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1588 CE Quakes

Jan. or Feb. 1588 CE and 7 April 1588 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

A pair of earthquakes struck in 1588 CE. The first is reported to have struck around noon or a little after and, in Cairo, it is said to have lasted a long time - between one and five minutes although it probably just seemed like it lasted five minutes1. There are reports of water sloshing, walls crumbling, minarets losing their tops and some damage to homes in Cairo. The earthquake is said by some authors to have struck all of Egypt. There are also reports of destruction in Elat, a Castle collapse in Tabuk, and rockfalls in the mountains on the road to Mecca. One author says it was felt in Medina. The geographic spread of damage reports suggests an epicenter in the Gulf of Aqaba or the Red Sea. The date of this earthquake is a bit problematic. al-Shadhili says it struck on Sunday 4 Safar A.H. 996 but 4 Safar fell on a Monday. Depending on whether one decides to trust the date or the day of the week, it could have struck on 3 or 4 January 1588 CE. In a French translation by Digeon (1781), al-Ishaki supplies a date which works out to Sunday 23 Rabi al-Awwal in A.H. 996 which equates to 21 Feb. 1588 CE.

The second earthquake is only described by al-Ishaki and it's date and day of the week agree - Thursday 7 April 1588 CE. al-Ishaki only describes effects close to Cairo for this earthquake so it is indeterminate whether the seismic source was local or an aftershock from an earthquake with an epicenter in the Gulf of Aqaba or the Red Sea. The fact that it was described as being short in duration suggests that it was local. The second earthquake, which is said to have struck at sunrise, split a mountain known as Mokattan located in southeast Cairo and led to some water flows or seepage.

I had significant trouble accessing sources for this catalog entry so this write-up should be considered tentative. These earthquakes struck after the Gregorian calendar reform of 15 October 1582 so all dates are supplied in the Gregorian calendar rather than the Julian calendar.
Footnotes

1 I was in Los Angeles for the 1994 Northridge Quake and although it only lasted for 20 seconds, it seemed like it lasted much much longer.

Textual Evidence

Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Damage and Chronology Reports from Textual Sources n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
al-Ishaki Arabic ? Muslim ? Cairo
Account

Chronology

Reports two earthquakes. The first struck at about noon on Sunday 21 Feb. 1588 CE according to a French translation by Digeon (1781:i. 136–138) and on Monday 4 January 1588 CE or Sunday 3 January 1588 CE (days of week and dates don't agree) according to a translation by Taher (1979) as quoted by Abou Karaki (1987). Ambraseys (2009) provides a date of 4 January 1588 CE. The second earthquake struck at sunrise on Thursday 7 April 1588 CE according to a French translation by Digeon (1781:i. 136–138). Ambraseys (2009) provides the same date for the second earthquake.

Seismic Effects

1st earthquake

  • shocks lasted a minute
  • in the space of ten seconds entire towns were overthrown
  • one saw water ejected from the reservoirs of baths and mosques
  • Fort Akahetaile was destroyed from top to bottom
  • Whole rocks detached themselves from the mountains which are on the road to Mecca
  • Elat was destroyed by an earthquake
2nd earthquake
  • short time that it lasted
  • mountain part of Mokattan in Cairo split in 3 pieces
  • mountain part of Mokattan in Cairo flowed white fluid
Locations mentioned

1st earthquake
  • all of Egypt
  • Cairo (Fustat)
  • Fort Akahetaile
  • Aqaba/Elat
2nd earthquake
  • Cairo

al-Shadhili continuator of as-Suyuti Arabic ? Muslim ? ? - the account appears to contain some personal eyewitness testimony from the author of the earthquake as experienced in Cairo Reports that a strong earthquake was experienced a little after midday in Cairo which was of long duration (5 minutes?). Wrote that the tops of minarets shook with some losing their tops, basins and water tanks titled over, water sloshed violently in a pool, and that several quarters and houses in Cairo were damaged. Also reported that the walls of a courtyard of a specific house in Fustat (Cairo) swayed and some stones fell with a crash. Date and day of the week do not agree which leads to dates of Monday 4 January 1588 CE or Sunday 3 January 1588 CE
al-Ghuzzi continuator of as-Suyuti Arabic ? Muslim ? ? States that in A.H. 966 (24 Oct. 1588 CE to 12 Oct. 1559 CE) at Tabuk, on the Syrian pilgrim route, there was a strong shock and a castle collapsed on the pilgrims.
al-Aidarusi Arabic ? Muslim ? ? States that the shock was felt at Medina.
Damage to Saint Catherines' monastery in the Sinai as reported by Ben-Menahem (1979) Arabic Ambraseys (2009) notes that Ben-Menahem (1979:258), without details, reports that in Sinai, the mosque in the monastery of St Catherine’s collapsed and, together with other structures, was later rebuilt while adding - see Papamichalopoulos (1912, 242), quoting Zeki (1908), which has not been traced. Ben-Menahem (1979:258) entry only lists the year 1588 CE in Table 3 - Seismicity of Sinai. There is no mention of Saint Catherine's monastery or anything for that matter - only the year. Papamichalopoulos (1912) and Zeki (1908) are not listed as references by Ben-Menahem (1979).
Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Damage and Chronology Reports from Textual Sources

1st earthquake

´

Seismic Effects
Effect Sources Notes
long duration in Cairo al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili
Houses damaged in Cairo al-Shadhili
Minaret damage al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili
Sloshing water al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili
entire towns were overthrown al-Ishaki
Fort Akahetaile was destroyed from top to bottom al-Ishaki
Castle collapsed in Tabuk al-Ghuzzi
Rockfalls al-Ishaki
Locations
Effect Sources Notes
Cairo al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili
Egypt al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili
Aqaba/Elat al-Ishaki
Fort Akahetaile al-Ishaki
Mountains on the road to Mecca al-Ishaki
Tabuk al-Ghuzzi
Medina al-Aidarusi
Dates
Date Sources Notes
Monday 4 January 1588 CE or Sunday 3 January 1588 CE al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili
Sunday 21 Feb. 1588 CE al-Ishaki translation by Digeon
A.H. 966 (24 Oct. 1588 CE to 12 Oct. 1559 CE) al-Ghuzzi
Times
Time Sources Notes
midday or a little after al-Ishaki, al-Shadhili

2nd earthquake

´

Seismic Effects
Effect Sources Notes
short duration al-Ishaki
mountain part of Mokattan in Cairo split in 3 pieces al-Ishaki
mountain part of Mokattan in Cairo flowed white fluid al-Ishaki
Locations
Effect Sources Notes
Cairo al-Ishaki
Dates
Date Sources Notes
Thursday 7 April 1588 CE al-Ishaki Date and Day of the week agree
Times
Time Sources Notes
sunrise al-Ishaki

Latatif akhbar al-uwal fi-ma tasarrafa fi misr min arbab al-duwal by al-Ishaki

لطائف اخبار الأول فيمن تصرف في مصر من الدول by al-Ishaqi

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
al-Ishaki
al-Ishaqi
Muḥammad ibn ʻAbd al-Muʻṭī Isḥāqī
Excerpts
English from Digeon (1781) - both earthquakes

A.H. 996, on the fourth Sunday of Rabi al-Awwal, an earthquake shook all of Egypt about noon: the shocks lasted a minute, and were so violent that in the space of ten seconds entire towns were overthrown; one saw water ejected from the reservoirs of baths and mosques. Fort Akahetaile1a was destroyed from top to bottom, and the immense provisions destined for the caravan to Mecca, in the warehouse, became the prey of the Arabs of the desert. Whole rocks detached themselves from the mountains which are on the road to Mecca: never was there a similar shock in nature.
The last day is approaching (said a Poet of that time to this subject) make amends of your mortal failings, and take advantage of the terrible warnings given to you by the divine Omnipotence: the trembling earth warns you to tremble yourself.
This terrible phenomenon was repeated on Thursday 10 Jumada l-Ula of the same year, at sunrise. During the short time that it lasted, the mountain part of Mokattan1b, which looks over the vegetable gardens, found himself in three places, and out of each opening flowed a prodigious quantity of white water like milk and sweet, which flowed with such surprising rapidity and abundance, that the spectators exclaimed that only the hand of an irritated God could work such a prodigy.
Footnotes

1a This fort has been rebuilt. It is situated on the road to Mecca, in the middle of the desert, about [50?] or 60 leagues from Cairo.

1b This mountain dominates Cairo Castle.

English from Ambraseys (2009) - 1st earthquake only

The earthquake was destructive at the pass of Aila (Eilat) and caused rock falls on the Egyptian pilgrim route to Mecca (al-Ishaqi, 154).

English from Abou Karaki (1987) - 1st earthquake only

... the city of Aqaba - Elat was destroyed by an earthquake which occurred on Sunday 4 SAFAR 996 A.H.

Ambraseys' (2009) partial characterization of the 2nd Earthquake

Ambraseys (2009) did not provide an excerpt for the second earthquake from al-Ishaqi but indicates that he wrote that at Batnun to the east of Atfih, in the Muqattam hills, three fissures opened and water poured out.. Ambraseys (2009) noted that Batnun has not been located.

French from Digeon (1781) - both earthquakes

L'an 996, le Dimanche quatrième de Rebiulewel, un tremblement de terre fe fit fentir dans toute l'Égypte vers l'heure de midi: fes secoufles durèrent une minute, et furent fi violentes, que dans 1'efpace de dix secondes, des maisons , de valtes édifices publics, des villes entières même en furent renversées l'on voyoit forcir des réservoirs des bains & des mosquées, l'eau qu'ils renfermoient. Le fort Akahetaile1a fut détruit de fond en comble, et les provisions immenfes destiuées pour la caravanne de la Mecque, dont il étoit l'entrepôt, devinrent la proie des Arabes du désert, Des rochers entiers fe détachèrent des montagnes qui font fur le chemin de la Mecque: jamais ébranlement femblable ne fe fit dans la nature.
Le dernier jour approche: ( dit a ce fujet un Poete de ce temps-là) amen-de-toi, coupable mortel, et profite des avis terribles que te donne la Toute-puissance divine: la terre tremblante t'avertit de trembler toi-même.
Ce phénomène épouvantable se reouvela le Jeudi 10 de Dgemaziulewel de la même année, au lever du foleil. Pendant le peu de temps qu'il dura, la partie de la montagne de Mokattan1b, qui regarde les jardins potagers, s'en-trouvrit dans trois endroits , et il sortit de chaque ouverture une quantité pro digieuse d'eau blanche comme le lait et douceâtre, qui couloit avec une rapidité et une abondance si surprenantes, que les spectateurs s'écrièrent qu'il n'y avoit que la main d'un Dieu irrité qui pût opérer un pareil prodige.
Footnotes

1a Ce fort a été rebâti. Il est situé fur la route de la Mecque, au milieu desert, à environ [50?] ou 60 lieues du Caire.

1b Cette montagne domine le château du Caire.

French from Abou Karaki (1987) - 1st earthquake only

...La ville d'Aqaba - Elat a été détruite par un séisme survenu le Dimanche 4 SAFAR 996 apr. H

Original Document in Arabic - embedded

  • not bookmarked

Chronology
1st Earthquake
Date Reference Source Corrections Notes
about noon on Sunday 21 Feb. 1588 CE about noon on the fourth Sunday of Rabi al-Awwal A.H. 996 Digeon (1781:i. 136–138) none
  • Calculated using CHRONOS
  • The fourth Sunday of Rabi al-Awwal A.H. 996 is 23 Rabi al-Awwal
  • Note that this date is after the Gregorian Calendar Reform on 15 October 1582 CE so the Gregorian Calendar is used instead of the Julian Calendar
Monday 4 January 1588 CE or Sunday 3 January 1588 CE Sunday 4 Safar A.H. 996 Abou Karaki (1987) quoting Taher (1979) none
2nd earthquake
Date Reference Source Corrections Notes
sunrise Thursday 7 April 1588 CE sunrise Thursday 10 Jumada l-Ula A.H. 996 Digeon (1781:i. 136–138) none
  • Calculated using CHRONOS
  • 7 April 1588 CE falls on a Thursday (calculated using CHRONOS)
  • Note that this date is after the Gregorian Calendar Reform on 15 October 1582 CE so the Gregorian Calendar is used instead of the Julian Calendar
Seismic Effects

1st earthquake 2nd earthquake Locations

1st earthquake 2nd earthquake
Footnotes

1. In Digeon's (1781:i. 136–138) translation for the 2nd earthquake, the only Seismic Effect described was fissures at the mountain part of Mokattan - a prominent geographic feature in Cairo. Ambraseys (2009) characterized these fissures as occurring in the Muqattam hills at Batnun to the east of Atfih while noting that Batnun has not been located.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Continuation of Kashf al salsala (as-Suyuti) by al-Shadhili

Continuation of Kashf al salsala by al-Shadhili

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
al-Shadhili
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

This link may be to al-Shadhili.

Excerpts

Ambraseys (2009) states that al-Ishaqi was in the house of the naqib al-juyush (Superintendent of the Army) in Fustat when the earthquake struck although I think he really meant to say al-Shadhili. In any case, the description of swaying walls in a specific house suggests that this is direct eye-witness testimony.
English from Ambraseys (2009)

A little after midday on Sunday, 4 Safar a.H. 996 (4 January 1588 N.S.), a strong earthquake shock was felt in Cairo, where it was of long duration, about five daraja. The minarets shook, some of them losing their tops; basins and water tanks tilted over, and one report speaks of an eye-witness running in fear from the bathhouse, after the water had sloshed violently in the pool. Several quarters and houses of Cairo were damaged (Al-Shadhili, 64).

English from Abou Karaki (1987)

houses and minarets of mosques were destroyed in Egypt ... the walls of the courtyard of the house began to sway, with a crash, some stones fell, ... the minarets of the mosques have swayed, the upper parts of some of these minarets have fallen.

French from Abou Karaki (1987)

des maisons et des minarets de mosquées ont été détruits en Egypte ... les murs de la cour de la maison ont commencé à osciller, avec fracas, quelques pierres sont tombées ... les minarets des mosquées ont oscillé, les parties supérieures de certains de ces minarets sont tombées.

Chronology
Date Reference Corrections Notes
a little after midday on Monday 4 January 1588 CE or Sunday 3 January 1588 CE a little after midday on Sunday 4 Safar A.H. 996 none
Seismic Effects Locations Online Versions and Further Reading

Continuation of Kashf al salsala (as-Suyuti) by al-Ghuzzi

Continuation of Kashf al salsala (as-Suyuti) by al-Ghuzzi

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
al-Ghuzzi
Excerpts
English from Ambraseys (2009)

At Tabuk, on the Syrian pilgrim route, the shock was very strong, and the castle collapsed on the pilgrims there (al-Ghuzzi).

English from al-Hafiz (1980)

In the year 966 AH, in the aftermath, your earthquake was small, a great earthquake that killed the fortress of Tabuk1 and the Hajjaj.
Footnotes

1 Tabuk: With conquest and then grief, he went to the valley of villages and the Levant.... Al-Malik Al-Adel Al-Ayyubi, 632 5. (Study 2/6/24).

Arabic from al-Hafiz (1980)

— في سنة ست وتسع١ن وتسعء١ثة في الآثل صغر زلزك زلزلة عظيمة لأمت منها قلعة تبوك ١ والحجاج .٠ها .

Footnotes (incomplete)

ه: بالفتح ثم الغم، مض بيزوادي القرى والشام.... الملك ال٠ادل الايوبية ت ٦٣٢ ٥. (الدارس ٢ /٦ ٢ ٤) . ٠ حصن (معجم البلدان) .

Chronology
Date Reference Corrections Notes
24 Oct. 1588 CE to 12 Oct. 1559 CE A crude machine translation from al-Hafiz (1980-81:260) indicates that the year was A.H. 966 none Calculated using CHRONOS
Seismic Effects Locations Online Versions and Further Reading

Al-Nur al-safir an akhbar al-qarn al-ashir by al-Aidarusi

Al-Nur al-safir an akhbar al-qarn al-ashir by al-Aidarusi

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
al-Aidarusi
Excerpts

Ambraseys (2009) states that al-Aidarusi quotes a poem composed by the people of Mecca.
English from Ambraseys (2009)

Medina was also affected by the shock (al-’Aidarusi sub ann.)

Seismic Effects Locations Online Versions and Further Reading
References

al-Aidarusi, Al-Nur al-safir an akhbar al-qarn al-ashir, ed. M. al-Safar, Baghdad, 1934. (see p. 443)

Damage to Saint Catherines' monastery in the Sinai as reported by Ben-Menahem (1979)

Ambraseys (2009) notes that Ben-Menahem (1979:258), without details, reports that in Sinai, the mosque in the monastery of St Catherine’s collapsed and, together with other structures, was later rebuilt while adding - see Papamichalopoulos (1912, 242), quoting Zeki (1908), which has not been traced. Ben-Menahem's (1979:258) entry only lists the year 1588 CE in Table 3 - Seismicity of Sinai. There is no mention of Saint Catherine's monastery or anything for that matter - only the year. Papamichalopoulos (1912) and Zeki (1908) are not listed as references by Ben-Menahem (1979).

Online Versions and Further Reading

References

Ben-Menahem, A. (1979). "Earthquake catalogue for the Middle East (92 BC-AD 1980) " Bollettino di Geofisica Teorica e Applicata 21: 245-313.

Papamichalopoulos, C. N. (1912:242), I moni tou orous Sina, Athens–Cairo.

Zeki, A. (1908), in Les Pyramides, 27 January 1908, Cairo.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Baydha possible ≥ 8 Late Islamic (Mamluk/Ottoman) earthquake - Sinibaldi (2018:75) reports that Mosque 2 (aka the Western Mosque) which Sinibaldi (2016:95) dates to not earlier than the 13th-14th century CE (Mamluk period) was probably destroyed by an earthquake.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Baydha



Landslide Evidence

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Jordan Valley - Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed Trenches possible ≥ 7 Ferry et al (2011) detected 12 surface rupturing seismic events in 4 trenches (T1-T4) in Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed; 10 of which were prehistoric. The tightest chronology came from the Ghor Kabed trenches (T1 and T2) where Events Y and Z were constrained to between 560 and 1800 CE.
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a n/a
Dead Sea - En Feshka no evidence The top of Kagan et. al. (2011)'s section in En Feshka began around 1300 CE.
Dead Sea - Nahal Darga possible ≥ 7 Enzel et. al. (2000) identified a 25-50 cm. thick seismite in coarse grained lithology in Deformed Unit 10 at the base of Stratigraphic Unit 13 which dated to 1450-1550 CE (~ 400-500 yrs BP).
Dead Sea - En Gedi possible 5.6 - 7.0 Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 1588 CE date to a 1 cm. thick Type 1 seismite at a depth of 52 cm. (0.52 m).
Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim possible 8.2 - 9.0 At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) encountered a 10 cm. thick Type 4 seismite which was dated to ~1525 CE ± 125. The date was not within their Bayesian modeled range and was extrapolated. Kagan et. al. (2011) suggested that this particular seismite formed during an earthquake in 1458 CE.
Araba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Araba - Qasr Tilah possible ≥ 7 Haynes et al. (2006) dated Event I to 1515-1918 CE.
Araba - Taybeh Trench possible LeFevre et al. (2018) assigned a 1458 CE date to a seismite labeled as E2 which was age modeled to 1581 CE ± 133.
Araba - Qatar Trench possible ≥ 7 Klinger et. al. (2015) identified one seismic event which fits the 1458 CE Quake.
Event Mean Date Age Range Quake Assignment (Klinger) Quake Assignment (Williams)
E1 1447 CE ± 13 1434-1459 CE 1458 CE Quake not assigned
Araba - Taba Sabhka Trench possible ≥ 7 Allison (2013) assigned a 1068 CE date to a seismic event which they dated to between 1045 and 1661 CE and Allison (2013) assigned a 1212 CE date to a seismic event which they dated to between the mid 11th century CE and the 16-17th centuries CE.
Araba - Elat Sabhka Trenches possible Kanari et al (2020) dated Event E2 in Trench T3 to after 1294 CE and assigned it to earthquakes in 1458 or 1588 CE. Kanari et al (2020) dated sand blows SB1 and SB2 in Trench T3 to between 1287 and 1635 CE and suggested they may have formed during an earthquake in 1458 CE.
Araba - Trenches in Aqaba possible ≥ 7 Niemi (2011:153) noted that the most recent scarp-forming event fault [in Trench AQ-1] occurred after A.D. 1045-1278 based on a corrected, calibrated radiocarbon age from charcoal collected from a buried campfire at the base of the scarp in Trench T-1. This likely represents fault motion in one of the historical earthquakes affecting southern Jordan (e.g. 1068, 1212, 1458, or 1588).
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed Trenches

Ferry et al (2011) detected 12 surface rupturing seismic events in 4 trenches (T1-T4) in Tell Saidiyeh and Ghor Kabed; 10 of which were prehistoric. The tightest chronology came from the Ghor Kabed trenches (T1 and T2) where Events Y and Z were constrained to between 560 and 1800 CE.

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



Dead Sea - Seismite Types



Dead Sea - En Feshka

The top of Kagan et. al. (2011)'s section in En Feshka began around 1300 CE.



Dead Sea - Nahal Darga

Enzel et. al. (2000) identified a 25-50 cm. thick seismite in coarse grained lithology in Deformed Unit 10 at the base of Stratigraphic Unit 13 which dated to 1450-1550 CE (~ 400-500 yrs BP).



Dead Sea - En Gedi

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 1588 CE date to a 1 cm. thick Type 1 seismite at a depth of 52 cm. (0.52 m).



Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim

At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) encountered a 10 cm. thick Type 4 seismite which was dated to ~1525 CE ± 125. The date was not within their Bayesian modeled range and was extrapolated. Kagan et. al. (2011) suggested that this particular seismite formed during an earthquake in 1458 CE.



Araba - Introduction



Araba - Qasr Tilah

Haynes et al. (2006) dated Event I to 1515-1918 CE.



Araba - Taybeh Trench

LeFevre et al. (2018) assigned a 1458 CE date to a seismite labeled as E2 which was age modeled to 1581 CE ± 133.



Araba - Qatar Trench

Klinger et. al. (2015) identified one seismic event which fits the 1458 CE Quake.

Event Mean Date Age Range Quake Assignment (Klinger) Quake Assignment (Williams)
E1 1447 CE ± 13 1434-1459 CE 1458 CE Quake not assigned


Araba - Taba Sabhka Trench

Allison (2013) assigned a 1068 CE date to a seismic event which they dated to between 1045 and 1661 CE and Allison (2013) assigned a 1212 CE date to a seismic event which they dated to between the mid 11th century CE and the 16-17th centuries CE.



Araba - Elat Sabhka Trenches

Kanari et al (2020) dated Event E2 in Trench T3 to after 1294 CE and assigned it to earthquakes in 1458 or 1588 CE. Kanari et al (2020) dated sand blows SB1 and SB2 in Trench T3 to between 1287 and 1635 CE and suggested they may have formed during an earthquake in 1458 CE.



Araba - Trenches in Aqaba

Niemi (2011:153) noted that the most recent scarp-forming event fault [in Trench AQ-1] occurred after A.D. 1045-1278 based on a corrected, calibrated radiocarbon age from charcoal collected from a buried campfire at the base of the scarp in Trench T-1. This likely represents fault motion in one of the historical earthquakes affecting southern Jordan (e.g. 1068, 1212, 1458, or 1588).



Notes

Ambraseys (2009)


Fig. 1 Location map of Hejaz study area (squared). Stars show location of adopted epicenters of the
earthquakes of September 873, 18 March 1068, and 4 January 1588. Open stars show the location of
Hala'l Ishqa (1) and Hala'l Badr (2) associated with the lava flows of 641 AD. JW: Epicenters are
mislocated (873, 1068, and 1588) and were corrected in subsequent publications. Map is presented for
other locations. (from Ambraseys and Melville (1989))

AD 1588 Jan 4 Eilat

A little after midday on Sunday, 4 Safar a.H. 996 (4 January 1588 N.S.), a strong earthquake shock was felt in Cairo, where it was of long duration, about five daraja. The minarets shook, some of them losing their tops; basins and water tanks tilted over, and one report speaks of an eye-witness running in fear from the bathhouse, after the water had sloshed violently in the pool. Several quarters and houses of Cairo were damaged (Al-Shadhili, 64).

The earthquake was destructive at the pass of Aila (Eilat) and caused rock falls on the Egyptian pilgrim route to Mecca (al-Ishaqi, 154). At Tabuk, on the Syrian pilgrim route, the shock was very strong, and the castle collapsed on the pilgrims there (al-Ghuzzi). Medina was also affected by the shock (al-’Aidarusi sub ann.). In Sinai, the mosque in the monastery of St Catherine’s collapsed and, together with other structures, was later rebuilt (Ben-Menahem 1979, 258).

These details are consistent with an epicentre in the northern Red Sea area, to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba (Melville 1984, 99; Ambraseys and Melville 1989).

Notes

Al-Shadhili (64). Note again the professional interest in minarets; their motion may have led him to overestimate the duration of the earthquake; see the next note. The 4 January was a Monday.

Al-Ishaqi (154) and the more dramatic version in Digeon (1781, i. 136–137), which speaks of entire towns over-whelmed. Bedouin looted the goods of the pilgrims and muhafizun (escorts?) stored in Aila. This was a regular hazard, cf. the pilgrimage of 872/1468, reported by Ibn Taghribirdi (Nujum, ed. Popper, vii. 748–749). At the time of the shock, al-Ishaqi (JW: I think Ambraseys, 2009 meant to say Al-Shadhili) was in the house of the naqib al-juyush (Superintendent of the Army) in Fustat, and saw the walls of the courtyard swaying from side to side. Stones fell from a qa’qa’a (portico) and the large lote-tree in the court shook as though in a violent squall. He says that the shocks lasted only a daraja and one sixth, and also gives a chronogramme written about the event. See Taher (1979, 212–214/252–253), who wrongly gives the date as 14 Safar/14 January.

Al-Ghuzzi, in al-Hafiz (1982, 260). The official pilgrim caravan had normally returned to Cairo by this date.

Al-’Aidarusi (443). He quotes a poem composed by the people of Mecca, which led Ambraseys and Melville (1989) to suggest that Mecca was also affected.

Ben-Menahem (1979, 258), without details, for which see Papamichalopoulos (1912, 242), quoting Zeki (1908), which has not been traced.

AD 1588 Apr 7 Cairo

A second earthquake was felt in Cairo soon after the previous event. It occurred at sunrise on Wednesday 10 Juneada I a.H. 996 (7 April 1588 NS) and lasted only a brief while. At Batnun to the east of Atfih, in the Muqattam hills, three fissures opened and water poured out. These details suggest that it was probably a local shock, though possibly connected with continuing activity in the northern Red Sea region.
Notes

See al-Ishaqi (154) and Taher (1979, 213/235). Ambraseys and Melville (1989) associate these details with the earthquake of 4 January. Batnun has not been located. The text translated by Digeon (1781, 138) puts these effects in the hills overlooking the ´ market gardens near the citadel in Cairo, which is more plausible in view of the spectators who evidently witnessed the event.

References

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

Ambraseys et al (1994)


Fig. 2.18 1588 January 4 - April 7, Northern Hejaz. Atfih was affected only in the event of 7 April.
(Ambraseys et al, 1994)

1588 January 4 NS Sunday 4 Safar 996 Northern Hejaz

A little after midday, a strong shock of earthquake was felt in Cairo, where it was of long duration (about five daraja). The minarets shook, some of them losing their top; basins and water tanks tilted over, and one report speaks of an eye-witness running in fear from the bathhouse, after the water sloshed violently in the pool.1 Several quarters and houses of Cairo were damaged. The earthquake was destructive at the pass of Aila and caused rockfalls on the Egyptian pilgrim route to Mecca.2 At Tabuk, on the Syrian pilgrim route, the shock was very strong and the castle collapsed on the pilgrims there.3 Medina was also affected by the shock.4 In Sinai, the mosque in the monastery of St Catherine's collapsed and, together with other structures, was later rebuilt.5

These details are consistent with an epicentre in the northern Red Sea area, to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba (see Figure 2.18).6

Footnotes

1 Al-Shadhili, p. 64. Note again his professional interest in minarets; their motion may have led him to overestimate the duration of the shock, see next note. January 4 was a Monday.

2 Al-Ishaqi, p. 154, and the more dramatic version in Digeon (1781), 1,136-7, which speaks of entire towns overwhelmed. Bedouin looted the goods of the pilgrims and muhafizun (escort?) stored in Aila. This was a regular hazard, cf. the pilgrimage of 872/1468, reported by Ibn Taghribirdi, Nujum, ed. Popper, VII, 748-9.

At the time of the shock, al-Ishaqi (JW: I think Ambraseys et al, 1994 meant to say Al-Shadhili) was in the house of the naqib al-juyush (Superintendant of the Army) in Fustat, and saw the walls of the courtyard swaying from side to side. Stones fell from a qa'qa'a (portico, qa'?) and the large lote-tree in the court shook as though in a violent squall. He says the shock lasted only a daraja and one-sixth, and also gives a chronogram written about the event. See Taher (1979), pp. 212-14/252-3 , who wrongly gives the date as 14 Safar/ 14 January. The earthquake is duplicated under both dates by Poirier and Taher (1980), p. 2194.

3 Al-Ghuzzi, in al-Hafiz (1982), p. 260. The official pilgrim caravan had normally returned to Cairo by this date.

4 Al-'Aidarusi, p. 443. He quotes a poem composed by the people of Mecca, which led Ambraseys and Melville (1989), to suggest that Mecca was also affected.

5 Ben-Menahem (1979), p. 258, without details, for which see Papamichalopoulos (1912), p. 242, quoting Zeki (1908), which we have not traced.

6 Melville (1984a), p. 99; Ambraseys and Melville (1989)

1588 April 7 NS Wednesday 10 Jumada I, 996 Lower Egypt

A second earthquake was felt in Cairo soon after the previous event. It occurred at sunrise and lasted only a brief while. At Batnun to the east of of Atfih, in the Muqattam hills, three fissures opened and water poured out.1 These details suggest that it was probably a local shock, though possibly connected with continuing activity in the northern Red Sea (Gulf of Suez) region.
Footnotes

1 Al-Ishaqi, p. 154; Taher (1979), p. 213/253; Poirier and Taher (1980), pp. 2194 (under April 9) and 2200. April 7 was a Thursday. Ambraseys and Melville (1989) associate these details with the earthquake of 4 January 1588. Batnun has not been located. The text translated by Digeon (1781), p. 138, puts these effects in the hills overlooking the market gardens near the citadel in Cairo, which is more plausible in view of the spectators who evidently witnessed the event.

Abou Karaki (1987) Earthquake Catalog

Abou Karaki (1987) may be mixing quotes from Al-Ishaqi and Al-Shadhili and attributing everything to Al-Ishaqi. It looks like the city of Aqaba - Elat was destroyed by an earthquake which occurred on Sunday 4 SAFAR 996 A.H. is from Al-Ishaqi and the rest is from Al-Shadhili.

English

* G = 5 JAN. 1588, J = 24 DEC 1587, Sunday 4 SAFAR 996 A.H. shortly after midday.

- In his book, Al-Isaaki mentions...; "the city of Aqaba - Elat was destroyed by an earthquake which occurred on Sunday 4 SAFAR 996 A.H.; houses and minarets of mosques were destroyed in Egypt";..., The author mentioned above was in Cairo, he described his experience:..., "the walls of the courtyard of the house began to sway, with a crash, some stones fell,.., the minarets of the mosques have swayed, the upper parts of some of these minarets have fallen,...," (TAHA).

- 1588 A.D., Sinai, without any other mention (BM1)

- 14 Safar 996 A.H., Cairo (VIII), Elat (XI) (PTAH).
- 4 Safar 996 A.H., Cairo (VIII) (PTAH).

NAJA: (PTAH) and (TAHF) mentions two dates, therefore two distinct shocks; on the other hand, the descriptions contained in (TAHA) do not mention 2 independent shocks; in particular, there is no mention of the date of 14 SAFAR in (TAHA pp 212 - 214).

French

* *G = 5 JAN. 1588, J = 24 DEC 1587, le dimanche 4 SAFAR 996 apr. H peu après la mi-journée.

- Dans son livre, Al-Isaaki, mentionne...; "la ville d'Aqaba - Elat a été détruite par un séisme survenu le Dimanche 4 SAFAR 996 apr. H ; des maisons et des minarets de mosquées ont été détruits en Egypte" ;..., L'auteur mentionné ci-dessus était au Caire, il a décrit son expérience :..., "les murs de la cour de la maison ont commencé à osciller, avec fracas, quelques pierres sont tombées,.., les minarets des mosquées ont oscillé, les parties supérieures de certains de ces minarets sont tombées,...," (TAHA).

- 1588 apr. J.C., Sinai, sans aucune autre mention (BM1)

- Le 14 SAFAR 996 apr. H, Le Caire (VIII), Elat (XI) (PTAH).
- Le 4 SAFAR 996 apr. H, Le Caire (VII-VIII) (PTAH).

NAJA : (PTAH) et (TAHF) mentionne deux dates, donc deux chocs distincts ; par contre les descriptions contenues dans (TAHA) ne font pas état de 2 chocs indépendants; en particulier, il nhe a aucune mention de la date de 14 SAFAR dans (TAHA pp 212 - 214).

References

Abou-Karaki, N. (1987). Synthèse et carte sismotectonique des pays de la bordure Orientale de la Méditerranée: sismicité du système de foilles du Jourdain – Mer Morte, University of Strasbourg, France. Ph.D. Diss.

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References

References

Ambraseys, N., Melville, C. (1989), ‘Evidence for intraplate earthquakes in northwest Arabia’, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., 79, 1279–1281.

Papamichalopoulos, C. N. (1912:242), I moni tou orous Sina, Athens–Cairo.

Taher, M. A. (1979:212–214/252–253). Corpus des textes arabes relatifs aux tremblements de terre et autres catastrophes naturelles de la conquête arabe au XII H./XVIII J.C. [S.l.], [s.n.].

Thenhaus et al (1989), Probabilistic Estimates of the Seismic Ground-Motion Hazard in Western Saudi Arabia, USGS Bulletin 1868<

Zeki, A. (1908), in Les Pyramides, 27 January 1908, Cairo.

Poirier and Taher (1980:2194)