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713 CE Syria Quake

28 February 713 CE

by Jefferson Williams

Introduction & Summary


al-Tabari reports an earthquake in Syria in A.H. 94 (7 October 712 CE - 25 September 713 CE).

Textual Evidence

Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
History of the Prophets and Kings by al-Tabari Arabic

Muslim ~915 CE Baghdad al-Tabari reports an earthquake in Syria in A.H. 94 (7 October 712 CE - 25 September 713 CE)
Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
History of the Prophets and Kings by al-Tabari

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

English from Hinds (1990)

The Events of the Year 94 (OCTOBER 7, 7I2-SEPTEMBER 25, 7I3)

Among them was the campaign of al-`Abbas b. al-Walid in Byzantine territory. It has been said that he conquered Antakyah663 in [this year).

[1256] In [this year], according to what has been said, 'Abd al-`Aziz b. al-Walid campaigned in Byzantine territory until he reached Ghazilah; al-Walid b. Hisham al-Mu'ayti reached the land of Burj al-Hamam,664 and Yazid b. Abi Kabshah [reached] the land of Suriyah.

In it there was an earthquake in Syria.

In it, too, al-Qasim b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi conquered the land of al-Hind665.

In [this year] Qutaybah campaigned in al-Shash and Farghanah until he reached Khujandah and Kasin,666 the two [principal] cities of Farghanah.667

663 i.e., Antiocheia in Pisidia (Wellhausen, "Die Kampfe der Araber," P. 437, Lilie, Byzantinische Reaktion, pp. 121, 134 [map])

664 Not identified. As Wellhausen has pointed out ("Die Kampfe der Araber," P. 437n.) it may be interchangeable with al-Ya'qubi's "marj al-shahm" (s.p.; Ta'rikh, vol. II, p. 337), which was between Malatyah and al-Massisah.

665 i.e., parts of Sind. Clearly Muhammad b. al-Qisim should be understood in place of al-Qasim b. Muhammad (see above, p. 141).

666 Reading this, as in Ms B, rather than Kashan, as in the text; Kashan is in Juzjan, not Farghanah (see Cornu).

667 Cf. Gibb, Arab Conquests, pp. 48-49.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
7 October 712 CE - 25 September 713 CE In it [A.H. 94] there was an earthquake in Syria none calculated using CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • there was an earthquake in Syria
  • Syria
Online Versions and Further Reading

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence


Ambraseys (2009)

AD 713 Feb 28 Antioch, Qinnesrin

An earthquake in northern Syria caused great damage, causing public and private buildings to collapse and killing many people. Aleppo and Qinnesrin were much damaged and many churches and temples were overthrown. Much of the destruction occurred to tall buildings in Antioch and its rural districts, at Sidqa and Ksyut, and further inland in rural areas, where many people were killed. Damaging aftershocks continued for 40 days and shocks did not stop altogether for a long time.

The most detailed account of the effects of this earthquake comes from the Notitia annorum 712–716, which was almost certainly contemporary, since it refers to eyewitness accounts of the aftermath. The date given is a.S. 1024 (AD 713), 28 February, a Tuesday, in the middle of the (preceding) night. The damage to Antiochia, Sidqa and Ksyut is noted, and it is claimed that aftershocks continued until a.S. 1027 (AD 715–716), during which time many people had to live in tents. The Notitia says that damage extended to the sea coast and the islands, which in fact do not exist. It is likely that this part of the text had been copied from a document in Arabic in which Jazira was read as ‘jaza’ir’ (the islands).

All the Syriac sources and the one Greek source agree on the date – Theophanes, who gives only a brief notice, has a.M. 6205, the second year of Philippicus Bardanes (December 712 to 3 June 713), and the 28th of Peritius = 28 February 713. The Chronicon ad annum 846 (dating from the ninth century) places it at dawn, and the Syriac version of Elias of Nisibis (dating from the tenth or eleventh century) alleges that aftershocks lasted for forty days. Michael the Syrian adds that the earthquake caused collapse in Qinnesrin. The Chronicon ad annum 1234 places this event in the first year of Anastasius (II Artemius; 4 June 713 to 3 June 714).

The earliest Arabic source to record this event is al-Yaq’ubi (died in 897), who says that during the governorship of al-Hijjaj ‘there were earthquakes which destroyed everything and lasted forty mornings (i.e. a long time) into the year 94’ (7 October 712 to 25 September 713). Al-Hajjaj was governor of Iraq and died in a.H. 95 (26 September 713 to 15 September 714), but it does not necessarily follow that the earthquake took place there.

Hamza al-Isfahani (c. AD 893 to >AD 961) records that Shams was shaken by an earthquake for forty days in a.H. 94 and cites al-Khuwarizmi (died in 840) as saying that it began on 10 Adar (10 March 713). AlIsfahani places the earthquake at Antioch; also, it seems, on al-Khawarizmi’s authority. The devastating effect on Antioch is also mentioned by al-Ghazzi, a secondary source.

Ibn al-Athir notes that ‘almost all’ historians refer to frequent earthquakes during the caliphate of Walid al-Malik (AD 705–715), and al-Suyuti’s summary quotes the Mirat of Ibn al-Jauzi and also al-Khawarizmi: interestingly, al-Suyuti claims that the latter places the earthquake on 20 March, rather than on 10 March.

The agreement on the year for the earthquake but the diversity of dates for it amongst contemporary and later Arab writers is typical of the period. See also Anast. (867/125), Chron. 846 (177) and Nau (1915).


‘The year 1024 . . . in the same year, in the month of February, the 28th, on the morning of Tuesday, in the middle of the night [27–28] there was a great movement and trembling, to the extent that houses in towns and churches together with numerous great cities, fell on their inhabitants and killed them in diverse terrible ways: some houses, towns and cities were swallowed up; in some the inhabitants suffocated, in others they were wiped out; and in others the houses became tombs for many while other escaped . . . This came to our notice by public report and from what we were told by a group of people who paid a visit to the country, that is to say the region which is now called “western”, I mean the city of Antioch and the districts of Sidqa and Ksyut, and all the sea coast and the islands. This movement, a trembling, lasted from 28 Feb. until the year 1027 [716] so that the inhabitants of the towns, cities and all places passed all this time, with the goods that remained to them, outside their homes. They stayed and lived in the fields, mountains, open areas and gardens, where they made tents and huts; their goods lay exposed to the air, without protection, because of the fear and trembling in the face of this terrible punishment, brought on all who lived there because of our sins – that is to say, illegalities.’ (Not. ann. 712–716, 13/264).

‘(a.M. 6205, 2nd year of Philippicus) And in that year there was a great earthquake in Syria in the month of Peritius, on the 28th day.’ (Theoph. 383).

‘And in the year 10241, in the month of Sebat, ˇ on the 28th day, at the dawn of the 3rd day, there was an earthquake in all parts of Syria; it crushed and wiped out countless people; and there were many locusts, and a plague.’ (Chron. 846, 233/177).

1 Page 177 n. 2; 1029 appears in the margin.

‘The year 94 began on the Day of Preparation, 7th of prior Tesrin ˇ , a.S. 1024 – Khuwarizmensis . . . and at that time there was an earthquake for forty days, and Antioch succumbed.’ (Eli. Nis. 160/76).

‘In the year 1024 there was a very violent earthquake on 28th of the month of sebat [February]; many places collapsed in ˇ the region of Antioch, Aleppo and Qennesrin. In particular the ˇ churches and temples collapsed.’ (Mich. Syr. xi. 17/ii. 481).

‘And in the first year of Anastasius, there was a violent earthquake in the month of sebat, and many places were over- ˇ turned in the regions of Antioch, Halebi [Aleppo], [and] Kenneshrin; churches and temples collapsed in particular.’ (Chron. 1234, 299–300/233).

‘And during his [al-Hajjaj’s] governorship there were earthquakes which destroyed everything and lasted forty mornings into the year 94.’ (al-Yaq’ubi, a. 94).

‘(a.H. 94) The earth shook in the land of Sham for forty days. The country was ravaged, the event being located at Antioch. Al-Khawarizmi dates the beginning of the earthquake to 10 Adhar [March]: [he says] that it lasted forty days, and demolished the highest buildings, [and that] the zone of maximum intensity was located at Antioch, the houses there being demolished.’ (alIsfah. 187).

‘(a.H. 93) There were earthquakes in Syria which lasted 40 days. The country was devastated, especially Antakya.’ (alGhazzi, Nahr al-dhahab fi ta’rikh Halab iii, 25).

‘Almost all the historians indicate that in the caliphate of Walid ‘Abd al-Malik there were frequent earthquake shocks of such [great] length [forty days].’ (Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil iv. 582)

‘In the year a.H. 94 [7 October 712 to 25 September 713], Sham was visited by earthquakes which lasted for forty days: this is mentioned by Ibn Gharir and by the author of al-Mirat; then he says, “Muh’ammad ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi mentioned that in that year [a.H. 94], on 20 Adar, earthquakes occurred lasting for forty days across the world. Tall buildings collapsed, and the greater part of Ant’akya [Antioch] fell.”’ (al-Suyuti 15/9).


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

Guidoboni et al (1994)

(243) 28 February / 10 March 713

  • Antioch
  • Aleppo
  • Qenneshrin
  • Syria
sources 1
  • Theoph. 383
  • Chron. 846 233
  • Not. ann. 712-716 254-5
  • al-Isfahani, Ta'rikh 187
  • Mich. Syr. 451
sources 2
  • Ibn al-Athir, fi'l-ta'rikh 4.460
  • Taher (1979)
  • s Bonito (1691)
  • von Hoff (1840)
  • Mallet (1853)
  • Sieberg (1932 a)
  • Grumel (1958)
  • Ben-Menahem (1979)
  • Poirier et al. (1980)
  • Poirier and Taher (1980)
  • Guidoboni (1989)
A violent earthquake is recorded by Theophanes as well as Syriac and Arab sources as having occurred in Syria on 28 February 713 A.D.

With reference to the year of the world 6025, the second year of the reign of Philippicus [713 A.D.], Theophanes writes that:
In this year Abbas carried out an expedition [...]. Then a violent earthquake struck Syria on 28 Peritius [February].
There is a detailed description of the earthquake in the Notitia annorum 712-716:
And in the year 1024 [...]. In that year [1024 of the Greeks] on 28 Shebat [28 February 713 A.D.], in the middle of the night between Monday and Tuesday, there as a tremor and a severe earthquake, with the result that village houses and churches and many great cities collapsed on top of their inhabitants, and killed them in ma y terrible ways. Some houses, villages and cities were swallowed up. In other pla6.es people were suffocated or crushed; and many others were buried in their houses, and others survived [...]. The news spread largely through reports brought to us by eyewitnesses who were in that region — that is to say the region now called the western region, by which I mean the city of Antioch and the district of Sidqa and Ksyut, and the whole coast and the islands. This earthquake or tremor lasted from 28 Shebat [February] until the year 1027 [of the Greeks; i.e. 715-716 A.D.]
The Persian historian al-Isfahani also says that the worst damage occurred at Antioch:
In the year 94 of the Hegira [7 October 712 -25 September 713], on 10 Adar, earthquakes began throughout the world and lasted for forty days, causing collapses among high buildings, and the houses of the city of Antioch also collapsed.
Ibn al-Athir provides the same information:
[In the year 94 of the Hegira] there were earthquakes in Syria which lasted for forty days, and the whole province was destroyed. The strongest shocks took place at Antioch
The Syriac Chronicle of 846 records:
And in the year 1024 on 28 Shebat [February], on the eve of Tuesday, there was a tremor in every region of Syria. It killed and buried countless people, and there were many locusts and a plague.
According to Michael the Syrian, Aleppo and Qenneshrin were also damaged:
In the year 1024 [of the Greeks; i.e. 713 A.D.], there was a very violent earthquake on 28 Shebat [February], and many places collapsed in the region of Antioch, Aleppo and Qenneshrin. Churches and temples in particular collapsed.

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

Taher (1996)

94/712 : earthquake on 6 djumâdâ II (March 10 = adâr) in Châm; the maximum intensity zone is located in Antioch where the houses are demolished; duration of 40 days64. Almost all historians report, under the caliph `Abd al-Malik, seismic tremors of a similar duration (40 days).

64 Al-Isfahânî al-Khuwârazmî, Târîkh al-Khuwâraznfi, 187; B. al-Athîr, al-Kâmil, 4/582.

Taher (1979)

94 A.H./713 AD

The earth shook in the land of Syria for 40 days. The country was ravaged and the epicenter was located in Antioch2.

Al-Khawarizmi2 dates the beginning of the earthquake to 10 Adhar (March) and gives it a duration of 40 days, demolishing the highest buildings; the maximum intensity zone was located in Antioch where houses were demolished.

Almost all historians point out that under the caliphate of Walid 'Abd al-Malik seismic shocks of this duration (40 days) were numerous.


2 Hamza al Asfahani, Tarikh, 187; Ibn al Athir, al Kamil, 4/582.


Taher, M.A. (1979): Corpus des texts arabes relatifs aux tremblements de terre et autres catastrophes naturelles, de la conquete arabe au XII H/XVIII JC, Ph.D. Thesis (Univ. Paris), 337 pp.

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