The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountainstates that the earthquake struck at the 10th hour which would specify ~4 pm if canonical hours were used (Symeon was elevated to sainthood).
|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|
|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|
[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  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.  On 9 July  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.
[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.
 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.
 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.
 Frag. Tusc. iv. 27-8 gives the date as 6 July of the 14th indiction. Agathias records an earthquake in Alexandria too for 551.
|550 CE||AM 6043||corresponds to 550 CE in July|
|551 CE||14th indiction|
|550 CE||Justinian, 24th year||Justinian's reign began on 1 April 527 CE
24th year of his reign is Aug. 550 - July 551 - Russell (1985)
24th year of Justian's reign is one year too low (ie 550 CE) - Ambraseys (2009)
|557 CE||Chosroes, 26th year||reign began on 13 September 531|
|549 CE||Vigilius, 13th year||Papacy began 29 March 537|
|549/550 CE||Menas, 14th year||Patriarch of Constaninople starting in 536 CE|
|?||Peter, 6th year||Greek Orthodox Patriach of Jerusalem 524-552 CE but died in 544 CE (?)|
|552/553 CE||Apolinarios, 2nd year||Greek Patriarch of Alexandria 551-569 CE|
|551/552 CE||Domnus, 6th year||Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch 546-561 CE|
|550/551 CE||Narses sent to Rome||see footnote  from Mango and Scott (1997)'s translation above|
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.
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. For the lovely Berytus, ere then the jewel of Phoenicia, was totally stripped of its ornaments, and its famous treasures of architecture, which were spoken of so much, were left only as a pile of rubble, or with only the foundations remaining. A great crowd of honest folk and citizenry were killed, crushed by the weight [of the rubble], as were many young foreigners of good and distinguished family, who had come to the city to study Roman Law .. . The professors of Law in Berytus moved to the neighbouring city of Sidon, and set up their university there, until Berytus was rebuilt. And it was at least as good as it had been, but hot as large as it had been known to be formerly. But this depopulation of the city and the return of its treasures was to happen only later on.
Then in Alexandria the Great too, which is situated on the River Nile, a place unaccustomed to earthquakes, a very slight tremor was perceived, although it was very weak and not widely felt. All the inhabitants, particularly the old, were quite amazed at what had happened, it being an unprecedented occurrence. No one stayed at home, but everyone poured into the streets, seized with unreasonable consternation by this unexpected and unusual event. And as for me (I happened to be there engaged in the preparatory studies for Law), I too was excessively troubled by this slight tremor, for I perceived that the houses were not strong or solid, nor capable of standing up to even brief agitation, but were slight and very weak (they were constructed [to a thickness of] only one stone). Even the educated of the city were alarmed, not, I think, at what had happened, but at the fact that it was not unreasonable to expect that the same thing might happen again.
EnglishThis passage is so similar to Theophanes, it suggests that either Theophanes was Cedrenus' source or they shared the same source(s). No new information was added.
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.
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.
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).The mention of the 14th indiction places this in 551 CE albeit with a different date than Theophanes - 6 July instead of 9 July. This source also adds that 101 villages were damaged or destroyed and reiterates information provided by the other Greek language sources. Ambraseys (2009) thinks it was derived from an earlier version of Malalas.
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 [.. ]This passage supplies a much later year - 559 CE (for July). 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)." Guidoboni et al (1994) speculated that John of Ephesus was probably using the original version of Malalas. Besides mangling the year, this account does not provide any substantive information that we don't have in our current version of Malalas but it does include a longer description of the effects of the tsunami and an observation that the earthquake followed the tsunami. This could have been ordered that way for literary effect - i.e. to tie in the Biblical account of the parting of the Sea and the drowning of Pharoah's army followed by a "dissapproving" earthquake.
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.
The year 864 [552-553]:Pseudo Dionysius of Tell-Mahre manages to outdo John of Ephesus in mangling the chronology of the year by repeating the same earthquake three times with three different dates (553, 557, and 559 CE - for July); all of which are apparently incorrect. However, he adds a lot of additional information about the effects of the earthquake which are summarized below:
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.
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 : (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 . 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.
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.This account appears to be identical to the French translation by Chabot from a Syriac manuscript. It dates the earthquake to 549 CE (in July). It 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. Trovas may refer to Tyre or Batrun (see Bar Hebraeus discussion below).
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, Beirut, Byblus, and Troas [Tyre] (sic.), and the cities of Galilee.
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.Ancient literature concerning prophecies frequently contain valuable information about natural disasters because
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.This is the closest thing we have to a post earthquake survey. A summary of observations is listed below:
 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.
 Tarabulus, on the Syrian coast.
 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.
 Jebeil, on the Syrian coast ; the Gebal of Ezek. xxvii. 9. The land of the Giblites was assigned to the Israelites (Josh. xiii. 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.
 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.
 In the Antioch earthquake 250,000 persons are said to have perished.
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).
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:
|Aradus (modern Arwad)||Felt|
|Antaradus (modern Tartus)||Felt|
|Aradus (modern Arwad)||III-V|
|Sidon||VIII or IX|
|Tyre||VIII or IX|
|Baalbek||evidence exists - needs investigation|
|Mount Nebo||needs investigation|
|Ramat Rahel||needs investigation|
|Gush Halav||possible - debated chronology|
|Caesarea Maritima||needs investigation|
|el-Lejjun||possible but unlikely|
|Petra - Introduction||n/a||n/a|
|Petra Church and vicinity of the Temple of the Winged Lions||no evidence|
A late antique layer of destruction, followed by fire in some cases, was found in several excavation sites in the city and was attributed to the 551 earthquake based on several pieces of evidence.  One archaeologist described how a diagnostic sounding revealed the earthquake’s ‘horrors in an archaeological inferno over the whole [single] excavated area’ through a layer of destruction between 0.75m and 1.00m thick.  This layer, however, was uneven and much thinner in other areas. Other teams asserted that the buildings in their site did not collapse immediately – as evident from the absence of smashed collections of pottery and household goods. Hall (2004) noted that:
 The excavations revealed objects that were buried in the debris such as a wrapped coinroll (see below), a hanging bronze polykandelon and human and animal remains near a collapsed wall, and another group of coins. For the objects, see respectively Mikati & Perring,‘Metropolis to ribat’ (cit. n. 4), pp. 47–49, Perring, ‘Excavations in the Souks’ (cit. n. 41), pp.21–23
, and M. Steiner, ‘The Hellenistic to Byzantine souk: results of the excavations at BEY 011’, ARAM 13–14 (2001–2002), pp. 113–127. Other teams were uncertain whether the destruction layer was to be dated to the sixth or seventh century. See P. Arnaud, E. Llopis & M. Bonifay,‘Bey 027 Rapport préliminaire’, BAAL 1 (1996), pp. 98–134, at p. 109.
 Saghieh, ‘Bey 001 & 004’ (cit. n. 46), p. 40.. 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, at p. 284 later reported finding soil liquefaction, an earthquake-related phenomenon, but did not attribute it to a dated seismic event.
 For layer of destruction, see for example Figure 6 in 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.. For buildings not collapsing, see D. Perring et al., ‘Bey 006, 1994–1995: The souks area interim report of the AUB Project’, BAAL 1 (1996), pp. 176– 206, at pp. 196–198. K. Butcher & R. Thorpe, ‘A note on excavations in central Beirut 1994– 1996’, JRA 10 (1997), pp. 291–306, at p. 299, assert that ‘evidence for earthquake damage on the Souks site is virtually absent...’, and M. Heinz & K. Bartl, ‘Bey 024 “Place Debbas” preliminary report’, BAAL 2 (1997), pp. 236–257, at p. 256, similarly assert that ‘traces of violent destruction (earthquake) were not visible’.
Some archeological evidence has been interpreted to suggest rebuilding on a scale not quite the match of the previous construction (compare Agathias above). Lauffray has found columns of mismatched colors in a building he considers either a church or a basilica. He thinks these columns may represent replacement work after the earthquake. It is notable that Zacharias in his description of the church of Eustathius insists very strongly that the original columns were of purest white and were carefully matched.  When summing up the archeological evidence for Berytus, Lauffray thought that some restorations were made to the civic basilica in the sixth century AD. Lauffray also suggested that after the earthquake some of the baths and certain parts of the porticos of the streets were restored. Lauffray notes the difficulty of securely identifying the churches and some other buildings.
 Lauffray (1944–6) 62, referring to a colonnade indicated by five column bases.
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.
|Jabal Nibu||Arabic||جَبَل نِيْبُو|
|Har Nevo||Hebrew||הַר נְבוֹ|
|Jabal Siyāgha||Arabic||جابال سيياعها|
|Rās as-Siyāgha||Arabic||راس اسءسيياعها|
|Rujm Siyāgha||Arabic||روجم سيياعها|
|Jabal Nabo||local bedouin||جابال نابو|
|Jabal Musa||local bedouin||جابال موسا|
|I||2nd-3rd cent. CE||On the highest spot of the mountain, towards the 2nd to 3rd century AD, a three-apsidal monument, the cella trichora (possibly a mausoleum) was built, which was used for funeral purposes, if not originally, at least at a later time, perhaps after its violent destruction.|
|II||Christian monks re-adapted the cella trichora into a church with adjoining synthronon in the central apse,
while re-using the two lateral apses as sacristies.
It was in this church that the monks showed the `Memorial of Moses' to Egeria.
|IIA||On the northern slope of the mountain was added later on a diaconicon-baptistry. In August 531 there took place the restoration and beautification of the diaconicon, the mosaic floor of which was laid by Soelos, Kaiomos and Elias.|
|III||From the middle of the 6th century to the first years of the 7th, the sanctuary underwent complete reconstruction.|
This earthquake also appears to have been responsible for the destruction and subsequent abandonment of the Town of Nebo ( Saller and Bagatti 1949: 217, n. 2).
|Fāhl or Fihl||Arabic||فاهل or فيهل|
|Khīrbīt Fāhl||Arabic||كهيربيت فاهل|
|Tabaqat Fāhl||Arabic||تاباقات فاهل|
Russell also argues that Pella and Ramat Rahel were damaged in this event. Pella is 100 km southeast of Tyre, but Ramat Rahel is just south of Jerusalem, thus it is impossible that this earthquake damaged the latter. Ambraseys et al. (1994, 24-25) wrongly place the epicentral region of this event in the Jordan Rift Valley. This was due to the bias of information from the debatable archaeological evidence in Russell (1985).
|Ramat Rachel||Hebrew||רָמַת רָחֵל|
|Khirbet es-Sallah||Arabic||كهيربيت يسءساللاه|
|Pathofor||Variant of Byzantine Name|
|Betheabra||Variant of Byzantine Name|
|Kathisma||Incorrect Byzantine Name|
|MMST||Theorized Ancient Name|
As at other hilly archaeological sites, differentiating between strata at Ramat Rahel has been quite difficult. The majority of remains were found at a depth of less than 1.5 m, most building materials were reused, and the lime furnaces of later periods caused the destruction and disappearance of many of the earlier remains. The generally accepted view, however, is that there are five main strata at the siteA broad stratigraphic classification for the entire site from Lipschitz et al (2011) is shown below:
|Vb||Iron Age II||end 8th or beginning 7th BCE||2nd half of 7th BCE||Building Phase 1
Royal Administrative Center under Imperial hegemony
|Va||Iron Age II-
|2nd half of 7th BCE||end of 4th BCE||Building Phase 2
Royal Administrative Center under Imperial hegemony
|Persian||end 6th BCE or begin 5th BCE||end of 4th BCE||Building Phase 3
|Destruction and robbery of the walls|
|IVb||Hellenistic||2nd BCE||2nd BCE||Building Phase 4
Imperial Administrative Center ?
|IVa||end 2nd or begin 1st BCE||1st CE
The Great Revolt
|Building Phase 5
|III||Roman||middle 2nd CE ?||Uninterrupted continuation
to construction Phase 8
|Building Phase 6
|IIa||Early Byzantine||5th CE||Uninterrupted continuation
to construction Phase 8
|Building Phase 7
|6th CE||middle 9th CE||Building Phase 8
Village; construction of the church
|I||Abbasid||9th CE||11th CE||Building Phase 9
Farm with agricultural installations
|12th CE||19th CE||Agricultural Zone with installations|
|1947/1948,1954 CE||1967 CE||Military fortifications and communication trenches|
Russell also argues that Pella and Ramat Rahel were damaged in this event. Pella is 100 km southeast of Tyre, but Ramat Rahel is just south of Jerusalem, thus it is impossible that this earthquake damaged the latter. Ambraseys et al. (1994, 24-25) wrongly place the epicentral region of this event in the Jordan Rift Valley. This was due to the bias of information from the debatable archaeological evidence in Russell (1985).
A massive stone collapse had covered the floors of the different architectural units. The many broken pottery vessels date the collapse of the building to the Abbasid period or to the beginning of the Fatimid period (10th–11th century CE)O. Lipschits, M. Oeming, Y. Gadot and B. Arubas 2009 The 2006 and 2007 Excavation Seasons in Ramat Rahel. Israel Exploration Journal 59: 1-20
the place was completely destroyed at the beginning of the Arab period and has remained uninhabited ever since. Although this is based on Aharoni's early conclusions some of which have been shown to be incorrect, this reference remains here due to the possibility that the site received damage from the Jordan Valley Quakes of ~659 CE.
|Stratum VI||Late Roman (A.D. 250-362)|
|Phase a||A.D. 250-306|
|Phase b||A.D. 306-62/5|
|Stratum VII||Byzantine (A.D. 362/5-551)|
|Phase a||A.D. 362/5-447|
|Phase b||A.D. 447-551|
Gush Halav, 30 km southeast of Tyre, shows archaeological evidence of destruction in the mid sixth century but this, like other archaeological datings, cannot be trusted.Russell (1985) reports
The 551 earthquake has been used to date the 6th century destruction of the synagogue at Gush Halav (Meyers, Strange, and Meyers 1979: 37; Meyers 1982: 121-22), although this correlation is suspect in light of the coin hoard sealed beneath the collapse rubble (see above). The "washed-in layer of yellowish soil" in which the hoard was found (Meyers, Strange, and Meyers 1979: 54) could represent post destruction deposition as a result of water percolation through the loose collapse rubble, rather than human deposition prior to the 551 earthquake.Archeoseismic evidence at Gush Halav is labeled as possible but the chronology is debated.
Caesarea Maritima, 80 km south of Tyre and on the coast, suffered severe damage in AD 614 and 640 according to stratigraphic and historical evidence (Russell 1985, 23). Russell argues that the destruction is too severe to be the result of a Persian invasion, as [Toombs (1978)] has said, so it must be due to the AD 551 and 632/3 earthquakes. It is certainly geographically possible, he adds, that Caesarea suffered in this event, being only about 100 km south of Tyre and the same distance (as Tyre) from the Dead Sea fault.Tsunamogenic evidence in Caesarea is discussed in the Tsunamogenic Evidence section under Caesarea. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
|Stratum||Period||Approximate Dates (CE)|
|VI||Late Roman IV||284-324|
|VB||Early Byzantine I||324-363|
|VA||Early Byzantine II||363-400|
|IV||Early Byzantine III-IV||400-502|
|III||Late Byzantine I-II||502-551|
|Post Stratum III Gap||intermittent use of site for camping and as a cemetery||551-1900|
The later phase (ca. 530-51) of Stratum III began with the demobilization of the legion ca. 530, as suggested by a passage in Procopius (Anecdota 24.12-14). It is notable that the latest closely dateable Byzantine coins from el-Lejjun are issues of Justinian I, dated 534-65, exactly what one would expect if Procopius' assertion were true. Some structures like the principia, were completely abandoned. Others, like the church, were extensively robbed. Large amounts of trash were dumped in barrack alleyways and even in major thoroughfares, such as the via praetoria. In Area N the rooms rebuilt rebuilt after 502 afterward witnessed little actual occupation. It is especially telling that a human corpse was interred in one room (N.2) that opened directly onto the via principalis a clear sign of the absence of military discipline.The numismatic find described above provides a terminus post quem for seismic destruction and final abandonment of the fortress at el-Lejjun. With an epicenter close to Beirut, it is unlikely that the 551 CE Beirut Quake would have caused this damage. Further, as noted by Ambraseys (2009), none of the many sources for the well documented Beirut Quake mention damage in Jerusalem which was ~120 km. closer to the epicenter. One of the sources (The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain - see Textual Evidence) states that damage for this earthquake was limited south of Tyre. This makes the Inscription at Areopolis Quake a more seismically plausible candidate for seismic destruction discovered at el-Lejjun; particularly when one considers that Areopolis is only ~12 km. form el-Lejjun.
Some inhabitants, perhaps discharged soldiers and their families or civilians from the surrounding countryside, continued to live within the fortress, however. The discovery of a human infant within the northwest angle tower in the debris of the earthquake of July 9, 551, implies that families were now living in the fortifications. The earthquake of 551 was a major catastrophe.
At el-Lejjun, the seismic shock severely affected most parts of the fortress, including the principia, the barracks, the northwest angle tower, the church, and the rooms along the via principalis. Those structures attached to the deep foundations of the curtain wall, such as the horreum and the bath, seem to have better weathered the shock of 551, but even these structures partially collapsed. The fortress was apparently then almost completely abandoned.
Russell (1985:45) wrote "Petra, the capital of Palestina tertia, was never rebuilt after the 551 C.E. earthquake, and by the end of the sixth century C.E., its ruins had become a quarry for liming and smelting operations." However, recent excavations at the Petra Church archaeological site refute these conclusions (Fiema (2001a:6-137), Fiema (2001b:138-150)). Scrolls found in the Petra Church provide an unprecedented record of Late Byzantine Petra (Fiema (2002:1-4)). The church was destroyed in a fire at the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century C.E. The fire carbonized papyrus scrolls that were being stored in the church. These scrolls known as the Petra Papyri, are a collection of documents predominantly relating to taxes and property ownership, dating from 537 C.E. to at least 11 April 593 C.E., and may postdate this range by several years. Therefore, the last recorded date of the Petra papyri scrolls may extend to 597 C.E. "Neither the effects of the earthquake of 551 C.E. nor the mid-sixth century C.E. plague can be discerned from the texts" of the scrolls (Fiema (2002:4)). After the fire and into the seventh century C.E., the church ceased to function as an ecclesiastical structure, building materials were salvaged for reuse, and the shell of the structure was converted to a domestic complex. Fiema (2001a:6-137) and Fiema (2001b:138-150) noted evidence for two earthquakes in the later phases of the Petra Church — one in the seventh century C.E. and one in the medieval to Ottoman period — at which time no columns remained standing. As recounted already, excavations in the 1990s at the Petra Church and textual evidence from the newly translated Petra Papyri have convincingly demonstrated that the city of Petra was not apparently appreciably affected by the 551 C.E. earthquake. Unfortunately, some excavators still designate a 551 C.E. earthquake in the sfiatigraphic sequence at Petra.Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) re-examined excavations undertaken by Russell and Hammond near the Temple of the Winged Lions and also found that evidence supporting seismic destruction due to the 551 CE Beirut earthquake was lacking.
THE LATEST PHASE IN AREA I AND THE EARTHQUAKE OF 551With an epicenter close to Beirut, it is unlikely that the 551 CE Beirut Quake would have caused significant damage in Petra. Further, as noted by Ambraseys (2009), none of the many sources for this well documented earthquake mention damage in Jerusalem which was ~120 km. closer to the epicenter. One of the sources (The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain - see Textual Evidence) states that damage for this earthquake was limited south of Tyre. This makes the Inscription at Areopolis Quake a more seismically plausible candidate for any 6th century CE seismic destruction discovered in Petra.
With regard to the fate of the latest phase of occupation in Area I (the Upper or Later House), Russell and Hammond's supposition of destruction in both Areas I and II as result of the 551 CE earthquake is not supported by subsequent archaeological in Petra nor is it supported by the material evidence found in their excavations. As noted above, Russell's initial phasing did not include this event, but he does refer to it in a 1990 report to ACOR on the Household Excavations. Hammond and Johnson (2000) later published the supposed 551 earthquake in their phasing of the Temple of the Winged Lions. In spite of this, the finds from the Later House do not include vessels or coins of the 6th c. CE and findings from the Petra Church excavations do not support the occurrence of an earthquake event in that period.73 A 551 earthquake event is also elusive with regard to the temple in Area II. Hammond and Johnson provide a list of coins discovered there, the latest of which dates to Constantius II (337-361 CE), (2000).
73 Russell discovered the Petra Church in the vicinity of Area I and was to have conducted its excavation before his untimely death in 1992.
|Caesarea||tenuous evidence - further investigation warranted|
Excavations undertaken in Beirut's harbour by Curvers et al. have revealed the presence of tree branches and considerable amounts of unabraded Roman pottery and rubble in 6-7th century AD layers (Curvers, personal communication). Surveys in the Ottoman harbour have unearthed harbour muds and silts which lie unconformably above sea-scoured bedrock (Curvers and Stuart, 2004). These have been attributed to tsunami action and indirectly infer considerable damage to the city's seaport infrastructure. This archaeological evidence, coupled with the stratigraphic data, support major changes in the port's configuration at this time. At no point during the Islamic and medieval periods do we record such a well-protected harbour. In light of this, there appears to be a clear link between the retraction of the Byzantine Empire to its Anatolian core and the catastrophic destruction of many parts of Beirut, including its harbour area, during the 551 AD earthquake and tsunami.
Although sedimentary traces of the tsunami impacts are not observed in the cores, recent excavations suggest that the ancient sources did not exaggerate in their description of the archaeological destruction caused by the event (Curvers and Stuart, 2004). New research has yielded closely dated stratigraphic sequences at a number of dig sites that unequivocally corroborate the widespread earthquake damage (Elayi and Sayegh, 2000; Curvers and Stuart, in press). In the aftermath, Beirut underwent altering patterns of trade, production and consumption. The archaeology also shows that many parts of the city were left in partial ruin or even abandoned, with limited evidence for reconstruction. Mikati and Perring (2006) present a model of 'continuity' but degradation of urban infrastructure at post-earthquake Beirut. Dating of raised shorelines north of Beirut confirms uplift of 50-80 cm (Morhange et al., 2006).
4.6. Unit A - Exposed beach environment (post-Byzantine)Core profiles were presented and tsunamites were not found in the parts of the cores dated to the 6th - 10th centuries CE but a loss of harbor maintenance (e.g. continuous dredging operations) was evident. Thus there is no tsunamogenic evidence however further investigation may be warranted.
The transition to unit A is dated to between the 6th to 10th centuries AD. The unit comprises a grey, shelly sand unit with textures of between: 3% to 31% for the gravels, 58% to 83% for the sands and 9% to 18% for the silts and clays.
Cerithium vulgatum and Pirenella conica dominatethe macrofauna suite, with numerous secondary species from diverse biocenoses (Ringicula auriculata, Nassarius pygmaeus, Gibberula miliaria ), consequence of an environmental opening. The increase in coastal ostracod taxa such as Urocythereis sp. and Aurila woodwardii, is to the detriment of the formerly abundant lagoonal taxa of unit B. This translates a re-exposure of the environment to the inﬂuence of the marine swell and currents. For the foraminifera, the dominant taxa are Ammonia convexa, Peneroplis planatus and Cellanthus craticulatum. The tests of many of these individuals have been broken by waveaction, conﬁrming a rise in energy dynamics, due to the collapse of harbour maintenance. This is linked to the demise of Tyre as a Mediterranean commercial centre.
The inner harbour was blanketed with a thick deposit of heterogeneous rubble, including bones and other organic remains, pottery, and architectural materials. Meanwhile, in the outer harbour, a powerful scouring effect mixed materials datable from the 1st c. B.C. to the 6th c. A.D. into a single, undifferentiated mass, further undermined the breakwaters, and cut a trench into the channel between the outer moles. The signs from both the inner and outer harbour are dramatic enough to have led previous commentators already to propose the tsunami of 551 as a possible cause.Goodman-Tchenov and Austin (2015) added a description of another potential tsunami deposit in the shallow intermediate harbor.
 Raban 1996, 662; Yule and Barham 1999, 277-78; Reinhardt and Raban 2008, 177-78.
 Reinhardt and Raban 2008, 178-79.
 See, e.g., Raban 1996, 662; Yule and Barham 1999, 277-78; Reinhardt and Raban 2008, 177-78.
In excavations of the shallow intermediate harbor (TN area, Fig. 1C; Reinhardt and Raban (2008:155-182) ), there is an extensive deposit of mixed (Early Islamic- Byzantine–4th to 8th century CE) refuse, ranging from high-value intricate items of varying erosion state and exposure—suggesting broad mixing of typical harbor refuse (e.g., broken amphora/pots) and newly introduced, undamaged domestic wares and personal items (e.g., intricate hair combs, fine sections of Islamic coins, statuette, a satchel of copper coins). Unlike other harbor deposits, these materials are of broad origin (domestic, commercial, religious), value range and preservation state, suggesting the kind of non-deliberate and rapid burial a tsunami event would produce. In addition, because the ages of the ceramics found in this excavation range from early Islamic to late Byzantine (6th through 8th centuries CE), no distinctive stratigraphy offshore today separates what may have been two distinct tsunami events.Although efforts to distinguish two tsunami events in the 5th-8th century tsunamagenic deposit by coring in deeper water where an intervening layer, for example, might be present are reported in publications such as Dey et al (2014), this has not yet, to our knowledge, been accomplished. As one of the sources (The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain - see Textual Evidence) states that damage for this earthquake was limited south of Tyre, it is possible that Caesarea was not struck by a significant tsunami (which remained preserved in the subsurface) due to the 551 CE Beirut Quake. Cores taken in Tyre, which was closer to the epicenter and was reported to have been damaged by the sources, showed no evidence of tsunamites striking the harbor. Further if 6th century CE tsunamite deposits are present in Caesarea, they may come from a different event. There were a number of different earthquakes in the eastern Mediterranean in the 6th century CE (see Ambraseys (2009) or Guidoboni et al (1994). Tsunamogenic Evidence for the 551 CE Beirut Quake in Caesarea is currently tenuous.
|Tabarja Benches||definitive - Mw = ~7.4-7.6|
|Qiryat-Shemona Rockfalls||possible but unlikely|
|Nahal Ze 'elim||unlikely|
|Taybeh Trench Jordan||unlikely|
|Qatar Trench Jordan||no evidence|
given their geomorphic resemblance to sub-aerial, seismic dip-slip ruptures, and their position near the foot of cumulative bathymetric escarpments, the seismic origin of such submarine breaks is not in doubt, although assessing whether they result from one or several earthquakes will require further investigation.They later added that "direct dating of the sea-floor scarps will provide the ultimate proof". They noted that their survey "showed no evidence of submarine landslides except for small-scale slump scars and rockslides on or at the base of steep slopes south of Damour and near Batroun" concluding that it was "possible to rule out the occurrence of a large local submarine landslide as potential sources of historical tsunamis [e.g. in 551 CE] along the Lebanese coast." The geographic coincidence of the stretch of coast exhibiting uplifted benches with the observed areal extent of submarine fault scarps appears to confirm that the Mount Lebanon Thrust fault was the source of large ancient earthquakes and tsunamis along the coast.
To raise the Tabarja trottoirs [benches] 80 ± 30 cm above the LMSL [Local Mean Sea Level], simple dislocation modeling in an elastic half-space (Okada, 1985) requires 1.5-3 m of seismic slip on these ramps, assuming they dip -45° eastward in the upper 20 km of the crust (Data Repository item DR8). Such slip amounts are consistent with the estimated magnitude of the A.D. 551 earthquake, and sufficient to account for the tsunami observed. Historical evidence combined with the extent of vermetid death in the sixth century A.D. implies a rupture length of at least -100 km, and possibly up to 150 km if the Rankine-Aabdeh lateral ramp was involved (Figs. 1 and 4), as suggested by two ages on Palmier Island (Table DR6). For such rupture lengths on thrust faults, empirical scaling laws predict an Mw of ~7.4-7.6 (Wells and Coppersmith, 1994), consistent with macroseismic estimates. Because strike-slip motion on the Yammouneh fault has been shown to produce only small local uplift (less than ~1 m in ~10,000 yr; Daeron et al., 2005), the inference that events on this fault might raise shorelines north of Beirut (Morhange et al., 2006) can be safely ruled out. The coastal 14C vermetid ages confirm that the great A.D. 1202 earthquake, for instance, produced no uplift along the Lebanese shoreline. That benches offshore Tripoli are older than the seventh century A.D. in fact excludes the possibility that any of the earthquakes of the eleventh to fourteenth century A.D. sequence, including the A.D. 1063 event, ruptured the offshore Mount Lebanon thrust system. Hence, the destruction of Tripoli and Arqa by the latter earthquake may have been caused by slip on the Aakkar and/or Tripoli thrusts (Fig. 4).
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.The criteria used by Kanari (2008) to identify historical earthquakes as triggering the observed rockfalls included:
An echo of these events can be perhaps found in Hymn 51 by Romanos Melodos, in which reference is made to a series of places which had been struck by earthquakes, with accompanying biblical quotations: see Grosdidier de Matons (1981, pp.271-91); Gatier (1984, p.88), on the other hand, thinks Romanos Melodos is referring to the earthquake of 502.Romanos the Melodist wrote his hymns in Greek the 6th century CE.
A large and widespread earthquake. Most of the Earth shocked. The sea went back for two miles. This event caused destruction in Arabia, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Antioch and many others and near cities, killing large numbers of people.A Latin translation can be read here
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).
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."
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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.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/91JB01936/abstractDarawcheh, R., et al. (2000). "THE 9 JULY 551 AD BEIRUT EARTHQUAKE, EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN REGION." Journal of Earthquake Engineering 4(4): 403-414.
Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of ancient earthquakes in the Mediterranean area up to the 10th century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.
http://books.google.com/books?id=BS3mngEACAAJ&dq=bibliogroup:%22Catalogue+of+ancient+earthquakes+in+the+Mediterranean+area+up+to+the+10th+century%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=fIMtU4GcA-SGyQHp3YDgBg&ved=0CDMQ6wEwAQRoman Berytus - Beirut in Late Antiquity by Linda Jones Hall (2004)
Kagan, E., et al. (2011). "Intrabasin paleoearthquake and quiescence correlation of the late Holocene Dead Sea." Journal of Geophysical Research 116(B4): B04311.
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