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551 CE Beirut Earthquake

4 pm 9 July 551 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

It appears that at about 4 pm on a Sunday on the 9th of July in 551 CE, the Mount Lebanon Thrust Fault broke resulting in a powerful (MW = ~ 7.5) earthquake and a destructive tsunami. The earthquake is documented in roughly a dozen sources, some of them contemporaneous, and is corroborated with Geologic and Archeoseismic evidence. Geologic evidence suggests that the epicenter was offshore and the sources suggest that the epicenter was close to Beirut. There was likely extensive damage to coastal towns from Tripolis to Tyre. Damage may have been more limited north of Laodicea and south of Tyre. The earthquake was felt as far away as Alexandria, Egypt and, according to the sources, Palestine, Syria, Southern Jordan (labeled as Arabia), and parts of Mesopotamia. Some sources suggest there was seismic damage in the Galilee which appears to be supported by paleoseismic evidence in Bet Zayda. This earthquake has been widely cited as the cause of 6th century archaeoseismic evidence in far way Petra, el-Lejjun, and Areopolis but this destruction was more likely caused by the Inscription at Areopolis Quake which struck an area south of the Dead Sea a few decades later.

The sources describe a tsunami that started with an ebbing of the sea which suggests that the tsunami was generated by shelf collapse (i.e. an underwater landslide) on the steep Levantine margin. Clear tsunamogenic evidence is lacking but there is probably some evidence in Beirut which two of the sources specifically say was struck by the tsunami. Landslide tsunamis can be very destructive in the near field but do not result in a wide a geography of destruction. Cores taken from the ancient harbors of Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre did not encounter tsunamites in their Late Byzantine/Islamic sections although the cores from Sidon and Tyre may suffer from a hiatus during this time period due to later harbor dredging. Tsunamogenic evidence may or may not be present in Caesarea and nearby Jisr al-Zakra. Researchers have suggested that the probable tsunamite identified in cores from Caesarea and Jisr al-Zakra dates to one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes (The Holy Desert Quake) of 749 CE and if a tsunami did strike that far south in 551 CE, the deposit it left was reworked by the 749 CE tsunami. However, if shelf collapse was the cause of the tsunami that struck Beirut, Caesarea would have likely been unaffected unless shaking from this earthquake caused additional offshore shelf collapse closer to Caesarea. Due to the strength of the 551 CE Beirut Quake (MW = ~ 7.5) and the distance from Beirut to Caesarea, this is a possibility.

Although evidence has not been found for a 6th century CE tsunamigenic event in Byblos, Morhange et al (2006:91) reported 6th century CE coastal uplift there (see Tsunamogenic Evidence) and Elias et. al. (2007) found evidence for ~80 cm. of vertical uplift in the vicinity of Tabarja located ~20 km. NE of Beirut (see Paleoseismic Evidence). Elias et. al. (2007) also also discovered a previously unknown thrust fault system offshore which they called the Mount Lebanon Thrust. They surmised that the 551 CE Beirut Quake was a result of fault movement on these thrust faults and estimated Mw = ~7.4-7.6 for the 551 CE Beirut Quake.

Sources also mention an earthquake induced landslide in Botrys (modern Batroun) and a fire that raged in Beirut for two months until 3 days of rain put it out. Emperor Justinian I is reported to have sent funds to pay for rebuilding efforts in the affected cities but Beirut (then known as Berytus) was constructed to a smaller size.

Textual Evidence

Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Summary of Textual Evidence with Damage Reports Table
Intensity Estimates from the Textual Evidence - Darawcheh et. al. (2000), Sbeinati et. al. (2005), and Plassard and Kojoj (1981)
Chronographia by Johannes Malalas Greek
Biography

Christian (Orthodox Byzantium) ~530s to 565 CE Probably Antioch and Constantinople Contemperaneous account which provides a year - 551 CE. Recounts a severe and tremendous earthquake occurred throughout the land of Palestine, in Arabia and in the land of Mesopotamia, Antioch, Phoenice Maritima and Phoenice Libanensis where the following cities suffered: Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Tripolis, Byblus, Botrys and parts of other cities. Reports a rockslide in Botrys and that at the time of the earthquake the sea retreated [at an unspecified location] for a mile and many ships were destroyed followed by the sea restored to its original bed.
The Histories by Agathias of Myrina Greek
Biography

between 578 and 582 CE Constantinople Contemporaneous account of the earthquake as Agathias was a young ~21 year old law student in Alexandria, Egypt when the earthquake struck. Although Agathias amalgamated other earthquakes (e.g., in Constantinople - 554 CE) into his text and created some chronological confusion and vagueness, one can isolate the effects of the 551 CE Beirut Quake to his description of damage to Beirut, moving of the law school in Beirut to Sidon, an earthquake which struck in the Summer, and, probably, the slight tremor felt in Alexandria. Ambraseys (2009) observed that if the Law School in Beirut was temporarily transferred to Sidon, this would mean that Sidon would have suffered less damage which in turns suggests an epicenter closer to Beirut.
The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain Syriac
Biography

Provides a time - ~4 pm - the 10th hour. Ex eventu prophecy which reports that the next day, at about the tenth hour, the whole land was shaken by a terrible earthquake, of a kind unknown to past generations, and the towns and villages of the coast collapsed in ruins and that the mountains were uprooted and violently split open, and chasms opened up in the earth in various places. States that the sea receded for many hours, and ships broke up as they violently struck the land. Also states that the region to the north, from Laodicea to Antioch, remained standing, and only a few towers and church walls were damaged, but as St. Symeon had said, no buildings collapsed, and the area to the south from Tyre to Jerusalem was also preserved, just as Symeon had seen in his vision.
Ecclesiastical History by John of Ephesus Syriac
Biography

Syriac Orthodox Church ca. 588 CE Provides an inaccurate year (558-559 CE). Reports that there was a severe earthquake, and Beirut collapsed, as did many coastal cities and villages in Galilee, Arabia, Palestine and Samaria. Reports that along the whole Phoenician coast, too, the sea withdrew and retreated nearly two miles adding that when the earthquake came from heaven, the sea withdrew and retreated from Beirut and the other coastal cities of Phoenicia for a distance of nearly two miles Then a tremendous surge of the sea rushed up to return to its original depth and as the sea was rising up against them from behind, the earthquake brought down the city in front of them.
The Anonymous Itinerarium (erroneously) attributed to Antoninus of Piacenza Latin
Biography

6th century CE Describes a journey taken by the author to the region in the 6th century CE - perhaps 5-15 years after the earthquake. This is the closest thing we have to a post earthquake survey. Reports that Tripolis, Byblos, Treiris, and Berytus (Beirut) were destroyed and Sidon was partially ruined.
Romanos Melodos Greek
Biography

Christian - convert from Judaism 6th century CE ? Constantinople ? Contains a vague poetic reference to a "storm of earthquakes" which Grosdidier de Matons (1981) suggests could refer to the 551 CE Beirut Quake as well as an earthquake which struck Constantinople in 554 CE.Gatier (1983), on the other hand interpreted the text as alluding to the Fire in the Sky Quake which struck Akko (Ptolemais) in 502 CE.
Fragmenta Historica Tusculana Greek
Biography

Provides a date of 6 July and a year - 551 CE. Recounts a great and terrible earthquake happened in all the Eastern region, that is in Arabia, the whole of Palestine, and in the land of Mesopotamia and of Antiochia and many cities of the Phoenician littoral collapsed, viz. Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Tripolis, Biblus (sic.) and Botrys, and other cities; and of the surrounding villages 101 fell, and multitudes of men were crushed in these cities Reports a rockslide in Botrys.
Chronicle of Zuqnin by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre Syriac
Biography

Eastern Christian 750-775 CE Zuqnin Monastery Provides a month of June and mangles the year by describing the earthquake in three separate entries (553, 557, and 559 CE). In one entry, Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre reports that a severe and powerful earthquake occurred, in addition to the other ones where numerous cities collapsed, as did the cities of Phoenicia — that is Arabia and Palestine, Beirut, Tripolis, Tyre, Sidon, Sarepta, Byblos, Antarados, and the rest of their towns, villages and districts fell and were ruined. Reports a rockslide and city collapse in Botrys. In another entry, Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre reports that a powerful earthquake took place, and Beirut as well as many other coastal cities and villages in Galilee, Arabia, Palestine and Samaria collapsed. He also reports that when the terrible earthquake suddenly happened, the sea from the city of Beirut and the other cities along the seashore of Phoenicia, fell back, withdrew, retreated and fled away as far as two miles in distance. After this, the immensity of the terrible sea suddenly ran to return to its former depths noting that while this surge was happening a severe earthquake occurred. Also reports that a fire blazed inside the ruins [of Beirut[ for up to two months with such intensity that even the stones burned and turned into lime. The fire was extinguished when it rained for three days and three nights. Emperor Justinian sent funds to assist the victims and rebuild part of the city.
Chronicle of Theophanes Greek
Biography

Orthodox (Byzantium) 810-814 CE Vicinity of Constantinople Provides a date of 9 July and a probable year of 551 CE. Recounts a severe and frightful earthquake throughout Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia where the following cities suffered: Tyre, Sidon, Berytos, Tripolis, and Byblos. Reports a rockslide in Botrys and that the sea retreated [at an unspecified location] one mile towards the deep and many ships were lost followed by a return of the sea to it's own bed.
Georgius Monachus Greek
Biography

Last half of 9th c. CE Constantinople Amalgamates multiple earthquakes into one describing both an earthquake and tsunami, damage to ships, and shaking in Arabia, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Antioch. Seismic damage reported in Constantinople refers to a seperate earthquake in 554 CE.
Synopsis Historion by Cedrenus Greek
Biography

Orthodox (Byzantium) 1050s CE Anatolia Provides a date of 9 July and a year which works out to 550 CE. Recounts a terrible earthquake struck all over - in Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia such that many towns and villages were destroyed or damaged and many people died. Reports a rockslide in Botrys and that the water also withdrew for a mile out to sea [at an unspecified location] and then by command flowed back.
Chronicle by Michael the Syrian Syriac
Biography

Syriac Orthodox Church late 12th century CE Probably at the Monastery of Mar Bar Sauma near Tegenkar, Turkey Provides a year of 549 CE (for July). Brief description of earthquake and tsunami - In Phoenicia the cities of Tripoli, Byblos (Pilsos), and Trovas [Tyre ?] sank and all the cities of Galilee. The sea retreated by two mils, and boats became stranded on land. May add a report of seismic damage to Laodicea. The earthquake in Laodicea and the report of the "sinking" of cities on the Phoenecian Coast, etc. is separated by two sentences where the intervening sentences describe unrelated events in Anatolia.
Chronicon by Bar Hebraeus Syriac
Biography

Syriac Orthodox Church 13th century CE Jazira ? Persia ? Provides a year of 549 CE (for July). Brief description of earthquake and tsunami - The sea-coast of Phoenicia was submerged, Tripoli, Beirut, Byblus, and Troas [Tyre] (sic.), and the cities of Galilee. May add a report of seismic damage to Laodicea
Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Summary of Textual Evidence with Damage Reports Table

Reports of this earthquake show up in Greek and Syriac literature along with one account in Latin. The Greek Tradition provides the more precise and accurate chronology. Three Greek sources (Theophanes, Malalas, and Fragmenta Historica Tusculana) specify the 14th indiction which dates the earthquake to 551 CE. Theophanes specifies a date of 9 July while Fragmenta Historica Tusculana specifies the date as 6 July. The Syriac Source Psuedo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, which presents a mangled chronology regarding the year, stated that the earthquake struck in June (Haziran). The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain states that the earthquake struck at the 10th hour which would specify ~4 pm if canonical hours were used (Symeon was elevated to sainthood).

The Syriac Tradition has a confused chronology but adds a number of details about seismic effects. The Latin text is written like a travelogue and provides what can be thought of as a post earthquake damage survey.

A number of the sources mentioned that a tsunami struck the Phoenician coast. John of Ephesus and Pseudo-Dionysius were the only sources which specifically mentioned Beirut when discussing the tsunami. The initial ebbing of the sea described in a majority of the sources suggests an offshore slump was responsible for the tsunami. Tsunamis generated by offshore slumps can be very destructive in the near field but affect a smaller area than tsunamis generated by movement of the seafloor as they attenuate more rapidly. This suggests a tsunami whose destructive power may have been limited to Beirut and environs. John of Ephesus and Pseudo-Dionysius were the only sources which described the timing of the tsunami and earthquake. They said that the tsunami hit first. If they got their timing right, this might suggest that the earthquake was preceded by an energetic foreshock.

Damage Reports are summarized below:

Location Description Sources Comments
Phoenician Coast Tsunami Theophanes, Malalas, Cedrenus, John of Ephesus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Michael the Syrian, Bar Hebraaeus, Hagiography of Symeon John of Ephesus and Pseudo-Dionysius mentioned a tsunami in Beirut; others are less geographically specific but imply the Phoenician coast was hit.
Berytus (Beirut) Destructive seismic shaking Theophanes, Malalas, Agathias, Frag. Hist. Tusc., John of Ephesus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Bar Hebraaeus, Anonymous Itinerarium Pseudo-Dionysius mentioned that after the earthquake, a fire burned in Beirut for two months and that the city's aqueduct was destroyed. Anonymous Itinerarium inspected Beirut ~10 years after the earthquake (Ambraseys, 2009) and said it was destroyed and the Bishop of Beirut reported that 30,000 died.
Tyre, Sidon, Tripolis, and/or Byblos Destructive seismic shaking Theophanes, Malalas,Frag. Hist. Tusc., Pseudo-Dionysius, Michael the Syrian, Bar Hebraeus, Anonymous Itinerarium Anonymous Itinerarium inspected cities ~10 years after the earthquake: Byblos and Tripolis were destroyed, Sidon was partly ruined
Trieris [prob. Enfeh] Destructive seismic shaking Anonymous Itinerarium Anonymous Itinerarium inspected Trieris ~10 years after the earthquake and said it was destroyed.
Botrys Seismic shaking, landslide Theophanes, Malalas, Cedrenus, Frag. Hist. Tusc., Pseudo-Dionysius
Sarepta, Entaradus Destructive seismic shaking Pseudo-Dionysius
Laodicea Destructive seismic shaking Michael the Syrian, Bar Hebraeus may not be due to the same earthquake
Laodicea to Antioch Limited Damage Hagiography of Symeon "only a few towers and church walls were damaged"
Tyre to Jerusalem Limited Damage Hagiography of Symeon "the area to the south from Tyre to Jerusalem was also preserved"
Palestine, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and/or Phoenicia Seismic shaking Theophanes, Malalas, (Agathias), Cedrenus, Frag. Hist. Tusc.,John of Ephesus, Pseudo-Dionysius
Galilee Seismic shaking John of Ephesus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Michael the Syrian, Bar Hebraaeus
Samaria Seismic shaking John of Ephesus
Alexandria felt Agathias
Many towns and villages destroyed or damaged Agathias, Cedrenus, Frag. Hist. Tusc., John of Ephesus, Pseudo-Dionysius Frag. Hist. Tusc. says 101 villages fell which may be a euphemism for a large number

Intensity Estimates from the Textual Evidence - Darawcheh et. al. (2000), Sbeinati et. al. (2005), and Plassard and Kojoj (1981)

Historical Study by Darawcheh et. al. (2000)
Darawcheh et. al. (2000) examined historical sources for this earthquake to come up with some seismic parameters. Unaware of the Mount Lebanon Thrust Fault (discovered later by Elias et al (2007)) they surmised that left-lateral slip on the Roum fault caused the earthquake. Although this turned out to be incorrect, the rest of their study holds up. The abstract is reproduced below:
Analysis of the Byzantine primary and secondary sources for identifying the historical earthquakes in Syria and Lebanon reveals that a large earthquake (Ms = 7.2) occurred in July 9, 551 AD along the Lebanese littoral and was felt over a very large area in the eastern Mediterranean region. It was a shallow-focus earthquake, associated with a regional tsunami along the Lebanese coast, a local landslide near Al-Batron town, and a large fire in Beirut. It caused heavy destruction with great loss of lives to several Lebanese cities, mainly Beirut, with a maximum intensity between IX–X (EMS-92). The proposed epicentre of the event is offshore of Beirut at about 34.00◦N, 35.50◦E, indicating that the earthquake appears to be the result of movement along the strike-slip left-lateral Roum fault in southern Lebanon.
They produced the following Intensity estimates:

Location Intensity (EMS-92)
Beirut IX-X
Sidon VII-VIII
Botryos IX-X
Byblos IX-X
Tyre IX-X
Tripolis IX-X
Trieris IX-X
Sarepta VII-VII ?
Aradus (modern Arwad) Felt
Antaradus (modern Tartus) Felt
Antioch Felt
Alexandria Felt


They further noted that when the sources described shaking in Arabia, they may have been referring to what is now the western part of the modern state of Jordan. Citing Pantazis (1996), they stated that no archeoseismic evidence had been uncovered in Cyprus correlating to the 551 Beirut Quake suggesting that shaking was less intense there.
Earthquake Catalog of Sbeinati et. al. (2005)
Sbeinati et al (2005) produced the following Intensity estimates for this earthquake:

Location Intensity
Beirut IX-X
Sidon VII-VIII
Sur IX-X
Byblos IX-X
Tripolis IX-X
Aradus (modern Arwad) III-V
Al-Batron IX-X
Shaqa IX-X
Sarfand VII-VIII?
Earthquake Catalog of Plassard and Kojoj (1981)
Plassard and Kojoj (1981) produced the following Intensity estimates for this earthquake:

Location Intensity
Beirut XI
Tripoli X
Sidon VIII or IX
Tyre VIII or IX

Chronographia by Johannes Malalas

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Jeffries et al (1986)

In the 14th indiction a severe and tremendous earthquake occurred throughout the land of Palestine, in Arabia and in the land of Mesopotamia, Antioch, Phoenice Maritima and Phoenice Libanensis. In this terror the following cities suffered: 'Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Tripolis, Byblus, Botrys and parts of other cities. Large numbers of people were trapped in them. In the city of Botrys part of the mountain called Lithoprosopon, which is close to the sea, broke off and fell into the sea. The piece of mountain formed a harbour, in which very large ships were able to anchor. The city had not had a harbour in the past. The emperor sent money to all the provinces and restored parts of these cities. At the time of the earthquake the sea retreated for a mile and many ships were destroyed. Then at God's command the sea was restored to its original bed.

Greek with a Latin translation - embedded



English from Jeffreys et al (1986) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
551 CE 14th indiction none
  • 14th indiction equates to 1 Sept. 550 to 31 Aug. 551 CE which for the month of July leads to 551 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • a severe and tremendous earthquake occurred throughout the land of Palestine, in Arabia and in the land of Mesopotamia, Antioch, Phoenice Maritima and Phoenice Libanensis
  • the following cities suffered: 'Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Tripolis, Byblus, Botrys and parts of other cities
  • Large numbers of people were trapped in them
  • In the city of Botrys part of the mountain called Lithoprosopon, which is close to the sea, broke off and fell into the sea
  • The emperor sent money to all the provinces and restored parts of these cities.
  • tsunami - At the time of the earthquake the sea retreated for a mile and many ships were destroyed
  • tsunami - Then at God's command the sea was restored to its original bed.
Locations
  • Palestine
  • Arabia
  • Mesopotamia
  • Antioch
  • Phoenice Maritima
  • Phoenice Libanensis
  • Tyre
  • Sidon
  • Berytus
  • Tripolis
  • Byblus
  • Botrys (landslide)
Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

The Histories by Agathias of Myrina

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts

In this part of The Histories, Agathias of Myrina recollects when he was a ~21 year old student in Alexandria (Egypt) and felt weak tremors from the 551 CE Beirut Quake.
English from Frendo (1975)

In summer time, roughly during the same period [551 A.D.] there was a violent earthquake in Constantinople and in many parts of the Empire, with the result that several cities both on the islands and the mainland were razed to the ground and their inhabitants wiped out. The lovely city of Berytus [Beirut], the jewel of Phoenicia, was completely ruined and its world famous architectural treasures were reduced to a heap of rubble, practically nothing but the bare pavements of the buildings being left.

Many of the local inhabitants were crushed to death under the weight of the wreckage, as were many cultivated young men of distinguished parentage who had come there to study the Law. There was, in fact, a long tradition of legal studies in the city, and the law schools conferred an aura of peculiar privilege and distinction on the place.

At this point, then, the professors of law moved to the neighbouring city of Sidon and the schools were transferred there, until Berytus was rebuilt. The restored city was very different from what it had been in the past, though it was not changed beyond recognition, since it still preserved a few traces of its former self. But this rebuilding of the city and the subsequent return of the schools was not to take place for some time yet.

At that time also some slight tremors were felt in the great metropolis of Alexandria on the Nile, an altogether unusual occurrence for those parts. All the inhabitants and particularly the very old were amazed at this apparently unprecedented phenomenon. Nobody stayed indoors. The populace congregated in the streets, seized with unwarranted panic at the suddenness and novelty of the event.

I myself was in Alexandria at the time completing the prescribed studies [Probably a training in rhetoric, as Mrs. Cameron points out (op. cit. pp. 140—141)] which lead to the law course proper, and I must confess I was quite overcome with fear considering the faintness of the tremors. What really worried me, though, was the fact that people's houses there are not at all strongly-built and quite incapable of standing up to even a small amount of vibration, being frail and flimsy structures consisting of a single thickness of stone.

There was alarm even among the educated section of the community not, I think, at what had actually taken place, but because it seemed reasonable to expect that the same thing would happen again

Greek with a Latin translation - embedded

  • see p. 95-98 starting with 15. Sub idem fere tempus
  • from archive.org


Chronology

Year Reference Corrections Notes
Summer 551 CE Summer 551 CE none
Seismic Effects
  • there was a violent earthquake1
  • Berytus [Beirut], the jewel of Phoenicia, was completely ruined and its world famous architectural treasures were reduced to a heap of rubble, practically nothing but the bare pavements of the buildings being left.
  • Many of the local inhabitants were crushed to death under the weight of the wreckage, as were many cultivated young men of distinguished parentage who had come there to study the Law.
  • the professors of law moved to the neighbouring city of Sidon and the schools were transferred there, until Berytus was rebuilt2
  • The restored city was very different from what it had been in the past
  • some slight tremors were felt in the great metropolis of Alexandria on the Nile, an altogether unusual occurrence for those parts
Footnotes

1 Agathias amalgamated another earthquake (e.g., in Constantinople - 554 CE) into his text. This should be ignored. In order to avoid confusion, some parts of Agathias' text that refer to other amalgamated earthquakes were not included in the excerpt

2 Ambraseys (2009) observed that if the Law School in Beirut was temporarily transferred to Sidon, this would mean that Sidon would have suffered less damage which in turns suggests an epicenter closer to Beirut.

Locations
  • Beirut2
  • Alexandria (slight tremors)
Footnotes

2 Ambraseys (2009) observed that if the Law School in Beirut was temporarily transferred to Sidon, this would mean that Sidon would have suffered less damage which in turns suggests an epicenter closer to Beirut.

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts

In this excerpt, Saint Symeon's vision of an earthquake is discussed.
English from Guidoboni et al (1994)

The next day, at about the tenth hour, the whole land was shaken by a terrible earthquake, of a kind unknown to past generations, and the towns and villages of the coast collapsed in ruins, in accordance with the vision of Symeon, and the mountains were uprooted and violently split open, and chasms opened up in the earth in various places. The sea receded for many hours, and ships broke up as they violently struck the land. However, the region to the north, from Laodicea to Antioch, remained standing, and only a few towers and church walls were damaged, but as St. Symeon had said, no buildings collapsed, and the area to the south from Tyre to Jerusalem was also preserved, just as Symeon had seen in his vision.

Chronology

Month and Year not provided but the time of day is specified - ~4 pm - the 10th hour. This is compatible with other accounts which describe a daytime earthquake.

Seismic Effects
  • the whole land was shaken by a terrible earthquake,
  • the towns and villages of the coast collapsed in ruins
  • the mountains were uprooted and violently split open
  • chasms opened up in the earth in various places
  • The sea receded for many hours, and ships broke up as they violently struck the land
  • the region to the north, from Laodicea to Antioch, remained standing, and only a few towers and church walls were damaged, but as St. Symeon had said, no buildings collapse
  • the area to the south from Tyre to Jerusalem was also preserved
Locations
  • towns and villages of the coast
Locations less affected
  • to the north, from Laodicea to Antioch
  • south from Tyre to Jerusalem
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Notes
Ex eventu Prophecies

Ecclesiastical History by John of Ephesus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Guidoboni et al (1994)

In the year 870 [of the Greeks; i.e. 558-559 AD.], there was a severe earthquake, and Beirut collapsed, as did many coastal cities and villages in Galilee, Arabia, Palestine and Samaria. Along the whole Phoenician coast, too, the sea withdrew and retreated nearly two miles. As for the terrible disaster and the great and remarkable portent which happened in the city of Beirut in Phoenicia, when the earthquake took place and the cities collapsed, we have decided to make it a warning sign for the knowing of posterity. For when the earthquake came from heaven, the sea withdrew and retreated from Beirut and the other coastal cities of Phoenicia for a distance of nearly two miles; the dreadful depths of the sea became visible and various and amazing sights were revealed: sunken ships full of different cargoes and other ones which suddenly, when the sea withdrew from the land, were moored in the harbours, settled on the ground and they were broken to pieces when the sea left them and withdrew on God's command [.. ]

Then, by a secret command, a tremendous surge of the sea rushed up to return to its original depth, overwhelmed and consumed all these wretched people in the depths of its swirling waters. They had rushed to find wealth in the depths of the sea and, like Pharaoh, they went down to the depths and were drowned like stones, as it is written; and God rolled the waters of the sea over them, as the flood burst forth and flowed back to its former abundance. Those who were still on the edge of the shore were hurrying to go down; when they saw the deep sea rushing back to its former position, those who were closest to the land fled out. But after they had escaped, as if from hunters, a violent earthquake took place, which overturned houses in the cities, especially at Beirut; they fell and crushed those who had escaped from the sea and so nobody survived. As the sea was rising up against them from behind, the earthquake brought down the city in front of them.

Chronology

John of Ephesus recounts a seismic shock striking after the tsunami.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Oct. 558 to 30 Sept. 559 CE A.G. 870 none
  • A.G. 870 spans from 1 Oct. 558 to 30 Sept. 559 CE
  • calculated using CHRONOS
  • Ambraseys (2009) noted that some of the Syriac writers gave years ranging from 553-559 CE which can be shown to be wrong (Stein, 1950 - vol. ii. 757, 828) with some of the authors duplicating the event or amalgamating it with other earthquakes in the region (Brown 1969, 126-139).
Seismic Effects
  • there was a severe earthquake
  • Beirut collapsed, as did many coastal cities and villages in Galilee, Arabia, Palestine and Samaria
  • tsunami - Along the whole Phoenician coast, too, the sea withdrew and retreated nearly two miles
  • happened in the city of Beirut in Phoenicia, when the earthquake took place and the cities collapsed
  • tsunami - the sea withdrew and retreated from Beirut and the other coastal cities of Phoenicia for a distance of nearly two miles
  • he dreadful depths of the sea became visible and various and amazing sights were revealed: sunken ships full of different cargoes and other ones which suddenly, when the sea withdrew from the land, were moored in the harbours, settled on the ground and they were broken to pieces when the sea left them and withdrew on God's command
  • a tremendous surge of the sea rushed up to return to its original depth
  • after they had escaped [the tsunami surge], as if from hunters, a violent earthquake took place, which overturned houses in the cities, especially at Beirut
  • fell and crushed those who had escaped from the sea
  • so nobody survived
  • As the sea was rising up against them from behind, the earthquake brought down the city in front of them.
Locations
  • Beirut
  • coastal cities and villages
  • Galilee
  • Arabia
  • Palestine
  • Samaria
  • Along the whole Phoenician coast (tsunami)
Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

The Anonymous Itinerarium (erroneously) attributed to Antoninus of Piacenza

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Stewart (1885)

Thence we came into the parts of Syria, to the island of Antaradus1 and thence we came to Tripolis2 in Syria, where St. Leontius rests, which city, together with some others, was destroyed by an earthquake in the time of the Emperor Justinian3. Thence we came to Byblus4, which city also was destroyed with its inhabitants ; and likewise to the city of Trieris5, which also was similarly destroyed. Next we came to the most magnificent city of Berytus6, in which there was recently a school of literature, and which also was destroyed. We were told by the bishop of the city, who knew the sufferers personally, that, without counting strangers, thirty thousand persons7, in round numbers, here miserably perished. The city itself lies at the foot of Lebanon. ... From Berytus we came to Sidon, [now Saida] which itself was partly ruined, and which is near to the slope of Lebanon. The people in it are very wicked.
Footnotes

[1] The island of Ruad, off the coast of Syria ; Antoninus has either confused Aradus, the island, with Antaradus, the town on the mainland, or the latter now Tartus, had so increased in importance, at the time of his visit, as to give its name to the earlier settlement on the island. Antoninus probably disembarked at Antaradus, and continued his journey by land.

[2] Tarabulus, on the Syrian coast.

[3] There were two great earthquakes on the Syrian coast : that of May 20, 526, which destroyed Antioch, and that of July 9, 551, which destroyed Berytus (Beirut). Tripolis appears to have been overthrown by the latter.

[4] Jebeil, on the Syrian coast ; the Gebal of Ezek. xxvii. 9. The land of the Giblites was assigned to the Israelites (Josh. xiii. 5).

[5] Trieris is misplaced here ; it should have followed Tripolis. According to Strabo, xvi. 2, § 15, Trieris lay between Tripolis and Theoprosopon (Ras Shakka); and it is apparently the same as the Tridis of the 'Itin. Hierosol.', twelve Roman miles from Tripolis ; it is now probably Enfeh.

[6] Beirut. At the time of its destruction by the earthquake of 551 A.D., Berytus was celebrated for its splendour and for its university, in which 'the rising spirits of the age' studied the civil law. After the catastrophe the school was removed for a time to Sidon.

[7] In the Antioch earthquake 250,000 persons are said to have perished.

English from Stewart (1885)- embedded



Locations

This is the closest thing we have to a post earthquake survey. A summary of observations is listed below:
Location Reported Damage
Tripolis destroyed
Byblos destroyed
Treiris destroyed
Berytus (Beirut) destroyed
Sidon partially ruined
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Notes
Observations by Ambraseys (2009)

Ambraseys (2009) supplied the following discussion about this source:

The only original Latin source for this event is an itinerary attributed to Antoninus of Placentia (Piacenza), dating from the sixth century AD. The writer must have visited the area after AD 565, since he refers to an earthquake 'in the time of Justinian' He must have, therefore, visited not long after this, for he was told of it by the Bishop of Berytus, who was probably an eye-witness, and he also records that Sidon is described as ruined in part. In addition to noting that Tripoli and Byblus collapsed, and that at least 30,000 people died in Beirut, he mentions that a place called Trianis collapsed in the earthquake. The location of this town is not certain, but it seems to have been somewhere between Botrys and Tripoli; al-Heri in the bay of Shekka has been suggested, as has Enfe, on the coast 20 km southwest of Tripoli, or Shamarra (Stein 1950, ii, 757 n. 5).

Hymn 51 by Romanos Melodos

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Grosdidier de Matons (1981)

Hymn : Of the Ten Virgins
Date : Holy Tuesday

...

9

The night before the night, and before the shadows darkness has suddenly seized all men, and now we are as of old the Egyptians imprisoned in the cloud of plagues, storm of earthquakes, darkness of warsl. And wrath will not be satisfied with this: the Red Sea awaits all men2, Gehenna there, not temporarily, but for eternity. For Jesus our Savior was greatly irritated that they had not believed in him when he was working miracles. So he in return visited with scourges the iniquities of the unbelievers, so that at least at this price we are convinced and proclaim: "Open"
Footnotes

1. The words [Greek Text] correspond to the three terms that, in the Septuagint, describe the ninth plague of Egypt: [Greek Text] (Ers. 10, 22). The Hebrew text ignores this storm.

2. Ino Mikhaïlidou understands [Greek Text] as a future tense: "the Red Sea will receive us all". But [Greek Text] still has the sense of "waiting" in Romanos.

French from Grosdidier de Matons (1981)

HYMNE des Dix vierges (ler hymne)
DATE : Mardi Saint

...

9

La nuit avant la nuit, et avant les ombres l'obscurité ont saisi brusquement tous les hommes, et maintenant nous sommes comme jadis les Égyptiens emprisonnés dans la nuée des plaies, la tempête des tremblements de terre, les ténèbres des guerresl. Et de cela la colère ne sera pas satisfaite : la mer Rouge attend tous les hommes2, la géhenne de là-bas, non point temporairement, mais pour l'éternité. Car Jésus notre sauveur fut grandement irrité de ce qu'on n'avait pas cru en lui alors qu'il faisait des miracles. Aussi a-t-il en retour visité avec des fouets les iniquités des incroyants, pour qu'au moins à ce prix nous soyons convaincus et clamions : « Ouvre »
Footnotes (note de bas de page)

1. Les mots [Greek Text] correspondent aux trois termes qui décrivent dans la Septante la neuvième plaie d'Égypte : [Greek Text] (Ers. 10, 22). Le texte hébreu ignore cette s tempête.

2. Ino Mikhaïlidou comprend [Greek Text] comme un futur : "la mer Rouge nous recevra tous". Mais [Greek Text] a toujours le sens de "attendre" chez Romanos.

Chronology

Grosdidier de Matons (1981) noted that the vague reference to a storm of earthquakes could refer to the 551 CE Beirut Quake as well as an earthquake which struck Constantinople in 554 CE. Gatier (1983), on the other hand, interpreted Romanos' text as alluding to the Fire in the Sky Quake which struck Akko (Ptolemais) in 502 CE.

Seismic Effects
  • storm of earthquakes
Locations
  • ?
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Fragmenta Historica Tusculana

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Ambraseys (2009)

And in that year of the reign of our most august ruler, in the month of July, on the 6th day, in the 14th indiction, a great and terrible earthquake happened in all the Eastern region, that is in Arabia, the whole of Palestine, and in the land of Mesopotamia and of Antiochia. And many cities of the Phoenician littoral collapsed, viz. Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Tripolis, Biblus (sic.) and Botrys, and other cities; and of the surrounding villages 101 fell, and multitudes of men were crushed in these cities. And in the city of Botrys a part of the adjacent mountain called the Face of Stone split away, and fell into the sea, creating a harbour, so that [the greatest ships] could be moored within it. (FHT 4/1821-1824).

Chronology

Fragmenta Historica Tusculana provides a date of 6 July which differs from the 9 July provided by other authors. For a July earthquake, the 14th indiction places the earthquake in 551 CE,
Year Reference Corrections Notes
6 July 551 CE in the month of July, on the 6th day, in the 14th indiction none
  • 14th indiction equates to 1 Sept. 550 to 31 Aug. 551 CE which for the month of July leads to 551 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • a great and terrible earthquake happened in all the Eastern region, that is in Arabia, the whole of Palestine, and in the land of Mesopotamia and of Antiochia
  • many cities of the Phoenician littoral collapsed, viz. Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Tripolis, Biblus (sic.) and Botrys, and other cities;
  • of the surrounding villages 101 fell, and multitudes of men were crushed in these cities
  • in the city of Botrys a part of the adjacent mountain called the Face of Stone split away, and fell into the sea
Locations
  • Arabia
  • the whole of Palestine
  • Mesopotamia
  • Antiochia
  • Tyre
  • Sidon
  • Berytus
  • Tripolis
  • Biblus (sic.)
  • Botrys
  • other cities
  • of the surrounding villages 101 fell
Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Chronicle of Zuqnin by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Harrak (1999)

The year 864 [552-553]:

Extensive and severe earthquakes took place in which many |cities and villages| in the land of Syria collapsed1

In the month of Haziran (June) of this year, a severe and powerful earthquake occurred, in addition to the other ones. Numerous cities collapsed, as did the cities of Phoenicia — that is Arabia and Palestine, Beirut, Tripolis, Tyre, Sidon, Sarepta, Byblos, Antarados, and the rest of their towns, villages and districts fell and were ruined. Because of sins, many people were buried in their houses in the wrath, as were the cattle and other things.

...

The year 868 [556-557]:2

A powerful earthquake took place in which the city of Botrys3 collapsed.4 And the great mountain that was called the "Stone Face"5 broke off and fell in the sea. So when Botrys of Phoenicia, which is on the seashore, collapsed in the powerful earthquake, the great mountain close to it, called the "Stone Face," suddenly shook and was rent from the violence of the quake. A big portion detached from it and fell in the sea, and the earthquake sent it out further to sea. It came down and obstructed much of the front of the city, with the sea moving inside it. It had one passage on one side that became a great and admirable harbour; /p.133/ neither centenaria of gold nor the diligence of kings could build one like it. It became such a great and spacious harbour that accommodated inside it great ships, that everyone was marvelling and admiring God's providence, for even in his wrath graces are mixed. As for Justinian the Emperor, he sent ample gold to all the cities that had collapsed in the earthquake. And little by little they were rebuilt and their walls were repaired, while the evil will of those who survived neither changed nor weakened substantially.

...

The year 870 [558-559]:6

A powerful earthquake took place, and Beirut as well as many other coastal cities and villages in Galilee, Arabia, Palestine and Samaria collapsed. Also the sea retreated and drew back for about two miles, all along Phoenicia.

We wanted to put into writing, for the instruction of future generations, an account of the terrible disaster and the great and wondrous sign that occurred in Beirut, a city in Phoenicia, when the earthquake took place and cities collapsed. /p.134/ For when the terrible earthquake suddenly happened, the sea from the city of Beirut and the other cities along the seashore of Phoenicia, fell back, withdrew, retreated and fled away as far as two miles in distance, at God's command. Thus the awesome depths of the sea became visible, and many great and amazing objects were seen. Ships loaded with various cargoes sunk. Others, moored in the harbours, due to the sudden withdrawal of the sea from the land, went down and settled on the bottom, after they had collided and broken up, when the sea left them and pulled back at the command of its Lord.

Since this terrible disaster was meant to shock people, in order that it might lead them to grief and repentance, they should have despised not only material things but especially their own lives, in view of this horrible spectacle of wrath, that they witnessed. But they behaved like Pharaoh; their hearts were hardened like Pharaoh's, not by God, as it is written,7 but here by Satan. The inhabitants of coastal cities and villages, with determined insolence and hardness of heart, rushed into the great sea in order to pillage impressive, hidden treasures that were at the bottom of the sea, because of the beguiling avarice that was destroying their lives. As thousands of people, with fatal passion, rushed to the bottom of the sea and began to carry off treasures, hurrying to bring them up, others, when they saw those carrying the wealth of their perdition, rushed with great eagerness so as not to be deprived of the hidden treasures that had suddenly come to light because of the earthquake.

While some were rushing down to the bottom, /p.135/ and while others were busy above, and still others were doing their best in between, and while all of them without distinction were walking along proudly, then, at an invisible sign, the immensity of the terrible sea suddenly ran to return to its former depths, engulfing and burying in the abyss of its immense depths all those wretched ones, who pursued wealth from the great deep. Like Pharaoh, they went down to the bottom and sank like stones, as it is written.8 The Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, when the stream resumed its way and returned to its former depth. When those who were still on the outer shore began a hasty descent, those close to the dry land retreated, upon seeing the immense height of the sea rushing back to its former bed. While they were trying to escape, as it were from hunters, a severe earthquake occurred, which shook the buildings of the cities, especially those of Beirut. They collapsed and crushed those who fled from the sea while not one of them survived. For when the sea rose up against them from behind, the earthquake shook the city before them. Because of their evil avarice, they were caught in the middle of two horrors, for the priestly word is also fulfilled upon them: Though they were saved from the sea, justice did not allow them to live.9

Thus those who went down after wealth were reduced to complete destruction. They destroyed the breath of their lives and their corpses were found floating on the surface of the water like litter. Then when the city collapsed, fire at God's command kindled its ruins and burned /p.136/ and blazed inside the ruins for up to two months, until even the stones burned*t and turned into lime. Afterwards, God sent down rain from the sky for three days and three nights and extinguished the fire that blazed in the city of Beirut. And those who had escaped from drowning in the sea and from the downfall of the city, were cast away in the city, while injured, troubled and tormented by thirst because its aqueduct was destroyed. When the merciful Emperor Justinian heard about (this), he sent gold and some of his well-known people, and they uncovered and exhumed countless human corpses; they also rebuilt part of the city.
Footnotes (re-numbered from Harrak)

1 Michael IV 320 [II 262]: Earthquake dated to the 28th year of Justinian (554-555). It seems that this earthquake and the one of the year 564-565 (see below) are doublets. It is quite possible that these doublets are part of the same earthquake described in the years 556-557 and 558-559 (see below).

2 Michael IV 310-311 [II 246-247]. Malalas 485 [291]: (550-551). Theophanes 227-228: 14th indiction, 9 July A.M. 6043 (551). This earthquake is a doublet of the one described in a previous account (see the year 558-559 below, and Stein, Bas-Empire II, 757 and n. 5, 828). The earthquake of 558-559 seems to be the same as the ones of the year 552-553 (see this date above) and 564-565 (see below).

3 | |: Sic. A | | was added later to conform it with | | found elsewhere. Bar Hebraeus mentioned | | and other cities in Phoenicia that fell in the earthquake, thus confusing Botrys with Troas, the city in Northwest Anatolia; Chr., 81 [76]. Botrys is modern Batrun, between Tripolis and Jubayl in northern Lebanon.

4 A very inaccurate translation of this account is found in the monograph by J. P. Brown, The Lebanon and Phoenicia, I, Beirut, 1969, 132-35; see Brock's review of this monograph in JSS 16 (1971) pp. 111-13.

5 | |: Syriac translation of | | in Malalas and Theophanes;

6 Land, Anecdota II, 326:15-328:18. Michael IV 311 [II 247]: 31st year of Justinian (557-558). This earthquake and the one dated to 556-557 (see above) are doublets; see Stein, Bas-Empire II, 757 and n. 6, 828. This earthquake seems to be also the same as the ones described in the year 552-553 (see above) and the year 564-565 (see below).

7 Cf Exodus 10:20 etc.

8 Exodus 15:5.

9 Acts 28:4.

Syriac - embedded

  • not bookmarked
  • manuscript copy made for Chabot at the end of the 19th century CE
  • from archive.org


Chronology

Pseudo Dionysius of Tell-Mahre managed to outdo John of Ephesus in mangling the chronology by repeating the same earthquake three times with three different years; all of which are apparently incorrect. Like John of Ephesus, he recounts a seismic shock striking after the tsunami.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
June 553 CE Haziran (June) A.G. 864 none
  • A.G. 864 runs from 1 Oct. 552 to 30 Sept. 553 CE (Calculated with CHRONOS)
  • Haziran is June which dates the earthquake to 553 CE
1 Oct. 556 to 30 Sept. 557 CE A.G. 868 none
1 Oct. 558 to 30 Sept. 559 CE A.G. 870 none
Seismic Effects
  • a severe and powerful earthquake occurred, in addition to the other ones
  • Numerous cities collapsed, as did the cities of Phoenicia — that is Arabia and Palestine, Beirut, Tripolis, Tyre, Sidon, Sarepta, Byblos, Antarados, and the rest of their towns, villages and districts fell and were ruined
  • many people were buried in their houses
  • the cattle and other things [were buried]
  • A powerful earthquake took place in which the city of Botrys collapsed - the great mountain that was called the "Stone Face" broke off and fell in the sea
  • when Botrys of Phoenicia, which is on the seashore, collapsed in the powerful earthquake, the great mountain close to it, called the "Stone Face," suddenly shook and was rent from the violence of the quake
  • A big portion detached from it and fell in the sea, and the earthquake sent it out further to sea. It came down and obstructed much of the front of the city, with the sea moving inside it
  • It had one passage on one side that became a great and admirable harbour
  • Justinian the Emperor [] sent ample gold to all the cities that had collapsed in the earthquake
  • little by little they were rebuilt and their walls were repaired
  • A powerful earthquake took place, and Beirut as well as many other coastal cities and villages in Galilee, Arabia, Palestine and Samaria collapsed
  • the sea retreated and drew back for about two miles, all along Phoenicia.
  • Beirut, a city in Phoenicia, when the earthquake took place and cities collapsed
  • when the terrible earthquake suddenly happened, the sea from the city of Beirut and the other cities along the seashore of Phoenicia, fell back, withdrew, retreated and fled away as far as two miles in distance
  • the awesome depths of the sea became visible, and many great and amazing objects were seen
  • Ships loaded with various cargoes sunk
  • Others, moored in the harbours, due to the sudden withdrawal of the sea from the land, went down and settled on the bottom, after they had collided and broken up, when the sea left them and pulled back at the command of its Lord
  • the immensity of the terrible sea suddenly ran to return to its former depths
  • While they were trying to escape [the tsunami], as it were from hunters, a severe earthquake occurred, which shook the buildings of the cities, especially those of Beirut
  • collapsed and crushed those who fled from the sea while not one of them survive
  • when the sea rose up against them from behind, the earthquake shook the city before them
  • their corpses were found floating on the surface of the water like litter
  • when the city collapsed, fire at God's command kindled its ruins and burned and blazed inside the ruins for up to two months
  • even the stones burned and turned into lime (a reaction which requires a very high temperature - ~900-1000 °C)
  • Afterwards, God sent down rain from the sky for three days and three nights and extinguished the fire that blazed in the city of Beirut
  • its [Beirut's] aqueduct was destroyed
  • [Emperor Justinian] sent gold and some of his well-known people, and they uncovered and exhumed countless human corpses; they also rebuilt part of the city
Locations
  • Arabia
  • Palestine
  • cities of Phoenicia
  • all along Phoenicia (tsunami)
  • Beirut
  • Tripolis
  • Tyre
  • Sidon
  • Sarepta
  • Byblos
  • Antarados
  • Botrys of Phoenicia
  • the rest of their towns, villages and districts
Background Information
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Chronicle of Theophanes

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Mango and Scott (1997)

[AM 6043, AD 550/551]

Justinian, 24th year
Chosroes, 26th year
Vigilius, 13th year
Menas, 14th year
Peter, 6th year
Apolinarios, 2nd year
Domnus, 6th year

In April [1] of this year, of the 14th indiction, Narses, the cubicularius, was sent to Rome with instructions to make war on the Goths who had regained Rome. For after Belisarius had won the city, the Goths had risen up and recaptured it. [2] On 9 July [3] there was a severe and frightful earthquake throughout Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The following cities suffered: Tyre, Sidon, Berytos, Tripolis, and Byblos, and a great many people perished therein. In the city of Botrys, a large piece of the mountain called Lithoprosopon, which lies close to the sea, was broken off and thrown into the sea, so forming a harbour big enough for many large ships to moor there,- for previously that city had not had a harbour. The emperor sent money for restoring what had fallen in these cities. The sea retreated one mile towards the deep and many ships were lost. Later, at God's command, it returned to its own bed.
Footnotes

[a] Mai. 484. 22-485. 3, frag. Tusc. iv. 26.

[b] Mai. 485. 8-23; cf. Mich. Syr. ii.244, 246-7; Chi. 724, 100. 4-5.

[1] Mai. frag. Tusc. iv. 26 gives the date as April of the 13th indiction, and Mai.'s indiction dates (esp. those from the Tusculan frags.) should normally be preferred. In that case Narses went to Italy in 550 and not 551 (as Bury, Stein, and PLRE maintain, all ultimately dependent on O. Korbs, Untersuchungen zur ostgotischen Geschichte, vol. i (Jena, 1913), 81, 84-6) and the chronology of Narses' campaign in Italy needs revision. Prok.'s detailed narrative, however, linking Narses' movements with the death of Germanus, provides strong support for 551. Assuming Theoph.'s source here did read indiction 13 (rightly or wrongly), he will have changed the indiction number because he had already reached June of the 13th indiction (the dedication of the Holy Apostles) and so puts a following April into the next year. Cf. AM 6040 for the same technique.

[2] This is confused. Belisarius had originally captured Rome in Dec. 536. The Goths recaptured it in Dec. 546 but lost it again to Belisarius early in 547. Totila had recaptured Rome in Jan. 550.

[3] Frag. Tusc. iv. 27-8 gives the date as 6 July of the 14th indiction. Agathias records an earthquake in Alexandria too for 551.

Chronology

Theophanes provided a date (9 July) which is incorporated into the Chronology Table below. In typical fashion, Theophanes' regnal years are chronologically inconsistent. Despite the large spread in possible years, 550 and 551 CE receive the most support and agree with the A.M.a and Indiction which, for Theophanes, are usually the most chronologically accurate time markers.
Chronology Table

Year Reference Corrections Notes
9 July 550 or 551 CE On 9 July A.M.a 6043 none
  • A.M.a 6043 corresponds to 25 Mar. 550 to 24 Mar. 551 CE using Grumel's MA synchronism. For the month of July this puts the year in 550 CE.
  • If, however, Theophanes used the MB synchronism, as may be suggested by the indiction, A.M.a 6043 corresponds to 1 Sept. 550 to 31 Aug. 551 CE. For the month of July this would put the year in 551 CE.
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
9 July 551 CE 14th indiction none
  • 14th indiction equates to 1 Sept. 550 to 31 Aug. 551 CE which for the month of July leads to 551 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
9 July 550 CE Justinian, 24th year none
  • Justinian's reign began on 1 April 527 CE which places his 24th year to between 1 Apr. 550 and 30 Mar. 551 CE. For the month of July, this equates to 550 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
  • Russell (1985), for reasons unstated and unknown, calculated that the 24th year of Justinian's reign spanned from Aug. 550 - July 551
  • Ambraseys (2009) noted that the 24th year of Justinian's reign is one year too low (ie 550 CE).
9 July 557 CE Chosroes, 26th year none
  • Reign began on 13 September 531 CE. 26th year would span from 13 Sept. 556 to 12 Sept. 557 CE and lands on 557 CE in July
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
9 July 549 CE Vigilius, 13th year none
  • Papacy began 29 March 537. 13th year would span from 29 Mar. 549 to 28 Mar. 550 CE and lands on 549 CE in July
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
9 July 549/550 CE Menas, 14th year none
  • Patriarch of Constantinople starting in 536 CE. 14th year could span from 1 Jan. 549 to 30 Dec. 530 CE which makes 549 and 550 CE both possible
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
severe outlier - useless date Peter, 6th year none
  • Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem 524-552 CE but died in 544 CE (?).
  • 6th year of a reign starting in 524 CE could span from 1 Jan. 529 to 30 Dec. 530 CE which makes no sense
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
9 July 552/553 CE Apolinarios, 2nd year none
  • Greek Patriarch of Alexandria ruled from 551-569 CE. 2nd year could span from 1 Jan. 552 to 30 Dec. 553 CE which makes 552 and 553 CE both possible
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
9 July 551/552 CE Domnus, 6th year none
  • Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch ruled from 546-561 CE. 6th year could span from 1 Jan. 551 to 30 Dec. 552 CE which makes 551 and 552 CE both possible
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
550/551 CE Narses sent to Rome none
  • See Footnote 1 from Mango and Scott (1997)'s translation (repeated below)
    Footnote 1 from Mango and Scott (1997)'s translation

    [1] Mai. frag. Tusc. iv. 26 gives the date as April of the 13th indiction, and Mai.'s indiction dates (esp. those from the Tusculan frags.) should normally be preferred. In that case Narses went to Italy in 550 and not 551 (as Bury, Stein, and PLRE maintain, all ultimately dependent on O. Korbs, Untersuchungen zur ostgotischen Geschichte, vol. i (Jena, 1913), 81, 84-6) and the chronology of Narses' campaign in Italy needs revision. Prok.'s detailed narrative, however, linking Narses' movements with the death of Germanus, provides strong support for 551. Assuming Theoph.'s source here did read indiction 13 (rightly or wrongly), he will have changed the indiction number because he had already reached June of the 13th indiction (the dedication of the Holy Apostles) and so puts a following April into the next year. Cf. AM 6040 for the same technique.

Seismic Effects
  • there was a severe and frightful earthquake throughout Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia1
  • The following cities suffered: Tyre, Sidon, Berytos, Tripolis, and Byblos, and a great many people perished therein
  • In the city of Botrys, a large piece of the mountain called Lithoprosopon, which lies close to the sea, was broken off and thrown into the sea
  • The emperor sent money for restoring what had fallen in these cities
  • tsunami2 - The sea retreated one mile towards the deep and many ships were lost. Later, at God's command, it returned to its own bed.
Footnotes

1 Guidoboni et al (1994) suggested that the other more distant areas listed (e.g. Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Arabia) can be expected to have suffered secondary effects.

2 Though unlocated, it can be assumed to be on the Phoenician littoral.

Locations
  • Palestine
  • Arabia
  • Mesopotamia
  • Syria
  • Phoenicia
  • Tyre
  • Sidon
  • Beirut
  • Tripolis
  • Byblos
  • many towns and villages
  • Botrys3
Footnotes

3 Russell (1985) noted that one codex (10th century Paris Codex Gr. 1710) refers to Botryos as Bostra, the then Byzantine capital of Arabia which is clearly in error as a landslide related to an existing landmark (Lithoprosopon) is described at Botryos. Russell (1985) added that Classen (1839: vii, 352) pointed out that the 12th century Vatican Codex 154 referred instead to Botryos.

Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Notes
Theophanes' Calendar

Volume IV of the Chronicle by Georgius Monachus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from von Muralt (1863)

The greatest and most universal earthquake struck such that almost the entire uninhabited earth shook. The sea rose two miles and the waters attacked very many - innumerable - ships. The earthquake struck in Arabia and Palestine and Mesopotamia and in Antioch. Many cities and forts were swallowed up and with them, many humans and animals. At the same time, many churches and houses in Constantinople fell along with the greater part of the fortifications of the city. Innumerable people died in this calamity. The earthquake lasted 40 days and nights.

Latin from von Muralt (1863)

Sed el terrae motus factus est maximus et universalis, ita ut tota fere inhabitata terra contremisceret et mare ad duo millia ascenderet, destruerenturque in aquarum impetu permulta innumeraque navigia, et in Arabia, et Palaestina et Mesopotamia, et Αntiochia multae urbes vicique absorberentur. Et multitudo hominum el animalium simul correpta est, et Coustantinopoli multae ecclesiae ac domus cum majori parte moenium urbis corruerunt. Et mortua est in hac calamitate innumera multitudo. Et duravit terrae motus dies noctesque quadraginta.

Seismic Effects
  • The greatest and most universal earthquake struck such that almost the entire uninhabited earth shook
  • The sea rose two miles and the waters attacked very many - innumerable - ships
  • The earthquake struck in Arabia and Palestine and Mesopotamia and in Antioch
  • Many cities and forts were swallowed up and with them, many humans and animals
  • The earthquake lasted 40 days and nights
Locations
  • Arabia
  • Palestine
  • Mesopotamia
  • Antioch
This account amalgamates seismic destruction from the 551 CE Beirut Quake with seismic destruction in Constantinople. Destruction in Constantinople would likely have been caused by an earthquake which was described by multiple authors as striking the city in 554 CE. By describing the earthquake as universal, Monachus may have amalgamated in yet another earthquake which was described by Procopius as striking Greece in 551 CE. This Greek earthquake was, according to Procopius, accompanied by a tsunami. Only locations which could have been affected by the 551 CE Beirut Quake are included in the lists above.

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Synopsis Historion by Cedrenus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English translated from Niebuhr (1839)

Year 24

... On the 9th day of July, a terrible earthquake struck all over - in Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia such that many towns and villages were destroyed or damaged and many people died. In the City of Botryos which means "cluster of grapes" a large part of Lithoprosopus, the name of the mountain next to the city, slid down into the sea and created a harbor capable of receiving many large ships that could not dock there before. The water also withdrew for a mile out to sea and then by command flowed back.

Latin from Niebuhr (1839)

Anno 24 missus est Narses cubicularius Romam ad debellandum Gotthos. name post receptan Romam a Belisario Gotthi denuo rebellarant urbemque occuparant. nona Iulii dio terribilis motus terrae fuit per universam Palaestinam Arabiam Mesopotamiam Syriam et Phoeniciam, qui multis urbibus damna intulit permultosque mortales perdidit. in urbe uae Botryos (hoc est uvae) dicitur, magna pars mentis qui mari adiacet, nomine Lithoprosopos, avulsa in mare decidit magnumque effecit portum, multis magnis navibus recipiendis ideneum, cum ante urbs ea portu caruisset. mare quoque in altum recessit ad mille passus rursumque dei iussu refluxit. Augusto mense nuntius Roma de victoria Narsetis allatus est, nempe Romanos rege Totila oociso Roman recepisse.

Greek and Latin from Niebuhr (1839) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
9 July 550 CE On the 9th day of July in Justinian's 24th year none
  • Justinian's reign began on 1 April 527 CE which places his 24th year to between 1 Apr. 550 and 30 Mar. 551 CE. For the month of July, this equates to 9 July 550 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
  • Russell (1985), for reasons unstated and unknown, calculated that the 24th year of Justinian's reign spanned from Aug. 550 - July 551.
  • Ambraseys (2009) noted that the 24th year of Justinian's reign is one year too low (ie 550 CE).
Seismic Effects
  • a terrible earthquake struck all over - in Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia such that many towns and villages were destroyed or damaged and many people died
  • In the City of Botryos which means "cluster of grapes" a large part of Lithoprosopus, the name of the mountain next to the city, slid down into the sea
  • tsunami - The water also withdrew for a mile out to sea and then by command flowed back.
Locations
  • Palestine
  • Arabia
  • Mesopotamia
  • Syria
  • Phoenicia
  • many towns and villages
  • City of Botryos which means "cluster of grapes" (landslide)
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Chronicle by Michael the Syrian

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Chabot (1899-1910)

At the same time, on the coast of Phoenicia, the city of Tripoli was submerged, as well as Beirut, Biblos, Botrys and the towns of Galilee. The sea withdrew two miles on itself, and ships lay on the ground.

French from Chabot (1899-1910)

A la même époque', sur le littoral de la Phénicie, la ville de Tripoli fut engloutie, [309] ainsi que Beirout, Biblos, Botrys2 et les villes de Galilée. La mer se retira à deux milles sur elle-même, et des navires gisaient sur le sol.
Footnotes

2. Rest. : [Syriac Text]

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

Background

Michael the Syrian's Chronicle was also translated into Armenian twice in the first half of the 13th century. Over 60 Armenian manuscripts have survived. These manuscripts are, however, abridged and edited. The fact is we don't have an original copy of Michael the Syrian's Chronicle. We have multiple differing versions. An Armenian translation to English is included below. The excerpt was translated into English from Classical Armenian editions found in Jerusalem by Robert Bedrosian in the years 1870 and 1871. In section 101 we can read a short passage which mentions the earthquake:

In the 23rd year of Justinian the river at Tarsus rose and flooded the city. In the same period the city of Laodicea with 7,000 on its inhabitants was destroyed in an earthquake. The city of Pompeiopolis (or, Pentapolis ) in Mysia sank and its inhabitants, still living, were sucked into the pit. Their cries were heard for days, but no one could help them. In Phoenicia the cities of Tripoli, Byblos (Pilsos), and Trovas [Tyre ?] sank and all the cities of Galilee. The sea retreated by two mils, and boats became stranded on land.

French translation by Chabot (1899-1910) - embedded



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



Syriac - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Apr. 549 - 30 Mar. 550 CE Justinian, 23th year (from Armenian Version) none
  • Justinian's reign began on 1 April 527 CE which places his 23th year to between 1 Apr. 549 and 30 Mar. 550 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • the city of Tripoli was submerged, as well as Beirut, Biblos, Botrys and the towns of Galilee (Chabot)
  • In Phoenicia the cities of Tripoli, Byblos (Pilsos), and Trovas [Tyre ?] sank and all the cities of Galilee (Bedrosian)
  • The sea withdrew two miles on itself, and ships lay on the ground
  • the city of Laodicea with 7,000 on its inhabitants was destroyed in an earthquake - The Armenian version may add a report of seismic damage to Laodicea noting 7000 deaths. The earthquake in Laodicea and the report of the "sinking" of cities on the Phoenician Coast, etc. is separated by two sentences where the intervening sentences describe unrelated events in Anatolia.
Locations
  • Tripoli
  • Beirut
  • Biblos
  • Botrys
  • towns of Galilee
  • Laodicea?1
  • Trovas2
References

1 The Armenian version may add a report of seismic damage to Laodicea noting 7000 deaths. The earthquake in Laodicea and the report of the "sinking" of cities on the Phoenician Coast, etc. is separated by two sentences where the intervening sentences describe unrelated events in Anatolia.

2 Trovas may refer to Tyre or Batrun.

Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Chronicon by Bar Hebraeus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Excerpts
English from Budge(1932)

And in the 23rd year of Justinianus, Tarsus in Cilicia was inundated by the river which flowed by it, and Ladikia was overwhelmed, and 7000 people died therein. And the sea-coast of Phoenicia was submerged, Tripoli, Berut, Byblos, and Troas, and the cities of Galilee.

English from Budge(1932) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Apr. 549 - 30 Mar. 550 CE Justinian, 23th year none
  • Justinian's reign began on 1 April 527 CE which places his 23th year to between 1 Apr. 549 and 30 Mar. 550 CE
  • Calculated with CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • the sea-coast of Phoenicia was submerged, Tripoli, Beirut, Byblus, and Troas [Tyre] (sic.), and the cities of Galilee
Locations
  • sea-coast of Phoenicia
  • Tripoli
  • Beirut
  • Byblus
  • Troas1
  • cities of Galilee
  • Laodicea?2
Footnotes

1 Troas may refer to Tyre or Batrun.

2 May add a report of seismic damage to Laodicea noting 7000 deaths in the sentence before describing the 551 CE Beirut Quake

Sources
Sources

Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Beirut probable ≥ 8 Scattered evidence for seismic destruction shows up in various reports.
Msaylḥa Bridge possible Petersen (2020:200-201) speculated that an early Roman version of the Msaylha Bridge may have collapsed in the 551 CE earthquake. Although the Msaylha Bridge shows evidence of an earlier, perhaps Roman, construction, none of this evidence is dated nor is a seismic origin for an earlier destruction affirmed.
Hosn Niha possible Paturel, S. (2019:185) reports potential archaeoseismic evidence at the Sanctuary of Hosn Niha in the Bekka Valley.

Late Roman: Church

The Large Temple may have been modified prior to its destruction in a large earthquake, probably the earthquake of 551CE that devastated Berytus (Yasmine 2009, 140, 2013, 703). At the end of the sixth century, monumental blocks were reused to construct a Byzantine church on the sanctuary terrace in front of the remains of the Large Temple.
Jerash - Introduction possible - needs investigation Russell (1985) reports that
Crowfoot (1938: 233) suggested that at Jerash the mid-6th century construction of the Propylae Church occurred after the 551 earthquake had caused the collapse and abandonment of the bridge whose approach had been blocked by this church.
Mount Nebo possible Piccirillo (1982) noted that the memorial to Moses underwent a complete reconstruction from the the middle of the 6th century to the first years of the 7th century CE.
Gush Halav possible - debated chronology Meyers, Strange, Meyers, and Hanson (1979) attributed seismic destruction at the end of Stratum VII phase b to the 551 CE Beirut Quake however their chronology is debated. Magness (2001a) performed a detailed examination of the stratigraphy presented in the final report of Meyers, Meyers, and Strange (1990) and concluded, based on numismatic and ceramic evidence, that a synagogue was not built on the site until no earlier than the second half of the fifth century. Meyers, Strange, Meyers, and Hanson (1979) dated construction of the first sysnagogue on the site to ~250 CE. While Magness (2001a) agreed that earthquake destruction evidence was present in the excavation, she dated the destruction evidence to some time after abandonment of the site in the 7th or 8th centuries CE. Strange (2001) and Meyers (2001) went on to rebut Magness (2001a) to which Magness (2001b) responded again. One point of agreement is that earthquake destruction evidence does appear to be present. Although based on epicentral distance and the magnitude of the earthquake, is very possible that Gush Halav suffered seismic destruction during the 551 CE Beirut Quake, the chronology from this excavation is not clear.
Areopolis unlikely Zayadine (1971) published a translation of a dedicatory inscription at Areopolis which was found out of context and re-used in a structure (Rucker and Niemi, 2010). The inscription referred to an earthquake which struck Areopolis before 597 CE (likely within a decade or so). This indicates that any archeoseismic evidence from Areopolis which is dated with no more precision than 6th century CE was likely due to the Inscription at Areopolis Quake and not to the distant 551 CE Beirut Quake. Further details can be found in the Archeoseismic Evidence section of the Inscription at Areopolis Quake.
el-Lejjun unlikely Although Parker (2006) attributed the 3rd earthquake to the 551 CE Beirut Quake, this is unlikely as the epicenter was far away - near Beirut. One of the sources for the 551 CE Beirut Quake (The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain) states that damage was limited south of Tyre and there are no reports of earthquake destruction in Jerusalem which is 121 km. closer to the epicenter than el-Lejjun. The most likely candidate for this earthquake is the Inscription at Areopolis Quake which struck Aeropolis - a mere ~12 km. from el-Lejjun - in the late 6th century - before 597 CE.
Damietta possible - needs investigation Based on the contemporaneous account of Myrinaei Historiarum by Agathias which described seismic shaking in the Nile Delta during to the 551 CE Beirut Quake, Damietta, which is the closest part of the Delta to Beirut and may be subject to a site effect due to liquefaction, could contain archaeological evidence of 551 CE seismic destruction.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Beirut



Msaylḥa Bridge



Hosn Niha



Jerash - Introduction



Mount Nebo



Gush Halav



Areopolis



el-Lejjun



Damietta



Tsunamogenic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Beirut some evidence
Tyre no evidence
Sidon no evidence
Byblos no evidence Although tsunamigenic evidence has not been found for a 6th century CE event, Morhange et al (2006:91) reported the possibility of 10th or 11th century CE coastal uplift in Byblos.
Caesarea and Jisr al-Zakra indeterminate Goodman-Tchernov et al (2009) identified tsunamites in cores taken immediately offshore of the harbor of Caesarea which Goodman-Tchenov and Austin (2015) dated to the 5th - 8th century CE and associated with tsunamis generated by the Beirut Quake of 551 CE and one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. Although earlier works assigned this 5th - 8th century tsunamite deposit solely to the Beirut Quake of 551 CE, later revisions assigned this offshore deposit mostly to one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes with the suggestion that the Sabbatical Year Quake tsunami deposit contained some reworked tsunamites from the 551 CE Beirut Quake.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Beirut



Tyre



Sidon



Byblos



Caesarea and Jisr al-Zakra



Paleoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
al-Harif Aqueduct unlikely ≥ 7 Sbeinati et. al. (2010) report a seismic event X which they dated to 335 AD ± 175 years at a displaced aqueduct at al-Harif, Syria (close to Masyaf, Syria). The 551 Beirut Quake is slightly outside modeled ages.
Tabarja Benches probable Mw = ~7.4-7.6 Elias et al (2007) examined uplifted benches on the Lebanese coast between Sarafand and Tripolis; some in the vicinity of Tabarja (~20 km. NE of Beirut). They estimated ~80 cm. of uplift took place on the lowest bench (B1) in the 6th century CE which they attributed to the 551 CE Beirut Quake. From their geophysical surveys, they also discovered a previously unknown thrust fault system offshore which they called the Mount Lebanon Thrust. They surmised that the 551 CE Beirut Quake was a result of fault movement on these thrust faults.
Qiryat-Shemona Rockfalls possible to unlikely Kanari, M. (2008) examined rockfalls in Qiryat-Shemona which were attributed to earthquakes. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating was performed on soil samples beneath the fallen rocks. Kanari et al (2019) proposed that rockfalls QS-3 and QS-11 were most likely triggered by the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Their discussion is quoted below:
QS-3 (1.6±0.1 ka) and QS-11 (1.7±0.2 ka) fit the historical earthquakes of 363 and 502 CE, and only lack 40 years in error margin to fit the one of 551 CE. Since the 502 CE earthquake was reported on shoreline localities only in the DST area, we find the 363 CE earthquake to be a better rockfall-triggering candidate. We suggest that the two ages are clustered around one of these earthquakes, hence suggesting they represent one rockfall event in the 363 CE earthquake. However, we cannot completely rule out the possibility that these were two separate rockfall events, both triggered by large earthquakes in 363 and 502/551 CE.
Bet Zayda probable ≥ 7 Wechsler at al. (2014) may have seen evidence for this earthquake in Event CH3-E2 (Modeled Age 505-593 CE).
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a The table below shows projected PGA and Intensity at 3 Dead Sea Sites and 1 Araba site for the 551 CE Beirut Earthquake where the Magnitude (7.5) and Epicenter come from Elias et al (2007). Also included are calculated intensities for the seismites in question at the sites. En Feshka is the only site where projected intensity from the 551 CE Beirut Earthquake matches up well with the estimated Intensity from the seismite. There is a mismatch at En Gedi and a large mismatch at Nahal Ze'elim. The closer late 6th century CE Inscription at Areopolis Quake seems a better candidate than the 551 CE Beirut Earthquake at En Gedi, Nahal Ze 'elim, and in the Taybeh Trench. However, if one considers that Lu et al (2020a) estimated a minimum PGA of 0.13 g and Williams (2004) estimated a minimum PGA of 0.23 g to generate a seismite in the Dead Sea, it isn't impossible that the 551 CE Beirut Earthquake generated seismites at En Feshka, En Gedi, and Nahal Ze'elim. A calculator is provided for experimentation.
Location Assumed Distance (km.) Projected PGA (g) Projected Intensity IEst. from site
Dead Sea - En Feshka 273 0.21 6.8 5.6-7.0
Dead Sea - En Gedi 304 0.18 6.6 7.9-8.8
Dead Sea - Nahal Ze'elim 320 0.17 6.5 8.4-9.3
Araba - Taybeh Trench 421 0.11 5.8 ≥ 7
Calculator
Seismic Attenuation

Variable Input Units Notes
Magnitude
km. Distance to earthquake producing fault
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
  

Approximate distances to the epicenter of the 551 CE Beirut Quake

551 CE Beirut Quake
(Epicenter from Elias et al, 2007)
Location Approx. Distance
to 551 CE Epicenter (km.)
En Feshka 273
En Gedi 304
Nahal Ze 'elim 320
Taybeh Trench 421

Dead Sea - En Feshka possible 5.6-7.0 Kagan et. al. (2011) identified a 1 cm. thick "seismite" at a depth of 186.5 cm. (Modeled Ages ±1σ - 591 AD ± 48, ±2σ - 579 AD ± 103) which they assigned to the 551 CE Beirut Quake. However, the Inscription at Areopolis Quake appears to be a better match. It better matches the date range and appears to have had a much closer epicenter. That said, the "seismite" was labeled as questionable; indicating that it may not have been a result of seismic activity.
Dead Sea - En Gedi unlikely to possible 7.9-8.8 Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 551 CE date to a 0.3 cm. thick Type 4 mixed layer seismite at a depth of 220.33 cm. (2.2033 m) in the 1997 GSI/GFZ core in En Gedi.
Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim unlikely 8.4-9.3 At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 551 CE date to a 17 cm. thick brecciated seismite at a depth of 315 cm. (Modeled Ages ±1σ - 537 AD ± 70, ±2σ - 540 AD ± 88). Due to distance from the epicenter, this date assignment for such a thick and brecciated seismite is extremely unlikely. The Inscription at Areopolis Quake is a better candidate.
Araba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Araba - Taybeh Trench unlikely Event E3 (Modeled Age 551 AD ± 264) in the Taybeh Trench (LeFevre et al., 2018) matches well with a 551 CE date however the spread of ages for this event is quite large and a number of other earthquakes with closer epicenters are better candidates for causing the deformation seen in Event E3 (e.g the Inscription at Areopolis Quake).
Araba - Qatar Trench no evidence Klinger et. al. (2015) didn't date any events which match with this earthquake. The closest event would likely be Event E6 which was dated to 251 CE ± 251.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Displaced Aqueduct at al Harif, Syria

Sbeinati et. al. (2010) report a seismic event X which they dated to 335 AD ± 175 years at a displaced aqueduct at al-Harif, Syria (close to Masyaf, Syria). The 551 Beirut Quake is slightly outside modeled ages.



Tabarja Benches

Elias et al (2007) examined uplifted benches on the Lebanese coast between Sarafand and Tripolis; some in the vicinity of Tabarja (~20 km. NE of Beirut). They estimated ~80 cm. of uplift took place on the lowest bench (B1) in the 6th century CE which they attributed to the 551 CE Beirut Quake. From their geophysical surveys, they also discovered a previously unknown thrust fault system offshore which they called the Mount Lebanon Thrust. They surmised that the 551 CE Beirut Quake was a result of fault movement on these thrust faults.



Qiryat-Shemona Rockfalls

Kanari, M. (2008) examined rockfalls in Qiryat-Shemona which were attributed to earthquakes. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating was performed on soil samples beneath the fallen rocks. Kanari et al (2019) proposed that rockfalls QS-3 and QS-11 were most likely triggered by the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Their discussion is quoted below:

QS-3 (1.6±0.1 ka) and QS-11 (1.7±0.2 ka) fit the historical earthquakes of 363 and 502 CE, and only lack 40 years in error margin to fit the one of 551 CE. Since the 502 CE earthquake was reported on shoreline localities only in the DST area, we find the 363 CE earthquake to be a better rockfall-triggering candidate. We suggest that the two ages are clustered around one of these earthquakes, hence suggesting they represent one rockfall event in the 363 CE earthquake. However, we cannot completely rule out the possibility that these were two separate rockfall events, both triggered by large earthquakes in 363 and 502/551 CE.


Bet Zayda (aka Beteiha)

Wechsler at al. (2014) may have seen evidence for this earthquake in Event CH3-E2 (Modeled Age 505-593 CE).



Dead Sea Seismite Types



Dead Sea - En Feshka

Kagan et. al. (2011) identified a 1 cm. thick "seismite" at a depth of 186.5 cm. (Modeled Ages ±1σ - 591 AD ± 48, ±2σ - 579 AD ± 103) which they assigned to the 551 CE Beirut Quake. However, the Inscription at Areopolis Quake appears to be a better match. It better matches the date range and appears to have had a much closer epicenter. That said, the "seismite" was labeled as questionable; indicating that it may not have been a result of seismic activity.



Dead Sea - En Gedi

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 551 CE date to a 0.3 cm. thick Type 4 mixed layer seismite at a depth of 220.33 cm. (2.2033 m) in the 1997 GSI/GFZ core in En Gedi.



Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim

At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 551 CE date to a 17 cm. thick brecciated seismite at a depth of 315 cm. (Modeled Ages ±1σ - 537 AD ± 70, ±2σ - 540 AD ± 88). Due to distance from the epicenter, this date assignment for such a thick and brecciated seismite is extremely unlikely. The Inscription at Areopolis Quake is a better candidate.



Araba - Introduction



Araba - Taybeh Trench

Event E3 (Modeled Age 551 AD ± 264) in the Taybeh Trench (LeFevre et al., 2018) matches well with a 551 CE date however the spread of ages for this event is quite large and a number of other earthquakes with closer epicenters are better candidates for causing the deformation seen in Event E3 (e.g the Inscription at Areopolis Quake).



Araba - Qatar Trench

Klinger et. al. (2015) didn't date any events which match with this earthquake. The closest event would likely be Event E6 which was dated to 251 CE ± 251.



Notes

Conflation Errors in Ancient Documents

Russell (1985) noted that a number of earthquakes struck in 551 CE or thereabout leading to a host of catalog errors in those catalogs that did not examine source documents.

Both the dating and geographic extent of this earthquake became confused in later earthquake accounts and catalogs. The confusion appears to have occurred because there were several earthquakes in the eastern Mediterranean during the later reign of Justinian.

In the autumn of 551, another earthquake caused extensive damage in Greece around the Corinthian Gulf and in Boetia and Achaea; a consequent tidal wave destroyed two cities at the upper end of the Maliac Gulf. The historian Procopius (ca. 500-ca. 562) documented this latter earthquake but totally excluded that of July 9th (1928: 322-23), as did Evagrius Scholasticus (1964: 170-71).

On August 15, 554, yet another earthquake occurred in the regions of Byzantium and Bithynia. Aftershocks were felt for 40 days, and the event left such an impression on the affected populations that it was remembered annually in a festival held. appropriately, in an open field. This event is documented in Theophanes' Chronographia (1839: 354-55) and in the Anastasii Bibliothecarii Historia Ecclesiastica, an abridged Latin version of Theophanes' Chronographia made by the papal librarian Anastasius in the second half of the 9th century (1841: 105).

Finally, an earthquake in 561 severely damaged Anazarbus, the capitol of Cilicia II, as well as Antioch and Seleucia in the province of Syria I (Cedrenus 1838:678-79; Procopius 1954:224-27; Theophanes 1839: 364).

Cedrenus, writing in the early 12th century, also provided an account of the earthquake of August 15, 554. However, while most of his account reiterated the earlier narrative of Theophanes. he further stated that Antioch was also damaged at this time. along with cities in Arabia, Palestine. and Mesopotamia (1838: 674). Apparently. Cedrenus. or later editors of his work, 'conflated accounts of the July 9. 551 earthquake with those of 554 and 561.

A similar conflation of mid-6th century earthquakes appears in the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian (1901). written in Syriac in the mid- to late 12th century. Michael also recorded the earthquake of July 9, 551, noting damage to the cities of the Phoenician coast as well as villages in the Galilee (1901: 244). However, his subsequent account of the August 554 earthquake is apparently split in two, and one narrative appears at the end of his account of events in 551, while the other was placed within his account of events for 558 (190 I: 245-46). Further, his description of the collapse of Mount Lithoprosopus at Botryos and the damage incurred at Beirut during the 551 earthquake was conflated with the 554 earthquake narrative erroneously placed among the events of 558 (1901: 246-47).

Catalog Errors

Russell (1985) noted some of the catalog errors associated with the 551 CE Beirut Quake.

When Clinton compiled the tables for his Fasti Romani (1845), he apparently correlated the account of the July 9, 551 earthquake given by Agathius with the corrupt account of the 554 earthquake presented by Cedrenus. Both these accounts, along with Theophanes' narrative for 554, were then collectively used to document a 554 earthquake that ostensibly caused damage from Constantinople through Palestine (Clinton 1845: 802). However, Clinton did not record any earthquakes for the year 551 (1845: 792-96).

This temporal and geographic confusion has subsequently appeared in modern earthquake catalogs. Avranitakis noted (1903: 179) a 554 earthquake in Thrace, Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine while Willis (1928: 79) apparently added the account of Procopius for the 551 earthquake in Greece to document a 554 earthquake in "Greece, Syria, Mesopotamia, etc." Amiran (1950- 51: 226) subsequently included a 554 earthquake in his catalog by reference to Clinton, Arvanitakis, and Willis, stating that "Cedrenus mentions Palestine, Agathius Beirut."

Other Earthquakes in 551 CE

Guidoboni et al (1994) and Ambraseys (2009) list other separate earthquakes in 551 CE based on the writings of Procopius and Agathias.

Ambraseys (2009)

[AD 543 Corinth]

An earthquake occurred in Greece and destroyed almost completely the walls of Corinth. This earthquake is mentioned only by later Syrian sources and dated to 854 a.S. (Eli. Nis. BR 120). It is probably the earthquake mentioned by earlier writers (Procop. A. 225; B. 239) and possibly a duplicate of the earthquake of AD 551 (see below).

References

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

[AD 544 Black Sea]

A destructive sea wave in the Black Sea flooded the coast of Thrace, inundating Odessus (now Varna), Dionysopolis (now Balchik) and Aphrodisium by advancing four miles inland, drowning many people before retiring.

This event is mentioned by Theophanes, who places it in a.M. 6037 (September 544 to August 545), or in the 18th year of Justinian (Cedr. CS 657), which commenced in April 544. He does not mention, however, whether this event was associated with an earthquake. Only an eighth-century Syrian chronicle, which is not so reliable, says briefly that in 855 a.S. there was an earthquake and a submersion by the sea of many cities (Chron. 724, 111).

However, Guidoboni et al. associate this event with a seismic sea wave (Guidoboni et al. 1994, 329), but no earthquake is mentioned by any of the local sources.

Note

a.M. 6037: In that year the sea rose up against Thrace and covered it for four miles [inland] around the parts of Odyssus and Dionysopolis, and also Aphrodisium. And many people drowned in the waters. And then, at the divine command, the sea flowed back into its own limits.’ (Theoph. 224).
References

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

AD 551 >July 9 Cos

An earthquake and a seismic sea wave, which caused great damage on the island of Cos. The town of Cos was almost completely destroyed, as was all but a small part of the island, and the death toll was heavy. Houses of unbaked brick or mud survived, but most houses, built of stone, were reduced to rubble and drinking water was also polluted by the sea wave.

Agathias visited Cos, in the course of a voyage from Alexandria to Constantinople, shortly after the event, and was thus able to see the effects (although of course there may be some exaggeration). His chronology is so confused that the date of the event is uncertain. Agathias says ‘at around that time’ just after narrating the earthquake of July 551, but in ii. 15 and ii. 16 he regresses four years in his time sequence.

Modern authors amalgamate this earthquake with the event of AD 551 that destroyed the Phoenician coast, 800 km away from Cos (McCail 1967, 243).

Agathias also visited the island in AD 558, on his return from Constantinople, but Guidoboni et al. (1994, 338–339) note that this visit was before the Constantinople earthquake of AD 557 and date the event between AD 554 and 558 on the assumption that Egypt was affected by an earthquake in AD 554 (Guidoboni 1989, 703).

Note

And at the same time [as the earthquake in Syria and Lebanon] the island of Cos, which lies on the edge of the Mediterranean, was shaken by an earthquake, and while a small part of it was preserved, all the rest collapsed, in what was a complex and unprecedented disaster.

The sea rose up to an incredible height and engulfed all the buildings by the shore, destroying the property and people in them. Such was the size of the wave, and so extraordinary, that whatever its surging crests could not ride over, it dashed down and destroyed.

Almost all its citizens were killed in the confusion, whether they happened to have fled to sanctuaries, or stayed at home, or gathered elsewhere.

At that time I happened to be sailing from Alexandria to Byzantium, and I disembarked on the island, which lies en route: as soon as I stepped on to the shore I was confronted by the most pitiful sight which was beyond the power of words to describe. For almost the entire city was reduced to a pile of rubble, with stones and bits of broken pillars and wooden beams scattered everywhere, and the air was darkened with great clouds of dust, so that one could hardly discern the thoroughfares but only dimly perceive them.

A few houses remained standing, unharmed, but these were not built of gypsum or stone, or of any similar material which might seem more durable, but were built in peasant-fashion from unbaked brick or mud. Here and there a few men could be seen, whose expressions were of despondency, despair and dejection, as if this were the end, and also of apathy. For in addition to all the other ills, the drinking water from the river had been polluted by the sea, being thus rendered undrinkable . . . (Agath. ii. 16).
References

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

AD 551 Schisma, Boeotia

During AD 551, three separate earthquakes struck Boeotia, involving the areas around the Maliac and Crissean Gulfs in central Greece. Eight cities were destroyed, the worst hit being Patrae, Naupactus, Chaeronea and Coronea, which were destroyed, with loss of life.

Procopius’s contemporary and only account of these events in AD 551 says that at this time a (series) of extraordinary earthquakes occurred throughout Greece, affecting both Boeotia and Achaea and the country around the Crisean Gulf, as a result of which many towns and eight cities, which are not named, were levelled to the ground, among which were Chaeronea, Coronea, Patrae and all of Naupactus where there was also great loss of life.

It adds that the earth was ‘rent asunder’ to the extent that in many places the people were not able to travel from one place to another without making many detours.

It goes on to say that, at Echinus and at Scarphea in Boeotia in the Gulf between Thessaly and Boeotia, there was a sudden influx of the sea, which levelled both towns. The sea flooded the mainland for a long time, so that for a very considerable period it was possible for men to walk to the islands, which are inside this gulf, since the sea had abandoned its proper place and spread over the land as far as the mountains. When the sea returned to its proper place, fish were left on the ground.

It also adds that at the locality of the so-called Schisma there was a tremendous earthquake, which caused more loss of life than in all the rest of Greece, particularly since a festival was being celebrated there (in October?), for which many people had gathered from all over Greece.

It is important to recognise that Procopius places earthquakes in the plural, in the context of more than one earthquake in more than one place. The time of which he is speaking is about that of the defeat of the Gepaedes, perhaps December 550 to January 551 and he clearly refers to more than one, probably three, distinct earthquakes in central Greece, that is (1) a destructive shock in Boeotia that caused great loss of life in Schisma and destroyed Coronea and Chaeronea, probably damaging Corinth; (2) a destructive sea wave at Echinus and Scarpheia, which was probably associated with a second earthquake about 70 km away in the Maliakos Gulf between Thessaly and Boeotia; and (3) a damaging shock more than 100 km to the west of Schisma in the Gulf of Corinth and in Achaea, which heavily damaged Nafpaktos and Patra. Much of what has been said above is based on a study of source credibility by White (2001a).

The sequence of these events is not possible to establish, but it is possible, on physical grounds, to exclude the possibility of a single earthquake being associated with an epicentral area of radius more than 100 km. Many important centres, which are not recorded as having suffered in this earthquake, would have also been utterly destroyed, such as Chalcis, Aegeum, Amphissa and Delphi, for which there is no evidence.

Insofar as the first earthquake is concerned, the name of the festival on which it occurred, which could have helped with the reckoning of the date, is not given. It is unlikely that this was the festival of Dionysus, which was held in historical times on Mt Parnassus, and it could have been a local affair.

This earthquake affected Schisma most seriously, its name meaning a place cleft or rent. This may be the place where the ground deformation described by Procopius took place, most probably as the result of surface faulting and landslides. This locality may be the ‘Schisti hodos’ mentioned by earlier writers, which is the name of the junction of the road from Delphi that crosses the spurs of Mt Parnassus–Xeromeri with the route to Levadia south of Daulia. This locality is only a few kilometres from Cheronea and 15 km from Coronea, sites that were totally destroyed by the earthquake.

Procopius mentions Corinth separately as having suffered from more than one earthquake and notes that its walls were repaired within his lifetime. However, when he enumerates other cities that were renewed by Justinian after AD 553, he says explicitly that the restoration of the walls of Plateae and Athens, which are between Schisma and Corinth, was necessitated not because of damage sustained by earthquakes, but because these cities had suffered from the long passage of time. It is probable, therefore, that the same earthquake as that at Schisma damaged Corinth to some degree.

There are no other primary sources for this earthquake, and later sources either repeat some of this information or amalgamate it with that from other earthquakes in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Procopius refers to a series of ‘extraordinary earthquakes’ (seismoi) that occurred in Greece and Asia Minor during the reign of the Emperor Justinian. While seismoi can mean ‘shocks’, this translation is valid only in the context of an obvious single earthquake in one place.

If the ordering of events in Procopius’s narrative can be trusted, this earthquake must have occurred shortly after Narses’s march against the Goth Totila (about March 551). Since the festival held in Schisma is likely to have been the great June event, the Thesmophoria, it is probable that the earthquake happened during that month.

Locating Schisma has proved difficult. It is not mentioned in any contemporary sources. However, Pausanias says that ‘Going forward from there [the road to Delphi] you will arrive at a road called the Branch (“Schiste”)’ (Paus. X. v. 1/LCL. iv. 388–390). Of particular interest is a passage from Sophocles’s Oedipus Tyrannus. Jocasta says to Oedipus, in the course of his questioning her about the death of his father Laeus, ‘The land is called Phocis, and the branch road (“schiste hodos”) to it leads from Delphi and Daulia.’ (Soph. OT l.733/LCL. i. 400). Kammerbeek describes a road which runs southeast–northwest through Greece from Thebes to Lebadea (modern Livadia), just north of which it splits, a branch road (“schiste hodos”) running west to Delphi and the main road continuing northwest to Daulia. By association the point at which the Delphi road split off (actually a crossroads, since another road joined the main road there, too) came to be known as “Schiste” (Kammerbeek 1967, iv. 153). This road remains substantially the same today, although the crossroads has been moved so that now Levadia is on the Delphi branch.

A report on excavations at the crossroads in 1907 describes extremely dilapidated buildings, one of them being a fort on a rounded hill (Fossey 1986). Their condition was attributed to hurried construction in the second century AD. Unfortunately, the article does not describe their state in any detail, so it is possible only to conjecture how the buildings came to be so dilapidated.

Regarding the alleged festival at Schisma, there was a biennial festival at nearby Parnassus to celebrate the rebirth of Dionysus, so it may be that the Thesmophoria of AD 551 was held there.

In his Buildings Procopius mentions terrible earthquakes that had occurred in Corinth, as a result of which Justinian repaired the city walls. This may refer to many earthquakes over a long period, or to those which occurred only during the reign of Justinian. However, in the Anecdota he lists many cities, mostly Asian, but including Corinth, that were ruined by earthquakes during Justinian’s reign. Modern writers claim that an inscription from Corinth honours one Theodosius as ‘rebuilder of the town’ after the earthquake of AD 551, but the source is not quoted (Bousquet and Pechoux ´ 1983, 33).

It goes without saying that this could not have been, as some modern writers claim, the same earthquake as that which struck Asia Minor in July 551 since it would have damaged an area of two million km2, and many important cities between Greece and Asia Minor would have been wiped out

Notes

‘It was at this time that extraordinary earthquakes occurred throughout Greece, both Boeotia and Achaea and the country on the Crisaean Gulf being badly shaken. And countless towns and eight cities were levelled to the ground, among which were Chaeronea and Coronea and Patrae and all of Naupactus, where there was also great loss of life. And the earth was rent asunder in many places and formed chasms. Now some of these openings came together again so that the earth presented the same form and appearance as before, but in other places they remained open, with the consequence that the people in such places are not able to intermingle with each other except by making use of many detours. But in the gulf between Thessaly and Boeotia there was a sudden influx of the sea at the city called Echinus and at Scarphea in Boeotia. And advancing far over the land it deluged the towns there and levelled them immediately. And for a long time the sea thus visited the mainland, so that for a very considerable period it was possible for men on foot to walk to the islands which are inside this gulf, since the water of the sea, obviously, had abandoned its proper place, and, strange to say, spread over the land as far as the mountains which rise there. But when the sea returned to its proper place, fish were left on the ground, and since their appearance was altogether unfamiliar to the people of the country, they seemed a kind of prodigy. And thinking them edible they picked them up to boil them, but when the heat of the fire touched them the whole body was reduced to a liquid putrefaction of an unbearable sort. But in that locality where the so-called Cleft (Schisma) is located there was a tremendous earthquake which caused more loss of life than in all the rest of Greece, particularly on account of a certain festival which they happened to be celebrating there and for which many had gathered in that place from all Greece.’ (Procop. Bell. VIII. xxv. 16–24/LCL. v. 324)
‘He [Justinian] also rendered secure all the cities of Greece which are inside the walls at Thermopylae, renewing their circuit-walls in every case. For they had fallen into ruin long before, at Corinth because of terrible earthquakes which had visited the city; and at Athens and Plataea and the towns of Boeotia they had suffered from the long passage of time, while no man in the whole world took thought for them.’ (Procop. Aed. IV. ii. 23–24/LCL. vii. 238).
He [the Emperor Justinian], after he had accomplished all this, learned that all the cities of the Peloponnesus were unwalled, he reasoned that obviously a long time would be consumed if he attended to them one by one, and so he walled the whole Isthmus securely, because much of the old wall had already fallen down.’ (Procop. Aed. IV. ii. 27–28/LCL. vii. 238)
And one might add to the list [of cities destroyed in earthquakes during Justinian’s reign] Ibora and also Amasia, which chanced to be the first city in Pontus, also Polybotus in Phrygia, which the Pisidians call Philomede, and Lychnidus in Epirus, and Corinth, all of which cities have from ancient times been most populous. For it befell all these cities during this period to be overthrown by earthquake and their inhabitants to be practically all destroyed by them.’ (Procop. Anecd. xviii. 42/LCL. vi. 224–226).
References

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

AD 551 Maliakos Gulf

The second event in AD 551 mentioned by Procopius is the sea wave in the Maliakos Gulf between Thessaly and Boeotia, about 70 km to the north of Schisma, which destroyed the towns of Echinus and Scarpheia. He does not mention any damage to these or other towns due to an earthquake (see the previous entry).

References

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

AD 551 Nafpaktos, Patra

The third earthquake in AD 551 occurred more than 100 km to the west of Schisma in the western part of the Gulf of Corinth and in Achaea, damaging Nafpaktos and Patra (see AD 552 June entry).

The archaeological evidence that the collapse of the temple of Zeus in Olympia was due to this earthquake is very dubious (Decker 2000). It is based on Boetticher’s argument that, according to the Scholiast of Lucian, the temple of Zeus in Olympia remained standing during the period of Theodosius (AD 408–450). As a result of the edict of Theodosius in AD 426 the temple was burned; but Boetticher believes that this should have affected only the wooden construction of the temple (Boetticher 1883; cf. Meyer 1979). On the other hand, he points out that near the eastern front of the temple, within a wall dating from late antiquity, an early Byzantine hoard of more than 1000 coins of the period of Justinian II (AD 527–565) has been found buried under large fragments of the temple of Zeus. This implies, according to Boetticher, that the final destruction of the temple took place sometime between AD 426 and 565. Owing to the enormous size, but also due to the way the columns had fallen, he suggests that only an earthquake could have been responsible for the collapse of the structure. After mentioning all the earthquakes which took place in the period between AD 426 and 565, Boetticher concludes that only two of the most disastrous earthquakes during that period could have been responsible: the earthquake of AD 522 and/or the earthquake of AD 551.

Guidoboni (1989, 698–699) and Guidoboni et al. (1994, 331–332) amalgamate the three earthquakes of AD 551 in Greece to create an enormous earthquake.

References

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

AD 554 Aug 16 Constantinople, Nicomedea

A destructive earthquake in the eastern part of the Sea of Marmara.

In Constantinople many houses were ruined and people were killed, especially in the southern part of the city around the Golden Gate. Some churches and baths as well as part of the city wall near the Golden Gate were damaged. The spear of the statue of Constantine at the Forum fell and penetrated three cubits into the ground. The repair of the walls is recorded in extant inscriptions.

At least part of Nicomedea was destroyed, although the sources vary about the extent of the destruction: according to one source, the city was completely destroyed and part of it fell into the sea.

Part of Nicaea may also have been damaged, although this is mentioned by only one source. Other towns, which are not named, were also damaged. Damaging aftershocks continued for 40 days (Malal. CS 489; Sym. Styl. 1061).

This event was commemorated in Constantinople annually with prayers in the Campus in the district of Hebdomon (Sym. Styl. 1061; Mich. Syr. CH ii. 245).

Later authors say that also the sea flooded the coast and advanced inland two miles, sinking many ships (Cedr. CS 674), but this detail seems to belong to the earthquakes of AD 551 in Beirut, which they conflate with this event.

According to Malalas, this earthquake happened in Constantinople and Nicomedea in August of the second indiction (AD 554).

The contemporary Victor of Tunnuna lists a damaging earthquake in Constantinople in AD 553, and Agathias syncretises what is probably this event with the earthquakes of AD 551, including that on the island of Cos, and adds no information apart from corroborating the earthquake’s occurrence.

The Life of Symeon the Stylite the Younger (late sixth or early seventh century) records that six days after the great earthquake of AD 551, Constantinople, Nicomedea, Nicaea, Rhegium ‘and most of the cities close to Illyricum’ suffered a damaging earthquake during the night. Obviously this is an amalgamation of this event with the earthquake that affected cities close to Illyricum in February 548.

The evidence from other sources suggests that the earthquake of AD 554 affected Constantinople and the area east to Nicomedea, whereas the AD 557 earthquake affected Constantinople and the region to the west including Rhegium, so it is likely that they have been syncretised in the Life. The pattern of subsequent earthquakes makes it probable that Nicaea was affected by the ‘eastward’ earthquake, that of AD 554.

Pseudo-Dionysius, probably copying John of Ephesus, gives a detailed and somewhat rhetorical account, dating the event to 7 Ab (August), a.S. 1862 (obviously an error for 862, thus AD 551), and claims that part of Nicomedea was swallowed into the sea.

Theophanes dates the earthquake to the second indiction, 15 August a.M. 6046 August (AD 554), adding that the event occurred ‘as Sunday was dawning’, i.e. Sunday 16 August.

Michael the Syrian claims that aftershocks were felt for only twenty days, but this may be a confusion with the earthquake of AD 557.

Millingen confirms the damage to the Golden Gate, where an inscription records its restoration by Justin II (Meyer-Plath and Schneider 1943). See also Cyr. Scyth. 199; John Eph. NA 489; Leo Gramm. CS 128; McCail (1967, 242) and Downey (1955, 598)

Later writers syncretise this earthquake with the AD 551 event and others (Cedr. 674/736; Glyc. 269/504; Abu’l Faraj 76/81). Guidoboni (1989, 700–701) associates this earthquake with the shock felt in Alexandria in AD 551

Notes

‘In the month of August, in the 2nd indiction, there was a terrible earthquake, so that many houses and baths and churches and parts of the walls of Byzantium were damaged. In this terror also fell the spear which was held by the statue in the forum, and it penetrated the ground to a depth of three cubits. Other cities suffered in this terror, among which was Nicomedea, part of which collapsed. After a few days some survivors were pulled from the ruins of Nicomedea. This earthquake lasted for forty days.’ (Malal. 486–487/704–705).
‘a.553 While these things were going on [Justinian’s synod and anathemas] an earthquake shook the Imperial City and threw down many buildings and porticoes, and the arcades of many basilicas were flattened.’ (Vict. Tunn. 553/203).
At the same time [as the Frankish invasions], in summer, there was a great earthquake in Byzantium and in many parts of the Roman Empire, so that numerous cities, both on islands and the mainland were completely razed to the ground and their inhabitants all killed . . .’ (Agath. ii. 15).
And after six days a great earthquake occurred in Constantinople, and in various districts many houses partially collapsed, and many people were killed. Nicomedea also collapsed, as did the [suburb] called Rhegium, and part of Nicaea and the most of the cities close to Illyricum. And these things were known in the city of Antioch, and there was great mourning there, and they prayed night and day.’ (Vit. Sym. Iun. 106).
In the year 1862 (sic.) a great earthquake happened in the Imperial City, on the first day of the week.
On 7 Ab [August] there was a terrible quake, severe and ¯ violent, in the Imperial City during part of the night, at dawn of the first day of the week, and numerous houses were overthrown in this [event] and became awful tombs for their inhabitants. Many churches, baths and town walls collapsed, and above all the wall of the Imperial City, which is called the Gates (sic.) of Gold. And again many people died everywhere in this earthquake. Many towns were overthrown and razed, so that Nicomedea, capital of Bithynia, collapsed and was completely destroyed; and a good part of it was swallowed up in the sea and all the rest was buried in the collapse. Many of those who were found alive in the destruction were found alive; some were unharmed but others were injured. These earthquakes had been terrifying, as they went on, one after another, for forty days. Since those who loved God were filled with His mercy, they also called men to lives of penitence. And thus it was that everywhere men persevered in prayer in the churches and stayed there. It was in suffering and tears of penitence that the memorials of these earthquakes were born, seven miles from the city. And every year, during the days over which [the earthquake] had taken place, prayers went up, which were followed by prayers for the entire city to say; and all he way down from the nobles, [everyone] followed the prayers on the plain with zeal.’ (Ps.Dion. ii. 126/94).
‘a.M.6046. In that year on 15th August, in the 2nd indiction, in the middle of the night, as Sunday was dawning, there was a terrible earthquake, so that many houses and baths and churches and part of the walls of Constantinople were damaged, especially around the Golden Gate. And many people died. A large part of Nicomedea fell too. And this earthquake continued for forty days. And after a little, men kept vigil, supplicating and watching and going to the churches, and when God’s love for man was [manifested] again (i.e. when the earthquake stopped), they were worse. This earthquake is commemorated each year in the Campus (Hebdomon Plain) when the people pray.’ (Theoph. 229).
‘There was another, very violent, earthquake in the imperial city [Constantinople] in the month of ‘Ab [August]: many houses were overturned and became their inhabitants’ tombs. Churches, baths, and the wall, which used to be called the “Golden Gate” also collapsed. In this earthquake Nicomedea was completely destroyed. These earthquakes carried on for 20 days, as if to call men to repentance. They were commemorated each year by rogations, on a great plain seven miles from the imperial city.’ (Mich. Syr. ix. 29/ii. 245).
The outwork of the Theodosian Wall was restored under Justin and Sophia, our most pious Sovereigns, by Narses, the most glorious Spatharius and Sacellarius, and Stephen, who belonged to the servide, a servant of the most pious Sovereigns.’ (Millingen 1899, 96).
References

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

[AD 554 Oct 14 Alexandria]

On the authority of Agathias (CS 96–97) and John Nikiou (143), Guidoboni et al. (1994, 337–338) amalgamate two earthquakes in Egypt to AD 554.

Agathias, who was born c. AD 531 (OCD 25), says that there was an earthquake in Alexandria, which caused much panic but no damage. This, he adds, happened at the time he was preparing himself to enter the law school, presumably when he was about 20 years old, and what he describes should have been the far-field/distant effects of the earthquake in Lebanon in AD 551.

John of Nikiu, a seventh-century writer, reports an unidentified earthquake that was felt in Egypt during the reign of Justinian (AD 527–565) that he says was an event commemorated on 17 Teqempt (14 October). This event occurred during Justin’s reign, in AD 520 (see 14 October 520).

References

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

[AD 554–558 Cos]

This is a duplicate of the earthquake of c. AD 551 in Cos (see above). Guidoboni dates it to AD 558 or within the period AD 554–558 (Guidoboni 1989, 703; Guidoboni et al. 1994, 338–339).

References

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

Guidoboni et al (1994)

551 Greece

551 *Chaeronea, •Coronea, •Echinus, •Naupactus, • Patras [Patrae], •Scarphe, Achaia, Boeotia, the Crisaean Gulf seismic sea-wave, surface faulting

sources

  • Procop. bell. 8.25.16-23
literature
  • Meyer (1979)
catalogues
  • Ligorio [1574-7]
  • Bonito (1691)
  • von Hoff (1840)
  • Mallet (1853)
  • Schmidt (1881)
  • Galanopoulos (1961)
  • Ambraseys (1962 b)
  • Shebalin et al. (1974)
  • Comninakis and Papazachos (1982)
  • Papazachos and Papazachos (1989)
  • Guidoboni (1989)Guidoboni (1989)
Procopius describes a great earthquake which struck central Greece, causing serious damage, substantial changes to the terrain and a seismic sea-wave: "It was at this time that extraordinary earthquakes occurred throughout Greece, both Boeotia and Achaia and the country on the Crisaean Gulf being badly shaken. Countless towns and eight cities were levelled to the ground, among them Chaeronea and Coronea and Patrae and all of Naupactus, where there was also great loss of life. The earth was split open in many places and chasms formed. Now some of these openings came together again so that the earth presented the same form and appearance as before, but in other places they remained open, with the consequence that the people in such places are not able to intermingle with each other except by making many detours. But in the gulf between Thessaly and Boeotia there was a sudden influx of the sea at the city called Echinus and at Scarphe in Boeotia. Advancing far over the land it deluged the towns there and levelled them immediately. And for a long time the mainland was flooded in this way, so that for a very considerable period it was possible for people to walk to the islands in the gulf, since the waters of the sea, obviously, had abandoned their proper place, and spread over the land in this strange way, as far as the mountains which rise there. But when the sea returned to its proper place, fish were left on the ground [...]. But in the locality where the so-called Cleft is located there was a tremendous earthquake which caused more loss of life than in all the rest of Greece, particularly on account of a certain festival which they happened to be celebrating there and for which many had gathered from all Greece"

References

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

554 Constantinople

(219) the night of 15 August 554 *Constantinople, •Nicea?, • Nicomedia

sources1

  • Mal. 486-7
  • Ioh. Ephes. 325-6
  • Agath. 2.15.1 ff.
  • Vita s. Sym. Stil. Iun. 106
  • Theoph. 229
  • Anth. Pal. 9.425-7
sources2
  • [Dion. Tellmahr.1 126
  • Georg. Mon. 642
  • Cedren. 679
literature
  • Cameron (1970)
catalogues
  • Bonito (1691)
  • von Hoff (1840)
  • Mallet (1853)
  • Capelle (1924)
  • Downey (1955)
  • Grumel (1958)
  • Hermann (1962)
  • Shebalin et al. (1974)
  • Ben-Menahem (1979)
  • Comninakis and Papazachos (1982)
  • Papazachos and Papazachos (1989)
  • Guidoboni (1989)
Malalas describes a violent earthquake in Asia Minor in August 554 as follows: "In the month of August of the second indiction there was a tremendous earthquake and many houses, baths and churches were damaged, and also parts of the walls at Byzantium. During this shock, the spear, which the statue in the Forum of Constantine was holding, fell and drove itself into the ground to a depth of three cubits. Many were trapped in the rubble. During this shock other cities were also damaged, amongst them Nicomedia, part of which collapsed. Days later people were brought up alive out of the rubble at Nicomedia. The earthquake lasted for 40 days".

Agathias records this earthquake at Constantinople along with that of 551 at Berytus (see entry ( 218 )): "In summer time, roughly during the same period, there was a violent earthquake in Constantinople and in many parts of the Empire, with the result that several cities both on the islands and the mainland were razed to the ground and their inhabitants wiped out".

Pseudo-Dionysius of Tellmahre dates the earthquake at Constantinople and Nicomedia to 550/551.

The earthquake is also recorded by Theophanes, who gives the specific date of 15 August: "In this year [of the world 6046, i.e. 554], on 15 August, in the second indiction, at midnight, as Sunday began, there was a dreadful earthquake in Constantinople, which caused particular damage to many houses, baths and churches, and a section of the walls, especially in the districts near the Golden Gate. Many people were killed. A large part of Nicomedia was also reduced to ruins. This one earthquake lasted for forty days. For a while men devoted themselves to penitence, saying prayers and spending long periods in church, until the love of God manifested itself again in these people who had been plunged into misfortune. Every year this earthquake is commemorated in the Campus, where the people gather in prayer".

The Life of St.Symeon the Stylite the Younger mentions an earthquake at Nicomedia which also "partly" affected Nicea. This was probably a single occurrence, though the nature of the source makes it difficult to be quite certain. Hermann (1962, co1.1111) identifies two earthquakes, one on 15 August 553 and the other in August 554. For the date of the evidence provided by Agathias, see Cameron (1970, p.138 ff.).

References

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

554 Alexandria, Egypt

(220) 14 October 554 Alexandria, •Egypt

sources

  • Agath. 2.15.1 ff.
  • Ioh. Nik. 90.81-3 (p.159 [2791/393 [5131 Zotenberg = p.143 Charles)
catalogues
  • von Hoff (1840)
  • Sieberg (1932 a)
Agathias records a slight tremor which he himself felt at Alexandria in Egypt. His account is particularly important for its analysis of the reactions of the inhabitants: "At that time also some slight tremors were felt in the great metropolis of Alexandria on the Nile, an altogether unusual occurrence for those parts. All the inhabitants and particularly the very old were amazed at this apparently unprecedented phenomenon. Nobody stayed indoors. The populace congregated in the streets, seized with unwarranted panic at the suddenness and novelty of the event. I myself was in Alexandria at the time, completing the prescribed studies which lead to the law course proper, and I must confess that I was quite overcome with fear considering the faintness of the tremors. What really worried me, though, was the fact that people's houses there are not at all strongly built and quite incapable of standing up to even a small amount of vibration, being frail and flimsy structures consisting of a single thickness of stone. There was alarm even among the educated section of the community — not, I think, at what had actually taken place, but because it seemed reasonable to expect that the sarr e thing would happen again".

John of Nikiu (quoted here in the Ethiopic translation) describes an earthquake in Egypt. In this case his source is a local one, not another Byzantine chronicle: "In the days of the emperor Justinian [527-565] there was a great earthquake in the land of Egypt, and many cities and villages were swallowed up in the abyss. Those who lived in the country made prayers and many intercessions with tears, being grieved on account of the destruction that had occurred. [82] After a year, the wrath (of heaven) ceased and the earthquakes which had persisted everywhere came to an end. The Egyptians commemorate this day every year on the 17th of Teqemt [14 October]. And the memory of this calamity had been preserved for us by our fathers, the god-bearer Egyptian monks. For these earthquakes were due to the change in the orthodox faith brought about by the emperor Justinian, who had hardened his heart more than his father's brother [i.e. Justin I], who had preceded him".

The context of the above passage seems to suggest that the mention here of religious measures taken by Justinian is almost certainly a reference to those which he took against the Monophysites at the council of Constantinople in May-June 553 and which were definitively approved by Pope Vigilius in Rome in the Constitutum of 23 February 554. The repression which followed was certainly more severe than that imposed by Julian, who had abandoned the repression of anti-Chalcedonite beliefs in Egypt.

References

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

554-558 the island of Cos seismic sea-wave

(221) 554-558 •the island of Cos seismic sea-wave

sources

  • Agath. 2.16.1-6
literature
  • Cameron (1970)
catalogues
  • von Hoff (1840)
  • Schmidt (1881)
  • Sieberg (1932 a)
  • Galanopoulos (1960)
  • Ambraseys (1962 b)
  • Ben-Menahem (1979)
  • Comninakis and Papazachos (1982)
  • Papazachos and Papazachos (1989)
  • Guidoboni (1989)
Agathias records that the island of Cos was struck by a violent earthquake followed by a seismic sea-wave: "At that time [Agathias had been speaking about the earthquake at Alexandria in 554 (see entry ( 220 )) and went on to a general consideration of the causes of earthquakes] the island of Cos which lies at the southern end of the Aegean was almost completely destroyed. Indeed, except for one small part of the island practically nothing was left standing, and the disaster was unprecedented in its scale and complexity. The sea rose up to a fantastic height and engulfed all the buildings near the shore, destroying them together with their contents and inhabitants. The heaving mass was of such enormous proportions that it flung down everything there that its surging crests could not ride over. Almost all the inhabitants perished indiscriminately, whether they happened to have taken refuge in places of worship or to have stayed in their homes or gathered together in some other spot. I happened to have occasion to disembark there myself just after the disaster, when I was sailing back from Alexandria to Constantinople (the island is of course on the route). When I set foot on shore I was confronted with a spectacle that beggared description. Practically the whole city was reduced to a gigantic heap of rubble, littered with stones and fragments of broken pillars and beams, and the air was murky with thick clouds of dust, so that on could barely surmise the existence of what had once been streets from a few vague hints of their presence. A mere handful of houses stood intact, and they were not th. ones that had been built with stones and mortar or some such seemingly more solid and durable substance, but only those made in peasant style out of unbaked bricks or mud. Here and there could be seen a few men whose haggard and dejected faces wore a look of hopeless apathy. On top of all their other ills the entire local water-supply had been contaminated with sea-water and rendered undrinkable. All was ruin and desolation. The only vestige of distinction left the city was the famous name of the Asclepiadae and its proud boast of having been the birthplace of Hippocrates".

The date of the earthquake is debated. Agathias visited the area in 558, at the time of his return journey from Constantinople, but in his narrative he dates the earthquake to before the great 557 earthquake at Constantinople (see entry ( 225 )). However, since he had earlier talked of the 554 earthquake at Constantinople (see entry ( 219 )) before that of 551 (see entry ( 218 )), it is not possible to draw many conclusions about the precise chronology. For a general consideration and further information, see Cameron (1970, p.138 ff.).

References

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References

References

Scientific Literature

Ambraseys, N. N., et al. (1994). The seismicity of Egypt, Arabia, and the Red Sea : a historical review. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East: A multidisciplinary study of seismicity up to 1900.

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.

Arieh, E., 1993 (1993). Preliminary Safety Analysis Report, Appendix 2.5 A A Catalog of Earthquake (sic?) in and around Israel. Nuclear Power Plant At Shivta Site, May 1993, The Israel Electric Corporation Ltd.

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.

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Darawcheh, R., et al. (2000). "THE 9 JULY 551 AD BEIRUT EARTHQUAKE, EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN REGION." Journal of Earthquake Engineering 4(4): 403-414.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233454138_The_9_July_551_AD_Beirut_earthquake_Eastern_Mediterranean_Region

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Roman Berytus - Beirut in Late Antiquity by Linda Jones Hall (2004)

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Kanari, M. (2008). Evaluation of Rockfall Hazard to Qiryat Shemona: Possible Correlation to Earthquakes. Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. Tel Aviv, Israel, Tel Aviv University: 135.

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Karcz, I., et al. (1977). "Archaeological evidence for Subrecent seismic activity along the Dead Sea-Jordan Rift." Nature 269(5625): 234-235.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242863909_Archaeological_evidence_for_Subrecent_seismic_activity_along_the_Dead_Sea-Jordan_Rift
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Pantazis, T. (1996). Archaeseismicity of Cyprus. Proc. Reg. Workshop Archaeoseis. Med. Region, AECS, Damascus.

Papadopoulos, G. A., Triantafyllou, Ioanna, Vassilopoulou, Andromachi (2022). "The mid-6th century AD enigmatic mega earthquake and tsunami in central Greece: a seismotectonic, archeological, and historical reexamination." The Holocene.

Parker, S.T., 2006. The Roman Frontier in Central Jordan: Final Report on the Limes Arabicus Project. 1980-1989: Washington. D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1104 p.

Russell, K. W. (1985). "The Earthquake Chronology of Palestine and Northwest Arabia from the 2nd through the Mid-8th Century A.D." Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 260: 37-59.

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Sbeinati, M. R., R. Darawcheh, and M. Monty (2005). "The historical earthquakes of Syria: An analysis of large and moderate earthquakes from1365 B.C. to 1900 A.D., " Ann. Geophys. 48(3): 347-435.

Salamon, A., et al. (2011). "A critical evaluation of tsunami records reported for the Levant Coast from the second millennium bce to the present." Isr. J. Earth Sci. 58: 327-354.

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Stein, E. (1949–50), Histoire du Bas-Empire, 2 volumes, Paris: Descl´ee et de Brouwer.

Wechsler, N., et al. (2014). "A Paleoseismic Record of Earthquakes for the Dead Sea Transform Fault between the First and Seventh Centuries C.E.: Nonperiodic Behavior of a Plate Boundary Fault." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

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https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301553164_Supplement_material_to_reappraised_list_of_historical_earthquakes_that_affected_Israel_and_its_close_surroundings?_sg=qXJ_C0IAOtcwLtqhmymGB1wtBFm8wR7_6GpkH2XrWOfg8t3NtcLb4_Ze7f2BMtS5FSHxYrGgOQZtjmyVBP5nvw.7HOG5LVbdteSFACB2Pak3ZAcVKIGkuxVtKD-16cTsWudxEFNwzJBkpg5xwSePdPvRBNhhkoyfJXfrXGiw9iaRw

Beirut Archaeology

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M. Steiner, ‘The Hellenistic to Byzantine souk: results of the excavations at BEY 011’, ARAM 13–14 (2001–2002), pp. 113–127

P. Arnaud, E. Llopis & M. Bonifay,‘Bey 027 Rapport préliminaire’, BAAL 1 (1996), pp. 98–134, at p. 109.

M. Saghieh-Beydoun, ‘Evidence for earthquakes in the current excavations of Beirut city centre’, [in:] C. Doumet-Serhal (ed.), Decade: A Decade of Archaeology and History in the Lebanon, Beirut 2004, pp. 280–285

L. Badre, ‘The Greek Orthodox cathedral of Saint George in Beirut, Lebanon: The archaeological excavations and crypt museum’, JEMAHS 4 (2016), pp. 72–97, at p. 78.

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M. Heinz & K. Bartl, ‘Bey 024 “Place Debbas” preliminary report’, BAAL 2 (1997), pp. 236–257, at p. 256 ["> Lauffray, J. (1944–6) ‘Forums et Monuments de Béryte,’ BMB, 7:13–80

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Ancient Texts

Cedrenus, G., et al. (1838). Georgius Cedrenus, Ioannis Scylitzae ope, E. Weber.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WM0GAAAAQAAJ
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Malalas, I., et al. (1986). The chronicle of John Malalas. Melbourne, Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, Dept. of Modern Greek, University of Sydney.

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Syrian, Michael the (1963). Chronique 4 volumes N. Chabot. Brussels.

https://archive.org/details/ChroniqueDeMichelLeGrand
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Agathias, V. B. N. B. G. (1828). Agathiae Myrinaei Historiarum. Libri quinque Libri quinque. Bonnae, impensis E. Weberi.

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Piacenza, A. o. (1898). Itinerarium CSEL 39. P. Geyer. Leipzig.

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(1864). Fragmenta Historica Tusculana. Fragmenta Gestes PG 85.

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Abu'l Faraj (Bar Hebraeus) (dyn./h.d), Kitab mukhtasar tawarikh ad-duwal, ed. A. Salhani, Beirut, 1890; Latin trans. E. Pocock, Oxford, 1663.

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