismic Uplift / Subsidence Theatre and Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate VI +
Displaced or Folded Walls Theatre and Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate. and from Ferrario et al (2014) Fig. 7 , Fig 8 , and Fig. 10 VII +
Displaced Masonry Blocks Theatre Fig. 4c VIII +
Vertical net throw of 50-60 cm. ~300 m long fault segment from Theatre to Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Calculator

Normal Fault Displacement - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

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

Site Effect

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

VS30

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

Notes and Further Reading

The Southern Gate
Archeoseismic Damage south of the Theater Tiberias Figure 6

a) Map of the Southern Gate and water reservoir sites, ca. 200 m S of the Theatre, along the Jordan Valley Western Boundary (JVWB) Fault strike, with indication of picture view angles and trace of total station profile. Fault trace is marked by red dashed line

b) view of the Byzantine wall at the Southern Gate site

c) detail of the warped Byzantine wall. The wooded frame, holding the pedestrian bridge, is situated above the fault line. The dashed black line marks a down throw of an originally horizontal datum

d) set of fractures affecting an Umayyad water reservoir, located in between the Theatre and the Southern Gate.

Ferrario et al (2020)


Introduction

Ferrario et al (2020) report that the Southern Gate, located ca. 200 m S of the Theatre, was originally built during the Early Roman period as a free-standing structure. They continue that in Byzantine times, the gate was incorporated in the newly-built city wall and in Umayyad-to-Fatimid periods other buildings and retaining walls were constructed at the site (Hartal et al., 2010).

Chronology

see Chronology section for Tiberias - The Theatre.

Seismic Effects

Ferrario et al (2020) described archeoseismic evidence at the Southern Gate as follows:
The Southern Gate is built on a bedrock (Cretaceous limestone), which outcrops at the base of the wadi channel which runs in a general E-W direction within the site. Displacement at the Southern Gate is represented by warping of a Byzantine E-W wall, archaeologically dated at ca. 530 CE (Fig. 6 b and 6 c ). A total station profile shows ca. 45 cm of total throw with downthrown side to the E (Fig. 7 a-e and Fig. 7 e ). The measured displacement has a pure normal component with an amount of vertical displacement similar to that recorded at the Theatre.
Intensity Estimates

see Intensity Estimate Section for the Theatre at Tiberias.

Notes and Further Reading

Umayyad Water Reservoir
Introduction

Ferrario et al (2020) reported on fractures in an Umayyad Water Reservoir located between the Theatre and the South Gate.

Chronology

If the Water Reservoir is correctly dated to Umayyad times it provides a terminus post quem of 661 - 750 CE for seismic damage.

Seismic Effects

Ferrario et al (2020) described archeoseismic evidence at the Umayyad water reservoir as follows:
South of the Theatre, the last excavation phase during 2017 uncovered an Umayyad water reservoir. Damage is here represented by a series of steeply inclined fractures between masonry blocks, located in a ca. 1 m wide zone (Fig. 6d ). The damage zone is situated along the line connecting the graben in the Theatre and the warped Byzantine wall at the Southern Gate, i.e. on the fault line.
Intensity Estimates

The fractures between masonry blocks for the reservoir is not part of the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . Thus, for the moment, no Intensity estimate is available for the fractured Umayyad reservoir.

Notes and Further Reading

Seismo-Tectonic Considerations from the Theatre, Southern Gate, and Umayyad Water Reservoir
Surface Faulting Evidence

Ferrario et al (2020) detailed surface faulting evidence as follows:
We measured dip and dip direction of 123 fractures (in masonry blocks) in the Theatre and 59 in the Southern Gate (Table S2). They are Mode I fractures (opening fractures), affecting walls and building stones. Generally, they break the entire stone height, albeit in some cases they affect a single corner of the building stone (see Fig. S14 for examples). The strike of the fractures has a modal value of 160° and 140° in the whole Theatre and the orchestra floor, respectively (see rose diagrams in Fig. 4a ). These values are broadly consistent with the direction of the gravity graben found within the Theatre.

South of the Theatre, the last excavation phase during 2017 uncovered an Umayyad water reservoir. Damage is here represented by a series of steeply inclined fractures between masonry blocks, located in a ca. 1 m wide zone (Fig. 6d ). The damage zone is situated along the line connecting the graben in the Theatre and the warped Byzantine wall at the Southern Gate, i.e. on the fault line.

...

Summary of the archaeoseismic observations reveals a ~300 m long segment of the [Jordan Valley Western Boundary Fault] (JVWB) [from the] Theatre to [the] Gate that ruptured the surface during an earthquake that apparently took place at the 8th century CE. Slip along the fault is normal, vertical throw is 0.5 m.
Ferrario et al (2020) summarized why they considered surface faulting the causitive mechanism for much of the observed damage as follows:
  1. The investigated sites are built on a contact between limestones and thin (few meters) alluvial deposits; the presence of shallow limestone bedrock beneath the hanging wall alluvial deposits is also confirmed by boreholes. Bedrock outcrops inside the Theatre and at the bottom of the wadi channel at the Southern Gate.
  2. All damaged sites are aligned along a lineament in a N140 direction, which is consistent with the structural framework of the study area.
  3. All our observations document a pure dip-slip normal faulting.
  4. The gravity-graben inside the Theatre is a feature consistent with coseismic, near- fault deformation (e.g., Slemmons, 1957; Rodriguez-Pascua et al., 2011) and possibly due to the steepening of the fault plane approaching the surface.
  5. Damage is consistently found in Roman levels and in the debris flow sediments uncovered in the Theatre, but the Abassid levels were not faulted nor deformed. Archaeological stratigraphy provides tight chronological constraints, based on architectural style, building techniques and materials of the findings and structures.
The lines of reasoning listed above point toward an earthquake-related damage, and more specifically to surface faulting. The damaging event is constrained to later than 530 CE and younger than the Abassid caliphate (750-1258 CE).
Ferrario et al (2020) discuss the nature of faulting during this event below:
The reconstruction of the stratigraphic and structural setting of the shallow subsurface (Fig. 10 ) shows faults reaching the surface; they were constrained by direct observation at the archaeological sites (Fig. 10a and 10b ) or presence of the hot springs (Fig. 10c ). Other faults were imaged through the seismic lines and borehole correlation. Our data suggest the presence of a fault zone some tens of meters wide, rather than a single fault. At the Theatre (Fig. 10a ) and at the Northern seismic line (Fig. 9 ), we observe to the W a fault strand at the contact between Cretaceous limestone and the Neogene-Quaternary deposits; to the E, a second fault strand lies within the Neogene-Quaternary deposits. At the Theatre, the fault gouge in Cretaceous limestones (Fig. 4e ) show no signs of historical displacements, whereas the archaeological structures are faulted more to the E (Fig. 4a ). This may suggest a basinward migration of the active fault strand, consistently with previous observations at other sites along the DSF (Marco & Klinger, 2014). At the Southern Gate the fault lies within Cretaceous limestones, as deduced from archaeoseismological observations and core drillings (Fig. 10b ).
Ferrario et al (2015:158-161) showed a map of all the sites studied with the inferred fault in Figure 4 .

Rupture Scenarios

Ferrario et al (2020) considered 3 different rupture scenarios for the mid 8th century CE earthquake which they suggest caused the observed damage:
Scenario Fault(s) Fault
Motion
Rupture
Length
(km.)
Rupture
Width
(km.)
Mw
1 Jordan Valley Western Boundary Fault Normal 45 6.9
2 Jordan Valley Fault Strike-Slip 125 12.5 7.3
3 Jordan Valley Western Boundary Fault
and Jordan Valley Fault
Normal and
Strike-Slip
170 12.5 7.6
While they suggested the 3rd possibility could be explained by strain-partitioning, they considered it an unlikely scenario. They also noted that their calculations represented worst case scenarios implying rupture of the entire fault where such complete fault ruptures may be obstructed by structural thresholds. For Scenario 1, they used a scaling relationship from Wesnousky (2008:1620 - Fig. 8) for Normal Faults which has a quality score of 1 (i.e. best available) according to Stirling et al. (2013)

Mw = 6.12 + 0.47*log10(L)

  L = Length of rupture (km.)

For Scenarios 2 and 3, they used a scaling relationship from Hanks and Bakun (2008:490 - Eqn. 4) for a Fault Area > 537 km.2. This scaling relationship has a quality score of 1 (i.e. best available) according to Stirling et al. (2013)

Mw = 4/3*log10(A) + (3.07 ± 0.04)

  A = Fault Area (km.2)

The scaling relationships chosen followed recommendations of Stirling et al. (2013) and were of subclass A2 (Slow Plate boundary faults with slip less than 10 mm./year) which is appropriate for the Dead Sea Transforms which is estimated to slip at 4-5 mm/year Garfunkel et al (2014).

Calculator

Scaling Relationships

Variable Input Units Notes
km.
km.
Variable Output Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude computed using Wesnousky (2008)
km.2
unitless Moment Magnitude computed using Hanks and Bakun (2008)
  

Notes

Ferrario et al (2020) plotted structural Data (dip and dip direction) using StereoNet and inverted for slip using FaultKin; both courtesy of Rick Allmendinger (Cornell).Maria Francesa Ferrario's page on Research Gate has a number of downloadable papers on archeoseismic and paleoseismic investigations in Tiberias.
Mount Berineke
Ferrario et al (2014) performed a preliminary archeoseismic examination of the Church on Mount Berineke and made the following comments while referring to a hand drawn sketch of the site (Fig. 13 :
The church remains at Mt. Berenice show two different building techniques (different building-stone sizes, cement between building-stones). Several fractures are visible; some of them seem a result of building decay or different techniques, or are related to part of the building added later or to weaker structural elements (e.g. arches). Some other fractures, indeed, can be explained only with the occurrence of an external event (e.g. earthquake, landslide, geotechnical failure).

...

Site A: This is probably the clearest evidence of an external event. Fracture on a 1 m high wall; the fracture covers all the wall's height. Open fracture, 3-4 cm between the 2 sides, ca. 2 cm of left displacement. The W side is vertical, the E side shows an arcuate (concave N-ward) style (Fig. 14 ).

Site B: Fracture on a 70 cm high wall; the prosecution is visible for ca. 50 cm in the superior part of the wall; no lateral displacement.

Site C: Vertical fracture on a 2.40 m high wall; the fracture is visible only in the lower 1.60 m. Spacing between the 2 sides ca. 1 cm, no lateral displacement. The wall for its entire length seems built with 2 different techniques: lower part with much more cement and smaller boulders. The fracture ends ca. at the boundary between the 2. A, B and C are aligned along the N150° direction (Fig 15 ).

Site D: Here the features (vertical fractures) seems related to different building phases (presence/absence cement).

Site E and F: Tilting and dislocation of 2 walls (loss of verticality), but related to weaker structural elements (arches).

Site G: Single stone located at the base of a door, fractured in 2 blocks.

Site H: Series of sub-vertical fractures, in correspondence to a corner in the wall; up to 4-5 cm between the 2 sides. Possible 1-2 cm of right-lateral displacement. In one point, the fracture broke a 20 cm long single stone.

Site I: Fractures in a 2.5 m high wall; several stones broken, up to 1 cm between the 2 sides, no lateral displacement.
Notes and Further Reading

Basilica
Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004) proposed the following stratigraphic sequence for Tiberias:
Stratum Period Date Notes
I Late Fatimid 11th century CE construction above the collapse caused by an earthquake (in 1033 CE?)
II Early Fatimid 9th - 10th centuries CE continued use of the street with shops.
III Abbasid 8th - 9th centuries CE a row of shops, the basilica building was renovated.
IV Byzantine–Umayyad 5th - 7th centuries CE the eastern wing was added to the basilica building; the paved street; destruction was caused by the earthquake in 749 CE.
V Late Roman 4th century CE construction of the basilica complex, as well as the city’s institutions, i. e., the bathhouse and the covered market place.
VI Roman 2nd - 3rd centuries CE establishment of the Hadrianeum in the second century CE (temple dedicated to Hadrian that was never completed) and industrial installations; the paving of the cardo and the city’s infrastructure.
VII Early Roman 1st century CE founding of Tiberias, construction of the palace with the marble floor on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, opus sectile, fresco.
VIII Hellenistic 1st - 2nd centuries BCE fragments of typical pottery vessels (fish plates, Megarian bowls).
Their discussion of Stratum IV follows:
Stratum IV (sixth century CE). Another, eastern wing, was apparently constructed east of the apse’s outer wall during the Byzantine period. It was accessed by way of an entrance adorned with magnificent doorjambs, in situ, whose lower parts were dressed to resemble half Attic bases (Fig. 5). The eastern wing was probably destroyed in the earthquake of 749 CE. The collapse inside the rooms contained numerous roof tiles, some of them almost complete and a large quantity of plaster and fragments of a plain mosaic floor. A noteworthy find from this destruction was a large bronze goblet-like mortar and a pestle that was found nearby, in the collapse of one of the rooms (Fig. 6). In all likelihood, these were not simple kitchen utensils, although their usage is unclear.
More specific chronology was not discussed.

Notes and Further Reading

House of the Bronzes
Introduction

The House of the Bronzes is located just south of the sewage plant and about ~250 m N or the Beriniki Theatre (Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld, 2008).

Chronology

Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld (2008) proposed the following stratigraphic sequence for the House of the Bronzes:
Stratum Period Date Notes
I Medieval 12-14th century CE
II Fatimid 10th - 11th centuries CE Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld (2008) beleive debris on top of this layer indicates that it was terminated by an earthquake
III Umayyad - Abbasid 8th - 10th centuries CE
IV Roman - Byzantine 1st - 6th centuries CE
Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld (2008) report that remains of a pre-Islamic layer was only found in two places and while precise dating is unclear, they were sealed by fills of the Early Islamic period. A wall in Square D/5 and top of W.26 was dated by the fill next to it (L.170) to the 1st - 6th century CE. Stratum IV was overlaid by a thick layer of debris and alluvium. Earthquake destruction relating to Stratum IV was not mentioned in the report.

Notes and Further Reading

Other Sites in Tiberias
Aviv Hotel
Zingboym O. and Hartal M. (2011)

Site 7354
Dalali-Amos E. (2016)

Gane Hammat
Onn, A. and Weksler-Bdolah, S. (2016)

Hippos Sussita

Fallen Columns from Cathedral at Hippos Sussita Fig. 2.3 Photo of the cathedral with the fallen columns, looking west.

Wechsler et al (2018)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Hippos Greek Ἵππος
Antiochia Hippos Greek Αντιοχεία Ἵππος
Sussita Hebrew סוסיתא
Sussita Aramaic
Qal‘at al-Ḥuṣn Arabic قلعة الحصن
Introduction

Hippos-Sussita was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis. It declined during Byzantine and Early Arab periods and is believed to have been largely abandoned after it was badly damaged in one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes. It is situated atop a flat topped ridge which overlooks the Sea of Galilee.

The Cathedral is the largest of several churches found on the site and is situated south of the Cardo. A fragmentary Greek inscription reveals that it was built in 590 CE (Wechsler et al (2018) citing Latjar, 2014:250-278) and remained in use until the mid 8th century CE (Wechsler et al (2018) citing Segal, 2007). Excavations in the 1950's revealed columns lying on the floor of the cathedral in sub parallel directions (Wechsler et al, 2018). These columns are presumed to have fallen during one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes. Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) performed numerical analysis on these columns to estimate a lower limit of paleo-PGA during the earthquake.

Chronology

Hippos Sussita Plan Plan of Hippos Sussita

https://www.biblewalks.com/hippos


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. The church referred to is the Northwest Church. This is not the same church Wechsler et al (2018) and others refer to as the Cathedral. It is the Cathedral which contains the fallen columns that Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) analyzed to estimate a lower limit of paleo-PGA during the earthquake.

Seismic Effects

   Tilted Walls and Structures

Karcz and Kafri (1978) identified tilted walls at the site as shown in Figure 9 and Figure 10 of their article. They noted that at the time their article was written, a reliable date for the tilting was not available.

   Fallen Columns

Nine columns of the northern row of the cathedral are oriented N220°E ± 10° and two remaining columns of the southern row are oriented N295°E ± 10° (Wechsler et al, 2018).

Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) utilized a two-dimensional formulation of the discontinuous deformation analysis (DDA) method (Shi, 1993) to produce a lower bound of 0.2 - 0.4 g for Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) required to topple the columns. The model for their columns was free standing as shown in Figure 2c of their paper and does not include a superstructure such as an architrave or a roof indicating it is likely to produce a conservative (i.e. low) value of minimum PGA required to topple the columns. Input material values for the columns, consisting of red and gray granite possibly imported from Aswan, were The friction angle (Φ) between column base and pedestal was assumed to be 45°. Optimal contact spring stiffness (2 x 108 N/m) was determined numerically. Simulations were performed for both one and three sinusoidal loading cycles at a variety of frequencies up to 5 Hz. (shown in Figure 3 of their paper). At frequencies of 1.5 Hz. and below, minimum PGA to topple the columns was about 0.2 g for both 1 and 3 loading cycles. Above 1.5 Hz., the single loading cycle simulations were more sensitive to frequency and required a higher PGA to topple the columns. The authors suggested that if only sinusoidal inputs are considered, 3 cycle simulations were more likely be representative of PGA thresholds required to topple the columns. Thus they used the three cycle simulations to produce a range of frequency dependent threshold PGA's required to topple the column that varied from 0.2 g below 1.5 Hz. up to 1 g at 5 Hz..

Recognizing the fairly wide range of threshold PGA's resulting from this analysis, Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) performed a subsequent set of simulations using strong motion records applied to the centroid of the column and base. The strong motion records came from instrumentally recorded earthquakes thought to be representative of the Dead Sea Transform. The predominant frequencies of these strong motion records varied from 0.45 - 2.2 Hz. and produced threshold PGA's between 0.2 and 0.4 g. Although Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) did not conclude that their column analysis resulted in an estimated threshold PGA of 0.2 - 0.4 g to topple the columns, it can be reasonably assumed that this is result. However, as mentioned previously, these threshold PGA's are likely underestimated as they modeled free standing columns without a superstructure.

Wechsler et al (2018) commented on modeling the column falls as follows:

The Cathedral is, so far, the only structure that has been at the center of quantitative archaeoseimsic studies. Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) tried to estimate minimum levels of peak ground acceleration (PGA) during the earthquake ground motion which was necessary to topple the Cathedral columns. However, they used the model of a freestanding column of the same size as the ones found in the Cathedral, but with no capital, architrave or other superstructure. Since 2D models were used and forces were applied to the center of gravity of the columns and pedestals, the reported 0.2 - 0.4 m/s2 PGA threshold at frequencies between 0.2 and 4.4 Hz can only be regarded as a rough estimate and are not necessarily representative for the complete structure of the Cathedral which has a significantly different response to earthquake ground motions than a solitary column. Hinzen (2009) used 3D discrete element models conforming to the size of the toppled columns of the Cathedral and showed that the toppling direction during a realistic earthquake ground motion in three dimensions is a matter of chance. A column that is being rocked by earthquake ground motions is in a nonlinear dynamic system and its behavior tends to be of a chaotic character. Small changes to the initial conditions can have a strong influence on the general dynamic reaction and significantly alter the toppling direction. The same paper shows that the parallel orientation is probably an effect of the superstructure connecting the columns mechanically and not a consequence of the ground motion character. This interpretation is also strongly supported by the fact that the two remaining columns of the southern row rest at angles of ~90° compared with the columns from the northern row, as shown in a 3D laser scan model of the site (Fig. 2.4 ). A similar analysis of the Hippos columns was performed by Hinzen (2010).
   Topographic or Ridge Effect

Topographic or Ridge Effect at Hippos Sussita Fig. 2.5 Simplified north-south trending geological profile through the saddle-like structure of the Sussita hill. On top of the profile, a frequency-dependent seismic amplification is shown which was derived for ten one-dimensional linear elastic models of the subsurface. Abbreviations for the geologic units are given at the bottom of the figure.

Wechsler et al (2018)


Wechsler et al (2018) also pointed out that a topographic or ridge effect is likely present Hippos Sussita:
The saddle-like structure of the Sussita hill is prone to topographic amplification of strong ground motion during earthquakes, especially at the hilltop. The focusing effects of seismic waves in similar situations have been reported to lead to significant ground motion amplification (e.g., Massa et al., 2010). In the case of Hippos, the special geometry of the hill is combined with the unusual situation of high impedance material in the form of a basalt flow on top of weaker conglomerates. Figure 2.5 (above) shows a simplified north-south trending profile through the site and the neighboring valleys of Ein-Gev and Sussita. Estimates of ground motion amplification of vertically traveling shear waves from 1D model calculations indicate amplification factors at the hilltop in the range of 8 at frequencies of 2-3 Hz, a frequency range at which constructions such as colonnades show high vulnerability. In any further archaeoseismic studies of the damaged structures in Hippos, the exceptional location of the site and the local conditions must be taken into account.
Calculator

Variable Input Units Notes
g Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration
km. Distance to earthquake producing fault
unitless Site Effect due to Topographic or Ridge Effect (set to 1 to assume no site effect)
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
unitless Attenuation relationship of Hough and Avni (2009) used to calculate Magnitude
Variable Output - Site Effect removed Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
unitless Attenuation relationship of Hough and Avni (2009) used to calculate Magnitude
  

Magnitude is calculated from Intensity (I) and Fault Distance (R) based on Hough and Avni (2009) who did not specify the type of Magnitude scale they were using.

Site Effect Removal

Output with site effect removed assumes that PGA is higher than it would be if there was no site effect. In this situation, Intensity (I) with site effect removed is calculated pre-amplification (i.e. it will be lower). This is because an Intensity estimate with the site effect removed is helpful in producing an Intensity Map that will do a better job of "triangulating" the epicentral area.

Site Effect is based on Equation 2 and Figure 13 a of

Massa et al (2010). In their study, they estimated a frequency dependent additional PGA (St in Eqn. 2) which is added by a topographic site effect. The additional topographic site effect PGA varied from ~0.1 g to 0.5 g for dominant frequencies of approximately 1 - 5 Hz.. Higher PGA's were shown to be present for higher frequencies which are more likely to occur when the earthquake producing fault is closer to the site. They also noted that a greater topographic effect was observed when the seismic energy arrived orthogonal (perpendicular in their words) to the ridge. Both of these considerations suggest that a topographic ridge effect should be considered at Hippos Sussita when other evidence suggests that one of the Sea of Galilee faults broke during the earthquake. The additional Site Effect PGA is linearly scaled from 0 - 0.5 g for site effects where amplitude increases from 1x to 10x. It's not the greatest transform to remove site effect from the Intensity estimate but may be useful for crude estimates.

   Intensity Estimates

The reports of the Hippos-Sussita excavations project make numerous references to a 749 CE earthquake and various archeoseismic evidence including collapsed structures which requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

A list of publications on the archaeology of Hippos Sussita can be found here. The Wikipedia page for Hippos Sussita also has an extensive list of publications which can be accessed here. The home page of the Hippos-Sussita excavations project can be found here.

Jericho and environs

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Jericho English
Yeriḥo Hebrew יְרִיחוֹ
Arīḥā Arabic أريحا
reah Canaanite
Yareaẖ Canaanite
Transliterated Name Source Name
Hisham's Palace English
Qaṣr Hishām Arabic قصر هشام
Khirbat al-Mafjar Arabic خربة المفجر
Introduction

Despite low levels of rainfall, the many springs surrounding Jericho have allowed the city to to be occupied for millennium punctuated by interludes of abandonment. A number of archeological studies have taken place in Jericho and the surrounding areas including Tell es-Sultan, Tel Abu Alik, and Tell es-Samarat. Hisham's Palace, located ~3 km. north of Jericho, is an example of a Desert Castle built during the Umayyad period. Originally thought to have been destroyed and abandoned after it was struck by one one the mid 8th century CE earthquakes, it is now thought to have sufferred more moderate damage during that event and to have remained occupied afterwards. The final destruction and abandonment of Hisham's Palace is now thought to have ocurred after an earthquake in 1033 CE.

Hisham's Palace at the Khirbet el-Mefjer site
Archeoseismic Map of Hisham's Palace Figure 2. (d) Map of the surveyed coseismic effects at Hisham palace (Khirbet al-Mafjar site). Original plan of the palace is modified from Hamilton (1959).

Nh - North hall
Cc - Central court
CI - Cloister

1 crack and fault; black arrow, direction of movement

2 tilting and warping of wall (arrow toward the direction of movement

3 column of the ground floor (larger symbol) and of the first floor (smaller symbol); circle, column top

4 deformation of floor (sunk and pop-up)

5 fracture density (> 1/8 m2)

Alfonsi et al (2013)


Rose Diagrams of Archeoseismic Evidence at Hisham's Palace Figure 2. Rose diagrams of

(a) strike of fractures

(b) direction of tilting versus cumulative length of titled walls

(c) direction of column collapse.

Alfonsi et al (2013)


Introduction

Hisham's palace, a two story Umayyad structure, is the main building of the Khirbet al-Mafjar archeological site located ~3 km. north of Jericho.

Chronology

Alfonsi et al (2013) dated the causitive earthquake for the major seismic destruction at Hisham's Palace to the earthquake of 1033 CE unlike previous researchers who dated it to one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes. Their discussion is reproduced below:
The archaeological data testify to an uninterrupted occupancy from eighth century until 1000 A.D. of the Hisham palace (Whitcomb, 1988). Therefore, if earthquakes occurred in this time period, the effects should not have implied a total destruction with consequent occupancy contraction or abandonment. Toppled walls and columns in the central court cover debris containing 750-850 A.D. old ceramic shards (Whitcomb, 1988). Recently unearthed collapses north of the court confirm a widespread destruction after the eighth century (Jericho Mafjar Project - The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago). These elements support the action of a destructive shaking event at the site later than the 749 A.D. earthquake. The two well-constrained, major historical earthquakes recognized in the southern Jordan Valley are the 749 and 1033 A.D. (Table 1; Marco et al (2003); Guidoboni and Comastri, 2005). We assign an IX—X intensity degree to the here-recorded Hisham damage, whereas a VII degree has been attributed to the 749 A.D. earthquake at the site (Marco et al, 2003). Furthermore, Whitcomb (1988) defines an increment of occupation of the palace between 900 and 1000 A.D. followed by a successive occupation in the 1200-1400 A.D. time span. On the basis of the above, and because no pottery remains are instead associated with the 1000-1200 A.D. period at Hisham palace (Whitcomb, 1988), we suggest a temporary, significant contraction or abandonment of the site as consequence of a severe destruction in the eleventh century.
Seismic Effects

Alfonsi et al (2013) documented and measured orientations of archeoseismic damage such as tilted structures, displaced walls and pavements, and colonnade failure. By combining their their field work (70%) with previous studies (30%) by Karcz and Kafri, 1981 and Reches and Hoexter, 1981 they were able to produce an array of useful archeoseismic data. They describe the archeoseismic evidence below:
The observed damage defines a severe earthquake scenario. Most of the brittle structures affect the supporting and divisor walls ( Figs. 2, 4a and 4b ). These structures are faults and open cracks with dip generally > 50° and width up to 20 cm. The faults offset archaeological structures with left-lateral slips up to 10 cm. Some structures with mixed shear (sinistral)-opening mode have also been recognized ( Fig.4b ). In the western portion of the pavement of the central court, roughly north—south striking cracks and vertical deformations occur ( Fig. 3 ). The flagstones are deformed in a pop-up-like array. These deformations have a linear continuity of about 30 m and align to the faults and shear-opening structures affecting the walls of the north and south cloister ( Fig. 2). The fractures at Hisham palace have a preferred north—south strike and a second-order east—west strike (Rose diagram in Fig. 2a ). Fracture density (shaded pale orange areas in Fig. 2d ) evidences two roughly north—south elongated subparallel areas located on the western side of Hisham palace, and one, also north—south elongated, on the eastern side. Fifty meters north of the north hall area, we observed a 6 m wide shear zone consisting of high-angle fractures and faults exposed on the northern wall of an archaeological trench ( Fig. 4c ) The vertical displacement across this zone is of the order of tens of centimeters. No data are available to strictly constraint the age of faulting. The plaster and the drainage channel close to the trench wall are affected by fracturing aligned with the deformed zone ( Fig. 5 ).

Several walls are tilted and/or warped up to 15° ( Figs. 2 and 3b ). Rose diagram in Figure 2b shows the cumulative length of tilting, for which the preferred sense is north. The occurrence of this preferred sense of tilting confirms the seismic nature of the observed damage (Paz (1997)). A human skeleton found in a room facing the east cloister under debris of an arch that collapsed in 1000-1400 A.D. could be also indicative of seismic shaking (Baramki, 1938).

The overall position of the failed columns has been reconstructed from original reports and pictures and it is reported in Figure 2 . Most colonnade collapses cluster mainly toward the southeastern quadrant (Rose diagram in Fig. 2c ). The direction of column failure is due to the traction effect of the first-floor collapse.
Alfonsi et al (2013) assigned a minimum seismic intensity of IX-X to the earthquake that caused this destruction. However, as discussed below, they did not date the causitive earthquake to 749 CE.

Seismotectonic Considerations

Alfonsi et al (2013) discussed the seismotectonic implications of the archeoseismic data unearthed from Hisham's Palace as follows:
The preferred sense of tilting of the Hisham walls and the colonnade-collapse direction indicate, according to structural dynamic models by Paz (1997) and Hinzen (2009) on inelastic inertial structures, a ground shaking by seismic waves coming from the northern quadrant. Although the cause of most of the earthquake-induced damage at Hisham palace is ground shaking, some of the mapped features have a clear tectonic origin. These features include the occurrence of
  1. left-lateral faults
  2. north—south- to north-northeast—south-southwest-striking fractures and cracks
  3. aligned fractures up to 30 m long crossing the whole palace formed during the 1033 A.D. earthquake
  4. a 6 m wide north—south- to north-northeast—south-southwest-striking shear zone affecting the ground.
All these data define a syn- and post-1033 A.D. brittle deformation zone. This zone may represent the southern prolongation of the north—south-striking, subvertical fault recognized by field and seismic data (Fig. 6 ). This fault accommodates the deepening of the Jericho syntectonic sedimentary basin. The prevailing left-lateral slips we recognize at Hisham palace along north—south- to north-northeast—south-southwest-striking structures are fully compatible with the strike-slip stress regime of the Jordan area of the Dead Sea fault system, which is characterized by a northwest—southeast subhorizontal σ1 (Fig. 6 ; Hofstetter et al., 2007). As a result, we conclude that the 1033 A.D. earthquake originated within this stress field.

Arbel

Synagogue Ruins at Arbel Remains of the Ancient Synagogue at Arbel

Source: Burkvoed - Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Arbel Hebrew אַרְבֵּל
Hittin Arabic حطّين
Hattin Arabic حَـطِّـيْـن
Introduction

Arbel is located in the Galilee ~8 km. from Tiberias. The site has a long history of habitation and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as Beth-Arbel in Hosea 10:14. After the crusader period, settlement appears to have declined (Ilan and Izdarechet in Stern et al, 1993). Arbel contains the remains of an ancient synagogue that may have been damaged or destroyed in the 6th century CE and again in the 8th century CE by one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes.

Chronology

Based on architectural details, the synagogue is thought to have originally been constructed in the 4th century CE and have undergone a series of modifications including, at one point, a rebuild over previous ruins (Ilan and Izdarechet in Stern et al, 1993) - perhaps in the 6th century CE. Ilan and Izdarechet in (Stern et al, 1993) note that the synagogue appears to have been destroyed in the mid-eighth century CE. This is apparently based on numismatic evidence however, as noted by Ilan and Izdarechet, coins recovered from the site were found on the surface rather than in a stratigraphic context. Ilan and Izdarechet in (Stern et al, 1993) hypothesized that it is possible that after the destruction of the synagogue and the community in the eighth century, the site remained desolate for two to three hundred years, until it was resettled in the Ayyubid period. It appears that this site has not been systematically excavated and, therefore, chronology is not well established. However, the sites proximity to Tiberias suggests that if Tiberias was destroyed in one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes, Arbel was likely destroyed too. Amiran et al (1994) related that the synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake in the mid 8th century based on a personal communication with the late Z. Ilan of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums in 1989.

Intensity Estimate

Apparent wall collapse suggests a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Arbel may be subject to a ridge or topographic effect which can be seen in the following map with the Terrain Layer selected.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Brochure for Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve (in English) - the brochure suggests that the synagogue rebuild took place in the 6th century CE and final destruction took place in 749 CE.

Entry for Arbel in the Jewsih Virtual Library

Gadara

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Gadara Greek Γάδαρα
Gedaris Greek Γαδαρίς
Umm Qeis Arabic ومم قييس
Tall Zira'a Arabic تالل زيرا'ا
Introduction

Ancient Gadara is located next to the north Jordan town of Umm Qeis and was one of the cities of the Decapolis. It is sometimes listed as the approximate location for the story of the Exorcism of the Garasene demoniac in the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament. It had a long period of habitation but was apparently abandoned at one point after it was destroyed by one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes. Vieweger and Häser (2017:28) supplied a map of the site.

Chronology

Vieweger and Häser (2017:238-240) divided the Strata into 25 units. Those of interest are summarized below:
Strata Period Area Comments
2 Abbassid-Mamluk I, II, III open settlement
3a Umayyad Phase 1 I, II, III monastery
3b Umayyad Phase 2 I, II, III monastery
4a Byzantine Phase 1 I, II, III monastery
4b Byzantine Phase 2 I, II, III monastery
4c Byzantine Phase 3 I, II, III monastery
Notes and Further Reading

Hammat Gader

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Hammat Gader Hebrew חַמַּת גָּדֵר‎
Hammata degader Rabbinic Sources
Hammat deGader Aramaic חחמתא דגדר
ema deGader Syriac
Al-Hamma Aramaic الحمّة
al-hamma al-souriya Arabic الحمة السورية
Emmatha Ancient Greek Ἑμμαθά
Amatha Ancient Greek Αμαθα
Introduction

Hammat Gader is located east of the Sea of Galilee on the Yarmuk River in a valley below the Decapolis city of Gadara. The town was famous in antiquity for its hot springs. Five hot springs are located in the valley and the town or area is mentioned by a number of ancient authors - e.g. Strabo, Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphanius among others (Yitzar Hirschfeld in Stern et al, 1993). A bath complex was first built in the 2nd century CE which reached a peak in the 5th - 7th centuries CE after which there was some sort of decline (possibly caused by an earthquake) as indicated in an inscription found on the site detailing renovations initiated by Mu 'awiya I (Hirschfeld, 1987). Renovations were completed in 663 CE. The renovated bath complex may have been damaged by one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. A general decline during the Abbasid Period finally led to abandonment such that by the 10th century al-Muqdisi referred to them in the past tense.

Chronology



Seismic Effects



Intensity Estimates

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

Notes and Further Reading

Lod/Ramla

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Lod Hebrew לוד
al-Lidd Arabic اللد
Lydda Latin
Colonia Lucia Septimia Severa Diospolis Latin
Lydda Ancient Greek Λύδδα
Diospolis Ancient Greek Διόσπολις
Georgiopolis Late Byzantine and crusader sources
Transliterated Name Source Name
ar-Ramla Arabic الرملة
Ramla Hebrew רַמְלָה
Ramle variant spelling
Ramlah variant spelling
Remle variant spelling
Rama variant historical spelling
Introduction

Lod, ~15 km. southeast of Tel Aviv, has a long history of occupation. It is mentioned in the list of Canaanite towns conquered by Thutmose III in the fifteenth century BCE and in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran (Jacob Kaplan in Stern et al, 1993). After the Muslim conquest in 636 CE, Lod (then named Lydda) became the capital of Jund Filistin. In 715/716 CE, the capital was moved to the newly formed city of Ramla ~3 km. away. Historically, Ramla has suffered frequent earthquake damage and appears to be susceptible to liquefaction. By extension, Lod should also be susceptible to liquefaction as they both lie on soft unconsolidated sediments in a flat coastal plain which in times past likely had a relatively shallow water table.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Gorzalczany (2009b) list the stratigraphy of Ramla as follows:
Stratum Period Age Comments
0 Modern Remains of a military installation
I 11th cent. CE
II Fatimid 9th-10th cent. CE
IIIa Abbasid 8th-9th cent. CE Industrial installations
IIIb Byzantine/Umayyad 7th-8th cent. CE Industrial installations
IV Byzantine 4th-5th cent. CE Pottery kilns
V Roman 1st cent. BCE - 4th cent. CE
VI Persian/Hellenistic 4th-5th cent. BCE Potsherds only
VI Persian/Hellenistic 4th-5th cent. BCE Potsherds only
VII Late Bronze 15th-13th cent. BCE Potsherds only
VIII Middle Bronze 20th-15th cent. BCE Potsherds only
IX Prehistoric Area A
Gorzalczany (2009b) described 8th century CE earthquake evidence as follows:
Evidence of a major earthquake was discerned in Areas J2 and K1 (site map ); it included cracks along the walls of installations, large sections of collapse composed of neat ashlar stone construction that had not been robbed , floors that had dropped and walls that curved in unexpected directions. Wall collapse, which had been intentionally covered over with soil and hamra to save the building stones from being plundered, was observed. It seems that the residents of the town were concerned with the quick restoration of the settlement’s activity. Especially interesting was a series of jars, some positioned upside down, which were discovered in situ, smashed inside a room that was apparently used for storage . The jars dated to the first half of the eighth century CE and they seem to have been all damaged simultaneously in the same event. The room was leveled and quickly refurbished in an attempt to regain its capacity for industrial manufacture as soon as possible. The renovation of the room included the construction of new walls, with which jars dating to the second half of the eighth century CE were associated and preserved intact (Fig. 9 ). It therefore seems that we have here a small, rare chronological window, which enables us to date the earthquake.

Indisputable proof of the earthquake occurrence was found in the balks of Area K1, where a fault in the layers of sand and hamra, which were split due to a fissure, stands out prominently (Fig. 10 ). One side of the layers in the section was lower than the other side. The fissure continued along several excavation squares and it caused a plaster floor and a column base that stood above it to sink 1.5 m . Such vertical movement of layers could only be caused by a powerful seismic event. An opposite fracture was discerned elsewhere on the site, where the movement was not only vertical but also horizontal, causing the layers to climb one atop the other . It appears then that archaeological evidence of an earthquake, which occurred close to Ramla in the middle of the eighth century CE, can be pointed to for the first time. The dating is firmly based on the pottery and it is feasible that this is the famous earthquake of the year 749 CE.
Thus, we have earthquake evidence which is precisely dated and well described. The 1.5 meter sinking of the column base strongly suggests that this site experienced liquefaction. In fact, Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) report that the column base and associated plaster floor which collectively sank 1.5 m were underlain by neatly superimposed layers of sand and hamra which constituted an artificial fill. Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) found evidence this artificial fill was placed in a foundation trench which was dug to set up an antilia type water well (Avitsur 1976: 60-63; Ayalon 2000) which abutted the plaster floor and columns. The presence of an antilia type water well indicates a shallow water table and a shallow water table and uncompacted fill is a veritable recipe for liquefaction during seismic events. Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) report that the entire antilia installation - the pit and the lifting superstructure device together with the layers of fill and the occupation layer abutting them collapsed and sank several meters. Damage to surrounding areas indicates that the pit (Fig. 5 ) constituted the central axis of the fall and the sand layers around the antilia [that appeared] broken in a stepped formation encompassed the pit.

Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) added an observation of building stones of walls that had collapsed in a clear, `orderly' pattern found in situ . Such an orderly fall pattern can be a diagnostic effect of failure due to an earthquake. Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) report that no fault traces were found underneath the affected areas and no faults were indicated on geologic maps suggesting that the observed archeoseismic damage was due to shaking away from the epicenter of the causitive earthquake.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII+
Folded Walls VII+
Broken Pottery found in fallen position VII+
Liquefaction VII+
The collapsed walls requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . However, the walls may have collapsed primarily due to liquefaction rather than strength of shaking. Rapid rebuilding efforts and attempts to cover up stone tumbles suggest that this wasn't an earthquake which wiped out the city due to widespread collapse. Rather there was significant structural damage and much of it appears to be liquefaction induced. Thus, it seems that liquefaction was a driving factor for the damage and Intensity for this earthquake is estimated at VII (7) based on Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013)'s assessment for liquefaction.

Calculator to Remove Site Effect

Variable Input Units Notes
unitless Intensity Estimate before considering site effect
m/s Enter a value of 655 for no site effect
Equation comes from Darvasi and Agnon (2019)
Variable Output Units Notes
unitless Intensity with Site Effect Removed
  

VS30 values for Lod

VS30 is the average seismic shear-wave velocity from the surface to a depth of 30 meters at earthquake frequencies (below ~5 Hz.). Table 2 of Darvasi and Agnon (2019) lists two VS30 values for Lod.

Location VS30
Lod 1 320 m/s
Lod 2 374 m/s

Notes and Further Reading

Capernaum

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Capernaum New Testament and Josephus καπερναούμ
Kefr Nahum* Talmudic Literature כפר נחום
Kefar Tanhum* Medieval Jewish Sources כפר תנחום
Tanhum* Medieval Jewish Sources תנום
Talhum* Arabic تالهوم
Tell Hum* Arabic تيلل هوم
*from Stanislao Loffreda in Stern et al (1993).


Introduction

Capernaum lies on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. To the northeast of the remains of a synagogue and surrounding Roman-Byzantine village lie the remains of an early Islamic village (Magness, 1997)..

Chronology

Tzaferis (1989) excavated Capernaum from 1978-1982 and divided up the strata via pottery, coins, and oil lamps (Magness, 1997) as follows:
Stratum Age (CE)
I mid-10th century to 1033
II mid-9th to mid-10th century
III 750 to mid-9th century
IV 650 - 750
V early 7th century to 650
The table above comes from Magness (1997). In Stern et al (1993), Tzaferis dates Stratum V differently - the first half of 7th century to first half of the 8th century - and goes on to state that Stratum IV was apparently destroyed in the earthquake that struck the region in 746 CE [as] evidenced by the great quantity of huge stones in the piles of debris and by the ash covering the stratum throughout the area. Stratum IV, according to Magness (1997) was apparently primarily dated based on a coin hoard found buried beneath a paving stone in a room in Area A (Tzaferis 1989: 17; Wilson 1989: 145). The hoard consists of 282 gold dinars of of the Umayyad "post-reform" type, dating from 696-97 to 743-44 (Magness, 1997). The latest coin dated to A.H. 126 (25 October 743 - 12 October 744 CE). Wilson (1989:163-64) made the following comments about the hoard:
The latest dinar in the Capernaum hoard is dated A.H. 126, which means that the hoard could not have been buried before A.D. 744. It may be possible, in this case, to pinpoint the date even more precisely. According to ancient historians, a disastrous earthquake shook the Jordan Valley in A.D. 746, severely damaging the Temple Mount, destroying Khirbet Mefjer, damaging Jerash, and, significantly, smashing Tiberias, some 19 km. from Capernaum. Evidently both history and nature conspired against Capernaum during the years A.D. 744-746. First, the civil chaos following the death of Hisham reached out into Palestine, particularly involving such aristocratic estates as Khirbet Minyeh, whose master could not have avoided being on the wrong side of the conflict at some point. Under the dangerous circumstances, the owner of the hoard deposited his treasure. In the very midst of this conflict, the earthquake played havoc up and down the entire Jordan Valley. If the hoard's owner was not killed in the succession conflict, or destroyed along with his town in the earthquake, he may have fallen, or at least been prevented from returning to his fortune. . . . (Wilson 1989: 163-64)
Magness (1997) observed that while the hoard could not have been buried before 744, when the latest coins it contained were minted, it could have been deposited at any time after that date. Magness (1997) further noted that ceramic evidence (particularly when compared to ceramic evidence at Pella) was in conflict with the dating of Stratum IV and suggested that the coins were deposited during the Abassid period - a time when there was a noted shortage of Abassid coinage as the Abassids had moved their capital from Damascus to Baghdad and apparently fewer coins were minted in Syria. This could then explain why no coins were found in the hoard minted after A.H. 126 (25 October 743 - 12 October 744 CE). Magness (1997) went on to question whether there was an earthquake destruction level at the top of stratum IV:
Elsewhere in the publication the destruction of stratum IV is attributed to the earthquake of 746-47.5 However, The evidence from stratum IV at Capernaum is inconsistent with earthquake destruction. No human or animal victims have been discovered, there is no evidence for the extensive collapse of buildings, and no assemblages of whole or restorable vessels were found lying smashed on the floors. In fact, almost no whole or restored vessels are published from Capernaum. The coins at Pella were found scattered on the floors of the buildings, buried beneath the earthquake collapse. In contrast, at Capernaum the hoard was carefully buried beneath the pavement of a room. It could have been deposited due to an impending (and presumably, human) threat. However, since it does not fit the profile of an emergency hoard, I believe that it represents the carefully hidden personal savings of an individual or individuals. Finally, the fact that the ceramic assemblage from stratum IV at Capernaum differs significantly from that associated with the 746-47 earthquake at Pella indicates that they are not contemporary.

Footnotes

5 The structures of Stratum IV were probably all destroyed by an earthquake, as is suggested by a huge rock resting upon and blocking Street 1, and by the fallen debris, especially in Building D (Tzaferis 1989: 16, 20).
Magness (1997) redated Stratum IV as well as the oldest layer, Stratum V, based on ceramic evidence. While she noted that the few whole or restorable vessels illustrated from stratified stratum V contexts at Capernaum have parallels from the 746-47 earthquake destruction level at Pella, the absence of clearly later types, such as Mefjer ware, suggests a terminus ante quem of ca. 750 for stratum V. Magness (1997) noted that Stratum V was a thin occupational level which means there is limited ceramic evidence. She suggested that there appeared to be no break in the occupational sequence from V to IV. Magness (1997) proposed redating Stratum IV and V as follows:
Stratum Age (CE)
IV ca. 750 to the second half of the ninth century
V ca. 700-750


This archeoseismic evidence is labeled as debated.

Seismic Effects

Notes and Further Reading

References

Wikipedia has an entry with references on Islamic Pottery.

Weiss, H. (1983). "News from the Field: Gold Hoard Found at Capernaum." Biblical Archaeology Review 9(4): 50-53.

V. Tzaferis, Excavations at Capernaum I, 1978-1982 (Winona Lake, 1988)

Y. Tsafrir and G. Foerster: The Date of the Earthquake of the `Seventh Year', Tarbiz 58 (1989), pp. 357-362 (Hebrew). - Amiran et al (1994) state that Tsafrir and Foerster (357) presume that the destruction of Capernaum, which Weiss dated to shortly after 743 C.E. on the basis of coins, was also caused by the earthquake of 749.

Qasrin

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Katzrin Hebrew קַצְרִין‎
Qatzrin Arabic قصرين
Introduction

The archeological site of Qasrin is located in the central Golan Heights ~ 1 km. southeast of the modern city of Qasrin. The site's ancient name is unknown (Ann Killebrew in Meyers et al, 1997). The site was occupied from the Middle Bronze Age, continuing into the Iron Age, the Hellenistic and Roman periods while the most substantial structural remains date from the Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (3rd–4th to mid-8th centuries), when the site was a Jewish village with a synagogue (Killebrew in Jameson ed., 2004:127-129). Later occupation levels include Mameluke and late 19th century CE. Synagogue B on the site shows evidence of earthquake destruction in the middle of the 8th century CE.



Chronology and Seismic Effects

Zvi Uri Ma'oz in Stern et al (1993) divided the strata as follows:
Stratum Period Comments
I Late nineteenth century-present cemeteries; reuse of early structures, new structures.‎
IIA-C Mameluke - 13th-15th Cent. CE reuse of Byzantine structures; a mosque (building C) in the northern half of the synagogue; houses.
III Early Arab period - mid-8th century CE renewed, short-lived squatters, occupation of the village.
IVB Late Byzantine and Early Arab periods, 7th-8th centuries CE extensive repairs to the synagogue; a new plastered floor; floor raising in the houses.
IVA Middle Byzantine period, 6th century CE erection of the second synagogue (building B); mosaic floor; houses.
V Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods, late 4th-5th centuries CE erection of the first synagogue (building A)
VI Late Roman period, 3rd-4th centuries CE building remains; ceramic and numismatic finds.
VII Hellenistic period, 2nd-1st centuries BCE ceramic finds only.
VIII Iron Age II hearths, wall fragments and ceramic finds.
IX Middle Bronze Age IIB ceramic finds only.
Synagogue B

Moaz and Killebrew (1988) identified two synagogues at the site - Synagogue A and Synagogue B. They estimated that Synagogue A was first constructed in late 4th century CE. Much of this synagogue was dismantled when Synagogue B was built - probably in the early 6th century CE. Synagogue B was remodeled likely in the early 7th century CE and appears to have been destroyed by an earthquake in the mid 8th century CE. The date of the destruction was derived from ceramics from undisturbed loci found beneath the destruction layer. The ceramics were dated to the end of the 7th and beginning of the 8th century CE.

House C

More earthquake evidence was found in domestic buildings east of the synagogue, which showed signs of structural destabilization (i.e. partial destruction) dating to the mid-eighth century CE. House C contained a destruction layer consisting of massive stone tumble and debris on top of the upper pavement where Moaz and Killebrew (1988) found pottery sherds dating to the mid-eighth century C.E. Very few restorable vessels were recovered from this level (stratum III), indicating that when the inhabitants left the site, they took their possessions with them.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Location Intensity
Displaced Masonry Blocks Northwest Wall of the Synagogue (B?) VIII +
Collapsed Walls Synagogue B VIII +
Fallen and oriented columns Synagogue B V +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Kursi

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Kursi Byzantine Greek Κυρσοί
Introduction

Kursi (Byzantine Greek Κυρσοί) is located on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. It is the traditional site of the New Testament story of the exorcism of the Garasene demoniac and thus appears to have been a pilgrammage site during Byzantine times. This likely explains why a Byzantine Basilica, Monastery, and Hostel were located there. Vassilios Tzaferis excavated the site over four seasons from 1970 - 1974 (Vassilios Tzaferis in Stern et al, 1993) and excavations began again with the Kursi Excavation Project.

Chronology

Based on ceramic and numismatic evidence, the construction of the church and the monastery began at the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century CE and met its final destruction and abandonment after an earthquake in the middle of the 8th century CE (Vassilios Tzaferis in Stern et al, 1993).
The complex was badly damaged in its third phase, probably by Persian invaders, but it continued to be used until the mid-eighth century. In 741 CE it was destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned by the Christians. In the last phase of the site's history (the second half of the eighth century), Arabs settled in the complex and made further changes.
Seismic Effects



Intensity Estimates

Effect Description Intensity
Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Ramat Rahel

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Ramat Rachel Hebrew רָמַת רָחֵל‎
Khirbet es-Sallah Arabic كهيربيت يسءساللاه
Bethofor Byzantine Name
Pathofor Variant of Byzantine Name
Betheabra Variant of Byzantine Name
Kathisma Incorrect Byzantine Name
MMST Theorized Ancient Name
Introduction

The mound of Ramat Rahel is located on a prominent hill midway between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Yohanan Aharoni in Stern et al, 1993). Numerous excavations carried out on the mound have uncovered remains from the 8th century BCE until the present punctuated by possible destructions - at the end of the 4th century BCE, at the end of the first Jewish War against Rome in ca. 70 CE, and after a mid 8th century CE earthquake. The town appears to have grown during the Byzantine period followed by an Early Arab period built upon the ruins of Byzantine strata. The Byzantine town was originally thought to have been named Kathisma after a New Testament story that it was the site where Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem but the discovery of what appears to be the authentic Kathisma Church nearby has dis-affirmed that. Excavations by Aharoni in the 1950's appear to have suffered from organizational problems, may have been hindered by geopolitical tensions of the time, and produced some faulty conclusions (e.g. that the Kathisma Church was located there and that the Roman 10th Legion was stationed there) but the stratigraphic framework appears to be approximately correct and useful. More recent excavations by Oded Lipschitz and Manfed Oeming appear to have resolved a number of earlier problems.

Chronology

The Ramat Rahel Archeological Project offer the following description of the strata of the site
As at other hilly archaeological sites, differentiating between strata at Ramat Rahel has been quite difficult. The majority of remains were found at a depth of less than 1.5 m, most building materials were reused, and the lime furnaces of later periods caused the destruction and disappearance of many of the earlier remains. The generally accepted view, however, is that there are five main strata at the site
A broad stratigraphic classification for the entire site from Lipschitz et al (2011) is shown below:
Aharoni's
Stratum
Period Start Date
(centuries)
End Date
(centuries)
Construction Phase
Vb Iron Age II end 8th or beginning 7th BCE 2nd half of 7th BCE Building Phase 1
Royal Administrative Center under Imperial hegemony
Va Iron Age II-
Persian
2nd half of 7th BCE end of 4th BCE Building Phase 2
Royal Administrative Center under Imperial hegemony
Persian end 6th BCE or begin 5th BCE end of 4th BCE Building Phase 3
Expanding construction
Destruction and robbery of the walls
IVb Hellenistic 2nd BCE 2nd BCE Building Phase 4
Imperial Administrative Center ?
IVa end 2nd or begin 1st BCE 1st CE
The Great Revolt
Building Phase 5
Village
Destruction ?
III Roman middle 2nd CE ? Uninterrupted continuation
to construction Phase 8
Building Phase 6
Village
IIa Early Byzantine 5th CE Uninterrupted continuation
to construction Phase 8
Building Phase 7
Village
IIb Late Byzantine-
Umayyad
6th CE middle 9th CE Building Phase 8
Village; construction of the church
I Abbasid 9th CE 11th CE Building Phase 9
Farm with agricultural installations
Fatimid-
Ottoman
12th CE 19th CE Agricultural Zone with installations
1947/1948,1954 CE 1967 CE Military fortifications and communication trenches


Seismic Effects

Lipschitz et al (2011) found potential evidence of mid 8th century seismic destruction as described below:
In the eighth century C.E., under Umayyad rule, there is clear evidence of collapse and conflagration in diverse areas of the site: the northern wall of the church collapsed, there are significant signs of various parts of Byzantine buildings giving way, and Aharoni notes indications of burning on the mosaic floor of the church. This destruction scene hints at the sudden end of the settlement, a destruction from which it never seems to have recovered - at least not as a Christian settlement. It is possible that this termination was the result of an earthquake that took place on 18 January 749 C.E.
Intensity Estimates

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

Lipschits, O., et al. (2020). Ramat Raḥel IV The Renewed Excavations by the Tel Aviv–Heidelberg Expedition (2005–2010): Stratigraphy and Architecture, Penn State University Press.

Ramat Rahel Archeological Project

Ramat Rahel Archeological Project - Archeology of the site

Comprehensive Bibliography from Ramat Rahel Archeological Project website

Oded Lipschits, Manfred Oeming, Yuval Gadot, Benjamin Arubas and Gilad Cinamon 2006 Ramat Rahel – 2005 Hadashot Arkheologiyot Volume 118 Year 2006

The 2006 and 2007 seasons at Ramat Rahel - The Tel Aviv - Heidelberg Joint Project - for 11th century quakes - mention is made of collapse in Area D1

A massive stone collapse had covered the floors of the different architectural units. The many broken pottery vessels date the collapse of the building to the Abbasid period or to the beginning of the Fatimid period (10th–11th century CE)
O. Lipschits, M. Oeming, Y. Gadot and B. Arubas 2009 The 2006 and 2007 Excavation Seasons in Ramat Rahel. Israel Exploration Journal 59: 1-20

Page for Oded Lipschitz at Tel Aviv University

O. Lipschits, M. Oeming, Y. Gadot, B. Arubas and G. Cinamon 2006 Ramat Rahal 2005. Israel Exploration Journal 56: 227–235.

Katja Soennecken, 2006, Ramat Rachel in the Byzantine Period (Masters Thesis)

Aharoni, Yohanan. "Excavations at Ramat Rahel, 1954 : Preliminary Report. " Israel Exploration Journal 6 (1956) : 102-111 , 137-157 .

Aharoni, Yohanan. Excavations at Ramat Rahel. 2 vols. Rome , 1962 - 1964 .

Aharoni, Y., et al. (1964). Excavations at Ramat Rahel, seasons 1961 and 1962. Roma, Centro die studi semitici.

Oded, L., et al. (2011). "PALACE AND VILLAGE, PARADISE AND OBLIVION: Unraveling the Riddles of Ramat Rahel." Near Eastern Archaeology 74(1): 1-49.

A short guide to the excavations at Ramal Rahel (1955) On page 5, this guide states that the place was completely destroyed at the beginning of the Arab period and has remained uninhabited ever since. Although this is based on Aharoni's early conclusions some of which have been shown to be incorrect, this reference remains here due to the possibility that the site received damage from the Jordan Valley Quakes of ~659 CE.

Geva, Shulamit. "The Painted Sherd of Ramat Rahel." Israel Exploration Journal 31 (1981): 186-189.

Reich, Ronny. "Palaces and Residencies in the Iron Age." In The Architecture of Ancient Israel: From the Prehistoric to the Persian Periods, edited by Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, pp. 202-222. Jerusalem, 1992.

Shiloh, Yigal. The Proto-Aeolic Capital and Israelite Ashlar Masonry. Qedem, vol. 11. Jerusalem, 1979.

Stern, Ephraim. Material Culture of the Land of the Bible in the Persian Period, 338-332 B.C. Warminster, 1982.

Stern, Ephraim. "The Phoenician Architectural Elements in Palestine during the Late Iron Age and Persian Period." In The Architecture of Ancient Israel: From the Prehistoric to the Persian Periods, edited by Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, pp. 302-309. Jerusalem, 1992.

Yadin, Yigael. "The 'House of Ba'al of Ahab and Jezebel in Samaria, and That of Athalia in Judah. " In Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyan, edited by P. R. S. Moorey and Peter J. Parr, p p . 127-135. Warminster, 1978.

Kathisma

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Kathisma Greek κάθισμα
Ecclesia Kathismatis Latin
Kadismou Arabic كاديسموو
Church of the Kathisma
Old Kathisma
Introduction

The Church at Kathisma begins with a story. In the 17th paragraph of the apocryphal Gospel of James, Mary had a vision three miles outside of Bethlehem and went into labor. Over time, it appears that a legend grew and Mary was said to have rested on a rock while experiencing the pains of childbirth. In the 5th century CE, a church was built around this supposed rock. The church was called Kathisma and Kathisma became a pilgrimage site dedicated to Mary. Sometime after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, the church at Kathisma began to receive Muslim pilgrims. Mary is mentioned 70 times in the Quran and is referred to as the greatest of all women. In the 19th Surah (verses 24-25), the story of Mary at Kathisma is told in a slightly different way. In the Muslim account, which shares similarities with the 20th chapter of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, Mary retreated to the trunk of a Palm tree and lamented that she wished she were dead. A voice rang out to reassure her and told her that a stream was beneath her feet and that if she shook the tree, she would receive some dates.

The remains of the church at Kathisma , ~ 3 miles from Bethlehem and close to Ramat Rahel , was discovered by accident in the early 1990's and excavated over 4 seasons. Much of the remains were 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.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Avner (2016) divided up the exposed remains at Kathisma as follows :
Phase Period Age
(century CE)
Comments
1st Byzantine 1st half of the 5th The dating of the original first phase, according to coins retrieved underneath the lowest floors and their beddings,
is from the first half to the mid-fifth century.
This date is supported by historical sources (see Avner, 2007)
2nd Byzantine 1st half of the 6th The second phase of the church is dated by coins retrieved above the floors of the first phase and below the floors
of the second phase, as well as in the beddings of the floors of the second phase. These provide a date in the first half of
the sixth century and not later then the monetary reform of Justinian in 538.

Avner beleives the rebuilt church is referred to as New Kathisma in historical sources.
3rd Umayyad 1st half of the 8th The third phase is dated by coins, pottery and glass fragments to the first half of the eighth century - see Avner (2007)
Stratum
III
Ottoman This stratum was attributed to the Ottoman period, based on ceramic finds that were discovered on surface. - Avner (2005)
There is no mention of archeoseismic evidence in any of the reports I have read.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Avner-Levy, R. 2006-2007. The Kathisma: A Christian and Muslim Pilgrimage Site. ARAM 18-19:541-57

Avner, R., 1993 Jerusalem, Mar Elias, in Excavations and surveys in Israel 13: 89-92.

Avner, R., et al. (2001). "Jerusalem, Mar Elias – the Kathisma Church." Hadashot Arkheologiyot: Excavations and Surveys in Israel

Avner, R., 2005 Jerusalem, Mar Elias – the Kathisma Church, in Hadashot Arkheologiyot 117

Avner, Rina (2016). Leslie Brubaker; Mary B. Cunningham (eds.). The Initial Tradition of the Theotokos at the Kathisma: Earliest Celebrations and the Calendar. The Cult of the Mother of God in Byzantium: Texts and Images. Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies. Routledge

Avner, R., 2003 The Recovery of the Kathisma Church and Its Influence on Octagonal Buildings, in Bottini, G.C. et al., 2003 One Land – Many Cultures: Archaeological Studies in Honour of S. Loffreda, Jerusalem: 173-86.

Oded, L., et al. (2011). "PALACE AND VILLAGE, PARADISE AND OBLIVION: Unraveling the Riddles of Ramat Rahel." Near Eastern Archaeology 74(1): 1-49.

Johann Gildemeister, ed. (1882). Theodosius: De situ Terrae Sanctae im ächten Text und der Breviarius de Hierosolyma vervollständigt. Bonn: Adolph Markus. p. 28

Avni, Gideon (2014). "A Tale of Two Cities". The Byzantine-Islamic Transition in Palestine: An Archaeological Approach. Oxford Studies in Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 150–151.

Pixner, B. (2013). Sulle strade del Messia. Luoghi della chiesa primitiva alla luce delle nuove scoperte archeologiche, EMP.

Avner, R. (2010). "THE DOME OF THE ROCK IN LIGHT OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF CONCENTRIC MARTYRIA IN JERUSALEM: ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHITECTURAL ICONOGRAPHY." Muqarnas 27: 31-49.

Web Page on the Kathisma Church

Katja Soennecken, 2006, Ramat Rachel in the Byzantine Period (Masters Thesis)

The First Church Dedicated Entirely To Mary By Jonathan LipnickJuly 20, 2016 - Blog

The Protoevangelium of James aka the Gospel of James - a 2nd century infancy gospel written in Greek - see paragraph 17

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - a 6th or 7th century infancy gospel written in Latin - see Chapter 20

Surah 19 of the Quran (Maryam) - see verses 23-25

Kathisma - wikipedia

The Gospel of James - wikipedia

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - wikipedia

Mary in Islam - wikipedia

Rachel's tomb - wikipedia

Pella

Skeletons at Pella Area IV Plot P (extension). Skeletons of two charred adult human beings with covering textiles, found in the AD 746/7 destruction deposit.

Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al (1992)


Names

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

Introduction

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

Chronology

A mid 8th century CE destruction layer was discovered by Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al (1992) in an early Islamic domestic occupation level in Area IV on the main mound. Arceoseismic evidence showed up dramatically in Rooms 13, 14, and 15 of House G. The building collapsed. Five columns and a pier were discovered in the debris in Room 15. They were originally arranged in two rows on an east-west axis, with three columns to the south and a combination of two columns and a pier in the northern row. Archeoseismically relevant excerpts from their discussion follows:
Disinterred from amongst the debris that filled rooms 13-15 were numerous skeletons, both human and animal, as well as finds of pottery, stone and metals.

...

In the north-east corner of room 15, two adult humans (a male and a female) were found in conjunction with a large mass of textile fragments (see Appendices 3 and 8). A number of equid (probably donkeys) and chicken skeletons were also uncovered at floor level, along with a severely crushed cat. Underneath a drum from one of the fallen columns a further six Umayyad dinars were recovered, with the latest dating to AH 122/AD 739-40. Chronologically more important, however, is the bronze coin of AH 126/AD 743-4 from room 16, minted just three years before the AD 747 earthquake. A list of these and other Umayyad coins will be found in Appendix 9.

Other finds from room 15 included more examples of mid-8th-century domestic pottery, especially cooking bowls (cf. PJ1: pl. 143: 2) as well as a hoe, harnessing rings, door hinges, and an iron lock.

In the northern part of room 15, the effects of a fire after the collapse of the building were clearly discernible. Column drums were cracked and blackened and the yellow clay bricks baked red from the heat. This fire also engulfed the human couple (pl. 120) trapped in the north-east corner of the room, although their tragedy is our blessing, as the fire carbonized and preserved organic remains usually lost by decay at Pella. Of note are the textiles (see Appendix 8), oak beams, straw from mats, date stones, and olive pips.

While removing the deposit in room 15, a number of interesting observations were made on the nature of materials used in the construction of the upper storey of the house. Numerous yellow clay and pebble bricks had fallen into this and the surrounding rooms from the upstairs walls along with segments of wooden beams used to support the floor and roof. A considerable number of large white tesserae were also found in room 15, in some cases still adhering to a pebble and mortar base. These originated, it would seem, from the floor of the room located above 15. The incinerated couple would have also fallen from this upper room when its floor collapsed during the first shocks of the AD 747 earthquake.

In the adjacent room 13, more equid skeletons were uncovered, as well as three hens and another human, the latter also from the upper storey. Objects from the deposit in this room included lamps, two of pottery and one of bronze, and a glass vase.

Unlike rooms 13 and 15, no skeletal material was excavated from the Umayyad levels in room 14. However, copious quantities of sherds from storage vessels were found at floor level; at least three large jars were crushed in situ according to the area supervisor (Edwards 1982).
It is presumed that the pottery and other finds dates this destruction level to mid 8th century CE while the numismatic evidence provides a terminus post quem of A.H. 126.. Although this archeoseismic evidence appears definitive, because the By No Means Mild Quake could also have caused this destruction, archeoseismic evidence at Pella for one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes is labeled as probable rather than definitive.

There are also indications that the causitive earthquake struck in the Winter as discussed by Walmsley (2013)
The animals on the ground floor were chiefly cows (Rooms 8 and 9, totalling three) and small equids (mules or donkeys; inner courtyard and Rooms 6 and 7) – more costly animals than sheep and goats, hence their owners’ wish to shelter them properly during winter, the season in which the earthquake struck.
Archeoseismic evidence of destruction in the mid 8th century CE was also found in other excavations in Pella which is discussed, for example, by Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al, (1992:127-129,138). Archeoseismic evidence included collapsed structures, human and animal skeletons, items of value in the rubble, coins, and other items.

Seismic Effects

The various archeoseismic evidence including collapsed structures requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

al-Sinnabra/Beth Yerah

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Beth Yerah Hebrew בית ירח‎
Khirbet al-Karak Arabic خربة الكرك
Sennabris Hebrew סנבראי
al-Sinnabra Hebrew צינבריי ?
al-Sinnabra Arabic
Sinn en-Nabra Arabic سينن ينءنابرا
Philoteria Ancient Greek φιλοτέρα
Sennabris Ancient Greek
Sinnabri Aramaic
Senbra Early Frankish
Ablm-bt-Yrh Canaanite
Ablm Canaanite
Introduction

Beth Yerah is located ~6 km. south of Tiberias where the Sea of Galilee drains into the Jordan River. The site shows signs of habitation from The Early Bronze Age until the Arab periods (Ruth Hestrin in Stern et al, 1993). The adjacent twin city of Al-Sinnabra contains the remains of a Qasr built by Mu'awiya I - the first Umayyad Caliph. Unfortunately, the Qasr was thoroughly dismantled after its abandonment thus obscuring much potential archeoseismic evidence. There are no roof tiles, floor deposits, or collapse deposits - virtually nothing remains above foundation levels (Raphael Greenberg, personal communication, 2021). In addition, earlier excavations in the 1940's and 1950's removed soil layers on top of the Qasr which led to a loss of untold quantities of evidence from the uppermost soil layers and severed the connection between walls and floors, fills and debris layers Da'adli (2017:133). Although a detailed artifact inventory was prepared from these earlier excavations, almost all post-Hellenistic finds from the layer atop the Qasr's foundations appear to have been lost Da'adli (2017:133).

Chronology

The principal post-Bronze Age structure exposed on the site comprises a fort enclosing a basilical building, with a bathhouse attached to the enclosure's southern wall ( Da'adli, 2017: 125 ).     . In addition, there are some ancillary structures outside the fort. Excavations undertaken in the 1950's established a seventh-century CE terminus post quem for the central fortified structure and an eighth-century CE terminus post quem for the bathhouse (Da'adli, 2017 citing Greenberg and Paz, 2010). Based on historical sources, the Qasr was first constructed between 639 and 680 CE (Da'adli, 2017:126).

Chronological Evidence from Da'adli (2017) indicates occupation at the Qasr at least into the first half of the 8th century and later in ancillary structures (e.g. the Dar).
Location Page Discussion
Basilica 147-153 A limited number of mosaics were found in the Basilica; some of which were defaced (Iconoclasm) suggesting occupation which is dated to the 1st half of the 8th century note. ‎
Southern
Annex
156-157 Wall 162 (excavated in 2013 as W1698): A wall connecting Tower 2 and the southern addition was first excavated in 1950. As revealed in the 2009 and 2013 excavations, Channel GB 156 (excavated in 2013 as SA 1699) [part of the water system] was built into this wall, which did not have deep foundations. We may therefore assume that both the wall and the channel belong to the renovation phase of the southern annex (Fig. 8.30; Plan 8.8). A post-reform Umayyad coin (Chapter 9: Cat. No. 14) was found in the channel in 2013.
The post-reform coin from Channel GB 156/SA 1699 indicates the period of use.
Sanchez (2015:324) in Erdkamp, (2015) dates Umayyad post reform fals to after 696/700 CE. ‎
Channel
GB 159
(the water system}
158-159 In addition to the post-reform coin described above, from Channel GB 156/SA 1699, an oil lamp was found in one of the short drainage channels (GB 5; Fig. 8.37; see Plan 8.2); it is described as mold-decorated and the excavator proposed an "Arab" date. A complete lamp found in the IAA storerooms may be the artifact in question (see Fig. 8.60:4). This lamp type is dated to the sixth-eighth centuries CE at Jerash, while it was in use until the beginning of the ninth century CE elsewhere (Hadad 2002:68-71). Near Channel GB 5 and W4 a buff handle dated to the eighth—eleventh centuries CE was found (Fig. 8.60:3; Stacey 2004:130-132). The rim of a white-painted gray bag-shaped storage jar, dated to the fifth-eighth centuries CE, was discovered in a pit just north of the southern fortification wall (Fig. 8.60:5; Stacey 2004:126). The excavations of 2009-2010 within the enclosure yielded a mere handful of small ceramic fragments, all of either buff-ware or white-splashed jars.
Western
Annex
157 Three rectangular rooms were uncovered on the western side of the basilica, numbered GB 102, GB 103 and GB 104, from north to south (see Plan 8.2). A small rectangular room abuts the western wall of Room GB 102. Channel GB 160 [the water system] splits off from Channel GB 159 [the water system] and enters the annex to Room GB 102 from the south, exiting through its western wall. The channel and the walls appear to have been built together, in a single stage (Fig. 8.32). Glazed pottery was found 0.1 m below the top of the walls in Room GB 103.
Walmsley (2013:52) states that glazed wares, in Syria-Palestine [were] generally not introduced until the later eighth century at the earliest [and] always represented a small minority in the ceramic assemblage throughout the early Islamic period
Eastern
and
Northern
Annex
157 A stylobate (W51) running parallel to the eastern side of the basilical structure supports a series of built pillar bases (0.9 x 0.6 m), placed at somewhat irregular intervals (2.55, 2.75, 2.80, 2.90 m; Fig. 8.33). This wall is built in the same method as the southern addition.12
note 12 - The excavator thought the southern rooms and stylobate to be Roman in date. Furthermore, the excavator writes that W19 was built in a different method, and that it is earlier than W51. On May 17,1950, a bronze coin was reported near W51, probably Cat. No. 21 in Chapter 9 - an Umayyad post-reform fals.
Sanchez (2015:324) in Erdkamp, (2015) dates Umayyad post reform fals to after 696/700 CE. ‎
Bathhouse 169 Finds from the bathhouse include two Umayyad coins found on the floor of the main hall (Maisler, Stekelis and Avi-Yonah 1952:222) and a chlorite vessel of eighth—tenth-century CE type (Stacey 2004:94) found near the western wall of the bathhouse (Fig. 8.60:6).
During the 2009 excavation season, a portion of the northern wall of the frigidarium, which is in effect part of the curtain wall of the fortified enclosure, was sectioned. An Umayyad post-reform coin was found inside the core of the wall (Chapter 9: Cat. No. 15), apparently providing a terminus post quem for both the bath and the fortification.
Sanchez (2015:324) in Erdkamp, (2015) dates Umayyad post reform fals to after 696/700 CE. ‎
Kilns 169 Glass slag as well as a glazed ring-base was found inside Kiln GB 73.
Dar Unit 171 Isolated from the main enclosure and the bathhouse, another building or unit was exposed by Delougaz to the north of the fortified enclosure, above the remains of the tri-apsidal Byzantine church.
Delougaz attributed the structure to the latest of three main strata, termed `Pre-Church', `Church' and `Post-Church' (Delougaz and Haines 1960: Pl. 18). The pottery from both the Church and Post-Church strata was published together according to types, mixing Umayyad with Byzantine pottery, or sixth—seventh-century CE pottery with eighth—ninth-century CE pottery (Whitcomb 2002:4). Examination of the pottery attributed to Church contexts reveals that it includes wares that should be dated to the eighth century—mainly buff-ware pots decorated with purple/brown paint (Delougaz and Haines 1960: Pl. 37; see this ware in Stacey 2004:130-131). The same ware was recovered in dumps of the 1951-1953 gap-excavations that were partly excavated in 2007 (Fig. 8.60:1, 2). Furthermore, a post-reform Umayyad coin was found on the church floor (Delougaz and Haines 1960: Pl. 47:9). As for contexts that can be ascribed to the Post-Church stratum or to the "Arab building," they contain pottery types dated to the end of the eighth and to the ninth centuries CE (Delougaz and Haines 1960: Pls. 62:1, 44:19, 22; see those wares in Stacey 2004:117-118, 153-157). We therefore may conclude that the church was covered during the eighth century CE in order to build the unit identified by Whitcomb as a dar (auxiliary house or building), and that this unit was in use until the ninth century.
Later remains were also found at the site; one of which appeared to provide dateable evidence
Location Page Discussion
2-3 rooms over the bathhouse 171 A green glazed rim was found near W1 in Sq 02, which is on the eastern side of the wall.
During the cleaning of the walls, an Islamic coin was discovered.21
note 21 - Description from December 25, 1945. A coin marked 25/2 or 2512, of Mamluk date, may be the one noted in the diary. See Chapter 9: Cat. No. 29.
As for the constructions of the Qasr and associated structures (there appear to have been multiple constructions), the historical record offers more details, at this point, than those provided by archaeology (Da'adli, 2017:175). However, the archaeology is in agreement with 7th and 8th century dates (Da'adli, 2017:175)).
the earliest material that can be associated with the fortified structure, ceramic, numismatic or otherwise, is consistently attributable to the seventh and eighth centuries CE. This includes the few ceramics—white-painted gray bag-shaped storage jars, buff-ware jugs with plastic knobs attached to the handle, and the molded lamp (Avissar 1996:147-149, 157; Haddad 2002:68-71), the chlorite bowl (Stacey 2004:94) and about 15 coins (see Chapter 9).
The iconophobic defacing of mosaics in the Basilica was dated by Da'adli (2017:176) to the mid 8th century CE which suggests a date for the final renovation of the palace. Although historical sources indicate different phases of settlement at al-Sinnabra, there is little surviving archeological evidence for this (Da'adli, 2017:176). However, there may be more facilites or sections that once were part of a palatial complex that await excavation - e.g. between the Fort and the Dar (Da'adli, 2017:176).

One later structure was a tower (Tower 12) and adjoining fortification walls extending east and north which was described by Da'adli (2017:176).
This unit could be part of some kind of citadel that may have had more towers and walls to the north and east. These might be Ayyubid in date, but hard evidence for such a date is lacking. The manner in which they overlie the earlier remains shows that the earlier, palatial structure was largely dismantled in antiquity.
In terms of evidence for one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes causing damage to the site, no unambiguous evidence was found - likely due to the aforementioned dismantling of the site. Greenberg, Tal, and Da'adli (2017:217) concluded that
It is not clear, either from historical documents or from the evidence on the ground, what brought Umayyad al-Sinnabra to an end. Whatever the case may be, and whether its abandonment was sudden (in wake of the 749 CE earthquake?) or gradual, by the time the builders of the later structures—particularly of Tower 12 and the enceinte of which it seems to have been a part — came on the scene, the Umayyad remains had disappeared from sight, dismantled down to their foundations.
Seismic Effects

Clear unambiguous archeoseismic evidence is not currently available from this site. Further, due to chronological difficulties, it is difficult to date these effects even if they are a result of seismic damage as they could have occurred after abandonment. Bottom-line is we don't have a reliable terminus ante quem and we aren't sure these effects were caused by earthquakes. That said, an earthquake which cracks the foundation is often indicative of a high level of local Intensity provided there aren't other geotechnical factors at play. Potential archeoseismic evidence from Da'adli (2017) is summarized below :
Location Evidence/Comments
Tower 3 The area was cleaned by a bulldozer before the excavation [of the 1950's] and most of the topsoil was removed. Huge amounts of collapsed masonry were uncovered before the excavators reached the tower (Da'adli, 2017:140).
Wall W121 Wall crack uncovered in excavations in 2009 - looking south - Fig. 8.27
Wall crack uncovered in excavations in 2010 - looking north - Fig. 8.31
Umayyad Bathhouse the bathhouse clearly abuts the fortification wall, and can be dated to a similar period. A gap visible today between the shared wall with the fortification and the plaster floor foundation in the main hall of the bathhouse cannot be easily explained: it is aligned with the dismantled curtain wall emerging from Tower 1 (see Fig. 8.3 ) and is most likely the result of stone-robbing for later construction (Da'adli, 2017:159)
Note by JW: This is easier to see when one looks at Plan 8.2 where in the lower right where there is a gap in Wall W57 between Towers 1 and 6.
Intensity Estimates

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

Notes and Further Reading

References and Notes

Greenberg, R., et al. (2017). Bet Yerah. Volume III, Hellenistic philoteria and Islamic al-Sinnabra the 1933–1986 and 2007–2013 excavations, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Greenberg and Paz (2010) Tel Bet Yerah 2007, 2009

Greenberg (2005) Tel Bet Yerah

Raphael Greenberg - excavator at Beth Yerah

Raphael Greenberg's academia.edu page

Tawfiq Da'adli's academia.edu page

Israeli archaeologists identified Caliph Mu’awiya’s Lakeside Palace

Bar-Adon, Pessah. "Beth Yerah." Israel Exploration Journal 2 (1952): 142; 3 (1953): 132; 4 (1954): 128-129 ; 5 19955): 273-

Bar-Adon, Pessah. "Beth Yerah." Revue Biblique 62 (1955): S5-S8 .

Delougaz, Pinhas, and Richard C. Haines. A Byzantine Church at Khirbat al-Karak. Oriental Institute Publications, 85. Chicago, i960.

Eisenberg, Emmanuel. "Beth Yerah" (in Hebrew). Hadashot Arkeologiyot (1981): 1-13 .

Maisler [Mazar], Benjamin, et al. "The Excavations at Beth-Yerah (Khirbet el-Kerak), 1944-1946. " Israel Exploration Journal 2 (1952): 165-173 , 218-229.

Ussishkin, David. "Beth Yerah. " Revue Biblique 75 (1967): 266-268.

Yeivin, Shmuel. Archaeological Activity in Israel (1948-1955). Jerusalem, 1955-

In excavations which took place in 2007 and 2009, Greenberg and Paz (2010) identified what may be archeoseismic evidence at the Umayyad Qasr built by Mu'awiya I in Area GB-T



Area GB-T

A new aspect of the 2009 excavations is our attempt to re-excavate and reinterpret the huge fortified complex cleared by Bar-Adon and Guy in the early 1950s but never fully published. Originally identified as a synagogue and then as a Roman or Byzantine fort, the most recent suggestion has been to identify the complex with the Early Islamic palace of al-Sinnabra. The area has been obscured for decades by the thick subtropical vegetation that characterizes the mound. Because the structure was largely dismantled in antiquity, leaving only wall and floor foundations intact, and due to the summary excavation methods used in the original excavations, our principal aim was to identify sealed or otherwise datable contexts, such as foundation trenches and subfloor deposits. Additionally, the surviving portions of the superstructure had to be revisited and recorded.

Thus far, the southwest tower of the enceinte and parts of the southern annex adjoining the large apse have been reinvestigated, two large mosaic floor segments recorded (Fig. 12), and a portion of the central floorbed removed. Some preliminary observations may be made:
  1. The original wall foundations of the external fortifications, the adjoining bathhouse, and the central structure are all equally massive and deep, indicating a high level of investment, similar building concepts in all parts of the complex, and the likelihood that the superstructure was quite substantial.
  2. There is multiple evidence for the existence of at least two building phases in the main structure. The later phase involved wall demolition and replacement, as well as repairs in the mosaic pavements.
  3. We have begun to see evidence of earthquake damage; this could eventually aid in the dating of the structure.
                       (Fig. 13 ).
  4. A second fortified enclosure was built over part of the main enclosure. This later enclosure was never reported by the excavators.
  5. Although finds are sparse, the Early Islamic dating does appear to be confirmed by coins found beneath the floor of the central hall and in the foundation trench of the bathhouse.
We are therefore confident that the Umayyad palace of al-Sinnabra has been found.

Karak

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Al-Karak Arabic ال كاراك
Kerak Arabic خربة
Karak Kingdom of Jerusalem
Crac French
Kharkha Aramaic כרכא
Characmoba
Introduction

Karak in southern Jordan has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age and was an important Moabite center (Jeremy Johns in Meyers et al, 1997). Early in the 12th century CE, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem built a fortress known as the Kerak Castle which dominates the Karak skyline and still stands today.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

I am not aware of any published or unpublished pre Crusader excavations in Karak.

Notes and Further Reading

References and Notes

Karak Resources Project

Karak Resources Project - Publications

R.M. Brown, 1989, Excavations in the 14th Century Mamluk Palace at Kerak, in: Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 33, 1989, 287–304.

R.M. Brown, 2013, The Middle Islamic Palace at Karak Castle: a new Interpretation of the Grand Qāʻa (Reception Hall), in: Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 57, 2013, 309–335.

S. M. al-Momani, 2010, The Shrine of Bahadir bin Abdullah al-Badri in al-Mazar al-Janubi, al-Karak. An archaeological and architectural Study (Arabic), in:Jordan Journal of History and Archaeology 4, 4, 2010, 139–170

al-Bakhit, M. A. 1992 Das Konigreich von al-Karak in der mamlakischen Zeit. Aus dem arabischen Ge-schichtswerk von Muhammad `Adnan al-Bahrt ubersetzt and ausfuhrlich erlautert; Alexander Scheidt. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Bini, M., 2009 The Eastern Border. The Wu'ayra Fortifications — Habis Castle — Shoubak Castle — Kerak Castle. Pp. 15-40 in M. Bini and C. Luschi (eds.), Castelli e cattedrali. Sulle tracce del regno cro-ciato di Gerusalemme. Resoconti di viaggio in Israele. Firenza: Alinea.

Brown, R. M., 1988a Report of the 1987 Excavation at Kerak Castle: The Mamluk Palace Reception Hall. Document on file at the American Center of Oriental Research and the Department of Antiquities, Amman.

Brown, R. M., 1989b Kerak Castle. Pp. 341-347 in Archaeology of Jordan 11.1. Field Reports: Surveys & Sites L-Z. Akkadica Supplementum VII, ed. D. Homes-Fredericq and J. B. Hennessy. Leuven: Peeters.

Dowling, T. E. 1896 Kerak in 1896. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement: 327-332.

Johns, J. 1992 Islamic Settlement in Ard al-Karak. Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 4: 363-368.

Kennedy, H. 1994 Crusader Castles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lee, J. R. 2003 Kerak Castle - The 1997 Church Excavations. Paper presented at the Archaeology of Crusader States & Medieval Culture symposium, St. Lou¬is Community College — Florissant Valley, St. Louis.

Miller, J. M., ed. 1991 Archaeological Survey of the Kerak Plateau. Atlanta: Scholars.

Ambraseys (2009) states that

There is also some numismatic evidence for the destruction of Khirbet al-Karak.

...

The walls of Khirbet al-Karak had been severely damaged by the AD 659 earthquake, and the remains were levelled.
It is not entirely clear which Khirbet al-Karak Ambraseys (2009) is referring to. He is probably referring to Khirbet al-Karak on the Sea of Galilee which is covered in al-Sinnabra/Beth Yerah. Khirbet al-Karak on the Sea of Galilee is an Ummayad Palace that was identified by Greenberg and Paz (2010) based on excavations which took place in 2007 and 2009.

Mount Nebo

Names

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

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

Chronology

Piccirillo (1982) divided up the stratigraphy of the memorial to Moses as follows:
Phase Date Notes
I 2nd-3rd cent. CE On the highest spot of the mountain, towards the 2nd to 3rd century AD, a three-apsidal monument, the cella trichora (possibly a mausoleum) was built, which was used for funeral purposes, if not originally, at least at a later time, perhaps after its violent destruction.
II Christian monks re-adapted the cella trichora into a church with adjoining synthronon in the central apse, while re-using the two lateral apses as sacristies.
It was in this church that the monks showed the `Memorial of Moses' to Egeria.
IIA On the northern slope of the mountain was added later on a diaconicon-baptistry. In August 531 there took place the restoration and beautification of the diaconicon, the mosaic floor of which was laid by Soelos, Kaiomos and Elias.
III From the middle of the 6th century to the first years of the 7th, the sanctuary underwent complete reconstruction.


Seismic Effects



Intensity Estimates

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

Notes and Further Reading

References and Notes

Alliata, Eugenio. "La ceramica dello scavo." Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF)ILiber Annuus 34 (1984): 316-317.

Alliata, Eugenio. "La ceramica dello scavo della cappella del Prete Giovanni a Khirbet el-Mukhayyat." SBFi'Liber Annuus 38 (1988): 317-360.

Alliata, Eugenio. "Nuovo settore del monastero al Mont e Nebo-Siyagha." In Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land, New Discoveries:Essays in Honour of Virgilio C. Corbo, edited by Giovanni Claudio

Bottini et al., pp. 427-466. Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF),Collectio Maior, 36, Jerusalem, 1990.

Bagatti, Bellarmino. "Nuova ceramica del Monte Nebo (Siyagha)."SBFI Liber Annuus 35 (1985): 249-278.

Corbo, Virgilio. "Nuovi scavi archeologici nella cappella del battistero della basilica del Nebo (Siyagha)." SBFI Liber Annuus 17 (1967):241-258.

Corbo, Virgilio. "Scavi archeologici sotto i mosaici della basilica del Mont e Nebo (Siyagha)." SBFI Liber Annuus 20 (1970): 273-298.

Knauf, E. Axel. "Bemerkungen zur friihen Geschichte der arabischen Ortographie." Orientalia 53 (1984): 456-458.

Luynes, Du e de. Voyage d'exploration a la Mer Morte, a Petra et sur la rive gauche dujourdain, vol. I. Paris, 1874, p. 148

Milani, C. Itinerarium Antonini Placentini. Milan, 1977-

Milik, J. T. "Nouvelles inscriptions semitiques et grecques du pays de Moab. " SBFI Liber Annuus 9 (1959): 330-358.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Campagna archeologica a Khirbet el Mukhayyet (Citti dei Nebo), agosto-settembre 1973." SBF/Liber Annuus 23 (1973): 322-358.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Campagna archeologica nella basilica di Mose Profeta sul Mont e Nebo-Siyagha. " SBF/Liber Annuus 26 (1976): 281-318.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Forty Years of Archaeological Work at Mount Nebo-Siyagha in Late Roman-Byzantine Jordan." In Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 1, edited by Adnan Hadidi, pp. 291-300. Amman, 1982.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Una chiesa nell'wadi 'Ayoun Mousa ai piedi del Monte Nebo. " SBF/Liber Annuus 34 (1984): 307-318.

Piccirillo, Michele. "The Jerusalem-Esbus Road and Its Sanctuaries in Transjordan." In Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 3, edited by Adnan Hadidi, pp . 165-172. Amman, 1987.

Piccirillo, Michele. "La cappella del Prete Giovanni di Khirbet el-Mukhayyat (Villaggio di Nebo). " SBF/Liber Annuus 38 (1988): 297-315.

Piccirillo, Michele, and Eugenio Alliata. "La chiesa del monastero di Kaianos alle 'Ayoun Mous a sul Mont e Nebo. " In Quaeritur inventus colitur: Miscellanea in onore di padre Umberto Maria Fasola, vol. 40, p p . 561-586. Studi di Antichita Cristiana, 40. Th e Vatican, 1989. Piccirillo, Michele. Chiese e mosaici di Madaba. SBF, Collectio Maior,

Piccirillo, Michele, and Eugenio Alliata. "L'eremitaggio di Procapis e l'ambiente funerario di Robebos al Mont e Nebo-Siyagha. " In Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land, New Discoveries: Essays in Honour of Virgilio C. Corbo, edited by Giovanni Claudio Bottini et al., pp . 391-426. SBF, Collectio Maior, 36. Jerusalem, 1990.

Piccirillo, Michele. Mount Nebo. SBF Guides, 2. 2d ed. Jerusalem, 1990.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Le due inscrizioni della cappella della Theotokos nel Wadi 'Ayn al-Kanisah-Monte Nebo. " Studium Biblicum Franciscanum)Liber Annuus 44 (1994): 521-538.

Puech, fimile. "L'inscription christo-palestinienne d"Ayoun Mous a (Mount Nebo). " SBF/Liber Annuus 34 (1984): 319-328.

Robinson, Edward, and Eli Smidi. Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai, and Arabia Petraea. Boston, 1941, vol. 2, p. 307.

Sailer, Sylvester J. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo. 2 vols. SBF, Collectio Maior, 1, Jerusalem, 1941.

Sailer, Sylvester J., and Bellarmino Bagatti. The Town of Nebo (Khirbet el-Mekhayyat) with a Brief Survey of Other Ancient Christian Monuments in Transjordan. SBF, Collectio Maior, 7. Jerusalem, 1949.

Sailer, Sylvester J. "Iron Age Tomb s at Nebo , Jordan. " SBF/Liber Annuus 16 (1966): 165-298.

Sailer, Sylvester J. "Hellenistic to Arabic Remains at Nebo , Jordan. "SBF/Liber Annuus 17 (1967): 5-64.

Schneider, Hilary. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, vol. 3, The Pottery. SBF, Collectio Maior, 1. Jerusalem, 1950.

Stockman, Eugene. "Stone Age Culture in the Nebo Region, Jordan. " SBF/Liber Annuus 17 (1967): 122-128.

Yonick, Stephen. "The Samaritan Inscription from Siyagha: A Reconstruction and Restudy. " SBF/Liber Annuus 17 (1967): 162-221

Russell (1985) states

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

Abila

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Abila Greek Ἄβιλα
Abila in the Decapolis Greek Ἄβιλα Δεκαπόλεως
Seleúkeia Greek Σελεύκεια
Raphana Greek Ραφάνα
Qweilbeh Arabic قويلبة‎
Qwwāīlībāh Arabic قووايليباه
Qwālībāh Arabic قواليباه
Introduction

Abila, ~15 km. NNE of Irbid, has a long history of habitation starting between 4000 and 1500 BCE. In Hellenistic times, it became one of the cities of the Decapolis. Habitation continued until Umayyad and other Islamic periods (W. Harold Mare in Stern et al, 1993). At a triapsidal basilica in Area A , a destruction layer was observed in excavations. The basilica can be seen in a satellite view on google maps.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Mare (1984) excavated Area A in 1982 and divided up the stratigraphy based mainly on ceramic evidence as follows:
Phase Period Notes
1 Modern and Post Umayyad
2 Umayyad
3 Byzantine
.4a Pre-Byzantine - Roman
.4b Pre-Byzantine - Hellenistic
.4c Pre-Byzantine - Iron IIC
Mare (1984) observed a destruction layer in a triapsidal basilica in Area A:
On the preserved surface of the apse and in much of the region on both sides of the apse was a layer of plaster that, due to the Umayyad pottery sherds found there, suggests that the church was destroyed and the plaster surfaces laid subsequent to the time of the Umayyad conquest in A.D. 636. The evidence of violent earthquake activity was possibly responsible for the displacing of ashlar blocks may suggest a date for the church's destruction on into the eighth century, possibly due to the earthquake of A.D. 746 which caused great destruction at nearby Tiberias and Jerash.
This dating, though imprecise, indicates that one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes could have caused this destruction.

Intensity Estimates

Photos of the damage weren't found in Mare (1984) so damage descriptions are used to guess seismic effects.
Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls ? Destruction of Basilica VIII +
Collapsed Vaults ? Collapsed Apse VIII +
Displaced Masonry Blocks ? Displacing of ashlar blocks VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Umm al-Jimal

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Umm al-Jimal Arabic ام الجمال‎
Umm al-Jamal Arabic ام الجمال‎
Umm ej Jemāl Arabic ام الجمال‎
Umm idj-Djimal Arabic ام الجمال‎
al-ʾHerrī - local name for older Roman village Arabic ‎الءهيرري
Introduction

Umm al-Jimal in northern Jordan contains a well-preserved Byzantine/Early Islamic town nearly a kilometer long and a half-kilometer wide, with 150 buildings standing one to three stories high and several towers up to five and six stories Bert de Vries in Meyers (1997).
       de Vries, B. (1995) provided a site map .

Chronology

de Vries (1992) divided up the stratigraphy of Umm al-Jimal as follows:
Stratum Period Age Notes
VII Early Roman 63 BCE - 135 CE
VI Late Roman 135 CE - 324 CE
V Early Byzantine 324 CE - 491 CE
IV Late Byzantine 491 CE - 636 CE Earthquakes ?
III Umayyad 636 CE - 750 CE Earthquake ?
Post Stratum III Gap 750 CE - 1900 CE
II Late Ottoman/Mandate 1900 CE - 1946 CE
I Modern 1946 CE - Present
de Vries (1992) 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 (1992:448) 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.

Seismic Effects

Al-Tawalbeh et al (2019) examined formerly Roman Barracks at the site and provided the following archeoseismic observations:
We studied the Barracks site, where several standing high walls and a mostly intact tower have been preserved. The city was established during the Nabatean period, converted by Romans for military purposes, and remodeled for ecclesiastical and secular uses during Byzantine times (de Vries, 2000). Several earthquake traces were observed, such as: tilted walls, bulging walls, U-shape collapses, twisted walls, torsion-related damages, extruded and chipped ashlars. Initial observations indicate a left-lateral slip in the western wall and a right-lateral slip in the southern wall suggest a SW-NE strong motion direction. Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAE) classification yielded high (VII-VIII) intensity. The causative faults are possibly the north-south Dead Sea Transform Fault (70 km away), or the nearby SE-NW Wadi Sirhan fault zone.
Notes and Further Reading

Iraq el Amir

Skeletons at Pella Conjugate Fractures (lower right) at the Castle at Iraq el-Amir

Jean Housen - Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Iraq el Amir Arabic عراق الأمير
Ras el Abd Arabic ‎راس يل ابد
Qasr el-'Abd Arabic ‎قاسر يلء'ابد
Tyros Ancient Greek Τυρός‎
Introduction

Iraq el-Amir is located in the luxuriant valley of Wadi es-Sir ~24 km. west of Amman. There is a long history of settlement starting in the Early Bronze Age (Meyers et al, 1997) that continues until at least Byzantine times; possibly Umayyad. I cannot find a lot of references in terms of systematic excavations that deal with the Byzantine/Umayyad period. Much of the focus seems to be on the fairly spectacular Hellenistic structures and various intrigues recounted by Josephus of the prelude to the start of the Maccabean dynasty.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

El-Isa (1985) noted seismic effects at Iraq el-Emir:
At Ras el Abd (Iraq el Amir) earthquake deformations are very clear and intensive, so that the palace has collapsed almost completely. Overthrown large blocks (some weigh over 20 tons) and large tensional cracking must have been caused by severe shaking at very high acceleration. A major falling direction is northward. Other blocks seem to have fallen westwards, thus indicating two possible directions (S and W) of perhaps two major earthquakes. A major crack seems to cross the building in an ESE—WNW direction that badly damaged the foundations (see FIG. 5 ). It is noticed that the crack crossed the blocks themselves rather than at their point of contact. This may indicate a ground deformation (rupture). Destruction at this site seems to have been caused by either large earthquakes causing very high acceleration (over 0.3 g.) due to their being close to the site, or the foundations of the palaces being on loose soil, or both causes together.
No archeological dating was provided. El-Isa (1985) speculated that the causitive earthquake may have been the Josephus Quake of 31 BCE. Photos from the site indicate that there is an abundance of archeoseismic evidence waiting to be dated.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Brown, R. M. 1979 "Excavations at 'Iraq el-Emir." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 23: 17-30.

Brown, R. M. 1983 The 1976 ASOR Soundings. Pp. 105-132 in The Excavations of Araq el-Emir, Vol. I, ed. N. L. Lapp. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 47. Winon Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Lapp, N. 1979 "The Hellenistic Pottery from the 1961 and 1962 Excavations at 'Iraq el-Emir." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 23: 5-15.

Lapp, N. 1983 The Excavations at Iraq el-Emir. Winona Lake: American Schools of Oriental Research.

Lapp, N. 1989 "'Iraq el Amir." Pp. 280-88 in Archaeology of Jordan. Edited by D. Homes-Fredericq and J. B. Hennessy. Leuven: Peeters.

Lapp, P. W. 1962a "Soundings at 'Araq el-Emir." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 165: 16-34.

Lapp, P. W.1962b "The 1961 Excavations at 'Araq el-Emir." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 6-7: 80-89.

Lapp, P. W.1963 "The Second and Third Campaigns at 'Araq el Emir." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171: 8-39.

Lapp, P. W. 1965 "The 1962 Excavation at 'Araq el-Emir." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 10: 37-42.

Bibliography of Excavations at Iraq el-Amir

Borel, L. (2006). "Recherches récentes sur le domaine dʼʻIraq al-Amir : nouveaux éléments sur le paysage contruit." Topoi 14: 291-330.

El-Isa, Z. (1985). Earthquake Studies of Some Archaeological Sites in Jordan. Studies in the history and archaeology of Jordan. Department of Antiquities, Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan - Amman. Vol. 2. A. Hadidi. 2: 229-235.

Will, E. 1989 `Iraq el Amir. Pp. 280-297 in Archaeology of Jordan 111. Field Reports Surveys & Sites A-K, eds. D. Homes-Fredericq and J. B. Hennessy. Akkadica Supplementum 7. Leuven: Peeters

Petra

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

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

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

Arcehoseismic Evidence in Petra Table 1

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

Jones (2021)

Map of Major Excavations in Petra - Jones (2021)

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

Major Excavations in Petra Figure 2

Map of Petra with the locations of major excavations marked

Jones (2021)

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

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

Wikipedia - Douglas Perkins - CC-2.0


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

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

Chronology
Phasing

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



Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

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

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

6th-8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

Seismic Effects
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Intensity Estimates
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

Fiema (2013)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jabal Harun Arabic جابال هارون‎
Introduction

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

Chronology

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

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

Later Earthquakes

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

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

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



Seismic Effects

Orientation of presumed seismic damage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

Area West of the Chapel

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

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

Phase 9 reconstruction

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

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

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

...

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

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

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

...

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

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

Northern Aisle of the Church

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

Apse and Bema of the Church

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

...

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

Atrium and Narthex of the Church

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

The Chapel

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

Intensity Estimates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

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

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

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

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

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

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

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

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

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

Finnish Jabal Harun Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petra North Ridge Project

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

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

Petra: The North Ridge at ACOR

Blue Chapel
Introduction

The Blue Chapel is located partly up the slope of a ridge in Wadi Musa behind the
Petra Church. The Ridge Church is located at the top of that slope. The ACOR carried out excavations and restoration works over twelve seasons between 1994 and 2002. Patricia M. Bikai, then assistant director of ACOR, was the overall project director, and Virginia Egan was project assistant director. The North Ridge Project has continued after this period under the direction of Megan Perry and S. Thomas Parker, focusing on areas east and north of the churches ( ACOR Jordan website).

The ACOR Jordan website supplies the following about the Blue Chapel:
The Blue Chapel was built slightly later [than the Ridge Church], in the mid-5th century, around the same time as the Petra Church. It is so named because of its blue granite columns and blue marble installations. The distinctive granite was likely imported from Egypt during Nabatean or Roman times and reused in the Byzantine era. The blue marble probably originated in Turkey. The Blue Chapel may have served as a pilgrimage hostel or as a residence for church officials.
Chronology

Mikkola et al (2008) stated that
Some destruction layers found in Petra were associated with a major seismic event of roughly 8th century date, which, according to Peter Parr, effectively ended occupation in the city (Parr 1959:107-108).

It has recently been claimed [that] the Blue Chapel in Petra was destroyed in this earthquake Bikai (2002a:451, 2002b and 2004:63)
This was investigated and appears to be tenuous. Parr (1959) does not provide precise dating and his arguments are conjectural. Bikai (2002a) does not mention any earthquakes at all. Bikai (2002b) states that the earthquake of A.D. 748 caused major damage to the derelict city, damage that included the toppling of the granite columns of the Blue Chapel but provides no evidence in support of this statement. Bikai (2004) states that the earthquake that brought down the columns in the Blue Chapel is now dated by C14 to 748/49 AD but does not cite a reference or provide evidence for this statement. However, Bikai (2004) lists Bikai and Perry (2001) in the references section. Bikai and Perry (2001) reports on an excavation of Nabatean tombs dated to the 1st century CE and does not mention a mid-8th century earthquake. However, they do mention the following
The preservation of the intact burials was due to the collapse of a large chunk of sandstone from the ceiling. This large piece fell some time after the tomb was used but before late sixth to eighth century debris was deposited in the upper levels of fill.
Seismic Effects

Bikai (2004) states the earthquake that brought down the columns in the Blue Chapel is now dated by C14 to 748/49 AD.

Intensity Estimates

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

Aqaba

Names

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

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

Ayla

Introduction

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

Chronology

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



First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Ayla Plan



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

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

Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

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

Seismic Effects

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

.

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

Seismic Effects - Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archaeoseismic Analysis

First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

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

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

Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

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

Fig. 4d

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

Intensity Estimates

First Earthquake - 7th - 8th centuries CE

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

Seismic Parameters from al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007)

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

Second Earthquake - 1068 CE

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

Seismic Parameters from al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007)

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

Site Effect

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damgaard, K., 2011. Appendices

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

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

The Aqaba Project - Whitcomb - University of Chicago

Aylah Archeological Project

Aila

Introduction

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

Chronology

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



Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

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

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

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

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

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

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

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

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

Seismic Effects

Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

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

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

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

...

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

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

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

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

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intensity Estimates

Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

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

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

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

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

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

Calculators

Normal Fault Displacement

Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

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

Strike-Slip Fault Displacement

Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

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

Site Effect Explanation

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

VS30 Explanation

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

Notes and Further Reading

Haluza

Names

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

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

Chronology

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns from at least two heavy earthquakes.
1st Earthquake - late 3rd - mid 6th century CE - perhaps around 500 CE

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

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

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

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

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) also discussed chronology of the second earthquake.

The Early Arab – Second Ancient Earthquake

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

Seismic Effects

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns in the ruins of Haluza which indicated previous devastation by at least two heavy earthquakes discussed above in Chronology. Damage patterns are summarized below:
Seismic Effects

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

Intensity Estimates

1st earthquake

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

Effect Description Intensity
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in walls and drums in columns 18 VIII +
Displaced Walls 17 VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

2nd earthquake

Because the observations of Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) are derived from what is presumed to be 2 separate earthquakes (Byzantine and post-Byzantine), it is not entirely clear which seismic effect should be assigned to which earthquake. However, as the second earthquake is thought to be associated with abandonment, it can be assumed that most seismic effects are associated with the second earthquake. The table below lists some of these seismic effects but should be considered tentative.

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls Fig. 10 VI +
Penetrative fractures in masonry Blocks Fig. 4 VI +
Fallen Columns Fig. 13 V+
Collapsed arches Fig. 11 VI +
Displaced Masonry Blocks Fig. 15 VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s seismic characterization

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

Notes and Further Reading

Rehovot ba Negev

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Rehovot ba Negev Hebrew רחובות בנגב
Khirbet Ruheibeh Arabic كهيربيت روهييبيه
Rehoboth Biblical Hebrew רְחוֹבוֹת
Introduction

Rehovot ba Negev is one of the large settlements established in the Negev in the Nabatean period that flourished in Byzantine times ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993). Lying on a branch of the Incense Road, it derives it's modern Hebrew name from an association with a well dug by the patriarch Isaac in Rehoboth (Genesis 26:22). There is, as of yet, no evidence to support this and it's association on geographical grounds is considered unlikely ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993). Although there are no signs of violent destruction via human agency, the town appears to have declined after the Muslim conquest of the Levant and most of its permanent residents had likely left by ~700 CE ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993) or earlier. Nomads took up temporary residence in the deserted town after that leaving temporary installations, campfire ashes, an occasional coin, and a few Kufic inscriptions. ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993) . Limited occupation took place in Ottoman times and during the British Mandate.

Rehovot ba-Negev probably has a site effect as it appears to be built on weak ground. Yoram Tsafrir, who excavated the site, described the bedrock beneath one of the apses in the Northern Church as soft and chalky (Tsafrir et al, 1988:40}. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018:5) mention that one of the revetment walls was built on top of loess. This probably explains some of the extensive damage far from large well known active faults although as pointed out by Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018:5), it is possible that there is unrecognized seismic hazard in the Negev.

Chronology

Tsafrir et al (1988: 26) excavated the Northern Church (aka the Pilgrim Church) of Rehovot ba Negev and came to the following conclusions regarding its initial construction :
A clear terminus ante quem for the building of the church is given by a burial inscription (Ins. 2) dated to the month Apellaios 383, which falls, according to the era of the Provincia Arabia, in November - December 488 C.E. The church probably was erected in the second half of the fifth century. ... . Although it is clear that several parts of the complex were built later than the main hall, such as the northern chapel, there is no doubt that the entire complex was constructed within the same few years.
Later on he noted that
A date of approximately 460 - 470 for the building activity therefore seems reasonable, although the calculation remains hypothetical.
After initial construction, additional architectural elements were added; foremost among them a revetment or support wall which is described and discussed below by Tsafrir (1988: 27).
The most important architectural addition was the talus, or sloping revetment, that was built around the walls of the church from the outside to prevent their collapse. Such revetments were common in the Negev. They supported the walls of churches as well as of private houses. They are found, for example, around the walls of St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. At Rehovot such walls may have been erected following an earthquake, but more probably it was necessary to reinforce them just because of poor quality masonry.
Seismic Effects

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) identified what they believed to be three earthquakes between ~500 and ~800 CE causing the majority of observed seismic effects. One or more earthquakes in Turkish-British times may have created additional seismic effects.
Summary of all surmised Earthquake Events

Dating constraints Comments Potential Historical Earthquake(s)
~500 CE - ~600 CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) refer to this as the Late Roman earthquake. It could represent more than one earthquake. It is presumed to have struck after construction of the northern Church in ~460 - 470 CE and led to repair of various structures including construction of revetment walls.
7th century CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) refer to this as the Byzantine shock or the earthquake at the end of Byzantine sovereignty. They suggest this earthquake destroyed Rehovot ba Negev and led to its abandonment Sign of the Prophet Quake - 613-622 CE
Sword in the Sky Quake - 634 CE
Jordan Valley Quake - 659/660 CE
7th - 8th century CE This earthquake is presumed to have struck after the presumed abandonment of the Rehovot ba-Negev. Potential archaeoseismic evidence comes from several locations.
  • Roof collapse in the southern quarter - Because the finds did not include any characteristic forms of the 8th century Tsafrir et al (1988:9) dates roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) to the early 8th century CE at the latest. It should be noted that this is an argument from silence.
  • The Crypt of the Northern Church - Tsafrir et al (1988:50) found that the vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed and the staircases into the crypt and the crypt itself were filled with debris. The concentration of drums, capitals and other architectural elements, and the fragments of burial inscriptions that were found in the crypt cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay (III. 80 ). Five capitals were found, for instance, in the lower part of the debris, above the floor (Tsafrir et al, 1988). Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggest that this was due to a seismic event and suggest two main stages of destruction in the Northern Church - first when the church columns collapsed in the 7th century event and then a second time when the vault of the crypt collapsed and the staircases filled with debris.
  • Room of the Northern Church - Further evidence of two phases of destruction was found, according to Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014), in Room L 509 of the Northern Church where roof slabs were found atop a layer of debris that was presumed to have been created by the earlier 7th century CE earthquake however Tsafrir et al (1988:66) attribute debris and roof collapse in L.509 to decay that occurred over a long period of time. It is possible that Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) meant Room L 505 of the Northern Church which was completely filled with earth and stones (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62) and was covered by a layer of roof slabs . Tsafrir et al (1988) did not attribute destruction or debris in Room L 505 to a cause. Found in the debris of Room L 505 was an Umayyad coin minted at Ramla dated between 716 and 750 CE (Tsafrir et al, 1988:61). Sherds and glass from the floor level or close to it are common Byzantine types (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62).
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggest that the second phase of destruction occurred in the 9th century CE but this appears to be a typographic error and this destruction can likely be dated to the 8th century possibly the early 8th century CE at the latest as stated by Tsafrir et al, (1988:9) in an argument from silence.
mid 8th century earthquakes
Sabbatical Year Quakes
By No Means Mild Quake
19th - 20th century CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) report that Tsafrir et al (1988) date destruction of a rebuilt Byzantine bath house to Turkish (i.e. Ottoman) times although I can't find any reference to dating or destruction of the rebuilt Byzantine bath house in Tsafrir et al (1988). It is only mentioned as having been examined in previous studies of the site. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) report to have have traced the impact of an earthquake at Turkish-British constructions in the Bedouin village of Khalasa built on or adjacent to ruins of ancient Haluza, noting that the deformations cover a large area and suggest that the earthquake which affected the Khalasa village would have also left traces in buildings of the same age at Rehovot-ba-Negev.
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) note that the well-house built during the British mandate was also significantly destroyed.
1834 Jerusalem quake
1927 Jericho Quake
1995 Gulf of Aqaba Quake

500 - ~600 CE Earthquake

Seismic Effect Figure(s) Comments
tilted and shifted walls,
surrounded by revetment walls
7 8 12 19 20 21
columns supported by walls 22
deformation of arches and roofs 11
rooms filled with earth
in order to prevent the collapse of roofs
11
features of later repair and rebuilding
secondary use of building elements

7th century Earthquake

Seismic Effect Figures Comments
tilted and shifted walls 4 5 6 7 13
stone rotations 16
pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular wall 14
opening between two adjacent perpendicular walls 5 6 15
through-going joints 5 14 17
a crack cutting the water reservoir 18
collapse of the strong layer
that covered the water reservoir
18

7th - 8th century Earthquake

Seismic Effect Figures Comments
roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) III.14 from Tsafrir et al (1988) Tsafrir et al (1988:9) dates roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) to the early 8th century CE at the latest
Vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed Architectural parts in the crypt - Tsafrir et al (1988)
Accumulation of debris in the crypt - Tsafrir et al (1988)
Tsafrir et al (1988:58) state that this cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay.
Staircases into the Crypt the Northern Church filled with debris Tsafrir et al (1988:58) state that this cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay.
Roof slabs found atop a layer of debris in a room of the Northern Church Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) specified Room L 509 as the location for this potential archeoseismic evidence but Tsafrir et al (1988:66) attributed debris and roof collapse in L.509 to decay that occurred over a long period of time. It is possible that Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) meant Room L 505 of the Northern Church which was completely filled with earth and stones (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62) and was covered by a layer of roof slabs . Tsafrir et al (1988) did not attribute destruction or debris in Room L 505 to a cause. Found in the debris of Room L 505 was an Umayyad coin minted at Ramla dated between 716 and 750 CE (Tsafrir et al, 1988:61). Sherds and glass from the floor level or close to it are common Byzantine types (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62).

Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times

Seismic Effect Figures Comments
wall tilting and collapse 9 10

Detailed table of all Seismic Effects

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Tilted Walls Northern Church
4
5
6
7
8
At Rehovot-ba-Negev, the southern wall of the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3) tilted southwards (fig. 4). The wall trend is 108°; declination azimuth is 198°; and the angle is up to 75°. Another example can be seen at the same premises (field station 3) where one can observe the same damage pattern in the western wall: the wall trend is 13°, tilted to 81° and collapsed westward — toward azimuth 283°. Only a few fragments are preserved of the western wall, and only one stone high. The wall continues northward. Here it has a tilt and a westward collapse analogous to the SW corner of the western yard in the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). The trend of the azimuth of the wall is 18°; it is tilted at an angle up to 72°; and the declination azimuth is 287°; this is also the direction of the wall collapse (fig. 5). The wall continues northward until it meets the opposite wall of the northern premises (field station 5 in fig. 3). It is tilted WNW at a maximum angle of 21° (fig. 6); the trend of the wall is 31°, and the declination azimuth is 301°.

The southern wall of the North Church (field station 10 in fig. 3) is tilted northward (fig. 7).The trend of the wall is 202°, and the maximum tilt angle is 77°. Because of this tilt one can observe an open space between the southern wall and the adjacent perpendicular one.

The existence of revetment walls, supporting the southern wall of the Church from the south, indicates that the southern wall's tilt occurred during the first of the Late Roman earthquakes. It seems that the southern wall began to tilt northward inside the building during the Early Arab earthquakes; additional evidence for this is the shift northwards of the upper part of the revetment wall. Stones of the perpendicular eastern wall are cracked in the small room marked on the plan. Nevertheless, this wall is better preserved (it is much higher) than the main southern wall of the North Church. This indicates that the seismic shocks during both earthquakes acted perpendicular to the main Church wall: it had freedom of oscillation and was significantly destroyed. The small eastern wall, oriented parallel to the effect of the seismic movements, withstood the seismic oscillations better, although many of its stones were significantly damaged. The whole northern wall of the Church (field station 12 in fig. 3) has a significant tilt to the south (figs. 8 a. b).
Collapsed Walls un-excavated quarter
well-house
9
10
At Rehovot-ba-Negev several measurements reveal the systematic failure of the walls in unexcavated quarters in certain directions: walls trending — 140° have fallen about 50°, and walls trending — 50° have collapsed — 140° (fig. 9).
The well-house, which was built during the British Mandate, is significantly destroyed (fig. 10). This could be the effect of 20th century earthquakes, which caused building deformations all over Palestine and modern Israel.
Deformed Arches and Roofs Residential Building in S quarter Area B Room L.207 11 As mentioned above, the walls were not completely destroyed during the first shock that occurred in Late Roman times. The arches and roofs probably withstood the shock too, though many of them were significantly damaged (fig. 11). This is probably the reason why ancient people filled some of the rooms with earth in order to protect them from complete collapse.
Shifted Wall Fragments Northern Church
excavated quarters of the ancient city
12
13
Above we wrote that the southern wall of the North Church (field station 10 in fig. 3) tilts northward (fig. 7); however, there is also shifting (10-15 cm) of the upper row of the stones in the same direction (fig. 12).
Another example of the same phenomenon is a 15 cm shift eastward of two stones in the upper part of an arch column (fig. 13) in one of the excavated quarters of the ancient city. The arch above collapsed during the Byzantine shocks.
Walls Deformed as a Result of Pushing by an Adjacent Perpendicular Wall Northern Church
Stables of the Caravansary

14
The pushing of walls by a connected perpendicular wall has been identified as one of the seismic damage patterns at Mamshit - one of the ancient towns of the Negev desert, east of Rehovot-ba-Negev. At Rehovot-ba-Negev we find such an example at the SW corner of the large premises of the North Church (field station 2 in fig. 3), where three stones at the upper part of the wall have been moved, probably due to the push of an adjacent perpendicular wall. The trend of the deformed wall is 110°. The stones were shifted SSW (200°) at a distance of 12 cm. The perpendicular pushing wall has a trend of 24°. Another example can be observed at the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3). There the northern wall (trend 115°) pushed the perpendicular western wall (trend 13°) westward.
A similar picture can be observed at the stables of the Caravansary (fig. 14). Here the "feeding" wall pushed a perpendicular one. Both walls are significantly deformed, tilted (declination angle 22°) and crossed by joints.
Opening between Adjacent Perpendicular Walls Northern Church
15
5
6
The pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular one is quite common. The pushed wall is usually tilted or/and collapsed. Between this tilted wall and the perpendicular one (the pusher) an open space is often formed. This could also be due to the especial vulnerability of corners to large seismic shocks, because wave-parallel and wave-orthogonal walls oscillate at different amplitudes and frequencies. Ordinary old buildings often lack coupling elements between adjacent walls, and long-lasting strong seismic oscillation often causes gaps (or long open cracks) which may lead to the failure of corners.
Such a phenomenon can be seen (fig. 15) at the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3), where one can observe an opening of 20 cm between the northern wall (trend 115°) and the western one (trend 13°). Another example of such an opening can be observed at the SW corner of the large yard of the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). Here there is a gap between the southern wall (trend 115°) and the perpendicular western wall, tilted westward (fig. 5). The same pattern can be observed in the same wall, continuing northward (field station 5 in fig. 3). Here the western wall of the church tilted westward and there is a gap between it and the perpendicular wall (fig. 6).
Rotations of Wall Fragments Northern Church
16 The rotation of wall fragments around a vertical axis is a common phenomenon during strong earthquakes. Foundation stones are pulled out and rotated, indicating dynamic beating in the process of sharp horizontal oscillations of the whole wall (and not only its upper part). A seismic ground motion is the only mechanism that can cause rotation of building elements. A large number of observed rotations, and the obvious directional systematics, support this conclusion. An example of rotation (fig. 16) can be observed outside the eastern wall of the North Church (field station 9 in fig. 3). Here one stone in the upper preserved row was rotated clockwise. The general trend of the wall is 24°; and the trend of the rotated block is 26°.
Wall Crossing Fissures (Joints) Northern Church
17
5
Many researchers mentioned that deformation of through-the-wall fissures at archaeological sites were caused by ancient earthquakes. Indeed, fissures crossing adjacent stones are the strongest evidence of the seismic origin of these deformations. Such through-going fissures are only formed as a result of high intensity earthquakes, as high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of free surfaces at the stone margins, i. e., the free space between adjacent stones.

At Rehovot-ba-Negev, the wall standing to the right of the southern entrance into the North Church (field station 1 in fig. 3) is crossed by numerous joints (fig. 17). One of them crosses through three stones. The trend of the deformed wall is 20°, and the length of the joint is 83 cm. Another through-going joint can be observed at the western corner of the large yard of the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). Here there is a joint cutting three stones in a wall trending of 114° (fig. 5). The length of the through-going fissure is 48 cm.
A Crack Crossing through the Wall at the Water Reservoir Water Reservoir 18 A through-the-wall crack was observed at the Rehovot-ba-Negev water reservoir. The whole wall is cut by this rupture (fig. 18), resembling a "pure" seismic rupture with a horizontal displacement (left-lateral shift) on the first ten centimeters. However, this rupture does not continue in either the adjacent ancient building constructions, or in the relief features. Additional study, and palaeoseismological trenching of the rupture is necessary. The described rupture could be the reason for the disappearance of the water resource in the town, and its subsequent abandonment.
Revetment Walls Northern Church
19
20
21
Sloping support walls have been found in the North and South Churches and in private buildings. The core of the revetment is a combination of small rough stones and earth, with a layer of larger roughly-dressed stones on the outside. The revetment is cemented by grey mortar, consisting of chalk and ashes. The revetment wall is laid on the virgin loess. The wall reaches 1.80 m in height and is 90 cm wide at the base. The whole northern wall of the big courtyard (field station 6 in fig. 3) of the North Church is surrounded by the revetment wall (fig. 19), its half was demolished at present time. The revetment wall continues around the northern room (field station 7 in fig. 3) of the main premises of the North Church (fig. 20). At the NE corner of the North Church, one can observe the continuation of an encircling revetment wall (field station 8 in fig. 3). At this corner the wall is destroyed (fig. 21), with the stones collapsing northwards on an original wall. The encircling revetment wall is of good quality. The destruction event (an earthquake), which deformed the original wall, occurred before the decline of the Byzantine Empire. There was then another seismic event which led to the destruction of the revetment wall itself. The last event was probably an end of "civilized" life here.
The outside part of the eastern wall is also surrounded by the revetment wall (field station 9 in fig. 3), which is now almost entirely destroyed. The same pattern can be observed at the central southern jamb of the North Church (field station 10). All the three walls composing the jamb are surrounded by revetment walls that are also partly destroyed. The revetment walls at Rehovot-ba-Negev were built during the Byzantine period. Such walls are very common at the Negev cities, e. g. ancient Avdat, Mamshit and Shivta
Columns Supported by Walls Northern Church
22 Columns at ancient and modern buildings cause the redistribution of the static load of the whole building construction, and serve as art decoration of the internal and external parts of the building. When a researcher finds a column supported by a later wall, he can be sure that the column was severely deformed, making the supporting wall necessary. Such an example can be found in the North Church (fig. 22).
Features of Later Repair and Rebuilding Northern Church
Tsafrir et al. wrote that when the revetment wall was built around the church it closed the entrance to one room. A new threshold was installed which was about 60 cm above the former floor level. No remains of steps inside the room were found. This means that after the first earthquake the floor was covered by debris, which was not cleaned, but leveled, requiring a new threshold.
Another example of the later adjustment of a damaged building was noted at the Staircase Tower. At its NE corner there was a large (75 cm x 80 cm) window, which was later adopted as a secondary entrance from the atrium: long blocks used as steps were found from both sides of the window. Apparently the "normal" entrance was damaged during the first earthquake and went out of use, so the people started to use the better preserved window as an entrance. Sherds, fragments of glass, and metal weights, found in the Staircase Tower, are additional evidence of earthquake damage.
Secondary Use of Stones from Destroyed Walls Room L 522
Northern Church's chapel
Secondary use of stones from damaged and destroyed walls is a common feature at the cities that experienced strong earthquakes. For example, a large fragment of a water basin was found in an Early Arab secondary wall at the east end of the porch (Room L 522). Another secondary wall was discovered at the eastern porch of the atrium behind the stylobate and preserved it at a height of two-three rows, which blocked the atrium from the west.
Some screen fragments of imported marble of the common Early Byzantine type were also used to replace broken pavement slabs in rooms L 512 and 521 of the Northern Church’s chapel, probably by Arab squatters who dwelled in the chapel after the church was abandoned. The blocking of the door of the narthex and Arabic inscriptions written on plaster support this conclusion.

Intensity Estimates

Intensity estimates are made from the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) . The effect that produces the largest Intensity is presumed to be the minimum possible Intensity for the earthquake

~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls tilted and shifted walls, surrounded by revetment walls VI+
Displaced Walls tilted and shifted walls, surrounded by revetment walls VII+
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in walls and drums and columns columns supported by walls - When a researcher finds a column supported by a later wall, he can be sure that the column was severely deformed, making the supporting wall necessary. Such an example can be found in the North Church (fig. 22 ) (Korzhenkov and Mazor, 2014). VIII+
Arch deformation deformation of arches and roofs VI+
Not on the chart rooms filled with earth in order to prevent the collapse of roofs
Folded steps and kerbs features of later repair and rebuilding - Tsafrir et al. wrote that when the revetment wall was built around the church it closed the entrance to one room. A new threshold was installed which was about 60 cm above the former floor level. No remains of steps inside the room were found. This means that after the first earthquake the floor was covered by debris, which was not cleaned, but leveled, requiring a new threshold (Korzhenkov and Mazor, 2014). VI+
Displaced Walls secondary use of building elements - Secondary use of stones from damaged and destroyed walls is a common feature at the cities that experienced strong earthquakes. (Korzhenkov and Mazor, 2014) VII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

7th century Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls tilted and shifted walls VI+
Displaced Walls tilted and shifted walls VII+
Displaced Masonry Blocks stone rotations VIII+
Tilted Walls pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular wall VI+
Tilted Walls opening between two adjacent perpendicular walls VI+
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks through-going joints VI+
Displaced Walls a crack cutting the water reservoir VII+
Collapsed vaults collapse of the strong layer that covered the water reservoir VIII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

7th - 8th century Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Not on chart roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B)
Collapsed vaults Vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed VIII+
Collapsed walls Staircases in the Northern Church filled with debris VIII+
Not on chart Roof slabs were found atop a layer of debris in Room L 509 of the Northern Church
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted walls wall tilting and collapse VI+
Collapsed walls wall tilting and collapse VIII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) Seismic characterization for all earthquakes

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimated the same Intensity (VIII–IX) for 4 seismic events (~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake, 7th century Earthquake, 7th - 8th century Earthquake, and Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times) and the same direction of the epicenter (ESE).

There are few measurements of tilted and fallen walls, small remnants of which are still projected above the surface (fig. 9 9 ). Generally these walls tilted or collapsed toward ESE (fig. 23 ).

The degree of destruction at all the studied cities of the Negev desert (Avdat, Haluza, Mamshit, Rehovot-ba-Negev and Shivta) is similar (fig. 1 ). In order to produce such deformations, the local seismic intensity would have had to be I > VIII. In our previous papers we came to the conclusion that most of these deformations were caused by the local faults which dissect the Negev, and not the Dead Sea Transform. If it would be the case of the Dead Sea Transform, the degree of deformations would decreased from Mamshit in the east (maximum) to Rehovot-ba-Negev in the west. However, the degree of seismic deformation is not damping westward.

Recent geological research has revealed the existence of a strike-slip fault, the Saadon fault next to the site of Saadon, and close to Rehovot-ba-Negev. A dry river Nahal Saadon follows the strike of the fault and is incised into the chalk layers of the uplifted geological block. The fault strikes N65 degrees W, dipping steeply to the northeast, and is between 0.5–1.0 km of long, with a vertical displacement of 2–3 m citation. This fault, as well as other adjacent faults (Sde-Boker, Nafha, Ramon, Paran faults), could be the source of the seismic oscillations which destroyed Rehovot ba-Negev as well as other adjacent ancient desert cities.

Thus our archaeoseismological study of the ruins at ancient Rehovot-ba-Negev has revealed numerous features of seismic destructions, which testify to at least four earthquakes that affected the ancient town. The seismic intensities of these ancient seismic events were in the range of I = VIII–IX. This data confirms similar results in the adjacent ancient cities of the Negev desert – Avdat, Haluza, Mamshit and Shivta.

7th century and 7th-8th century Earthquakes - Using Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) to estimate Intensity

Rodkin, M. V. and A. M. Korzhenkov (2018) presented two methods to calculate Peak Ground Velocity (PGV). These values were then converted to Intensity via Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). Using the Calculators below leads to Intensity estimates between 7.5 and 10 which can be further constrained to 8-10 as the lower value does not adequately reflect the extent of damage. Rodkin, M. V. and A. M. Korzhenkov (2018) estimated Intensities between 8.5 and 9.5. Although the calculations were not performed for any specific earthquake, these Intensities likely represent either the 7th century CE earthquake and/or the 7th - 8th century earthquake as the methods require, for the most part, un-repaired seismic effects.

Site Effect

A site effect has not been considered in generating Intensity estimates however Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018:5) both mention revetment walls built atop loess. Tsafrir et al (1988:40) describes bedrock under the apse in the Northern Church as soft and chalky. All of these suggest a site effect as at least some of the town was built on weak soil. This somewhat mitigates the conclusions Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) that the high levels of Intensities suggested by seismic effects at Rehovot ba-Negev indicate that a a fault rupture in the Arava could not have been responsible for so much damage so far away. They say 100 km. away but I measure 75 km. at it's closest point. In considering the fairly extensive seismic damage that occurred in the Negev in the past, site effects should be considered in addition to the possibility that localized faults such a blind thrust may have been responsible for past earthquakes. Avdat/Oboda, for example, appears to be subject to a ridge effect.

Calculators

Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) presented two ways to estimate Peak Ground Velocity (PGV) - the Tilt Method and the PGV estimation method (PGVEM). Conversion from PGV to Intensity is made using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999) (only valid for I between V and IX).
Tilt Method Calculator

Variable Input Units Notes
degrees Critical Tilt Angle (11°-20°)
m Wall Thickness (1 for a Church, 0.5 for a House)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
m/s Peak Ground Velocity
unitless Intensity


Source: Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018)

PGV Estimation Method Calculator

Variable Input Units Notes
unitless Coefficient of friction (0.8 - 1.0)
cm. Displacement of masonry (10 - 15 cm.)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
m/s Peak Ground Velocity
unitless Intensity


Source: Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018)

Calculator Explanation

Two methods are used to estimate Peak Ground Velocity (PGV) - the Tilt Method (my name) and the PGV estimation method (PGVEM - their name). PGV values were converted to Intensity using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999)

Tilt Method
This method requires as input the Critical Tilt angle (α) of a wall in order for it to collapse. If the tilt is large enough, the projection of the wall's center of gravity will be located outside its base and the wall will fall over. In order to estimate α, we need to come up with some wall dimensions - specifically Height and Thickness. For Rehovot ba-Negev, Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) estimated the following input values for Height and Thickness:
Structure Height (m) Thickness (m) Tilt Angle - α
Church
House


Both cases lead to α between 11° and 12°. However, this tilt angle is for a rigid wall. If the wall is composed of blocks which are mortared together, as the seismic forces cause the wall to tilt, the top of the wall may start to bend and fail. If the top of the wall is destructed, the lower part of the wall will have a different effective geometry and require a larger tilt to fall over - perhaps between 15° and 20°. In fact, Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) note that this has been observed in Rehovot ba-Negev where tilt angles in the lower parts of wall can reach 15° and 20°. An example of such a phenomenon can be seen in Figure 4 of Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014). Thus, α can be constrained to between 11° and 20°. The other input variable is wall height H which is specified above as 5 meters for a church and 2.5 meters for a house. This leads to PGV values between 0.4 and 0.8 m/s for a church and 0.3 - 0.6 m/s for a house.
PGV Estimation Method
The PGV Estimation Method also requires two inputs - the coefficient of friction (k) of the sliding masonry block and the observed displacement of the block. Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) estimated that k varied from 0.8 - 1.0 and displacement went as high as 10 - 15 cm. (the larger values are more important in their method). An example of the larger observed shift of ~15 cm. can be seen in Figure of 13 of Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014). Another example can be seen in Figure 16 . Although the PGV Estimation Method is their preferred method, there were apparently a limited number of displacement measurements in Rehovot ba-Negev. Thus, they included the Tilt method to help constrain reasonable PGV values. Inputting their suggested range of k values and displacement values leads to PGV values between 1.3 and 1.7 m/s - higher than what one obtains with the Tilt Method.

Source: Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018)

Notes and Further Reading

Shiv