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Cyril Quakes

18 and 19 May 363 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

The Cyril Quakes were, at a minimum, a pair of strong earthquakes; one with a northern epicenter and another with a southern epicenter. The southern quake appears to have struck first (see Ghor-es-Safi in Archaeoseismic evidence). The first earthquake struck around 9:30 pm on the night of Sunday 18 May 363 CE and the second quake followed at about 3:30 am on Monday 19 May 363 CE. Ambraseys (2009) and Kagan et. al. (2011) suggest there were two earthquakes instead of one because it seems unlikely that one earthquake could be responsible for so much apparent damage over such a broad area. The Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem also mentions two earthquakes where the earlier earthquake did the most damage to Jerusalem. Damage reports extend from southern to northern Palestine and from the Mediterranean coast to Petra with one author (Libanius) mentioning damage in Syria.

Although damage may have been over reported due to a theological agenda of the writers and/or appeals for rebuilding funds, archaeoseismic evidence supports widespread destruction. A number of sources for this earthquake were Christian theologians and apologists writing after a time of great strife. In 363 CE, Julian the Apostate was the Roman Emperor. He renounced Christianity as the state religion and allowed, encouraged, or demanded that the Jews of Israel rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed in 70 CE. However, right when they were about to start work on the foundation of the Temple, the earthquakes of 18 and 19 May 363 CE wrecked their efforts. Julian died a month later in June of 363 CE. Christian writers took these events as a sign of God's intent; i.e. displeasure with Julian as an Emperor and displeasure with Jewish efforts to rebuild a Temple which the Christian authors thought was accursed. Reporting surrounding the earthquake contains embellishments such as crosses appearing in the sky and on the bodies and clothes of bystanders, mysterious fires, and invisible forces keeping those working on the Temple project from leaving their homes (Cain and Lenski, 2009). Guidoboni et. al. (1994) (citing Brock, 1977:267) notes that such details suggest oral transmission. It can also be suggested that these written accounts were aggrandized to support the controlling narrative of the triumph of Christianity. Ambraseys (2009) suggests that some of the writers may have conflated effects of the Crete Earthquake of 365 AD with the Cyril Quakes.

It appears that Jerusalem suffered from a fire after the earthquake. The Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem, which is likely derived from an early contemporaneous account, notes that many people died in a fire and heavy rains after the the earthquake. In the same letter, it is written that an apparently supernatural fire came out of a synagogue and killed many people (Jews) who were trying to flee to it after the earthquake. A supernatural fire or flame appearing in various locations is present in a number of accounts. Gregory of Nazianzusa, who wrote about these events within a year of the earthquake, locates the flame as emanating from within a church (the Holy Sepulchre?) and being directed towards fleeing construction workers/Jews. Some later writing authors reported that the flame/fire came out of the Temple foundations itself. These later accounts seem to show how a fire in the city, a church, and/or a synagogue was aggrandized and embellished into a supernatural event. Once the embellishment is scraped away, it appears that a fire in the city was the source for these accounts - firing their imaginations so to speak.

Several catalogs report a seiche in the southern Dead Sea; apparently based on the writings of Jerome. Russell (1980) examined the passage by Jerome and could not come to a conclusion whether Jerome was reporting a legitimite oral tradition emanating from the town of Areopolis or whether Jerome was conflating widespread Eastern Mediterranean tsunamis from the 365 AD Crete earthquake with the effects of the Cyril Quake(s). Both are possible. The textual accounts list numerous towns overthrown by the earthquake as well as an extended period of aftershocks following the main shocks.

Textual Evidence

Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem Syriac Anonymous Pseudepigrapha 5th century CE ? Provides a detailed description of the time and date of the earthquakes along with the names of towns and areas damaged. Also mentions the Temple rebuilding project and states that strong winds and storms delayed the rebuilding project for a day and that the earthquakes then struck on the night that followed the day of storm delay. Mentions a fire and heavy rain causing many people to perish and a flame of fire emanating from a synagogue after the earthquake(s) which burned a number of people alive. Says there was a great loss of life .
4th hymn against Julian by Ephrem Syrus Syriac son of the convent, teacher Syriac Christianity 363 CE Edessa This hymn provides poetic descriptions of the storms, earthquake, fire, and the Temple rebuilding project.
Fifth Oration Against the Pagans by Gregory of Nazianzusa Greek Presbyter, later Archbishop of Constantinople Orthodox (Nicene) Christian 363 CE Nazianzus States that the Temple rebuilding project was halted by a furious blast of wind and an earthquake. Includes supernatural events afterwards. Mentions a flame of fire but appears to locate it within a church (of the Holy Sepulchre) directed towards fleeing construction workers/Jews rather than coming from the Temple Mount itself.
Artemii passio Greek Anonymous 8th century CE Mentions cities and places damaged, darkness, continual earthquakes, and a fire burning a great number of Jews.
Talmuds Hebrew, Aramaic The Talmuds have many authors Accounts of the Temple rebuilding project and the earthquake do not appear in either the Palestinian or Babylonian Talmud with the possible exception of two rather obtuse statements in the Palestinian Talmud attributed to R. Acha (Russell, 1980)
Res Gestae by Ammianus Marcellinus Latin Roman soldier and historian Pagan - tolerant of Christianity 380s CE Rome Does not mention the earthquakes, but does mention the effort to rebuild the Temple and fire bursting forth from the Temple foundations.
Commentariorum In Esaiam by Jerome Latin Christian priest, confessor, theologian, translator, and historian Christian 405-420 CE Bethlehem A passage in this text may indicate that the Dead Sea experienced a seiche during this earthquake.
Historia Ecclesiastica by Socrates Scholasticus Greek Church Historian ~439 CE Constantinople Mentions an earthquake tearing up the stones of the foundation and a fire coming down from heaven consuming all the builders' tools and lasting for a day. Aslo mentions signs of crosses on people's garments.
Ecclesiastical History by Theodoret of Cyrus Greek Monk, later Bishop of Cyrrhus (Syria) Played a pivotal role in several 5th-century Byzantine Church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. In 449 CE, he was excommunicated and his writings were directed to be burned. ~449-450 CE Cyrrhus (Syria) or a monastery near Apamea (Syria) Mentions the Temple rebuilding project, a storm during the day followed by an earthquake at night, a fire coming out of the Temple's foundations , and supernatural signs such as crosses appearing in the sky and on the garments of Jews.
Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724 Syriac Anonymous Brock (1977) relates that this source does not mention events in Jerusalem but reiterates that 21 cities suffered damage; echoing the letter attributed to Cyril. The date is mostly in agreement : The Year A.G. 674 (= A.D. 363) is the same, the month (Iyyar) is the same but the date is different. This passage refers to the 27th day of Iyyar while the letter attributed to Cyril identifies the date of the earthquake as the 19th of Iyyar.
Chronicon anonymum ad annum 846 Syriac Anonymous Says that the Temple rebuilding project was halted by fire from the Temple Mount. An earthquake isn't mentioned.
Chronicle of Zuqnin (Annals Part 1) by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre Syriac Anonymous - Priest, Monk, ex-Stylite Eastern Christian 750-775 CE Zuqnin Monastery Mentions the Temple rebuilding project and a nighttime earthquake which damaged construction facilities and houses near the Temple. Says that on another day, a fire came from the sky, lasted a full day, and burned up all the construction equipment. Also mentions crosses appearing in the sky and on the garments of Jews.
Chronicle by Michael the Syrian Syriac Patriarch Syriac Orthodox Church late 12th century CE Probably at the Monastery of Mar Bar Sauma near Tegenkar, Turkey Mentions the Temple rebuilding effort which was apparently halted by a fierce wind which scattered the lime and cement they wanted to build with, and fire descended and burned the structure and their tools. Did not mention an earthquake
Chronicon anonymum ad annum 1234 Syriac Anonymous beginning of the 13th c. CE possibly in Edessa or the Monastery of Mar Bar Sauma near Tegenkar, Turkey Brock (1977) relates that this Syriac chronicle devotes over 10 pages to Julian's reign but does not discuss the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Julian Romance Syriac Anonymous 6th century CE Edessa Brock (1977) relates that this story tells of the Jews obtaining permission to rebuild the Temple but deliberately does not discuss events in Jerusalem because they were described by another author.
Ecclesiastical History by Sozomen Greek Lawyer - Born around 400 CE in Bethelia, a small town near Gaza into a wealthy Christian family from Palestine. Mined oral traditions of Southern Palestine. Christian 440-443 CE Constantinople Discusses Earthquake, Temple Rebuilding Project, reports of the fire at the Temple, and the signs of the crosses appearing on people's clothes. Sozomen claims to have derived his information from eyewitnesses.
Libanius Greek Teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist school in the Eastern Roman Empire - friend of Emperor Julian (the Apostate) Pagan Hellene ~363 CE Antioch, Syria brief statement that some cities in Palestine and Syria have been flattened in parts, others completely. inside what Guidoboni et. al. (1994) suggests is a eulogy Libanius delivered for Emperor Julian.
Other sources
Incorrect 362 date reported in older Scientific literature
Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril was the Bishop of Jerusalem when the earthquake(s) of 363 CE struck. After the earthquake, Cyril presumably wrote a letter describing the earthquake and it's effects. The letter that we have may have been written by someone writing later in his name (i.e. attributed authorship) who used the original letter of Cyril as a source document. Cain and Lenski (2009) opine that the letter is probably not genuine and was likely composed in Syriac in the 5th century AD. However, although they doubt that Cyril was the author, they note that the letter may have been based on an earlier document written in Jerusalem due to its detailed knowledge of the topography of the city and the unique information about the actions of the Jerusalem Christian community. Brock (1977) noted that the consistency of the chronological information contained within the letter also enhances its credibility.

The extant letter, originally written in Syriac, was translated by Brock (1977). The full translation is shown below.

Translation14

On how many miracles took place when the Jews received the order to rebuild the Temple, and the signs which occurred in the region of Asia.15

116 The letter, which was sent from the holy Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, concerning the Jews, when they wanted to rebuild the Temple, and (on how) the land was shaken, and mighty prodigies took place, and fire consumed great numbers of them, and many Christians (too) perished.

2 To17 my beloved brethren, bishops, priests, and deacons of the Church of Christ18 in revery district : greetings, my brethren.19 'The punishment of our Lord20 is sure, and His sentence (ὰποφασις) that He gave concerning the city of the crucifiers is faithful, and with our own eyes we have received a fearful sight21 for22 truly did the Apostle say that 'there is nothing greater than the love of God'.23 Now, while the earth was shaking24 and the entire people suffering25, I have not neglected to write to you about everything that has taken place here.26

3 At the digging of the foundations of Jerusalem, 'which had been ruined because of the killing of its Lord, the land shook considerably27, and there were great28 tremors in the towns29 round about.

4 Now even though the person bringing the letter is slow, nevertheless I shall still write and inform you that we are all well, by the grace of God and the aid of30 prayer. Now I think that you are concerned for us, (and) our minds were tearing us—not only our own, but all our brethren's as well, who are with us, that I should tell you too about what happened amongst us.31

5 We have not written to you at length, beyond the earthquake that took place at God's (behest). For many Christians too living in these regions, as well as the majority of the32 Jews, perished at that scourge — and not just in the earthquake, but also as a result of fire and in the heavy33 rain they had.

6 At the outset, when they wanted to lay the foundations of the Temple on the Sunday previous to the earthquake, there were 'strong winds and storms34, with the result that they were unable to lay the Temple's foundations that day35. It was on that very night that the great earthquake occurred, and we were all36 in the church of the Confessors, engaged in prayer. After this we left to go to the Mount of Olives, which is situated to the east of Jerusalem, where37 our Lord was raised to His glorious38 Father. We went out into the middle of the city, reciting a psalm,39 and we passed40 the graves of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and we besought the Lord of the prophets that, through the prayers of His prophets and apostles, His truth might be seen by His worshippers in the face of the audacity of the Jews41 who had crucified Him

7 Now they42 (sc. the Jews), wanting to imitate43 us, were running to the place where their synagogue usually gathered, and they found the synagogue doors closed. They were greatly amazed at what had happened and stood around in silence and fear when suddenly the synagogue doors opened of their own accord, and out of the building there came forth fire, which licked up the majority of them, and most of them collapsed and perished in front of the building. The doors then closed of their own accord, while the whole city looked on at what was happening, and the entire populace, Jew and Christian alike, cried out with one voice, saying 'There is but one God, one Christ, who is victorious' ; and the entire people rushed off and tore down the idols and (pagan) altars that were in the city, glorifying and praising Christ, and confessing that He is the Son of the Living God. And they drove out the demons of the city, and the Jews, and the whole city received the sign of baptism, Jews as well as many pagans, all together, so that we thought that there was not a single person left in the city who had not received the sign (σημειον) or mark (τνπος) of the living Cross in heaven. And it instilled great fear in all.

8 And the entire people thought that, after these signs which our Saviour gave us in His Gospel, the fearful (second) coming of the day of resurrection had arrived. With trembling of great joy we received something of the sign (ημιεὶον) of Christ's crucifixion, and whosoever did not believe in his mind found his clothes openly reprove him, having the mark of the cross stained on them.

9 As for the statue (ἀνδριάς) of Herod which stood in Jerusalem, which the Jews had thrown down in (an act of) supplication (?) (δέησις), the city ran and set it up where it had been standing.

10 Thus we felt compelled to write to you the truth of these matters, that everything that is written about Jerusalem should be established in truth, that 'no stone shall be left in it that will not be upturned'.

11 Now we should like to write down for you the names of the towns which were overthrown : Beit Gubrin—more than half of it ; part of Baishan, the whole of Sebastia and its territory (χωρα), the whole of Nikopolis and its territory (χωρα) ; more than half Lydda and its territory (χωρα) ; about half of Ashqelon, the whole of Antipatris and its territory (χωρα) ; part of Caesarea, more than half Samaria ; part of NSL', a third of Paneas", half of Azotus, part of Gophna, more than half Petra (RQM) ; Hada, a suburb of the city (Jerusalem)—more than half ; Jerusalem more than half. And fire came forth and consumed the teachers of the Jews. Part of Tiberias too, and its territory (χωρα), more than half 'RDQLY' (Areopolis or Archelaisa), the whole of Sepphoris (SWPRYN) and its territory (χωρα), 'Aina d-Gader; Haifa (? ; TAP) flowed with blood for three days ; the whole of Japho (YWPY) perished, (and) part of 'D'NWS.

12 This event took place on Monday at the third hour, and partly at the ninth hour of the night. There was great loss of life here. (It was) on 19 Iyyar of the year 674 of the kingdom of Alexander the Greek. This year the pagan Julian died, and it was he who especially incited the Jews to rebuild the Temple, since he favoured them because they had crucified Christ. Justice overtook this rebel at his death in enemy territory, and in this the sign of the power of the cross was revealed, because he had denied Him who had been hung upon it for the salvation and life of all.

All this that has been briefly written to you took place in actual fact in this way.
Footnotes

14 I translate B ; the main variants of A are given in the footnotes.
15 Letter of Cyril bishop of Jerusalem.
16 A omits § 1.
17 pr. Cyril bishop of Jerusalem.
18 our Lord.
19 in all regions.
20 With (in) our Lord punishment.
21 in our own sight it specifically received it ; greetings !
22 Just as, my brothers.
23 om. of God.
29 shook.
25 world suffered.
26 om. here.
27 the land suffered specifically.
28 om. great.
25 + and cities.
30 + your.
31 seeing that we too, because we (were) there, struggled for ourselves.
32 Not only were we not harmed by the earthquake that took place at God's (behest), but no Christian who was here (was harmed), but many.
33 om. heavy.
34 winds and strong storms.
35 the foundations as they had wanted ; for it was in their mind to lay the Temple's foundations the following day.
36 fled and took refuge in.
37 whence.
38 om. glorious.
39 psalms.
40 + between.
41 those (who).
42 the Jews.
43 The folio of A containing the rest of the letter is lost.

a Guidoboni et. al. (1994) state that there are "palaeographic reasons to suggest that the debated 'RDQLY in Cyril's letter may be a reference to Areopolis rather than Archelais".

Chronology
Date and Time

The year 674 of the kingdom of Alexander the Greek refers to the A.G. calendar and spans from 1 Oct. 362 to 30 Sept. 363 CE (using CHRONOS). 19 Iyyar equates to 19 May - i.e., 19 May 363 CE. Julian day calculations (using CHRONOS) indicate that 19 May 363 CE did fall on a Monday as specified in the text. This adds credibility to the account. An Astronomical calculator from ClearSkyTonight.com indicates that the sun sets in Jerusalem at 6:28 pm on 19 May. Thus the 3rd hour of the night equates to ~9:30 pm and the 9th hour of the night to ~3:30 am. Since the A.G. day starts at sunset, 19 Iyar translates to the Julian calendar as sunset to midnight on 18 May and midnight to sunset on 19 May. Thus the first earthquake struck at ~9:30 pm on 18 May 363 CE and the second earthquake struck at ~3:30 m on 19 May 363 CE. The text suggests that Jerusalem experienced stronger shaking at ~930 pm (3rd hour of the night) than at ~3:30 am (partly at the ninth hour of the night).

Calendar notes

The calendar being used is a local variant of the lunisolar Macedonian Calendar with Jewish names substituted for the months. 19 Iyyar converts to 19 May. Brock (1976) relates the following:

"The date, however, in our Letter will be Iyyar according to the Julian calendar (i.e. exactly our May) - but it so happens that in 363 the lunar Nisan and Iyyar for once exactly corresponded with the Julian Nisan and Iyyar (April and May). It is hard to believe that we are dealing with a mere coincidence. Can it be that there is some connection between Lag ba 'Omer and the rebuilding of the Temple?.

Seismic Effects
List of towns and areas affected

  1. Beit Gubrin — more than half of it
  2. part of Baishan
  3. the whole of Sebastia and its territory (χωρα)
  4. the whole of Nikopolis and its territory (χωρα)
  5. more than half Lydda and its territory (χωρα)
  6. about half of Ashqelon
  7. the whole of Antipatris and its territory (χωρα)
  8. part of Caesarea
  9. more than half Samaria
  10. part of NSL'
  11. a third of Paneas"
  12. half of Azotus
  13. part of Gophna
  14. more than half Petra (RQM)
  15. Hada, a suburb of the city (Jerusalem) — more than half
  16. Jerusalem more than half. And fire came forth and consumed the teachers of the Jews.
  17. Part of Tiberias too, and its territory (χωρα)
  18. more than half 'RDQLY' (Areopolis or Archelaisa)
  19. the whole of Sepphoris (SWPRYN) and its territory (χωρα)
  20. 'Aina d-Gader
  21. Haifa (? ; TAP) flowed with blood for three days
  22. the whole of Japho (YWPY) perished
  23. part of 'D'NWS
Footnotes

a Guidoboni et. al. (1994) state that there are "palaeographic reasons to suggest that the debated 'RDQLY in Cyril's letter may be a reference to Areopolis rather than Archelais".

4th hymn against Julian by Ephrem Syrus

Ephrem Syrus wrote about this earthquake within a year of its occurrence (Cain and Lenski, 2009). A translation of Ephrem's 4th hymn against Julian (originally composed in Syraic) is shown below:

At that time fearful events were stirred up to rebuke (men),
(God) proclaimed in the world truth to souls,
in that cities were overthrown, to the reproach of paganism.
Jerusalem especially held guilty
the accursed and the crucifiers, who had made bold threats and entered
so as to rebuild the ruins that their own sins had brought about.

Foolish and stupid, they had caused its ruin when it was still standing,
and now that it lies in ruins, they threaten to rebuild it !
When it was established, they tore it down, when it lies waste, they shower
their love on it.
Jerusalem quaked when she saw

That her wreckers had come in again
to disturb her calm
She complained to the Most High
against them, and she was heard

He commanded the wind and it blew
He signalled the quakes and they came
The lightning and it flashed
the air and it darkened
the walls and they were wrecked
the gates and they were opened
Fire came out and consumed the scholar-scribes

Who had read in Daniel that she should lay in ruins forever1
they were chastened again and they learned

They had scattered her through the Lowly one,who had gathered together her chicks,"
and they imagined He had gathered to her the error of the diviner(s);
they overthrew her because of the True one," they propped her up with
waverers,
they wished to rebuild her again.
They had upturned the great altar at the slaying of the Holy one,
and they imagined that the rebuilder of (pagan) altars would re-establish it.
They destroyed her through the wood of the Living Architect,
they propped her up with the broken reed of paganism;
they made her sad with Zechariah, who had given them joy, (saying)
' Behold your king';
they wanted to make her happy with the divination of the madman,
they proclaimed to her : 'Behold, there comes one furious, who will
rebuild you;
he will enter and sacrifice in you, and pour libations in you—to his demons'.

Daniel passed the sentence against Jerusalem and decreed
She will not be built again
and Sion believed him
The two of them were worn out and they wept
He cut off and cast away their hope
Cana, with its wine, gave comfort
to the two mourners, giving them advice
'Do not aggravate the injustice (done) to the Good one by your mourning'.

...

In the place of the People - uprooted
from all peoples
To see within your wombs
the grave and Golgotha

Who will ever again beleive in
fate and the horoscope ?
Who will ever again affirm
diviners and soothsayers
Who will ever again go astray after auguries and Zodiacal signs ?

All of them have been wrong in everything

So that the Just One will not have to instruct
each one who went astray He broke the one who went astray
so that in him those who have gone astray might learn their lesson

Footnotes

1 "Who had read in Daniel that she should lay in ruins forever" refers to the Temple Mount - deserted at the time but undergoing a rebuilding project until apparently interrupted by the earthquake.

Fifth Oration Against the Pagans by Gregory of Nazianzusa

Gregory of Nazianzusa (~329 AD - ~390 AD) wrote about the quake within a year of its occurrence according to Cain and Lenski (2009). In the Second Invective of the Fifth Oration, Gregory writes:

3. He [Julian]2 was daily growing more infuriated against us, as though raising up waves by other waves, he that went mad first against himself, that trampled upon things holy, and that did despite unto the Spirit of Grace: is it more proper to call him Jeroboam or Ahab, those most wicked of the Israelites; or Pharaoh the Egyptian, or Nebuchadnezzar the Assyrian; or combining all together shall we name him one and the same, since he shows himself to have united in himself the vices of them all----the apostasy of Jeroboam, the bloodthirstiness of Ahab, the hardness of heart of Pharaoh, the sacrilegious acts of Nebuchadnezzar, the impiety of all put together! For when he had exhausted every other resource, and despised every other form of tyranny in our regard as trifling and unworthy of him (since there never was a character so fertile in finding out and contriving mischief), at last he stirred|88 up against us the nation of the Jews, making his accomplice in his machinations their well-known credulity, as well as that hatred for us which has smouldered in them from the very beginning; prophesying to them out of their own books and mysteries that now was the appointed time come for them to return into their own land, and to rebuild the Temple, and restore the reign of their hereditary institutions ---- thus hiding his true purpose under the mark of benevolence.

4. And when he had formed this plan, and made them believe it (for whatever suits one's wishes is a ready engine for deceiving people), they began to debate about rebuilding the Temple, and in large number and with great zeal set about the work. For the partisans of the other side report that not only did their women strip off all their personal ornaments and contribute it towards the work and operations, but even carried away the rubbish in the laps of their gowns, sparing neither the so precious clothes nor yet the tenderness of their own limbs, for they believed they were doing a pious action, and regarded everything of less moment than the work in hand. But they being driven against one another, as though by a furious blast3 of wind, and sudden heaving of the earth, some rushed to one of the neighbouring sacred places to pray for mercy; others, as is wont to happen in such cases, made use of what came to hand to shelter themselves; others were carried away blindly by the panic, and struck against those who were running up to see what was the matter. There are some who say that neither did the sacred place (to i9ero_n)4 admit them, but that when they approached the folding doors that stood wide open, on coming up to them|89 they found them closed in their faces by an unseen and invisible power5 which works wonders of the sort for the confusion of the impious and the saving of the godly. But what all people nowadays report and believe is that when they were forcing their way and struggling about the entrance a flame issued forth from the sacred place [church] and stopped them, and some it burnt up and consumed so that a fate befell them similar to the disaster of the people of Sodom, or to the miracle about Nadab and Abiud, who offered incense and perished so strangely: whilst others it maimed in the principal parts of the body, and so left them for a living monument of God's threatening and wrath against sinners. Such then was this event; and let no one disbelieve, unless he doubts likewise the other mighty works of God! But what is yet more strange and more conspicuous, there stood in the heavens|90 a light circumscribing a Cross, and that which before on earth was contemned by the ungodly both in figure and in name is now exhibited in heaven, and is made by God a trophy of His victory over the impious, a trophy more lofty than any other!

Footnotes

2. It is to be remarked that the preacher never once mentions Julian by name. Was this meant for an expression of contempt?

3. Brasmw~|. Gregory knows nothing of the "metuendi flammarum globi," with which Ammian adorns the story. It is plain from this account, written but a few months after the occurrence, that a sudden storm of wind sufficed to frighten the superstitious Jews, who saw in it a sign of the displeasure of Heaven with the work they were about.

4. This must be Helena's Church: Gregory terms the Temple new_j.

5. The keepers of the church, who naturally shut the doors in the face of a mad crowd of Jews running towards it (for only one purpose as they would imagine), and then proceeded to disperse those attempting to force an entrance by the usual expedient of throwing fire upon them through the windows. Ammian confounds the fire thrown from the Christian church with "flames spontaneously issuing out of the ruins" of the ancient Temple, which completely alters the case. He also states that Julian was rebuilding the Temple at his own cost, whereas it appears from Gregory he left it entirely to the fanaticism of the Jews, doubtless (i.e., the moneyed part of them), very glad of a sign from Heaven to stop so expensive a project. But to give Ammian's words,
Templum instaurare sumptibus cogitabat immodicis: negotiumque maturandum Alypio dederat Antiochensi, qui olim Britannias curaverat propraefectis. Cum itaque rei idem fortiter instaret Alypius, juvaretque provincial rector, metuendi globi flammarum prope fundamenta crebris assultibus erumpentes, fecere locum exustis aliquantis operantibus inaccessum, hoc que modo, elemento destinatius repellente, cessavit inceptum, - xxiii. 1, A.D. 363.
The story had got embellished with these terrible globes of flame, in the interval of twenty years between the event and the time of Ammian's writing. The pious Gregory was much too fond of miracles to have omitted so splendid a manifestation had the report of it been contemporary.

Artemii passio

In the 8th century CE work Artemii passio, possibly written by John of Damascus and apparently using the lost work Ecclesiastical History by Philostorgius as a source (Levenson, 2013) we find the following passage which mentions several additional cities affected and continuing aftershocks.

It also happened that cities fell: those around Nicopolis, Neapolis, Eleutheropolis, Gaza, and many others. A stoa of Aelia, that is to say, Jerusalem, by the synagogue of the Jews, fell and killed many of those just mentioned, and fire broke out mysteriously and burned up a great number of Jews. And there was darkness in those places, and continual earthquakes wreaking much destruction in many cities.
Authorship of Artemii passio
Authorship of Artemii passio

Levenson (2013:422) supplies the following on Artemii passio

The eighth-century Artemii Passio50 contains a number of additional details that are best explained as derived from Philostorgius

Footnotes

50 Based on several manuscripts, Bidez assigned the Artemii Passio to an otherwise unknown ninth-century monk John of Rhodes, but recent scholarship has tended to attribute it to the eighth-century Palestinian monk, John of Damascus. For a full discussion of authorship and date, see P.B. Kotter, Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos,5:185-187. In support of Bidez’s position, see R.W. Burgess, “The Passio S. Artemii,Philostorgius, and the Date of the Invention and Translations of the Relics of Sts. Andrew and Luke,” AB 121 (2003), 5-36 (especially 5, n. 4, and 23).

Talmuds

Russell (1980) notes the apparent silence of Jewish sources on the Temple rebuilding project. Part of this may have to do with one point of view in Jewish eschatology where the Temple is not supposed to be rebuilt until the arrival of the messiah. The silence in the Jewish sources brings into question whether the Christian sources were accurate in describing the Temple rebuilding project as a largely Jewish affair. Did one faction of Judaism, perhaps swayed by national/ethnic pride seek to rebuild the Temple or did Christian theologians and apologists seek to tell a story of the triumph of Christianity over its Jewish and Pagan (represented by Julian) rivals with the assistance of God's hand in summoning an earthquake ? While we do not have an answer for this, the silence of Jewish sources does cast doubt on, at the least, the accuracy of the Christian sources on Jewish involvement and by extension the extent of damage to so many towns and villages. Russell's (1980) discussion with links to other sources is repeated below:

With the exception of two rather obtuse statements in the Palestinian Talmud attributed to R. Acha, which might have been intended as a rationale for rebuilding the Temple (see Bacher 1898), the only other Jewish accounts date to the 16th century and were obviously based upon earlier ecclesiastical sources (see Adler 1893: 642-47). The apparent correlation between the day on which the Temple project began (as given in Harvard Syriac 99) and the Jewish semifestival of Lag ba-`Omer (Brock 1976: 104; 1977: 268) makes this silence even more of an enigma.

Such considerations not withstanding, the historical "kernel of truth" for the events of 363 involves Julian's attempt to rebuild the Temple and the subsequent occurrence of a devastating earthquake. The death of Julian in the following month ushered in an unbroken line of Christian emperors to the Roman throne, and the temple project was never resumed. Whether Jews were actively involved in Julian's project, as maintained by ecclesiastical accounts. or refused to participate, as maintained by Graetz ( 1956: 597-601) and Baron (1952: 160-61) remains a moot point.

Res Gestae by Ammianus Marcellinus

Ammianus Marcellinus provides a Pagan account of events surrounding the Cyril Quakes. Although he does not mention the earthquakes, he does mention the effort to rebuild the Temple and fire bursting forth from the foundations - something which some of the more theologically minded Christian authors also mentioned. In Book XXIII Section I, we can read the following excerpt.

BOOK XXIII.

[Translated by C.D.YONGE]

I.
A.D. 363.

§ 1. To pass over minute details, these were the principal events of the year. But Julian, who in his third consulship had taken as his colleague Sallustius, the prefect of Gaul, now entered on his fourth year, and by a novel arrangement took as his colleague a private individual; an act of which no one recollected an instance since that of Diocletian and Aristobulus.

2. And although, foreseeing in his anxious mind the various accidents that might happen, he urged on with great diligence all the endless preparations necessary for his expedition, yet distributing his diligence everywhere; and being eager to extend the recollection of his reign by the greatness of his exploits, he proposed to rebuild at a vast expense the once magnificent temple of Jerusalem, which after many deadly contests was with difficulty taken by Vespasian and Titus, who succeeded his father in the conduct of the siege. And he assigned the task to Alypius of Antioch, who had formerly been proprefect of Britain.

3. But though Alypius applied himself vigorously to the work, and though the governor of the province co-operated with him, fearful balls of fire burst forth with continual eruptions close to the foundations, burning several of the workmen and making the spot altogether inaccessible. And thus the very elements, as if by some fate, repelling the attempt, it was laid aside.

Commentariorum In Esaiam by Jerome

Jerome is best known for translating most of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin - in what would be known as the Vulgate. After finishing his translation project, Jerome wrote a number of texts with commentaries on the Bible. Commentariorum In Esaiam is one of them. Guidoboni et. al. (1994) supplied an excerpt of the relevant passage

English

I heard from an inhabitant of Areopolis — but the whole city witnessed the event — that a great earthquake occurred when I was a child, and the sea swept in over the shores of the whole world, and the city walls collapsed that same night.

Latin

Audivi quemdam Aerapolitem, sed et omnis civitas testis est, motu terrae magno in mea infantia, quando totius orbis litus transgressa sunt maria, eadem nocte muros urbis istius corruisse.
Russell (1980) examined the relevant passage in Commentariorum In Esaiam where additional earthquake damage is reported in Areopolis in Moab along with a possible seiche in the Dead Sea. Russell (1980) concluded that it was not possible to determine from the text if Jerome reported a seiche in the Dead Sea from the Cyril Quakes or if he conflated the tsunamis associated with the powerful Crete Earthquake of 365 AD with the Cyril Quake. It should be noted that the mysterious Dead Sea Tsunami of 315 AD also contained a report of a Tsunami that was supposedly sourced from Areopolis.

Online Sources and Further Reading
Russell (1980)'s discussion

Russell (1980) examined this Commentariorum In Esaiam. His comments are below :

Jerome probably heard this story in his travels after arriving in Bethlehem in 385-86, or from pilgrims to Bethlehem actually living in the region of Moab (for an account of Jerome's early activities in Palestine, see Kelly 1975: 116-28). Unlike the other references to the 365 earthquake, this passage notes coastal inundation supposedly associated with an earthquake in which the region of biblical Moab, and specifically Areopolis, suffered direct earthquake damage. While earthquake destruction east of the Dead Sea along the edge of the Jordanian Plateau does not correlate with the other ancient accounts of the 365 earthquake, it does fit the 363 earthquake as described in Harvard Syriac 99. Confirmation of this is found in the agreement of Jerome's statement with Harvard Syriac 99 in placing the earthquake at night, while the 365 earthquake occurred shortly after daybreak (see Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVI, x, 16: Rolfe 1950: 648-49). Whether Jerome thought this story referred to the earthquake and tidal wave of his "youth" remains in question. It could well be the case that Jerome actually added the statement about coastal inundation because he assumed that the story did refer to this event. While it is possible that inundation of the Palestinian coast did occur in 363, there is no mention of such in Harvard Syriac 99.along the edge of the Jordanian Plateau does not correlate with the other ancient accounts of the 365 earthquake, it does fit the 363 earthquake as described in Harvard Syriac 99. Confirmation of this is found in the agreement of Jerome's statement with Harvard Syriac 99 in placing the earthquake at night, while the 365 earthquake occurred shortly after daybreak (see Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVI, x, 16: Rolfe 1950: 648-49). Whether Jerome thought this story referred to the earthquake and tidal wave of his "youth" remains in question. It could well be the case that Jerome actually added the statement about coastal inundation because he assumed that the story did refer to this event. While it is possible that inundation of the Palestinian coast did occur in 363, there is no mention of such in Harvard Syriac 99.

References

Jerome's Commentariorum In Esaiam, in a section dealing with the region of Moab (V, xv, 1; ed. Migne 1845: 168; ed. Corpus Christianorum, Vol. 73, pars 2, 1963: 176)

Commentariorum In Esaiam in Latin can be read here

Historia Ecclesiastica by Socrates Scholasticus

Socrates Scholasticus (aka Socrates of Constantinople) wrote Historia Ecclesiastica in Greek. This work was finished in ~439 AD and covers the years from 305 AD - 439 AD. Book III Chapter 20 is reporduced below. Based on the passage below, it appears that Socrates Scholastis may have had knowledge of Cyril's letter or its predecessor.

Chapter 20.

The Jews instigated by the Emperor attempt to rebuild their Temple, and are frustrated in their Attempt by Miraculous Interposition.

The emperor in another attempt to molest the Christians exposed his superstition. Being fond of sacrificing, he not only himself delighted in the blood of victims, but considered it an indignity offered to him, if others did not do likewise. And as he found but few persons of this stamp, he sent for the Jews and enquired of them why they abstained from sacrificing, since the law of Moses enjoined it? On their replying that it was not permitted them to do this in any other place than Jerusalem, he immediately ordered them to rebuild Solomon's temple. Meanwhile he himself proceeded on his expedition against the Persians. The Jews who had been long desirous of obtaining a favorable opportunity for rearing their temple afresh in order that they might therein offer sacrifice, applied themselves very vigorously to the work. Moreover, they conducted themselves with great insolence toward the Christians, and threatened to do them as much mischief, as they had themselves suffered from the Romans. The emperor having ordered that the expenses of this structure should be defrayed out of the public treasury, all things were soon provided, such as timber and stone, burnt brick, clay, lime, and all other materials necessary for building. On this occasion Cyril bishop of Jerusalem, called to mind the prophecy of Daniel, which Christ also in the holy gospels has confirmed, and predicted in the presence of many persons, that the time had indeed come 'in which one stone should not be left upon another in that temple,' but that the Saviour's prophetic declaration should have its full accomplishment. Such were the bishop's words: and on the night following, a mighty earthquake tore up the stones of the old foundations of the temple and dispersed them all together with the adjacent edifices. Terror consequently possessed the Jews on account of the event; and the report of it brought many to the spot who resided at a great distance: when therefore a vast multitude was assembled, another prodigy took place. Fire came down from heaven and consumed all the builders' tools: so that the flames were seen preying upon mallets, irons to smooth and polish stones, saws, hatchets, adzes, in short all the various implements which the workmen had procured as necessary for the undertaking; and the fire continued burning among these for a whole day. The Jews indeed were in the greatest possible alarm, and unwillingly confessed Christ, calling him God: yet they did not do his will; but influenced by inveterate prepossessions they still clung to Judaism. Even a third miracle which afterwards happened failed to lead them to a belief of the truth. For the next night luminous impressions of a cross appeared imprinted on their garments, which at daybreak they in vain attempted to rub or wash out. They were therefore 'blinded' as the apostle says, and cast away the good which they had in their hands: and thus was the temple, instead of being rebuilt, at that time wholly overthrown.

Ecclesiastical History by Theodoret of Cyrus

Theodoret of Cyrus (c. AD 393 – c. 458/466) wrote Ecclesiastical History. Book III Chapter 15 is reproduced below.

Chapter 15.

Of the Jews; of their attempt at building, and of the heaven-sent plagues that befel them

Julian, who had made his soul a home of destroying demons, went his corybantic way, ever raging against true religion. He accordingly now armed the Jews too against the believers in Christ. He began by enquiring of some whom he got together why, though their law imposed on them the duty of sacrifices, they offered none. On their reply that their worship was limited to one particular spot, this enemy of God immediately gave directions for the re-erection of the destroyed temple, supposing in his vanity that he could falsify the prediction of the Lord, of which, in reality, he exhibited the truth. The Jews heard his words with delight and made known his orders to their countrymen throughout the world. They came with haste from all directions, contributing alike money and enthusiasm for the work; and the emperor made all the provisions he could, less from the pride of munificence than from hostility to the truth. He dispatched also as governor a fit man to carry out his impious orders. It is said that they made mattocks, shovels, and baskets of silver. When they had begun to dig and to carry out the earth a vast multitude of them went on with the work all day, but by night the earth which had been carried away shifted back from the ravine of its own accord. They destroyed moreover the remains of the former construction, with the intention of building everything up afresh; but when they had got together thousands of bushels of chalk and lime, of a sudden a violent gale blew, and storms, tempests and whirlwinds scattered everything far and wide. They still went on in their madness, nor were they brought to their senses by the divine longsuffering. Then first came a great earthquake, fit to strike terror into the hearts of men quite ignorant of God's dealings; and, when still they were not awed, fire running from the excavated foundations burnt up most of the diggers, and put the rest to flight. Moreover when a large number of men were sleeping at night in an adjacent building it suddenly fell down, roof and all, and crushed the whole of them. On that night and also on the following night the sign of the cross of salvation was seen brightly shining in the sky, and the very garments of the Jews were filled with crosses, not bright but black. When God's enemies saw these things, in terror at the heaven-sent plagues they fled, and made their way home, confessing the Godhead of Him who had been crucified by their fathers. Julian heard of these events, for they were repeated by every one. But like Pharaoh he hardened his heart.

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724 was written in Syriac. Brock (1976) describes this text as follows

Also referred to in older literature as the Liber Calipharum, this world chronicle is preserved in BM. Add. 14643, fols. 1-57, of the eighth century. Brief entries (not always in chronological order) are to be found for the following years (Selcucid era): a.c. 914, 915, 920, 921, 922, 924, 925, 929, 930, 934, 938, 939, 940, 945, 947' At the end is a brief life of Mohammed and a list of Arab kings from Mohammed to Yezid II, with the lengths of their reigns.
Brock (1977) supplied an excerpt
At that time the Lord was angry with the cities of the pagans and Jews and Samaritans and of the false teachings in the south that had joined in with the madness of the pagan Julian. Anger went forth from the Lord's presence and began to destroy the unclean and pagan cities because of (or over) their inhabitants, because they had defiled them with the blood they had unjustly shed. And it began to destroy the cities, twenty-one in number, some of which were overthrown, others collapsed, and yet others survived, in the month of Iyyar of the year 674, on the twenty-seventh day.
Brock (1977) relates that this source does not mention events in Jerusalem but reiterates that 21 cities suffered damage; echoing the letter attributed to Cyril. The date is mostly in agreement : The Year A.G. 674 (= A.D. 363) is the same, the month (Iyyar) is the same but the date is different. This passage refers to the 27th day of Iyyar while the letter attributed to Cyril identifies the date of the earthquake as the 19th of Iyyar (and by extension the night before 19 Iyyar).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724 can be found on pp. 139, 145-8, 155 in E. W. Brooks ed., Chronica minora, II, CSCO, Scr. Syri 3, 199-200 [Louvain, 1904]

Latin Translation in J. B. Chabot, Chronica Minora, II {CSCO Scr.Syri 4 [Louvain, 1904]), pp. 108,112-14, 119 Note by Brock (1976) - This edition and translation supersedes thai of J. P. N. Land, Anecdota Syriaca, (Leiden, iSCs), pp. 1—24, 103-22.

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 846

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 846 was written in Syriac. Brock (1976) describes this text as follows

This world chronicle, which is preserved in BM. Add. 14642, fols. 1-36, of the tenth century, relies heavily on Anonymous chronicle, ad annum 819. The folios covering the seventh century have mostly been lost, and the only surviving entries are for the following years (Seleucid era): a.g. 912, 914, 921, 990, 991, 992, 994, 995, 996, 999, 1006, 1008, 1010.
Brock (1977) supplies an excerpt and opines that this is mostly based on Theodoret.
The Jews, being reproved by Julian for having neglected sacrifices, put forward as the reason the fact that it had been laid down that it was not permissible to make sacrifice except in the Temple at Jerusalem, Give us permission ', they said, ' if you want us to sacrifice, to rebuild our Temple '. When he had given them permission they began to build, and while they had still only laid bare the foundations, fire issued forth from them and destroyed those on the site. The fire consumed the building (operations) and destroyed them. On hearing this, Julian ceased from urging them on over the matter of the rebuilding and sacrifices.
Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 846 can be found on pp. 230—2 in E. W. Brooks ed., Chronica minora, II, CSCO, Scr. Syri 3, 199-200 [Louvain, 1904]

Latin Translation in J. B. Chabot, Chronica Minora, II (CSCO Scr. Syri 4 [Louvain, 1904]), pp. 174-6

English Translation (also with Syriac text} in Brooks, 'A Syriac chronicle of the year 846', ZDMG, LI (1897), 569-88. Note by Brock (1976) - Cf. H. Buk, 'Zur aitestenchristlichen Chronographie des Islam', BZ, XIV (1905). 533-5.

Chronicle of Zuqnin (Annals Part 1) by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

This Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin is now thought to have been composed by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Parts 1 and 2 cover events from "creation" to 506/507 CE. There is apparently a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE. Harrak (2017) opines on the opening page of his translation that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin. The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162), now in the Vatican (shelf mark Vatican Syriac 162). In an English translation of Part I by Harrak (2017:276) we can read:

In the land of Samaria, a great crowd of monks were martyred while going to prayer, for Samaritans and Jews fell upon them and killed all of them with sticks. Now Julian the emperor compelled the Jews to sacrifice and they sacrificed. They begged the emperor that their temple which is in Jerusalem be rebuilt, 810 and he ordered them to build it, the expenses to be paid by the public treasury. Thus, they quickly prepared everything: stones, wood, burnt bricks, lime instead of clay, and other things needed for the construction. When the holy Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, saw this, he prophesied saying: It is time for our Saviour's word to be fulfilled: There will be not left here one stone upon another.811 The holy Cyril said these words in advance. Now during the night there was such a mighty earthquake that the ancient foundation stones of the temple flew up, and all of them scattered by the intensity of the earthquake. Also the houses that were near the place were uprooted, and the news of the ruin spread out in the whole land. Then in another day, fire fell down from the sky, destroying all the work of the architects, masons, and all kinds of instruments of work. One could see the hammers, tongs, axes, and hatchets, and in short all the work that had been prepared by them for the building was burning in the fiery blaze; the fire burnt the instruments throughout the entire day. A great fear befell the Jews, and unwillingly, they confessed that Christ was God. But they did not obey his will, nor did the triple miracle [179] that happened to them bring them to the Faith. In another night, luminous impressions of a cross appeared imprinted on their garments, and when the day came and they saw this sign, they sought to wash them and wipe them out with every means but they failed.812

Now Julian, the maternal uncle of the tyrant emperor, when he went to Jerusalem and entered the holy church and seized the holy vessels of the Church there, the Lord struck him: he bred worms and died.813

Footnotes

810 Soc. III xx.
811 Matthew 24:2
812 Soc. III xxi.
813 See Soz. HS, V viii, Theod., HE, III viii—ix. See also the full account of Mich. Syr. 147a [I 285]. Witakowski suggests that this detail about Julian may have derived from Theodore Anagnostes, who wrote a Church history also called Historia Tripartita, and who was one of Mich. Syr.'s sources in the Armenian version of his Chronicle. Since there is no evidence that this Historia was translated into Syriac, Jacob of Edes. and or John of Ephesus who used it in its original language may well be the sources of Chr. Zuq. and Mich. Syr.; Witakowski, "Third Part;" pp. 194—5. With regard to Cyril and Jerusalem see Sebastian Brock, "A Letter Attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem on the Rebuilding of the Temple," BSOAS 40:2 (1977), pp. 267-286.
Sources
Pseudo-Dionysius' Sources

Harrak (2017:xvi) lists Pseudo-Dionysius' sources from 298/9 - 429/30 CE as

  • Socrates' Ecclesiastic History
  • A Chronicle of Edessa (unspecified)
  • The Sleepers of Ephesus' (Part II)
  • Plerophoria of John Rufus

Background Information
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre are not the same work nor were they composed by the same author. Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is largely lost. It only exists in fragments. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is extant. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin as it is thought to have been composed by a monk at the monastery of Zuqnin before it was falsley attributed to Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the reason why the author is referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. To complicate matters further, Chabot (1895) published a French translation of Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre which he mistakenly titled Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Well, it was actually titled Annals by Denys of Tell-Mahre which is another name for Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.

Online Versions and Further Reading
Online versions including the supposed autograph (original copy)

The sole surviving manuscript at the Vatican (Cod. Vat. 162) - This manuscript is claimed by some to be the autograph - the first draft of the manuscript. No further recension, or copy, is known.

Annals Part by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre in Syriac at archive.org

References

Harrak (2017:xvi) notes major sources identified in Parts I and II of the Zugnin Chronicle had been discussed in great detail by Witakowski.

Witakowski, Study, p. 124-135

Witakowski, "The Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Second Part of his Chronicle," in J.O. Rosenqvist (ed.), AEIMΩN Studies Presented to Lennart Ryden on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (Uppsala, 1996), pp. 181-210

Witakowski, "Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Christian Epoch of the First Part of his Chronicle," in G.J. Reinink and A.C. Klugkist (eds.), After Bardaisan: Studies on Continuity and Change in Syriac Christianity in Honour of Professor Han J.W. Drijvers (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters en Department Oosterse Studies, 1999), pp. 329-366.

Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre at syri.ac

Wikipedia page for the Zunqin Chronicle - many links and references

Chronicle by Michael the Syrian

Michael the Syrian (1126 AD - 1199 AD wrote The Chronicle covering "Creation" until his times. He wrote a short passage about the unsuccessful Temple rebuilding effort in 363 AD but did not mention an earthquake.

[Julian] changed the names of cities: he renamed Caesarea to Mazaka (Bazke'), and Constantinople to Biwzandia. He deceitfully built hostels, poor houses, and places where orphans and widows could be cared for. He commanded that pagan legends be read and that the children of Christians not be excluded from secular learning. He left Antioch with threats about what would happen when he returned peacefully from Persia. He sent to Edessa to prepare for [receiving] him, but they refused. He then went to Harran, sacrificed to the demons, and honored the Jews there, commanding that they go to Jerusalem, [re]build the Temple, and make sacrifices according to [their] faith. [The Jews] took 3,000 measures of lime, gathered up those who had been dispersed, went and began to rebuild. A fierce wind scattered the lime and cement they wanted to build with, and fire descended and burned the structure and their tools. The Jews in Edessa arose against the Christians, and were killed by them [gl43].
Online Versions and Further Reading
Online versions

The sole surviving manuscript at the Vatican (Cod. Vat. 162) - This manuscript is claimed by some to be the autograph - the first draft of the manuscript. No further recension, or copy, is known.

Annals Part by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre in Syriac at archive.org

The text from the sole surviving Syriac manuscript can be read here.

References

Brock (1976) notes that

A manuscript, dated 1598, of the Syriac text of this massive work was only discovered in 1889 in Urfa (Edessa). It is a transcript of this in facsimile that Chabot published, along with a French translation and index of names.
Michael the Syrian, ' Chronicle ' (ed. J. B. Chabot, ii, 288-9 (translation) ; iv, 146 (text)).

A well organized website dealing with Michael the Syrian can be found here

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 1234

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 may have been written in Edessa and was composed at the beginnings of the 13th century CE. This anonymous chronicle is described by Brock(1976)

Next to Michael's Chronicle this world chronicle (sometimes referred to as the 'Anonymous of Edessa') contains the most detailed account of events in the seventh century that is available in Syriac. It is largely independent of Michael's work, and the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the compiler's main sources for this period. The text is preserved in a unique manuscript (perhaps of the fourteenth century) that was in private hands in Constantinople at the beginning of the century.
Brock (1977) relates that this Syriac chronicle devotes over 10 pages to Julian's reign but does not discuss the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. He also relates that it contains a long extract from Socrates ( HE, ni.1).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Julian Romance

In the following translation we can read

I should be doing something superfluous if I inserted into our narrative what has been outlined by another writer, who has described these events (i.e. the rebuilding of the temple) fittingly, as they actually took place.
Brock (1977) relates that this story tells of the Jews obtaining permission to rebuild the Temple but deliberately does not discuss events in Jerusalem because they were described by another author.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Julian romance (ed. J. G. E. Hoffmann, Julianos der Abtrunnige, Leiden,1880, 108-16).

The "Julian" Romance A New English Translation ed. Michael Sokoloff Published by Gorgias Press 2017

Ecclesiastical History by Sozomen

Sozomen (~400 - ~450 CE was from a Christian family in Palestine and wrote Eccelesiastical History in Constantinople in the years 440-443 CE. In Book V Chapter 22 Paragraphs we can read

Chapter 22. From Aversion to the Christians, Julian granted Permission to the Jews to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem; in every Endeavor to put their Hands to the Work, Fire sprang upward and killed Many. About the Sign of the Cross which appeared on the Clothing of those who had exerted themselves in this Work.

Though the emperor hated and oppressed the Christians, he manifested benevolence and humanity towards the Jews. He wrote to the Jewish patriarchs and leaders, as well as to the people, requesting them to pray for him, and for the prosperity of the empire. In taking this step he was not actuated, I am convinced, by any respect for their religion; for he was aware that it is, so to speak, the mother of the Christian religion, and he knew that both religions rest upon the authority of the patriarchs and the prophets; but he thought to grieve the Christians by favoring the Jews, who are their most inveterate enemies. But perhaps he also calculated upon persuading the Jews to embrace paganism and sacrifices; for they were only acquainted with the mere letter of Scripture, and could not, like the Christians and a few of the wisest among the Hebrews, discern the hidden meaning.

Events proved that this was his real motive; for he sent for some of the chiefs of the race and exhorted them to return to the observance of the laws of Moses and the customs of their fathers. On their replying that because the temple in Jerusalem was overturned, it was neither lawful nor ancestral to do this in another place than the metropolis out of which they had been cast, he gave them public money, commanded them to rebuild the temple, and to practice the cult similar to that of their ancestors, by sacrificing after the ancient way. The Jews entered upon the undertaking, without reflecting that, according to the prediction of the holy prophets, it could not be accomplished. They sought for the most skillful artisans, collected materials, cleared the ground, and entered so earnestly upon the task, that even the women carried heaps of earth, and brought their necklaces and other female ornaments towards defraying the expense. The emperor, the other pagans, and all the Jews, regarded every other undertaking as secondary in importance to this. Although the pagans were not well-disposed towards the Jews, yet they assisted them in this enterprise, because they reckoned upon its ultimate success, and hoped by this means to falsify the prophecies of Christ. Besides this motive, the Jews themselves were impelled by the consideration that the time had arrived for rebuilding their temple. When they had removed the ruins of the former building, they dug up the ground and cleared away its foundation; it is said that on the following day when they were about to lay the first foundation, a great earthquake occurred, and by the violent agitation of the earth, stones were thrown up from the depths, by which those of the Jews who were engaged in the work were wounded, as likewise those who were merely looking on. The houses and public porticos, near the site of the temple, in which they had diverted themselves, were suddenly thrown down; many were caught thereby, some perished immediately, others were found half dead and mutilated of hands or legs, others were injured in other parts of the body. When God caused the earthquake to cease, the workmen who survived again returned to their task, partly because such was the edict of the emperor, and partly because they were themselves interested in the undertaking. Men often, in endeavoring to gratify their own passions, seek what is injurious to them, reject what would be truly advantageous, and are deluded by the idea that nothing is really useful except what is agreeable to them. When once led astray by this error, they are no longer able to act in a manner conducive to their own interests, or to take warning by the calamities which are visited upon them.

The Jews, I believe, were just in this state; for, instead of regarding this unexpected earthquake as a manifest indication that God was opposed to the re-erection of their temple, they proceeded to recommence the work. But all parties relate, that they had scarcely returned to the undertaking, when fire burst suddenly from the foundations of the temple, and consumed several of the workmen.

This fact is fearlessly stated, and believed by all; the only discrepancy in the narrative is that some maintain that flame burst from the interior of the temple, as the workmen were striving to force an entrance, while others say that the fire proceeded directly from the earth. In whichever way the phenomenon might have occurred, it is equally wonderful. A more tangible and still more extraordinary prodigy ensued; suddenly the sign of the cross appeared spontaneously on the garments of the persons engaged in the undertaking. These crosses were disposed like stars, and appeared the work of art. Many were hence led to confess that Christ is God, and that the rebuilding of the temple was not pleasing to Him; others presented themselves in the church, were initiated, and besought Christ, with hymns and supplications, to pardon their transgression. If any one does not feel disposed to believe my narrative, let him go and be convinced by those who heard the facts I have related from the eyewitnesses of them, for they are still alive. Let him inquire, also, of the Jews and pagans who left the work in an incomplete state, or who, to speak more accurately, were able to commence it.

Libanius

Libanius (~314 - 392/393), a Pagan author, wrote a contemporaneous account which adds the observation that some towns in Palestine and Syria were damaged. Ambraseys (2009) supplied an excerpt from Forster (1902)

As for us Antiochians, not one man survived, and the earthquakes which have happened bear witness to the evil: some cities in Palestine and Syria have been flattened in parts, others completely. It seems to us that the god is showing a great sign through great calamities.
Guidoboni et. al. (1994) suggest this passage comes from a eulogy Libanius delivered for Emperor Julian. It is unlikely that the Cyril Quake(s) produced heavy destruction in Antioch but it is impossible to tell from this brief passage if Libanius is conflating an earthquake near Antioch with the Cyril Quake(s) or if he is discussing the experience of expatriated Antiochians in Syria and/or Palestine.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Forster, R., 1902, De Libanio, Pausania, templo Apollinis Delphico. Album gratulatorium in honorem Henrici van Herwerden. Utrecht 1902, S. 45–54

Other sources

Guidoboni et. al. (1994) and Brock (1976) mention several other sources which provide commentary on the Cyril Quake. They are

Incorrect 362 date reported in older Scientific literature

Kagan et. al. (2011) dates the two earthquakes to ~362 CE and 363 CE. The 362 CE date is based on Ben-Menahem (1991) who misdated the earthquake to 24 May 362 CE - perhaps partly influenced by Sieberg (1932a) who dated the Cyril Quake(s) to June 362 CE without citing a source. A deep examination of the various textual accounts reveals that mistakes were made by early earthquake cataloguers in parsing the accounts leading to incorrect months and dates and likely years as well. Since these earthquakes appear to be well dated by contemporaneous sources to 363 efforts to unravel the source of this propagating catalogue dating mistake will not be pursued here. Russell (1980, p.52) relates that "the scholarly process by which 362 rather than 363 came to be the accepted date is difficult to ascertain".

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jerash - Hippodrome possible ≥ 8
3rd century CE Earthquake ?

  • E-W cross section of Hippodrome showing potential foundation problems from Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:142) report that the Hippodrome was used for quarrying by the late 4th century CE.
The hippodrome was already quarried for stone by the end of the 4th C. A number of its seat stones was used for rebuilding (repairing) a stretch of the city wall, which according to an inscription mentioning the event and its date took place in 390 (ZAYADINE 1981a, p. 346).

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:315) report evidence that potters and other craftsmen took over the structure starting at the end of the 3rd century CE. Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:142) suggested the possibility that an earthquake had damaged the structure to such an extent that it could no longer be used for racing.
It is clear that the SW part of the cavea had collapsed at a certain date and that once this happened no races could be held. This occurrence would best explain the reoccupation of and quarrying for stone in the hippodrome. There is no direct evidence for dating the collapse of that part of the cavea but it is tempting to associate it with the earthquake of 363 which affected many sites in Palestine and NW Arabia (RUSSELL 1985, p. 39, 42). This earthquake has not been attested at Jerash so far but the study of the earthquakes which affected Gerasa is only in its infancy.
The suggestion of seismic damage stemmed from earlier publications which was later revised by Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:150) where they state that the building ceased to serve the primary purpose [] because of the disintegration of a large part of its masonry and of the arena where the disintegration was caused by the extremely poor foundation of the structure. Foundation problems, including estimates of foundation pressures, are discussed in detail in Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:157). An E-W cross section of a part of the Hippodrome (see top) illustrates potential foundation problems where an uncompacted fill of variable thickness lies underneath the majority of the structure - something which could have easily led to differential settlement. Although foundation problems appear to be present, this does not preclude the possibility that seismic damage contributed to the demise of the Hippodrome as a racing facility. As Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) were unaware of the mid 3rd century CE Capitolias Theater Quake, if Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:315) have correctly dated occupation of the structure by potters and other craftsmen to the end of the 3rd century CE, the possibility exists that the Hippodrome was damaged by an earthquake sometime in the 3rd century.

Heshbon possible ≥ 8
Stratum 11 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 4th century CE - possibly Cyril Quake

Mitchel (1980:181) noted that a destruction of some sort tumbled the wall on the east side of the great stairway, signaling the end of the latter's useful life. The destruction was interpreted to be a result of one of the 363 CE Cyril Quakes. Mitchel (1980:193) suggested the source of the tumble was most probably the retaining wall at the east margin of the stairs (D.3:16A). Mitchel (1980:181) also suggests that this earthquake destroyed the Temple on the acropolis; noting that it was never rebuilt as a Temple. Numismatic evidence in support of a 363 CE earthquake destruction date was obtained from Locus C.5:219 where an Early Byzantine soil layer produced a coin of Constans I, A.D. 343 providing a closing date for Stratum 11 (Mitchel, 1980:195). However, Mitchel (1980:195) noted the presence of an alternative hypothesis where Sauer (1973a:46) noted that a 365/366 coin would suggest that the rock tumble and bricky rei soil of Stratum 6 should be associated with a 365 earthquake. Mitchel (1980:195) judged this hypothesis as untenable citing other numismatic and ceramic evidence. In a later publication, Sauer (1993:255-256) changed his dating assessment of the strata which appears to align with Mitchel (1980)'s original assessment.

Storfjell (1993:109-110) noted that damage appeared to be limited at Tall Hesban during this earthquake

Although evidence for the AD 363 earthquake was found at Hesban, it could only be identified in a few rock tumbles in various areas of the tell. Following the earthquake there was no large scale construction, neither domestic nor public. The earthquake, which was severe at other sites (Russell 1980) probably did little damage at Hesban.
That said, if Mitchel (1980:193) is correct that a retaining wall collapsed on the monumental stairway, unless it was tilted and at the point of collapse beforehand, it's collapse suggests high levels of local Intensity.

Kedesh indeterminate
Earthquake(s) after the 3rd century CE

Fischer et al (1984) examined a Temple at Kadesh which, based on inscriptions and architectural decorations, was presumed to have been in use in the second and third centuries CE. Noting that there were indications that the Temple appeared to have been destroyed by an earthquake, they speculated that the Temple was damaged by the northern Cyril Quake.

Some of the masonry courses of the east facade are clearly shifted out of line (PI. 27: I), and a similar disturbance is evident in the keystones above the two side entrances. This could have been caused by an earthquake some time in the past. One likelihood is the devastating earthquake of May 19, 363 C.E. that affected the entire region, from northern Galilee to Petra and from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan Valley (Russel 1980; Hammond 1980).
...
Although it is still difficult to determine when the temple was abandoned, there are indications that it was destroyed by an earthquake, possibly the one that struck the region on May 19, 363 C.E
Schweppe et al (2017) reiterated that Fischer et al. [1984] suggest that the temple was destroyed by an earthquake on May 19, 363 C.E.. They further stated that unearthed ceramics and coins show that the temple was abandoned after the earthquake. This last quote does not refer to any part of Fischer at al (1984) and its source or whether it is a paraphrase is unknown.

While the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE could have damaged the Temple, other seismic events - in particular the mid 8th century CE earthquakes - could have also damaged the Temple or caused additional damage.

Hippos Sussita probable ≥ 8
363 CE earthquake

Wechsler, N., et al. (2018) report the following archeoseismic evidence at Hippos

The destruction of the Roman Basilica built in the center of the city at the end of the 1st century CE is clear evidence for the 363 CE earthquake judging by the archaeological data (Eisenberg, 2016; Segal, 2014a). The latest coins found in-between the fallen architectural fragment and the basilica floor are dated to 362 CE while the floor built above its debris is dated to the 380s CE. It is possible that some of the later, strong, post-abandonment earthquakes caused some additional damage at the site.
Press reports (Science Daily) also indicate the discovery of the skeleton of a woman with a dove-shaped pendant under the tiles of a collapsed roof in an area north of the Basilica which was attributed to the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. A Topographic or Ridge Effect appears to be present at the site.

Gush Halav possible
End of Stratum VI Phase b Earthquake - Debated Chronology

Meyers, Strange, Meyers, and Hanson (1979) report strong evidence for destruction at the end of VIb due to the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Their discussion of archeoseismic evidence follows:

Therefore a second phase - VIb - of Late Roman occupation, after this seismic event, is postulated. This second Late Roman phase is also terminated by an earthquake, no doubt in A.D. 362. The coin evidence for this terminus is extremely illuminating, inasmuch as the earliest preserved surfaces of the western corridor contain coins which may extend at the latest until A.D. 365. Equally important, the ceramic repertoire from VIb corresponds precisely to that of Meiron Stratum IV and Khirbet Shema Stratum IV. In other words, there is a clear continuity in the ceramic tradition here, unmistakably late Roman. Whereas Stratum VIa contains many 3rd-century Middle Roman forms, these forms virtually disappear in VIb.

Stratum VII, representing the Byzantine period, thus begins after the 362 earthquake and is characterized by significant localized repairs made within the building.
Their misdating of the Cyril Quake to 362 AD is a mistake frequently found in older papers. Their mention of coins from the Western corridor extending "at the latest until 365 AD" is somewhat problematic as this coincides with the date of the Crete Earthquake of 365 AD. The epicenter of this earthquake was too far away to have produced archeoseismic damage at Gush Halav so this will be left as a numismatic mystery which does not infringe badly on their chronology. The biggest potential problem with their chronology is it 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. While she 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 AD. Strange (2001) and Meyers (2001) went on to rebut Magness (2001a) to which Magness (2001b) responded again.

Netzer (1996) reviewed the original archaeological reports and although he agreed with the original dating of the material remains, he concluded that only one synagogue was constructed at Gush Halav and it was constructed in the first half of the 4th century CE. He further concluded that the seismic destruction of this synagogue dates to the 551 CE Beirut Quake. He did not interpret destruction in 363 CE that left a mark in the material remains.

Eric M. Meyers in Stern et al (1993) also discussed this earthquake
The second building period thus witnessed no major modification [for] the plan of the building. However, stratigraphic assessment of the data indicates quite clearly that great effort was made to reinforce corners, stylobates, and walls. The debris buildup in the western corridor in particular demonstrates how soon after the great 363 CE earthquake the basilica was reused. Many architectural fragments were then reused, and a smaller bema replaced the earlier and larger one on the southwest interior of the southern facade wall.

Meiron possible ≥ 8
End of Stratum IV Earthquake - Debated Chronology

Eric M. Meyers in Stern et al (1993) summarized Meiron's history as follows

The population grew steadily from Late Hellenistic times but especially after the wars with Rome; its most productive era was the third and fourth centuries CE; its economic orbit was northern, oriented toward the port of Tyre; conditions from the period of Gallus Caesar (351~352 CE) to the great earthquake of 363 CE conspired to create a situation that resulted in systematic abandonment
Russell (1980) suggested that the site may have been destroyed by the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE; as well as abandoned. A thick destruction layer was found in multiple rooms of the lower city ( Site M I ) as well as the northern suburb of the city ( Site M II ). Further, in what the excavators believed was a store room of the so-called 'Patrician House', they discovered crushed storage jars still containing remnants of stored food. The stored food was interpreted by Eric M. Meyers in Stern et al (1993) as follows
A strange fact came to light when the small finds (a bell and a sickle) and the food remains (identified as nuts, wheat, barley, and beans) from the Patrician House were examined. The food was placed in the storage jars in a charred and inedible state, inside a sealed room with no convenient access. On one of the storage jars the word "fire" was carved, while on another an inscription read "belonging to Julia (or Julian)." Apparently, the room had been a deposit area for a pious individual or family-possibly descended from the line of priests who settled in Meiron after the destruction of the Temple. The finds and food had been dedicated to the Lord as heqdesh (consecrated items) and hence purposely rendered unusable-the foods by charring, the bell by not having a clapper, and the sickle by not having a handle. The contents of this house undoubtedly reflect the religious views of the people who lived here.
Coin and pottery evidence apparently dates this abandonment to ~360 CE (Meyers and Meyers, 1978). Meyers, Strange, and Groh (1978) report that in the stratum of interest (III) no stratified coins were found dating to after 360 CE.

Magness (2012) redated the chronology of the original excavators. Her analysis is repeated in its entirety in Magness and Schindler (2015). This analysis redated construction of the houses to "the second half of the fourth century and first half of the fifth century, which means that occupation ended a full century later than the excavators believe." This was based on coin and ceramic evidence. In particular, Magness and Schindler (2015) identified some post 363 CE coins and ceramics as not intrusive which the original excavators viewed as intrusive.

Khirbet Shema possible
1st Earthquake - Debated Chronology

Although excavators Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) identified two earthquake events ( Eusebius' Martyr Quake of ~306 CE and Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE) which destroyed a Synagogue I and then a Synagogue II at Khirbet Shema, subsequent authors ( e.g. Russell, 1980 and Magness, 1997) re-examined their chronology and redated the earthquake evidence. Russell (1980) redated the two earthquake events to the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE and the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE while Magness (1997) concluded that there was no solid evidence for the existence of a Synagogue I on the site and evidence for an earthquake event in ~306 CE was lacking. She posited that Synagogue II was constructed in the late 4th to early 5th century CE and concluded that there was no solid evidence for the 419 CE (or 363 CE) earthquake as well. In Magness (1997) interpretation of the evidence, she suggested that the site had been abandoned when an earthquake brought down Synagogue II sometime before the 8th century CE.

Two sealed loci at the site provide a terminus post quem for the construction of Synagogue II. The latest coin found within a Bema was dated to 337-341 AD during the rule of Constans. The bema was described as "absolutely sealed by the stonework of the bema around and over it" where "contamination by later intrusions is virtually impossible" (Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange 1976:34). A declivity in the northwest corner of Synagogue II contained fill which was "sealed beneath more than a meter of debris, including large fallen architectural members" (Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange 1976: 34). Pottery within the fill below was described as homogeneous Middle-Late Roman. At the lowest levels a coin from Gratian (who ruled from 367-383 AD) was discovered. Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) interpreted the construction above the declivity to be part of a remodel. If we consider that construction above the declivity could also represent original construction, the terminus post quem for the construction of Synagogue II is between 337 and 383 AD. It is conceivable that Synagogue II was constructed over earthquake damaged remains of an earlier structure due to the presence of "battered architectural fragments built into Synagogue II (including those identified as belonging to the "Torah shrine") (Magness, 1997:216) however, as pointed out by Magness (1997) the provenance of these battered elements is unknown. They could come from another building. Nevertheless, this can be considered as possible archeoseismic evidence which predates the construction of Synagogue II. As for the causative earthquake(s), the Eusebius' Martyr Quake of ~306 AD and the Cyril Quake of 363 AD are both possibilities. Two other fills were examined (east and west of the Stylobate wall) but neither were sealed and neither added chronological precision to the construction of Synagogue II.

Beth She'arim possible ≥ 8
End of Phase III Earthquake (mid-4th century CE) - Destruction could be due to an earthquake or a rebellion or both

Mazar (1973) and Nahman Avigad and Benjamin Mazar in Stern et al (1993) dated a collapse, destruction, and burnt layer to the Jewish rebellion in 351 CE against Gallus Caesar. Russell (1980) suggested that this destruction layer was due to the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Erlich (2018), reporting on renewed excavations that began in 2014, reports that the town was destroyed in the mid-4th century CE, perhaps by the 363 CE earthquake. Erlich (2021), reporting on the same renewed excavations, stated that it is impossible to determine the exact date and circumstances of the town’s destruction and decline in the mid-fourth century CE.

en-Nabratein possible
End of Phase IIIb Earthquake - Debated Chronology

Meyers, et al. (2009) performed excavations of what they labeled Synagogue 2 at en-Nabratein. They subdivided the life of this structure into two phases of Period III (Late Roman, A.D. 250-350/363)

Period Age Date Phase
I Early Roman 1-ca. 135 CE ‎Period I is pre-synagogue, but it does have structural remains related to those of subsequent periods
II Middle Roman ca. 135 - ca. 250 CE ‎(Synagogue 1)
III Late Roman ca. 250-363 CE
IIIa Late Roman ca. 250-306 CE ‎(Synagogue 2a)
IIIb Late Roman ca. 306-363 CE ‎(Synagogue 2b)
IV Byzantine and Early Arab ca. 564-700 CE (Synagogue 3)‎
Meyers et al (1982) dated Period III phase a using ceramics and some coins and end phase a with the Eusebius' Martyr Quake of ~306 AD which they believed damaged the synagogue and led to rebuilding. The rebuilding effort initiated Period III phase b. The end of Period III phase b is not precisely dated with material remains. Ceramics and "an irregular supply of coins dating up to ca. 350 A.D." provide the earliest possible date for the end of Period III phase b. The authors state that the end of Period III phase b "is perhaps to be understood as a combination of factors, mainly the revolt against Caesar Gallus (A.D. 350-52), general economic hardships, and the great earthquake of A.D. 363". By the 7th decade of the 4th century AD, the authors consider the site to have been virtually abandoned until a third synagogue was established towards the end of the Byzantine era in A.D. 564; according to an inscription.

Magness (2010) examined the reports of Meyers, Strange, and Meyers (1982) paying attention to stratigraphic levels and chronological information and concluded that the first (and only) Synagogue built on the site occurred "no earlier than the second half of the fourth century, and point to occupation and activity precisely during the centuries when the excavators claim the site was abandoned." A coin of 341-346 from the east wall and pottery suggests a terminus post quem of the second half of the 4th century for the synagogue's construction. Other evidence leads to a terminus ante quem of the second half of the 5th century or later (mid 6th century). There is also the inscription which states that the synagogue was built or remodeled in 564 AD (Magness, 2010). Meyers and Meyers (2010) rebutted Magness (2010) analysis of the stratigraphy and chronology discussing intricate details of sloping bedrock, lensed stratigraphy, later disturbance of the site, the coin of 341-346 not being in the wall but in earthen fill, etc. etc.

Capernaum possible
363 CE Earthquake - Debated Chronology

Numismatic evidence from various strata revealed that a synagogue in Capernaum was built in the late 4th or early 5th centuries CE (Loffreda, 1972, Loffreda, 1973, and Chen, 1986) note. The synagogue was built on an artificial platform that was itself on top of the remains of an earlier village (stratum a). Chronology was established after construction of the synagogue but not before leaving the timing and cause for the underlying village to be in remains unanswered - at least not definitively. Russell (1980) speculated that the village was damaged or destroyed by the northern Cyril Quake of 363 AD citing numismatic evidence to bolster his case.

After publications by Loffreda (1972) and Loffreda (1973), there was opposition to the dating of the construction of the synagogue at Capernaum to the late 4th or early 5th century AD. Opposing scholars dated these synagogues later with Magness (2001) supporting a 6th century CE date for it's construction.

Magdala possible ≥ 8
4th century CE earthquake

de Luca and Lena (2014:126) reported that buildings were found in a state of collapse due to the 363 CE earthquake. de Luca and Lena (2014:139) dated a collapse layer in the harbor to the 363 CE earthquake.

For causes yet unknown, the harbor basin was silted by 45–60 cm lacustrine sandy deposits covered by conglomerates of gravel (Units 3–4) typical of beaches areas, rich in mollusc shells and byoclasts (in particular melanopsis are copious). The imbrication of clasts, principally oriented eastwards and only partially toward the west, reveals the strongest water motion, typical of upper beach/foreshore environment. The potsherds from the conglomerates date back to the Middle-Late Roman (3rd century A.D.) period and give a terminus post quem for its formation (cf. Figs. 10 and 20 - see above). On this layer of pebbles, probably due to the earthquake of 363 A.D., there was the collapse of the elevation of the eastern portico to which several architectural elements – voussoirs, worked wall stones, corbels – belong. A great quantity of fragments of wall plasters with traces of paintings in vermilion red hues, burned ochre, yellow ochre, copper green, black and Egyptian blue, have been uncovered in context with pieces of ochre, red and caeruleum pigments, as well as coins and potsherds from the 3rd–4th century A.D.

Close to the southern area, the collapse was levelled and covered with crushed and pressed limestone of an Early Byzantine-Islamic building that was probably the service quarter of the monastery. The Byzantine structures were completely destroyed, greatly looted and consequently covered by a layer of pebbled, deposited by the lake which had dramatically risen toward the middle of the 8th century A.D., almost certainly due to the effect of the earthquake of 749 A.D..

Samaria-Sebaste possible ≥ 8
3rd-7th century CE Earthquake - Appears to suffer from chronological imprecision - NEEDS INVESTIGATION (by me)

While reports by Reisner, Fischer, and Lyon (1924: 218), Crowfoot, Kenyon, and Sukenik (1966:137-38), and Russell (1980) suggests evidence of seismic destruction, it seems that that this potential destruction can only be narrowed down to sometime between the 3rd and 7th century CE.

Bet She'an possible ≥ 7
363 CE earthquake

Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) report that

The collapse of the roof of the Bet She'an odeum and the partial destruction of the theater were attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. A major wave of construction in the city center is thought to be related to earthquake damage (Foerster and Tsafrir 1988:18, 15-32; Foerster and Tsafrir 1992a:11-12; Foerster and Tsafrir 1992b; Foerster 1993; Atrash 2003:VI; Mazor and Najjar 2007:14,17,55-56,70,187).
Tsafrir and Foester (1997:108-109) discussed the 363 CE earthquake at Bet She'an
The excavations have shown that Scythopolis was damaged by the famous earthquake of the year 363 c.E. Beshan is mentioned as partly destroyed in a Syriac manuscript [Letter attributed to Cyril] that gives a list of the ruined settlements in Palestine by name. The excavations support the information given in the source that the city was only partially destroyed. The damage has been discerned mainly through the rebuilding of several Roman monuments in various locations at the site. The stratigraphy, the similar character of the rebuilding, and the distribution of ruined or renovated monuments all over the city center have led us to the conclusion that the monuments were damaged at the same time, most likely by an earthquake. The reconstruction of the monuments after the earthquake was somewhat inferior to the original second-century construction, but the classical character of the restoration proves that the classical tradition was still alive in the late fourth century.

The fate of each individual monument, whether restored or left in ruins, is significant, as the act of reconstruction and the extent of investment in each of the public buildings reflect the order of priorities of the citizens, the city council, the provincial administration, and the metropolitan bishop.104
...
The nymphaeum, next to the temple, was severely damaged during the earthquake and then rebuilt "from the foundations" by the governor (archon) Artemidorus, the περίβλεπτος (spectabilis) comes. This information is supplied by a monumental inscription incised on the decorated architrave above the podium in the central niche of the nymphaeum.110 The date of the rebuilding is unknown, but the fact that the inscription is adorned by crosses shows that it could not have been incised before the mid-fourth century.

Footnotes

104 An inscription on a large limestone slab was found near the theater (the original provenience is unclear) with an inscription saying that the city was renovated (άνενεώθη) in the days of the Metro(politan) Ablabius; Mazor, ESI 6 (1987-88), 22. The text refers to the restoration of the city (ή πόλις) in general; thus it is reasonable to connect it with the restoration of buildings in Scythopolis after the earthquake of 363 G.E. If the title of Ablabius means that he was the metropolitan bishop of the province of Palaestina Secunda (not to be confused with the governor, Taurus Syncletius Ablabius, mentioned in another inscription), we have an indication, dated no earlier than the foundation of the province in the late 4th or early 5th century, of the involvement of church leaders in municipal matters.
110 For the inscription of the nymphaeum, see Foerster and Tsafrir, ESI 6 (1987-88), 27-28. Artemidorus' high rank of peribleptos or spectabilis suggests that he was the governor of Palestine before its division into three parts and the foundation of Palaestina Secunda. As he was active around 400 (and no later than 404; see below), we may conclude that the division of Palestine took place some time between 400 and 409, the date of the edict mentioning the three Palestines (CTh 7.4.30). The date given by Malalas, Chronographia 13 (ed. Dindorf, 347), that relates this reorganization of Palestine to the days of Theodosius I (379-395 c.E.) seems, therefore, too early. Still, it is possible that Artemidorus gained his high rank for his personal virtues, with no relation to his appointment in a province of lower status, but such an interpretation seems to us less likely.

Shechem and enrirons - Tell er-Ras probable ≥ 8
363 CE Earthquake - Well dated

Bull and Campbell (1968:4-6) reported on excavations at Tell er-Ras, which is located on a north trending ridge off the peak of Mount Gerizim and overlooks Tell Balata (ancient Shechem). There they encountered the remains of a Temple Complex dedicated to Zeus which they suggested was built during Emperor Hadrian's visit to Palestine around 130 CE.

Adjacent to Wall 12,000 which surrounded Buildings A and B (presumed to be part of the Zeus Temple Complex), Bull and Campbell (1968:15-17) encountered six cisterns. They excavated three. At the bottom of Cistern II, a 0.15 meter thick layer of black silt was overlain by a 0.2 meter thick layer of compact fine grey silt. These two silty layers, containing a large quantity of pottery, glass fragments, coins, and other artifacts, were overlain by an apparent destruction layer - 1.10 m of loose grey earth containing architectural fragments, vaulting, and building stones. 43 dateable coins were recovered from the two silty layers in Cistern II ranging in age from Severus Alexander (222-235) to Julian II (360-363) - providing a terminus post quem of 360 CE for the destruction layer. Cisterns I and VI exhibited similar stratigraphy to Cistern II.

Bull and Campbell (1968:16) noted that the cisterns abutted and post dated Wall 12,000 which had been part of the Zeus Temple Complex. Bull and Campbell (1968:6) also reported that late and often confusing Samaritan records indicate that the Temple to Zeus was in ruins by the time of Julian II (360-363) indicating that the cisterns likely fell into disuse and began to silt up prior to 363 CE.

Ma’ayan Barukh Historical Background n/a
Inscription for Temple restored by Julian II

Negev (1969) published a description of an inscription regarding a restored Temple which he interpreted as attributing the restoration to Emperor Julian II (aka Julian the Apostate). Julian's name is not specifically mentioned but possibly referred to as Romani orbis liberatori. An analogue to another inscription in Italy was used to hypothesize that this referred to Julian. Language in this inscription found at Ma’ayan Barukh was also compared to other inscriptions attributed to Julian which Negev (1969) used to further bolster the case that the inscription found at Ma’ayan Barukh refers to Julian. Julian's reign was characterized by restorations of a number of Pagan Temples; some of which had been previously damaged by zealous Christians earlier during the 4th century CE. If Julian is referred to in the inscription, the use of the title "Pontifici maximo" dates the inscription to some time after the summer of 362 CE as Julian did not use that title earlier in his reign (Negev, 1969).

Anz Historical Background n/a
Inscription for Temple restored by Julian II

Ambraseys(2009) reports

Another inscription from ‘Anz in the southern Hauran states that another temple was restored by Julian (Littman 1910, 108/no. 186).
This inscription is recorded in ILS (Inscriptiones Latinae Selecta) vol. 3 #9465

Caesarea possible
Cyril Quake - 363 CE - tenuous evidence

Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) examined "a large hoard of 3,700 copper coins found in the excavations of" what may have been a synagogue. They describe the discovery of the coin hoard as follows:

In 1962, during the excavations at Caesarea, Avi-Yonah unearthed a large hoard containing 3,700 copper-alloy coins, in a building that he identified as a synagogue. The latest coins in the hoard date to 361 CE, suggesting that the synagogue was destroyed by the 363 CE earthquake.
...
The finds from the excavation were only partially published. Much of the information, such as locus numbers, is not always clear and the exact location of the hoard is not marked on a plan or described by Avi-Yonah. Nevertheless, his written descriptions clearly state that the hoard was found in the building and the strata are fairly well defined. A photograph shows Avi-Yonah in the building during the excavation kneeling next to the in situ hoard (Fig. 1).
The coins were found in Stratum IV. The original excavator (Avi-Yonah) "gave no reason for the destruction of Stratum IV." In discussing evidence for seismic destruction in Caesarea, Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) provide the following:
None of the excavations revealed large scale damage in Stratum IV: "there is no evidence of wholesale destruction across the site, especially since the wall lines are still mostly intact based upon photographic record. Yet not much remains of the structure either in stratum IV or stratum V" (Govaars et al. 2009:132). After the earthquake debris was cleared, the synagogue was rebuilt. Stones from the previous synagogue were reused for the building of the stratum V synagogue, but the hoard was not found until Avi-Yonah's excavations. Govaars wrote "the direct relationship of the coin hoard to a structure is uncertain and, therefore the coin evidence cannot be used to date the still unknown structure" (Govaars et al. 2009:42). This is a somewhat peculiar statement considering the coins were found in the synagogue and are on the whole well preserved, homogeneous and well dated. Avi-Yonah was convinced that the hoard was directly related to the Stratum IV building: "The fact that a hoard of 3,700 bronze coins was found in the ruins of the synagogue itself that were buried in 355/356 AD indicates that this synagogue was built in the end of the third or the early fourth century, and was destroyed in the mid fourth century AD" (Avi-Yonah 1964:26 n. 5).
...

Evidence at Caesarea

The subject of earthquakes and tsunamis has been partially reviewed by several archaeologists who directed or participated in the excavations at Caesarea. None of the monumental buildings across the site revealed earthquake damage that dates to the fourth century CE.

The report of remains from the excavations of the Promontory Palace at Caesarea, dated between the early fourth century and early sixth centuries, does not mention destruction levels (Levine and Netzer 1986:176-184). In other excavations, the Roman and Byzantine-period warehouses and granaries (horreum) gradually fell into ruin over a considerable period. Neither the main streets, pavements, sewage and water systems, the theater, amphitheater nor the stadiums of the Late Roman and Byzantine periods show signs of destruction that suggested earthquake damage (Humphrey 1974:32; Porath 1996:114-120; Porath 2003 and Porath [pers. comm.]).

If the town was partially damaged or destroyed in the 363 CE earthquake, as the Harvard Syriac letter [i.e. the letter attributed to Cyril] describes, then other than the large coin hoard, the earthquake left no clear, tangible evidence. The damage was cleared and buildings were repaired or rebuilt. Although none of the archaeological reports mentions earthquake damage, several reports clearly describe the abandonment and/or the rebuilding of public buildings in the second half of the fourth century CE. None of the authors provided a reason for their destruction or abandonment.

Tectonic evidence such as collapsed columns, thick piles of debris or warped walls are elusive throughout the fourth century architecture of Caesarea. Why is this typical earthquake damage missing? Are the written sources and the numismatic evidence sufficient proof of the 363 CE earthquake in Caesarea? It is important to note that among the various violent, politically motivated upheavals that took place in the second half of the fourth century, one of the main candidates explaining destruction at archaeological sites is the Gallus Revolt (352 CE). However, none of the sources that describe this revolt mention Caesarea Maritima (Geller-Nathanson 1986:34)
1,453 coins from the hoard of coins were identifiable by mints and dates. They ranged in age from 315 CE to the first quarter of the 5th century CE. 110 of these coins ranged in age from 364 - 421 CE and post dated 363 CE. The bulk of the hoard, however, were struck between 341 and 361 CE. The authors noted that 11 of the post 363 CE coins may have been intrusive. An explanation for the other 99 post 363 CE coins was based largely on a comparison to a similarly dated coin hoard in Qasrin. The authors opined that the many coins from Julian II shows that the coins could not have been concealed before 355 CE ruling out the Gallus Revolt (352 CE) as a cause for the loss of the hoard. On the whole, this numismatic evidence for the Cyril Quake striking Caesarea seems tenuous however since Caesarea was mentioned as being partly ruined in Cyril's letter, it merits inclusion in this catalog.

Masada possible ≥ 8
2nd - 4th century CE Earthquake

Netzer (1991:655) reports that a great earthquake [] destroyed most of the walls on Masada sometime during the 2nd to 4th centuries CE.

In an earlier publication, Yadin (1965:30) noted that the Caldarium was filled as a result of earthquakes by massive debris of stones. Yadin concluded that the finds on the floors of the bath-house represent the last stage in the stay of the Roman garrison at Masada. The stationing of a Roman Garrison after the conquest of Masada in 73 or 74 CE was reported by Josephus in his Book The Jewish War where he says in Book VII Chapter 10 Paragraph 1

WHEN Masada was thus taken, the general left a garrison in the fortress to keep it, and he himself went away to Caesarea; for there were now no enemies left in the country, but it was all overthrown by so long a war.
Yadin (1965:36)'s evidence for proof of the stationing of the Roman garrison follows:
We have clear proof that the bath-house was in use in the period of the Roman garrison - in particular, a number of "vouchers" written in Latin and coins which were found mainly in the ash waste of the furnace (locus 126, see p. 42). Of particular importance is a coin from the time of Trajan, found in the caldarium, which was struck at Tiberias towards the end of the first century C.E.*
The latest coin discovered from this occupation phase was found in one of the northern rooms of Building VII and dates to 110/111 CE (Yadin, 1965:119)**. Yadin (1965:119) interpreted this to mean that, this meant that the Roman garrison stayed at Masada at least till the year 111 and most probably several years later. Russell (1985) used this 110/111 coin as a terminus post quem for the Incense Road Earthquake while using a dedicatory inscription at Petra for a terminus ante quem of 114 CE. Masada may be subject to seismic amplification due to a topographic or ridge effect as well as a slope effect for those structures built adjacent to the site's steep cliffs.

Footnotes

*Yadin (1965:118) dated this coin to 99/100 CE - This would be coin #3808 - Plate 77 - Locus 104 - Caldrium 104 - Square 228/F/3

**perhaps this is coin #3786 which dates to 109/110 CE - Plate 77 - Locus 157 - Building 7 Room 157 - Square 208/A/10

Jerusalem - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jerusalem - Robinson's Arch debated
363 CE Earthquake - Debated Chronology

Russell (1980) reported that

Excavations in Jerusalem revealed a domestic structure just south of the pier of "Robinson's Arch" (Mazar, 1975: 247, Mazar, 1976: 36-38). Numerous coins were recovered from beneath the rubble and ash that marked the destruction of this house. The latest of these dated to the reign of Julian II. Mazar interpreted this destruction as probable evidence of Jewish preparations for the reconstruction of the Temple.
The Constantinian structures near the Western Wall may have been destroyed by Jews who, encouraged by Julian, began preparations for the reconstruction of the Temple—which project came to nought upon the emperor's death (Mazar 1976: 38).
However, Russell (1980) noted that the location of the structure to the side of Temple Mount rather than on it suggests that the destruction was more likely due to the Cyril Quake than Jewish preparations to rebuild the Temple.

Brock (1976) citing Mazar(1971 - in Hebrew) noted that an inscription quoting Isaiah 66:14 was found in the same area and suggested it was associated with the Temple rebuilding project. However, The New encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land Supplementary Volume 5 (2008) - Reich and Billig notes that
A Hebrew inscription citing Isaiah 66:14 was discovered by B. Mazar on one of the stones of the western wall. Mazar dated it to the mid-fourth century CE, the days of Julian the Apostate. However, it may now be understood as having been directly related to the cemetery, and should thus be dated to around the eleventh century CE.
Gibson (2014) proposed that archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake of 363 AD was in fact discovered during the excavations by Mazar and states the following :
What is the date of the stone collapse near Robinson’s Arch?

A full publication of the stone collapse unearthed by Mazar has still not been made, so we still do not know what ceramics and coins were found between the ashlars and the fallen debris. However, Mazar excavated a building adjacent to Robinson’s Arch (Building 7066, the “bakery” in Area VII) and it was built immediately on top of ruined walls from the Second Temple period (Mazar(1971:20-21)). This structure reportedly had two building phases, the first from the Late Roman period, and the second from the beginning of the Byzantine period. The latter building was burnt in a fire and on the basis of numismatic finds its destruction was dated by Mazar to the time of Julian’s death in 363 CE. The excavation of this building has now been fully published by Eilat Mazar (2011, 145-183). The bulk of the coins (more than 200 of Constantius II, with a few of Julian II) seem to indicate a termination of the building in 363 CE at the time of the earthquake (see further on this, below). The few coins from this building which happen to post-date 363 appear to be intrusive or perhaps they represent squatter activities in the area in the aftermath of the earthquake. The fact that the foundations of this bakery and the adjacent bath-house to its north (Mazar 2011, 1-83) do not seem to have encroached much on the Herodian street, does suggest that the position of this street was taken into account by the architects of these two building complexes during the major planning and construction activities in this area c. 120 CE (see more on this in Weksler-Bdolah, 2014 a; idem 2014 b). Therefore, the Early Roman (Herodian) stone-paved street was maintained as a thoroughfare in the Late Roman period as well, with a slight build-up of soil surfaces and fills in places, and with the construction of channels and various other small features, as was noted by the excavators. Hence, I would suggest that the massive collapse of the marginal-drafted stones from the western Temple Mount wall down on to the surface of the paved street does not date to 70 CE, as so many previous commentators have suggested, but to the time of the earthquake of 363 CE instead.

Hence, I would argue that the massive stone collapse seen today above the level of the Early Roman (Herodian) street pavement just north of Robinson’s Arch, is the direct result of this devastating earthquake and is not evidence of a deliberate destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 CE as has hitherto been claimed.
Gibson (2014) noted the similarity of the fallen stones north of Robinson's Arch accompanied by destruction of nearby domestic structure(s) to the description in Historia Ecclesiastica by Socrates Scholasticus (in Notes) that
a mighty earthquake tore up the stones of the old foundations of the temple and dispersed them all together with the adjacent edifices.
Gibson (2014) argued further that the massive stone collapse just north of Robinson’s Arch contained pilaster stones which had likely been upright and standing in 325 CE when Christian builders imitated them in supporting pillars that have been found from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the church over the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the church at Mamre near Hebron. This would add further evidence that this massive stone collapse occurred during the Cyril Quake of 363 AD rather than due to Roman destruction during the seige on the second Temple in 70 CE [5].

Leen Ritmeyer countered in a blog pointing out that underneath the fallen Herodian stones was a thin layer of destruction debris that contained many Herodian coins supporting the original interpretation that these stones were pushed over the wall by Roman Troops after the Second Temple burned. He summarized his counter argument while making reference to an illustrated cross section
cross section


If the earthquake of 363 AD did destroy the Western Wall, where is the evidence? The heap of fallen Herodian stones is only three meters (10 feet) high. No stones were ever added on top of this, as this Roman destruction was covered by a late Roman bath house and Byzantine street level and drain. The Roman floor level was later covered over by the floor of an Umayyad palace. If the Western Wall was destroyed in 363 AD, then a large pile of stones would have been found on top of the Roman bath house and Byzantine street level which would have been completely destroyed, but no sign of this was found.

Jerusalem - Givati Site probable ≥ 8
363 CE Earthquake - Well dated

Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets (2013) excavated a large peristyle building of the Late Roman period located to the south-west of the Temple Mount in the Givati site of the City of David. Ben Ami et al, 2013) dated its construction to the third century CE based on a coin found in one of its walls. The coin was a provincial Roman coin from the reign of Diocletian (Alexandria mint) of the year 285 CE. This provided a terminus post quem for the foundation of the building (Ben Ami et. al. (2013)). The building collapsed violently with scores of coins buried under the collapse in various rooms dated to no later than 361 CE providing a terminus post quem for the destruction (Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets, 2013).

Ghor-es-Safi (ancient Zoara) definitive
363 CE Earthquake

Three tombstones discovered in Ghor-es-Safi (Byzantine Zoara) provide an explicit date for the southern Cyril Quake. All three tombstones state that the victims died during the earthquake. Collective chronological information is presented below:

  • All three tombstones specified a date of 28 Artemisios which corresponds to 18 May/
  • All three tombstones specified a year of 258 of the era of Province Arabia which spanned from 22 March 363 to 21 March 364 CE (using CHRONOS).
  • Two tombstones specified Monday as the day of the week. The other tombstone did not specify a day of the week. Since 18 May 363 CE fell on a Sunday and 19 May 363 CE fell on a Monday (using CHRONOS), the day of the week from the Safi tombstones may be incorrect. This is not unusual. Meimaris and Kritikakou (2005:51) noted that 47 out of 151 epitaphs at Ghor es-Safi specified a day of the week that was incompatible with the date. Further, they noted that these incongruities [] are more frequent from the early fourth until the early fifth centuries.
Specifically, the tombstones say that
  • Siltha and Kyra died during the earthquake on 28 Artemisos (18 May). The day of the week was not specified.
  • Obbe died during the earthquake on a Monday on 28 Artemisos (18 May).
  • Samakon died during the earthquake on a Monday on 28 Artemisos (18 May).
The Letter attributed to Cyril states that the earthquake struck on 19 Iyyar (i.e. 19 May) on a Monday. There is a potential discrepancy of one day with the tombstones at Safi if we rely solely on dates (18 May vs. 19 May) and there is no discrepancy if we rely on day of the week (Monday vs. Monday). For the Letter attributed to Cyril, which used an A.G. Calendar, a new day began at sundown as is the standard for that calendar. Perhaps, for the Era of Province Arabia calendar used in Safi, the new day began at midnight as would be the case for the Julian Calendar. The Era of the Province Arabia calendar was, after all, a calendar which was introduced by the Romans in 106 CE and the Romans used the Julian calendar. If this is the case, then the 18 May date specified in Safi indicates that the first earthquake which the Letter attributed to Cyril says struck at ~930 pm (3rd hour of the night) and did the most damage in Jerusalem was the same earthquake that killed people in Safi. In the Julian Calendar, this first earthquake struck on the night of 18 May. If this is the case, then the southern Cyril Quake struck first (~9:30 pm on 18 May 363 CE) followed by the northern Cyril Quake which struck at ~3:30 am (9th hour of the night) on 19 May 363 CE.

Aphek-Antipatris possible ≥ 7
Byzantine Earthquake - 4th-5th century CE

Karcz and Kafri (1978: 244-245) reported that tilted and distorted walls and subsiding arches were encountered in the excavations of the Byzantine town of Antipatris (Aphek) which led Kochavi (1976) and Kochavi (personal communication to Karcz) to attribute the end and decay of the town to the earthquake of 419 AD. In his preliminary report on excavations Kochavi (1975) reported that very little was uncovered in the Early Byzantine Period and suggested that Byzantine Antipatris, as a city of any importance, probably came to its end around the beginning of the 5th century B.C.E. while Kochavi (1981) reports that the entire city of Antipatris was destroyed by an earthquake in 419 CE. Golan (2008) does not present any earthquake evidence but mentions that Kochavi thought that the city was destroyed by the Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

The fact that most of the coins dated to the second half of the fourth century CE suggests that the cardo may have been abandoned at the beginning of the Byzantine period, which seems to corroborate the excavators’ conclusions (Kochavi 1989) that assumed the city was destroyed in the year 363 CE.
The latest coins reported by Kochavi (1975), apparently come from the Early Byzantine level, dated to Constantine the Great (308-337 C.E.), Constantius II (337-361 C.E.), and Arcadius (395-408 C.E.).

Jones (2021) added
Caution must be exercised in interpreting the numismatic data, however, as the ceramic fords included PRS 3 forms dating to the mid-5th-6th century (Golan 2008: fig. 5.5-6). More troubling is the apparent presence of `Mefjar ware' (i.e. Islamic Cream Ware), which dates no earlier than the late 7th century (see Walmsley 2001), in the `earthquake stratum' (Neidinger 1982: 167). This may indicate multiple destructions, but without more complete publication of the excavations, this is difficult to evaluate. It is, however, worth noting the presence of a bishop of Antipatris at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 (Dauphin 2000; Frankel and Kochavi 2000: 23, 31). This may be explained, as Fischer (1989: 1806) suggests, by assuming that the role of Antipatris `was filled with a great number of smaller settlements' like Khirbat Dhikrin (Zikrin) after the 418/419 earthquake, but it is equally likely that Antipatris was simply not abandoned in the early 5th century.

Avdat/Oboda possible ≥ 7
Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

Tali Erickson-Gini in Stern et al (2008) provided some information on the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

In 1999–2000 an area located east of the Byzantine town wall and the north tower at Oboda was excavated on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
...
Some structural damage, probably resulting from the 363 CE earthquake, is evident in the blockage of a few doorways and the collapse of one of the rooms (rooms 4, 7, 17).
one room of the earlier structure appears to have been utilized in the fourth century CE (room 7), and it apparently collapsed in the 363 earthquake.

the numismatic and ceramic evidence uncovered in this third phase indicate that the dwellings were destroyed in a violent earthquake several decades after that of 363 CE. Following this second, local earthquake, the area was abandoned and many of the building stones were robbed.
Intensity was downgraded one unit because of possible ridge effect.

Haluza possible ≥ 8
1st Earthquake - late 3rd - mid 6th century CE - perhaps around 500 CE

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) surmised that the first earthquake struck in the Byzantine period between the end of the 3rd and the mid-6th centuries A.D.. Citing Avraham Negev, they discussed this evidence further

Negev (1989) pointed out that one earthquake, or more, shattered the towns of central Negev between the end of the 3rd and mid-6th centuries A.D.. Literary evidence is scarce, but there is ample archeological evidence of these disasters. According to Negev a decisive factor is that the churches throughout the whole Negev were extensively restored later on. Negev found at the Haluza Cathedral indications of two constructional phases. One room of the Cathedral was even not cleaned after an event during which it was filled with fallen stones and debris from the collapsed upper portion of a wall. In the other room the original limestone slabs of the floor had been removed but the clear impression of slabs and ridges in the hard packed earth beneath suggests that they remained in place until the building went out of use (Negev, 1989:135).

The dating of the discussed ancient strong earthquake may be 363 A.D., as has been concluded for other ancient cities around Haluza, e.g. Avdat37, Shivta38, and Mamshit39. However, Negev (1989:129-142) noticed inscriptions on walls and artifacts.
The inscriptions Negev noticed were discovered at Shivta which Negev (1989) discussed as follows:
A severe earthquake afflicted Sobata [aka Shivta].
...
The epigraphic evidence of Sobata may help in attaining a close as possible date both for the earthquake and for the subsequent reconstruction of the North Church. One of these inscriptions, that of 506 A.D., is clearly a dedicatory inscription of a very important building, which justified the participation of a Vicarius, a man of the highest rank, in the dedication of this building. This inscription was not found in situ. However, there is no question about the inscription of A.D. 512, in which year the mosaic floor of one of the added chapels was dedicated by a bishop and the local clergy. It is thus safe to assume that the whole remodeling of the North Church began in the first decade of the sixth century.
Although Negev (1989) and Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) suggested the Fire in the Sky Earthquake of 502 CE as the most likely candidate, its epicenter was too far away to caused widespread damage throughout the region. This suggests that the causitive earthquake is unreported in the historical sources - an earthquake which likely struck at the end of the 5th or beginning of the 6th century CE. This hypothesized earthquake is listed in this catalog as the Negev Quake.

En Hazeva possible ≥ 8
Earthquake from 324 CE to early 6th century CE - possibly Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

Coins below collapsed arches in Room 45 provide an apparent terminus post quem of 324 CE while coins above an associated floor date from the first half of the 4th century to the early 6th century CE. Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes (2019) discussed the 4th century earthquake as follows:

Three phases of construction and occupation were identified in the camp (Erickson-Gini 2010:97–99). The camp appears to have been built around the time that the Diocletianic fort was constructed on the tell, in the late third or early fourth century CE. It was devastated in the earthquake of 363 CE, which damaged the bathhouse and the fort as well. The camp was subsequently reconstructed and remained in use until the sometime in the sixth century CE.

The 2003 Excavation

Room 45

A north–south wall (W785), running through the center of the room was exposed to its full length. The wall was made up of pilasters and collapsed arches over a layer of dark soil and ash (Figs. 6, 7). Coins discovered under the arches included a Roman Provincial coin from the third century CE (IAA 97941), coins of Licinius I (320 CE; IAA 97946) and Constantine I (324 CE; IAA 97937), and a Late Roman coin from 324 CE (IAA 97936).

The soil over the Room’s floor (L300/L303) contained coins, mainly from the fourth century CE, attributed to both the first phase of the structure (late third or early fourth century to the earthquake of 363 CE) and its second phase (from 363 CE until the early sixth century CE). These included coins of Arcadius (383 CE; IAA 97942) and Theodosius (379 CE; IAA 97940), as well as several other Late Roman coins of the early fourth century CE (IAA 97939, 97944, 97945, 97947, 97948). A Late Roman coin from 346 CE was recovered on the surface of the site elsewhere in the structure (IAA 97949).

Room 53

According to the 1994–1995 field notes by Y. Kalman, Area E supervisor, Room 53 was filled with collapsed debris, stone slabs that were used for roofing, arch stones and other building stones. The structure probably collapsed in the 363 CE earthquake.

The 2009–2010 Excavations

The wall running down the center of the structure and dividing it into two (W578; Fig. 14)—probably a stylobate or a foundation for a series of arches—appears to have been constructed in the second, post-363 CE phase of the camp. This wall is essentially an extension of W785, running down the center of Room 45. This suggests that the original gatehouse was blocked, probably after it was damaged in the earthquake, and the entrance to the camp was removed to a different location.

Mampsis possible ≥ 8
First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

Negev (1974) dated the first earthquake to late 3rd/early 4th century via coins and church architectural styles however he dates construction of the East Church, where some archaeoseismic evidence for the first earthquake was found, to the 2nd half of the 4th century CE. Given this apparent contradiction, I am labeling the date of the first earthquake at Mamphis as "Early Byzantine ?".

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) characterized this as a strong earthquake with an epicenter at the north, and an EMS-98 scale intensity of IX or more with an epicenter some distance away

Kamai and Hatzor and Kamai and Hatzor (2007) estimate Intensity of ~7 - 8 based on DDA of a dropped keystone in an arch in Mampsis.

Yotvata possible to unlikely
Excavators view earlier destruction layer to be due to military activity rather than an Earthquake

Davies et al (2015) excavated a Roman Fort at Yotvata from 2003-2007. A monumental Latin inscription discovered earlier (1985) outside of the east gate suggests that the fort at Yotvata was built when Diocletian transferred the Tenth Legion Fretensis from Jerusalem to Aila in the last decade of the third century. Two destruction layers were described after establishment of the fort - a burned layer and a collapse layer. The authors noted that the first phase of Roman occupation at our fort, which is associated with coins that go up to ca. 360, ended with a violent destruction evidenced by intense burning throughout. Reconstruction is said to have occurred immediately after this destruction as documented by a series of successive floor layers throughout. The cause of the burned layer was not established but the authors suggested a a possible connection with the Saracen revolt against Rome led by Queen Mavia, ca. 375–378 noting the documented successes of her forces against Roman field armies and that the inclusion of former foederati among her troops suggest that her forces would have been capable of taking and destroying the fort at Yotvata. Whatever the specific cause, the excavators strongly believed that human agency rather than the southern Cyril Quake of 363 AD was the general cause noting that there was no visible evidence of structural damage or a collapse layer. One of the excavators, Gwyn Davies (personal communication, 2020) noted that

We are confident that the fort was destroyed in a violent attack as we encountered signs of intense burning across most contexts and, even more suggestively, the stone frame of the main gate was fire-seared as well. If the fire had been more localized and associated with signs of toppling collapse, then ‘natural causes’ may have been more persuasive or, indeed, that this represented an accidental destruction. Instead, the evidence suggests to us that the fort was put to the torch quite deliberately
Another of the excavators, Jodi Magness (personal communication, 2020) related the following
In addition to the lack of evidence of visible structural damage that could be attributed to an earthquake in the earliest destruction level, the absence of whole (restorable) pottery vessels and other objects in that level suggests an earthquake did not cause the destruction, as one would expect these artifacts to be buried in a sudden collapse. Therefore, we attributed the destruction by fire to human agents.
As for the collapse layer, it is dated to after the abandonment of the fort in the late 4th century.

Petra - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater probable ≥ 8
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake - Major Collapse - High levels of Intensity indicated

Russell (1980) reports that during the 1961-1962 seasons,

Hammond (1965:13-17) found evidence of 4th century AD architectural collapse while excavating the Main Theater. From the stratigraphic evidence and the recovery of two coins of Constantine I (ruled 306 - 337 AD) and one of Constantius II (ruled 337-361 AD), he was able to date this event to the mid 4th century.
Hammond (1964) labeled the destruction period as Period IV noting that
In this period the scaena and its stories, blockade walls, the tribunalia(e), and other built parts of the Theater were all cataclysmically destroyed.

Petra - Khubtha Cliff possible
Cave abandonment could be due to an Earthquake

Zayadine, F. (1973) excavated on the western slope of Khubta Cliff; uncovering a small dwelling in a cave in "Area A". Inside the cave, Zayadine (1973), found objects dated to the beginning of the 4th century AD noting that "it was tempting to consider that the cave was abandoned after an earthquake."

Petra - Temple of the Winged Lions possible ≥ 8
363 CE Earthquake

Although the Phase X destruction layer was initially misdated to the Crete earthquake of 365 CE, Hammond (1980) later acknowledged this as a mistake. The corrected correlation of the Phase X destruction layer would then be to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. See also Area I near the Temple of the Winged Lions. Jones (2021) noted that

Ward (2016: 144) has pointed out that the evidence for dating the major destruction to 363 is quite limited, although this is still the most reasonable date for this destruction.
It should be noted, however, that the reason that the evidence for dating the major destruction to 363 is quite limited may be because a final report on the excavation was never published before the deaths of Hammond and Russell.

Petra - Near Temple of the Winged Lions probable ≥ 8
363 CE Earthquake

During the seasons of 1975-1977, Hammond (1978) excavated at a location north of the Cardo Maximus and encountered some chronologically precise archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake(s). Ken Russell served as one of two supervisors on these excavations and provided a detailed account of the archeoseismic evidence encountered in his article from 1980. In the 1976 and 1977 seasons at what was termed the "middle house" structure of Area I, Russell (1980) reports the discovery of a destruction layer containing numerous domestic articles such as lamps, shattered ceramics and glass, spindle whorls, and coins. In Room II, a hoard of 85 bronze coins was discovered of which 45 were identifiable. All 45 identifiable coins were minted during the reign of Constantius II who ruled from 337-361 AD. Further, 40 of these 45 coins were identified as being minted after 354 AD. This coin evidence provided a terminus post quem - i.e. the earliest possible date of destruction was between 354 and 361 AD. This points to the southern Cyril Quake as the probable cause of the destruction layer in the "middle room" in Petra.

Petra - Qasr Bint possible ≥ 8
3rd-4th century CE Earthquake

Tholbecq et al (2019:36-37) attributed a destruction layer (see Figures 11 and 12) to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE based on excavations of the western Temple Staircase (peribola) in Zone F of Qasr al Bint. The dating is approximate - to the 3rd or 4th century CE - apparently based on pottery fragments (North African Sigillata) and oil lamps. Colluvium atop the destruction layer suggests partial abandonment of the site after the destructive earthquake.

Petra - Wadi Sabra Theater possible ≥ 8
Phase 4 earthquake - Late Roman/Early Byzantine - not precisely dated

Tholbecq et al (2019) reports destruction of the northern masonry of the orchestra during this phase. They deduce that this event (earthquake?) occurs shortly after the late Roman period, or even during this period.

Petra - Jabal Khubthah possible ≥ 8
End of Phase 2 Earthquake - 4th century CE ? - Dating difficulties

Fiema in Tholbecq et al (2019) acknowledged difficulties in dating this presumed seismic destruction but suggested that the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE was responsible.

Petra - The Great Temple possible ≥ 8
Phase IX Earthquake - 4th century CE

Joukowsky (2009) attributed the Phase IX earthquake to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

Petra - Pool Complex possible ≥ 8
Phase V Earthquake - 4th century CE

Bedal et al (2007) report seismic destruction in Phase V as follows:

The architectural elements of the pool complex suffered serious damage in the mid-4th century AD, most likely a result of the well-documented earthquake of 363 AD. The upper courses of the pavilion walls collapsed into the pool, forming a dense layer of large stone rubble in a reddish-brown sandy matrix overlying the Phase IV fill (trench 1) (Fig. 24 ). In the south-west corner, stones falling from the South Wall and the Great Temple's East Perimeter Wall formed a similar destruction layer (Fig. 23 ).
Bedal (2003:79) entertained the less likely possibility that the observed destruction was due to decay rather than seismic forces.
While it is possible that this destruction resulted from neglect and structural decay over a long period of time, it more likely that the island-pavilion fell victim to the major earthquake of 363 CE that caused irreparable damage to many of the major monuments at Petra and destruction throughout the region (Russell 1980; 1985:42; Amiran et al. 1994:265). 74
Bedal (2003:79) dated Phase V seismic destruction to the 4th century CE unlike Bedal et al (2007) who dated it to the mid 4th century CE.

Petra - Roman Street possible ≥ 8
4th century CE earthquake - some seismic effects appear to be speculative

Kanellopoulos (2001:16) speculated that a partial collapse of the upper story of Room 28 was caused by the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Fiema (2008) further speculates that in the area of the Colonnaded Street, damage must have included shifted walls, collapsed columns and arches, and a damaged pavement. Fiema (2008) added that the [collonaded] street area appears to have been only partially rebuilt after the earthquake and that subsequent constructions were erected on the sidewalk with reused material, such as column drums, and even inscribed blocks. adding that the drums used in the construction of these structures indicate that at least some parts of the colonnade had fallen down and were not restored. Fiema (1998:398) also discussed archaeoseismic evidence uncovered from previous excavations.

The disastrous earthquake which affected Petra on May 19, AD 363 (Russell 1980), would have spelled the end to some of the shops, or at least seriously limited their function. The shop excavated by Parr was definitely abandoned then, displaying a layer of destruction debris - Phase XV (Parr 1970: 366-368).

Petra - NEPP site possible
363 CE Earthquake

Fiema and Schmid (2014:429) suggest that Structure 2 in the NEPP area was destroyed by the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Fiema and Schmid (2014:429-430) suggest that Structure 1 in the NEPP area was destroyed by the 363 earthquake, but later restored although in much altered form and appearance with final destruction and abandonment taking place afterwards, perhaps sometime in the early 5th century. They suggest final destruction and abandonment may have been due to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.

Petra - ez Zantur probable ≥ 8
363 CE Earthquake - well dated and identified as seismic destruction

Stucky (1990:270-271) discovered two skeletons (a woman and child) along with 65 bronze coins between the woman's ankles thought to come from a purse which was attached to her belt. These were found beneath a destruction layer (collapsed roof and masonry) in Room 1 of area EZ 1 in Ez-Zantur. The coins dated from 336 - 361 CE providing a strong chronological correlation to severe earthquake damage in Petra due to the southern Cyril Quake. Bedal et al. (2007) also excavated the Ez-Zantur domestic complex at Petra. They identified a destruction layer composed of architectural elements of the pool complex of Ez-Zantur which they attributed to the southern Cyril Quake. Pottery fragments in the layer below the destruction layer were dated from the 1st to 4th century AD.

Kolb et al (1998) offered the following regarding chronology of earthquakes at ez-Zantur

EZ IV: The Nabataean "Villa"

The Last Phase of Occupation

Household objects such as a basalt hand mill, two bone spoons, an alabaster pyxis and a number of unidentifiable iron objects, as well as large quantities of ceramics and glass vessels of the fourth century AD lay buried on the pavement, along walls H and K, beneath innumerable fragments of stucco from the wall and ceiling decoration (see below for the contributions of D. Keller and Y. Gerber). The datable objects confirm last year's findings from room 2, where the coins indicated that the end of the final phase of occupation came with the earthquake of 363 AD (Kolb 1997: 234).

The thick layer of mural and moulded stucco fragments on top of the household utensils of the fourth century proves beyond any doubt that the Nabataean decor remained on the walls up till the aforementioned natural catastrophe. 3
Seismic effects from Room 6 at ez-Zantur IV (EZ IV) included broken columns, debris, and a cracked flagstone floor under 6 carbonized wood beams which Kolb et al (1998) described as a witness to the violence with which the wood hit the floor. Also found in ez-Zantur IV were cracked steps which may have been seismically damaged. There were no indications from the article what lay below the steps and whether geotechnical factors could have played a role in cracking the steps. Kolb et al (1998) report that some structures at EZ IV were built directly on bedrock.

Kolb B. and Keller (2002:286) also discussed archeoseismic evidence at ez-Zantur for both an early 2nd c CE earthquake and the southern Cyril Quake
Stratigraphic excavation in square 86/AN unexpectedly brought useful data on the history of the mansion' s construction phases and destruction. The ash deposit in Abs. 2 with FK 3524 and 3533 provided clear indications as to the final destruction in 363. A further chronological "bar line" — a some-what vaguely defined construction phase 2 in various parts of the terrace in the late first or second century AD — received clear confirmation in the form of a thin layer of ash. The lamp and glass finds from the associated FK 3546 date homogeneously from the second century AD, and confirm the assumption of a moderately severe (not historically documented) earthquake that led to the structural repairs observed in various places and the renewal of a number of interior decorations.
Kolb and Keller (2000:366-368) discovered some glass lamps normally dated to a later time period associated with 363 CE debris.

Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 8
Pre-Monastic Phasing Destruction Event (IV) - 363 CE or an earthquake from around that time

In Appendix C of the Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan., one can find Pre-Monastic Phasing. Phase IV is listed as a destruction layer attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. However, if one considers the dates for the phases before and after Phase IV in Appendix C, it appears that other earthquakes are also plausible candidates such as the Aila Quake of the 1st half of the 4th century and the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. Some of the reasoning behind assigning a 363 CE date to this presumed seismic destruction was based on the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE being assigned to seismic destruction at other sites in Petra.

Petra - Petra Church possible ≥ 8
PEnd of Phase II earthquake - based on rebuilding evidence - 363 CE ?

Fiema et al (2001:18) surmised that Phase II ended with an earthquake based on rebuilding evidence discussed below:

The type of construction activity in Phase III [] included massive backfilling of certain spaces with material clearly originating from a demolition. Furthermore, there was seemingly no shortage of architectural elements - including doorjambs, drums, cornices and ashlars - which were reused. This evidence all indicates that Phase II ended in disaster and was followed by a period of intense restoration and construction. This hypothesis, combined with the available absolute dating, suggests that the earthquake of A.D. 363 is the best candidate for such a disaster. That earthquake is a historically documented, major natural calamity which beset Petra during the Byzantine period. The severity of its destructive power left numerous Nabataean and Late Roman period structures in ruins, e.g., the domestic structures at ez-Zantur, the Temple of the Winged Lions and Area I, the Theater, the Colonnaded Street area, and the Southern Temple. Afterwards, some buildings were either partially abandoned or never rebuilt. Whether the Phase II structures in the excavated area were seriously affected is not apparent, but it remains a possibility. At any rate, Phase II most probably represents the 3d century A.D. and the first half of the following century, ending in A.D. 363.
...
One telling indication that Phase III was initiated after a devastating earth tremor is the amount of reused stone material, presumably readily available after the disaster. In all the stone-tumble layers excavated in the interiors of the northern rooms and courts - almost 4 m deep - the number of reused doorjambs was simply astonishing. In total, 275 complete stones or recognizable fragments were retrieved from that area.
Dating for the end of Phase II was largely established from sounding 30 of the foundation course of Wall I (infra), which Fiema et al (2001:18) states certainly dates to Phase III. Fiema et al (2001:18) reports that two coins were found there, one unidentifiable, the other dated to A.D. 350-55.

Petra - Blue Chapel and the Ridge Church
363 CE earthquake - No evidence found

No evidence found. Bikai et al (2020:41) surmise that cleaning and restoration after the 363 CE earthquake may have removed evidence.

Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Aqaba/Eilat - Aila definitive ≥ 8
Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Thomas et al (2007) identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake V) in a collapse layer which they dated to the southern Cyril Quake. A terminus post quem of 360 CE for Earthquake V was established with coins and pottery.

Thin wall construction and surface layers produced pottery from the mid to late fourth century A.D. (similar types to Phase 2 described earlier). The latest pottery dates from about A.D. 360 onward (based on several examples of African Red Slip form 67, introduced ca. A.D. 360; Hayes 1972). However, over 100 coins were found on the final floor of this phase. The majority of these coins were found associated with the remains of a broken box in Room 2. The latest coins date to the reign of Constantius II who reigned from A.D. 337 to 361 (Parker 1999a) and provide a terminus post quem for this building phase.
They added
The very refined pottery and coin dates give a secure post A.D. 360 date for the Earthquake V event. The scarcity of post A.D. 360 pottery and the location of the coin hoard at the interface between occupation surface and collapse horizon indicate that this event cannot have occurred long after A.D. 360. We have interpreted this earthquake to be the historically attested earthquake of May 19, A.D. 363 (Russell 1980; Guidoboni 1994: 264-67).
Powers (2010) reports the following:
At the end of thetroubled third century, the Legio X Fretensis was transferred from Jerusalem to bolster Diocletian’s new Limes Arabicus, to the effect that the population increased substantially and the city emerged as a regional centre.61 A church was built in c. 300 – one of the oldest in the world – testifying to the early progress of Christianity in Palestine; it was apparently destroyed by the earthquake of 363 and subsequently covered by the new city wall. This stone and mud-brick wall was complete by the late fourth or early fifth century, suggesting something of the seriousness which the continued threat of Saracen raiding was taken.62

Footnotes

61 Parker, 1996: 234, 253; 2000: 392. Eusebius, Onomasticon, 6.17-21 (1904).
62 Parker, 2003: 332.

Beit-Ras/Capitolias possible ≥ 8
3rd-5th century CE Earthquake

The second earthquake is believed to have tilted the scaenae wall approximately 8 degrees to the north where the upper 2/3 of that wall is now missing. Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:8) suggest this event led to final abandonment of the theater as so much was left unrepaired. Later, an adjacent buttress wall was built providing a terminus ante quem for the second event. They dated this terminus ante quem to the 4th to 5th centuries CE. Sediment infill in the theater provides a second later terminus ante quem based on ceramics of Late Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad ages and radiocarbon dating of ash bands within the sediment infill which indicated that most of the sediment was deposited between 521 and 667 CE ( Al-Tawalbeh et. al., 2020:10). While their evidence strongly suggests earthquake damage, the dating of the causative event is unfortunately not well constrained. Al-Tawalbeh et al (2020) estimated a local intensity of 8-9.

Dharih possible
363 CE Earthquake - abandonment of Baths - dating info not presented

Durand (2015:14) attributes abandonment of A2 baths in Dharih to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Durand (2015:14) states that during the Byzantine era, around the 6th century, the bathing building was almost completely dismantled to recover building materials. Evidence in support of these dates was not presented in Durand (2015).

Khirbet Faynan possible
363 CE Earthquake - unpublished evidence

Jones (2021:Table 1) suggested that there may be archeoseismic evidence at Khirbet Faynan for the Southern Cyril Quake in Area 16, Terrace 3, local stratum 2a in as yet unpublished work. A preliminary report can be found at Levy et al (2012:430-435).

Khirbet Tannur possible ≥ 8
End of Period III Earthquake - 3rd-4th centuries CE

Period III ended when a violent earthquake undoubtedly destroyed [the] entire temple (Glueck, 1965:122). McKenzie et al (2013:47,62) date the end of Period III to the middle of the 4th century CE attributing Period III destruction to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. McKenzie et al (2013:159) used the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE as a terminus ante quem for some glassware that they concluded were of a 3rd or early to mid 4th century CE date indicating that they may have used the date of the 363 CE earthquake to refine dating of some artefactual remains rather than the other way around. Hence although they may be right that Period III ended in 363 CE, I am expanding the possible dates for this seismic destruction to the 3rd-4th centuries CE.

el-Lejjun probable ≥ 8
1st Earthquake - 355 CE - 384 CE

Lain and Parker (2006:130) established a terminus post quem of 355 CE in the aedes where architectural installations from a rebuild after the 1st earthquake included a new floor. Underneath the new floor was a layer which yielded Early Byzantine pottery and two coins dated to 330-340 CE and 355 - 385 CE. A terminus ante quem comes from Room A.13 where Lain and Parker (2006:149) report on a 0.25-0.33 m thick beaten earth floor which was constructed from fill and leveled after the first earthquake. In an intrusive pit (A.13.009), a coin hoard was discovered with 249 bronze coins all dated from 326 to 383-384. The latest coin (Coin #461) was an issue of Arcadius dated to 383-384 which provides a terminus ante quem of 384 CE. This earthquake appears to have struck between 355 and 384 CE indicating that it is probable that the southern Cyril Quake was responsible for the seismic damage.

Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible
Speculative evidence regarding a 363 CE earthquake

Clark (1987) identified some wall charring which could be earthquake related.

Stones of the adjacent barrack walls (H.2:001 and 002) were charred at this level. This may represent a localized fire or possibly extensive conflagration, perhaps the result of the 363 earthquake (note also the ash in H.1:012, 014, and 015). Ceramics from this ash were predominantly Late Roman IV to Early Byzantine, but a query is raised by a single sherd which may be Umayyad
Elsewhere in the vicus building, H.5., coins were found in the soil immediately overlying floor H.5:009 with the latest coin dating to 337-340 (Coin #52-H.5:014). There were no indications that occupation of this room extended beyond the mid-fourth century. Although no clear archaeoseismic evidence was reported in the vicus building, Clark (1987:488) speculated that abandonment of this room may have been related to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Jerash - Introduction



Jerash - Hippodrome



Heshbon



Kedesh



Hippos Sussita



Gush Halav



Meiron



Khirbet Shema



Beth She'arim



en-Nabratein



Capernaum



Magdala



Samaria-Sebaste



Bet She'an



Shechem and environs - Tell er-Ras



Ma’ayan Barukh



Anz



Caesarea



Masada



Jerusalem - Introduction



Jerusalem - Robinson's Arch



Jerusalem - Givati Site



Ghor-es-Safi (ancient Zoara)



Antipatris aka Aphek



Avdat



Haluza



En Hazeva



Mampsis



Yotvata



Petra - Introduction



Petra - Petra Theater



Petra - Khubtha Cliff



Petra - Temple of the Winged Lions



Petra - Near Temple of the Winged Lions



Petra - Qasr Bint



Petra - Wadi Sabra Theater



Petra - Jabal Khubthah



Petra - The Great Temple



Petra - Pool Complex



Petra - Roman Street



Petra - NEPP site



Petra - ez Zantur



Petra - Jabal Harun



Petra - Petra Church



Petra - Blue Chapel and the Ridge Church



Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction



Aqaba/Eilat - Aila



Beit-Ras/Capitolias



Dharih



Khirbet Faynan



Khirbet Tannur



el-Lejjun



Castellum of Qasr Bshir



Tsunamogenic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Dead Sea unlikely No physical tsunamogenic evidence from the Cyril Quake(s) has been conclusively identified in the Dead Sea. However, as discussed in the Commentariorum In Esaiam by Jerome in the Textual Evidence section of this catalog entry, Jerome apparently relayed oral reports coming from the town of Areopolis of a seiche in the Dead Sea generated by the Cyril Quake(s). Although Jerome mistakenly conflated these reports with tsunamis generated in the Mediterranean during the Crete Earthquake of 365 AD, Jerome's mistake is not a reason to reject this report and Geologists would be well advised to examine the Cyril Quake seismites for tsunamogenic evidence.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Dead Sea



Paleoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
al-Harif Syria possible ≥ 7
MW = 7.3-7.6
(based on 4.2 m of slip)
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).
Qiryat-Shemona Rockfalls probable 9 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 The Northern Cyril Quake is a good fit for Event CH4-E1 (Modeled Ages 294-369 CE) particularly as it relates to other events observed in these trenches. (Wechsler at al., 2014)
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a n/a
Dead Sea - ICDP Core 5017-1 possible 7 Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake. CalBP is reported as 1636 ±47. This works out to a date of 314 CE with a 1σ bound of 267-361 CE. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as an 11 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).
Dead Sea - En Feshka possible to unlikely 7.9-8.8 Kagan et. al. (2011) identified two seismites at En Feshka which might match with the Cyril Quakes of 363 CE although both seem a better fit for the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.
Top Depth (cm.) Thickness (cm.) Seismite Type Modeled Age (± 1σ) Modeled Age (± 2σ)
220 2 4 462 AD ± 54 452 AD ± 118
228 1 4 430 AD ± 58 422 AD ± 126
Dead Sea - En Gedi no evidence Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 419 CE date to 0.5 cm. thick seismite at a depth of 237 cm (2.37 m). Williams et. al.(2012) varve counted part of the same 1997 GFZ/GSI core that Migowski et. al. (2004) worked on and produced an estimate of varve count uncertainty based on distance from a well dated "anchor" earthquakes which in this case are the Josephus Quake of 31 BC and the Sabbatical Year Quake of 747/749 CE. These anchor quakes are between 329 and 394 years away from the Cyril Quake of 363 CE and/or the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. Assuming a worst case scenario of 394 years, the 8% varve count error estimated by Williams et al (2012) constrains Migowski et. al.'s (2004) 419 CE to +/-32 years - i.e. between 387 and 451 CE. Two conclusions can be drawn.

  1. Migowski et. al.'s (2004) varve count suggests they identified a seismite caused by the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.
  2. The Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE would not likely have masked or overprinted the Cyril Quake seismite of 363 CE indicating that the Cyril Quake did not produce a seismite in En Gedi. Simple calculations supporting this are shown below. This is consistent with Migowski et al (2004: Table 2) which did not list a 363 CE seismite being masked or overprinted by a 419 CE seismite.
Calculations

Migowski et al (2004) report the 419 CE seismite at a depth of 2.3716 m with a thickness of 0.5 cm. They report the ~175 CE seismite at a depth of 2.5562 m. A simple calculation reveals that in this part of the core, 1 cm. of sediment represents ~13 years of time. As 363 CE is 56 years earlier than 419 CE, it should be ~4 cm deeper and thus ~3.5 cm. below the bottom of the 0.5 cm. thick 419 CE seismite. It should not have been masked or overprinted.

Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim (ZA-1 & ZA-2) possible to probable 8.0-8.9 (ZA-1)

8.1-8.9 (ZA-2)
There has been an ongoing debate since the start of the millennium whether a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim should be assigned to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE or to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.

Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) assigned a 4 cm. thick Type 4 seismite dated to 358- 580 CE (± 2σ) and labeled as Event D in Nahal Ze 'elim (ZA-1) to the 363 CE Cyril Quake Seismite as did Williams (2004). Neither Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) nor Williams (2004) were aware at the time that the Cyril Quake was a result of two earthquakes with northern and southern epicenters; just that the damage reports were so widespread that it was doubtful that one earthquake could have produced so much destruction. Considering the possibility that textual reports overstated the damage, this cast significant uncertainty in determining which date to assign to the seismite. Williams (2004) estimated that that the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE was unlikely to produce sufficient shaking to form a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim which is why he rejected that earthquake for Event D. At the time, he was relying on Russell (1980) whose article suggested an epicenter north of the Sea of Galilee. This may not have been a good assumption. He also noted that at the time three authors (Abou Karaki (1987), Ben-Menahem et. al, (1981), and Galli and Galadini (2001)) had placed the epicenter of the 363 CE Cyril Quake to the south in the Araba. Other authors had estimated that the epicenter was in the north due to the many northern cities listed in Cyril's letter (Brock, 1977).

At ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 5 cm. thick intraclast breccia at a depth of 342 cm (Modeled Age ±1σ - 453 CE ± 67, ±2σ - 456 CE ± 86). to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. this appears to be the same seismite Ken-Tor (2001a) labeled as Event D at ZA-1. Kagan et al (2011) likely assigned a 419 CE date because it better fits with the modeled ages. Bookman (nee Ken-Tor) co-authored a paper in 2010 ( Leroy et. al., 2010) which maintained a 363 CE date for Event D.

Because Migowski et. al. (2004) had used varve counting in the En Gedi core to assign a seismite to the 419 CE earthquake rather than the 363 CE Cyril Quake, there was doubt whether the 363 CE Cyril Quake had created seismites in the Southern Dead Sea.

Because the southern Cyril Quake produced fatalities in nearby Ghor-es-Safi, Jordan (see Archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake), it seems likely that the southern Cyril Quake produced a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim however there is a significantly better radiocarbon match with the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE and thus the correct Quake assignment remains unresolved.
Araba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Araba - Taybeh Trench possible ≥ 7 LeFevre et al. (2018) might have seen evidence for this earthquake in the Taybeh Trench (Event E3 - Modeled Age 551 AD ± 264).
Araba - Qatar Trench possible ≥ 7 Klinger et. al. (2015) identified a seismic event (E6) in a trench near Qatar, Jordan in the Arava which they modeled between 9 BCE and 492 CE. The large spread in age caused them to consider two possible earthquakes as the cause; the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake and the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. They preferred the Cyril Quake of 363 CE based on weighing other evidence not related to their paleoseismic study and noted that further investigation was required.
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 dispalced aqueduct at al-Harif, Syria (close to Masyaf, Syria).



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)

The Northern Cyril Quake is a good fit for Event CH4-E1 (Modeled Ages 294-369 CE) particularly as it relates to other events observed in these trenches. (Wechsler at al., 2014)



Dead Sea - Seismite Types



Dead Sea - ICDP Core 5017-1

Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake. CalBP is reported as 1636 ± 47. This works out to a date of 314 CE with a 1σ bound of 267-361 CE. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as an 11 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).

See the following from Lu et al (2020b) regarding estimating intensity from turbidites:

Previous studies have revealed that the intensity threshold for triggering historic turbidites are variable in different regions and range from MMI V½ to VII½ (Howarth et al., 2014; Moernaut, 2020; Van Daele et al., 2015; Wilhelm et al., 2016). The intensity threshold constrained from the Dead Sea data (≥VI½) is situated in the middle of this range.

Previous studies in Chilean lakes have indicated that the (cumulative) thickness of historic turbidites across multiple cores correlates with seismic intensity, and can thus be used to infer paleo-intensities in this setting (Moernaut et al., 2014). However, in the case of the Dead Sea core 5017-1, there is a random relationship (a correlation factor of 0.04) between the thickness of prehistoric turbidites and seismic intensity (Figure 5a).


Dead Sea - En Feshka

Kagan et. al. (2011) identified two seismites at En Feshka which might match with the Cyril Quakes of 363 CE although both seem a better fit for the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.

Top Depth (cm.) Thickness (cm.) Seismite Type Modeled Age (± 1σ) Modeled Age (± 2σ)
220 2 4 462 AD ± 54 452 AD ± 118
228 1 4 430 AD ± 58 422 AD ± 126




Dead Sea - En Gedi

Migowski et. al. (2004) assigned a 419 CE date to 0.5 cm. thick seismite at a depth of 237 cm (2.37 m). Williams et. al.(2012) varve counted part of the same 1997 GFZ/GSI core that Migowski et. al. (2004) worked on and produced an estimate of varve count uncertainty based on distance from a well dated "anchor" earthquakes which in this case are the Josephus Quake of 31 BC and the Sabbatical Year Quake of 747/749 CE. These anchor quakes are between 329 and 394 years away from the Cyril Quake of 363 CE and/or the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. Assuming a worst case scenario of 394 years, the 8% varve count error estimated by Williams et al (2012) constrains Migowski et. al.'s (2004) 419 CE to +/-32 years - i.e. between 387 and 451 CE. Two conclusions can be drawn.

  1. Migowski et. al.'s (2004) varve count suggests they identified a seismite caused by the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.
  2. The Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE would not likely have masked or overprinted the Cyril Quake seismite of 363 CE indicating that the Cyril Quake did not produce a seismite in En Gedi. Simple calculations supporting this are shown below. This is consistent with Migowski et al (2004: Table 2) which did not list a 363 CE seismite being masked or overprinted by a 419 CE seismite.
Calculations

Migowski et al (2004) report the 419 CE seismite at a depth of 2.3716 m with a thickness of 0.5 cm. They report the ~175 CE seismite at a depth of 2.5562 m. A simple calculation reveals that in this part of the core, 1 cm. of sediment represents ~13 years of time. As 363 CE is 56 years earlier than 419 CE, it should be ~4 cm deeper and thus ~3.5 cm. below the bottom of the 0.5 cm. thick 419 CE seismite. It should not have been masked or overprinted.





Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim

There has been an ongoing debate since the start of the millennium whether a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim should be assigned to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE or to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.

Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) assigned a 4 cm. thick Type 4 seismite dated to 358-580 CE (± 2σ) and labeled as Event D in Nahal Ze 'elim (ZA-1) to the 363 CE Cyril Quake Seismite as did Williams (2004). Neither Ken-Tor et al. (2001a) nor Williams (2004) were aware at the time that the Cyril Quake was a result of two earthquakes with northern and southern epicenters; just that the damage reports were so widespread that it was doubtful that one earthquake could have produced so much destruction. Considering the possibility that textual reports overstated the damage, this cast significant uncertainty in determining which date to assign to the seismite. Williams (2004) estimated that that the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE was unlikely to produce sufficient shaking to form a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim which is why he rejected that earthquake for Event D. At the time, he was relying on Russell (1980) whose article suggested an epicenter north of the Sea of Galilee. This may not have been a good assumption. He also noted that at the time three authors (Abou Karaki, 1987, Ben-Menahem et. al, 1981, and Galli and Galadini, 2001) had placed the epicenter of the 363 CE Cyril Quake to the south in the Araba. Other authors had estimated that the epicenter was in the north due to the many northern cities listed in Cyril's letter (Brock, 1977).

At ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 5 cm. thick intraclast breccia at a depth of 342 cm (Modeled Age ±1σ - 453 CE ± 67, ±2σ - 456 CE ± 86). to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. this appears to be the same seismite Ken-Tor (2001a) labeled as Event D at ZA-1. Kagan et al (2011) likely assigned a 419 CE date because it better fits with the modeled ages. Bookman (nee Ken-Tor) co-authored a paper in 2010 ( Leroy et. al., 2010) which maintained a 363 CE date for Event D.

Because Migowski et. al. (2004) had used varve counting in the En Gedi core to assign a seismite to the 419 CE earthquake rather than the 363 CE Cyril Quake, there was doubt whether the 363 CE Cyril Quake had created seismites in the Southern Dead Sea.

Because the southern Cyril Quake produced fatalities in nearby Ghor-es-Safi, Jordan (see Archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake), it seems likely that the southern Cyril Quake produced a seismite in Nahal Ze 'elim however there is a significantly better radiocarbon match with the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE and thus the correct Quake assignment remains unresolved.



Araba - Introduction



Araba - Taybeh Trench

LeFevre et al. (2018) might have seen evidence for this earthquake in the Taybeh Trench (Event E3 - Modeled Age 551 AD ± 264).



Araba - Qatar Trench

Klinger et. al. (2015) identified a seismic event (E6) in a trench near Qatar, Jordan in the Arava which they modeled between 9 BCE and 492 CE. The large spread in age caused them to consider two possible earthquakes as the cause; the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake and the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. They preferred the Cyril Quake of 363 CE based on weighing other evidence not related to their paleoseismic study and noted that further investigation was required.



Notes

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References