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1834 CE Fellahin Revolt Quake

by Jefferson Williams

Introduction & Summary

Executive Summary

This earthquake occurred on 26 May 1834 in Palestine during the 1834 revolt at the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the fellahin; who entered the city on the day after the earthquake. There are reports that there were ten days of aftershocks (Macalister, 1918).

In Jerusalem, many houses were destroyed (Macalister, 1918) and part of the wall of the outer enclosure of the al-Aqsa mosque crumbled during the first shock and some houses and tops of minarets fell (Nicolayson 1911, 83-89). In Bethlehem, there are reports of damage to structures and deaths (Macalister, 1918). There was further damage in and around the Dead Sea and to weak structures in Jaffa. The earthquake was felt well to the north and east of Jerusalem in Gaza, Ascalon, Caesaraea, and Acre and probably in Nablus and Tiberius. The reports of damage in and around the Dead Sea suggest that the epicentral region was likely in the Dead Sea or in the northern part of the Arava.

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 1834/1837 AD date to a 3 cm. thick seismite in the 1997 GFZ/GSI En Gedi core. Migowski et. al. (2004) suggests that the 1834 seismite may have been masked (aka overprinted) by the 1837 seismite. However, Migowski et. al. (2004) assign a seismite a little bit lower in the section to an 1822 earthquake that had an epicenter in Anatolia and was too far away to have broken sediments in the Dead Sea. It is possible that Migowski's 1822 seismite was formed in 1834 and Migowski's 1834/1837 seismite was formed in 1837. Another possibility is that the 1822 sesimite was formed due to a local earthquake that went unreported historically or the 1822 disturbed layer was not created by an earthquake. Ken-Tor et. al. (2001) assigned a 1834/1837 AD date to a seismite observed in Nahal Ze e'lim.

Notes :

Fellahin means farmer in Arabic.

Ambraseys (2009) reports that the earthquake was not felt in Tiberius while Amiran et. al. (1991) report that the earthquake was felt in Tiberius.

Tristram (1874) interpreted ~30-40 year old earthquake damage to ruins of Meisha at Dhiban which he attributed to the 1837 Safed Quake; apparently unaware of the more southerly 1834 Fellahin Revolt quake. The 1834 earthquake is the more likely candidate to have caused the damage observed at Dhiban.

Textual Evidence

Macalister, P. R. A. S. (1918)

This earthquake took place during a Revolt against the Ottoman Pasha Ibrahim. A first hand account of this earthquake can be found in a Quarterly Report of the Palestine Exploration Fund of 1918 where a letter originally written in Welsh was translated to English from the magazine Y Gwyliedydd - Vol. XII [1835], p. 27. Below is an excerpt from the letter describing the earthquake.The man who wrote the letter was in Jerusalem when the earthquake struck.

To increase our misery, an earthquake, one of the strongest ever felt in Palestine, destroyed many houses, and levelled to the earth that part of the city wall which passes the temple of the Muhammadans. The monastery of Bethlehem was rendered uninhabitable, and many of the inhabitants were killed in the ruin of their houses. For ten days earthquakes continued to rock the city, though none of them was by any means so severe as the first.

Spyridon, S. N. (1938) pp. 92-93

At six o'clock on Sunday morning, May 13th, there was an earthquake. It lasted but three seconds, but it was so 'violent that the dome of the Catholicon was cracked in seven places and all the plaster fell off.

The big dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was shaken, but being of wood and well bound together, it was not greatly damaged.[1] Many big houses in Jerusalem were cracked and many fell. Part of the city wall, near the Mosque of Omar, fell, A minaret fell in Jerusalem, and another one on the Mount of Olives, as did the dome of the Shrine of the Ascension. In Bethlehem the monasteries of the Franks and the Armenians and ours were greatly damaged, especially the belfry. By God's mercy the beautiful Church of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the new pilgrim-house, was not damaged.[2] .

The fellaheen got frightened at the earthquake and stopped firing for the moment, but the next day they began again, and so did the cannon from inside .....


[1] Three supports were broken near the base. The belfry and the arches were shaken. Many of the cisterns in Jerusalem were cracked and the water hewed out of them.

[2] The wall of the Church was cracked near where the Armenians celebrate. The tower of St. John Damascenus in the monastery of St. Saba was completely cracked.

Dowling, T. E. (1913). The orthodox Greek patriarchate of Jerusalem, pp. 77-78

Chapter XIV - Important Events connected with the History of the Church of the Resurrection (i.e the Chruch of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem)

1834 The Dome of the Catholicon was partly destroyed by an earthquake It was repaired by the Greeks


Tristram (1874)

Turning due north from our camp, across a bleak and dreary plain, we reached Dhiban, the ancient Dibon, in exactly half an hour.


Dhiban is quite as dreary and featureless a ruin as any other of the Moabite desolate heaps



From all we heard from Mr. Klein, its first discover- er, and, alas, the only European who has ever seen it entire; and from what Zadam pointed out to us of its position, it seems to me highly improbable that the stone has been for 2500 years exposed to the light ot day still less that it could have been ongmally set up in the spot where Mr. Klein saw it lying, with the inscription uppermost.


it seems most reasonable to conjecture that it had been removed from its orig- inal position, and used up as building material by the Romans, or some of their predecessors, who were ig- norant of, or indifferent to, its import; and that, after lyino- embedded and secure for ages, it has, through the progress of dilapidation, or by earthquake, been thrown down, or fallen from its place, and the care- fully-preserved inscriptions been again exposed to day.*

* From the appearance of the ruins near, and from the replies of the Arabs to my inquiries, I can not but beheve that the exposure of the celebrated monolith dates only from the earthquake of 1st Janu- ary 1837. This earthquake was the most destructive of any on rec- ord in Syria, and caused a fearful sacrifice of human life at Safed, m Galilee, where several thousand persons were buried under the rums As far as we can trace it, the axis of the disturbance must have passed very near Dibon. Many of the Arabs remember a terrific earthquake which occurred when they were children, and which overthrew many columns and arches in the old cities. Considering the comparative freshness of the inscription on the Moabite Stone, it may probably have been exposed for not more than the last thirty-five years.

Archeoseismic Evidence

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Migowski et. al. (2004)

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 1834/1837 AD date to a 3 cm. thick seismite in the 1997 GFZ/GSI En Gedi core. Migowski et. al. (2004) suggests that the 1834 seismite may have been masked (aka overprinted) by the 1837 seismite.

Ken-Tor et. al. (2001)

Ken-Tor et. al. (2001) assigned a seismite known as Event G in Nahal Ze 'elim to the 1834 and/or 1837 earthquakes.

Figure 2. The lithology and chronology of a composite section exposed in Ze'elim Plain. The section is described from two outcrops exposed in different gullies 300 m apart. The correlation between the outcrops is based on the sedimentary sequence, laminae counting, and 14C dates. Ages presented in 4c years B.P. Deformed units (mixed layers and liquefied sands) are marked by capital letters. The original figure was modified slightly by Williams.

Kanari, M., et al. (2015). "On-land and offshore evidence for Holocene earthquakes in the Northern Gulf of Aqaba-Elat, Israel/Jordan." Miscellanea INGV 27: 240-243


The cities of Elat, Israel and neighboring Aqaba, Jordan are major economic, cultural, and seaport centers. They are located on the northern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba/Elat (GAE) directly on the Dead Sea Transform. Yet the precise location of the fault trace and its tectonic activity are lacking. The interpretation of seismic reflection profiles across the GAE beach and paleoseismic trench data located 2.2 km north of the shoreline provide evidence that the active offshore mapped Avrona Fault extends onland along the eastern side of the Elat Sabkha (mudflat), where three prominent fault strands crosscut the sedimentary fill. Mismatch of reflector geometry across the faults and flower structures indicate strike-slip faulting with a normal-slip component. Subsurface data from two trenching sites provide evidence for a minimum of two surface ruptures and two paleoliquefaction events. Faulting is constrained by radiocarbon dating for an Event 1 between 897 and 992 CE and Event 2 after 1294 CE. We suggest that the historically documented 1068 CE, and at least one later earthquake in 1458 or 1588 CE, ruptured the Elat Sabkha site. Based on fault mapping, we suggest a minimum value of M 6.6 for the 1068 CE earthquake. Whereas no surface rupture was observed for the 1212 CE historical earthquake, fluidized strata radiocarbon dated to before 1269–1389 CE identified as paleoliquefaction may be attributed to it. Two liquefaction sand-blows mapped in the trench likely formed after 1337 CE and before 1550 CE, which possibly occurred at the same time as in the second faulting event. Our data suggest that no large event occurred along the Avrona segment in the past ~430–550 years. Given a ~ 5 mm/yr slip rate, we conclude that a significant period of time passed since the last surface rupturing on the Avrona Fault, increasing its seismic potential.

4.2.3. Radiocarbon dating and age models

A total of 12 charcoal samples were collected from Trench 1 and Trench 3 and were sent for radiocarbon analyses (Table 1). Radio¬carbon ages were corrected for isotope fractionation and calibrated using the Calib 7.1 software (Stuiver et al., 2019). A sediment accu¬mulation rate was calculated for deposits in Trench 3 at the fault zone and in the west sabkha near the sand blow locations (Fig. 7). Using the depth and ages of three lower radiocarbon results at the fault zone, a sedimentation rate of 0.9 mm/yr was calculated. At the location of the sand blow, using the depth and ages of the lower two radiocarbon samples yielded a 1.7 mm/yr sediment accumulation rate. These data suggest that subsidence and accommodation space within the Avrona Sabkha and fault zone varies by a factor of about two.

Age modeling using the OxCal program and the IntCall3 calibration curve (Bronk Ramsey, 2017; Reimer et al., 2013) was performed for the radiocarbon results and combined with stratigraphic data from the faulted section of T3. Units U8-U2 were deposited before an earthquake that appears to be capped by layers in the lower unit Ul. Radiocarbon samples ET3-120 (U5), ET3-121 (U4), ET3-132 (U2) are below the event and ET3-122, ET3-131, ET3-130, and ET3-133 are above it (Fig. 5). Reiterative OxCal model runs for the above sequence identified three samples in poor agreement that were removed. The final OxCal age model included samples ET3-120, ET3-130, ET3-131, and ET3-133 as presented in Fig. 8. The 2-sigma age model result indicates that the first faulting event (El) occurred between 897 and 992 CE, and the second faulting event (E2) occurred after 1287 CE. The agricultural plowing of the top of the trench prevents the dating of the cap. The historical records rule out significant earthquake surface ruptures in this location in the past —450 years (e.g. Klinger et al., 2015).

Two liquefaction features at the same stratigraphic level were documented in the western portion of Trench T3 (Fig. 6). These features are interpreted to be earthquake-induced liquefied sand. The features are capped by flat-lying strata that lack radiocarbon age dating. One radiocarbon sample (ET3-135) yielded an age of 2133-1903 BCE. We suspect it is a remobilization of charcoal older than all other C-14 re¬sults for this trench. The process of liquefaction can fluidize saturated sands at depth and inject these to the surface. Three radiocarbon samples (ET3-124, ET3-123, and ET3-134) were collected from under and within the sand blows and thus pre-date the causative earthquake. Utilizing these ages below a boundary event in the OxCal modeling program indicated that ET3-134 was in poor agreement, and it was removed from the model. With the remaining two radiocarbon dates, a probability distribution for the age of liquefaction of 1294-1635 CE was obtained. If we use the sediment accumulation rate of 1.7 mm/yr and the depth to the capping horizon of 70 cm, then the capping layer (13) began forming approximately 400 years ago. This would suggest that the sand blow formed before 1550 CE.

In Trench Ti (Fig. 6), a dewatering structure that is likely due to seismically-induced liquefaction is capped by laminated sediment of Layer C. The charcoal sample from this layer (ET02) yielded split sample radiocarbon ages of 690 ± 25 and 675 ± 25 (Table 1). The calendar age range for these two samples is 1269-1389 CE indicating that the liquefaction event occurred sometime before the late 13th to late 14th centuries.

5.2. Paleoearthquake surface rupture and liquefaction

Haynes et al. (2006) infer from historical earthquake intensity data that major post-sixth century earthquakes probably occurred in the Wadi Araba and Dead Sea Fault in 634, 659/660, 873, 1068, 1212, 1293, 1458, 1546, and 1588 CE (Russell, 1985; Ben-Menahem, 1991; Ambraseys et al., 1994; Amiran et al., 1994; Guidoboni et al., 1994; Guidoboni and Comastri, 2005; Ambraseys, 2009). Klinger et al. (2015) narrow the largest well documented events of the southern DST after the eighth century to 1068, 1212, 1293, and 1458 CE. The surface rupture events, El and E2, that we document in the Elat Sabkha trench T3 appear to best correlate with the 1068 CE and 1458 CE historical earthquakes.

Klinger et al. (2015) radiocarbon dated ruptures at the Qatar site (Yotvata/Taba/Timna Sabkha), 30 km north of Elat and Aqaba, in the historical earthquakes of 1068 CE, 1212 CE, and 1458 CE, and two other earlier earthquakes in 746-757 CE and 363 CE. They suggest that the surface rupture of the 1068 CE earthquake terminated somewhere close to the Yotvata Sabkha and their Qatar trench site ( b). Our data of surface rupture in the Elat Sabkha brings new evidence for southward continuation of the 1068 CE faulting, which was identified by Zilberman et al. (2005) in the Avrona Sabkha further north. We confirm the hypothesis by Klinger et al. (2015) about the southward continuation of the fault.

The rupture length of the 1068 CE earthquake fault can be con¬strained by the current study, documentation of rupture at the Avrona Sabkha (Zilberman et al., 2005), and the observations by Klinger et al. (2015). If we combine the 35 km of rupture onland from Qatar trench in the Yotvata Sabkha to trench T3 in Elat with the mapped offshore length of the fault 2 km further south from the coast (Hartman et al., 2014), a minimum of 37 km likely ruptured in the 1068 CE earthquake. Using the empirical relationship between fault rupture length and magnitude of Wells and Coppersmith (1994), we suggest a magnitude of M 6.6-7.1 for the 1068 CE earthquake. Historical accounts report massive destruction in the ancient Islamic city of Ayla in 1068 (Guidoboni and Comastri, 2005; Ambraseys, 2009). Compelling evi¬dence for earthquake damage is confirmed by archaeological excava¬tion of the Ayla site in Aqaba (Whitcomb, 1994). A reported possible tsunami in 1068 CE also supports a partial offshore rupture and/or seismically-induced submarine slump failures. Our results refute the location suggested by Ambraseys and Melville (1989) who located the 1068 CE event in NW Saudi-Arabia.

No earthquake rupture evidence was observed for the 1212 CE earthquake in the current study. Klinger et al. (2015) suggested that the rupture segment of the 1212 CE earthquake extends from the Qatar trench site south to the northern Gulf of Aqaba/Elat, thus to the T3 and Tl trench site. Klinger et al. (2015) report that this earthquake pro¬duced extensive damages to the city of Ayla and was widely felt in Egypt and reported north in the Wadi Araba (Ambraseys, 2009). A brecciated layer is associated to this event in the Dead Sea basin (Kagan et al., 2011), but no ground rupture related to this event was identified at the trench site of Qasr Tilah, located near the south boundary of the Dead Sea basin (Haynes et al., 2006). This leads us to suggest that either the 1212 CE faulting might have occurred elsewhere on another fault strand in the Elat Sabkha and not in the fault zone documented in trench T3, or possibly, the surface faulting did not extend as far south as Elat. Zilberman et al. (2005) suggest that the stronger earthquake of 1068 CE seems more likely to have caused the severe damage and surface rupture of the Avrona Sabkha area than the weaker 1212 CE earthquake. This supports an above assumption that the 1212 CE earthquake did not rupture the Avrona Fault. However, Guidoboni and Comastri (2005, p. 233-234) write that the primary source for this earthquake is Abu Shama from Damascus who wrote: "The most violent shock was at Aylat, on the coast." This is the city of Aqaba. It is possible that the location of the earthquake rupture for the 1212 CE earthquake is a submarine segment of the fault in the northern Gulf of Aqaba/Elat. This could suggest that fine, cm-scale fracturing may be created by seismically induced ground motion rather than surface rupture at the Qatar site. Paleoliquefaction in the Tl trench may be related to the 1212 CE earthquake. Fluidized sediments that are likely mobilized by seismic shaking are capped by a flat-lying thinly bedded to laminated deposit of clayey silt and very fine sand (Fig. 6c). This layer is radiocarbon dated to 1269-1389 CE and was deposited after an earthquake. Therefore, the Tl paleoliquefaction may be evidence for the 1212 CE earthquake or even the 1068 CE earthquake in the Elat Sabkha.

Klinger et al. (2015) suggests that the 1458 CE earthquake ruptured a section of the Wadi Araba fault located between their site and the southern tip of the Dead Sea, while the current study suggests that an event post-dating 1287 ruptured the surface at the T3 trench in Elat. Klinger et al. (2015) suggest that there is no mention of significant damage to Aqaba in this period, and therefore inferred that the earthquake ruptured to the north in the central Wadi Araba. Zilberman et al. (2005) also do not report surface ruptures of this event in the Avrona Sabkha. It is possible that our E2 surface rupture is the earthquake of 1588 CE that was felt in northwest Arabia, Ayla, and Cairo (Ambraseys, 2009). Ambraseys and Melville (1989) placed the epicenter of this event in northwest Arabia. Klinger et al. (2015) do not find evidence for the 1588 CE earthquake surface rupture in their study area. Given the poor age constraints on the upper limit of the timing of faulting, we are unable to differentiate between the historical earthquakes of 1458 CE and 1588 CE. Our paleoliquefaction sand blows (SB1 and SB2) suggest that this earthquake occurred after 1287 CE and possibly before 1550 CE if we use a sediment accumulation rate to calculate the age of burial of the feature. These data tend to support an interpretation of 1458 CE, but are inconclusive.

In summary, the paleoseismic data suggest: 1) a faulting event (El) in 897-992 CE, 2) a liquefaction event sometime before 1269-1389 CE, which could be the same as El or a different event, 3) a faulting event (E2) after 1294 CE, and 4) a liquefaction event after 1337 CE and possibly before 1550 CE, which may have occurred at the same time as faulting event E2, or in a different earthquake.

Our data suggest that either the 1458 CE or 1588 CE ruptured the Avrona Fault in the Elat Sabkha. Our data suggest that no large event occurred along the Avrona segment in the past —550 years following the 1458 CE earthquake or 430 years following the 1588 CE earth¬quake. Given either scenario, it has been a significant period of time since the Avrona Fault has experienced a surface rupturing earthquake. Using a slip rate of 4.7 mm/yr (Niemi et al., 2001) for the DST, an estimated 1.9-2.6 m of strain has already accrued.

6. Conclusions

Evidence for active faulting and recent earthquake history within the city of Elat along the southern Dead Sea Transform (DST) fault system shows the importance of combining all available data from onshore and offshore for investigating seismic hazard at coastal environments.

Along the eastern margin of the Elat Sabkha, seismic reflection data reveal that the main Avrona Fault is a continuous, through-going strike-slip fault that connects the location of the offshore fault on the GAE continental shelf, to the trench T3 site, and 3 km inland to the CMP 419 on the north-south oriented SI-4047 seismic line. This fault is active and the flower-structure geometry indicates that it is predominantly a strike-slip fault. Two additional faults in the Elat Sabkha west and east of the main strand and likely subparallel to it define a 750-m-wide fault zone. The West Avrona Fault is vertical and parallel or subparallel to the main strand. The East Avrona Fault may have left-oblique normal slip. The data indicate syntectonic deposition and growth strata thick¬ening toward the southwest and into the offshore marine basin.

The first paleoseismic trenching within the boundaries of Elat city identified the location of the on-land Avrona active fault within the Elat Sabkha. Connecting it to the offshore mapped fault places the Avrona Fault along a N20°E trend and extending approximately 2.2 km inland from the shoreline. We conclude that this is a capable active fault, which underlies the Hotel District of Elat city.

Evidence for surface rupture in two earthquakes is observed in the Elat T3 Trench. Radiocarbon dating suggests the two faulting events may correlate to the 1068 CE and 1458 or 1588 CE (the first better supported by sediment accumulation rate). The time constraints pre¬vent an unequivocal distinction between the earthquakes of 1458 CE and 1588 CE. Hence, a third earthquake rupture cannot be excluded.earthquake. The Elat Sabkha has a potential for recovering records of past liquefaction events. Two sand blows mapped in trench T3 may have occurred at the same time as in the second faulting event (either 1458 CE or 1588 CE).

No earthquake surface rupture was observed for the 1212 CE earthquake in the current study. However, fluidized strata radiocarbon dated to before 1269-1389 CE may be evidence for the 1212 CE earthquake. The Elat Sabkha has a potential for recovering records of past liquefaction events. Two sand blows mapped in trench T3 may have occurred at the same time as in the second faulting event (either 1458 CE or 1588 CE).

Our data suggest that a minimum of 37 km likely ruptured in the 1068 CE earthquake, which corresponds to an M 6.6-7.1 earthquake, and — 430-550 years of quiescence, entailing a significant accumula¬tion of strain. Together these data indicate a high seismic hazard in the greater Elat-Aqaba region.



Zohar et. al. (2016)

Time Date Time Uncertainty Type of Quake Reliability Zone Most Damaged or felt locations Reported Damage Localities Estimated magnitude in previous studies
13:00 26 May 1834 CE. n/a Main and Aftershock Very High Central (Israel and southern Lebanon) Palestine
  • Dead Sea Southwest
  • Caesarea
  • Jerusalem
  • Jaffa
  • Umm al-Rassas
  • Deir Mar-Saba
  • Bet-Lehem
  • Medaba
  • 6.4 Migowski et al. (2004)
  • 6.3 Ben-Menahem (1991)
  • Average magnitude 6.3
  • Size degree Str
  • Casualties n/a
Discussion References

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

Ambraseys (2009)

AD 1834 May 26 Palestine

The earthquake happened at 13 h on 26 May 1834 in Palestine during the 1834 revolt at the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the fellahin, who entered the city on the day after the earthquake (Rustam 1923, 17).

In Jerusalem part of the wall, where it forms the outer enclosure of the al-Aqsa mosque, crumbled during the first shock, and some houses and tops of minarets fell (Nicolayson 1911, 83-89). One minaret in the city and another on the Mount of Olives were shaken down, and the cupola of the church of the Ascension caved in (Spyridon 1938). The church of St Prodromos and the masonry dome of the church of the Holy Sepulchre were damaged (PEMS 1834, 176) and, according to others, collapsed (Thompson 1835). In fact the structure was only damaged, with the French and Russians pledging to finance its repair. Houses suffered various degrees of damage without loss of life.

In Bethlehem, 8 km south of Jerusalem, the Church of the Nativity, which had become degraded through neglect, was damaged and the walls of the Church of the Cross were cracked. The church of the monastery of Deir Mar Saba, 9 km southeast of Jerusalem, was cracked in two places and two of its belfries were thrown down (PEMS 1834, 176).

It is said that east of the Dead Sea the earthquake toppled the Moabite monolith of Meisha at Dhiban and damaged historical remains at Madaba, Umm al-Rassas and ai-Rahba (Klein 1868; Anderson 1997). Also, after the earthquake of 1834, a large quantity of asphalt was apparently cast onto the shore near the southwestern corner of the Dead Sea, three tons of which were brought to market by the natives. An identical incident was reported after the earthquake of 1937, with the asphalt driven aground on the western side of the Lisan not far from Jabel Usdun.

On the Mediterranean coast in Jaffa, 54 km west of Jerusalem, according to letters from eye-witnesses, the shocks caused some concern and damaged a few dilapidated free-standing walls, cracking house ceilings (Thompson 1835).

Also in Caesaraea, 85 km northwest of Jerusalem, parts of the remaining old walls and of some houses fell, while four nearby villages were also affected, without casualties (Poujoulat 1840, 154).

The shock was felt along the Mediterranean coast from Gaza and Ascalon Caesaraea to Acre, but not at Tiberias, whch at the time had fallen to the fellahin. Despite the relatively large number of sources that refer to this earthquake, it is not possible to locate its epicentral region (Blanckenhorn 1905; Macalister 1918, 142; Tobler 1856, 34).


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

Amiran et al (1994

Time Date Discussion Sources
04 26 May 1834 CE.
  • Strong, many aftershocks during 10 days

  • Tiberias, `Akko, Nablus, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ashkelon, Gaza.

  • Jerusalem: several churches damaged, including the cupola of the Holy Sepulchre. Damage to the city wall, many houses and cisterns, which were emptied as a result of the earthquake. A minaret in the city and one on the Mount of Olives collapsed, as did the cupola of the Ascension.

  • Bethlehem: much damage to the Latin, Armenian and Greek Orthodox monasteries (82). According to (83), many people were killed. Deir Mar Saba: a tower cracked. Large blocks of asphalt floated on Dead Sea (42:11; 229; 84).

  • Willis (1928)
  • Sieberg (1932b)
  • Perrey (1850)
  • Blankenhorn (1905)
  • Arvanitakis (1903)
  • Milne (1911)
  • Ben-Menahem (1979) p. 267
  • Ben-Menahem et. al. (1992)
  • Spyridon (1938)
  • Macalister (1918)

Amiran, D. , Arieh, E. and Turcotte, T. (1994). "Earthquakes in Israel and adjacent areas: macroseismic observations since 100 B.C.E." Israel Exploration Journal 44: 260-305.

Ben-Menahem (1991)

Estimated Seismic Parameters from Ben-Menahem (1991)
Time Date Lat.
Location I0 ML Discussion
0400 23 May 1834 CE. 31.3 35.6 East of the Lisan X 6.3
  • King Meisha monolith fell to the ground. Discovered by a missionary in 1868 at Dhiban (the ancient Divon), very close to the epicenter. Many columns and arches also fell in the old cities of Moab.

  • Damage in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus, Gaza, Lisan and Kerak. Large blocks of asphalt floated on the Dead Sea. The shallow water road connecting the Lisan with En-Gedi disappeared and sea became impassable by foot.

  • In his travelogues, Tristram [1874] gives a vivid account of earthquake ruins in the Castle of Rabba (31.34° N, 35.75° E; the Biblical Ashtarot, Karn'aim, Gen 14, 5), Dhiban (31.300N, 35.60°E. Here King Mesha's monolith fell to the ground due to the earthquake of May 23, 1834, which led to its discovery in 1868), Um-Resas (31.53° N, 35.74° E) and Medeba (Figures 4a and 9).


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

Abou Karaki (1987)

23 MAY 1834, 31.3° N 35.6° E
  • East of Lisan, I0 = XI the following towns and sites were damaged: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus, Gaza, the monastery of Mar-Saba as well as Karak; appearance of large blocks of Asphalt floating on the Dead Sea,..., many columns and arcades of the towns of Moab are fallen, ML = 6.3 (BM1).

  • 1834 A.D., Syria, Palestine, Acre, Jerusalem, Ascalon, Gaza, Tiberias, very strong, several churches were damaged in Jerusalem (Will).

23 MAI 1834, 31°,3 N 35°,6 E

  • à l'Est du Lisan, I0 = XI les villes et sites suivants ont été endommagés : Jérusalem, Bétléhem, Naplouse, Gaza, le monastère de Mar-Saba ainsi que Karak; apparition de larges blocs d'Asphalte flottant sur la Mer Morte,..., beaucoup de colonnes et d'arcades des villes de Moab sont tombées, ML = 6,3 (BM1).

  • 1834 apr. J.C., Syrie, Palestine, Acre, Jérusalem, Askalane, Gaza, Tiberias, très fort, plusieurs églises ont été endommagées à Jérusalem (Will).


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.

Incorporate and/or Discard

Citation search for damage reports in Nablus and Tiberius

Arvanitakis (1903) lists Tiberius as receiving damage - cites Archive of the Greek Patriarchs as a source
Milne (1911) no mention of damage in Tiberius or Nablus
Blanckenhorn (1905) no current access to his catalogue
Perrey (1850) no current access to his catalogue
Willis (1928) lists Tiberius - cites Perrey (1850), Arvanitakis (1903), and Vigouroux (1912)
Sieberg (1932a) - 1834 earthquake is not listed
Sieberg (1932b) - lists damage in Tiberius bit not Nablus - does not cite a source - 1834, Mai 23, Ausgebreitetes Erdbeben in Palestina, gemeldet aus Hasse, Askalon, Akko und Tabarlje. In Jerusalem kraftige Schaden an Hausern und einigen Kirchen.
Legendre, A. (1912) - lists the 1837 earthquake but not the 1834 earthquake in his brief catalogue.

Kagan et. al. (2011)

Damage in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus, Gaza, Karak, Madaba (Jordan). Damage to old walls in Jaffa and Caesarea. Asphalt floated on Dead Sea

AM3, Ambraseys [2009];
AR, Amiran et al. [1994];

Paleoclimate - Droughts




Source Information

Ambraseys does not list Anderson (1997) in his references but he does list the following :

Anderson, H., Jackson, J. (1987), 'Active tectonics of the Adriatic region', GJRAS, 91, 937-983.

Ambraseys does not list Klein (1868) in his references but he does list the following :

Dowling, T. E. (1913). The orthodox Greek patriarchate of Jerusalem, Society for promoting Christian knowledge.

Klein, S. (1939), 'Remarks on the article by J. Braslayski', Zion, N.S, 4, 90.

Klein, C. (1892), Raimund von Aguilers; Quellenstudie zur Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges, Berlin.
Klein, C. (1892), Raimund von Aguilers; Quellenstudie zur Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges, Berlin.
Klein, C. (1892), Raimund von Aguilers; Quellenstudie zur Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges, Berlin.
Klein, C. (1892), Raimund von Aguilers; Quellenstudie zur Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges, Berlin.

MacAlister, R. A. (1918), 'The revolt of 1834', Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement, pp. 142-143.

MacAlister, R. A. (1918), 'The revolt of 1834', Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement, pp. 142-143.

MacAlister, R. A. (1918), 'The revolt of 1834', Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement, pp. 142-143.

Nicolayson vid (1911), 'Journal of a missionary', in Quarterly Statement, Palestine Exploration Fund, Jerusalem, pp. 83-89.

PEMS Echo du Monde Savant, Paris, 1834 p. 176

Poujoulat, B. (1840), Voyage dans l'Asie-Mineure en 1836-7, 2 volumes, Paris: Ducollet. p. 154

Rustam, Asad Jibrail (1923), Syria under Mehmet Ali, PhD dissertation, University of Chicago. p. 17

'Spyridon, S. N. (1938), 'Annals of Palestine 1821-1841', Palest. Orient. Soc., 10, 63L-132.

'Spyridon, S. N. (1938), 'Annals of Palestine 1821-1841', Palest. Orient. Soc., 10, 63L-132.

Thompson, W. M. (1835), 'Journal of missionary Rev. W. M. Thomson', in Missionary Herald Manchester, February, BM PP 1047a.

Tobler, T. (1856), Denkblatter aus Jerusalem, Constanz, pp. 32-35.

Tristram, H. (2014). The Land of Moab: Travels and Discoveries on the East Side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, Literary Licensing LLC.

Tristram, H. (2014). The Land of Moab: Travels and Discoveries on the East Side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, Literary Licensing LLC.

Tristram, H. (2014). The Land of Moab: Travels and Discoveries on the East Side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, Literary Licensing LLC.


Legendre, A. (1912). Orages et tremblements de terre en Palestine. Dictionnaire de la Bible. F. Vigouroux. Vol. 4 - Part 2: 2030-2031.

Vigouroux, F. (1903). Dictionnaire de la Bible, Letouzey et Anne.

Go to page 502/614 in the link below


Earthquake Catalogs

Amiran, D. H. K., Arieh, E. and Turcotte,T. (1994). "Earthquakes in Israel and adjacent areas: macroseismic observations since 100 B.C.E." Israel Exploration Journal 44: 260-305.

Arvanitakis, G. L. (1903). "Essai sur le climat de Jerusalem." Bulletin de lnstitut Egyptien ser. 4(t. 4): 178-189.

Blanckenhorn, M., (1905), 'Ober die lezten Erdbeben in Palastina und die Erforschung etwaiger kiinftiger', Z. deutsch. Plast.-Vereins, 27 (2), 206-218.

Kallner-Amiran, D. L. (1952). "A Revised Earthquake-Catalogue of Palestine." Israel Exploration Journal 2(1): 48-65.

Milne, J. B. (1911). Catalogue of destructive earthquakes. Appendix I to Report of the 81st meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Portsmouth, 1911, August 31-September 7. Ann Arbor, Mich. pp. 694-740

Perrey, A. (1848). Memoire sur les tremblements de terre ressentis dans la peninsule Turco-Hellenique et en Syrie. [Bruxelles]: Acadamie Royale de Belgique.

Sieberg, A. (1932a). Erdbebengeographie, Borntraeger.

Sieberg, A. (1932b). Untersuchungen Uber erdbeben und bruchschollenbau im Astlichen Mittelmeergebiet, ergebnisse einer erdbebenkundlichen Orientreise, unternommen im frajahr 1928 mit mitteln der Notgemeinschaft der deutschen wissenschaft, G. Fischer.

Willis, B. (1928). "Earthquakes in the Holy Land." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 18(2): 73-103.