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Cyril Quakes

May 18 and 19 363 AD

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

The Cyril Quake was likely a pair of strong earthquakes; one with a northern epicenter and another with a southern epicenter with the southern quake striking first (see Ghor-es-Safi in Archaeoseismic evidence). Ambraseys (2009), states that the first earthquake occurred on the night of Sunday May 18, 363 AD and the second quake followed on Monday May 19, 363 AD [1]. 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. Damage reports extend from southern to northern Palestine and from the Mediterranean coast to Petra with one author (Libanius - see Notes) 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, archeoseismic evidence supports widespead destruction. The primary historical sources for this earthquake were Christian theologians and apologists writing after a time of great strife. In 363 AD, Julian the Apostate was the Roman Emperor. He had renounced Christianity as the state religion and allowed the Jews of Israel to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed in 70 AD. However, right when they were about to start work on the foundation of the Temple, the earthquakes of 18 and 19 May 363 AD wrecked their efforts. Then Julian died a month later in June of 363 AD. Christian writers at the time took these as a sign of God's intent; i.e. displeasure with Julian as an Emperor and displeasure with Jewish efforts to rebuild the Temple which they thought was accursed. Reporting surrounding the earthquake appears to contain embellishments such as crosses appearing in the sky and on the bodies and clothes of bystanders, mysterious fires (also reported by the Pagan author Ammianus Marcellinus), 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), p. 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. Furthermore, Ambraseys (2009) suggests that some of the contemporaneous and later writers may have conflated effects of the Crete Earthquake of 365 AD with the Cyril Quakes.

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 Areapolis 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

The primary authors for these earthquakes are listed below:
Section
Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem
4th hymn against Julian by Ephrem Syrus
Fifth Oration Against the Pagans by Gregory of Nazianzusa
Artemii passio
Talmud
Res Gestae by Ammianus Marcellinus
Commentariorum In Esaiam by Jerome
Additional authors and longer passages from the primary authors are in the Notes section. Jump links to the authors in Notes are provided below:
Section
Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem
Historia Ecclesiastica by Socrates Scholasticus
Ecclesiastical History by Theodoret of Cyrus
Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724
Chronicon anonymum ad annum 846
Annals Part I by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Chronicle by Michael the Syrian
Chronicon anonymum ad annum 1234
Julian Romance
Commentariorum In Esaiam (Isaiah) by Jerome
Ecclesiastical History by Sozomen
Libanius
Other sources

Letter attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril was the Bishop of Jerusalem when the earthquake(s) of 363 AD struck. After the earthquake, Cyril or someone writing later in his name (i.e. attributed authorship) wrote a letter describing the earthquake and it's effects. This letter, originally written in Syraic, was translated by Brock(1977). Excerpts of this letter are shown below. The letter in its entirety can be found in the Notes section of this catalog entry.
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.

1 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.

...

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' (Areapolis or Archelais [2]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.
Cain and Lenski (2009) opine that the letter is probably not genuine and was likley composed in Syraic 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. Ambraseys (2009) and other authors convert 19 Iyyar of the year 674 of the Kingdom of Alexander the Great to Monday 19 May 363 AD. [3] Since the Greek Day began at sundown, the third hour would be roughly 9 pm and the ninth hour would be 3 am [4].

4th hymn against Julian by Ephrem Syrus

Ephrem Syrus wrote about this earthquake within a year of its occurrence (Cain and Lenski, 2009). An excerpt from Ephrem's 4th hymn against Julian (originally composed in Syraic) is shown below. The full hymn is in the Notes section of this catalog entry.
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

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:
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 blast 3 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.
A larger section from the Fifth Oration is in the Notes part of this catalog entry.

Artemii passio

In 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.

Talmud

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

Russell (1980) examined the relevant passage in Commentariorum In Esaiam where additional earthquake damage is reported in Areapolis 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 mysterious Dead Sea Tsunami of 315 AD also contained a report of a Tsunami that was supposedly sourced from Areapolis.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location Status Intensity Comments
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a
Jerash - Hippodrome possible ≥ 8
Heshbon possible ≥ 8
Kedesh indeterminate
Hippos Sussita probable ≥ 8 Topographic or Ridge Effect appears to be present at the site
Gush Halav possible and debated
Meiron possible but debated
Khirbet Shema possible but lacking solid evidence
Beth She'arim needs investigation
en-Nabratein debated
Capernaum possible debated and not well established chronology - needs investigation
Samaria-Sebaste possible
Bet She'an possible ≥ 7 needs investigation
Schechem (Neapolis) definitive
Ma’ayan Barukh indeterminate
Anz needs investigation
Caesarea possible tenuous numismatic evidence included because Caesarea is mentioned in Cyril's letter
Masada possible ≥ 8 Damaging Earthquake dated to 2nd-4th centuries. 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.
Jerusalem - Introduction n/a n/a
Jerusalem - Robinson's Arch debated
Jerusalem - Givati Site definitive
Jerusalem - Conclusion n/a n/a
Ghor-es-Safi (ancient Zoara) definitive
Aphek-Antipatris possible ≥ 7 needs investigation
Avdat/Oboda possible ≥ 7 Intensity was downgraded one unit because of possible ridge effect
Haluza possible ≥ 8
En Hazeva possible ≥ 8 dated 324 CE - 6th century CE
Mampsis possible ≥ 8 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 but unlikely
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater probable ≥ 8 Major Collapse - high levels of local intensity indicated
Petra - Khubtha Cliff possible based on abandonment - archeoseismic evidence not presented
Petra - Temple of the Winged Lions possible ≥ 8
Petra - Near Temple of the Winged Lions probable ≥ 8
Petra - Qasr Bint possible ≥ 8
Petra - Wadi Sabra Theater possible ≥ 8 Late Roman/Early Byzantine Earthquake - not precisely dated
Petra - Jabal Khubthah possible ≥ 8 difficulties in dating
Petra - The Great Temple possible ≥ 8
Petra - Pool Complex possible ≥ 8 Phase V earthquake
Petra - Roman Street possible ≥ 8 some seismic effects appear to be speculative
Petra - NEPP site possible needs investigation
Petra - ez Zantur probable ≥ 8 well dated and identified as seismic destruction
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 8
Petra Church possible ≥ 8 End of Phase II earthquake based on rebuilding evidence
Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction n/a n/a
Aqaba - Aila definitive ≥ 8
Beit-Ras/Capitolias possible ≥ 8 Al-Tawalbeh et al (2020) estimated a local intensity of 8-9
Dharih possible - lacks definitive evidence
Khirbet Faynan needs investigation
Khirbet Tannur possible ≥ 8 McKenzie et al (2013) suggested that the End of Period III seismic damage was caused by the southern Cyril Quake
el-Lejjun probable ≥ 8
Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible speculative - largely based on charred stones


Jerash

Displaced Columns at Jerash Displaced Columns in the Oval Plaza at Jerash
Photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jerash English
Ǧaraš Arabic جرش‎
Gérasa Greek Γέρασα
Antioch on the Chrysorroas
Introduction

Jerash has a long history of habitation, flourished during Greco-Roman times, appears to have been mostly abandoned in the second half of the 8th century and was sporadically reoccupied and abandoned until Ottoman times when continuous habitation began anew. It is one of the world's best preserved Greco-Roman cities and has been studied by archeologists for over a century .

Notes and Further Reading
References

Zayadine, F. (ed.) (1986) Jerash Archaeological Project, 1981-1983. 1. Department of Antiquities: Amman. page 19

Kraeling, C. (1938) Gerasa: City of the Decapolis, American Schools of Oriental Research. - Crowfoot's report on the churches is in this text

Kraeling, C. (1938) Gerasa: City of the Decapolis, American Schools of Oriental Research. - another online copy

Crowfoot, J. (1929). "The Church of S. Theodore at Jerash." Palestine exploration quarterly 61(1): 17-36.

Moralee, J. (2006). "The Stones of St. Theodore: Disfiguring the Pagan Past in Christian Gerasa." Journal of Early Christian Studies 14: 183-215.

Ostrasz, A. A. and I. Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020). The Hippodrome of Gerasa: A Provincial Roman Circus, Archaeopress Publishing Limited.

A. A. Ostracz, ' The Hippodrome of Gerasa: a report on the excavations and research 1982-1987', Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Year 1989 66-1-4 pp. 51-77

Bitti M. C., 1986, The area of the Temple (Artemis/ stairway, Jerash Archaeological Project 1981-1983, I, Amman, pp. 191-192

Parapetti R., 1989b,Scavi e restauri italiani nel Santuario di Artemide 1984-1987, .’Jerash Archaeological Project vol.II,.

Parapetti R., Jerash, 1989a, (AJH 188). The sanctuary of Artemis, in Homès-Fredericq and J.B. Henessy (eds), Archaeology of Jordan II.1 Field Reports. II.1 Surveys and Sites.

Parapetti R., Jerash (AJH 188). The sanctuary of Artemis, in Homès-Fredericq and J.B. Henessy (eds), Archaeology of Jordan II.1 Field Reports. II.1 Surveys and Sites A-K

Jacques Seigne publications at www.persee.fr

Rasson, A.-M. and Seigne, J. 1989, ‘Une citerne byzanto-omeyyade sur le sanctuaire de Zeus.’Jerash Archaeological Project vol.II, 1984-1988, , SYRIA 66: 117-151.

Seigne J., 1989, Jérash. Sanctuaire de Zeus, in Homès-Fredericq and J.B. Henessy (eds), Archaeology of Jordan II.1 Field Reports. II.1 Surveys and Sites A-K.

Seigne, J. (1993). `Découvertes récentes sur le sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash,' ADAJ 37: 341-58.

Seigne, J. (1992). `Jerash romaine et byzantine: développement urbain d'une ville provinciale orientale,' SHAJ 4: 331-43.

Seigne, J and T. Morin (1993). Preliminary Report on a Mausoleum at the turn of the BC/AD Century at Jerash,' ADAJ39: 175-92.

Seigne, J. et al. (1986). `Recherche sur le sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash Octobre 1982- Décembre 1983,' in JAP I: 29-106.

Jacques Seigne (1997) De la grotte au périptère. Le sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash Topoi. Orient-Occident Year 1997 7-2 pp. 993-1004

Jacques Seigne (1985) Sanctuaire de Zeus à Jerash (le) : éléments de chronologie Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Year 1985 62-3-4 pp. 287-295

Seigne, J. et al. (2011) Limites des espaces sacrés antiques : permanences et évolutions, quelques exemples orientaux

Rasson, A.M. and Seigne, J. et al. (1989), Une citerne byzantino-omeyyade sur le sanctuaire de Zeus Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Year 1989 66-1-4 pp. 117-151

Agusta-Boularot, J. et al. (2011), Un «nouveau» gouverneur d'Arabie sur un milliaire inédit de la voie Gerasa/Adraa, Mélanges de l'école française de Rome Year 1998 110-1 pp. 243-260

Gawlikowski, M. and A. Musa (1986). The Church of Bishop Marianos.

Lichtenberger, A. and R. Raja (2018). The Archaeology and History of Jerash 110 Years of Excavations.

Kehrberg, I. (2011). ROMAN GERASA SEEN FROM BELOW. An Alternative Study of Urban Landscape. ASCS 32 PROCEEDINGS.

Kehrberg-Ostrasz, I. and J. Manley (2019). The Jarash City Walls Project: Excavations 2001 – 2003: Final Report, University of Sydney.

Ina Kehrberg and John Manley, 2002, The Jerash City Walls Project (JCWP) 2001-2003 : report of preliminary findings of the second season 21st september - 14th october 2002, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 47

Savage, S., K. Zamora, and D. Keller (2003). "Archaeology in Jordan, 2002 Season." Am. J. Archaeol. 107: 449–475.

Archeology in Jordan II, 2020

The Islamic Jerash Project

DAAHL Site Record for Jerash

Notes - mid 8th century CE Earthquake from Kraeling (1938) and others

  • Ecclesiastical complex at Jerash including the Church of St. Theodore from Moralee (2006)
Kraeling, C. (1938:173)
The transfer of the capital from Damascus to Baghdad, the growing insecurity of the country, and a series of disastrous earthquakes led ultimately to the desertion of the place. In the nature of the case we cannot say precisely when this happened. Fractured stones, tumbled columns and many signs of hastily interrupted activities are evidence of the earthquake shocks. Coins and other datable objects show that there was life here until the middle of the eighth century at least and probably longer. In 1122 A.D. William of Tyre mentions the city as having been long deserted, and though it was then reoccupied for a short time, Yaqut describes it as again deserted in the next century.
Kraeling, C. (1938:260)
Church of St. Theodore - Atrium

The west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks. It ran alongside a small street which formed the western limit of the complex. A triple entrance only approximately in the center of this wall led into an entrance hall which was paved with mosaics, and from this three long steps descended into the open court. The court had porticoes on three sides only, the north, east and south: the columns in the porticoes had Ionic capitals. Some of the columns may have been moved here from the Fountain Court when it was reconstructed.
Kraeling, C. (1938:282)
Churches of St. John the Baptist, St. George and SS Cosmas and Damianus

2. The atrium. The atrium was rhomboidal in plan, much longer from north to south than from east to west. On the east side there was a colonnade of 14 Corinthian columns on a low stylobate. The columns, many of which were obviously displaced, vary in diameter, and the capitals found in this area are very miscellaneous in character (Plate XLVI, b). The colonnade apparently never reached beyond the central doors in the parecclesia, but the walk was continued as shown in the plan (Plan XX XVII). The walk was paved with red and white mosaics of which little remains; enough is preserved, however, to show that there were different patterns in front of each church. Before the final desertion of Gerasa the atrium and colonnade, like those in St. Theodore’s and St. Peter’s, were occupied by squatters who built walls in front of and between the columns; the pottery, glass and bronze articles found in their rooms suggest that the place was finally abandoned in haste, possibly after the earthquake in 746 A. D. This occupation explains the disappearance of the steps leading into the churches and the condition of the atrium mosaics
Russell (1985)
At Jerash, this earthquake apparently brought an end to the impoverished "squatter" occupation in the Church of St. Theodore (Crowfoot 1929: 25. 1938: 221) and parts of the churches of St. John the Baptist. St. George, and SS. Cosmas and Damianus (Crowfoot 1938: 242, 244).

Walmsley(2013:86-87) described seismic destruction in Jerash in the mid 8th century CE.
Its many churches continued in use right through the Umayyad period, only to be suddenly destroyed in the mid-eighth century by a violent act of nature — an earthquake — as graphically revealed during the excavation of the Church of St Theodore by the Yale Joint Mission in the 1930s (Crowfoot 1938: 223-4). The severity of this seismic event was recently confirmed by the discovery of a human victim entombed in a collapsed building along with his mule, some possessions and a hoard of 143 silver dirhams of mostly eastern origin, the last of which was minted in the year of the earthquake.
As Walmsley(2013:86-87) did not cite a source for the human victim and mule found inside a collapsed building, it is not known if this occurred in the Church of Saint Theodore.

Notes - Undated Archeoseismic evidence from El-Isa (1985)

El-Isa (1985) reported on archeoseismic evidence at Jerash including cracking and falling pillars, beams and walls, tilting of walls, and deformation of paved streets. He further reported that excavations in March 1983 revealed buried buildings which may indicate major subsidence of some ground blocks in the region brought about by earth faulting; at this stage, however, such phenomena cannot be confirmed and need more investigation. El-Isa (1985) noted that due to construction repair and continuous work at the site, it is difficult to extract quantitative archeoseismic information particularly regarding sense of motion. He added further that most of the fallen pillars were removed and many cracks and joints were cemented however standing pillars are sheared and slightly tilted. He stated that indications of motion along surface-shears seem to have a preferred direction of northwest and a secondary direction of south—west which may suggest that damaging earthquakes originated either from the southwest or north-west respectively.

Jerash - Hippodrome
Hippodrome Jerash Restored Hippodrome at Jerash



Introduction

Excavations at the Hippodrome in Jerash reveal that it was first constructed in the mid to late 2nd century CE atop an earlier necropolis. It went out of use as a racetrack in the mid 3rd - mid 4th century CE due to deterioration of the structure. The site was used for various domestic and industrial activities until the 7th century after which it served as a burial ground and suffered earthquake damage in the 7th and 8th centuries (Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz, 2020).

Chronology

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) presented the stratigraphy of the Hippodrome and discussed archaeoseismic evidence for various events as follows:

Stratigraphy of the Hippodrome

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:402) produced a stratigraphic chart

Stratigraphy of Hippodrome at Jerash Figure 184

Schematic Chronological chart of the Hippodrome complex showing phases of primary use and secondary occupancies

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)


Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:17) identified 4 stratigraphic layers from top to bottom as follows:
Strata label Date Comments
Stm.0 All these phases in the history of the building were witnessed by the stratigraphical composition of the fill over, inside and outside/along the architectural remains of the monument. In no place inside and along the building were found more than four superimposed distinct layers of fill. Everywhere the upper one was the sedimentary layer composed of greyish dirt, usually a score of centimetres thick. This layer is labelled Stm.0.
Stm.1 Underneath there was the layer of the tumbled masonry. Depending on the place, and on the extent of the stone robbing activity, this layer was from 1m to 4.5m thick. It was composed mainly of the fallen dressed stones of the superstructure of the cavea but often also of a proportion of the dress stones of the outer and transverse walls, and in every case of boulders and stone chips which the builders of the hippodrome used for the construction of the walls (infra:...). All the stones were found immersed in red clayish earth which the builders used as a kind of `mortar' of the masonry (loc.cit). This layer - almost everywhere the main one in bulk - is labelled Stm.1.
Stm.2 In some chambers of the cavea (and in all the stalls of the cavea) the layer labelled Stm.1 lay directly on the `floor' of the chambers (stalls). However, in most chambers there was an intervening layer between the bottom of Stm.1 and the `floor'. In some chambers, or in some places of one chamber, this layer was composed either of greyish soil or of this kind of soil mixed with red earth or the red earth only. This layer of the fill was always associated with intrusive structures built in the chambers or with traces of intrusive activity. This layer is labelled Stm.2.
Stm.3 The lowest layer is the bulk of the red clayish earth of which the builders of the hippodrome formed the platform of the arena and the walking surface around the building and with which they filled in the space within the foundation walls of the chambers. The `floor' of the chambers was just the top of this red earth fill [see n.9]. This lowest layer is labelled Stm.3. In no chamber was there found evidence for any kind of true flooring ascribable to the primary structure of the hippodrome. In chambers E41-E53 the `floor' is the unlevelled surface of rock [see n.8, I.K.].

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 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.

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) discuss evidence of an "earlier" earthquake to the mid 8th century earthquake; the latter of which produced a significant amount of clear archaeoseismic evidence in the eastern half of the carceres. They indicate that damage observed could have been due to an "earlier" earthquake or stone dismantling (human agency). Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:4) report the following:

The final destruction of the building was caused by earthquakes. The masonry of most of the building collapsed during the earthquake of 659/60; only the carceres and the south-east part of the cavea survived that disaster.
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:36) discussed this possible archaeoseismic evidence further
The presence of the stones belonging to the upper parts of the building used in the passageway of the gate in the period of the intrusive occupancy (supra: THE MAIN GATE) and the presence of the architrave pieces in chamber E2 used there in the same period concurs to strengthen the possibility that before an earthquake finally destroyed the north part of the building there might have occurred an earlier earthquake which partly destroyed the masonry at its upper level. Still, the human factor (dismantling) cannot be ruled out.
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:60) discussed possible archaeoseismic evidence from an "earlier" earthquake again reporting that before an earthquake ultimately destroyed the gate, the upper parts of the hippodrome were either dismantled or partly destroyed by an earlier earthquake. The assigned date of 659/660 appears to based on earthquake catalog matching. Since Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:4) assign the latest date for activity that preceded the "earlier" earthquake to the 6th century and Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:33) provided a terminus post quem for the following event as the first half of the 8th century, it would seem that archaeologic evidence constrains the date of the "earlier" earthquake to the 6th to 7th centuries CE. note.

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Tumble layer from mid 8th century earthquake from Ostrasz (1989)
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:27-28) provided an extensive description of the fallen masonry in the eastern half of the carceres (stalls 1E-5E) noting that most of it fell northward and that local intensity was elevated. These excavations appear to have provided the clearest evidence for mid 8th century earthquake damage. The last paragraph on earthquake directionality, however, should be treated with caution as it is an over simplification.
That the structure was destroyed by an earthquake is evident from the position of the fallen stones in the lowest layer of the tumble; nothing but an earthquake could make the masonry fall so. The amount of the fallen stones in the whole tumble shows that most of the masonry of the structure fell northward, onto the arena. Moreover, there is also evidence for the process itself of the fall. In this respect it has to be noted first that the standing remains of the carceres, that is to say the piers between the stalls, all stand at least two, but none more than three masonry courses high (originally the masonry of the stalls consisted of thirteen courses). Some stones in the standing masonry are slightly shifted from their original position but none was noticed to have lost its verticality. In all, the lowest parts of the masonry of the piers were little affected by the earthquake.

The case of the upper parts (originally seven masonry courses high, the course of the imposts of the archivolts included is different. Only one pier (3E/4E) of the east stalls provides full evidence for how its masonry collapsed but it can be maintained (infra) that its example is representative of the situation which, during the earthquake, was found also in the case of the others. All the stones but one of the four upper masonry courses of the north face of the pier (stones 73-82) were found in the tumble. The stones of courses 4-5 (lower) fall closest, immediately against the face of the pier, the stone of course 6 (higher) slightly further from it, and the two stones of course 7 (uppermost) yet further from the pier. The pattern of the falling of the stones of this particular pier is clear. The higher the position of the stones in the masonry the further from the pier they fell. A similar pattern is noticeable in the position in the tumble of the three stones identified of pier 4E/5E (stones 84 - course 3, and 90-91 - course 7) and there is an identical pattern in the tumble of stones of the north face of pier 4W/5W (stones W113, W132, W133-135, W137, courses 4-7). This pattern indicates that the earthquake disturbed fatally not only the static balance of the structure but that it also created the force which projected the masonry (particularly its whole northern vertical layer) forward that is to say northward.

This projecting force is best evidenced by the tumble of the masonry which made up the upper part of the north façade of stalls 1E-4E (courses 8-13, from the level of the spring stones of the archivolts to the level of the crowning cornice). While in place, this part of the façade was about 23m long and 3.3m high, and its surface was about 75m2. After the fall, it covered an area of almost the same length, width (former height) and surface. In the process of falling, it described in the air a curve very close to a quarter of a circle of which the radii of the particular masonry courses were approximately concentric and of which the centre was approximately at the level and face of the top of course 3 of the piers. While the masonry of the north façade stood intact, the top of the comice course was 5.4m, the apex of the archivolts 3.6m and the spring stones of the archivolts were 2m above that level. After the fall, these elements lay at a distance of 5.5 - 6.5m, 4 - 4.4m and 2 - 2.5m, respectively, from the façade. Figuratively speaking, the whole vertical layer of the masonry making up the north façade fell from the vertical to the horizontal position just as a solid platform of a drawbridge would fall, its hinges being at the level of about 2m above ground.

Two factors contributed additionally to this pattern of collapse for which the earthquake was, of course, instrumental. One was the tectonics of the piers and especially of the upper parts of the carceres. As all other parts of the hippodrome, they were built of dressed stones on the outside while the inside was filled with boulders and stone chips set on earth. In consequence, the masonry was not cohesive in its entirety; a slightest disturbance of the static stability of the structure could (and did) immediately detach the dressed stone facing from the inner `core' of boulders, stone chips and earth. The other factor was the physical condition of most stones in the lowest courses of masonry of the piers. As in the case of the lowest courses of masonry in most parts of the hippodrome, these stones deteriorated in a much greater degree than the stones of the upper courses (for the reasons cf. infra:...). They lost most of their resistance to pressure of the masonry above; any movement of the structure combined with the pressure of that masonry could not fail to make them disintegrate instantly.

All the above considered, the process of collapse can be reliably reconstructed. The earthquake caused the structure momentarily to lean forward (northward). In that instance and in that position two things occurred simultaneously: the force of gravity made the masonry of the north façade detach itself from the inner core and the deteriorated stones making up the lower courses of the face of the piers gave way, as the support for the upper parts of the façade. In this situation the masonry could not fail to collapse. However, the gravity force alone could have made the stones of the masonry fall roughly vertically and in a rather haphazard order. They did not fall so. Instead, they described in the air a part of a circle and fell `orderly' and far from their vertical position. This shows that apart from the force of gravity there was another force, the force which catapulted the stones first horizontally before the force of gravity `pulled' them down onto the ground. This ejecting force must have been created in the moment of leaning of the whole structure forward and this shows in turn the leaning occurred instantaneously and violently.

Considering the fact that the structure fell northward it must be assumed that during the earthquake the ground under the structure moved upward at its south side and/or downward at its north side in a split second and with a great force (speed). That movement made the structure lean violently which created the force catapulting the stones forward. This force naturally increased in direct proportion to the height of the structure as is clearly witnessed by the position on the ground of the fallen masonry of the upper parts of the north façade of the carceres. To make it all happen as it happened, the earthquake must have been extremely strong.

The fallen stones show the direction of fall of the carceres. It has been observed that `During an earthquake the columns, pilasters, and walls of structures have a tendency to collapse in the opposite direction of the quake's epicenter or hypocenter.' (Russel 1985: 51-52) Accordingly, the directional pattern of collapse of the carceres indicates that the epicentre or hypocentre of the earthquake which destroyed the structure was to the south of Gerasa. The reconstruction of the process of the collapse points to a forceful earthquake. The recent studies of the earthquakes in the region of Palestine and northern Arabia from the 2nd throughout the 16th century elucidate the stronger and weaker earthquakes known in that period and region. Accordingly, both phenomena - the directional pattern of collapse and the strength of this earthquake - are, then, additional evidence (beside the deposit sealed by the tumble) for dating the occurrence (infra).
Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:29-30) discussed the layer below the earthquake tumble.
The stone tumble contained no ceramic or coin deposits. It was only the excavation of the top layer of the ground underneath the tumble that yielded the ceramic and coin material (Compendium B: Kehrberg 1989, 2004 and 2016a). The surface of the ground sealed by the tumble in front of the stalls was about 140m2 (about 7m by 20m). This surface was not level, that is to say it was not the original top surface of the arena.

...

Ceramic deposit. (see Compendium B: Kehrberg 1989-2006, fc 2018)

Stm.2, Stm.3, and possibly Stm.1 - 1600 potsherds, 2 intact lamps and 62 lamp fragments. Most pieces are fragmentary and worn, especially the lamp fragments. A very small proportion of the material (%)20 dates from the lst throughout the 3rd century, the bulk (%) dates from the 4th throughout the 6th century, and the remainder (%) dates to the 7th and 8th centuries. In the first group, the proportion of the sherds and lamp fragments dating to the 3rd century is the least. In the second group, the proportion of the material dating to the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries was found to be roughly equal, respectively, and so was the material in the third group dating to the 7th and 8th centuries.

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:31-32 also discussed earthquake collapse in the western half of the carceres (stalls 1W-5W) where, for a variety of reasons, archaeoseismic evidence was not as rich in details but where most of the collapse, as with the eastern stalls, fell northward. Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:33) provided a terminus post quem of the 1st half of the 8th century CE for the archaeoseismic destruction and suggested that one of the mid 8th century earthquakes was responsible.
Finally, the excavation yielded evidence for dating the collapse of the carceres. The latest potsherds and lamps found in the area sealed by the tumble are of the Umayyad period. The latest coin underneath the tumble is datable to the first half of the 8th century. The sealed deposit contained no artefacts of a later date. Of all the material, the coin provides the relatively strictest terminus post quem for the destruction of the carceres - the first half of the 8th century. The terminus is based on the evidence ex silentio of the material of a date later than of the first half of the 8th century, but this evidence can securely be accepted as reliable considering other parts of the monument (supra....).
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake as discussed by Ostrasz (1989)

Ostrasz (1989) found archeoseismic evidence at various parts of the hippodrome which they attributed to a mid 8th century CE earthquake.

The archaeological context of the excavated sections of the cavea was found to be the same almost everywhere. On the outside of the remains of the outer and podium walls, and contiguous to them, was the stone tumble of the upper parts of the walls. The inside of the chambers was filled mainly with the tumble of the stonework of the cavea proper (seat stones and voussoirs of the stepped arches which supported the seating tiers) and with a number of stones of the outer wall. In many chambers the position of the stones displayed clearly that the stonework collapsed during an earthquake. The tumble was subsequently quarried for stone. The quarrying was very extensive; only a small proportion of the stones which made up the particular parts of the masonry was left in the tumble. The parts of the masonry which survived the disaster were also robbed of stones.

The stratigraphy of the fill in the chambers was very simple. In most chambers there was only one stratum (from 2 to 4 m thick) over the `floor' level: masonry tumble composed of dressed stones, boulders and rubble, all immersed in earth. 7 The tumble lay directly on the `floor' which in chambers E40-E55 is the unlevelled surface of rock and in all others the top of the fill within the foundation walls of the chambers. The fill itself is another, the lowest stratum. Is is composed of thick layers of earth and thinner and irregular layers of stone chips. In some chambers there was an intervening thin layer of earth and rubble between the top and bottom of the two strata mentioned above. The tumble outside the outer wall lay on top of a residual layer from 0.3 m to 0.8 m thick. Underneath, there is the same kind of earth with which the space within the foundation walls of the chambers (and the arena) is filled. The masonry tumble outside the podium wall lay directly on the surface of the arena. 8

The archaeological context of the carceres was very similar to that of the cavea. On both sides of the remains in situ and contiguous to them, as well as inside the staffs, there was the tumble of the upper parts of the masonry destroyed by an earthquake (fig. 4 ). Most of the masonry collapsed northwards, on to the arena. The bulk of the tumble was not disturbed by quarrying for stone and every stone retained its tumbled position. The tumble lay on the surface of the arena.
Ostrasz (1989:137-138) discussed the chronology of destruction.
The excavated sections of the hippodrome displayed clearly that the building was finally destroyed by an earthquake. The best attested examples were found in the carceres, in chambers E40-E43 and E25-E28 (currently under excavation), and in the neighbouring church of Bishop Marianos. The coins and the ceramic material from the deposits sealed by the tumble provided evidence for dating the occurrence. No material dating beyond the Umayyad period was found in any of the deposits. The latest coin from the deposit under the tumble of the carceres is datable to the first half of the eighth century and the latest ceramic material found in it dates to the eighth century (Kehrberg 1989: 88). The latest coins recovered from under the tumble in chambers E40, E41, E42 and E43 were minted in 383-395, 498-518, 575/6 and between 527 and 602, respectively. The latest pottery, lamps and lamp fragments from the same deposits date to the seventh century. The only coin found under the tumble of the church of Bishop Marianos was minted in the first half of the eighth century and the objects are dated to the same period (Gawlikowski/Musa 1986: 149-153).

The finds prove that the south-east part of the cavea stood high in the seventh century and the carceres and the church still stood high in the first half of the eighth century. The lack of material dating after the middle of the eighth century shows that this part of the building was either abandoned or destroyed at, and never occupied after, this date. The archaeological context of the finds in the church clinches the matter. It shows that ...the church remained in use to its end. (Gawlikowski/Musa 1986: 141), that is until the earthquake which must then have occurred about the middle of the eighth century.

Only one earthquake is securely attested in the region of ancient Palestine in the eighth century and this is the earthquake of 748 (747) (Russell 1985: 39, 47-49). It is also well attested at Jerash (Bitti 1986: 191-192; Crowfoot 1929: 19, 25; id., in Kraeling 1938: 221, 242, 244; Parapetti 1989a: passim; Parapetti 1989b: passim; Rasson/Seigne 1989: 125, 151; Seigne 1986: 247; Seigne 1989: passim). The hippodrome of Gerasa is yet another well attested example of that disaster.

Seismic Effects
Undated Seismic Effects

Arch damage at the Hippodrome is evident from various photos taken during excavations

  • Beneath the cavea from Kraeling, C. (1938)
  • West cavea chambers from Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)


3rd century CE Earthquake ?

Seismic Effects include

  • 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.

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Possible seismic Effects include

  • The masonry of most of the building collapsed
  • there might have occurred an earlier earthquake which partly destroyed the masonry at its upper level. Still, the human factor (dismantling) cannot be ruled out.
  • the upper parts of the hippodrome were either dismantled or partly destroyed by an earlier earthquake.

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Tumble layer from mid 8th century earthquake from Ostrasz (1989)
Seismic Effects include
  • On the outside of the remains of the outer and podium walls, and contiguous to them, was the stone tumble of the upper parts of the walls.
  • The inside of the chambers was filled mainly with the tumble of the stonework of the cavea proper (seat stones and voussoirs of the stepped arches which supported the seating tiers) and with a number of stones of the outer wall.
  • masonry tumble composed of dressed stones, boulders and rubble, all immersed in earth
  • tumble of the upper parts of the masonry destroyed by an earthquake
  • Most of the masonry collapsed northwards, on to the arena
  • The amount of the fallen stones in the whole tumble shows that most of the masonry of the structure fell northward, onto the arena.
  • In all, the lowest parts of the masonry of the piers [of the carceres] were little affected by the earthquake.
  • Figuratively speaking, the whole vertical layer of the masonry making up the north façade fell from the vertical to the horizontal position just as a solid platform of a drawbridge would fall, its hinges being at the level of about 2m above ground.
  • apart from the force of gravity there was another force, the force which catapulted the stones first horizontally before the force of gravity `pulled' them down onto the ground. This ejecting force must have been created in the moment of leaning of the whole structure forward and this shows in turn the leaning occurred instantaneously and violently.

Intensity Estimates
3rd century CE Earthquake ?

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Collapsed Arches VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Notes and Further Reading
Notes on incorrect early interpretation of a Late Abbasid/Early Mamluk Earthquake

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:146-147) reporoduced an earlier article by Antoni Ostrasz in 1991 which reports on the discovery of skeletons beneath collapsed masonry which they tentatively attributed to an earthquake in Late Abbasid/Early Mamluk time. This was corrected in the 2020 report - see the final bracketed paragraph below.

An unexpected, and to say the least, dramatic discovery was made in the course of excavation in chamber W2. The upper part of the chamber was (and its lower part still is) filled with tumbled stones of the cavea (mainly the seat stones and voussoirs of the stepped arches). Human skeletal remains were found under the removed upper part of the tumble and within the tumble. This is not the case of a burial. In the north-east corner of the chamber, in an area 1.5m by 1m large and at approximately the same level, were found five skulls, all cracked, with parts missing. Directly over the skulls there were hand and arm-bons, even rib-bones and at the level of the skulls lay some vertebrae. In this area and at this level no pelvis or leg-bons were found. In the middle of the chamber there are remains (left in place) of another skeleton. In the extreme opposite part of the chamber, close to the podium wall, there were recovered from under and from within the tumble the pelvis, leg, arm and rib-bones (all at approximately the same level) of at least two individuals. No skulls were found above or beside these remains. There are, then, the skeletal remains of at least eight individuals discovered so far in the chamber. The lower part of the tumble was left in place to be excavated in the spring of 1991.

There seems to be only one plausible explanation [but see comment below, I.K-O] for the condition in which the skeletal remains were found: the individuals were killed by a sudden collapse of the cavea and such a collapse could be caused by nothing else but an earthquake. The five individuals in the north-east corner and the one in the middle of the chamber were obviously caught by the disaster inside the chamber. However, the two individuals whose remains were found in the opposite part of the chamber seem to have been surprised by the earthquake while being in the cavea and seem to have caved in the chamber together with the tumble; their skulls may be found in the lower layer of the tumble.

So far, there is no evidence for dating the occurrence. It is expected to be found when the occupation level of the chamber is reached. [see below, I.K-O] However, some tentative suggestions may be advanced already at this stage.

The earthquake occurred in the period of reoccupation of the hippodrome. This is evidenced by a well preserved intrusive doorway built within the original doorway of the chamber - a feature found in most excavated chambers of the building (Ostrasz 1989a: 55 and Fig. 2). The terminus post quem for the reoccupation is a date in the first quarter of the fourth century or, possibly, even slightly earlier (supra) and this is the terminus post quem for the disaster. However, a much later date should be considered. In 748(647) AD ab earthquake destroyed the south-east part of the hippodrome (Ostrasz 1989a: 75) but considering the situation found in chamber W2 it seems rather dubious that this earthquake was responsible for the collapse of the masonry of the chamber. The fact that the bodies of the people killed in this disaster were not recovered from the rubble for burial bespeaks a period of a great decline of the Gerasene community in every respect. What is presently known of the history of Gerasa in the last decades of the Umayyad period is not compatible with such a degree of decline.
The recent students of the history of Gerasa tend to view Gerasa of the Umayyad period as an important urban centre. A tendency of overstressing the importance of Gerasa in that period is detectable but there can be no doubt that Gerasa of the Umayyad times was still a centre of some substance. For an early view on the subject cf. Kraeling 1938: 68-69. Of recent studies cf. in the first place Gawlikowski (in press and 1986: 120-121). Also: Bitti (1986: 191-192), Schaefer (1986: 411-450); Zayadine (1986: 18-20; Naghawi (1989: 219-222).43
The date of this earthquake may, therefore, be as late as a date in the Late Abbassid or even the Early Mamluk periods.
A sedentary community at the site of ancient Gerasa is attested to have occupied, perhaps intermittently, the North Theatre in the Late Abbassid and Mamluk periods. Cf. Bowsher, Clark in F. Zayadine (ed.), Jerash Archaeological Project 1981-1983, I. Amman: 237, 240-241, 243, 247, 315. The situation found in chamber W2 fits a picture of such an occupation rather than that in the earlier periods. [ see above comment, I.K-0]44
.

[We completed excavation of W2 and W3 in 1993 retrieving conclusive evidence correcting the preliminary interpretation for the cause of death posited in this article; see Ostrasz 1994, and Compendium B: Kehrberg and Ostrasz 1997; 2016b, for the dating and identification of the event: the mass burial of about 200 mid-seventh century plague victims. The tumble relates indeed to the 748 earthquake, I.K.]

Heshbon

Aerial view of Tall Heshbon Figure 3

Aerial photo of Tall Hisban a mediaeval village below (courtesy of Ivan LaBianca)

Walker et al (2017)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Hesban
Heshbon Biblical Hebrew חשבון
Heshbon Arabic حشبون‎
Tell Hisban Arabic ‎تيلل هيسبان
Tell Ḥesbān Arabic تيلل هيسبان‎
Esebus Latin
Esbus Latin
Hesebon Ancient Greek Ἐσεβών
Esbous Ancient Greek Ἐσβούς
Exbous Ancient Greek Ἔξβους
Esbouta Ancient Greek Ἐσβούτα
Essebōn Ancient Greek Ἐσσεβών
Esb[untes]
Introduction

Heshbon has been sporadically occupied since at least the Iron Age ( Lawrence T. Geraty in Meyers et al, 1997). It is located on the Madaba Plains ~19 km. SW of Amman and ~6 km. NE of Mount Nebo.

Chronology and Seismic Effects

Dating earthquakes at this site before the 7th century CE is messy. Earlier publications provide contradictory earthquake assignments, possibly due to difficulties in assessing stratigraphy and phasing, but also due to uncritical use of older error prone earthquake catalogs. A number of earlier publications refer to earthquakes too far away to have damaged the site. Dates provided below are based on my best attempt to determine chronological constraints based on the excavator's assessment of primarily numismatic and ceramic evidence. Their earthquake date assignments, at the risk of being impolite, have been ignored.
Stratigraphy from Mitchel (1980)

Mitchel (1980:9) provided a list of 19 strata encountered over 5 seasons of excavations between 1968 and 1976. Mitchel (1980) wrote about Strata 11-15.

Stratum Dates Comments
1 1870-1976 CE
2 1400-1456 CE
3 1260-1400 CE
4 1200-1260 CE
5 750-969 CE
6 661-750 CE
7 614-661 CE
8 551-614 CE
9 408-551 CE
10 365-408 CE
11 284-365 CE Stratum 11 is characterized by another building program.
On the temple grounds a new colonnade was built in front (east) of the temple, perhaps a result of Julian's efforts to revive the state cult.
12 193-384 CE Stratum 12 represents a continuation of the culture of Stratum 13.
On the summit of the tell a large public structure was built; partly following the lines of earlier walls. This structure is interpreted to be the temple shown on the reverse of the so—called "Esbus Coin", minted at Aurelia Esbus under Elagabalus (A.D. 218 — 222).
13 130-193 CE Stratum 13 began with a major building effort occasioned by extensive earthquake destruction [in Stratum 14]
The transition from Stratum 13 to Stratum 12 appears to nave been a gradual one.
14 63 BCE - 130 CE the overall size of the settlement seems to have grown somewhat. Apart from the continued use of the fort on the summit, no intact buildings have survived. A large number of underground (bedrock) installations were in use during Stratum 14
The stratum was closed out by what has been interpreted as a disastrous earthquake
15 198-63 BCE architecture interpreted to be primarily a military post or fort, around which a dependent community gathered
16 7th-6th century BCE
17 9th-8th century BCE
18 1150-10th century BCE
19 1200-1150 BCE

Stratigraphy from Walker and LaBianca (2003)

Walker and LaBianca (2003:448)'s Chronological Chart of the Strata at Tall Hisban (Table 1) is presented below:

Stratum Political periodization Cultural Period Absolute Dates
I Late Ottoman-modern ‎Late Islamic IIb-modern
Pioneer, Mandate, and Hashemite
‎1800 CE-today
II Middle Ottoman Late Islamic IIa
Pre-modern tribal‎
1600-1800 CE‎
IIIb Early Ottoman Late Islamic Ib
Post-Mamluk - Early Ottoman‎
1500-1600 CE‎
IIIa Late Mamluk (Burji) Late Islamic Ia‎ 1400-1500 CE‎
IVb Early Mamluk II (Bahri) Middle Islamic IIc‎ 1300-1400 CE‎
IVa Early Mamluk I (Bahri) Middle Islamic IIb‎ 1250-1300 CE‎
IVa Ayyubid/Crusader Middle Islamic IIa‎ 1200-1250 CE‎
V Fatimid Middle Islamic I 1000-1200 CE‎
VIb Abbasid Early Islamic II 800-1000 CE‎
VIa Umayyad Early Islamic I 600-800 CE‎
VII Byzantine Byzantine 300-600 CE‎
VIII Roman Roman 60 BCE - 300 CE‎
IX Hellenistic Hellenistic 300-60 BCE‎
X Persian Persian 500-300 BCE‎
XIb Iron II Iron II 900-500 BCE‎
XIa Iron I Iron I 1200-900 BCE‎

Stratum 15 Destruction Layer (Mitchel, 1980) - 2nd - 1st century BCE

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Mitchel (1980:21) noted chronological difficulties dating Stratum 15.
Though evidence for Stratum 15 occupation at Tell Hesban occurs in the form of ceramic remains found across the entire site, evidence of stratigraphic value is greatly limited in quantity and extent.
Mitchel (1980:47) noted that there was limited evidence for destruction and/or abandonment in Stratum 15 though most of the evidence was removed by subsequent building activities particularly in Stratum 13. Destruction layers were variously described as debris, a rubble layer, or tumble. Due to slim evidence, Mitchel (1980:70) did not form firm conclusions about the nature of the end of Stratum 15
The transition to Stratum 14 may be characterized as a smooth one, although the evidence is slim. There is currently no evidence of a destroying conflagration at the end of Stratum 15. In fact, I do not believe it is likely that we shall know whether Stratum 15 Heshbon was simply abandoned or destroyed by natural or human events.

Stratum 14 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 1st century BCE - 2nd century CE

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Mitchel (1980) identified a destruction layer in Stratum 14 which he attributed to an earthquake. Unfortunately, the destruction layer is not precisely dated. Using some assumptions, Mitchel (1980) dated the earthquake destruction to the 130 CE Eusebius Mystery Quake, apparently unaware at the time that this earthquake account may be either misdated as suggested by Russell (1985) or mislocated as suggested by Ambraseys (2009). Although Russell (1985) attributed the destruction layer in Stratum 14 to the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake, a number of earthquakes are possible candidates including the 31 BCE Josephus Quake.

Mitchel (1980:73) reports that a majority of caves used for dwelling collapsed at the top of Stratum 14 which could be noticed by:
bedrock surface channels, presumably for directing run-off water into storage facilities, which now are totally disrupted, and in many cases rest ten to twenty degrees from the horizontal; by caves with carefully cut steps leading down into them whose entrances are fully or largely collapsed and no longer usable; by passages from caves which can still be entered into formerly communicating caves which no longer exist, or are so low-ceilinged or clogged with debris as to make their use highly unlikely — at least as they stand now.
Mitchel (1980:73) also noticed that new buildings constructed in Stratum 13 were leveled over a jumble of broken-up bedrock. Mitchel (1980:95) reports that Areas B and D had the best evidence for the massive bedrock collapse - something he attributed to the "softer" strata in this area, more prone to karst features and thus easier to burrow into and develop underground dwelling structures. Mitchel (1980:96) reports discovery of a coin of Aretas IV (9 BC – 40 AD) in the fill of silo D.3:57 which he suggests was placed as part of reconstruction after the earthquake. Although Mitchel (1980:96) acknowledges that this suggests that the causitive earthquake was the 31 BCE Josephus Quake, Mitchel (1980:96) argued for a later earthquake based on the mistaken belief that the 31 BCE Josephus Quake had an epicenter in the Galilee. Paleoseismic evidence from the Dead Sea, however, indicates that the 31 BCE Josephus Quake had an epicenter in the vicinity of the Dead Sea relatively close to Tell Hesban. Mitchel (1980:96-98)'s argument follows:
The filling of the silos, caves, and other broken—up bedrock installations at the end of the Early Roman period was apparently carried out nearly immediately after the earthquake occurred. This conclusion is based on the absence of evidence for extended exposure before filling (silt, water—laid deposits, etc.), which in fact suggests that maybe not even one winter's rain can be accounted for between the earthquake and the Stratum 13 filling operation. If this conclusion is correct, then the Aretas IV coin had to have been introduced into silo D.3:57 fill soon after the earthquake. which consequently could not have been earlier than 9 B.C.

The nature of the pottery preserved on the soft, deep fills overlying collapsed bedrock is also of significant importance to my argument in favor of the A.D. 130 earthquake as responsible for the final demise of underground (bedrock) installations in Areas B and D. Table 7 provides a systematic presentation of what I consider to be the critical ceramic evidence from loci in three adjacent squares, D.3, D.4, and B.7. The dates of the latest pottery uniformly carry us well beyond the date of the earthquake which damaged Qumran, down, in fact, closer to the end of the 1st century A.D. or the beginning of the 2nd.

In addition to these three fill loci, soil layer D.4:118A (inside collapsed cave D.4:116 + D.4:118) yielded Early Roman I-III sherds, as well as two Late Roman I sherds (Square D.4 pottery pails 265, 266). Contamination of these latter samples is possible, but not likely. I dug the locus myself.

Obviously, this post-31 B.C. pottery could have been deposited much later than 31 B.C.. closer, say, to the early 2nd century A.D., but the evidence seems to be against such a view. I personally excavated much of locus D.4:101 (Stratum 13). It was a relatively homogeneous, unstratified fill of loose soil that gave all the appearances of rapid deposition in one operation. From field descriptions of the apparently parallel loci in Squares D.3 and B.7. I would judge them to be roughly equivalent and subject to the same interpretation and date. And I repeat, the evidence for extended exposure to the elements (and a concomitant slow, stratified deposition) was either missed in excavation, not properly recorded, or did not exist.

This case is surely not incontrovertible but seems to me to carry the weight of the evidence which was excavated at Tell Hesban.
Mitchel (1980:100)'s 130 CE date for the causitive earthquake rests on the assumption that the "fills" were deposited soon after bedrock collapse. If one discards this assumption, numismatic evidence and ceramic evidence suggests that the "fill" was deposited over a longer period of time - perhaps even 200+ years - and the causitive earthquake was earlier. Unfortunately, it appears that the terminus ante quem for the bedrock collapse event is not well constrained. The terminus post quem appears to depend on the date for lower levels of Stratum 14 which seems to have been difficult to date precisely and underlying Stratum 15 which Mitchel (1980:21) characterized as chronologically difficult.

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

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
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.

Stratum 9 Earthquake - ~6th century CE - debated

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Following the stratigraphy listed by Mitchel (1980:9), Storfjell (1993:113) noted archaeoseismic evidence which he dated to 500-525 CE.
There is scattered evidence for a destruction, probably caused by an earthquake. This evidence comes from Area C, and Probes G.11 and G.16. If there was evidence of destruction in Area A, it would have been removed in the subsequent reconstruction and enlargement of the church. The ceramic evidence suggests that the destruction occurred in the Late Byzantine period. Placement in the overall stratigraphic sequence would suggest a destruction date in the first quarter of the sixth century for Stratum 9.
Storfjell (1993:110) discussed dating of Stratum 9 as follows:
The evidence is not precise enough to specify with certainty the exact dates for Stratum 9, although the ceramic horizon is predominantly Early Byzantine (ca. AD 408-527). It is this period that first reveals the Christian presence at Tell Hesban.
The Christian presence was apparently the construction of a Christian church on the remains of the Roman Temple possibly damaged by an earthquake in the 4th century CE. This church was apparently rebuilt in Stratum 8 which has a terminus ante quem of 614 CE according to Storfjell (1993:113). Sauer (1993:259), in the same publication, disputes the early 6th century earthquake evidence at Tall Hisban stating that thus far, there is no earthquake evidence at Hesban in this period.

7th century CE Earthquake

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Walker and LaBianca (2003:453-454) uncovered 7th century CE archeoseismic evidence which they attributed to the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 CE from an excavation of an Umayyad-period building in Field N of Tall Hesban . They report a badly broken hard packed yellowish clay floor which was pocketed in places by wall collapse and accompanied by crushed storage jars, basins, and cookware. An excerpt from their article follows:
Two roughly square rooms, each approximately 4 x 4 meters wide and built against the inner face of the Hellenistic wall, occupied most of N.l and N.2. Masonry walls, four courses high, delineated the space. The original rooms were separated by what appears to have been an open air corridor; a door in the east wall of N. l and one in the west wall of N.2 allowed passage between the two rooms. The floors of these rooms (N.1: 18, N.2: 16) were made of a hard packed, yellowish clay, which was badly broken and pocketed in many places by wall collapse. Upper courses of the walls of the rooms had fallen onto the floor and crushed several large storage jars and basins and cookware (Fig. 16 ), dated in the field to the transitional Byzantine-Umayyad period. The only foundation trench identified (N.2: 25) yielded no pottery. The fill above these floors contained pottery that was late Umayyad and Abbasid in date. While it is not possible at this early stage of excavation to determine when this structure was first built, it was clearly occupied in the middle of the seventh century, suffered a catastrophic event, and was reoccupied (at some point) and used into the ninth century. Fallen architecture, crushed pottery, badly damaged floors that appeared to have "melted" around the fallen blocks, and wide and deep ash pits and lenses bare witness to a major conflagration. The most likely candidate for this is the recorded earthquake of 658/9, which was one of the most destructive in Jordan's history since the Roman period, rather than the Islamic conquests of the 630's ( El-Isa 1985: 233).

Mamluk Earthquake - late 14th - early 15th centuries CE

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Walker and LaBianca (2003:447-453) uncovered late 14th - early 15th century CE archaeoseismic evidence from excavations undertaken in 1998 and 2001 of Mamluk-period constructions in Field L. They identified a complex of rooms previously called the bathhouse complex as the residence of the Mamluk governor of the al-Balqa'. . Walker and LaBianca (2003:447) described and dated the storeroom complex (L.1 and L.2) as follows:
The storeroom complex of L.1 and L.2 was built in three phases, all dated to the fourteenth century (and assigned to Stratum IVb) on the basis of associated pottery. Architectural Phases I and II correspond, respectively, to the original construction (the narrow storeroom in L.1 and the rooms east of it in L.2) and an extension of the L.1 storeroom to the east that followed a short time later (Fig. 7). Phase III, on the other hand, represents a relatively brief reoccupation of the rooms associated with the storeroom's doorway (square L.2).
In L.1 and L.2, earthquake damage was discovered at the end of Phase II.
Phase II Excavations at tall Hisban, the 1998 and 2001 Seasons: The Islamic Periods (Strata I-VI)

...

Earthquake damage was everywhere evident in the L.2 part of the storeroom, with walls knocked out of alignment; collapsed vaults (Fig. 8 ); and extensive ash cover, the result of a large conflagration likely brought on by oil lamps that had fallen from the upper stories. Thousands of fragments of glazed pottery, crushed by the vault stones that fell on them; nearly complete sugar storage jars (Fig. 9); dozens of channel-nozzle and pinched lamps (Fig. 10), many interspersed among fallen vault stones; fragments of bronze weaponry; painted jars and jugs (Fig. 11); and occasional fragments of metal bowls were recovered from L.1:17 - L.2:12, the beaten earth floor of the Mamluk-period (Stratum IVb) storeroom. There is evidence that the earth floor was originally plastered, as traces of white plaster were noticeable in the corners of the room, along the base of the walls at some places, and at the doorway. Earthquake and fire damage was so severe, however, that most of the plaster was destroyed.
Overlying strata was described as follows:
A meter-thick fill of loess (L.1:3, L.2:7) covered the floor (L.1:17, L.2:12), bearing witness to centuries of abandonment after the partial collapse of the covering vaults. The uppermost levels of the storeroom (L.2:3) above this fill were largely disturbed by a Stratum I, Ottoman-period cemetery
Walker et al (2017) also noted archeoseismic evidence which appears to be from the same earthquake in field M (aka Area M) which is described below:
Middle Islamic 3/Post-Middle Islamic 3

...
earthquake (misaligned stones in architecture throughout field; collapse of vaulting and walls) destroys parallel chambers in M4, M5, M8 and M9; area abandoned.

Intensity Estimates

Stratum 14 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 1st century BCE - 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls entrances are fully or largely collapsed and no longer usable
passages ... into formerly communicating caves which no longer exist
clogged with debris
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Stratum 11 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 4th century CE - possibly Cyril Quake - debated

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls a destruction of some sort tumbled the wall on the east side of the great stairway VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

7th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Broken pottery found in fallen position Upper courses of the walls of the rooms had fallen onto the floor and crushed several large storage jars and basins and cookware (Fig. 16 ) VII +
Collapsed Walls Upper courses of the walls of the rooms had fallen onto the floor
Fallen architecture
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Mamluk Earthquake - late 14th - early 15th centuries CE

Effect Description Intensity
Broken pottery found in fallen position L.2 & L.1 (?) - Thousands of fragments of glazed pottery, crushed by the vault stones that fell on them VII +
Displaced Walls L.2 - walls knocked out of alignment
Field M - misaligned stones in architecture throughout field
VII +
Collapsed Vaults L.2 - collapsed vaults (Fig. 8 )
Field M - collapse of vaulting and walls
VIII +
Collapsed Walls Field M - collapse of vaulting and walls
Field M - destroys parallel chambers in M4, M5, M8 and M9
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Notes and Further Reading

References

Walker, B. J. and Øystein, S.L. (2003). "The Islamic Qusur of Tall Ḥisbān : preliminary report on the 1998 and 2001 seasons." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 47: 443.

Mitchel, L. A. (1980). The Hellenistic and Roman Periods at Tell Hesban, Jordan, Andrews University. PhD.

Heshbon Expedition Symposium, Hesban after 25 years, Berrien Springs, Mich., Institute of Archaeology, Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum, Andrews University.

Boraas, Roger S., and S. H. Horn. Heshbon 1968: The First Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 2. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1969.

Boraas, Roger S., and S. H. Horn. Heshbon 1971: The Second Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 6. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1973.

Boraas, Roger S., and S. H. Horn. Heshbon 1973: The Third Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 8. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1975.

Boraas, Roger S., and Lawrence T . Geraty. Heshbon 1974: The Fourth Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 9. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1976.

Boraas, Roger S., and Lawrence T. Geraty. Heshbon 1976: The Fifth Campaign at Tell Hesban, a Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 10. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1978.

Boraas, Roger S., and Lawrence T. Geraty. "The Long Life of Tell Hesban, Jordan." Archaeology 32 (1979): 10-20.

Bullard, Reuben G. "Geological Study of the Heshbon Area." Andrews University Seminary Studies 10 (1972): 129-141.

Cross, Frank Moore. "An Unpublished Ammonite Ostracon from Hesban." In The Archaeology of Jordan and Other Studies Presented to Siegfried H. Horn, edited by Lawrence T. Geraty and Larry G. Herr, pp. 475-489. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1986.

Geraty, Lawrence T., and Leona Glidden Running, eds. Hesban, vol. 3, Historical Foundations: Studies of Literary References to Heshbon and Vicinity. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1989.

Geraty, Lawrence T., and David Merling. Hesban after Twenty-Five Years. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1994. - Reviews the results of the excavations of the Heshbon expedition a quarter-century after its first field season; full bibliography.

Horn, S. H. "The 1968 Heshbon Expedition." Biblical Archaeologist 32 (1969): 26-41.

Ibach, Robert D., Jr. Hesban, vol. 5, Archaeological Survey of the Hesban Region. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1987.

LaBianca, Oystein S., and Larry Lacelle, eds. Hesban, vol. 2, Environmental Foundations: Studies of Climatical, Geological, Hydrological, and Phytological Conditions in Hesban and Vicinity. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1986.

LaBianca, 0ystein S. Hesban, vol. 1, Sedentarization and Nomadization: Food System Cycles at Hesban and Vicinity in Transjordan. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1990.

Lugenbeal, Edward N., and James A. Sauer. "Seventh-Sixth Century B.C. Pottery from Area B at Heshbon." Andrews University Seminary Studies 10 (1972); 21-69.

Mitchel, Larry A. Hesban, vol. 7, Hellenistic and Roman Strata. Berrien Springs, Mich., 1992.

Sauer, James A. Heshbon Pottery 1971: A Preliminary Report on the Pottery from the 1971 Excavations at Tell Hesban. Andrews University Monographs, vol. 7. Berrien Springs, Mich,, 1973.

Sauer, James A. "Area B. " Andrews University Seminary Studies 12 (1974): 35-71

Terian, Abraham, "Coins from the 1968 Excavations at Heshbon." Andrews University Seminary Studies 9 (1971): 147-160.

Vyhmeister, Werner. "The History of Heshbon from Literary Sources. "Andrews University Seminary Studies 6 (1968): 158-177

Kedesh

Fischer at 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 Temple appeared to be destroyed by an earthquake, they also speculated about damage to the Temple due to 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 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 et al. [1984] and its source is unknown. Schweppe et al (2017) note that the site may have been used as a quarry after abandonment and likely also suffered from looting noting that "it is not possible to differentiate with certainty which damage is of anthropogenic or of natural cause." However, some archeoseismic evidence does appear to remain which was described below
However, the wall in Figure 3a shows horizontal shifts and gaps between the ashlars which indicate that, at least in part, dynamic shaking has ruined the Kedesh Temple. In particular, we interpret the gaps between the ashlars in the northern section and its bend as the consequence of earthquake ground motions.
The horizontal shifts and gaps are good evidence for archeoseismic damage which unfortunately is apparently not well dated. Nonetheless, Schweppe et al (2017) performed numerical simulations on the remaining Temple structure at Kadesh and estimated that a PGA of 6 m/s2 was required to topple the Temple structure under conditions of a dominant frequency of 1 Hz. and shaking in an EW direction. They simulated a number of historical earthquakes thought to have affected Kadesh after 363 AD and none were shown to topple the Temple. However, there were no indications that the northern Cyril Quake of 363 AD toppled the Temple either (363 AD models weren't presented). The fact that part of the structure remains standing was used to postulate that if the northern Cyril Quake did topple the Temple at Kadesh, the fact that a small part of the structure still remains standing indicates that in the ensuing centuries a PGA above 6 m/s2 (at 1 Hz. with shaking EW) was never reached. Taken together, archeoseismic evidence for destruction of the Temple at Kadesh during the northern Cyril Quake of 363 AD is unfortunately indeterminate.

Hippos Sussita

Fallen Columns from Cathedral at Hippos Sussita Photo of Hippos Sussita

Wechsler and Marco (2017)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Hippos Greek Ἵππος
Antiochia Hippos Greek Αντιοχεία Ἵππος
Sussita Hebrew סוסיתא
Sussita Aramaic
Qal‘at al-Ḥuṣn Arabic قلعة الحصن
Introduction

Hippos-Sussita was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis. It declined during Byzantine and Early Arab periods and is believed to have been largely abandoned after it was badly damaged in one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes. It is situated atop a flat topped ridge which overlooks the Sea of Galilee. Hippos Sussita appears to be subject to a topographic or ridge effect.

Plans Chronology
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.

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Plans

  • Plan of Hippos-Sussita from biblewalks.com
  • Plan of the northwest Church from Segal et al (2004)
The Cathedral is the largest of several churches found on the site and is situated south of the Cardo. A fragmentary Greek inscription reveals that it was built in 590 CE (Wechsler et al (2018) citing Latjar, 2014:250-278) and remained in use until the mid 8th century CE (Wechsler et al (2018) citing Segal, 2007). Excavations in the 1950's revealed columns lying on the floor of the cathedral in sub parallel directions (Wechsler et al, 2018). These columns are presumed to have fallen during one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes.

Segal et al (2004:65) reports that chronological evidence for the one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes "destroying" Hippos Sussita has been confirmed by the objects found in the sealed contexts at the [northwest] church such as the coins and pottery (including oil lamps): see our Report 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively. The church referred to is the Northwest Church. This is not the same church Wechsler et al (2018) and others refer to as the Cathedral. It is the Cathedral which contains the fallen columns that Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) analyzed to estimate a lower limit of paleo-PGA during the earthquake.

Seismic Effects
363 CE earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Plans

  • Plan of Hippos-Sussita from biblewalks.com
  • Plan of the Forum. Hellenistic compound, and Northwest Church from Segal and Eisenberg (2007)
Tilted Walls and Structures
Karcz and Kafri (1978) identified tilted walls at the site as shown in Figure 9 and Figure 10 of their article. They noted that at the time their article was written, a reliable date for the tilting was not available.

Tilted and Displaced Wall in the Area East of the Hellenistic Compound
Segal et al (2019:18) uncovered a wall displaced towards the west in the area east of the Hellenistic Compound (HLC5) which they attributed to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.
Fallen Columns in the Cathedral
Fallen Columns from Cathedral at Hippos Sussita Fig. 2.3

Photo of the cathedral with the fallen columns, looking west.

Wechsler et al (2018)


Nine columns of the northern row of the cathedral are oriented N220°E ± 10° and two remaining columns of the southern row are oriented N295°E ± 10° (Wechsler et al, 2018).

Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) utilized a two-dimensional formulation of the discontinuous deformation analysis (DDA) method (Shi, 1993) to produce a lower bound of 0.2 - 0.4 g for Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) required to topple the columns. The model for their columns was free standing as shown in Figure 2c of their paper and does not include a superstructure such as an architrave or a roof indicating it is likely to produce a conservative (i.e. low) value of minimum PGA required to topple the columns. Input material values for the columns, consisting of red and gray granite possibly imported from Aswan, were
  • E = 40 GPa
  • ν =0.18
  • ρ = 2700 kg/m3
The friction angle (Φ) between column base and pedestal was assumed to be 45°. Optimal contact spring stiffness (2 x 108 N/m) was determined numerically. Simulations were performed for both one and three sinusoidal loading cycles at a variety of frequencies up to 5 Hz. (shown in Figure 3 of their paper). At frequencies of 1.5 Hz. and below, minimum PGA to topple the columns was about 0.2 g for both 1 and 3 loading cycles. Above 1.5 Hz., the single loading cycle simulations were more sensitive to frequency and required a higher PGA to topple the columns. The authors suggested that if only sinusoidal inputs are considered, 3 cycle simulations were more likely be representative of PGA thresholds required to topple the columns. Thus they used the three cycle simulations to produce a range of frequency dependent threshold PGA's required to topple the column that varied from 0.2 g below 1.5 Hz. up to 1 g at 5 Hz..

Recognizing the fairly wide range of threshold PGA's resulting from this analysis, Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) performed a subsequent set of simulations using strong motion records applied to the centroid of the column and base. The strong motion records came from instrumentally recorded earthquakes thought to be representative of the Dead Sea Transform. The predominant frequencies of these strong motion records varied from 0.45 - 2.2 Hz. and produced threshold PGA's between 0.2 and 0.4 g. Although Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) did not conclude that their column analysis resulted in an estimated threshold PGA of 0.2 - 0.4 g to topple the columns, it can be reasonably assumed that this is result. However, as mentioned previously, these threshold PGA's are likely underestimated as they modeled free standing columns without a superstructure.

Wechsler et al (2018) commented on modeling the column falls as follows:

The Cathedral is, so far, the only structure that has been at the center of quantitative archaeoseimsic studies. Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) tried to estimate minimum levels of peak ground acceleration (PGA) during the earthquake ground motion which was necessary to topple the Cathedral columns. However, they used the model of a freestanding column of the same size as the ones found in the Cathedral, but with no capital, architrave or other superstructure. Since 2D models were used and forces were applied to the center of gravity of the columns and pedestals, the reported 0.2 - 0.4 m/s2 PGA threshold at frequencies between 0.2 and 4.4 Hz can only be regarded as a rough estimate and are not necessarily representative for the complete structure of the Cathedral which has a significantly different response to earthquake ground motions than a solitary column. Hinzen (2009) used 3D discrete element models conforming to the size of the toppled columns of the Cathedral and showed that the toppling direction during a realistic earthquake ground motion in three dimensions is a matter of chance. A column that is being rocked by earthquake ground motions is in a nonlinear dynamic system and its behavior tends to be of a chaotic character. Small changes to the initial conditions can have a strong influence on the general dynamic reaction and significantly alter the toppling direction. The same paper shows that the parallel orientation is probably an effect of the superstructure connecting the columns mechanically and not a consequence of the ground motion character. This interpretation is also strongly supported by the fact that the two remaining columns of the southern row rest at angles of ~90° compared with the columns from the northern row, as shown in a 3D laser scan model of the site (Fig. 2.4 ). A similar analysis of the Hippos columns was performed by Hinzen (2010).

Intensity Estimates
363 CE earthquake

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Collapsed Walls Basilica fallen architectural fragment (Wechsler et al, 2018) suggests collapsed walls VIII+
Displaced Walls To the north of the Basilica collapsed roof (Science Daily, 2014) suggests displaced walls VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Displaced Walls east of the Hellenistic Compound (HLC5) Wall displaced towards the west (Segal et al, 2019:18) VII+
Collapsed Walls Northwest Church Segal et al (2004:65) reports that chronological evidence for the one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes "destroying" Hippos Sussita. Destruction suggests collapsed walls at a minimum. VIII+
Fallen Columns Cathedral Excavations in the 1950's revealed columns lying on the floor of the cathedral in sub parallel directions (Wechsler et al, 2018) VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224). Yagoda-Biran and Hatzor (2010) estimated a minimum paleo-PGA of 0.2-0.4 g to overturn the columns found in the Cathedral. This paleo-PGA is a lower bound and therefore an underestimate. Assuming a PGA of 0.4-0.6 g and converting from PGA to Intensity via Wald et al (1999), one arrives at an Intensity of 8 - 8.5 which reduces to ~6.5 - 7.5 when one considers a site effect.

Site Effect
Topographic or Ridge Effect

Topographic or Ridge Effect at Hippos Sussita Fig. 2.5 Simplified north-south trending geological profile through the saddle-like structure of the Sussita hill. On top of the profile, a frequency-dependent seismic amplification is shown which was derived for ten one-dimensional linear elastic models of the subsurface. Abbreviations for the geologic units are given at the bottom of the figure.

Wechsler et al (2018)


Wechsler et al (2018) pointed out that a topographic or ridge effect is likely present Hippos Sussita:
The saddle-like structure of the Sussita hill is prone to topographic amplification of strong ground motion during earthquakes, especially at the hilltop. The focusing effects of seismic waves in similar situations have been reported to lead to significant ground motion amplification (e.g., Massa et al., 2010). In the case of Hippos, the special geometry of the hill is combined with the unusual situation of high impedance material in the form of a basalt flow on top of weaker conglomerates. Figure 2.5 (above) shows a simplified north-south trending profile through the site and the neighboring valleys of Ein-Gev and Sussita. Estimates of ground motion amplification of vertically traveling shear waves from 1D model calculations indicate amplification factors at the hilltop in the range of 8 at frequencies of 2-3 Hz, a frequency range at which constructions such as colonnades show high vulnerability. In any further archaeoseismic studies of the damaged structures in Hippos, the exceptional location of the site and the local conditions must be taken into account.

Calculator
Estimate Magnitude and Intensity with and without a Site Effect

Variable Input Units Notes
g Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration
km. Distance to earthquake producing fault
unitless Site Effect due to Topographic or Ridge Effect
(set to 1 to assume no site effect)
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
unitless Attenuation relationship of Hough and Avni (2009)
used to calculate Magnitude
Variable Output - Site Effect removed Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
unitless Attenuation relationship of Hough and Avni (2009)
used to calculate Magnitude
  

Magnitude is calculated from Intensity (I) and Fault Distance (R) based on Hough and Avni (2009) who did not specify the type of Magnitude scale they were using.

Site Effect Removal Methodology

  • Figure 13a from Massa et al (2010)
Output with site effect removed assumes that PGA is higher than it would be if there was no site effect. In this situation, Intensity (I) with site effect removed is calculated pre-amplification (i.e. it will be lower). This is because an Intensity estimate with the site effect removed is helpful in producing an Intensity Map that will do a better job of "triangulating" the epicentral area.

Site Effect is based on Equation 2 and Figure 13 a of Massa et al (2010). In their study, they estimated a frequency dependent additional PGA (St in Eqn. 2) which is added by a topographic site effect. The additional topographic site effect PGA varied from ~0.1 g to 0.5 g for dominant frequencies of approximately 1 - 5 Hz.. Higher PGA's were shown to be present for higher frequencies which are more likely to occur when the earthquake producing fault is closer to the site. They also noted that a greater topographic effect was observed when the seismic energy arrived orthogonal (perpendicular in their words) to the ridge. Both of these considerations suggest that a topographic ridge effect should be considered at Hippos Sussita when other evidence suggests that one of the Sea of Galilee faults broke during the earthquake. The additional Site Effect PGA is linearly scaled from 0 - 0.5 g for site effects where amplitude increases from 1x to 10x. It's not the greatest transform to remove site effect from the Intensity estimate but may be useful for crude estimates.

Notes and Further Reading
References

Gush Halav aka Giscala

Meyers, Strange, Meyers, and Hanson (1979: 37) reported on excavations at Gush Halav (referred to as Giscala by Josephus). Stratum VI contains the relevant archeoseismic evidence and was subdivided in Phase a and Phase b. A summary from their paper is presented below:

Stratum VI Late Roman (A.D. 250-362)
Phase a A.D. 250-306
Phase b A.D. 306-62/5

Stratum VII Byzantine (A.D. 362/5-551)
Phase a A.D. 362/5-447
Phase b A.D. 447-551


Meyers, Strange, Meyers, and Hanson (1979) dated the construction of a Gush Halav synagogue (in Stratum VI) to around 250 A.D. and report the village was abandoned beforehand; possibly after the Bar Kokhba Revolt. The date for building the synagogue is primarily based on ceramics but is supplemented by 6 coins. They report strong evidence for destruction at the end of VIa due to the Eusebius' Martyr Earthquake of ~306 AD. Meyers, Strange, Meyers, and Hanson (1979)'s discussion of archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake of 363 AD is shown below:
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. This is discussed briefly in footnote [1]. 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 however 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) also reviewed the original archaeological reports and. athough 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 Mount Lebanon Thrust Quake of 551 CE. He did not interpret destruction in 363 CE that left a mark in the material remains.

Although there is significant disagreement on chronology, there is agreement that archeoseismic evidence is present at the site. Thus, we classify archeoseismic evidence for the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE as possible and debated.

Meiron

Excavations at Meiron (Meyers, Meyers, and Strange (1974), Meyers, Strange, and Meyers (1978), and Meyers and Meyers (1978)) posited that Meiron was abandoned rather than destroyed in the middle of the 4th century AD. However, as noted by Russell (1980), their excavation evidence may suggest that the site was destroyed by the Cyril Quake of 363 AD; 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 [7]. 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 (2010) 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 AD coins and ceramics as not intrusive which the original excavators viewed as intrusive.

Archeoseismic evidence at Meiron can be labelled as possible but debated.

Khirbet Shema

Although excavators Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) identified two earthquake events ( Eusebius' Martyr Quake of ~306 AD and Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD) 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 Cyril Quake of 363 AD and the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD 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 AD was lacking. She posited that Synagogue II was constructed in the late 4th to early 5th century AD and concluded that there was no solid evidence for the 419 AD (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 AD.

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.

Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) archeoseismic evidence for the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD is also debated. It is based on a lacuna of coin evidence starting in 408 AD and lasting for the last three quarters of the 5th century AD. They suggest this indicates abandonment of the site during this time period and Meyers, Kraabel, and Strange (1976) in turn suggest that abandonment was likely due to the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of ~419 AD. Magness (1997: 217-218) provides a number of reasons why she classifies this as a "dangerous argument from silence". In any case, we agree with Magness (1997) that there is scant archeoseismic evidence at Khirbet Shema for an earthquake in ~419 AD as well. As for the Cyril Quake of 363 AD, the archeoseismic evidence at Khirbet Shema can best described as possible but lacking solid evidence.

Beth She'arim

Avigad 1955 and Mazar (1973) produced reports on archeaological excavations at Beth She'arim. Russell (1980) provided the following commentary which appears to be based on Mazar (1973: 18-19).
Evidence of conflagration accompanied the destruction debris, and the skeletons of two individuals apparently killed while trying to flee were found on one of the streets. Following this destruction, the site was abandoned until later in the 4th century. The date of the destruction was fixed by the discovery of a hoard containing about 1,200 coins in the basement of a destroyed building. Although no catalogue of these coins has (to the author's knowledge) been published, the excavator noted that most of them dated to the reigns of Constantine I, Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius II collectively ruling from 306 CE - 361 CE (Mazar 1973: 19, 35, n. 13). Based upon the destruction evidence (collapse plus burning) and the numismatic finds, Mazar attributed this event to the Jewish revolt under Gallus and the supposed destruction of Jewish settlements which followed.
Russell (1980) then quoted Mazar (1973) as follows
Archaeological finds therefore serve as further testimony to the events which brought about the devastation and ruin of the Jewish settlements in Palestine, the great rebellion of the Jews in the days of Constantius (337-361 c.s.) and its suppression by Gallus in 352 C.E. (Mazar 1973: 6).
Russell (1980) (citing Lieberman (1946)) and then then Cohen (1976)) went on to make the case that the Jewish Revolt under Gallus was little more than "a local insignificant incident of a Roman usurper supported by some of the Diocaesarean Jews Lieberman (1946)" concluding that the destruction at Beth She'arim was likely due to the Cyril Quake of 363 AD. Absent published numismatic evidence, it is difficult to assess this archeoseismic evidence which leads us to classify this as "needs investigation".

en-Nabratein

Meyers, Strange, and Meyers (1982) performed excavations of what they labelled 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)

They 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 ocuurred "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. all of which is beyond our ability as non-archeologists to assess responsibly. Considering this, we have decided to label archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake at en-Nabratein as debated.

Capernaum

Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Capernaum New Testament and Josephus καπερναούμ
Kefr Nahum* Talmudic Literature כפר נחום
Kefar Tanhum* Medieval Jewish Sources כפר תנחום
Tanhum* Medieval Jewish Sources תנום
Talhum* Arabic تالهوم
Tell Hum* Arabic تيلل هوم
*from Stanislao Loffreda in Stern et al (1993).


Introduction

Capernaum lies on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. To the northeast of the remains of a synagogue and surrounding Roman-Byzantine village lie the remains of an early Islamic village (Magness, 1997)..

Maps and Plans Chronology
Debated Stratigraphy

Maps and Plans

  • General plan of the excavations in the area of the Greek Orthodox church from Tzaferis in Stern et al (1993)
Tzaferis (1989) excavated Capernaum from 1978-1982 and divided up the strata via pottery, coins, and oil lamps (Magness, 1997) as follows:
Stratum Age (CE)
I mid-10th century to 1033
II mid-9th to mid-10th century
III 750 to mid-9th century
IV 650 - 750
V early 7th century to 650
The table above comes from Magness (1997). In Stern et al (1993), Tzaferis dates Stratum V differently - the first half of 7th century to first half of the 8th century - and goes on to state that Stratum IV was apparently destroyed in the earthquake that struck the region in 746 CE [as] evidenced by the great quantity of huge stones in the piles of debris and by the ash covering the stratum throughout the area. Stratum IV, according to Magness (1997) was apparently primarily dated based on a coin hoard found buried beneath a paving stone in a room in Area A (Tzaferis 1989: 17; Wilson 1989: 145). The hoard consists of 282 gold dinars of of the Umayyad "post-reform" type, dating from 696-97 to 743-44 (Magness, 1997). The latest coin dated to A.H. 126 (25 October 743 - 12 October 744 CE). Wilson (1989:163-64) made the following comments about the hoard:
The latest dinar in the Capernaum hoard is dated A.H. 126, which means that the hoard could not have been buried before A.D. 744. It may be possible, in this case, to pinpoint the date even more precisely. According to ancient historians, a disastrous earthquake shook the Jordan Valley in A.D. 746, severely damaging the Temple Mount, destroying Khirbet Mefjer, damaging Jerash, and, significantly, smashing Tiberias, some 19 km. from Capernaum. Evidently both history and nature conspired against Capernaum during the years A.D. 744-746. First, the civil chaos following the death of Hisham reached out into Palestine, particularly involving such aristocratic estates as Khirbet Minyeh, whose master could not have avoided being on the wrong side of the conflict at some point. Under the dangerous circumstances, the owner of the hoard deposited his treasure. In the very midst of this conflict, the earthquake played havoc up and down the entire Jordan Valley. If the hoard's owner was not killed in the succession conflict, or destroyed along with his town in the earthquake, he may have fallen, or at least been prevented from returning to his fortune. . . . (Wilson 1989: 163-64)
Magness (1997) observed that while the hoard could not have been buried before 744, when the latest coins it contained were minted, it could have been deposited at any time after that date. Magness (1997) further noted that ceramic evidence (particularly when compared to ceramic evidence at Pella) was in conflict with the dating of Stratum IV and suggested that the coins were deposited during the Abassid period - a time when there was a noted shortage of Abassid coinage as the Abassids had moved their capital from Damascus to Baghdad and apparently fewer coins were minted in Syria. This could then explain why no coins were found in the hoard minted after A.H. 126 (25 October 743 - 12 October 744 CE). Magness (1997) went on to question whether there was an earthquake destruction level at the top of stratum IV:
Elsewhere in the publication the destruction of stratum IV is attributed to the earthquake of 746-47.5 However, The evidence from stratum IV at Capernaum is inconsistent with earthquake destruction. No human or animal victims have been discovered, there is no evidence for the extensive collapse of buildings, and no assemblages of whole or restorable vessels were found lying smashed on the floors. In fact, almost no whole or restored vessels are published from Capernaum. The coins at Pella were found scattered on the floors of the buildings, buried beneath the earthquake collapse. In contrast, at Capernaum the hoard was carefully buried beneath the pavement of a room. It could have been deposited due to an impending (and presumably, human) threat. However, since it does not fit the profile of an emergency hoard, I believe that it represents the carefully hidden personal savings of an individual or individuals. Finally, the fact that the ceramic assemblage from stratum IV at Capernaum differs significantly from that associated with the 746-47 earthquake at Pella indicates that they are not contemporary.

Footnotes

5 The structures of Stratum IV were probably all destroyed by an earthquake, as is suggested by a huge rock resting upon and blocking Street 1, and by the fallen debris, especially in Building D (Tzaferis 1989: 16, 20).
Magness (1997) redated Stratum IV as well as the oldest layer, Stratum V, based on ceramic evidence. While she noted that the few whole or restorable vessels illustrated from stratified stratum V contexts at Capernaum have parallels from the 746-47 earthquake destruction level at Pella, the absence of clearly later types, such as Mefjer ware, suggests a terminus ante quem of ca. 750 for stratum V. Magness (1997) noted that Stratum V was a thin occupational level which means there is limited ceramic evidence. She suggested that there appeared to be no break in the occupational sequence from V to IV. Magness (1997) proposed redating Stratum IV and V as follows:
Stratum Age (CE)
IV ca. 750 to the second half of the ninth century
V ca. 700-750


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.

Seismic Effects
Destruction of Stratum IV earthquake

Tzaferis in Stern et al (1993) states that Stratum IV was apparently destroyed in the earthquake that struck the region in 746 CE [as] evidenced by the great quantity of huge stones in the piles of debris and by the ash covering the stratum throughout the area.

Intensity Estimates
Destruction of Stratum IV earthquake

Effect Source Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Tzaferis in Stern et al (1993) Tzaferis in Stern et al (1993) states that Stratum IV was apparently destroyed in the earthquake that struck the region in 746 CE [as] evidenced by the great quantity of huge stones in the piles of debris and by the ash covering the stratum throughout the area. VIII+
The collapsed walls requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References
Notes

Amiran et al (1994) state that Tsafrir and Foerster (1989:357) presume that the destruction of Capernaum, which Weiss dated to shortly after 743 C.E. on the basis of coins, was also caused by the earthquake of 749.

Samaria-Sebaste aka Shomron

Initial excavations of this site were performed by Harvard University without the aid of modern excavation or recording techniques and without a valid chronology of Late Roman Byzantine ceramics (Russell,1980). Reisner, Fischer, and Lyon (1924: 218) report the following which may indicate earthquake damage:
Restoration - During the Severan period the Basilica and the Forum were entirely reconstructed. The building, like those on the summit, had apparently been in ruins. Many of the columns had been overthrown, and the pedestals carried away.
Gibson (2014) reports that Samaria-Sebaste was destroyed during the First Jewish War (66–73 CE), "but was rebuilt and gained the status of a Roman colony from the hands of Septimus Severus in 200 CE. By the time that Christianity became the dominant religion, Sebaste was already deteriorating and after the Arab conquest in the first half of the seventh century CE it was left in ruins". This indicates that the Severan period referred to by Reisner, Fischer, and Lyon (1924) lasted from 200 CE until sometime before the middle of the 7th century CE.

Russell (1980) reports that later excavations by Crowfoot, Kenyon, and Sukenik (1966:137-38) found evidence of destruction and subsequent rebuilding in a large house found in the eastern insula. Crowfoot et. al. (1966) described the evidence as follows :
No portion of the walls above ground level survived. The foundations show at least two periods. some badly built walls with very rubbly building being added to the better built earlier ones. Nearly all the earlier ones seem to have been partially rebuilt in the worse style, with two or three courses of rubble on the top of their solidly built foundations. This would indicate that the original building had been destroyed to ground level, possibly by an earthquake
According to Russell (1980), Crowfoot, Kenyon, and Sukenik (1966) also suggested that the Basilica of the site might have been converted into a cathedral during the 4th century AD (Crowfoot, Kenyon, and Sukenik, 1966: 37).

This indicates that the chronology of destruction at Samaria-Sebaste is insufficiently well defined to postulate anything further than that it is possible that the Cyril Quake caused damage and destruction at this location.

Bet She'an

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Beit She'an Hebrew בֵּית שְׁאָן
Scythopolis Greek Σκυθόπολις
Beisan Arabic بيسان‎
Tell el-Husn Arabic تيلل يلءهوسن
Introduction

Beit She'an is situated at a strategic location between the Yizreel and Jordan Valleys at the juncture of ancient roadways (Stern et al, 1993). In Roman times, it was one of the cities of the Decapolis. The site of Bet She'an was occupied almost continuously from Neolithic to Early Arab times (Stern et al, 1993).

Maps and Plans Chronology
363 CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • City Plan of Bet She'an from Stern et al (1993)
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).

7th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • City Plan of Bet She'an from Stern et al (1993)
Langgut et al (2015) report possible archeoseismic evidence for the Jordan Valley Quake at Bet Sh 'ean citing Bar-Nathan and Atrash (2011:8, 153.154, table 4.4).

Russell (1985) reported the following
Fitzgerald (1931:7) uncovered three Byzantine houses that had collapsed and burned in the early 7th century, sealing coins of Anastasius I, Justin II, Maurice Tiberius. and Phocas beneath their destruction debris. a temporal span ca. 491-610.

In the Byzantine monastery at Beth-shan, gold coins of Heraclius (610- 641) were sealed beneath similar collapse debris Fitzgerald (1939:2) .
Such damage could have also been the result of the Byzantine-Sassanian War of 602-628 CE.

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Collapse from mid 8th century CE in Bet She'an Gold Coin dated AH 131 in Bet She'an Plate I (left) - Partially restored facade of shops in Bet Shean, showing in the lower half the collapsed upper courses of the walls and arcades of the portico.

Plate II (right) - Gold dinar excavated at Bet She'an, with the marginal legend: 'in the name of Allah, this dinar was minted in the year one hundred thirty one'.

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


Maps and Plans
  • City Plan of Bet She'an from Stern et al (1993)
Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) reported on artifacts found beneath a destruction layer of earthquake induced rubble from what was once an arcaded commercial street in the Byzantine/Early Arab period in Bet She 'an. Among the many artifacts found were pottery, glass and metal vessels, balances, jewelry, and coins. The artifacts dated to the mid 8th century CE. None of the coins dated to later than the first half of the 8th century CE. Of particular significance was a coin hoard discovered in one of the shops. The hoard included 31 gold dinars. The earliest coin from this hoard dated to A.H. 78 (30 March 697 — 19 March 698 CE) and the latest (see Plate II above) was minted in A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE). This coin provides a terminus post quem for the earthquake that struck Bet She'an.

Seismic Effects
363 CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • City Plan of Bet She'an from Stern et al (1993)
Seismic Effects reported by Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) include
  • Collapse of the roof of the odeum
  • partial destruction of the theater

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Collapse from mid 8th century CE in Bet She'an Gold Coin dated AH 131 in Bet She'an Plate I (left) - Partially restored facade of shops in Bet Shean, showing in the lower half the collapsed upper courses of the walls and arcades of the portico.

Plate II (right) - Gold dinar excavated at Bet She'an, with the marginal legend: 'in the name of Allah, this dinar was minted in the year one hundred thirty one'.

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


Maps and Plans
  • City Plan of Bet She'an from Stern et al (1993)
Seismic Effects include
  • Fallen Columns
  • Collapsed Walls

Intensity Estimates
363 CE earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls Collapse of the roof of the odeum suggests displaced walls VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls VIII+
Fallen Columns V+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References

Schechem (Neapolis)

In the 1960's, three cisterns were excavated at ancient Shechem (Bull and Campbell 1968: 15-17). At the bottom of what was labeled Cistern II, a 0.15 m thick layer of black silt was overlain by a 0.2 meter thick layer of compact fine grey silt. These two silty layers contained a large quantity of pottery, glass fragments, coins, and other artifacts and were overlain by an apparent destruction layer - 1.10 m of thick 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 aka Julian the Apostate (360-363). Bull and Campbell (1968) note that the cisterns abutted and post dated a wall (12,000) that was part of the Zeus Temple Complex built during during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. They suggest that it is likely that this Temple complex was built during Hadrian's visit to Palestine around 130 AD. They further report that Samaritan literary evidence indicates that the Zeus Temple was in ruins by the time of Julian II indicating that the cisterns likely fell into disuse and began to silt up prior to 363 AD. Because the destruction layer (present in all 3 cisterns and of approximately equal thickness) appears to be so well dated, it is fair to characterize this archeoseismic evidence as a definitive indication that there was damage and destruction at ancient Shechem due to the Cyril Quake of 363 AD.

Ma’ayan Barukh

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 incription in Italy is used to hypothesize that this referred to Julian. Language in this inscription found at Ma’ayan Barukh is 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 AD. 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 AD as Julian did not use that title earlier in his reign (Negev, 1969). Note : Ambraseys (2009) misreports this to the summer of 363 AD.

The insciption was found at a site ~8 km. from Caesarea Philippi (Paneas) "where once stood a famous Roman Temple" Negev (1969). Negev (1969) conjectures that the insciption may come from "the famous Roman Temple" in Caesarea Philippi (Paneas) or other Temples in the region.

Since Julian's reign ended only a month after the Cyril Quake(s), this inscription as evidence of restoration of a Temple due to earthquake damage due to the Cyril Quake(s) is tenuous at best. Thus, archeoseismic evidence for earthquake destruction in the vicinity of Ma’ayan Barukh is indeterminate.

Anz

Ambraseys(2009) reports
Another inscription from ‘Anz in the southern Hauran states that another temple was restored by Julian (Littman 1910, 108/no. 186).

Caesarea

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Caesarea
Caesarea Maritima
Keysariya Hebrew ‎קֵיסָרְיָה
Qesarya Hebrew ‎קֵיסָרְיָה
Qisri Rabbinic Sources
Qisrin Rabbinic Sources
Qisarya Arabic قيسارية
Qaysariyah Early Islamic Arabic قايساريياه
Caesarea near Sebastos Greek and Latin sources
Caesarea of Straton Greek and Latin sources
Caesarea of Palestine Greek and Latin sources
Caesarea Ancient Greek ‎Καισάρεια
Straton's Tower
Strato's Tower
Stratonos pyrgos Ancient Greek
Straton's Caesarea
Introduction

King Herod built the town of Caesarea between 22 and 10/9 BCE, naming it for his patron - Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. The neighboring port was named Sebastos - Greek for Augustus (Stern et al, 1993). Straton's Tower, a Phoenician Port city, existed earlier on the site. When the Roman's annexed Judea in 6 CE, Caesarea became the headquarters for the provincial governor and his administration (Stern et al, 1993). During the first Jewish War, Roman General Vespasian wintered at Caesarea and used it as his support base (Stern et al, 1993). After he became Emperor, he refounded the city as a Roman colony. Caesarea is mentioned in the 10th chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as the location where, shortly after the crucifixion, Peter converted Roman centurion Cornelius - the first gentile convert to the faith. In Early Byzantine times, Caesarea was known for its library and as the birthplace of the Christian Church historian and Bishop Eusebius. After the Muslim conquest of the 7th century, the city began to decline but revived again in the 10th century (Stern et al, 1993). Crusaders ruled the city for most of the years between 1101 and 1265 CE (Stern et al, 1993). After the Crusaders were ousted, the town was eventually leveled in 1291 CE and remained mostly desolate after that (Stern et al, 1993).

Chronology
Stratigraphic Framework of Toombs (1978)

  • Sketch plan of Caesarea Maritima from Toombs (1978) .
Toombs (1978) developed a stratigraphic framework for Caesarea after 4 seasons of excavations using the destruction layers overlying the latest Byzantine occupation as the stratigraphic key. The framework was developed primarily on balk sections from four fields - A, B, C, and H. It is considered most accurate for the Byzantine and Arab phases and least accurate for Late Arab and Roman levels. It is reproduced as a summarized table below:
Phase Period Date Comments
I Modern
II Crusader 1200-1300 CE‎
III.1 Late Arab 900*-1200 CE
III.2 Middle Arab
Abbasid
750-900* CE
III.3 Early Arab
Umayyad
640-750 CE
IV Byzantine/Arab 640 CE In A.D. 640 Caesarea fell to Arab invaders. This time the destruction was complete and irretrievable. Battered columns and the empty shells of buildings stood nakedly above heaps of tangled debris.
V Final Byzantine 614-640 CE In A.D. 614 Persian armies captured Caesarea, but withdrew by A.D. 629. This invasion caused widespread destruction and brought the Main Byzantine Period to a close, but recovery was rapid and the city was restored
VI.1 Main Byzantine 450/550*-614 CE
VI.2 Main Byzantine 330 - 450/550* CE
VII.1 Roman 200*-330 CE It seems probable that during the Late Roman Period a major catastrophe befell the city, causing a partial collapse of the vaulted warehouses along the waterfront, and the destruction of major buildings within the city. Such a city-wide disaster alone would account for the rebuilding of the warehouse vaulting and the buildings above it, as well as the virtual absence of intact Roman structures in the city proper.
VII.2 Roman 100*-200* CE
VII.3 Roman 10 BCE - 100* CE
Dates with an asterisk (*) were derived from Note 4 in Toombs (1978:232)

Toombs (1978)'s Stratigraphic framework with comparison between areas is shown below:

Stratigraphic Framework for Caesarea by Toombs (1978) Figure 4

Stratigraphic analysis of the results of the first four seasons at Caesarea, tabulated by Field.

Toombs (1978)

Stratigraphy in Ad et al (2017)

Ad et al (2017) excavated the Crusader Market and presented the following stratigraphy:

Stratum Period
I Modern
II Late Ottoman (Bosnian)
IIIa Crusader (Louis IX)
IIIb Crusader (pre-Louis IX)
IV Fatimid
V Abbasid
VI Umayyad
VII Late Byzantine/Early Umayyad
VIII Late Byzantine
IX Early Byzantine
X Late Roman
XI Roman
XII Early Roman
XIII Herodian

31 BCE Earthquake

Karcz (2004) without citing references states that 31 BCE archeoseismic evidence was claimed at Stratton's Tower.

Late 1st century CE Earthquake

  • View of ancient harbor of Caesarea from Reinhardt and Raban (1999)
Using ceramics, Reinhardt and Raban (1999) dated a high energy subsea deposit inside the harbor at Caesarea to the late 1st / early 2nd century CE. This, along with other supporting evidence, indicated that the outer harbor breakwater must have subsided around this time. They attributed the subsidence to seismic activity.
L4 — Destruction Phase

The first to second century A.D. basal rubble unit (L4) was found on the carbonate cemented sandstone bedrock (locally known as kurkar) and was characteristic of a high-energy water deposit (Fig. 2 ). The rubble was framework supported with little surrounding matrix and composed mainly of cobble-sized material, which was well rounded, heavily encrusted (e.g., bryozoans, calcareous algae), and bored (Lithophaga lithophaga, Cliona) on its upper surface. The rubble had variable lithologies including basalts, gabbros, and dolomites, all of which are absent on the Israeli coastal plain and were likely transported to the site as ship ballast (probably from Cyprus). The surrounding matrix was composed of shell material (mainly Glycymeris insubricus), pebbles, and coarse sand. The pottery sherds found in this unit were well rounded, encrusted, and dated to the first to second century A.D. The date for this unit and its sedimentological characters clearly records the existence of high-energy conditions within the inner harbor about 100-200 yr after the harbor was built. This evidence of high-energy water conditions indicates that the outer harbor breakwaters must have been severely degraded by this time to allow waves to penetrate the inner confines of the harbor (Fig. 3, A and B ).

Indication of the rapid destruction of the outer harbor breakwaters toward the end of the first century A.D. is derived from additional data recovered from the outer harbor. In the 1993 season, a late first century A.D. shipwreck was found on the southern submerged breakwater. The merchant ship was carrying lead ingots that were narrowly dated to A.D. 83-96 based on the inscription "IMP.DOMIT.CAESARIS.AUG.GER." which refers to the Roman Emperor Domitianus (Raban, 1999). The wreck was positioned on the harbor breakwater, indicating that this portion of the structure must have been submerged to allow a ship to run-up and founder on top (Raban, 1999; Fig. 3B). Because Josephus praised the harbor in grand terms and referred to it as a functioning entity around A.D. 75-79, and yet portions of the breakwater were submerged by A.D. 83-96, we conclude that there was a rapid deterioration and submergence of the harbor, probably through seismic activity.
Later they suggested that the subsidence had a neotectonic origin.
Evidence for neotectonic subsidence of the harbor has been reinforced by separate geologic studies (stratigraphic analysis of boreholes, Neev et al., 1987; seismic surveys, Mart and Perecman, 1996) that recognize faults in the shallow continental shelf and in the proximity of Caesarea; one fault extends across the central portion of the harbor. However, obtaining precise dates for movement along the faults is difficult. Archaeological evidence of submergence can be useful for dating and determining the magnitude of these events: however, at Caesarea the evidence is not always clear.
Neotectonic subsidence is unlikely. As pointed out by Dey et al(2014), the coastline appears to have been stable for the past ~2000 years with sea level fluctuating no more than ± 50 cm, no pronounced vertical displacement of the city's Roman aqueduct (Raban, 1989:18-21), and harbor constructions completed directly on bedrock showing no signs of subsidence. However, Reinhardt and Raban (1999) considered more realistic possibilities for submergence of harbor installations such as seismically induced liquefaction, storm scour, and tsunamis.
The submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. could have also been due to seismic liquefaction of the sediment. Excavations have shown that the harbor breakwaters were constructed on well-sorted sand that could have undergone liquefaction with seismic activity. In many instances the caissons are tilted (15°-20° from horizontal; Raban et al., 1999a) and at different elevations, which could be due to differential settling (area K; Fig. 1 ). However, the tilting could also be due to undercutting by current scour from large-scale storms (or tsunamis) and not exclusively seismic activity. Our data from the inner harbor cannot definitively ascribe the destruction of the harbor at the end of the first century A.D. to a seismic event, although some of the data support this conclusion. However, regardless of the exact mechanism, our sedimentological evidence from the inner harbor and the remains of the late first century A.D. shipwreck indicate that the submergence of the outer breakwater occurred early in the life of the harbor and was more rapid and extensive than previously thought.
Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) examined and dated cores taken seaward of the harbor and identified 2 tsunamite deposits (see Tsunamogenic Evidence) including one which dates to to the 1st-2nd century CE. Although, it is tempting to correlate the 1st-2nd century CE tsunamite deposits of Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) to the L4 destruction phase identified in the harbor ( Reinhardt and Raban, 1999), the chronologies presented by Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) suffer from some imprecision due to the usual paucity of dating material that one encounters with cores. Further, the harbor subsidence and breakwater degradation dated by Reinhardt and Raban (1999) may not have been caused by seismic activity. If it was related to seismic activity, the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake is a better candidate than the 115 CE Trajan Quake because it would have produced higher intensities in Caesarea.

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.

7th century CE Earthquake

Langgut et al (2015) report that destruction of a building in Caesarea Maritima was tentatively attributed to the 659 CE earthquake by Raban et al (1993:59-61).

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

  • Caesarea with principal sites mentioned by Dey et al(2014)
Dey et al (2014) report that evidence for seismic destruction due to one of the mid 8th century earthquakes is present adjacent to the Temple Platform and possibly at the octagonal church.
At Caesarea, the best evidence of destruction attributable to the 749 earthquake comes from Area TPS, on the S side of the Temple Platform, where a thick layer of debris marks the end of the Umayyad occupation of the Late Byzantine bath complex, which was subsequently mulled and built over in the later 8th century - see Raban and Yankelevitz (2008:81) and Arnon (2008:85). Another probable effect of the earthquake was the collapse of the octagonal church on the platform - see Stabler and Holum (2008:30-31).
In addition, there appears to be evidence of landward tsunami deposits. After the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, Caesarea depopulated. In the late 7th or early 8th century CE, the coastal strip south of where the Crusaders would later build their fortifications was transformed into lush terraced gardens irrigated by wells and cisterns ( Dey et al, 2014). Marine layers found on top of these gardens included Glycymeris, a non-edible deeper water bivalve. Atop the marine layer was, in some areas, a burial ground with a funerary inscription providing a terminus ante quem of 870 CE. A terminus post quem of c. 500 came from a reflecting pool fronting the Temple platform and overlain by the marine layer. Dey et al (2014) suggest that the most likely explanation for the transformation from gardens to burial ground was an intervening episode of tsunamogenic destruction. They discussed the potential landward tsunamogenic deposit as follows:
The most substantial strata attributable to a marine inundation of mid-8th-c. date appeared in the SW sector, along the coastal strip south of the Crusader fortifications. Extensive tracts of these deposits between the temple platform and the theater, a shore-parallel distance of nearly 800 m, were uncovered (and removed, usually mechanically) in the 1970s and early 1980s under the auspices of the Joint Expedition (JECM). The bulk of the deposits lay in a shallow depression situated c.10 m above mean sea-level (MSL) and separated from the sea by a low ridge 15 m above MSL. From the landward side of the ridge, beginning c.50 m from the shore, these marine layers stretched inland as far as 300 m from the sea. 14 They comprised two distinct, superimposed sequences, each consisting of a thick, lower layer of densely-bedded (and in some cases imbricated) shells, rubble and sherds up to 1.5 m thick, topped by a dark, silty layer 20-40 cm thick. Datable materials in the second, upper sequence placed its formation around the 14th c. 15 In the lower sequence, dated by the excavators approximately to the 8th c. on the basis of finds, numerous disarticulated human remains turned up, as well as at least one complete skeleton in Area C, interbedded with the surrounding strata of shells and silt. 16 Like the rest of the materials, this corpse was probably deposited by a (cataclysmic) natural event. As D. Neev and K. Emery indicated in their report, there were no signs of a man-made grave, and the surrounding horizontal strata were uninterrupted above and below the skeleton; such 'culturally non-appropriate burials' are now recognized as a typical feature of tsunami deposits.17 The most likely scenario would have corpses deposited by the retreating waters of the tsunami and immediately covered with more detritus, keeping the articulated skeleton undisturbed by scavenging animals or human intervention.

Seismic Effects
Late 1st century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects include

  • Liquefaction
  • Subsidence
  • Tsunami

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects include

  • Thick layer of debris in Area TPS on the south side of the Temple platform
  • Collapse of the octagonal church on the platform
  • Tsunami

Intensity Estimates
Late 1st century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Subsidence Submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. VI +
Liquefaction Submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. could have also been due to seismic liquefaction of the sediment. VII +
Tsunami IX +
Although the archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of IX (9) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) , such an Intensity would have leveled Caesarea and there is no accompanying evidence of damage to structures. An Intensity of IX (9) is a gross over estimate and highlights the probability that tsunamogenic evidence in Caesarea was likely derived from either far field tsunamis and/or localized offshore shelf collapse. Potential Intensity is downgraded to VI (6) to VII (7).

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Another probable effect of the earthquake was the collapse of the octagonal church on the platform VIII +
Tsunami IX +
Although the archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of IX (9) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) , such an Intensity would have leveled Caesarea and there is no accompanying evidence of widespread leveling of structures. An Intensity of IX (9) is a gross over estimate and highlights the probability that tsunamogenic evidence in Caesarea was likely derived from either far field tsunamis and/or localized offshore shelf collapse. Potential Intensity is downgraded to VII (7) to VIII (8).

Notes and Further Reading
References

Toombs (1978). The Stratigraphy of Caesarea Maritima. Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyon. R. M. a. P. Parr. Warminster. England, Aris and Phillips: 233-232.

Raban, A. (1996). The inner harbor basin of Caesarea: archaeological evidence for its gradual demise

Raban, A. and O. British Archaeological Reports (1989). "The Harbours of Caesarea Maritima. Results of the Caesarea Ancient Harbour Excavation Project, 1980-1985. Volume I: The Site and the Excavations." BAR International series 491.

Dey, H., et al. (2014). "Archaeological evidence for the tsunami of January 18, A.D. 749: a chapter in the history of Early Islamic Qâysariyah (Caesarea Maritima)." Journal of Roman Archaeology 27: 357-373.

Stabler, J, and K. Holum 2008. "The warehouse quarter (area LL) and the Temple Platform (area TP), 1996-2000 and 2002 seasons," in Holum, Stabler and Reinhardt 2008, 1-39. Reinhardt, E. G., et al. (2006). "The tsunami of 13 December A.D. 115 and the destruction of Herod the Great's harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel." Geology 34(12): 1061-1064.

Reinhardt, E. G. and A. Raban (1999). "Destruction of Herod the Great's harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel—Geoarchaeological evidence." Geology 27(9): 811-814.

Mart and Perecman(1996). Caesarea: Unique Evidence for Faulting Patterns and Sea Level Fluctuations in the Late Holocene. Caesarea Maritima: A Retrospective after Two Milennia. Leiden, Brill: 3-24.

Raban, A. and S. Yankelevitz 2008. "A Byzantine/Early Islamic bath on the S flank of the Temple Plat-form, excavations 1995," in Holum, Stabler and Reinhardt 2008, 67-84.

Holum, K. G., J. A. Stabler and E. G. Reinhardt (edd.) 2008. Caesarea reports and studies: excavations 1995-2007 within the Old City mid the ancient harbor (BAR 51784; Oxford).

Arnon, Y. D. 2008. Caesarea Maritima, the late periods (700-1291 CE) (BAR 51771; Oxford).

Raban A, Holum KG, Blakely JA. 1993. The combined Caesarea expeditions: field reports of the 1992 season. Haifa: University of Haifa.

Caesarea-Maritima.org

Caesarea-Maritima.org - Comprehensive Bibliography

Masada

Aerial View of Masada Aerial View of Masada looking south. In the foreground is the northern section discussed by Netzer (1991)

Wikipedia - Andrew Shivta - SA 4.0


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Masada Hebrew מצדה
Hebrew מִדְבַּר יְהוּדָה
Arabic صحراء يهودا
Hamesad Aramaic
Marda Byzantine Greek
Masada Latin
Introduction

According to Josephus (in his book The Jewish War), the fortress at Masada was first built in Hasmonean times. Afterwards, King Herod built or rebuilt both a fortress and a refuge on the site. Masada's location, a veritable island atop steep walled cliffs, made it almost impregnable - until the Romans arrived. Again, according to Josephus, during the first Jewish war against Rome, the "Zealots" commandeered the fortress and were the last holdouts in that war when they collectively committed mass suicide rather than be taken captive in the spring of 74 CE. Afterwards, the Romans stationed a garrison on the site. The Romans eventually moved on and later a Byzantine Church and monastery were built there (Stern et al, 1993).
After that, it was left abandoned and desolate until modern times. . 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.

Chronology

Netzer (1991:xv) supplied a list of the main periods of activity.
Period Start Date End Date Comments
Hasmonean The phase of Masada's existence about which very little is known as yet
Early Herodian building phase ca. 37 BCE ca. 30 BCE the proposed datessubdividing the Herodian period are tentative
Main Herodian building phase ca. 30 BCE ca. 20 BCE
Late Herodian building phase ca. 20 BCE ca. 4 BCE The reign of Archelaus (4 BCE -6 CE), Herod's son, should, for all practical purposes, be included in the Herodian period.
Procurators 6 CE 66 CE from the year 6 CE (the end of Archelaus' reign) to 66 CE, the year of Masada's occupation by the Zealots. This period includes the brief reign of Agrippa I in Judea from 41-44 CE.
Zealots 66 CE 73 CE from the arrival of the Zealots in 66 CE to the site's destruction ca. 73 CE
Post-Zealot 73 CE the occupation of Masada by the Roman garrison after it's destruction in ca. 73 CE
Byzantine during which Masada was occupied by a monastic community
Yadin (1965:30) indicates that the Byzantine occupation occurred after the earthquakes.
1st century BCE Earthquake

Although Karcz, Kafri, and Meshel (1977), listed Tilted walls, aligned fallen masonry, cracks, and collapse at Masada due to shocks in the 1st century BC and later, the 1st century BC part of this was rescinded in Karcz (2004) stating that the archeological evidence for the 31 BCE Josephus Quake is tenuous at best and Netzer (1991, 1997) in his detailed analysis of architectural complexes of Masada states that the signs of a possible seismic damage there are much later than 31 B.C.. Netzer (1991) only mentioned one earthquake between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE.

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.

*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

Seismic Effects
2nd - 4th century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects

Location Source Date Effect(s)
Room 162 in the SW corner of Building No. 7 Netzer (1991:24)
  • The rock ceiling of a cisternpresumably collapsed in an earthquake pulling down much of the floor of the room above. The surviving features of the room probably date to the Zealot period
Storeroom Complex Netzer (1991:39)
  • The Storeroom Complex, more than any other part of Masada, [] provided the most graphic evidence - even before excavation had begun - of the earthquake that destroyed most of the walls of Masada.
  • In Storerooms 131 and 132, for example, one can actually count six or seven fallen courses
  • In Storeroom 131 on top of the debris one can discern some seven fallen courses, most probably collapsed from the western wall. The other unexcavated storerooms reveal a similar picture
Tepidarium 9 Netzer (1991:166)
  • The tepidarium was full of debris from the upper story, including fragments of a Corinthian capital painted in white and gilt. Owing to the pressure of the debris (perhaps also because of an earthquake), the eastern wall of the room was found leaning on its side
Caldarium Netzer (1991:88-89)
  • The caldarium was roofed over by a stone barrel-vaulted ceiling boasting the largest span of any vault or arch on Masada — 6.7 m. The remains of this vault were found mostly in the rubble cleared from the room; in a few cases whole courses of the vault fell en bloc, without disintegrating (see Ill. 145 ). The vault apparently collapsed during the violent earthquake that wreaked havoc with the buildings on Masada.
Columbarium Tower 725 Netzer (1991:372)
  • The tower was ruined either gradually or as a result of some catastrophe, such as an earthquake, with the beams of the ceilings falling to the floor.
Cistern 1063 - Northwestern section of casemate wall Netzer (1991:391)
  • After the ceiling had collapsed (presumably in an earthquake), debris and earth filled the entire cistern. In the debris the excavators found stones from the vault, as well as various architectural elements such as column drums and cornices. The debris also contained a large quantity of material finds. Altogether 15 coins were found in this cistern.
  • JW: Possible Slope effect as this is adjacent to a very steep slope
Room (Tower) 1260 - Southwestern section of casemate wall Netzer (1991:453-454)
  • The room contained an enormous amount of debris, consisting of large stones, up to a height of some 3.0 m above floor level. At a level of ca. 1.0 m above the floor parts of a human skeleton were uncovered, consisting mainly of the skull and legs. Theoretically speaking, these could be the remains of a person who happened to be on Masada during the earthquake that caused the most extensive destruction on the mount.
Walls of Masada Netzer (1991:655)
  • The great earthquake which destroyed most of the walls of Masada sometime during the second to fourth centuries.

Intensity Estimates
2nd - 4th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls
  • The Storeroom Complex, more than any other part of Masada, [] provided the most graphic evidence - even before excavation had begun - of the earthquake that destroyed most of the walls of Masada.
  • In Storerooms 131 and 132, for example, one can actually count six or seven fallen courses
  • In Storeroom 131 on top of the debris one can discern some seven fallen courses, most probably collapsed from the western wall. The other unexcavated storerooms reveal a similar picture
VIII +
Collapsed Walls The tepidarium was full of debris from the upper story, including fragments of a Corinthian capital painted in white and gilt. VIII +
Fallen columns The tepidarium was full of debris from the upper story, including fragments of a Corinthian capital painted in white and gilt. V +
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks the eastern wall of the room [Tepidarium 9] was found leaning on its side VI +
Collapsed Vaults The caldarium was roofed over by a stone barrel-vaulted ceiling boasting the largest span of any vault or arch on Masada — 6.7 m. The remains of this vault were found mostly in the rubble cleared from the room; in a few cases whole courses of the vault fell en bloc, without disintegrating (see Ill. 145 ). The vault apparently collapsed during the violent earthquake that wreaked havoc with the buildings on Masada. VIII +
Collapsed Walls The room contained an enormous amount of debris, consisting of large stones, up to a height of some 3.0 m above floor level. At a level of ca. 1.0 m above the floor parts of a human skeleton were uncovered, consisting mainly of the skull and legs. Theoretically speaking, these could be the remains of a person who happened to be on Masada during the earthquake that caused the most extensive destruction on the mount. VIII +
Collapsed Walls The great earthquake which destroyed most of the walls of Masada sometime during the second to fourth centuries. VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) . 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.

Notes and Further Reading
References

Masada I - The Aramaic and Hebrew Ostraca and Jar Inscriptions, The Coins of Masada, The Yigal Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports, Israel Exploration Society. Yadin and Naveh (1989), Meshorer (1989)

Masada II - The Latin and Greek Documents, The Yigal Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports, Israel Exploration Society. Cotton and Geiger (1989)

Masada III: The Buildings, Stratigraphy and Architecture, The Yigal Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports, Israel Exploration Society. Netzer, E. (1991).

Masada IV Textiles, Lamps, Basketry and Cordage, Wood Remains, Ballista Balls, Appendum - Human Skeletal Remains The Yigal Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports, Israel Exploration Society.

Masada V - Art and Architecture, The Yigal Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports - Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, Foerster, G. (1995)

Yadin, Y. (1965). "The excavation of Masada 1963-64,preliminary report." Israel Exploration J. 15(1-120).

Netzer, E. (1997). "Masada from Foundation to Destruction: an Architectural History,”." Hurvitz, G.(szerk.): The Story of Masada. Discoveries from the Excavations. Provo, UT: BYU Studies: 33-50.

Magness, J. (2019). Masada From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth, Princeton University Press.

Y. Yadin, Masada Herod's Fortress and the Zealouts Last Stand , London 1966

Masada and the world of the New Testament

Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in Eretz Israel, English edn (updated), vol 3 (Massada, Jerusalem, 1975).

Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in Eretz Israel, Hebrew edn, 2 vol (Massada, Jerusalem, 1970).

Jerusalem

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jerusalem English
Yerushaláyim Modern Hebrew יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎
al-Quds Arabic القُدس‎
Ûrshalîm-Al Quds Arabic أورشليم القدس‎‎
Bayt al-Maqdis Arabic ‎بيت المقدس‎
Baitul Muqaddas Arabic ‎بايتول موقادداس
Iliya Arabic ‎يلييا
Ilya Bayt el-Maqdas Arabic ‎يليا بايت يلءماقداس
Hierousalḗm Greek Ἱερουσαλήμ‎
Hierosóluma Greek ‎Ἰεροσόλυμα
Aelia Capitolina Latin Aelia Capitolina
Erusałēm Armenian ‎Երուսաղեմ
Yerushalem Hebrew Bible
Salem Hebrew Bible
City of Judah Divided Monarchy ?
The City Lachish letters
Jebus Jebusites
Uruslimmu Sennacherib inscriptions (7th century BCE)
Urusalim el-Amarna letters (14th century BCE)
Rushalimum Egyptian Execration texts
(19th-20th centuries BCE)
Introduction

Jerusalem has a long continuous history of habitation with textual sources (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) documenting an occupation by a Canaanite tribe known as the Jebusites at the beginning of the Iron Age (Iron Age I). The city, according to the Hebrew Bible, was wrested from the Jebusites by King David around 1000 BCE and thereafter became the premier city of the Jewish religion and people. Later religions such as Christianity and Islam also made it a focal point. A continuous history of construction and destruction has led to a complex archeological history that appears to add some uncertainty to the chronology derived from excavations. On the other hand, abundant textual evidence appears to have assisted in sleuthing this chronology.

Vicinity of Robinson's Arch
Reconstruction of Robinson's Arch Proposed Reconstruction of Robinson's Arch

Водник at ru.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link


Remains of Robinson's Arch Remains of Robinson's Arch

Wikipedia


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.
Givati Site in the City of David
Collapse Rubble in Givati Site in City of David Cyril Quake Fig. 3.

Collapse in two rooms (view to the north-west)

Ben Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. (2013)


Ben Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. (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, D., Tchekhanovets, Y., and Daniel, R. W. (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 D. and Tchekhanovets Y., 2013). They described the destruction as follows:
In the western wing, the floor of the living area collapsed, burying nearly all the remains of the ground floor . The surviving walls of the ground story, in some cases preserved to a height of over 3 m, were found under massive heaps of stones from the walls of the upper story. A large crack cuts through the stone slabs covering the underground water systems. These, along with other finds retrieved from the building, testify to the immense catastrophe it underwent. The ceramic assemblages found in the collapse and below it, on the floors of the building, are dated to the Late Roman–Early Byzantine period (third to fourth centuries CE). The dominant types are arched-rim basins and rouletted bowls
This can be considered as definitive archeoseismic evidence for destruction of this structure due to the Cyril Quake of 363 CE.
Jerusalem Conclusion
Definite archeoseismic evidence apparently exists at the Givati Site in the City of David while the archeoseismic evidence near Robinson's Arch is currently a matter of debate. Taken together, evidence for earthquake destruction in Jerusalem can be described as both definitive and violent in agreement with sources which say half the city was destroyed by the earthquake.

Ghor-es-Safi (Byzantine Zoara)

Tombstone from Victim of Cyril Quake in Ghor es-Safi Tombstone of Samakon of Ghor es-Safi who died in the southern Cyril Quake

photo by Jefferson Williams


Three tombstones discovered in Ghor-es-Safi (Byzantine Zoara) provide an explicit date for the southern Cyril Quake - Monday, 28 Artemisios 258 of the era of Province Arabia, that is 18 May 363 (Ambraseys (2009) - citing Meimaris and Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou 2005, nos. 22-24). Since the textual accounts date the earthquake to 19 May 363 AD and the night before (ie May 18), this indicates that the southern quake struck first.

The incriptions in Greek are translated below with links to photographs taken by the author at the Museum at the Lowest Place on earth near Safi, Jordan in December 2014.

Samakon (son) of Zabdas (the) archdeacon who died 40 years (old) during the earthquake of 18 May 363 AD. Be courageous. No-one is immortal.

Obbe (daughter) of Samakon who died 15 years (of age) during the earthquake of 18 May 363 AD. Be courageous Obbe. No-one is immortal.

Siltha (daughter) of Valentinus and Kyra (her) daughter who both died in holiness ... during the earthquake who died 38 years (old) Siltha of 18 May 363 AD Be courageous. No-one is immortal.

Antipatris aka Aphek

Names

>
Transliterated Name Source Name
Tel Afek Hebrew תל אפק‎‎
Kŭlat Râs el 'Ain Arabic كولات راس يل 'اين
Binar Bashi Ottoman
Surdi fontes Early Frankish ‎‎
'Auja Arabic 'اوجا
Abu Butrus Arabic ابو بوتروس
Antipatris Hebrew ‎‎אנטיפטריס
Antipatris Ancient Greek Αντιπατρίς‎‎
Pegae Hellenistic Period
Introduction

Aphek is located about 12 km. east of Tel Aviv. It has a long history of habitation appearing for example in 19th century BCE Egyptian Execration texts (Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi in Stern et al, 1993). Aphek is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in a list of conquered Canaanite cities (Joshua 12:18, etc.) and as the base from which the Philistines set out to fight Israel (1 Samuel 4:1, 1 Samuel 29:l) (Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi in Stern et al, 1993). In the Hellenistic period, the city of Pegae occupied the mound. It was expanded by Herod the Great and renamed Antipatris, after his father (Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi in Stern et al, 1993). It was also occupied in Helenistic, Early Arab, and Ottoman times .

Chronology

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.
I was unable to access the final report on the excavations (Kochavi (1976:52)). Absent solid stratigraphic information, this archeoseismic evdience cannot be evaluated and is classified as needs investigation.

Seismic Effects

Karcz and Kafri (1978: 244-245) reported that tilted and distorted walls and subsiding arches were encountered.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Location Intensity
Arch Damage VI +
Tilted Walls VI +
Folded Walls VII +
This archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Avdat

Avdat Acropolis Aerial View of Avdat Acropolis

Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Avdat Hebrew עבדת‎‎
Abdah Arabic عبدة‎
Oboda Ancient Greek ‎‎Ὀβόδα
Ovdat ‎‎
Obodat ‎‎
Introduction

Avdat started out in the 3rd or 4th century BCE as a Nabatean way station on the Incense Road (Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). By the 1st century BCE, the town was named Oboba after Nabatean King Obodas I. It was occupied continuously until it was abandoned in the 7th century . Situated at the end of a ~4 km. long ridge, Avdat may have suffered from seismic amplification during past earthquakes as it appears it may be subject to a topographic or ridge effect (terrain map ).

Chronology

Archeological excavations have uncovered several earthquakes which struck Avdat/Oboda. Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) noted approximate dates and Intensities:
  1. Substantial destruction in the early 2nd century CE
  2. Some damage due to an earthquake in 363 CE.
  3. A massive earthquake in the early 5th century CE
  4. A massive earthquake in the early 7th century CE
Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) conducted two archaeoseismic surveys at Avdat and were able to distinguish between 7th century CE seismic effects and effects from a "previous" earthquake where the "previous" earthquake would likely be the massive earthquake in the early 5th century CE.

Early 2nd century earthquake

Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) described the early 2nd century earthquake as follows:

There is indirect evidence of a more substantial destruction in the early 2nd century CE in which residential structures from the earliest phase of the Nabataean settlement east of the late Roman residential quarter were demolished and used as a source of building stone for later structures. Destruction from this earthquake is well attested particularly nearby at Horvat Hazaza, and along the Petra to Gaza road at Mezad Mahmal, Sha'ar Ramon, Mezad Neqarot and Moyat `Awad, and at `En Rahel in the Arava as well as at Mampsis (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003).
Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013) added
Evidence of an early second-century CE earthquake is found at other sites along the Incense Road at Nahal Neqarot, Sha'ar Ramon, and particularly at the head of the Mahmal Pass where an Early Roman Nabataean structure collapsed (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003; Erickson-Gini 2011). There is ample evidence of the immediate reconstruction of buildings at Moyat ‘Awad, Sha'ar Ramon, and Horvat Dafit. However, this does not seem to be the case with the Mahmal and Neqarot sites.
Earlier discussions dating archeoseismic destruction from around this time at Avdat/Oboda from the so-called Potter's Workshop is in the collapsible Notes panel for Avdat under Notes and Further Reading.

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.
The second earthquake could be due the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE which fits as the early 5th century earthquake discussed below.

Early 5th century earthquake

An early 5th century earthquake suggests the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE where there appears to be archaeoseismic evidence in Yotvata. Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) described the early 5th century earthquake at Avdat/Oboda:

A massive earthquake took place in the early 5th century CE, substantial evidence of which was uncovered in the late Roman and early Byzantine residential quarter (Erickson-Gini 2010a: 91-93). All of the structures east of the town wall were abandoned and used as a source of building stone for the late Byzantine town. Following this earthquake, massive revetment walls were constructed along the southern wall of the acropolis in order to shore up the heavily damaged walls. In contrast, the late Byzantine citadel adjoining the temenos area of the acropolis has no revetment walls, certainly due to its construction following the earthquake. The two churches inside the temenos area were built using numerous early Roman ashlars and architectural elements originally from the Obodas Temple damaged in the earthquake.
Negev (1989) provided a wider range of dates for this earthquake which entertains the possibility that this archaeoseismic evidence was caused by the hypothesized Negev Quake which, if real, is dated to around 500 CE.
A decisive factor in determining this phase is the dating of a series of earthquakes, one or more of which shattered numerous buildings in some of the towns of the central Negev. Although literary evidence is scarce, there is ample archaeological evidence that testifies to these disasters. At Oboda the entire length of the old southern Nabatean retaining wall was thrust outwards, and for this reason it had to be supported by a heavy, slanting supporting wall. Similarly much damage was caused to a massive tower of the Nabatean period, identified in July 1989 as the temple of Obodas (?), which in the Late Roman - early Byzantine period was incorporated in the citadel occupying the eastern half of the acropolis hill. Most of the damage was caused to the western and southern walls of the temple, and for this reason these too had to be supported by still heavier stone taluses, blocking the original entrance to the temple on the southern wall. It is against this talus that the South Church was built. Similar damage was also caused to some of the nearby buildings in the so-called Roman Quarter south of the temple. We may thus place the date of the earthquake between the end of the third century A.D., when the latest building in this quarter was constructed, and A.D. 541, when the Martyrium of St. Theodore was already being used as a burial ground.

Early 7th century earthquake

7th century earthquake

Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) discussed the early 7th century earthquake.

The destruction of the town by a massive earthquake sometime in the early 7th century CE was one piece of a puzzle not mentioned by Negev. The earthquake certainly occurred after the latest inscription found at the site in the Martyrion of St. Theodore (South Church) in 617 CE (Negev 1981: 37). Direct evidence of the destruction and abandonment of the site was uncovered by Fabian, with massive destruction evident throughout the site, and particularly along the western face of the site with its extensive caves and buildings (Korjenkov et al., 1996). Mezad Yeruham, several kms further south, was apparently destroyed at the same time (Y. Baumgarten, personal communication), while the earthquake left a trail of damage at numerous sites. This is indicated by the early seventh-century construction of revetment walls around churches and private houses at Sobota (Shivta), Sa'adon, Rehovot in-the-Negev, and Nessana. Compared to other Nabataean sites in the Negev Highlands that indicate a continued occupation through the late Byzantine period well into the early Islamic period in the 9th c., Oboda was devoid of settlement in the early Islamic period. In place of a central town, such as Sobota (Shivta), Rehovot in-the-Negev, or Nessana, a significant number of early Islamic farming villages—many with open-air mosques—were found in close proximity to Oboda.
This would suggest the Sword in the Sky Quake of 634 CE with the potentially dubious Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-622 CE) and the Jordan Valley Quake of 656/660 CE as less likely possibilities.

Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects

In surveys conducted in 1994 and 1996, Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) examined hundreds of deformation features and selected 41 measurements of wall inclinations, 26 of wall collapse, 17 of block rotations, and 96 cases of through-going fractures, where [they] were certain of the non-static origin of dislocations. They divided the features of seismic destructioninto 2 groups based on diagnostic use.

  1. Seismic-related features, which can be used for the determination of the seismic origin of the destruction, and degree of seismic shaking - seismic intensity
    1. joints crossing through a few adjacent blocks
    2. rotation of arch or roof slabs around horizontal axis
    3. hanging stones in the arches
    4. later built supporting walls for the tilted walls and columns
    5. non-coincidence of lower rows of masonry with upper building construction
  2. Seismic indicators which can be used for the determination of epicentral direction
    1. inclination of walls
    2. shifting of complete walls or wall fragments
    3. collapse of arches and wall fragments
    4. rotation of building fragments in arches and walls around the vertical axis
Examples and summaries of observations are presented below:
Damage Type
Event
"Previous"
or
7th century
Location Figure Comments
JOINTS AS AN INDICATION OF THE SEISMIC NATURE OF THE DESTRUCTIONS 7th century Northern Church 4 Joints are mode 1 (dilatation) fractures developed as a result of extension (Engelder and Fisher. 1996). Joints confined to stone breaks often appear in old buildings. Interpretation of such joints is somewhat ambiguous: they could be erected tectonically, they could also be the result of weathering, i.e., repeated heating and cooling events. In contrast, joints passing through two or more adjacent blocks (through-going joints) could be formed only under high strains. Such joints require the application of tremendous amounts of energy to overcome the stress shadows, appearing along free surfaces at the block margins (Fisher et al., 1995: Engelder, and Fisher, 1996; Becker and Gross, 1996) and therefore cannot be related to the weathering process.
Numerous examples of through-going joints were observed during the study of the ruins of Avdat town. One such joint was found in the WSW external wall of the Northern Church (trend azimuth is 150°) in a corner of a small ledge (Figure 4). The joint crosses two adjacent blocks with a thickness of 50 cm each. What is most important in this case, is that the joint has passed straight through cement between the two blocks, without any bends. The length of the joint is 1 m. It starts 30 cm in from the upper corner of the upper block and it finishes 70 cm in from the lower corner of the lower block. The joint is inclined by an azimuth 174° L59° in its upper part, dip azimuth is 173° L68° in its lower part.
All of the above is evidence of an earthquake which took place in the region of Avdat town in the 7th century A.D., probably 631-633 A.D. However, there is other evidence in the town, dating back to the Late Roman period, of at least one more strong seismic event, probably the well known earthquake of 363 A.D. (Amiran, 1950-1952; Russell, 1980; Amiran et al., 1994), which terminated the Late Roman settlement of the city. Several years later, a new town was rebuilt on the ruins of the old one. This idea was suggested by P. Fabian (1996, 1997). Our study has confirmed his suggestion.
TREND DISCORDANCE OF FIRST LOWER ROWS OF MASONRY WITH UPPER WALL FRAGMENTS, AND TREND DEVIATION FROM PERPENDICULAR OF WALLS JOINING EACH OTHER "Previous" Room 10 of Court in South Quarter 3
5
Strange discordance of trends of first lower rows of masonry (usually one or two rows) and upper wall fragments is visible in some parts of Avdat. For example, there is counterclockwise rotation of the whole NW wall of room No. 10 of the court (see, Figure 3). Horizontal displacement was 45 cm. During rotation around the vertical axis the NW wall was not collapsed and townsmen, who settled there after the 363 A.D. shock, used the rotated wall for rebuilding (Fabian 1996, 1997). The original trend of the wall was 50°, preserved first and second lower rows testify about that building (Figure 5). Modern trend azimuth of rotated wall is 41°.
In some places, one can see a sharp deviation of trends for separate walls joining to each other perpendicularly. Such deviations can sometimes amount to an angle of 11° (see, for example, SE wall of room No. 2 of the court on the Figure 3).
SHIFTING OF UPPER PRESERVED FRAGMENTS OF WALLS AS COMPARED WITH LOWER ROWS OF STONES "Previous" Room 8 of Court in South Quarter 3
6
The shift of the building elements without rotation may be used in a similar manner to wall inclination or block collapse. The upper element of a construction is shifted toward or away from an epicenter due to inertia. In the Avdat such a displacement, of 80 cm, can be observed for the upper fragment of the NW wall of room No. 8 of the court (see, Figure 3) in a NW direction (Figure 6). Its former position (trend azimuth is 41°) is marked by one stone row of 20 cm height. The width of the shifted wall fragment is 70 cm, length is 165 cm, height of preserved fragment is 55-60 cm, its trend azimuth is 45°.
These facts apparently testify to the adaptation of the lower non-destroyed rows of masonry and preserved walls (only rotated slightly) for the regeneration of the town in Byzantine times. During Roman times at the same place, there was a settlement which was destroyed by an earthquake. Later the town was, again rebuilt on the site of the former settlement using the preserved lower rows of masonry and preserved whole walls (Fabian, 1996, 1997).
NONCOINCIDENCE OF LOWER STONE ROWS WITH UPPER BUILDING STRUCTURES "Previous" N yard of bath-house 7a
7b
Additional indirect evidence of possible seismic activity in the studied territory is non-coincidence of lower stone rows with upper building structures. Such patterns occurred when a building was partly destroyed during an earthquake, but ancient people decided not to restore it. They removed still standing preserved fragments of the destroyed building and smoothed out the piles of rubble. They built a new building on the site of the old one. Later, during recent archeological excavations, researchers discovered strange non-coincidence of lower stone rows with upper building structures (Fabian, 1996, 1997).
For example, such non-coincidence can be observed in the northern yard of the bath-house, which is located near the foot of the Avdat hill (Figure 7). The bottom row of the NW corner of the wall is pulled out to the west 13 cm if compared with the upper fragment of the wall, with the trend azimuth of 159° (see, Figure 7(a)). This non-coincidence is even larger - 28.5 cm if compared with the SE part of the wall, with the trend azimuth of 167°. The lower pulled row of the northern fragment of the wall continues to the NW over the perpendicular external wall of the yard (see Figure 7(b)). The probable explanation of this case is given in the previous paragraph.
SUPPORT-WALLS "Previous" Southern Church 8 Indirect evidence of more old shocks are special support-walls which were built solely for this purpose. One such wall was built to support the eastern corner of the Southern Church (P. Fabian, 1994, personal communication). The wall which needed support had an ENE trend (Figure 8). One more support-wall was built to support the external wall (with NE strike) of the South Quarter of the town, opposite the eastern corner of the Fort, later it was dismantled by archeologists during excavation (P. Fabian, personal communication, 1996). This building of supporting walls for city walls of the same trend is not isolated. Apparently, during the Roman earthquake these city walls were slightly tilted, but they were not collapsed. Ancient people built those support-walls specifically to prevent them from possible future collapse (Fabian, 1996, 1997).
CAVE DESTRUCTIONS "Previous" Caves As stated above, on the slope of Avdat hill there are many caves which were inhabited for living during Nabatean—Byzantine times. However, below the caves there are huge piles of rubble, which consist of debris from Avdat hill's rocks and from remains of domestic objects (pieces of Nabatean earthenware vessels, for example - T. Gini, personal communication, 1996). This fact also indicates a possible earthquake in 363 A.D. during which the collapse of inhabited caves took place. After that event ancient people cleaned out the caves and used them for living in for the second time. However, some of the caves were not cleaned after the 363 A.D. shock.
The caves near the top of the hill were the most severely damaged (T. Gini, 1996, personal communication). This fact can be explained by the "sky-scraper effect - maximum oscillation during earthquakes is in the upper part of the building (or the hill in the Avdat case).
A study of habitable (in the past) caves was made. They were dug up on a hill slope, on top of which there are main town buildings. This study shows numerous collapses of walls and cave vaults, and also considerable long fractures. The displacement of chisel traces on the cave ceilings was observed, where those traces are crossed by long fractures in limestone massif . The latest ones show subsidence on the first few centimeters of the middle parts of the limestone hill compared to the external parts. It is the opposite to what one would expect due to gravitation forces. Such graben-like subsidence of watershed parts of mountain ridges was observed during strong earthquakes in the Baikal Rift area (Khromovskikh, 1965) and in the Tien Shan seismic belt (Korjenkov and Chedia, 1986; Korjenkov and Omuraliev, 1993; Ghose et al., 1997). These seismogenic features are indicators of an earthquake intensity of IX—X.
The new Byzantine town existed until the beginning of the seventh century A.D., probably 633 A.D., and was then totally destroyed by an earthquake never to be rebuilt (Fabian, 1996, 1997). This may explain the absence of any Early Muslim period finds at the site in spite of the continued occupation of other Negev sites such as Nessana and Shivta (see Figure 1) that existed until the tenth century A.D. (E. Oren, personal communication, 1996). These towns were located west of Avdat and were probably less affected by the earthquake.
The following are the seismic features belonging to group 2, used for the determination of the seismic wave propagation direction. They belong to the seismic event which occurred in the 7th century.
INCLINATION OF BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION ELEMENTS mostly 7th century ? various locations 9
10
As in strong earthquakes throughout the world, a large number of structural elements were found to be preferentially inclined (Richter, 1958; Cloud and Scott, 1969; Bolt, 1978; Polyakov, 1978; Omuraliev et al., 1993a and others). A similar destruction was found in the ancient city of Avdat: forty one cases of preferentially inclined walls (Figures 9 and 10) and inclination of single stones within walls can be seen there. As seen in Figure 5, walls trending SE 130°-140° are systematically inclined to the SW. In contrast walls trending NE 40°-60° are inclined to NW and SE with no preferential direction. This observation seems to indicate that the seismic shock arrived along the NE—SW direction: the walls oriented roughly normal to the seismic wave direction were systematically collapsed or inclined, whereas walls oriented parallel to the seismic waves lost support, were tilted and collapsed randomly.
COLLAPSE FEATURES 7th century ? Agricultural Fences 11a
11b
12
13
Numerous ruins of agricultural fences remained on the top (Figure 11(a)) and near the foot of the Avdat hill (Figure 11(b)). The fences trending about EW reveal a clear systematic picture of the collapse: the lower part of the wall is intact (easily seen from its northern side), whereas the upper part of the fences fell southward (see Figure 11). Azimuth of preferred collapsed features are plotted in Figure 12 versus wall trend. One group of walls trending SE 90°-140° reveals collapse toward SW 180°-240°, whereas walls oriented in other directions fell on both sides of the original wall position, they did not show a systematic pattern of the collapse, and so they were not shown on the graph. This observation indicates that the direction of seismic wave propagation was roughly perpendicular to the SE-trending walls.
It is necessary to mention the cases of wall drags (rotations) because of wall collapse. Many rotated blocks or block fragments in Avdat were caused by the drag due to the collapse of a wall (Figure 13). Such rotations cannot be used to determine shear stresses, however the patterns of drag-caused rotations enable us to reconstruct the direction of wall collapse.
ROTATION OF BUILDING ELEMENTS 7th century ? various locations 13
14a
14b
15
Field study of the epicentral zones of the well-known strong earthquakes revealed that some building constructions or rock fragments were rotated clockwise, whereas others were rotated counterclockwise (Richter, 1958; Cloud and Scott, 1969; Bolt, 1978: Polyakov, 1978; Omuraliev et al., 1993b and others). Horizontal rotation of arch supports, separate blocks in arch supports and walls, or rotation of a large fragment of a wall with tens to hundreds of stones were measured in the ruins of Avdat town. Clockwise and counterclockwise patterns of rotation were observed. Some examples of the rotated elements are shown in Figure 14.
For the case of the Avdat ruins the pattern and degree of rotations were plotted against the wall trends (Figure 15 ). As can be seen in the graph, the only one case of clockwise rotation was found in a wall fragment with trend SE 140°, whereas counterclockwise rotations were found on walls trending NE 40°-60°.
The rotations described above were measured in well-preserved walls at some distance from the corners, so that a researcher could be confident, that the rotations were caused by a shear couple. However, many rotated blocks or block fragments in Avdat were caused by a drag which occurred due to collapse of a wall (see Figure 13). Such rotations cannot be applied to determine shear stresses, however, the patterns of drag-caused rotations enable us to reconstruct the direction of wall collapse, which, as described above, is an independent kinematic indicator.

Archaeoseismic Analysis

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) provided an extensive discussion regarding the analysis of their data. This discussion provides information for Avdat and explains the methodology used to examine archaeoseismic observations from other sites in the Negev. Due to it's value as a reference, much of the discussion is repeated below:
Archeoseismic Analysis

Study of the destruction in the Avdat ruins reveals a systematic type of dislocation:

  1. Walls of buildings trending SE 120° revealed strong preferential collapse or inclination toward south, whereas walls trending NE 20°-50° tilted and fell without a noticeable systematic pattern (see Figure 10 ). A similar structure of collapse was observed for the ruins of agricultural fences (see Figure 12 ). These observations indicate that the seismic shock arrived from the south in the case of a compressional wave, or from the north, if the wave causing the collapse was extensional. Thus, by this exercise the eastward and westward propagating seismic waves can be excluded.
  2. Most rotated blocks in the Avdat ruins are turned counterclockwise and they were found exclusively on NE-trending walls (see Figure 15 ). The only case of clockwise rotation was found in a wall fragment with trend SE 140°. The fact of the appearance of rotated blocks, as described above, indicates push movements (compression wave approaching the buildings). Thus, the only possibility left is a compressional seismic wave coming from the south. Rotation itself involves shear stresses acting along the walls, thus the seismic wave must have arrived at some angle to the walls.
Following the well-known strong earthquakes a large number of structural elements were found to be preferentially inclined toward the epicenter, however, in some cases the inclination was in the opposite direction. As in the case with the wall inclinations, the walls facing the seismic wave collapsed systematically toward the seismically induced compression strain, whereas the walls aligned parallel to the seismic wave lost support and collapsed in a random manner. Therefore, one has to look for a correlation between the trend of a construction element and the direction of collapse. The collapse debris form the shape of a cone, because the central part of a collapsing wall segment undergoes maximum oscillation during the seismic event (Figure 16 ).

The preferred direction of collapse or inclination of building elements may be either toward an epicenter or away from it. If the damaged site is located in the quadrangle of compression strain (Figure 17 ), the deformation will be caused by a push movement exerted on the ground, resulting in inclination and collapse toward the epicenter. In contrast, in the sites located in a tensional quadrangle, the deformations are induced by a pull movement causing inclination and collapse away from the epicenter. In either case, the line of collapse or relative motion can be determined. This line connects the original position of an object and its position after an earthquake, or corresponds to the dip azimuth of an inclined element. The intersecting points of the collapse lines measured in many places will converge at the area of the epicenter (Figure 18 ).

Shear stresses applied to an elongated element cause its rotation. The direction of rotation depends on two factors:
  1. orientation of principle stresses in a location and
  2. the orientation of the elongated element
Field study of the epicentral zones of the world-known strong earthquakes revealed that some building constructions or rock fragments were rotated clockwise, whereas others were rotated counterclockwise. A seismic wave approaching a building parallel or normal to its walls will result in collapse, shift or inclination with no rotation (Figure 20(a) ). The rotation should take place in the cases where the principle stresses are oblique to a construction element, and the resolved shear stresses are high (Figure 20(b) ). Thus, rotated elements situated on perpendicularly oriented walls should have an opposite direction of rotation, if the seismic shock came along the bisector of the two walls (Figure 20(c) ).

Two mechanisms of rotation, caused by tectonic movements, are known in geology (Figure 21 ):
  1. book-shelf structures, or synthetically rotated blocks, and
  2. asymmetric pull-aparts, or antithetically rotated blocks (Jordan, 1991)
As can be seen in Figure 21 , the same direction of rotation can be obtained by the different stress setups. These rotated blocks are termed "antithetical" or "synthetic" because with respect to the same simple shear couple two directions of rotation are possible. A synthetic structure is formed as a result of compression acting parallel to an element along axis, whereas the antithetical structure is developed when extension is parallel to an elongated element. Thus, in tectonics the interpretation of the rotation structures should be proceeded by a determination of the strain that occurred parallel to a rotated element. Such an ambiguity does not exist in seismic interpretations. Any lateral extension applied to a construction should lead to its collapse or inclination, whereas rotation could occur only under horizontal compression. This provides an additional criterion for the determination of strain accompanying an earthquake: the appearance of rotated blocks is an indication of a push movement. A scheme showing the direction of rotation, with respect to the direction of seismic wave propagation, is shown in Figure 20 .

This discussion leads to an additional conclusion explaining the lack of oriented inclination and collapse features in an epicentral area (and additionally, to the assumption that the point seismic source is not valid in the epicentral zone): the shock wave moving from a hypocenter under a high angle to the surface, results in a lateral extension applied to constructions. This explains why in recent earthquakes (Acapulco, 1962; Scopje, 1963; Tashkent, 1966 and others) the areas above a hypo-center do not reveal systematic inclination and collapse patterns (Muto et al., 1963; Binder, 1965; Medvedev, 1966; The Scopje Earthquake of 26 July 1963, 1968; Mirzoev et al., 1969; Liquidation of Consequences of Tashkent Earthquake, 1972), whereas some distance away inclination and collapse have pronounced directional patterns (Figure 22 ).

All said above is true for the features of destruction found in building constructions built on an isotropic massive foundation without a strong preferential orientation of the fabric in the basement rocks. In the studied case, Avdat was built directly on massive limestones. Thus, an input caused by rock anisotropy could be neglected. To avoid gravitational reasons for the city's destruction, the authors did not conduct the measurements on the slope of Avdat hill.

Avdat ruins have two perpendicular directions of walls (—NE 50° and —SE 140°), so the overall model can be represented as a single building (or room). To cause south-directed wall collapse by a compressional seismic wave, the shock should have come from south side. If the shock arrived exactly perpendicular to the NE-trending walls (i.e., from SW, Figure 23(a) ), the shear stresses along walls should be minimal and the rotations should appear only occasionally.

In contrast, maximal shear stresses would result if the seismic wave approached the buildings along a bisector line between the walls (Figure 23(b) ), i.e., from south. In this case rotations on both wall directions should be clearly pronounced, whereas both NE and SE-trending walls should reveal oriented collapse and inclinations to the south (SE and SW sides correspondingly).

In the case of Avdat the only NE-trending walls revealed oriented collapse and inclinations, and SE-trending walls demonstrate systematic counterclockwise rotations. Such a situation is possible if the compressional wave came from SSW (Figure 23(c) ).

Thus, the epicenter was located somewhere SSW from the Avdat settlement, and the scale of destruction indicates that the epicenter was situated 15 km south of Avdat, probably in the area of the Nafha Fault zone. The force (seismic intensity) of a shock resulting in the destruction of buildings was determined using the scale of earthquake intensity MSK-64. Buildings in Avdat town according to this scale are classed as B type - buildings from natural hewed stones. Quantitative characteristics of destruction: most buildings were destroyed (more then 75%). According to the degree of destruction Avdat town is classified as fourth degree:
  • through cracks and breaks in the walls
  • collapse of building parts
  • breaking of connections between separate parts of buildings
  • collapse of internal walls and walls of framework filling
All these features of destruction show on IX-X intensity of seismic shock on territory of Avdat town.
...
The destruction was caused by a compressional seismic wave and the epicenter was located SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev. The degree of town destruction during the historical earthquake according to Seismic Intensity Scale MSK-64 was IX-X.

Intensity Estimates

Distinguishing 7th century effects from "previous" earthquake effects

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) did not produce an Intensity or directional estimate for any of the earthquakes that preceded the 7th century CE event. However, by making use of their detailed descriptions of seismic effects and the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart, I produced Intensity estimates for both the 7th century CE earthquake and the "previous" one. "Previous" earthquake seismic effects were presumed to come from seismic effects associated with rebuilding as no rebuilding should be associated with the 7th century earthquake if it was, as the archaeologists (e.g. Peter Fabian) beleive, destroyed and then abandoned. Although I cannot rigorously distinguish whether my "previous" earthquake Intensity estimate is for the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE or the early 5th century CE earthquake, if Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) is correct that the southern Cyril Quake only caused some structural damage and the 5th century earthquake was massive, my Intensity estimate for the "previous" earthquake is likely effectively for the 5th century quake. So, it is labeled as such. An intensity estimate for the "363 CE earthquake" was derived from Cave dwellings which the archaeologists beleive were damaged or destroyed during this event.

Topographic or Ridge Effect

Terrain map



Citing a personal communication with Tali Erickson-Gini in 1996, Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999), noted increased seismic damage in upslope caves adjacent to the Avdat acropolis after the 363 CE earthquake. This suggests that a ridge effect may present at Avdat. A terrain map shows that Avdat is situated at the end of a ~4 km. long ridge Avdat. Orientation of the ridge further indicates that seismic energy arriving from the NE or the SW (orthogonal to the ridge) would be most likely to produce seismic amplification at the site. A slope effect may also be at play as Avdat surrounded by steep slopes on 3 sides.

Intensity Estimate for the 363 CE earthquake

Effect Location Intensity Comments
Collapsed Vaults Caves in the slopes adjacent to the Avdat Acropolis VIII + numerous collapses of walls and cave vaults
Collapsed Walls Caves in the slopes adjacent to the Avdat Acropolis VIII + numerous collapses of walls and cave vaults
These effects, dated to the 363 CE earthquake, were observed in the caves furthest upslope and suggest a site effect or what Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999) call a "sky-scraper effect". Either way, seismic amplification is indicated so while this archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf), it is downgraded one unit to VII (7).

Intensity Estimate for the early 5th century CE earthquake - the "previous" earthquake

Effect Earthquake
attribution
Location Intensity
Displaced Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
Room 10 in court in S Quarter
Fig. 5
Room 8 in court in S Quarter
Fig. 6
VII+
Displaced Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
N yard of bath-house
Fig. 7a
Fig. 7b
VII +
Tilted Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
Support Walls of Southern Church
Fig. 8
VI +
Collapsed Walls "previous"
prob. 5th century
Caves VIII +
Collapsed Vaults "previous"
prob. 5th century
Caves VIII +
This archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Intensity Estimate for the early 7th century CE earthquake

Effect Earthquake
attribution
Location Intensity
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks 7th century many locations
an example from Northern Church
Figure 4
VI+
Tilted Walls 7th century various locations VI +
Collapsed Walls 7th century various locations
Fig. 9
VIII +
Collapsed Walls 7th century Agricultural Fences
Fig. 11a
Fig. 11b
VIII +
Arch damage 7th century various locations VI +
This archaeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s seismic characterization of the 7th century earthquake

As mentioned previously, Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) were able to sort a number of seismic effects by earthquake event - distinguishing whether the observed damage was due to the 7th century earthquake or one of the "previous" earthquakes (i.e the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE and/or the 5th century CE earthquake). As such, one can have confidence in the Intensity estimate Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) produced for the 7th century earthquake. Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s conclusion for the 7th century CE earthquake is that

The destruction was caused by a compressional seismic wave, the epicenter was located SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev, and the degree of town destruction [] according to Seismic Intensity Scale MSK-64 was IX-X.

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis by Kamai and Hatzor (2005)

Kamai and Hatzor (2005) performed Discontinuous Deformation Analysis (DDA) on a model

for displaced blocks on the western wall of the Roman Tower of Avdat. The tower, dated to 294 AD, was founded directly on bedrock, and has risen to a height of 12 m, from which only 6 m are left standing today. (Kamai and Hatzor, 2005 citing Negev, 1997). The best-fit simulation (Fig. 16A ) was run with the following seismic parameters:
  • Ah = l g
  • Av = 0
  • f =3 Hz.
  • Dh_avmax = 8 cm.
Kamai and Hatzor (2005:133-134) did not present single best fit parameters due to various limitations so this parameterization, though consistent with other estimates of Intensity, should only be considered approximate. A PGA of 1 g converts to an Intensity of 9.3 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). Although Korjenkov and Mazor (1999) did not explicitly attribute the bulges in the Roman Tower to the 7th century CE earthquake, the high PGA that comes from Kamai and Hatzor (2005)'s simulations suggests that this is the case as the 7th century earthquake was apparently a powerful and destructive earthquake which both destroyed Avdat and led to its abandonment.

Kamai and Hatzor (2007) noted that seismic amplification can be at at play at higher parts of a structure (i.e. the "Sky-scraper effect" mentioned by Korzhenkov) leading to potential amplification of bedrock PGA by as much as 2.5. This could in turn lead to a bracket of PGA values for The Roman Tower from 0.4 and 1.0 g. These PGA values convert to Intensities of 7.8 - 9.3 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). A final result can thus be that DDA modeling of the Roman Tower suggests bedrock Intensities between 8 and 10 during this earthquake. Note that this ignores seismic amplification due to a ridge effect over the entire site. The ridge effect could add an additional amplification factor.
Variable Input Units Notes
g Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
  

Model and Lab derived properties

Model was run in qk.mode using a sinusoidal input function. The authors noted that in the case of Avdat the obtained ground-motion parameters may be higher than reasonably expected (e.g. l g at Avdat). Therefore, they do not argue at this stage for exact historical ground motion restoration. Soil-structure and rock-structure interactions were not part of the analysis and considering that Avdat may be subject to a ridge effect, 1 g could be reasonable and could explain the unusual wall bulge at the Roman Tower at Avdat which appears to have been generated by a significant seismic force. Although the authors date this seismic effect to the 3rd or 4th century CE, Erickson-Gini (2014)'s characterization of the 363 CE earthquake as causing the least damage to the site of the 4 recognized earthquakes suggests that this is not the case.

Lab Measurements of original stones from Avdat

Property Value Units
Density 2555 kg./m3
Porosity 5 %
Dynamic Young's Modulus 54.2 Gpa
Dynamic Shear Modulus 20.4 Gpa
Dynamic Poisson's Ratio 0.33 unitless
Interface friction angle 35 degrees



Notes and Further Reading

References

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Mazor (1998). "Seismogenic Origin of the Ancient Avdat Ruins, Negev Desert, Israel." Natural Hazards 18: 193-226.

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Mazor (1999). "Structural reconstruction of seismic events: Ruins of ancient buildings as fossil seismographs." Science and New Technologies 1: 62-74.

Rodkin, M. V. and A. M. Korzhenkov (2018). Estimation of maximum mass velocity from macroseismic data: A new method and application to archeoseismological data. Geodesy and Geodynamics.

Fabian, P. (1998). Evidence of earthquakes destruction in the archaeological record–the case of ancient Avdat. Pp. 21E-26E in The Annual Meeting of the Israel Geological Society, Mitzpeh Ramon.

Erickson-Gini, T. (2014). "Oboda and the Nabateans." STRATA - Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 32.

Tali, E.-G. and I. Yigal (2013). "Excavating the Nabataean Incense Road." Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies 1(1): 24-53.

Erickson-Gini, T. (2000). Nabataean or Roman? Reconsidering the date of the camp at Avdat in light of recent excavations. XVIIIth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, Amman, Jordan.

Kamai, R. and Y. Hatzor (2005). Dynamic back analysis of structural failures in archeological sites to obtain paleo-seismic parameters using DDA. Proceedings of 7th International Conference on the Analysis of Discontinuous Deformation (ICADD-7).

Negev, A. (1974). The Nabatean Potter's Workshop at Oboda, Habelt.

Goren, Y. and P. Fabian (2008). "The Oboda Potter's Workshop Reconsidered." Journal of Roman Archaeology 21.

Negev, A. (1997). "THE ARCHITECTURE OF OBODA: FINAL REPORT." Qedem 36: III-214..

Notes on the so-called Potter's Workshop

Russell (1985) cited archeoseismic evidence for the Incense Road Quake at Avdat citing Negev (1961:123,125) and Negev (1974:24) where Russell (1985) states

At Avdat, an imperial coin struck at Alexandria and tentatively identified as Trajanic was apparently found in association with the collapse of the potter's workshop (Negev, 1974:24).
Ambraseys (2009) supplied the following comments:
Negev argues instead that these destructions were caused by invading Safaitic and Thamudic hordes in the mid first century (Negev 1976), basing his thesis on the period of pottery debris found in a workshop at Oboda. This solution might seem preferable, since it is best not to assume an earthquake unless there is written evidence for it. However, apart from the complexity of the multiple dates of the pottery discovered by Negev (and the fact that later potters often imitated earlier styles), the appearance of a second-century coin among the pottery (Russell 1981, 8) seems to refute his thesis. Of course, this coin does not prove that Oboda was destroyed by an earthquake; it merely shows that Negev has made a mistake. What may suggest an earthquake is the sheer severity and extent of the destruction. Russell believes that neither a Roman annexation of the territory nor sacking by Safaitic or Thamudic hordes could, in any case, have done so much damage.
Negev (1976:229) states
Several years ago I suggested, on account of the results of the excavations at Oboda, a new chronological division for the archaeological history of the Nabateans in the central Negev, based on three phases, focusing at that time my attention on what I named the Middle Nabatean Period. The archaeological data indicated that this period, which began at the end of the reign of Obodas II, terminated abruptly during the generation following the death of Aretas IV, after the middle of the first century CE. I attributed the destruction of Oboda and several road stations along the Petra-Gaza road to attacks of Arab tribes who penetrated from Arabia, and left their imprints in the thousands of Safaitic and Thamudic graffiti in the central Negev, to the east of the Arabah, and also in northern Arabia itself.

The evidence on which I based this chronological scheme was purely archaeological — pottery and coins under a destruction layer, and on the basis of the finds in the Nabatean potter's workshop at Oboda 145 which all pointed to a break in the settlement of the central Negev sometime after the middle of the first century CE.
Goren and Fabian (2008) re-examined the so-called Potter's workshop at Avdat/Oboda and concluded that it was probably a 2nd to early 3rd century CE mill-bakery in the Roman Quarter of town. They noted, among other things, that the original excavations by Negev of the "Potter's workshop" were in unstratified deposits, had coins dating from Hellenistic to the 3rd-4th centuries CE, and geochemical and minerological analysis indicated that the pottery found there appeared to be imported rather than made locally. This suggests that Negev's original hypothesis that the so-called Potter's workshop at Avdat/Oboda showed a break in occupation in the 1st century CE due to invasion (as Negev suggested) or an earthquake (as Russell (1985) proposed) is not supported by the evidence.

Haluza

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Haluza Hebrew חלוצה‎
Elusa Byzantine Greek - Madaba Map ΕΛΟΥϹΑ
Chellous Greek Χελλοὺς
Halasa
asal-Khalūṣ Arabic - Early Arab الخلصة
Al-Khalasa Modern Arabic الخلصة
Introduction

Haluza, ~20 km. southwest of Beersheba, was founded by the the Nabateans as a station along the Incense Road ( Avraham Negev in Meyers et al, 1997). The town reached a peak of prosperity in the Late Nabatean and Late Roman periods but continued as a major city of the Negev into the Byzantine period ( Avraham Negev in Meyers et al, 1997). Haluza remained inhabited after the Muslim conquest but eventually declined and was abandoned - like many other Byzantine cities in the Negev. These old cities preserve much archeoseismic evidence and have been rightly called fossil seismographs whose examination can help unravel the historically under reported seismic history of both sides of the Arava before ~1000 CE.

Chronology

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns from at least two heavy earthquakes.
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.

2nd Earthquake - Post Byzantine - 7th or 8th century CE ?

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) also discussed chronology of the second earthquake.

The Early Arab – Second Ancient Earthquake

Negev (1976:92) suggested that a strong earthquake caused the final abandonment of Haluza. He summed up his observations at one of the excavated courtyards:
Voussoirs of the arches and extremely long roof slabs were discovered in the debris, just above the floor. It seems that either the destruction of the house occurred for a very short time after its abandonment or the house had to be abandoned because of its destruction by an earthquake.
Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) noted that while the Sword in the Sky Quake of 634 CE destroyed Avdat 44 and ruined other ancient towns of the Negev 45, archeological data demonstrate that occupation of the [Haluza] continued until at least the first half of the 8th cent. A.D.46. This led them to conclude that one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes was a more likely candidate. Unfortunately, it appears that we don't have a reliable terminus ante quem for the second earthquake.

Seismic Effects

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns in the ruins of Haluza which indicated previous devastation by at least two heavy earthquakes discussed above in Chronology. Damage patterns are summarized below:
Seismic Effects

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Through-going Joints Station 6 (Fig. 4) 
3
4
Joints crossing adjacent stones (Fig. 3 a. b) are a substantial evidence of seismic origin of deformation, i.e. opening of joints as a result of seismic vibrations. Formation of such joints has been reported in many macroseismic studies. S. Stiros supposed that opening and closing of vertical joints take place according to the direction of the acting seismic forces. For example, such joints formed in modern buildings during the Tash-Pasha (northern Kyrgyzstan) 1989 earthquake of a magnitude Mpva = 5.1 (Fig. 3 c) and Suusamyr (northern Tien Shan) 1992 earthquake of the magnitude MS = 7.3 (Fig. 3 d). Such through-going joints are formed only as a result of a high-intensity earthquake, as high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of the free surfaces at the stone margins (i.e. the free space between adjacent stones).
An example of such a joint is observable at Haluza at the lower part of the wall of the courtyard, west of the theater (Fig. 4). Here a subvertical joint passes two adjacent stones in the wall with a trend of 37º. The length of the joint is 25 cm. One can observe similar numerous joints in the ruins of all the ancient cities of the Negev: Avdat, Shivta, Mamshit and Rehobot-ba-Negev
Joints in a Staircase Theater
5 A subvertical joint, 58 cm long, maximal opening 1.5cm, and a strike of about 122°, crosses the staircase of the excavated theater (Fig. 5). It cuts through two adjacent staircase blocks that trend about 42°. It is important to note that all the staircase blocks are damaged to a certain degree – they are cracked.
The staircase was built close to a wall, the upper part of which is tilted toward NE (dip angle ~69°). The upper part of the staircase is also tilted, but less (dip angle ~83°), so there is a gap between the upper parts of the wall and the staircase. A similar joint in a staircase was also observed at Mamshit in a room near the Eastern Church and the Late Nabatean Building
Cracks Crossing Large Building Blocks Cathedral
6 Cracks crossing large building blocks can also be a result of a strong earthquake, but it is always complicated to prove their 100% seismic origin because the cracks can be also realization of the loading stress along the weak zone that existed in the rock. However, together with other »pure« seismic features, observed in the archaeological excavation area, these cracks can serve as an additional evidence of seismic damage. An example of such a crack was found at the marble column pedestal of the Cathedral. The pedestal of the northern column is broken by a sub vertical crack (Fig. 6). A seismic origin of this feature is supported by the left-lateral shift along the crack: it is hard to envisage that static loading can cause strike-slip movements. The left-lateral shift along the crack is 1 cm and the maximum crack opening is 1.5 cm. The crack is laterally widening toward NE (1.5cm) and narrowing toward SW (0.1 cm). The last phenomenon is difficult to explain just by loading from above. The strike azimuth of the crack is 35º and the length is 92 cm. A similar deformation can be observed at the pedestal of a column at the northern Church at Shivta
Cracked Doorsteps Station 28
7 Cracking of doorsteps is an important feature for the evaluation of a seismic damage. Their preferential occurrence in walls of the same trend can serve as a kinematic indicator of seismic motions that acted parallel to the trend of the doorstep stones.
Such features are abundant at the ruins Avdat, Shivta and Mamshit. At Haluza two vertical cracks can be seen in a long doorstep (strike azimuth 121º) in the excavated courtyard (Fig. 7). It is important to note that the doorstep and two stones standing on it (probably a fragment of a previous wall) are tilted toward NE (azimuth ~32º) at an angle of about 80º
Cracked Window Beams Cathedral
8 Cracked window beams are common features of seismic damage. Many of them were observed in ancient Negev cities. As in the case with doorsteps, their preferential occurrence in walls of the same trend can serve as a kinematic indicator of seismic motions acting parallel to the trends of window beams. Generally, these data are supportive material to ›strong‹ seismic deformations, but in some cases one can prove that the crack in a beam occurred because of static loading. For example, a crack in a beam above the window (in a room behind the Cathedral) can be explained by loading from above, but it is impossible to explain a crack in the window-sill (Fig. 8 a) in the same way. The strike azimuth of both broken beams is 126°. A model explaining this damage pattern is presented in Fig. 8 b.
Tilted Walls Theater (Fig. 10)
9
10
Tilting and (following) collapse of walls and columns are very common damage patterns described in many archeoseismological publications. However, tilting and collapse of buildings can be also caused by action of static loading or weathering in time, poor quality of a building or its design, consequences of military activity or deformation of building basement because of differential subsidence of the ground etc. However, a systematic pattern of the directional collapse of walls of the same trend proves a seismic origin of the damage. These patterns can be explained as an inertial response of buildings to propagation of seismic motions in the underlying grounds (Fig. 9).
For example the upper part of a wall of the Theater at Haluza is tilted toward NE43° at an angle of 69° (Fig. 10). Another wall of the same building was also tilted. It is preserved only up to its third row of stones (height is 83 cm above the ground), but the whole wall was tilted toward NE42° at an angle of 74°. Note an opening between stones of the tilted wall and the perpendicular one.
Perpendicular Trends of Collapsed and Preserved Arches Theater
11
12
At the ruins of ancient cities one can observe different types of arch deformations. In some cases the stones of a collapsed arch are found along a straight line on the ground, whereas in other cases arch stones are found in a crescent pattern. These cases provide indicators of the direction of the respective seismic wave propagation – at the first case the destructive seismic waves propagated parallel to the arch trend, whereas at the second case they propagated perpendicular to the arch trend. An arch at the Theater at Haluza collapsed in a crescent pattern (Fig. 11). Its trend was 130° and its stones collapsed toward 220°SW. The deviation of the collapsed stones from the straight line is 20.5 cm. This observation reveals that the propagation of the seismic waves was along a SW-NE axis. In contrast, an arch with a perpendicular strike (45°) in an adjacent room was preserved (Fig. 12).
Collapse of Columns Cathedral
13 Collapse of columns is a most spectacular feature of seismic destruction. A drum fragment is seen near the pedestal of a fallen eastern column in the Cathedral (Fig. 13). There are traces of lead on the surface of the pedestal, which was a binding matter between the pedestal and the upper column drum. Traces of lead were also preserved in the lower part of the column’s lower drum which collapsed toward NE45°. Thus, the seismic waves of an ancient earthquake propagated along the NE-SW axis.
Shift of Building Elements Theater (Fig. 15)
14
15
Horizontal shifts of the upper part of building constructions can be explained in the same way as tilting and collapse. The lower part of the structure moved together with ground onto direction of the seismic movements, but the upper part of the buildings stayed behind because of inertia (Fig. 14). Such displacements of building elements is a known phenomenon of earthquake deformation of ancient buildings and is used for determination of seismic motions’ direction, similar to the case of wall tilt and collapse.
At Haluza an external wall of the western part of the Theater has been shifted to SW 215º (Fig. 15). The upper row of stones was shifted by 7 cm, and it was also slightly tilted (dip angle is 81º) to the same direction.
Earthquake Damage Restorations Cathedral
16
17
18
Clustered repairs or changes of the building style of houses of the same age can serve as supportive evidence of a seismic origin of the deformation. These repairs and later rebuilding are usually of a lower quality than the original structures. Such poor rebuilding is typical for earthquake-prone regions in less-developed areas of the world even today.
The ruins of Haluza reveal features of later restoration, e. g. walls supporting Cathedral’s columns (Fig. 16) blocked former entrances (Fig. 17), secondary use of stones and column drums (Fig. 18), walls built later, features of repair of the water reservoir, the addition of the side apses to the original single-apse structure of the Cathedral etc. All these damage restorations provide solid evidence of a former strong earthquake.
Earthquake Debris Filling Part of a Corridor at the Theater Theater 19 Negev observed filling of part of a corridor at the Theater, and concluded »the bones and pottery vessels appear to be contemporary with the period of use of the theatre, and they may therefore represent the remains of meals taken during religious festivities conducted in the theatre. Similar filling of a corridor, surrounding a Buddhist temple, was found at the Medieval Koylyk archeological site (SE Kazakhstan) that was located along the Great Silk Route. In this case the researcher concluded that the filling of the corridor was to prevent future collapse of walls that were tilted during an earthquake (Fig. 19).
A Dump of Destructive Earthquake Debris Dumps located northwest of Haluza are another interesting feature. Excavation of one of the dumps revealed that it did not contain kitchen refuse, as was common, but mainly fine dust and some burnt bricks and clay pipes. It is also important to mention that the pottery, discovered by Colt’s expedition of 1938 in the city dumps, was not earlier than the late Roman period. Based on these data, Negev came to the conclusion that this garbage hill, as well as other huge dumps surrounding the city, was made by the local inhabitants that cleaned dust and threatening sand dunes, which finally doomed it.
Waelkens et al. (2000) described a large dump at ancient Sagalassos (SW Turkey), containing many coins, sherds, small stones and mortar fragments, including stucco, piled up against the fortification walls, so that the latter lost completely their defensive function. The authors concluded that the material inside this dump represents debris cleaned out from the city after a destructive earthquake. Existence of a significant quantity of burnt brick fragments and broken clay pipes at the Haluza dumps is an evidence of a strong earthquake, which partly or completely destroyed the city. As a result the city [was] abandoned for some time, and storms brought in dust from the desert. Later settlers cleaned the ruins from the dust, sand, broken pipes and bricks, which they could not use, but they reused sandstone and limestone blocks to restore the city. Similar dumps of garbage exist on the slopes of Avdat and the same interpretation was reached.

Intensity Estimates

1st earthquake

It is presumed that at least some of the Seismic Effects categorized as Earthquake Damage Restorations were a result of the 1st earthquake so these will be used to estimate Intensity for the 1st earthquake.

Effect Description Intensity
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in walls and drums in columns 18 VIII +
Displaced Walls 17 VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

2nd earthquake

Because the observations of Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) are derived from what is presumed to be 2 separate earthquakes (Byzantine and post-Byzantine), it is not entirely clear which seismic effect should be assigned to which earthquake. However, as the second earthquake is thought to be associated with abandonment, it can be assumed that most seismic effects are associated with the second earthquake. The table below lists some of these seismic effects but should be considered tentative.

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls Fig. 10 VI +
Penetrative fractures in masonry Blocks Fig. 4 VI +
Fallen Columns Fig. 13 V+
Collapsed arches Fig. 11 VI +
Displaced Masonry Blocks Fig. 15 VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s seismic characterization

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimated a minimum seismic intensity of VIII–IX (MSK Scale), an epicenter a few tens of kilometers away, and an epicentral direction to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE. Their discussion supporting these conclusions is repeated below:
Joints crossing several adjacent stones (e. g. Fig. 4 ) indicate destruction by a high-energy earthquake, as the energy was sufficient to overcome the stress-shadow of the empty space between the building stones. Tilts of the walls (Fig. 10 ), fallen columns (Fig. 13 ), shifted collapse of an arch (Fig. 11 ), shift of a stone row of the wall (Fig. 15 ) – all these observations disclose that the destructive seismic waves arrived along a NE-SW axis (~40º), most probably from NE. Although all of the buildings in the city were well built and had one or two floors, all of them were severely damaged by an earthquake. The significant seismic deformations observed in the buildings indicate a local seismic intensity of at least I = VIII–IX (MSK Scale). This requires a strong shock arriving from a nearby epicenter, most probably a few tens of kilometers from Haluza. This supposition is based on the fact that short-period seismic waves, which tend to be destructive to low structures (which have short-period harmonic frequencies), attenuate at short distances from the epicenter.

Notes and Further Reading

En Hazeva

Walls at En Haseva Walls at En Haseva (unsure of dating context).

Photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
En Haseva Hebrew
Ain Husub Arabic اين هوسوب
Hosob German (Musil)
Tamara Latin
Thamana Latin
Thamaro
Tamar Biblical Hebrew
Introduction

‘En Hazeva, situated in the Arava ~38 km. south of the Dead Sea, contains remains from the Late Iron Age I, IIa, and IIb as well as a Roman Fort that appears to be associated with the Diocletianic military build-up in the region (Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes, 2019). It also has levels of Nabatean, Byzantine, and Early Arab occupation. Identification of the site with Latin Tamara is widely accepted (Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes, 2019) - perhaps with Biblical Tamar as well. The site was excavated by R. Cohen and Y. Israel between 1987 and 1994-1995 but a final report was not published before Rudolph Cohen passed away in 2006. Tali Erickson-Gini is working on a Final Publication.

Chronology

Tentative, modified, and unverified Stratigraphy initially from here whose numbering differs from earlier publications is presented below:
Stratum Period Approximate Dates Comments
1b Modern 1900- Aqueduct, well, police station, Kibbutz Ir-Ovot (1967- 1980s)
In modern times, the British authorities paved a road across this part of the site. Traces of the road can still be discerned in the upper layers of the balks over the principia (headquarters) of the camp (Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes, 2019)
1a Early Islamic 8th - 9th centuries CE During the Early Islamic period, in the eighth–ninth centuries CE, the bathhouse was reoccupied and converted into domestic quarters, and water channels that led to nearby fields were constructed over the ruins of the camp (Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes, 2019)
2 Byzantine 4th-7th centuries CE
3 Byzantine ? 4rd-6th centuries CE 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. A second earthquake, in the sixth century CE, appears to have destroyed the second phase of the structure and the bathhouse, and subsequently they were both abandoned (Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes, 2019)
4 Roman 3rd-4th centuries CE 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. (Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes, 2019)
5 Nabatean 1st century BCE-1st century CE
6 7th-6th centuries BCE Fortress apparently concurrent with Edomite Shrine - Stratum 4 of Cohen and Yisrael (1995)
7b 8th century BCE Fortress
7a Late Iron Age IIa 9th-8th centuries BCE The Middle Fortress - Stratum 5 of Cohen and Yisrael (1995)
8 Late Iron Age I 10th century BCE The Early Fortress - Stratum 6 of Cohen and Yisrael (1995)
Southern Amos Quake - 8th century BCE

  • Artist's depiction of the Middle Fortress at En Haseva from Cohen and Yisrael (1995)
Cohen and Yisrael (1995) suggested that the Iron Age II "Middle Fortress" was most likely damaged by a mid 8th century BCE earthquake mentioned in the Book of Amos (1:1). The fortress, dated from ceramics to the 8th-9th centuries BCE, suffered final destruction via either human agency or an earthquake. Cohen and Yisrael (1995) dated earthquake damage to ca. 760 BCE relying on historical texts and comparison to archaeoseismic damage at other sites rather than precise archaeological dating from En Haseva and they dated it's final destruction by human agency to ~735 BCE - also based on historical texts. Unaware at the time that paleoseismic evidence at Nahal Ze'elim in the Dead Sea would show that there were both southern and northern mid 8th century CE earthquakes separated by a few decades (Kagan et. al., 2011), they assigned the earthquake destruction to the northern Amos Quake of ~750-760 BCE when the southern Amos Quake would be the responsible party. The tilted wall of Austin et al (2000) strongly suggests that an earthquake damaged the site whether it was responsible for final destruction or not.

Earthquake from 324 CE to early 6th century CE - possibly Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

  • Plan of En Haseva from Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes (2019)
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.

6th century CE Earthquake

  • Plan of En Haseva from Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes (2019)
Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes (2019) discussed the 6th century earthquake as follows:
The 2003 Excavation

Room 45

Evidence of damage caused by the earthquake that occurred in the sixth century CE was found in the collapse of the western wall of Room 45 (W790); it fell into an open space west of the room (L600). Here, two complete oil lamps were revealed that had apparently sat in a niche in the wall. One belongs to a type that is commonly found in contexts from the first half of the fifth century CE (Fig. 8:1). The other is a Byzantine sandal lamp, commonly found in deposits from the second half of the fifth century CE (Fig. 8:2).

Seismic Effects

Southern Amos Quake - 8th century BCE

  • Tilted Wall at Fortress Gate

Earthquake from 324 CE to early 6th century CE - possibly Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

  • Room 45 - Collapsed Arches - well dated
  • Room 53 - filled with collapsed debris, stone slabs that were used for roofing, arch stones and other building stones. - not as well dated
  • Probable Gatehouse damage

6th century CE Earthquake

  • Room 45 - Western Wall collapsed to the west

Intensity Estimates

Southern Amos Quake - 8th century BCE

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Wall Fortress Gate VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VI (6) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Earthquake from 324 CE to early 6th century CE - possibly Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Arches Room 45 - Figs. 6 and 7 of Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes (2019) VI +
Collapsed Walls Based on an earlier excavation report, Erickson-Gini and Moore Bekes (2019) characterize Room 53 as filled with collapsed debris, stone slabs that were used for roofing, arch stones and other building stones.
Note - this archaeoseismic evidence is not as well dated as the Collapsed Arches
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

6th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Western Wall of Room 45 collapsed to the west VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Mampsis

SE Mampsis Photo 2

Southeastern part of town [Mampsis] showing city-wall

Negev (1988)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Mamshit Hebrew ממשית‎
Kurnub Modern Arabic كورنوب
Kurnub Nabatean ?
Mampsis Byzantine Greek Μαμψις
Memphis Ancient Greek Μέμφις
Introduction

Mampsis was initially occupied at least as early as the 2nd century BCE when it was a station on a secondary part of the Incense Road (Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). It appears on the Madaba Map as Μαμψις (Mampsis). It went into decline or was abandoned in the 7th century CE .

Chronology

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) analyzed damage patterns at Mampsis utilizing 250 cases of 12 different types of deformation patterns which they were able to resolve into two separate earthquake events on the basis of the age of the buildings which showed damage. The fact that the two different events showed distinct directional patterns - the first earthquake with an indicated epicenter to the north and the second with an epicenter to the SW - was taken as confirmation that they had successfully separated out archeoseismic measurements for each individual event. The first earthquake, according to Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) struck around the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 4th century CE and the second struck in the 7th century CE - at the end of the Byzantine period. They provided the following comments regarding dating of the earthquakes
To determine exact ages of the destructive earthquakes, which destroyed the ancient Mamshit, was not possible by methods used in given study. It has to be a special pure archeological and historical research by specific methods related to that field. Age of the first earthquake was taken from a work of Negev (1974) who has conducted main excavation activity in the site. As concern to the second earthquake – the archeological study reveals that the seismically destroyed Byzantine cities were not restored. So, most probably, one of the strong earthquakes in VII Cent. A.D. caused abandonment.

Mamshit thrived, in spite of its location in a desert, thanks to runoff collecting dams, and storage of the precious rain water in public ponds and private cisterns. These installations were most probably severely damaged during the earthquake, cutting at once the daily water supply, forcing the inhabitants to seek refuge in the more fertile regions. This situation was most probably followed by looting by local nomads, turning a temporal seek of shelter into permanent abandonment.
Deciphering chronology at Mampsis has unfortunately been problematic.
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 ?".

Second Earthquake - 5th - 7th centuries CE ?

The date for the second earthquake also seems tenuous as Negev (1974:412) and Negev (1988) indicate that Mampsis suffered destruction by human agency long before the official Arab conquest of the Negev and the town ceased to exist as a factor of any importance after the middle of the 5th century. However, Magness (2003) pointed out that there is evidence for some type of occupation at Mampsis beyond the middle of the 5th century CE.

The small amount of Byzantine pottery published to date from Mamshit also indicates that occupation continued through the second half of the sixth and seventh centuries. There are examples of dipinti on amphoras of early fifth to mid seventh century date. Early Islamic presence is attested by Arabic graffiti on the stones of the apse of the East Church (Negev, 1988). More recently published evidence for sixth to seventh century occupation, as well as for early Islamic occupation, comes from a preliminary report on the 1990 excavations. The description of Building IV, which is located on the slope leading to the East Church, states that "the building continued to function in the Early Islamic period (7th century c.E.) with no architectural changes 122. The large residence, Building XII, contained mostly material dating to the fifth century, but pottery of the "Late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods" was also present 123. In 1993-94, T. Erickson-Gini conducted salvage excavations in several areas at Mamshit, under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The pottery she found includes Fine Byzantine Ware Form lA bowls, and examples of Late Roman "C" (Phocean Red Slip Ware) Form 3, African Red Slip Ware Form 105, and Cypriot Red Slip Ware Form 9 (Erickson-Gini, 2004). This evidence indicates that the occupation at Mamshit continued through the late sixth century and into the seventh century. The Arabic graffiti on the apse of the East Church reflect some sort of early Islamic presence at the site, the nature of which is unclear.
Considering this dating difficulty, I am labeling the date for the second earthquake as "5th -7th centuries CE ?".

Early 2nd century CE earthquake

Russell (1985) cited Negev (1971:166) for evidence of early second century earthquake destruction at Mamphis. Negev (1971) reports extensive building activity in Mamphis in the early second century AD obliterating much of the earlier and smaller infrastructure. However, neither a destruction layer nor an earthquake is mentioned. Citing Erickson-Gini (1999) and Erickson-Gini (2001), Korzhenkov and Erickson-Gini (2003) cast doubt on Russell (1985)'s assertion of archeoseismic damage at Mamphis stating that recent research indicates a continuation of occupation throughout the 1st and 2nd cent. A.D.. Continuous occupation could indicate that seismic damage was limited rather than absent.

Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects - First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ? - Lower parts of buildings (built in Nabatean and Roman Periods)

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Systematic Tilting of Walls E of West Church

Entire Site
3a
3b
3c
3d
Observed damage pattern: tilted walls or wall segments (Figs. 3 a. b). By convention, the direction of tilting is defined by the direction pointed by the upper part of the tilted segment. Only cases of tilting of most of the wall were included in this study.
Statistical observations: The data of surveyed cases of tilting are summed up in Tab. 1. 30 cases of tilting were observed at walls trending 55° to 105°, out of these 26 are tilted northward, and only 4 are tilted southward (Tab. 1 and Fig.3 c). In contrast, only 8 cases of tilting were observed in the perpendicular walls, with a 135° to 185° trend, and out of these the tilting is in 4 cases eastward and in 4 cases westward. Thus, a clear preference of northward tilting is observed at the Roman ruins of Mamshit.

Interpretation: Preferentially oriented tilts of the walls is becoming a common technique for recognition of a seismic nature of damage applied in archeoseimology ... An analysis of the seismic motions and resulting stresses in Mamshit is given in Fig. 3 d, leading to the conclusion that a seismic shocks arrived from north.
Lateral Shifting of Building Elements E of West Church
4 Observed damage pattern: northward shifting by 8 cm, as well as severe cracking of the lowest stone in a 175° trending arch (Fig.4). Thus, a large building element was shifted, and in addition slightly rotated clockwise. The location is at the eastern line of fodder-basins of a complex of stables, at a residential quarter east of the West Church.

Statistical observations: 14 cases of shifting were observed.

Interpretation: Displacement of the building elements is a known phenomenon of earthquake deformation in ancient buildings and was used for the determination of the seismic motions’ directions as wall tilt or collapse. The only process that could cause such shifting is an earthquake – no other mechanism is known. In Mamshit the seismic shocks arrived from north and the push movements were transmitted from the ground to the building foundations, causing the arch to move in an opposite direction, i e. towards the epicenter, due to inertia.
Rotation of Wall Fragments around a Vertical Axis ENE of West Church

Near Frescoes House

Entire Site
5a
5b
5c
5d
Observed damage pattern: 1. An example of clockwise rotation of stones within a wall trending 172°, in a room located ENE of the West Church (Fig. 5 a). Stone A was rotated 5° clockwise and stone B was rotated 10° clockwise, the horizontal displacement between these rotated stones being 21.5 cm.. An example of a counterclockwise rotation in the northern wall of the Frescoes House (Fig. 5 b); the trend of the wall was 59° and the azimuth of the rotated wall fragment is 57°.
Statistical observations: Walls trending 150° to 175° revealed 22 cases of rotation, and out of them 16 are clockwise and only 6 counterclockwise (Fig. 5 c). The perpendicular walls, trending 60° to 95° revealed 27 cases of rotation, out of which 24 cases are counterclockwise and only 3 cases are clockwise. Thus, a clearly systematic picture of rotations is seen: counterclockwise in ENE walls and clockwise in SSE walls (Fig. 5 c).

Interpretation: Rotation of individual stones, fragments of the walls, or whole walls around a vertical axis is common phenomenon during strong recent and ancient earthquakes. Pulling out of foundation stones accompanying by their rotation in spite of their solid cement testifies on just dynamic beating out of them in the process of sharp horizontal oscillations of the all wall (and not only of its upper part) relatively the foundation. Seismic ground motion is the only mechanism that can cause rotation of building elements, a conclusion well supported by the large number of observed rotation cases and the obvious directional systematics. The theoretical background of this phenomenon in the buildings was described in details by Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) and Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999b). In Mamshit an analysis of the direction of the seismic motion, as derived from the dominant rotation patterns is presented in Fig. 5 d, revealing that the epicenter was approximately at NNE.
Cracking of Door Steps, Staircases and Lintels Administrative Tower

E of West Church

Entire Site
6a
6b
6c
7a
7b
8
Observed damage pattern: A 175° trending doorstep of the entrance into one of the rooms of the Administrative Tower was cracked at its southern part (Fig. 6 a) and a similar damage pattern is seen in the doorstep of another room, located eastward within the same building (Fig. 6 b).
Cracks in a staircase of the Late Nabatean Building, located east of the West Church, is seen in Fig. 7 a. Double arrays there show direction of walls swinging. Because of pressure from tilting wall the doorstep got extra-loading which led to cracking of it.
Statistical observations: Fig. 8 reveals that out of 44 observed cases of distinct cracking in Roman buildings, 32 are in northward trending structures (mainly 180°), and only 12 cases are seen in structures included in the perpendicular walls (trending around 90°).

Interpretation: Cracks breaking special building elements, like doorsteps, staircases and lintels, are an important indicator for evaluation of the seismic damage. The cracking process of the doorsteps shown in Figs. 6 a. b are suggested in Fig. 6 c, and the damages seen in the staircase shown in Fig. 7 a is discussed in Fig. 7 b. The conclusion in each of these cases is that the southern wall was tilted northward by inertia in reaction to seismic shocks from the north, indicating the epicenter location was northward of Mamshit. The clear preferential occurrence of cracks in N-S trending walls is in agreement with this conclusion.
Slipped Keystones of Arches W of Eastern Church

Stables - E of West Church
9a
9b
9c
Observed damage pattern: A 174° trending arch, located in a room west of the Eastern Church, exhibits a keystone that slipped 6cm down of its original position, as can be seen in Fig. 9 a. A pair of keystones slipped 3cm down in a 175° trending arch located above the third fodder-basin in the Stables (Fig. 9 b). An important auxiliary observation is that in these cases the arches themselves were not deformed.

Statistical observations: Two cases of slipped keystones were observed, both in N-S trending arches.

Interpretation. Hanging keystones themselves are a strong evidence of seismic origin of such type of deformations, but they also can be used as a kinematic indicator telling about seismic motions direction of a historical earthquake. Displacement of an arch keystone reflects an event of brief extension, during which the keystone slipped, followed by rapid return to the regular state of compression that fixed the keystone in its present state. Such a brief state of extension discloses arrival of seismic shocks that was transmitted to the base of the arch, causing its upper part to be momentarily tilted in the direction of the epicenter, the part facing the epicenter being more effected, as depicted in Fig. 9 c. The observed slipping of the keystone could have occurred in a number of steps during a series of oscillations of the upper part of the arch. The observation that otherwise the arch remained in its original position indicates that the seismic push arrived from a direction parallel to the trend of the arch, as otherwise the arch would be tilted and collapse side wards. Thus, the described cases indicate that the seismic motions were parallel to the direction of the respective arches, i. e. along a N-S direction.
Jointing Administrative Tower
10a
10b
Observed damage pattern: At the western wall of the Administrative Tower, trending 178°, an 88cm long joint is seen crossing two stones (Fig.10 a). A 70cm long joint is seen at the lower support stone of a 178° trending arch, located in a room west of the Administrative Tower (Fig.10 b).

Statistical observations: 12 through-going joints were observed.

Interpretation: Joints crossing a few adjacent stones is one of the strong evidences of seismic origin of the deformations. Formation of such joints has been reported in many macroseismic studies. For example, Korjenkov and I. N. Lemzin described such joints formed in modern buildings during the Kochkor-Ata (Southern Kyrghyzstan) 1992 earthquake of a magnitude MLH = 6.2. Such through-going joints are formed only as a result of high intensity earthquake – high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of free surfaces at the stone margins (i. e., the free space between adjacent stones). ... At Mamshit the joints occurred together with the other listed seismic damage patterns.
Pushing of Walls by Connected Perpendicular Walls Entire site 11 Observed damage pattern: Clockwise and counterclockwise rotations of adjacent stones in a wall, caused by a push of a connected perpendicular wall (Fig. 11).

Statistical observations: 6 cases of such pushes were observed in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: A strong seismic event pushed the perpendicular wall. Hence, the seismic motions came along an axis parallel to the pushed wall. In the case of Mamshit this was along a N-S direction.
Percentage of Heavily Damaged Buildings Entire site The destroyed Roman buildings were rebuilt and, thus, many of the destroyed building parts were cleared away. The large number of deformation patterns that seen in the remaining parts of the Roman period buildings makes room to the assessment that practically all houses were damaged. Thus, the intensity of the tremor was IX EMS-98 scale or more.

Seismic Effects - Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ? - Upper parts of buildings (repaired and built in the Byzantine Period)

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Tilting of Walls S of West Church

Entire Site
12a
12b
12c
12d
Observed damage pattern: The upper row of stones of a N-S (176°) trending wall, in a room south of the West Church, is tilted westward by an angle of 75° (Fig. 12 a). The upper stones of a wall trending N-S (174°), in a room south of the premises of the West Church, are also tilted westward, in an angle of 75° (Fig. 12 b).

Statistical observations: 50 cases of tilting have been found on 145° to 185° trending walls, out of which 47 are tilted WSW and only 3 cases are tilted ENE (Fig. 12 c). In contrast, 50° to 100° trending walls revealed only 14 cases of tilting and with no systematic direction.

Interpretation: The seismic pulses arrived from WSW.
Rotation of Wall Fragments around a Vertical Axis E of West Church

House of Frescoes

Entire Site
13a
13b
13c
13d
Observed damage pattern: A 4° clockwise rotation is seen in the upper part of a N-S (172°) trending wall, situated in a room of the Late Nabatean Building (Fig. 13 a). In contrast, a counterclockwise rotation of 5° is seen in part of an E-W (62°) trending wall in the House of Frescoes (Fig. 13 b).

Statistical observations: Walls trending 60° to 85° reveal 9 cases of counter-clockwise rotation versus just 1 case of clockwise rotation (Fig. 13 c). In contrast, out of 14 cases of rotation in 155° to 180° trending walls, 13 are rotated clockwise, and only 1 counterclockwise.

Interpretation: The seismic shocks arrived from SW, i.e. in the direction of the bisector to the trend of the walls (Fig. 13 d).

Seismic Effects - Additional Imprints of Severe Earthquakes

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Blocking of Entrances West City Wall

XII quarter
14a
14b
Observation: Fig. 14 a depicts a gate in the western city wall, close to its SW corner, that was blocked by smaller stones. The wall edge is tilted towards the former entrance, disclosing that the latter was blocked in order to support the wall that was damaged, most probably by an earthquake. The blocking stones are tilted as well, possibly disclosing the impact of another earthquake. Fig. 14 b shows an entrance in the eastern wall of a room of the XII quarter that was blocked to support the lintel that was cracked (marked by arrows), most possibly during a former earthquake.

Statistical observations: 4 cases of blocked entrances one can observe in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: Earthquake(s) is one of possible reasons for such type of building activity. ... So, the entrances in some places at Mamshit were possibly blocked in a number of cases in order to repair observable seismic damage. In other instances damaged structures had to be turn down and occasionally rebuilt.
Mismatch of Lower Stone Rows and Upper Parts of Buildings E of East Church
15 Observation: The lower row of stones of the western wall of a room, east of the East Church, protrudes from the plane of the rest of the wall (Fig. 15).

Statistical observations: 12 cases of mismatching were observed in Mamshit.

Interpretation: Two stages of building are disclosed: the original structure was destroyed by an earthquake, dismantled, and a new wall was built, using the old foundation, but following a somewhat different direction. Such phenomenon was also observed in adjacent ruins of ancient Avdat and Shivta, which were damaged by strong historical earthquakes.
Supporting Walls South City Wall
16 Observation: Fig. 16 discloses a section of the southern city wall (trending 66°) that is tilted by 81° to SES (marked by a dashed line), and connected to it are seen the remains of a special support wall (shown by an arrow). Part of the support wall was dissembled during the archeological excavations, to expose the tilting of the original wall.

Statistical observations: One supporting wall was observed in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: Various segments of city wall were tilted at an earlier earthquake (most probably during the Roman period) and repaired later on (most probably during the Byzantine stage of rebuilding). Such supporting walls were observed in another cities in the Negev desert, like Avdat, Shivta, Rehovot-ba-Negev and Sa’adon. Together with another "pure" features of the seismic deformations, they can be used as additional supportive evidence of earthquake damage.
Secondary Use of Building Stones East Church
17a
17b
Observation: Fig. 17 a shows a secondary use of a segment of a column, western wall of the main hall of the East Church. Fig. 17 b displays the eastern wall of a room at the East Church quarter, disclosing a lower- right part that protrudes 7 to 12cm, as compared to the upper-left part that is built of reused smaller stones, disclosing a stage of repair and rebuilding.

Statistical observations: 9 walls with secondary use of building stones were found in Mamshit.

Interpretation: The rather common secondary use of building materials in the Byzantine buildings may well reflect the destruction of the Roman buildings that were severely damaged by the earthquake that is identified by the long list of damage patterns discussed so far.
Incorporation of Wooden Beams in Stone Buildings Administrative Tower
18a
18b
Observation: A high quality wooden beam is incorporated as a second lintel above a door in a room at the Administrative Tower (Fig. 18 a). Another beam is incorporated in the same building between two door steps (Fig. 18 b).

Statistical observations: 2 cases of wooden beams were found in Mamshit ruins.

Interpretation: The builders of Mamshit were aware of the seismic danger and incorporated wooden beams to absorb future seismic shocks. Horizontally placed beams lowered mainly the effect of the vertical component of seismic motions. Laying inside the walls of a regular longitudinal-diametrical framework from the wooden beams is a typical antiseismic method of Medieval Turkish construction noticed by A. A. Nikonov (1996) during his archeo-seismological study in Crimean Peninsular.
Bulging of Wall Parts West City Wall
19a
19b
Observation: The central part of the western city wall, trending SES (152°), is bulged westwards, as is seen in Fig. 19 in a photo and a sketch.

Statistical observations: 11 cases of bulging of central parts of the walls were observed in Mamshit.

Interpretation: The city wall is well built of massive stones and, thus, deformation due to poor building most probably can be ruled out. This seems to be the result of a strong earthquake.
Percentage of Heavily Damaged Buildings Entire Site Practically all the buildings of the Byzantine period were damaged, more that 50% are estimated to have been destroyed. Thus, the intensity of the tremor was IX at the EMS-98 scale or more.

Archaeoseismic Analysis

Archaeoseismic Analysis - First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) provided the following analysis for the first earthquake:

The Lower Parts of the Buildings, Reflecting Mainly the Earthquake of the End of the 3rd cent. or Beginning of the 4th cent.

The walls of the houses of Mamshit had a general orientation of around ENE (~ 75°) and SES (~165°). Hence, a quadrangle of these directions may serve as the basis for a general discussion of the observed damage patterns, in order to deduce the direction of arrival of the seismic movements.

Arrival of the seismic motions from north has been concluded for the 4th cent. event. Let us discuss in this context three possibilities:

  1. If the strong seismic pulses would have arrived from NWN, the walls perpendicular to this direction (ENE) would experience quantitative and systematic tilting (as well as collapse) toward the epicenter, whereas the perpendicular walls (SES) would have distinctly less cases of tilting and they would be in random to both NEN and NWN (Fig. 20 a ). Rotations would be scarce and at random directions. This is not the case of the lower parts of buildings (Roman period) at Mamshit.
  2. If the strong seismic shocks would have arrived along the bisector of the trend of the walls (i.e. from NEN), the walls trending ENE would have undergone both systematic tilting toward NWN and anticlockwise rotation, whereas the perpendicular walls (trending SES) would experience systematic tilting toward NEN and clockwise rotation (Fig. 20 b ), but this is not the case of the lower parts of buildings (Roman period) at Mamshit.
  3. If the epicenter was at the north, the ENE trending walls would undergo systematic tilting to the NWN and systematic counterclockwise rotations, whereas the SES trending walls would suffer of a few cases of random tilting but systematic clockwise rotations (Fig. 20 c ). This combination of damage pattern orientations fits the observations at the lower parts of the buildings at Mamshit, leading to the conclusion that the epicenter of the devastating earthquake at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. was north of Mamshit.
The systematic directional deformation patterns disclose that the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit, but to the north of it, and the concluded intensity of IX or more, suggests the epicenter was in several-first tens of km away. Future field investigations are recommended to check for evidence of recent tectonic activity in the Judean Desert.

Archaeoseismic Analysis - Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ?

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) provided the following analysis for the first earthquake:

The Upper Parts of the Buildings, Reflecting Mainly the 7th cent. Earthquake

The direction of the epicenter of the 7th cent. strong earthquake has been concluded to have been SW of Mamshit. In this connection let us examine three possibilities, bearing in mind that the walls of the houses of Mamshit had a general orientation of around ENE (~ 75°) and SES (~165°):
  1. If the strong seismic shocks would have arrived from WSW, the walls perpendicular to this direction (SES) would experience quantitative and systematic tilting toward the epicenter, whereas the perpendicular walls (ENE) would have distinctly less cases of tilting and they would be in random directions and not to the epicenter (Fig. 21 a ). Rotations would be scarce and at random directions. This is not the case of the upper parts of buildings (Byzantine period) at Mamshit.
  2. If the strong seismic pulses would have arrived along the bisector of the trend of the walls (i.e. from SWS), the walls trending ENE would have under¬gone both systematic tilting toward NWN and counterclockwise rotation, whereas the perpendicular walls (trending SES) would experience systematic tilting toward NEN and clockwise rotation (Fig. 21 b ), but this is not the case of the upper parts of buildings (Byzantine period) at Mamshit.
  3. If the epicenter was at SW, the SES trending walls would undergo systematic tilting to the SW and systematic clockwise rotations, whereas the ENE trending walls would suffer of a few cases of random tilting but systematic counterclockwise rotations (Fig. 21 c ). This combination of damage pattern orientations fits the observations at the upper parts of the buildings at Mamshit, leading to the conclusion that the epicenter of the devastating seventh century earthquake was SW of Mamshit.
The systematic directional deformation patterns disclose that the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit, but to the SW of it, and the concluded intensity of IX or more suggests the epicenter was in several-first tens of km away. Future field investigations are recommended to check for evidence of recent tectonic activity along E-W trending faults in the Negev Desert.

Intensity Estimates

First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

Effect Location Intensity
Tilted Walls E of West Church VI+
Displaced Masonry Blocks E of West Church
ENE of West Church
Near Frescoes House
VIII+
Folded Steps and Kerbs Administrative Tower VI+
Dropped Keystones in Arches W of Eastern Church
Stables - E of West Church
VI+
Penetrative fractues in Masonry Blocks Administrative Tower VI+
Displaced Walls Entire Site VII+
Collapsed Walls Entire Site VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (2003)'s Seismic Characterization

This was a strong earthquake with an epicenter at the north, and an EMS-98 scale intensity of IX or more. This is a minimum value because the wrecks of the most badly struck buildings had most probably been completely removed, leaving no trace. Thus, our observations are biased toward the lower end of the intensity scale.
...
In the present study the two earthquakes were resolved by the archeological identification that the Roman town was rebuilt at the Byzantine period, and the latter fell into ruins as well. The archeoseismological resolution of the two earthquakes is validated in the present case by the observation that the epicenters were at different directions – north in the first event and SW in the second.
...
The percentage of collapsed buildings of the Roman town is hard to estimate as most of them have been cleared away and rebuilt. Yet, an estimate can be done by the extended rebuilding - most of the second floors or upper parts of high structures were rebuilt at the Byzantine stage, leading to an estimate that at lest 15% of the Roman period buildings were destroyed at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. earthquake. Thus, according to the European Macroseismic Scale of 1998 (EMS-98) an earthquake intensity of IX or more is concluded.
...
Zero distance is ruled out in both studied earthquakes on the basis that most of the observed seismic deformations were caused by lateral movements. Hence, the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit.
...
The observed dominance of lateral movements in both earthquakes indicates the epicenter was away at some distance from the epicenter. Future studies will have to address this point.
...
The large body of damage patterns surveyed at Mamshit provides a fairly simple picture: devastation was caused mainly by lateral movements that arrived from the fault rupture zone. These observations were made for both earthquakes – the one at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. that had its epicenter at the north, and the second at the 7th cent. that had its epicenter at SW.

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis by Kamai and Hatzor (2005)

Kamai and Hatzor (2005) performed Discontinuous Deformation Analysis (DDA) on a model

for a dropped keystone in an arch near the Eastern Church in Mampsis. The optimal model , using a sinusoidal input with an amplitude of 0.5 g and a frequency of 1 Hz., produced 3.11 cm. of displacement vs. 4 cm. measured in the field. The conclusion was that the keystone dropped due an earthquake with a PGA of ~0.5 g and a center frequency of ~1 Hz.. 0.5 g translates to an Intensity of 8.2 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). In their modeling, Kamai and Hatzor (2005) found that low frequencies (e.g. 0.5 Hz.) resulted in strong fluctuations and high frequencies (e.g. 5 and 10 Hz.) resulted in a "locking" of the structure and very little displacement. Accelerations between 0.32 and 0.8 g produced reasonable values of keystone displacement although 0.5 g produced the most amount of displacement and the closest amount of displacement to what is observed in the field.

Kamai and Hatzor (2007) reiterated the same study at Mampsis noting that keystone displacement only occurred in the frequency range of 1.0 - 1.5 Hz. and that seismic amplification might have been at play at the higher parts of the structure (i.e. the "Sky-scraper effect" mentioned by Korzhenkov), thus amplifying bedrock PGA by as much as 2.5. This led to a bracket of PGA values for the dropped keystone between 0.2 and 0.5 g. These PGA values convert to Intensities of 6.7 - 8.2 using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999).
Variable Input Units Notes
g Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration
Variable Output - Site Effect not considered Units Notes
unitless Conversion from PGA to Intensity using Wald et al (1999)
  

Model Values and Lab derived properties

Model Values

Property Value Units
Friction angle of arch 35 degrees
Friction angle of wall 40 degrees
Young's Modulus of arch 17 Gpa
Young's Modulus of wall 1 Mpa
Height of Wall above arch 0 m
Model was run in qk.mode. An unusually low model value of Young's Modulus for the wall (1 Mpa) was explained as reasonable when one considers the heterogeneity of the wall where spaces between the wall blocks are filled with soft filling materials.

Lab Measurements of original stones from Mampsis
Property Value Units
Density 1890 kg./m3
Porosity 30 - 38 %
Dynamic Young's Modulus 16.9 Gpa
Dynamic Shear Modulus 6.17 Gpa
Dynamic Poisson's Ratio 0.37 unitless
Interface friction angle 35 degrees

Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ?

Effect Location Intensity
Tilted Walls S of West Church
Entire Site
VI+
Displaced Masonry Blocks E of West Church
House of Frescoes
VIII+
Collapsed Walls Entire Site VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (2003)'s Seismic Characterization

At the end of the Byzantine period a second earthquake hit the place, the epicenter being this time to the SW, and the intensity was IX or more.
...
The percentage of collapsed buildings of the Byzantine town can be well estimated as the ruins were left untouched. The survey disclosed that at least 15% of the well built stone buildings of Byzantine Mamshit collapsed – practically no second floor structures survived with no severe damage. Hence, according to the EMS-98 an earthquake intensity of IX or more is deduced as well.
...
Zero distance is ruled out in both studied earthquakes on the basis that most of the observed seismic deformations were caused by lateral movements. Hence, the hypocenter was not beneath Mamshit.
...
The observed dominance of lateral movements in both earthquakes indicates the epicenter was away at some distance from the epicenter. Future studies will have to address this point.
...
The large body of damage patterns surveyed at Mamshit provides a fairly simple picture: devastation was caused mainly by lateral movements that arrived from the fault rupture zone. These observations were made for both earthquakes – the one at the end of the 3rd cent. or beginning of the 4th cent. that had its epicenter at the north, and the second at the 7th cent. that had its epicenter at SW.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Korzhenkov, A. and E. Mazor (2003). "Archeoseismology in Mamshit (Southern Israel): Cracking a Millennia-old Code of Earthquakes Preserved in Ancient Ruins." Archäologischer Anzeiger: 51-82.

Negev, A. (1988). The architecture of Mampsis : final report. 1. The Middle and Late Nabatean periods, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Negev, A. (1988) The Architecture of Mampsis, Final Report, Vol. II: The Late Roman and Byzantine Period, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

A. Negev (1971), The Nabatean Necropolis of Mamshit (Kurnub), IsrExplJ 21, 1971, 110–129

Negev, A. (1974). "THE CHURCHES OF THE CENTRAL NEGEV AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY." Revue Biblique (1946-) 81(3): 400-421.

Erickson-Gini T. 1999 Mampsis: A Nabataean Roman Settlement in the Central Negev Highlands in Light of the Ceramic and Architectural Evidence Found in Archaeological Excavations During 1993 1994, Unpublished M.A. dissertation, Tel Aviv University.

Erickson-Gini, T. (2004). Crisis and Renewal-settlement in the Central Negev in the Third and Fourth Centuries C. E.: With an Emphasis on the Finds from Recent Excavations in Mampsis, Oboda and Mezad 'En Hazeva, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Erickson-Gini, New Excavations in the Late Roman Quarter in Avdat, Proceedings of the Twenty-Seventh Archaeological Congress in Israel, Bar Ilan University April 2–3, 2001

Erickson-Gini, T. (2010:47). Nabataean settlement and self-organized economy in The Central Negev: crisis and renewal, Archaeopress.

Kamai, R. and Y. Hatzor (2005). Dynamic back analysis of structural failures in archeological sites to obtain paleo-seismic parameters using DDA. Proceedings of 7th International Conference on the Analysis of Discontinuous Deformation (ICADD-7).

Kamai, R. and Y. H. Hatzor (2008). "Numerical analysis of block stone displacements in ancient masonry structures: A new method to estimate historic ground motions." International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics 32(11): 1321-1340.

Yotvata

Stratigraphy of Yotvata Fig. 7

West baulk of Room 4, showing the mud-brick collapse

JW: Stratigraphy of Yotvata - burnt layer at bottom is overlain by mud brick collapse layer and sedimentation until the top Early Islamic layer

Davies and Magness (2015)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Yotvata Hebrew יׇטְבָתָה
Iutfata Arabic يوتفاتا
Ein Ghadian Arabic يين عهاديان
Introduction

Yotvata is located in a small oasis about 40 km. north of Eilat. The modern name Yotvata is based on Jotbathah, one of the stops of the Israelites in the journey of the Exodus (Deuteronomy 10:7 and Numbers 33:33-34). There is as yet no proof for this identification (Zeev Meshel in Stern et al, 1993). Due Yotvata's water source and location at a crossroad, it has been settled during different periods although although there is no mound or multiperiod central site (Zeev Meshel in Stern et al, 1993). Sites are located in different places. Zeev Meshel in Stern et al (1993) summarizes the sites:
Remains can be divided into four main groups:
  • remains related to water or agriculture
  • tombs
  • remains of settlements or encampments
  • remains associated with copper production
...

The settlements excavated so far date to the [following periods]
  1. Chalcolithic
  2. the Early and Middle Bronze Ages
  3. The beginning of the Iron Age
  4. Nabatean
  5. Roman
  6. Early Arab
The sites from the last four periods were probably fortresses or way stations
A Roman fortress is present at the site .

Chronology

Davies and Magness (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.
Thus, although it is possible that there is archeoseismic evidence for the southern Cyril Quake at Yotvata, this is considered unlikely.

Petra

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Petra English
Al-Batrā Arabic ٱلْبَتْرَاء‎
Petra Ancient Greek Πέτρα‎
Rekeme Thamudic ?
Raqmu Arabic
Raqēmō Arabic
Introduction

Petra is traditionally accessed through a slot canyon known as the Siq. The site was initially inhabited at least as early as the Neolithic and has been settled sporadically ever since - for example in the Biblical Edomite, Hellenistic, Nabatean, Byzantine, and Crusader periods. After the Islamic conquest in the 7th century CE, Petra lost its strategic and commercial value and began to decline until it was "re-discovered" by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812 (Meyers et al, 1997). It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been and continues to be extensively studied by archeologists.
Summary of Archeoseismic Evidence from the 4th-6th centuries in Petra - Jones (2021)

Jones (2021) provided a summary of archeoseismic evidence in Petra which is reproduced below.

Arcehoseismic Evidence in Petra Table 1

List of sites in and near Petra (other than al-Zantur) with destructions attributable to earthquakes in 363 AD and the 6th century

Jones (2021)

Map of Major Excavations in Petra - Jones (2021)

Jones (2021) provided a Map of Petra with major excavations which is reproduced below.

Major Excavations in Petra Figure 2

Map of Petra with the locations of major excavations marked

Jones (2021)

Basemap: Esri, Maxar, Earthstar Geographics, USDA FSA, USGS, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

Petra Theater
Petra Main Theater The Petra Theater aka the Main Theater

Wikipedia - Douglas Perkins - CC-2.0


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Main Theater English
Petra Theater English
Masrah al-Batra Arabic مسرح البتراء
Introduction

As one enters Petra through the Siq, after passing "The "Treasury", the Main Theater is the first structure one encounters before entering the valley that comprises the central part of Petra. The seats are carved out of a cliff of Nubian Sandstone. Hammond (1964) excavated the Main Theater over two seasons in 1961 and 1962.

Chronology
Phasing

Hammond (1964) divided up the phasing into 8 periods from bedrock to modern surface. Initial construction and use appeared to occur during Nabatean times; likely soon after the reign of Aretas IV who ruled from 9 BCE to 40 CE(Hammond, 1962:105-106).



Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

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.

6th-8th century CE Earthquake

Jones (2021:3 Table 1) reports a second potential seismic destruction of the Theater in Phase VII.

The Phase VII destruction of the Main Theatre is difficult to date, as the structure had gone out of use long before. It may be the result of either the late 6th century earthquake or the mid-8th century earthquake.

Seismic Effects
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Intensity Estimates
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls the scaena and its stories, blockade walls, the tribunalia(e), and other built parts of the Theater were all cataclysmically destroyed VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading
Khubtha Cliff
The Royal Tombs of Petra The Royal Tombs of Petra

Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 - Carlalexanderlukas


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Khubtha Arabic كهوبتها
The Royal Tombs of Petra English
Royal Nabataean Necropolis English
Introduction

The western slope of Khubtha Cliff has some of the largest tombs in Petra and is often referred to as the Royal Nabataean Necropolis ( Zayadine, F., 1973).

Chronology
4th century CE 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."

Notes and Further Reading
Temple of the Winged Lions
Temple of the Winged Lions Temple of the Winged Lions

Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 - Bernard Gagnon


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Temple of the Winged Lions English
Temple of Site II English
Introduction

The Temple of the Winged Lions gets its name from a the columns surrounding the main podium. These columns had a unique Winged Lion Capital rather than Corinthian ones.

Maps and Plans Chronology

In 1973 and 1974, Hammond (1975) excavated the Temple of the Winged Lions which he labeled as the Temple of Site II. The phasing of the Temple of the Winged Lions and the domestic complex in Area I ~50 meters east of the Temple of the Winged Lions were similar and apparently reconciled in Hammond (1978) . Because Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017) re-evaluated the excavated materials from Area I and presented a revised chronology, reference should be made to Area I near the Temple of the Winged Lions for chronology - particularly regarding early 2nd century CE earthquake evidence. Phasing from Hammond (1975) and discussion of potential seismic events is presented below:
Phasing - Hammond (1975)



Early 2nd century CE Earthquake
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.

6th century CE Earthquake

Jones (2021) noted the following:

Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017: 144-45) note the lack of 6th century material at both the Temple of the Winged Lions and the residential complex in nearby Area I, although this may simply indicate that the area was abandoned prior to its destruction in the late 6th century.

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Hammond (1975) discussed this archaeoseismic evidence as follows:

There can be no question that the architectural debris covered by the silting of the previous phase and resting on the surface of the next phase below represents anything but the final destruction of the building of Phase XV. The direction of this fall ran from the Northwest to the Southeast consistently throughout the excavated areas of the previous phase and resting on the surface of the next phase below represents anything but the final destruction of the building of Phase XV. The direction of this fall ran from the Northwest to the Southeast consistently throughout the excavated areas.
...
much of the building was intact at the point of this destruction --with columns still standing, some capitals and cornices still in place, considerable plaster decoration still in situ, intercolumnar or gate (?) arches (?) still standing, and possibly even sections of the roof (?) still in place. With this earthquake all of the superstructure was tumbled that had survived the earlier earth tremor which had already partially - but only partially - demolished the structure.
...
it is suggested that the same chronology be postulated for this structure, in terms of destruction, as was established for the Theater: namely that this phase be dated to A. D. 746/748, the second and most severe of the two earthquakes involved. The overlying recovered materials of the higher phases do not conflict at all with this dating and it can plausibly fit the peculiarities of ceramic materials recovered -- i. e. early in the Early Islamic period wherein local potters ("Byzantine") continued to produce familiar wares and types without yet evidencing "Islamic" influences.
...
This fall phase was the richest in recovered architectural materials per se, and the specifics of content greatly assist in suggesting possible reconstructions. This quantity of material also attests to the force of the earth tremors which finally brought down the super-structure of the building, as was also the case at the Main Theater.

Seismic Effects
363 CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of the Temple of the Winged Lions from Ward (2016)
Seismic Effects from Hammond (1975)
  • architectural fall debris
  • some capitals dislodged, along with cornice-carrying blocks, wall members, and other structural members
  • a great deal of internal plastered decoration, including undercoatings, was also dislodged
  • loss and fragmentation of some capitals
  • a considerable number of free-standing columns survived the quake

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of the Temple of the Winged Lions from Ward (2016)
Hammond (1975) described seismic effects as follows:
much of the building was intact at the point of this destruction --with columns still standing, some capitals and cornices still in place, considerable plaster decoration still in situ, intercolumnar or gate (?) arches (?) still standing, and possibly even sections of the roof (?) still in place. With this earthquake all of the superstructure was tumbled that had survived the earlier earth tremor which had already partially - but only partially - demolished the structure.

Intensity Estimates
363 CE Earthquake

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Displaced Walls architectural fall debris VII +
Displaced Masonry Blocks some capitals dislodged, along with cornice-carrying blocks, wall members, and other structural members VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Collapsed Arches VI +
Fallen Columns V +
Displaced Walls ? possible roof collapse implies displaced walls VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
Area I near the Temple of the Winged Lions
Introduction

The original excavation of Area I, a residential area ~50 m due east of the Temple of the Winged Lions, was conducted by the American Expedition to Petra (AEP) under the supervision of Ken Russell and the direction of Philip C. Hammond between 1974 and 1978. Due to the untimely demise of Ken Russell and later death of Philip C. Hammond, the full results of this excavation were not fully published. Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017) re-examined ceramic assemblages and other material evidence from Area I and redated some of the earlier phasing.

Chronology
Phasing from Hammond (1978)

Hammond (1978) described the preliminary phasing below as follows:

Although analysis has not been completed3, preliminary field phasing4, strongly suggests some 20 phases, with correlations to the earthquake chronology established at the Main Theater in 1961-1962 and the adjacent temple site (Areas II-III) during the course of the present excavations. Ceramic and numismatic markers within this framework currently tend to strengthen the chronological conclusions offered below.


Early 2nd Century CE Earthquake

Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)'s analysis suggests that, although early 2nd century CE earthquake evidence is present in Petra and other sites of the Nabateans, some of Russell (1985)'s phasing was off by up to a couple of centuries. Some excerpts follow:

The conclusions to be presented here include a revision of the dating of the Early House in Area I and the ceramic assemblages uncovered its antechamber and the upper and lower levels of the structure to the late 2nd and early 3rd c. CE when the structure was abandoned. This revised dating is supported by evidence from other parts of the AEP excavations such as the Painters' Workshop and important find spots near the temple that are presented in this paper as well as material from other parts of the Provincia Arabia in the post-annexation period.
...
The use of a revised ceramic chronology in dating these assemblages will undoubtedly prove to be controversial, however we believe that such a revision is long overdue and is in itself an important tool for the re-examination of the phasing of structures and occupational layers in Petra and other sites in the Provincia Arabia, the vast majority of which have been erroneously dated to the later 1st to early 2nd c. CE.
...
In 1977, Russell prepared a tentative phasing of the stratigraphy in Area I. The final phasing prepared by him in 1978 indicates the presence of twenty archaeological phases (Phases XX—I) and the remains of successive domestic structures of the Early Roman (pre-annexation, i.e., the Roman annexation of Nabataea in 106 CE), Middle Roman (post-annexation) and Byzantine periods. He designated these structures the "Early House", the "Middle House", and the "Late House".
...
The earliest archaeological material discovered in Area I, uncovered below the earliest architectural remains and in ancient falls, dates to the Hellenistic period. The latest material belongs to an overlying cemetery that Russell dated to the Late Byzantine or Early Islamic periods.
...
As we shall see below, the abandonment of the Early House in Area I and abandoned hoards in rooms of the Temple of the Winged Lions complex were probably the result of an epidemic that occurred sometime in the 3rd c. rather than the early 2nd c. earthquake as claimed by Russell.
...

EVIDENCE OF AN EARTHQUAKE EVENT IN THE EARLY SECOND CENTURY CE

Russell's misreading of the archaeological evidence led him to attribute the end of the occupation of the Early House in Phase XV to earthquake destruction that he dated to 113/114 CE based on the discovery of the single coin found in the antechamber, a brass sestertius commemorating Trajan's alimenta italiae endowment dated to the period between 103 and 117 CE, together with the hoard of unguentaria and other ceramic vessels (Russell, 1985:40-41). Although the Early House was not destroyed and abandoned by an earthquake in the early 2nd c., evidence of earthquake damage is discernible with the renovations that took place in its final occupation in Phase XVI.
...
Subsequent research carried out in several sites
64 Evidence of an earthquake at Petra in the late first or early 2nd c. CE has been uncovered by
  • Kirkbride and Parr at Petra (Kirkbride 1960: 118-19; Parr 1960: 129
  • Joukowsky and Basile 2001: 50) and more recently in the ez-Zantur excavations Kolb and Keller 2002: 286; Grawehr 2007: 399)
Evidence of the event has also been uncovered in sites in the surrounding region at:
  • Aqaba (Dolinka 2003: 30-32, Fig. 14)
  • 'En Yotvata (Erickson-Gini 2012a)
  • Moyat 'Awad and Shdar Ramon (Cohen 1982: 243-44; Erickson-Gini and Israel 2013: 45)
  • 'En Rahel (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003)
  • Mezad Mahmal (Erickson-Gini 2011)
  • Mampsis (Negev 1971: 166; Erickson-Gini 2010: 47)
  • Oboda (Erickson-Gini, in press)
  • Horvat Hazaza (Erickson-Gini, in press).
However, with regard to Khirbet Tannur, in light of the final publication and re-evaluation of Nelson Glueck's excavation by J.S. McKenzie et. al. (2013), his claim that Altar 3 was built in wake of earthquake damage of the early 2nd c. (termed the 113-114 CE earthquake) appears to be untenable due to the re-dating of Period 2 at the site to the first half of the 2nd c. CE (Mckenzie 2013: 137).
, including Petra itself, indicate that an early 2nd c. earthquake did indeed take place (Erickson-Gini 2010:47) 65. An examination of the records and photographs of the western side of the Temple of the Winged Lions complex also reveals evidence of earthquake damage that precedes that of the 363 CE earthquake. This evidence includes the blockage of doorways with architectural fragments that appear to have been derived from the temple, for instance in Area III.8 (SU 113; W2; Aug. 2, 1977), that were also used in the construction of the pavement in WII.1W. Revetments adding support to walls were photographed in Area III.7 (AEP 83900). In addition, a hoard of vessels of the late 1st c. BCE and first half of the 1st c. CE was discovered in the AEP 2000 season in a spot next to the eastern corridor in Area III.10 (SU 19). This assemblage of restorable vessels included several plain fineware, carinated bowls that correspond to later forms of Schmid's Gruppe 5 dated to the second half of the 1st c. BCE (2000 AEP RI. 41), (2000: Abb. 41) together with early forms of his Gruppe 6 dated to the 1st c. CE (2000 AEP RI. 11), (2000: Abb. 50) and two early painted ware bowls (2000 AEP RI. 42) corresponding to Schmid's Dekorgruppe 2a (2000: Abbs. 80=81) dated to the end of the 1st c. BCE and early 1st c. CE. 66 In spite of the presence of these early vessels, the AEP 2000 season finds registries records nearly all of them as dating to 363 CE.
...
Russell was correct in dating the early form of the Early House (Phase XVII) to the 1st c. ceramic vessels of that period
...
The Early House was obviously renovated, prior to its final form in Phase XVI, similar to other buildings discovered in Petra. Some Nabataean communities, such as Mampsis and Oboda, underwent a wave of new construction in the newly-organized Roman Province of Arabia while sites such as 'En Rahel and 'En Yotvata were destroyed and never re-built. Renovations in wake of structural damage evident in structures in many sites in the years following the annexation, as well as the construction of new buildings, point to a widespread earthquake event in southern Transjordan and the Negev in the early 2nd c. CE. The event may have influenced or even prompted the Roman annexation that occurred soon afterwards. At Petra, the Early House was not destroyed at that time but rather it was renovated and occupied until the early 3rd c. when it was abandoned, possibly in the wake of an epidemic.
...

Conclusions

The primary issue concerning the Early House is the date and manner of its abandonment. An outstanding difficulty in Russell's phasing in Area I is the two hundred year period between the renovations that supposedly took place in the Early House in the early 2nd c. CE (Phase XVI) and the construction of the Middle House in the early 4th c. CE (Phase XII). This gap in the archaeological record is largely artificial and can be attributed to the fact that a single coin was used to date the critical ceramic assemblage found in Room 2 (antechamber) of the Early House (SU 176, 800, 803) to the very beginning of the 2nd c. Rather than its destruction by earthquake in the early 2nd c., the body of evidence points to its abandonment sometime in the early 3rd c. similar to sites along the Petra—Gaza road.

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.

6th century CE Earthquake

Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017) discussed a lack of evdience for a 6th century CE earthquake.

POST SCRIPT - THE LATEST PHASE IN AREA I AND THE EARTHQUAKE OF 551

With regard to the fate of the latest phase of occupation in Area I (the Upper or Later House), Russell and Hammond's supposition of destruction in both Areas I and II as result of the 551 CE earthquake is not supported by subsequent archaeological in Petra nor is it supported by the material evidence found in their excavations. As noted above, Russell's initial phasing did not include this event, but he does refer to it in a 1990 report to ACOR on the Household Excavations. Hammond and Johnson (2000) later published the supposed 551 earthquake in their phasing of the Temple of the Winged Lions. In spite of this, the finds from the Later House do not include vessels or coins of the 6th c. CE and findings from the Petra Church excavations do not support the occurrence of an earthquake event in that period. A 551 earthquake event is also elusive with regard to the temple in Area II. Hammond and John-son provide a list of coins discovered there, the latest of which dates to Constantius II (337-361 CE), (2000).
Jones (2021) added:
Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017: 144-45) note the lack of 6th century material at both the Temple of the Winged Lions and the residential complex in nearby Area I, although this may simply indicate that the area was abandoned prior to its destruction in the late 6th century.

Seismic Effects
Early 2nd Century CE Earthquake

  • Plan of Area I and the Temple of the Winged Lions from Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)
Seismic Effects from Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)
  • blockage of doorways with architectural fragments that appear to have been derived from the temple, for instance in Area III.8 (SU 113; W2; Aug. 2, 1977, that were also used in the construction of the pavement in WII.1W
  • Revetments adding support to walls were photographed in Area III.7 (AEP 83900)

363 CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects from Russell (1985)
  • collapsed house (area I near the Temple of the Winged Lions)

Intensity Estimates
Early 2nd century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Displaced Walls Area I Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) architectural fragments that appear to have been derived from the temple VII +
Tilted Walls Area I Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) Revetments adding support to walls VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

363 CE Earthquake

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Collapsed Walls Area I Russell (1985) collapsed house VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Notes and Further Reading
Notes

Russell (1985)'s chronology for the Incense Road Quake

Russell noted that during the 1976 excavations at Petra, a brass coin (sestertius) commemorating Trajan's alimenta italiae endowment was uncovered on a floor-slab next to several crushed unguentaria in a storage room of a collapsed house [in Area I according to Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017)] of the early 2nd century. Russell (1985) relates that Sestertii of this type were minted between 103 and 117 ( Robertson 1971: 57-59, and pl. 13, nos. 344, 350, 354). Unfortunately, the consulship was illegible in the obverse inscription which would have allowed for more precise dating. Coins of the last Nabataean king, Rabbel II (71- 106), have been noted in association with this destruction evidence at Petra (Kirkbride, 1960:118-119; Parr 1960: 129).

Qasr al-Bint
Qasr Bint Qasr Bint

Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 - Dennis Jarvis


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Qasr al Bint Arabic قاسر ال بينت
Qasr al-Bint Fir’aun Arabic فرعون قاسر ال بينت
Introduction

Qasr al-Bint is one of the best preserved structures in Petra. It fronted the colonnaded street and was close to the monumental gate.

Chronology
3rd-4th century CE Earthquake

  • Figure 11 from Tholbecq et al (2019:36-37)
  • Figure 12 from Tholbecq et al (2019:36-37)
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.

6th century CE Earthquake ?

Jones(2021) speculated that Qasr al-Bint may have been damaged due to a 6th century CE earthquake.

Renel (2013: 349) has proposed that the post-363 occupation at Qasr al-Bint was abandoned in the early 5th century, possibly as a result of a major flood (Paradise, 2011). Nonetheless, it is possible that Qasr al-Bint was abandoned due to the 5th century flood but also damaged during the late 6th century earthquake.

Seismic Effects
3rd-4th century CE Earthquake

The destruction layer can be observed in the photographs below:

  • Figure 11 from Tholbecq et al (2019:36-37)
  • Figure 12 from Tholbecq et al (2019:36-37)

Intensity Estimates
3rd-4th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Collapse/Destruction Layer suggests wall collapse VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Notes and Further Reading
Wadi Sabra Theater
Wadi Sabra Theater Fig. 2 Section 2.2

View of the Sabra theater to the south with, the sounding in the foreground 2021.4 (photo by N. Paridaens © Université libre de Bruxelles).

Tholbecq et al (2021)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Wadi Sabra Arabic وادي سابرا
Introduction

The Wadi Sabra Theater is located ~6.5 km. south of Petra ( Tholbecq et al, 2019). Translation from French to English is by Google and Williams.

Maps and Plans Chronology

Tholbecq et al (2019) summarized general phasing of the Wadi Sabra Theater. There appears to be evidence for two earthquake destructions.
Phase Phase Label Date Comments
1 Digging and development of the cavea no later than the 2nd century CE
  • This phase corresponds to the rock development of the Sabra theater; no structure or occupation prior to the building has been observed, neither under the built parts of the monument nor in its immediate surroundings. The first available surveys made it possible to restore a Greek-type horseshoe theater
  • This phase must take place no later than the 2nd century CE, without further details for the moment.
2 Closure of the theatrical space and monumentalization of the facade 2nd century CE
  • This phase is better documented and corresponds to the monumentalization of the theater.
  • an elaborate and manicured building that was built during the 2nd century CE. This dating is relatively reliable on the basis of various surveys
3 Partial destruction and reassignment 2nd-3rd century CE
  • During this phase, the monument was transformed without knowing whether it completely lost its functionality as a spectacle building. Various clues suggest that the theater underwent violent destruction, at least on the north side: the upper parts of the walls seem to have been destroyed, then rebuilt by recycling collapsed bleacher seats. Another hypothesis would be to see it as an intermediate phase of abandonment of the theater, with a voluntary dismantling.
  • the chronology of this transformation [] happened no later than the 3rd century CE since the landfills were used in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE
4 Construction of a barrier wall to the south of the theater and new secondary facilities. Late Roman or Byzantine
  • This phase occurs at a date still undetermined (Late Roman period or Byzantine but not later)
  • We do not know when the destruction of the northern masonry of the orchestra occurred, at the level of the old corridor, rebuilt using the stone seats during the previous phase. However, this destruction is directly posed, both in hole 2 and in hole 7, on the embankments of the 3rd-4th centuries CE; we can therefore deduce that this event (earthquake?) occurs shortly after the late Roman period, or even during this period. The monument will no longer be occupied after this phase, being marked only by natural horizons of aeolian and alluvial sediments.
Phase 3 earthquake - 2nd - 3rd century CE

Tholbecq et al (2019) report that various clues suggest that the theater underwent violent destruction during this phase. This happened no later than the 3rd century CE.

Phase 4 earthquake - Late Roman/Early Byzantine

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.

Seismic Effects
Phase 3 earthquake - 2nd - 3rd century CE

  • the upper parts of the walls seem to have been destroyed, then rebuilt by recycling collapsed bleacher seats

Phase 4 earthquake - Late Roman/Early Byzantine

  • destruction of the northern masonry of the orchestra

Intensity Estimates
Phase 3 earthquake - 2nd - 3rd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls the upper parts of the walls seem to have been destroyed VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Phase 4 earthquake - Late Roman/Early Byzantine

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls ? destruction of the northern masonry of the orchestra VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Notes and Further Reading
References

Tholbecq, L., et al. (2019). Mission archéologique française à Pétra. Rapport des campagnes archéologiques 2018-2019.

Tholbecq, L., et al. (2021). Mission archéologique française à Pétra. Rapport des campagnes archéologiques 2021.

LINDNER 1982 M. Lindner, “An Archaeological Survey of the Theater Mount and Catchwater Regulation System at Sabra, South of Petra, 1980 ”, ADAJ 26, p. 231-242.

LINDNER 2005 M. Lindner, “Water Supply and Water Management at Ancient Sabra (Jordan)”, PEQ 137.1, p. 33-52.

LINDNER 2006A M. Lindner, "Theater, Theater, Theater ... Zu Forschungen der Naturhistorischen Gesellschaft in Sabra", Natur und Mensch. Jahresmitteilungen der Naturhistorischen Gesellschaft Nürnberg, 2006, p. 75-84.

THOLBECQ 2016 L. Tholbecq, “Petra. Wadi Sabra Archaeological Project ”, GJ Corbett et al. (Ed.), “Archeology in Jordan, 2014 - 2015 ”, AJA 120.4, p. 666-668.

THOLBECQ et al. 2015 L. Tholbecq, T. Fournet, N. Paridaens, S. Delcros, G. Dumont & C. Durand “The Nabateo-Roman site of Wadi Sabra: inventory, survey and working hypotheses”, L. Tholbecq (Ed. ), French archaeological mission of Pétra: Report of the archaeological campaigns 2014 - 2015, Brussels, p. 63-100.

THOLBECQ et al. 2016 L. Tholbecq, T. Fournet, N. Paridaens, S. Delcros, C. Durand, “Sabrah, a satellite hamlet of Petra, Jordan ”, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 46, p. 277-297.

Jabal Khubthah
Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Jabal Khubthah Arabic جابال كهوبتهاه
Jabal Umm al Amr Arabic جابال ومم ال امر
the "high place(s)"
Introduction

Jabal Khubthah also known as the "high place" in Petra has long been thought to have been associated with a religious "sacred space" - something common in "Semitic religions" ( Tholbecq et al, 2014). Excavations have indicated that it is a multi functional space that is not exclusively cultic ( Tholbecq et al, 2014). Chronology

In the east complex (Sector 6000 aka Secteur 6), Fiema in Tholbecq et al (2019) identified 3 main phases of construction and occupation, two main occupation periods (Nabatean and Late Roman/Early Byzantine - 3rd-5th century CE), and two destruction episodes, probably both seismic; the first ending Phase 2 and the second ending the occupation in Phase 3. Phasing is summarized below:
Phase Date Comments
1 Nabatean
  • construction and initial use of the building
  • it is reasonable to assume that the Phase 1 structure was constructed sometime in the later 1st c. AD and perhaps remained in a relation with the bath complex at the top of al-Khubthah.
2 Late Roman/
Early Byzantine
  • While it is not possible to fully assess the length of occupation in Phase 1 and the dating of Phase 2 is difficult (infra), apparently, major modifications took place at the excavated building resulting in a substantial expansion of its size
  • The dating of this phase is difficult. The post quem date for the beginning of this phase is the end of the lst c. AD
  • A 2nd-3rd century date is perhaps closer indicating the beginning of Phase 2
  • As for the end of this phase, its dating also depends on when the pavement was laid out - Phase 2 or 3 (vide infra pilasters 6014 and 6014); it could have happened sometime in the 4th century, presumably as the result of the 363 earthquake. All in all, Phase 2 may perhaps be dated to the 3rd-4th centuries AD
3 Byzantine
  • The last occupational phase in the building excavated in Sector 6000 also witnessed some significant changes. It is reasonable to assume that these changes were initiated as the result of a previous destruction. Such destruction could have been caused by the disastrous earthquake of May 19, 363, otherwise well documented to have affected Petra.
  • The structure had suffered a massive destruction at the end of Phase 3, which bears strong features of tectonic origins. Both arches collapsed on the floor, the eastern one preserving the original pattern of several voussoirs.
  • It is therefore reasonable to suggest that of the earthquake of AD 363 ended the duration of Phase 2, and Phase 3 began soon after that seismic event, with the reconstruction of the structure. It seems that not long afterwards, another earthquake was responsible for the final destruction and the subsequent abandonment of the structure excavated in Sector 6000. It is tempting to propose the enigmatic AD 419 tremor recognized on at least one site in the Petra Valley as responsible for that final destruction. However, other seismic events of the 5th or even early 6th century, which are not historically documented, might have also been responsible.
End of Phase 2 Earthquake - 4th century CE ?

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.

End of Phase 3 Earthquake - 5th or 6th centuries CE

Fiema in Tholbecq et al (2019) encountered difficulties in dating this presumed seismic destruction and suggested that the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE or a later earthquake was responsible.

Seismic Effects
End of Phase 2 Earthquake - 4th century CE ?

Fiema in Tholbecq et al (2019) did not list much in the way of direct archaeoseismic evidence for the destruction at the end of Phase 2 and the destruction appears to be largely inferred from rebuilding evidence such as strengthening of walls and blocking of doors in Phase 3 construction.

The modifications in Phase 3 indicate that some parts of the enclosing walls might have collapsed and that the stability of reconstructed walls was of major concern. A new (?) system of roof support was also introduced. If pavement 6011 was already in situ (partially or in its entirety) during Phase 2, which is a distinct possibility, some of its flagstones appear to have been titled, caved in, cracked or replaced. Of course these phenomena might relate to the destruction at the end of Phase 2 and/or at the end of Phase 3.

While the spatial extent of the structure did not change, the door in wall 6002 was blocked, two arch-supporting pilasters were constructed on each side of the blocked door, the flagstone pavement was laid out (or partially re-laid or vide supra) inside and a small "banquette" 6015 was inserted in the corner space between wall 6000 and the eastern pilaster. The combined walls 6000 and 6001 were raised up by constructing a section 6027 on their preserved tops. Furthermore, a large support, locus 6007, was constructed on the exterior and abutting wall 6000. While being practical measures to strengthen the overall design of the structure, these changes also bear a somewhat haphazard, makeshift appearance; perhaps reflecting some kind of impoverishment of the site.
...
Pilasters for transversal arches running NW-SE were installed on each side of the blocked door. The NE pilaster, locus 6013, is 0.59 x 0.27 m and of the preserved height of 0.79 m (three courses high; masonry featuring stretcher, stretcher and 2 headers). It appears as if integrating with wall 6002 but in fact it is "pushed" into the southern face of this wall, perhaps indicating that wall 6002 was indeed damaged in the destruction ending Phase 2.
...
On the exterior, the combined line of walls 6000 and 6001 was reinforced by a very poorly constructed superstructure, locus 6027, which is currently the uppermost course (ca. 0.55-0.67 m wide and ca. 0.30-0.35 m high) for both walls in the outer face and 2-3 uppermost courses in the inner face (See Fig. 10). Very irregular and often broken stones of varying sizes were used for this purpose. Again, this indicates that these walls suffered at the end of Phase 2 but it is also possible, although much less likely, that the reinforcement took place after the final collapse (i.e., a casual re-occupation?).

End of Phase 3 Earthquake - 5th or 6th centuries CE

Fiema in Tholbecq et al (2019) described seismic effects as follows:

The structure had suffered a massive destruction at the end of Phase 3, which bears strong features of tectonic origins. Both arches collapsed on the floor, the eastern one preserving the original pattern of several voussoirs.
...
At locus 6004 was the main, very dense, stone tumble (Fig. 15 ), the other loci mentioned in this section were also parts of the overall collapse and differed from each other only by the intensity and the slightly varying color of soil matrix. There is no reason to suggest that there was more than just one collapse but the uppermost layers (6003, 6005) may also have resulted from the gradual decay and the further deterioration of the walls.
Fiema in Tholbecq et al (2019) described the collapsed arches as follows:
Of the two arches, the southern portion of the eastern one had collapsed in an uniform row at the end of Phase 3 and the remains of the western one were also evidenced on the southern side of the pavement (Fig. 11 )

Intensity Estimates
End of Phase 2 Earthquake - 4th century CE ?

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Collapsed Walls inferred from rebuilding evidence VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

End of Phase 3 Earthquake - 5th or 6th centuries CE

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Collapsed Arches Both arches collapsed on the floor VI+
Collapsed Walls At locus 6004 was the main, very dense, stone tumble (Fig. 15 ) VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Notes and Further Reading
The Great Temple
The Great Temple of Petra The Great Temple of Petra

Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 - Bernard Gagnon


Introduction

The Great Temple is one of the largest surviving structures of Petra. Chronology
Phasing from Joukowsky (2009)

The Great Temple of Petra Phasing Figure 3

Petra Great Temple Chronological Chart of Site Phases.

Joukowsky (2009)

Phase VI Earthquake - Early 2nd century CE

Joukowsky and Basile (2001:50), using a different phasing than Joukowsky (2009), discussed archeoseismic evidence from the early 2nd century CE at the Great Temple.

Dated to the mid-second century, Nabataean-Roman Phase IV follows a minor collapse when the uppermost course of the propylaea stairs was built to provide access to the Lower Temenos, and when the Lower Temenos east cryptoportico, which may have seen collapse, was filled in.

Phase IX Earthquake - 4th century CE

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

Phase XI Earthquake - 6th century CE

Although Joukowsky (2009) attributed seismic destruction to the 551 CE Beirut Quake, the epicenter of this earthquake was too far from Petra (almost 400 km.) to have caused such damage. The Inscription at Areopolis Quake is a more likely candidate.

Phase XIII Collapses - Later Earthquakes ?

Joukowsky (2009) listed a series of major collapses in the Islamic Period.

Seismic Effects
Phase VI Earthquake - Early 2nd century CE

  • Site Plan of the Great Temple at Petra from Joukowsky (2009)
Joukowsky and Basile (2001) and Joukowsky (2009) listed the following seismic effects

Phase IX Earthquake - 4th century CE

  • Site Plan of the Great Temple at Petra from Joukowsky (2009)
Joukowsky (2009) listed the following seismic effects

Phase XI Earthquake - 6th century CE

  • Site Plan of the Great Temple at Petra from Joukowsky (2009)
Joukowsky (2009) listed the following seismic effects

Phase XIII Collapses - Later Earthquakes ?

  • Site Plan of the Great Temple at Petra from Joukowsky (2009)
Joukowsky (2009) listed the following seismic effects

Intensity Estimates
Phase VI Earthquake - Early 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls minor collapse when the uppermost course of the propylaea stairs was built (Joukowsky and Basile, 2001). VII+
Displaced Walls Damage to Propylaeum West (Joukowsky, 2009) VII+
Displaced Walls ? Repairs to Lower Temenos (Joukowsky, 2009) VII+
Collapsed Walls Baroque Room Collapse (Joukowsky, 2009) VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013:221-224) .

Phase IX Earthquake - 4th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls Collapse of the Propylaeum (Joukowsky, 2009) VII+
Fallen Columns Collapse of the Lower Temenos West Triple Collonade (Joukowsky, 2009) V+
Collapsed Vaults West Cryptoporticus Collapse (Joukowsky, 2009) VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Phase XI Earthquake - 6th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fallen Columns East Triple Collonade Collapse (Joukowsky, 2009) V+
Folded Step and kerbs West Entry Stairs Collapse (Joukowsky, 2009) VI+
Fallen Columns Temple East Porch Column Collapse (Joukowsky, 2009) V+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VI (6) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) and is likely an underestimate.

Notes and Further Reading
Petra - Pool Complex
Petra Garden and Pool Complex (left) and the Great Temple (right) Figure 3

The Petra Garden and Pool Complex (left) and the Great Temple (right), 2004 (photo by S. Karz Reid).

Bedal et al (2007)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Pool Complex
Lower Market
Introduction

Excavations performed in the summer of 1998 of the "Lower Market" revealed a Monumental Pool Complex and possible evidence of seismic destruction ( Bedal, 2003).

Chronology
Phasing from Bedal et al (2007)

Source: Bedal et al (2007)

Phase Date Comments
I Nabataean, 1st century BCE Pre-garden occupation
II Nabataean, end of the 1st century BCE - early 1st century CE Monumental garden and pool complex
III Roman, early 2nd century CE Renovations
IV Roman, late 2nd?-3rd century CE Abandonment
V Late Roman, 363 CE Destruction
VI Late Roman-Byzantine, 4th-5th century CE Squatter Farmers
VII Byzantine, 6th century CE? Destruction
VIII >Post Classical/Medieval Agricultural activity
IX Bedouin, >20th century Modern occupation

Pre Phase III Earthquake - early 2nd century CE

  • Map showing location of Petra Pool Complex from Jones (2021)
  • Site Plan of Petra Pool Complex from Bedal et al (2007)
Renovations during Phase III dated to the early 2nd century CE may have been a response to seismic damage most of which may have been cleared by renovations. The re-use of building elements may be reflective of this response. It should be noted that these building elements could have come from another structure - for example the nearby Great Temple where Joukowsky and Basile (2001:50) report an early 2nd century CE earthquake in Phase VI.

Bedal (2003:74) estimated an early 2nd century CE terminus post quem for the start of Phase III based on pottery found associated with various structures that were part of the renovations.
According to the refined pottery sequence from ez-Zantur, the type 3c Nabataean painted ware was produced in a brief span of time, between ca.100 and 106/114 CE. Based on this pottery evidence, it is possible to assign the floor bedding and by direct association the bridge with a terminus post quem of the early 2nd century CE.
...
However, a single rim sherd also found embedded in the floor mortar (Fig. 18) may be more closely identified with a type 4 painted bowl from ez-Zantur, dated post-106/114 CE (Schmid 1996:166, 208, abb. 704), in which case the Phase II renovations in the Pool-Complex must be dated to a period following the annexation of Petra into the Roman Empire.

Phase V Earthquake - 4th century CE

  • Map showing location of Petra Pool Complex from Jones (2021)
  • Site Plan of Petra Pool Complex from Bedal et al (2007)
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.

Phase VII Earthquake - 6th century CE

  • Map showing location of Petra Pool Complex from Jones (2021)
  • Site Plan of Petra Pool Complex from Bedal et al (2007)
Bedal et al (2007) report seismic destruction in Phase VII as follows:
A stratum of large stone debris in a reddish-brown sandy matrix overlying the Phase VI fill in the southern half of the site (trench 1, 3, 4 5, 9, 11, 12, and 14) marks a second major destruction episode causing the further collapse of the walls surrounding the pool complex and the island-pavilion (Fig. 24 ). Elements of the pavilion's architectural decor (marble flower, volutes, capital fragments and painted stucco) and its construction (iron nails, a plaster nail anchor, and charred wood) mark further disintegration of this structure.
Bedal (2003:83) discussed this potential seismic destruction in a similar manner in a passage which is less certain that the debris from this phase was a result of seismic destruction.
It is clear from the presence of architectural debris in this stratum - large architectural elements (ashlars, doorjambs, etc.), small capital fragments, volutes (Pl. XVIIIa), and a unique flower (carved from limestone or a low-grade marble) (Fig. 12 and Pl. XVIIIb), iron nails, a plaster nail anchor, and some charred wood - that the structure continued to disintegrate following its major destruction as a result of the 363 earthquake. At this time, there is no evidence to specifically link this secondary collapse with the 551 earthquake, although that cannot be ruled out.

Seismic Effects
Pre Phase III Earthquake - early 2nd century CE

  • Map showing location of Petra Pool Complex from Jones (2021)
  • Site Plan of Petra Pool Complex from Bedal et al (2007)
Potential Seismic Effects include
  • re-use of building elements
It should be noted that these building elements could have come from another structure - for example the nearby Great Temple where Joukowsky and Basile (2001:50) report an early 2nd century CE earthquake in Phase VI.

Phase V Earthquake - 4th century CE

  • Map showing location of Petra Pool Complex from Jones (2021)
  • Site Plan of Petra Pool Complex from Bedal et al (2007)
Seismic Effects include
  • 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 ). (Bedal et al, 2007)
  • 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 et al, 2007)

Phase VII Earthquake - 6th century CE

  • Map showing location of Petra Pool Complex from Jones (2021)
  • Site Plan of Petra Pool Complex from Bedal et al (2007)
Seismic Effects include
  • further collapse of the walls surrounding the pool complex and the island-pavilion (Fig. 24 ). (Bedal et al, 2007)
  • Elements of the pavilion's architectural decor (marble flower, volutes, capital fragments and painted stucco) and its construction (iron nails, a plaster nail anchor, and charred wood) mark further disintegration of this structure. (Bedal et al, 2007)

Intensity Estimates

Pre Phase III Earthquake - 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced masonry blocks in drums in columns1 VIII+
Notes

1 - It should be noted that these building elements could have come from another structure - for example the nearby Great Temple where Joukowsky and Basile (2001:50) report an early 2nd century CE earthquake in Phase VI.

The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Phase V Earthquake - 4th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls 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 ). (Bedal et al, 2007) VIII+
Collapsed Walls 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 et al, 2007) VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Phase VII Earthquake - 6th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls further collapse of the walls surrounding the pool complex and the island-pavilion (Fig. 24 ). (Bedal et al, 2007) VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Notes and Further Reading
Roman Street
The Petra Church Fig. 5

The aerial view of the Roman Street Project excavations area (lower left)

Fiema (2008)


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
The Roman Street
Introduction

In the Roman Street Project, excavations were performed on what appear to be shops or taverns located on the southern side of the eastern end of the colonnaded street directly west of the stairways that lead to the "Upper Market" ( Fiema, 2008).

Chronology

Fiema (2008) reports three major phases for the Roman Street - Nabataean, Roman, and Byzantine.
4th century CE earthquake

  • Reconstructed ground plan of the "Roman street" from Kanellopoulos (2001)
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).

Seismic Effects
4th century CE earthquake

Seismic Effects (some speculative) include

  • partial collapse of the upper story of Room 28 ( Kanellopoulos, 2001:16)
  • drums used in the construction of these structures indicate that at least some parts of the colonnade had fallen down ( Fiema, 2008)

Intensity Estimates
4th century CE earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls partial collapse of the upper story of Room 28 ( Kanellopoulos, 2001:16) VIII+
Fallen Columns drums used in the construction of these structures indicate that at least some parts of the colonnade had fallen down ( Fiema, 2008) V+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

Notes and Further Reading
References

Z. T. Fiema, 1998, The Roman Street of the Petra Project, 1997. A Preliminary Report. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 42, 1998, 395–424.

Fiema, Z. T. 1997. “Petra: Roman Street Project,” ACOR Newsletter 9 (1): 8–9.

Fiema, Z.T. 2001. “Die Entdeckung der Antiken Innenstadt. Neue Forschungen im Bereich der Säulenstrasse in Petra/Jordanien.” Antike Welt. Zeitschrift für Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte 32 (1): 47–52.

Fiema, Z. T. 2008. “Remarks on the Development and Significance of the Colonnaded Street in Petra, Jordan.” In La rue dans l’antiquité: définition,aménagement, devenir. Actes du colloque de Poitiers, 7–9 Septembre 2006, edited by P. Ballet, N. Dieudonné-Glad, and C. Saliou, 161–168. Rennes: Presses universitaires.

Kanellopoulos, C. 1998. “Petra: Colonnaded Street and Shops” ACOR Newsletter 10 (1): 1–3.

Kanellopoulos, C. 2001. “The Architecture of the Shops and Colonnaded Street in Petra.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 324: 9–22. DOI: 10.2307/1357629.

Kanellopoulos, C. 2002. “A New Plan of Petra’s City Center.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65 (4): 251–254.

Hammond, P. C. (1960). "Excavations at Petra in 1959." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research(159): 26-31.

Paradise, T. 2011. The Great Flood of Petra: evidence for a 4th-5th AD century catastrophic flood. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 55: 43-56.

Parr, P. 1960 Excavations at Petra, 1958-59. PEQ 92: 124-136.

Parr, P. 1970 A Sequence of Pottery from Petra. Pp. 348-381 in J. A. Sanders (ed.), Near Eastern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century.Garden City.

Parr, P. 1986 The Last Days of Petra. Pp. 192-205 in M.A. Bakhit and M. Asfour (eds), Proceedings of the Symposium an Bilad al-Sham during the Byzantine Period (November 1983) II. Amman.

Parr, P. 1996 The Architecture of Petra: Review Article. PEQ 128: 64-70.

Petra Roman Street Project on ACOR

NEPP Site
the NEPP Area Fig. 2

The NEPP area located between the Wadi Matahah (left), the Wadi Musa (right) and the face of the al-Khubthah massif.View from the West. Photo by S.G. Schmid

Fiema and Schmid (2014)


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
NEPP site
Introduction

The NEPP area is located on the high ground between Wadi Musa and Wadi Matahah and may have once been where the Nabataean Kings resided ( Fiema and Schmid, 2014). Chronology
363 CE Earthquake

  • Plan of the NEPP area from Fiema and Schmid (2014)
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.

5th-6th Century CE

  • Plan of the NEPP area from Fiema and Schmid (2014)
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. Jones (2021) argues that al-Zantur I Spatromisch II ceramics, rather than dating from 363 CE - 419 CE, should date to at least a century later. If true, this would negate archaeoseismic evidence for an earthquake reported in 419 CE (i.e. the Monaxius and Plinta Quake) at ez-Zantur and other sites in Petra such as in a structure outside the Urn Tomb, and in Structure I of the NEPP Project. Jones (2021) suggests instead that the causitive earthquake was more likely the late 6th century CE Inscription At Areopolis Quake. Jones (2021) provides a discussion below:
Within Petra, the 418/419 earthquake has been suggested as the cause for the destruction of three structures:
  • al-Zantur I, specifically the end of Bauphase Spatromisch II
  • one of the structures outside of the Urn Tomb, House II
  • North-Eastern Petra Project (NEPP) Structure I
NEPP Structure I has not been excavated, and the claim that it was destroyed in the 418/419 earthquake is based on surface finds and reference to al-Zantur I (Fiema and Schmid 2014: 431). Without excavation, the actual date and nature of the building's destruction remain uncertain. The claim for damage at Petra related to the 418/419 earthquake rests primarily, therefore, on the evidence from al-Zantur I.

Notes and Further Reading
ez-Zantur
ez-Zantur during excavations Aerial view of the Nabataean mansion in EZ IV under excavation

Kolb (2002)


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
az Zantur Arabic از زانتور
Introduction

ez-Zantur is located on a rocky spur overlooking the Colonnaded street in Petra. Excavations have uncovered a mansion on top of the spur. Chronology
Early 2nd century CE Earthquake

  • Map showing location of ez-Zantur (labeled al-Zantur I) from Jones (2021)
  • ez-Zantur excavation areas from Kolb (2002)
  • Plan of Nabatean Mansion in EZ IV from Kolb (2002)
  • Schematic Plan showing squares in EZ IV from Kolb and Keller (2002)
  • General plan of EZ I from Stucky (1990)
Kolb (2002:260) reported on excavations of a large residential structure (i.e. the mansion) in ez-Zantur in Petra. They dated the earliest phase of the structure to the 20's CE based on fragments of Nabatean fine wares, dating to 20-70/90 CE, found in the mortar below the opus sectile flooring in rooms 1,10, and 17 as well as in the plaster bedding of the painted wall decorations in room 1. Earthquake induced structural damage led to a remodeling phase which was dated to the early decades of the 2nd century CE (Kolb, 2002:260-261). A terminus post quem of 103-106 CE for the remodel was provided by a coin struck under King Rabbel II found in some rough plaster (rendering coat) in Room 212 of site EZ III (Kolb, 1998:263).

Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) propose re-dating the relevant ez-Zantur phasing to later dates.
A re-examination of the Zantur fineware chronology by the writer has revealed that it contains a number of serious difficulties.25 The main difficulties in the Zantur chronology center on Phase 3, which covers most of the 1st through 3rd c. CE. Zantur Phase 3 is divided into three sub-phases: 3a (20-80 CE), 3b (80-100 CE) and 3c (100-150 CE). The dating of Phase 3 is based on a very small amount of datable material, for example, the main table showing the datable material (Schmid 2000: Abb. 420) shows that no coins were available to date either Phase 3a or Phase 3c. Moreover, the earliest sub-phase, 3a, was vastly underrepresented.26 At Zantur, there appears to be little justification for the beginning dates for either Phase 3b (80 CE) or 3c (100 CE) or their terminal dates (100 CE and 150 CE respectively). No `clean' loci, i.e., sealed contexts, were offered to prove the dating of Phases 3b and 3c and the contexts are mixed with both earlier (3b) and later (3c) material (ibid., 184). This raises the question as to why a terminal date of 100 CE was fixed for Sub-phase 3b. The coin evidence for Sub-phase 3b is scanty and some of the coins could date as late as 106 CE while there is a discrepancy between the dates of the coins and the imported wares, many of which date later than 100 or 106 CE. In order to date Phase 3 in Zantur, there was a heavy dependence an a very small quantity of imported fineware sherds, mainly ESA. Of the forms used, Hayes 56 is listed in both Phase 3b and 3c (ibid.) and since this particular form dates later than 150 CE (Hayes 1985: 39) the majority of the forms and motifs of both sub-phases 3b and 3c should be assigned to the later 2nd and early 3rd centuries. with its purported range of 60 years.

Footnotes

25 "Problems and Solutions in the Dating of Nabataean Pottery of the Roman Period," presented on February 20, 2014 in the 2nd Roundtable "Roman Pottery in the Near East" in Amman, Jordan on the premises of the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR).

26 In the words of the report: "Unfortunately, so far only a few homogeneous FKs (find spots/loci) have been registered with fineware exclusively from Phase 3a. After all, if the Western Terra Sigillata form, Conspectus 20, 4 from FK 1122 (Abb. 420, 421 Nr. 43) accurately reflects the duration of Phase 3a, we can thus estimate [the period] as from 20 to 70/80 CE" (Schmid 2000: 38).

Grawehr M. (2007:399) described a destruction layer at a bronze workshop at ez-Zantur
Room 33 is the work-shop proper. This is indicated by the finds that were encountered in a thick and seemingly undisturbed destruction layer, sealed by the debris of the rooms arched roof. While any indication for the cause of this destruction evades us, the dating of the event is clear. Through the evidence of the coins an the floor we arrive at a terminus post quem of 98 AD. As there is plenty of fine ware in the destruction level, belonging to Schmid's phase 3b, but none of phase 3c, which according to him starts ±100 AD, the destruction must have taken place at the end of the first or early in the second century AD.
Kolb B. and Keller D. (2002:286) also discussed archeoseismic evidence at ez-Zantur
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.

363 CE Earthquake

  • Map showing location of ez-Zantur (labeled al-Zantur I) from Jones (2021)
  • ez-Zantur excavation areas from Kolb (2002)
  • Plan of Nabatean Mansion in EZ IV from Kolb (2002)
  • Schematic Plan showing squares in EZ IV from Kolb and Keller (2002)
  • General plan of EZ I from Stucky (1990)
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.
Glass finds of Kolb and Keller (2000)

Kolb and Keller (2000:366-368) described dating of the seismic damage due to the 363 CE earthquake at EZ IV and glass lamps normally dated to a later time period

A few small glass fragments found on az-Zantür are of particular interest, because they are early examples of glass lamps of the late Roman and early Byzantine Near East. Their contexts allow not only exact dating, but, moreover, they give some indication of their original use.
...
Fragments of beaker-shaped vessels with a round, flaring rim, a conical or slightly rounded body and three small handles belong to a first group of glass lamps.
...
They were found in the layers immediately above the floors in rooms 11 and 19 (Nos. 1-3) of the mansion on EZ IV. Constantine coins, datable pottery finds and fragments of glass which accompanied the lamp sherds in the same layer, show that the destruction of the building was caused by the earthquake of 363 AD6 . This firm sealing date is remarkably early for glass lamps. In fact, they seem to be among the earliest examples of a type of lighting which became common during Byzantine and Islamic times.
...
Fragments of a further glass lamp of the same type (No. 4) found in the upper strata of rooms 11, 12 and 14, as well as another rim sherd in room 16 (No. 5) deserve special attention. Together with two other rim sherds of this shape found on the site EZ I in mixed contexts (Nos. 6-7), these fragments may represent a shape of glass lamps distinctive of Petra. Except for the latter fragments which come from mixed contexts, all remains of this type were found in the destruction layers of the earthquake of 363, and they do not reappear anymore in later contexts . We may conclude that they represent, at least in the Petra region a specific type belonging to the mid fourth century.

At other archaeological sites of the Eastern Mediterranean such lamps are either completely absent - as in the churches of Palestine and Transjordan - or, alternatively, only a small amount of sherds is documented. The same is true for the western part of the Roman Empire8. Only at Sardis (Turkey) such glass lamps seem to be present in a few fragments from the Byzantine shops and churches, but they date to between the fifth and seventh centuries9. Similarly belonging to a late date are comparable rim sherds from Gerasa, one from a context of the fourth to fifth century (Meyer 1988: 191 Fig. 6T), and a second one dated to the fifth or early sixth century (Dussart 1998: 82 No. BVI.1211 Pl. 14,16)10. In tomb 217 on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem, occupied between the mid fourth and the mid fifth centuries, a complete specimen of this type was discovered. This glass lamp, however, has a wick holder11, a later feature of which there are no traces on the aforementioned rims and handles from EZ IV. Accordingly, the early glass lamps from az-Zantür have to be reconstructed without a wick holder.

A fragment with a tubular wick holder placed on the centre of the concave bottom, was uncovered in room 2 on site EZ I (No. 13, Fig. 15:4). Unquestionably, it belongs to the latest occupation of EZ I which was terminally disrupted by a second earthquake in the early fifth century, most probably in 419 (Kolb 1996: 51; 82). Glass lamps with wick holders therefore appear in Petra as early as the beginning of the fifth century, contradictory to the later date assigned elsewhere (Stern 1999: 480). Rim sherds of the above described type, however, are not present in later contexts anymore. Instead, a type with outfolded rim, three small handles and a conical (Nos. 9-12, Fig. 15:3) or slightly rounded body (No. 8, Fig. 15:2) is recorded. At EZ I, such rim sherds were found in rooms 8 and 28, which were destroyed in the above mentioned earthquake in the early fifth century (Kolb 1996: 51; 65; 71; 89). The simultaneous appearance of outfolded rims and wick holders suggest a new type combining both features. This type is also documented in rooms XXIX and XXX of the recently exposed shops on the Colonnaded Street which were abandoned in the early or mid fifth century12. Additional fragments of this type of glass lamp were found in the last phase of use of rooms XXVI-XXVIII dated to the sixth century13. The continuous use of these lamps is con-firmed by specimens uncovered in the Byzantine monastery at Jabal Haroun14. Therefore, we may assume that glass lamps with outfolded rims, three handles and wick holders were common in the Petra region from the early fifth century onwards.

In search of parallels, two wick holders found at Jalame (Israel) should be mentioned15. Notably, these were not produced in the local glass factory of the mid fourth century, nor were they found in layers connected to the workshop. Thus they cannot predate the finale phase of occupation at Jalame which is dated by the coins to the early fifth century (Davidson Weinberg 1988: 19-21).

In Palestine and Transjordan, the majority of glass lamps was found in churches16 - but not exclusively: specimens from the Late Roman forts at en Boqeq and Mezad Tamar17, as well as the discussed finds from az-Zantür evidence their use in purely domestic contexts.

Footnotes

6 Kolb, Keller and Fellmann Brogli 1997:234
Kolb, Keller, and Gerber 1998:261-262, 264, 267-275
Kolb, Gorgerat and Grawehr 1999:262, 266, 268

7. Neither in the late Roman houses on EZ I, destroyed in the early fifth century AD, nor in the shops on the southern side of the Colonnaded Street, which were in use until the 5th and 6th century AD, nor in the Byzantine monastery on Jabal Härün has this type of glass lamp been recorded.

8. One was found in a church at Como (Italy), an-other one at Luni (Uboldi 1995: 108; Figs. 2,6-7).

9. von Salden 1980: 47-49; No. 246-248; 250 Pl.11;246-247; 23; 246; 250.

10. Among the late Roman and Byzantine glass finds from the excavations of the Hippodrome at Gerasa the were no fragments of such glass lamps (this glass will be studied by the author under the supervision of Kehrberg).

11. Bagatti-Milik 1958: 148 ,No. 11, Fig. 35,11, I 40,125,15. For the date of this tomb: Kuhnen 198 Beilage 3, No. 98.

12. For the date: Fiema 1998: 415; 420.

13. For the use of the rooms XXVI-XXVIII until the later 5th to the 6th century: Fiema 1998: 420-421.

14. The glass finds from the Finnish Jabal Härün Project will be studied by J. Lindblom (University of Helsinki) and the author.

15. Davidson Weinberg 1988: 85,No. 386-387, Fig. 4-44,386-387, Pl. 4-16,386.

15. Rehovot: Patrich 1988: 134-136, P1. 12
Nessana: Harden 1962: 84 Nos. 47-50, Pl. 20,47
el-Lejjun: Jones 1987: 627-628, Fig. 135.71, 136.72-73, 76
Gerasa: Baur 1938: 524, 526, 531 No. 17, 29, 49, Fig. 20,376. 21,382. 22,380; Meyer 1986: 263 Fig. 23h; Kehrberg 1986: 379, 381, Nos. 29, 35-38 Fig. 9,29. 35-38; Kehrberg 1998: 431; Shavei Zion: Barag 1967: 68-69, Nos. 21-22, Fig. 16,21-22.

17. en-Boqeq: Gichon 1993: 435 P1. 51,7-8, 60,28
Mezad Tamar: Erdmann 1977: 100, 112-114 Nos. 3-12 Pl. 1,3-7.

19. pers. comm. M. Grawehr.

5th-6th Century CE

  • Map showing location of ez-Zantur (labeled al-Zantur I) from Jones (2021)
  • ez-Zantur excavation areas from Kolb (2002)
  • Plan of Nabatean Mansion in EZ IV from Kolb (2002)
  • Schematic Plan showing squares in EZ IV from Kolb and Keller (2002)
  • General plan of EZ I from Stucky (1990)
Jones (2021) argues that al-Zantur I Spatromisch II ceramics, rather than dating from 363 CE - 419 CE, should date to at least a century later. If true, this would negate archaeoseismic evidence for an earthquake reported in 419 CE (i.e. the Monaxius and Plinta Quake) at ez-Zantur and other sites in Petra such as in a structure outside the Urn Tomb, and in Structure I of the NEPP Project. Jones (2021) suggests instead that the causitive earthquake was more likely the late 6th century CE Inscription At Areopolis Quake. Jones (2021) provides a discussion below:
Kolb (1996: 51, 89; 2000: 238, 244; 2007: 157) attributes the destruction of the final occupation phase of al-Zantur I, Spatromisch II, to the 418/419 earthquake. As with many of the sites discussed above, this attribution is based primarily on numismatic finds, which decline sharply after the 4th century. Like most other regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, however, a lack of 5th century coinage is typical for sites in southern Jordan. For example, in their discussion of coins collected (and purchased) in Faynan, Kind et al. (2005: 188) note a decline in coin frequencies after about 420 AD. While this does not rule out an earthquake, many sites that seem to lack 5th century coinage were, on close inspection, occupied during the 5th century.

The discussion of the coin finds at al-Zantur I also gives cause for pause. The author states,
An end of the settlement of ez Zantur after the earthquake of 419 AD could be harmonized well with the coin series, if not for the discovery of a small bronze coin of Marcianus, which was minted in the years 450-457 AD, discovered in the ash layer of Room 28, in the immediate vicinity of the remains of a kitchen inventory destroyed in an earthquake. ( Peter 1996: 92, translation I. Jones)
Peter goes on to point out that, as the only mid-5th century coin at the site, it may be intrusive, which would allow for an earthquake destruction of Spatromisch II in 418/419. It is worth noting, however, the presence of 25 unidentifiable small bronze coins, 15 of which could be dated to the 4th-5th century ( Peter 1996: 98-100, nos 89-113). At least some of these are likely to be issues of the 5th century.

The discussion of the ceramic assemblage follows a similar pattern. The latest imports present at Spatromisch II are African Red Slip Ware (ARS) Forms 91C and 93B, both dated by Hayes (1972: 144, 148) to the 6th century (Schneider 1996: 40). Schneider (1996: 41) argues that Hayes's (1972) dating for the southern Levant is not entirely secure, and the presence of these forms in Spatromisch II is evidence for an early 5th century appearance. At production sites in Tunisia, however, neither form appears before the mid-5th century (Mackensen and Schneider 2002: 127-30). Likewise, Form 93 does not appear in Carthage until the 5th century, and first appears at Karanis, in the Fayyum, in the '420s CE or later' (Pollard 1998: 150). It is very unlikely that these forms appeared at al-Zantur earlier than they did in North Africa.

The `local' ceramic assemblage from Spatromisch II also contains several forms that postdate 419. Of note are several `Aqaba amphorae (Fellman Brogli 1996: 255, abb. 766-67), which date no earlier than the early 5th century (Parker 2013: 741); Magness's (1993: 206) Arched-Rim Basin Form 2, dating to the 6th-7th century (Fellman Brogli 1996: 260, abb. 790); and local interpretations of late 5th-6th century ARS, e.g. Forms 84 and 99 (Fellman Brogli 1996: 263, abb. 809-10). Gerber (2001: 361-62) also notes the similarity of the Spatromisch II ceramics to those apparently from 6th century phases at the Petra Church, although these contexts are not secure enough to make this comparison definitive.

Overall, the argument that Spatromisch II was destroyed in the 418/419 earthquake is rather circular. A lack of 5th century coinage is presented as evidence of this destruction, and this in turn is used to dismiss a mid-5th century coin as intrusive. If this is accepted, an earlier date must also be accepted for the otherwise mid-5th-6th century ceramics. When considering the evidence together, however, the more parsimonious explanation is that al-Zantur I was occupied, perhaps on a small scale or even intermittently, into the 6th century, which would bring al-Zantur I into line with other sites in Petra and the broader region with 363 and (late) 6th century destruction layers (see Table 1 ).

If an earthquake did cause the destruction of Spatromisch II, the best candidate would seem to be the Areopolis earthquake of c. 597 AD. This event is known primarily from an inscription that describes repairs performed in the year 492, of the calender of the province of Arabia (597/8 AD), following an earthquake, found by Zayadine (1971) at al-Rabba (ancient Areopolis), on the Karak Plateau (see also Ambraseys 2009: 216-17). Rucker and Niemi (2010: 101-03) have argued, primarily on the basis of the continued use of the Petra Church into the last decade of the 6th century, as evidenced by the Petra Papyri, that this earthquake is a better fit for the 6th century destructions in Petra previously attributed to the earthquake of 551. Accepting c. 597 as the date of the destruction of Spatromisch II is not critical to this paper's argument, but it follows from accepting the excavators' identification of an earthquake destruction and considering the events postdating 418/419 that could plausibly have affected southern Jordan. The possible events listed in the most recent Ambraseys (2009: 179, 199-203, 216-17) catalogue are the 502 Acre earthquake, which seems to have caused little damage inland; the 551 Beirut earthquake, an attribution Ambraseys explicitly rejects due to the lack of major destruction in Jerusalem; and the c. 597 Areopolis earthquake, which is the most likely possibility if the first two are ruled out. Of course, it is not possible to rule out destruction during a later earthquake, an otherwise unknown earthquake, or due to another cause entirely. Likewise, the destruction of the building does not necessarily coincide with the end of the occupation; it is entirely possible for an earthquake to destroy a previously abandoned building. Regardless of the exact date of the destruction, the evidence discussed above indicates that occupation continued into the 6th century.

The ceramics from al-Zantur are an important chronological anchor in the Petra region, and it has generally been accepted that those from Spatromisch II date to the narrow period between 363 and 419. Expanding the dating of this phase to the late 4th-6th century, therefore, has implications for the dating of other sites in Petra, notably the Petra Church.
A much more extensive discussion of dating evidence and interpretation can be found in Jones (2021). Some of his conclusions follow:
A critical review of the dating evidence from al-Zantur I Spatromisch II indicates that this destruction has been misdated by at least a century. Spatromisch II was occupied at least into the 6th century, and if an earthquake was responsible for its destruction, the Areopolis earthquake of c. 597 is a more likely candidate. This returns the emergence of the Negev wheel-made lamp to the 6th century, in line with essentially every other site where it occurs. This revision also has implications for the dating of the Petra Church, which relied heavily on comparison to the material from al-Zantur, and other sites in Petra. Taken on its own, the evidence indicates that the Petra Church was built in the early 6th century, rather than the mid-5th.

Seismic Effects
Early 2nd century CE

  • Map showing location of ez-Zantur (labeled al-Zantur I) from Jones (2021)
  • ez-Zantur excavation areas from Kolb (2002)
  • Plan of Nabatean Mansion in EZ IV from Kolb (2002)
  • Schematic Plan showing squares in EZ IV from Kolb and Keller (2002)
  • General plan of EZ I from Stucky (1990)
Seismic Effects include
  • Kolb (2002) reports that consolidation had to be undertaken to support wall sections P1 and P2 between rooms 6 and 7 in EZ IV among other structural modifications.
  • a thick and seemingly undisturbed destruction layer, sealed by the debris of the room's {Room 33] arched roof at the bronze workshop in EZ I (Grawehr, 2007:399)
  • 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, 2002:286)

363 CE

  • Map showing location of ez-Zantur (labeled al-Zantur I) from Jones (2021)
  • ez-Zantur excavation areas from Kolb (2002)
  • Plan of Nabatean Mansion in EZ IV from Kolb (2002)
  • Schematic Plan showing squares in EZ IV from Kolb and Keller (2002)
  • General plan of EZ I from Stucky (1990)
Kolb and Keller (2000:358) described archaeoseismic seismic evidence in Room 19 at EZ IV
In the earthquake of AD 363, the collapsing architectural members damaged the sandstone flagging mainly in the central and north-western sections of the pavement. Between the door to corridor 3 and the eastern column of the north side, a repair of approximately 1.2 m x 2.2 m is discernible.
...
The Findings in courtyard 19 are typical for the rather simple stratigraphy on EZ IV: A considerable deposit of earthquake debris covers a ca. 20-30 cm thick layer consisting of fragmented stucco decoration from the walls and columns. The latter context simultaneously seals the stratum of the last phase of occupation.
Kolb and Keller (2000:362) described archaeoseismic seismic evidence in Room 14 at EZ IV
The findings on the pavement indicate that the tubuli were broken out of wall AF by the tremors during the earthquake of 363 and thrown together on the floor with fragmented wall-decoration.
Kolb and Keller (2000:364) described archaeoseismic seismic evidence in Squares 88/AL-AM at EZ IV
it is impossible to reconstruct the original layout of the rooms in the eastern wing for the structures had obviously been badly affected by the tremors of the earthquake of 363
Kolb and Keller (2001:312) report that the northern outer wall (PQ 90-91/AK), unlike the western and southern outer walls H and I, was largely destroyed during the earthquake of AD 363 . Kolb and Keller (2001:317-318) reported the presence of rubble due to what they purport to be the 363 CE earthquake in the northern and southern cellars (86-87/AP-AQ) of Room 17 as well as cracked stones in Room 7 in EZ IV.

Kolb and Keller (2002:284) report extensive destruction of Wall B [in Room 37 of EZ IV] in the earthquake of 363. Kolb and Keller (2002:290) discussed collapsed walls due to the 363 CE earthquake
Due to the sudden destruction of the house on EZ IV during the earthquake of AD 363, excellent archaeological contexts are preserved as the debris of the collapsed walls sealed the finds underneath them.
Seismic Effects
Description Source
collapsed roof and masonry atop two skeletons in Room 1 of EZ I Stucky (1990:270-271)
destruction layer composed of architectural elements of the pool complex of Ez-Zantur Bedal et al. (2007)
broken columns in Room 6 of EZ IV Kolb et al (1998)
debris in Room 6 of EZ IV Kolb et al (1998)
a cracked flagstone floor under 6 carbonized wood beams in Room 6 of EZ IV Kolb et al (1998)
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 [363 CE] Kolb et al (1998)
collapsing architectural members damaged the sandstone flagging mainly in the central and north-western sections of the pavement in Room 19 at EZ IV Kolb and Keller (2000:358)
the tubuli were broken out of wall AF by the tremors during the earthquake of 363 and thrown together on the floor with fragmented wall-decoration in Room 14 at EZ IV Kolb and Keller (2000:362)
the structures [Squares 88/AL-AM at EZ IV] had obviously been badly affected by the tremors of the earthquake of 363 Kolb and Keller (2000:364)
the northern outer wall (PQ 90-91/AK), unlike the western and southern outer walls H and I, was largely destroyed during the earthquake of AD 363 Kolb and Keller (2001:312)
rubble in the northern and southern cellars (86-87/AP-AQ) of Room 17 as well as cracked stones in Room 7 in EZ IV Kolb and Keller (2001:317-318)
extensive destruction of Wall B [in Room 37 of EZ IV] in the earthquake of 363 Kolb and Keller (2002:284)
Due to the sudden destruction of the house on EZ IV during the earthquake of AD 363, excellent archaeological contexts are preserved as the debris of the collapsed walls sealed the finds underneath them. Kolb and Keller (2002:290)

5th-6th Century CE

  • Map showing location of ez-Zantur (labeled al-Zantur I) from Jones (2021)
  • ez-Zantur excavation areas from Kolb (2002)
  • Plan of Nabatean Mansion in EZ IV from Kolb (2002)
  • Schematic Plan showing squares in EZ IV from Kolb and Keller (2002)
  • General plan of EZ I from Stucky (1990)
Jones (2021) notes that Kolb (1996: 51, 89; 2000: 238, 244; 2007: 157) attributes the destruction of the final occupation phase of ez-Zantur I to an earthquake.

Intensity Estimates
Early 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls consolidation had to be undertaken to support wall sections P1 and P2 between rooms 6 and 7 (Kolb, 2002) VII +
Arch Collapse a thick and seemingly undisturbed destruction layer, sealed by the debris of the rooms arched roof at the bronze workshop (Grawehr, 2007:399) VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

363 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fallen Columns broken columns in Room 6 of EZIV (Kolb et al, 1998) V+
Collapsed Walls Stucky (1990:270-271) found collapsed roof and masonry atop two skeletons in Room 1 of EZ I. VIII+
Collapsed Walls Bedal et al. (2007) found a destruction layer composed of architectural elements of the pool complex of Ez-Zantur VIII+
Collapsed Walls The following evidence suggests wall collapse somewhere
  • debris in Room 6 of EZIV (Kolb et al, 1998)
  • a cracked flagstone floor under 6 carbonized wood beams in Room 6 of EZIV (Kolb et al, 1998)
  • destruction layer in Room 1 of the Ez-Zantur domestic complex (Stuckey et al, 1990)
  • destruction layer composed of architectural elements of the pool complex of Ez-Zantur (Bedal et al, 2007)
  • collapsing architectural members damaged the sandstone flagging mainly in the central and north-western sections of the pavement in Room 19 at EZ IV (Kolb and Keller, 2000:358)
VIII +
Collapsed Walls Kolb and Keller (2001:312) report that the northern outer wall (PQ 90-91/AK), unlike the western and southern outer walls H and I, was largely destroyed during the earthquake of AD 363 . VIII+
Collapsed Walls Kolb and Keller (2002:284) report extensive destruction of Wall B [in Room 37 of EZ IV] in the earthquake of 363 VIII+
Collapsed Walls Kolb and Keller (2002:290) report that due to the sudden destruction of the house on EZ IV during the earthquake of AD 363, excellent archaeological contexts are preserved as the debris of the collapsed walls sealed the finds underneath them. VIII+
Displaced Walls the tubuli were broken out of wall AF by the tremors during the earthquake of 363 and thrown together on the floor with fragmented wall-decoration in Room 14 at EZ IV (Kolb and Keller, 2000:362) VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) .

5th-6th Century CE

Jones (2021) notes that Kolb (1996: 51, 89; 2000: 238, 244; 2007: 157) attributes the destruction of the final occupation phase of ez-Zantur I to an earthquake. This suggests collapsed walls.

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls destruction of the final occupation phase of ez-Zantur I VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224)

Notes and Further Reading
References

B. Kolb, 2001, A Nabataean mansion at Petra: Some Reflections on its Architecture and Interior Design. in: Bisheh, G. (ed), Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan VII, 2001, 437–445.

Kolb B. and Keller D. (2002:286). Swiss-Liechtenstein Excavation at Az-Zantur / Petra: The Twelfth Season. ADA, 46, 279-294.

B. Kolb – D. Keller, 2001, Swiss-Liechtenstein Excavation at az-Zantur – Petra. The Eleventh Season. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 45, 2001, 311–324.

B. Kolb – D. Keller, 2000, Swiss-Liechtenstein Excavation at az-Zantur – Petra. The Tenth Season. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 44, 2000, 355–372.

B. Kolb – L. Gorgerat – M. Grawehr, 1999, Swiss-Liechtenstein Excavations on az-Zantur in Petra 1998, ADAJ 43, 1999, 261–277.

B. Kolb – D. Keller – Y. Gerber, 1998, Swiss-Liechtenstein Excavations at az-Zantur in Petra 1997. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 42, 1998, 259–277.

Grawehr M. (2007). Production of Bronze Works in the Nabataean Kingdom. SHAJ 9, 397-403.

Jones, I. W. N. (2021). "The southern Levantine earthquake of 418/419 AD and the archaeology of Byzantine Petra." Levant: 1-15.

Kolb, B. 2007. Nabataean private architecture. In, Politis, K. D. (ed.), The World of the Nabataeans

Kolb, B. 1996 Die spätrömischen Bauten. Pp. 47-89 in A. Bignasca et al., Petra. Ez Zantur I. Er-gebnisse der Schwiezerisch-Liechtensteinischen Ausgrabungen 1988-1992. Terra Archaeologica Bd. II. Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.

Kolb 2000 B. Kolb, Die spätantiken Wohnbauten von Ez Zantur in Petra und der Wohnhausbau in Palästina vom 4.–6. Jh. n. Chr., Petra–Ez Zantur II 2. Ergebnisse der Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinischen Ausgrabungen. Terra archaeologica IV. Monographien der Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinischen Stiftung für Archäologische Forschungen im Ausland (SLSA/FSLA) (Mainz 2000).

International Ez Zantur Project

Selected bibliography of the International Ez Zantur Project

Jabal Harun
Jabal Harun after excavations Figure 1

The FJHP site following the end of excavations in 2007 (by Z. T. Fiema).

Fiema (2013)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jabal Harun Arabic جابال هارون‎
Introduction

Jabal Harun (Mount Harun) is located ~5 km. southwest of the main site (cardo) of Petra and has traditionally been recognized by Muslims, Christians, and Jews as the place where Moses' brother Aaron was buried (Frosen et al, 2002). As such, it may have remained as an ecclesiastical and pilgrimage site after Petra's decline in the 7th century CE. About 150 m from the peak of Jabal Harun lies the remains of what is thought to have been a Byzantine monastery/pilgrimage center dedicated to Aaron.

Chronology

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.

Later Earthquakes

Mikkola et al (2008) discussed stratigraphy and potential seismic events in Chapter 6 of Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan.

Following seven field seasons of excavation (1998-2005), the obtained stratigraphic information and the associated finds allows for the recognition of fourteen consecutive phases of occupation, destruction, rebuilding and disuse in the area of the church and the chapel 1 Of these, Phase 1 represents the pre-ecclesiastical occupation of the high plateau, Phases 2-8, the period of continuous monastic occupation interspersed with episodes of destruction, and Phases 9-14, the later occupation for which the ecclesiastical function of the church can no longer be supported, as well as the eventual abandonment of the church and the chapel of Jabal Harun. Specifically, Phases 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12 represent phases of destruction. The most likely explanation for most of these destructions is seismic events, and in some cases the evidence for an earthquake seems clear. However, in other cases, especially for Phase 6, alternative explanations will be considered as well. Notably, the multiple episodes of destruction and restoration seem well attested by the evidence of changes in the glass repertoire in the church and the chapel throughout the existence of these structures.

Phasing from Mikkola et al (2008) is shown below:



Seismic Effects

Orientation of presumed seismic damage

Mikkola et al (2008) found a directional pattern to inferred archeoseismic damage

In general, the E-W running walls are better preserved than those running N-S. This fact is probably explained by the seismic characteristics prevalent in the Wadi Araba rift valley, which mainly result in earthquakes exhibiting E-W movement. These are likely to cause more damage to walls running in a N-S direction than to those running E-W.

Pre-Monastic Phasing IV Destruction Event - 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. It is described in Appendix C:34

The structures and soundings made in Room 25 provided evidence of an early destruction and the following period of decay that apparently preceded the building of the monastery. A dramatic piece of evidence the shattered second story floor (O.41), some remains of which are still protruding from Wall (e.g. Fig. 8). The core of Western Building must have partially collapsed and the second story was entirely destroyed, as remains of its floor were incorporated in the Byzantine structures. The superstructure and arches of the southern cistern (Room 36) may also have collapsed. All of this may well be related to the famous earthquake of May 19, 363 CE [JW: The southern Cyril Quake struck on the night of May 18, 363 CE] which is archaeologically well-evidenced by excavations in central Petra at sites such the Temple of Winged lions, the Colonnaded Street, the so-called Great Temple, and the residential complex at es-Zantur. According to a contemporary literary source (Bishop, Cyril of Jerusalem), the earthquake destroyed more than half of Patna. Given the fact that the earthquake severely damaged a host of other cities as well, it stems very unlikely that Jabal Harun, located less than five kilometers from downtown Petra, was left unharmed.
Seismic Effects mentioned include:
  • a shattered floor
  • collapsed walls
  • collapsed arches

Phase 3 Destruction Event - mid to late 6th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

This phase represents a catastrophic event that caused the first major destruction of the site. Judging by the totality of the damage, a major seismic event seems to be the most likely explanation for the destruction 102. It appears that the seismic shock caused the collapse of the upper parts of walls, and the burning oil lamps, falling on the floor, caused the conflagration. The destruction was severe. In many parts of the church, the arches, clerestory walls, columns and upper parts of the walls collapsed. That the roof support system was severely damaged is indicated, among other ways, by the fact that it was completely rearranged in the following phase. The falling stones shattered the marble floor and the furnishings of the church and the chapel, and while the floor was haphazardly repaired in the following phase, much of the furnishings were apparently damaged beyond repair. This is evidenced by the numerous fragments of marble colonnettes, chancel screens, etc., found in reused positions in the structures of Phase 4.

The intensity of the event is also indicated by the evidence of repairs to the upper portions of the walls of the church and the chapel. The repaired walls of Phase 4 feature numerous fragments of marble slabs from the floor of Phase 2, now used as chinking stones. Various kinds of debris ended up in the fills of the walls, especially in Wall I which was constructed in Phase 4. In fact, a large portion of the finds of broken marble furnishing, pottery, glass, nails and roof tiles, found in the late layers of stone tumble, derive from the interior of the repaired walls and therefore predate Phase 3.

...

The chapel was also heavily affected. This is indicated by the extent of the repairs made in Phase 4, particularly by the complete rearrangement of the roof supports. The system of pilasters now visible in the chapel is not original, as is evidenced by the presence of wall plaster behind the pilasters, the use of marble slab fragments as chinking stones (in loci Y17 and Y20), and the different construction techniques used. The Phase 4 columns of the chapel, moreover, seem to derive from the collapsed columns of Phase 2 structures, as some of the drums used in them are broken. The original western wall of the chapel also seems to have collapsed to the extent that it was deemed easier to build a new wall (Wall OO). Finally, parts of Wall H also appear to have been badly damaged, as its upper courses were rebuilt in the following phase, using large quantities of recycled material.

...

the walls of the structures [in the Church] did not entirely collapse in Phase 3.

...

The height of the columns [of the Church] can be estimated to have been at minimum 3.85 m, since both columns were found collapsed among the stone tumble of Phase 3 (Fig. 34 ).

...

The apse of the church appears to have survived the events of Phase 3 comparatively well.

...

It is impossible to assess the extent of the damage inflicted on the original marble furnishing of the bema [of the Church] in Phase 3. It must have been considerable, judging from the quantities of broken marble included as fill in both new walls (e.g., Wall I) and the old, reconstructed walls (e.g., Wall H). However, some elements must have survived either intact or in pieces, which could have been reused after necessary modifications.

...

The destruction of the fine marble pavement [of the Church] was amongst the more permanent damage caused by the event of Phase 3. The rebuilding in Phase 4 took great effort, using all resources available, and evidently the community of Jabal Harun could not afford to fully replace the broken marble floor with a new pavement. Instead, the broken pavers were painstakingly pieced together, like a huge jigsaw puzzle. The area of the nave (e.g., in locus E24) presents good examples of this (Fig. 44 ).

...

extensive damage suffered by the original western wall of the chapel.

...

Area West of the Chapel

Large quantities of debris, including charcoal, burnt tiles, glass and ceramic sherds broken and fire-damaged, pieces of marble and other stones, were found in the midden located outside the monastery enclosure, excavated in Trench R. Due to the uniformity of these deposits and the clear indication that they originated from a fire-related destruction, it is probable that these represent Phase 3 debris cleared out from the area of the church and the chapel at the beginning of Phase 4.

Phase 6 Destruction Event - 1st half of 7th century CE - inferred from rebuilding

Mikkola et al (2008) inferred possible seismic destruction in Phase 6 based on rebuilding that took place in Phase 7. No unambiguous and clearly dated evidence of seismic damage was found. Mikkola et al (2008) also noted a change in liturgy in Phase 7 which could have also been at least partly responsible for the rebuild. Fiema (2013:799), in referring to an iconoclastic edict by the Caliph Yazid II in 723/724 CE, states that Muslims initially used Christian edifices for prayer, with the result that these edifices had to conform to Islamic prescriptions (Bowersock 2006: 91-111). Such shared use of sites by Muslims and Christians can be seen, for example, in the Church of Kathisma between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Moses is mentioned more frequently in the Quran than any other personage (136 times) and his life is narrated more often than any other prophet. Aaron is also frequently mentioned. Thus, it could be expected that Aaron's supposed grave site would become a site for Muslim as well as Christian pilgrimage. In fact, the site currently houses a mosque dedicated to Aaron. Thus, the change in liturgy associated with the rebuild of Phase 7 could have been a reaction to increased Muslim visitation rather than seismic damage or some combination of structural damage and accommodation of Muslim pilgrims. Mikkola et al (2008) noted that, while difficult to date, it seems probable that the iconoclastic damage done to the narthex mosaic [of the Church] can be assigned to this phase where they date this iconoclastic damage to the end of Phase 7. Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations regarding the supposed destruction event in Phase 6:

Whereas the event of Phase 3 was almost certainly a massive earthquake coupled with a raging fire, it is much more difficult to interpret precisely what happened in Phase 6. The reason for distinguishing this phase at all is that something must have prompted the extensive rebuilding activities of Phase 7. However, whether it was an earthquake, a spontaneous collapse of the inside structures, or some less dramatic reason, is not immediately clear.

...

Perhaps the most important clue to the nature of the event is offered by the finds of glass and marble elements. The church of Phase 7 no longer featured a marble chancel screen or ambo, and it was lit with new types of glass lamps. It is not easy to see why the marble decorations and old glass lamps would have been discarded if the building was simply remodelled in an orderly manner. Therefore, one must assume that the roof supports and lamps fell as a result of some event, either an earthquake or a spontaneous collapse due to the structural instability of the building. Such an event might have wrecked most of the church furnishings beyond repair.

...

The chapel seems generally to have withstood seismic damage better than the church, as it is a smaller building and its arches are all supported by walls, i.e., the relatively unstable structural supports, such as freestanding pillars, were never installed there. In Phase 6, however, some of the arches appear to have collapsed, which would also have caused considerable damage to the floor and the furnishing of the chapel. Therefore, in Phase 7, some pilasters had to be reinforced and/or rebuilt, the floor repaired and much of the furnishing reinstalled.

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

Phase 8 represents yet another calamity which befell the site, probably another earthquake. As noted before, continuous re-building and structural damage caused by earlier destructions had probably made the buildings weaker and thus more vulnerable to seismic events, even relatively minor ones. However, this event seems to have been a major one, causing the collapse of the church's semidome and the columns of the atrium.

In particular, the earthquake caused Wall J to severely tilt towards the south (Fig. 80 ), causing the collapse of the arches in the southern aisle. The wall was left leaning towards the south and it had to be supported by a buttress in the following phase. In addition to the arches of the southern aisle, those spanning the nave appear to have collapsed. Such a pattern of collapse would indeed be expected. With the mutual supporting arch and beam system introduced in Phase 7, the collapse of one N-S arch in the aisle would have seriously impaired the stability of the corresponding N-S arch across the nave. However, the northern part of the church survived the disaster better. For example, it seems that the arches covering the northern aisle survived in¬tact. The glass finds also support the idea that some walls survived Phase 8 comparatively well, as at least some windowpanes used in Phase 7 appear to have remained in use in Phase 9. All this may probably be explained by the fact that the northern part of the church, as abutted by the structure of the chapel, was firmly buttressed by its compact form and thus could better withstand the earth tremor.

The apse and bema also suffered heavy damage in Phase 8. The semidome covering the apse must have collapsed in the earthquake, destroying the floor of the apse beyond repair. The resulting tumble was cleared in the following phase, but the semidome and the apse floor were never repaired. The arch supporting the roof of the northern pastophorion probably fell too. In the southern pastophorion, falling stones caused severe damage to the floor due the presence of hollow compartments underneath. The part of floor that covered the southern compartment was destroyed and never repaired. It is uncertain if the arch there collapsed as well. It may have been left standing, but the roof was nonetheless severely damaged.

In the atrium, parts of the colonnades collapsed. The atrium floor shows damage, but it is again difficult to determine whether it was damaged in this phase. The square pilaster (locus L.14) or pedestal in the eastern part of the atrium was also probably destroyed then. The mosaic in the narthex shows damage, especially in the central medallion, which was never repaired. Dating of the damage is uncertain - it may have been caused by the events of either Phase 8 or 10.

...

The arch covering the southern pastophorion most likely collapsed in Phase 8, considering the fact that the entire southern wall of the basilica was severely affected by the destruction. Therefore, unlike the one in the northern pastophorion, the arch must have been rebuilt in Phase 9, as is evidenced by the discovery of the collapsed voussoirs of a fallen arch found among the stone tumble inside the room (locus M.04).

...

As the iconoclastic activities have been postulated to have taken place at Jabal Harun in the early 8th century, and still within the duration of Phase 7, the destruction in Phase 8 may, have occurred soon afterwards. The best candidate for such event is the major earthquake on January 18, 749. ... it's impact on the Petra area is historically unknown ... Some destruction layers found in Petra were associated with a major seismic event of roughly 8th century date, which, according to Peter Parr, effectively ended occupation in the city (Parr 1959:107-108). Furthermore, it has recently been claimed that one of the ecclesiastical edifices in Petra - the Blue Chapel - was destroyed in this earthquake (2002a:451, 2002b.2004:63).

Note by JW: See section(s) below Jabal Harun for other sites in Petra.

Phase 9 reconstruction

The fallen columns of the atrium were not re-erected, but were cleared away and used elsewhere. The damaged floor was repaired, and a section of Wall H in the atrium (loci V.06, X.13) was rebuilt.

...

The most significant element of Phase 9 in the atrium is, however, the construction of a massive platform or buttress (loci B.02, B.16 [fill], B.18 [facade], and L.02) in the southeastern corner of the atrium, against Wall I (Fig. 99, also Figs. 36 and 58).

...

A number of structures located outside the church were investigated in the course of excavation. The largest and perhaps most significant of these is the long buttress (locus T.31), built against Wall J (Fig. 103). The assignment of this buttress to Phase 9 is certain; it was clearly built after the wall tilted south in Phase 8. Therefore, it is likely that the buttress was built to support the wall against potential earth tremors. 219

...

The walls of the chapel seem to have withstood the event of Phase 8, in spite of the fact that it caused so much damage to the church. However, the walls probably suffered some structural damage. This is suggested by the construction of stone buttresses outside and against Wall GG.

Phase 10 Destruction Event - late 8th or early 9th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

A disaster in Phase 10, probably of seismic character, probably did end the continuous, sedentary occupation at least in the area of the church and the chapel.

...

Much of the stone tumble in the church and the chapel created by this event had been cleared in the following phase. This makes it difficult to securely associate any of the excavated strata with the collapse in Phase 10.

The most obvious evidence of this destruction consists of craters left in the church floor by tumbling stones. The marble floor was badly damaged in especially in the western part of the nave and the northern aisle, where much of the floor was removed in the following phase. It seems probable that the long N-S arch running between pilasters T.04 and G.06 collapsed in this phase. Several depressions left in the floor (locus T.29) of the nave mark the places hit by the falling stones. The stones that caused the depressions were, however, removed in Phase 11. Indirect evidence also exists for the collapse of the westernmost arch in the northern aisle and the one that spanned the eastern-most part of the nave, for in these areas the marble floor was removed in Phase 11. It seems reasonable to assume that the removal of the floors was related to the damage caused by stones falling from the arches and other structures of the roof, whereas the floor was left untouched in those parts of the church where the arches did not collapse.

As the walls and columns of the atrium and the narthex had been badly damaged and already partially removed in Phases 8 and 9, they probably were not heavily affected by the destruction of Phase 10. However, some of the stone tumble (lowest parts of locus H.02) in the area of the narthex may have been caused by this event.

...

It is impossible to provide any reasonably accurate date for this disaster. Considering the fact that the ceramic deposits associated with Phase 11 provide a very rough date of the 9th century for that phase, a prior destruction would have to have occurred sometime in the later 8th or early 9th century.

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

All remaining roof structures now collapsed, forming the lowest layer of stone tumble. Several rows of the voussoirs from fallen arches were found among the tumble in both the church and the chapel. This lowest layer also includes remains of wooden roof beams, branches and clayey soil from the structures of the Phase 9 roofs. The thickness of the stone tumble varied significantly from one trench to another, but the average thickness of the layer in the church was ca. 1.5 m and in the chapel as much as 1.8 m. As a result of gradual decay and periodic earthquakes, stones continued to fall and soil continued to accumulate inside the ruins even after Phase 12, but this resulted in much less intensive layers of stone tumble.

...

Throughout the church interior, the floor was covered with a layer of hard-packed, clayey soil directly under the lowermost deposits of stone tumble. This layer, which contained relatively few finds, probably represents material fallen from the structures of the roof This is supported by the fact that in the soil were also found some remains of wooden roof beams and branches. The beams no doubt formed the main part of the roof construction while the branches, covered by a thick layer of clayey soil, filled the gaps and helped to create an even surface for the roof. Apparently, the branches, beams and clayey soil were the first part of the roof structure to fall in the earthquake of Phase 12, and were only then followed by the arches and other stone elements of the walls. The beams and branches were in a poor state of preservation and heavily carbonized, apparently because of natural decay rather than burning.

...

Remains of two fallen arches were found in the layer of stone tumble (loci F.04, F.09, F.10, F.ll) in the eastern part of the nave (Fig. 114 ), one running N-S between the pilasters loci F.07 and F.05d, and one apparently running E-W between the same pilaster (F.05d) to pilaster F.06 (Fig. 115 ). Clear remains of fallen arches were found in the stone tumble (loci T.05, T.08, T.10) in the western part of the aisle (Fig. 116 ), and in the central part were the ten drums and the capital of the collapsed Phase 4 column in locus T.14. Under the drums, furthermore, was found a fallen Phase 7 pilaster, originally a part of locus T.32, toppled over by the falling column.

...

In the eastern part of the nave, the stone tumble (loci G.03 [lower part], G.16, G.17, T.05, T.10, U.03 [lower part], U.10) included a row of voussoirs running from the southern column (locus T.14) towards a pilaster (locus G.06) in the north (Fig. 117). However, as the two supports are not in the same line, the arch cannot have sprung between them. It seems that the force of the earthquake had thrown the northernmost voussoirs towards the west, and that fallen arch originally sprang between the southern column and the pilaster (locus U.26) abutting the northern column. The tumble in the central part of the nave included some drums fallen from the northern column (locus U.25), but it is probable that the entire column did not collapse as some drums were found very close to the surface in the nave. 240

...

Northern Aisle of the Church

In the stone tumble (loci G.04, G.04a, G.10, G.11, G.14 [top], U.03 [lower part], U.09) above the clayey soil, two rows of voussoirs dearly resulting from fallen arches running N-S were discovered (Fig. 118, also Fig. 117). The first of these - between the column (locus U.25) and pilaster (locus U.17) — was scattered over a large area, testifying to the force of the earthquake. A second row of voussoirs was found between the pilasters (loci U.18 and U.39) in the eastern part of the nave. No remains of fallen arches were discovered in the western part of the northern aisle.

Apse and Bema of the Church

Inside the apse, the earthquake of Phase 12 created a layer of stone tumble consisting mainly of crushed, yellowish limestone (loci E.16, F.02, F.10 M.14, U.11).

...

The northern pastophorion [of the Church] was filled with a layer of stone tumble (locus E.08 and the lower part of locus E.05). This deposit did not contain any evidence of a fallen arch, only a couple of long voussoirs, which may have been part of the Phase 9 steps (locus E.12) leading up to Wall T. A thick layer of stone tumble (loci M.13, M.15) also fell inside the southern pastophorion where, however, the voussoirs of an arch running N-S were found among the tumble.

Atrium and Narthex of the Church

The stone tumble (loci B.07, L.05, L.06, L.06a, L.08, L.09, X.02, X.04, and X.05; Figs. 46, 58) resulting from Phase 12 destruction is concentrated along the edges of the walls and is not exceedingly heavy. The atrium walls were possibly already much reduced in height, following the previous earthquakes, and the resulting debris cleared in the meanwhile. In the northern part of the atrium, two fallen columns were found among the stone tumble (part of locus X.05). The column standing in the northeastern corner of the atrium has fallen towards the NW. Six drums originally part of this column were found in the tumble. The column to the west of this column had been taller when it collapsed; ten drums in a row running towards the NE were found among the tumble. It is possible that the latter column fell later, sometime in Phase 14, as it appears to have fallen on top of the first column. Most of the stone tumble (locus H.02) in the area of the narthex was caused by this destruction (Col. Fig. 30).

The Chapel

The Phase 12 destruction caused a major collapse in the chapel, resulting in a stone tumble (loci I.02, I.08, I.10, I.15, I.16, Y.05 [lower part], Y.08, Y.24) especially in the western and central parts of the chapel. The four central and western arches of the chapel fell, all the voussoirs belonging to these arches were found in neat rows, resting on the soil of loci Y.09 and I.10. The easternmost arch, however, apparently did not collapse at this point. In addition to the arches, the semidome of the chapel must also have collapsed now. The exterior of Wall S suffered extensive damage and much of the apse wall tumbled towards the east (loci C.3a, C.11). A tangible piece of evidence of collapsing stones in the apse area can be found in the northern cupboard, where the lower shelf (locus Y.10c) had been smashed into pieces. The stones that broke the shelf were removed in the following phase, but the pieces of the broken shelf was left in place.

Intensity Estimates

Pre-Monastic Phasing IV Destruction Event - 363 CE or an earthquake from around that time

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls A dramatic piece of evidence the shattered second story floor (O.41), some remains of which are still protruding from Wall (e.g. Fig. 8). The core of Western Building must have partially collapsed and the second story was entirely destroyed, as remains of its floor were incorporated in the Byzantine structures. VIII +
Collapsed Arches The superstructure and arches of the southern cistern (Room 36) may also have collapsed. VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 3 Destruction Event - mid to late 6th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Upper Walls and Clestory Walls in Church
Original Western Wall in Chapel
VIII +
Folded Walls Badly damaged Wall H in Chapel VII +
Arch Collapse Church VI +
Fallen Columns Church and Chapel
VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 6 Destruction Event - 1st half of 7th century CE - inferred from rebuilding

Effect Description Intensity
Arch Collapse Chapel VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VI (6) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collpased Vaults Semidome covering Apse in Church VIII +
Arch Collapse Southern Aisle and Nave in Church
Roof of northern Pastophorion
Southern Pastophorion
VI +
Tilted Walls Wall J in Church VI +
Fallen Columns Atrium in Church VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archaeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 10 Destruction Event - late 8th or early 9th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Arch Collapse It seems probable that the long N-S arch running between pilasters T.04 and G.06 collapsed in this phase.
Indirect evidence also exists for the collapse of the westernmost arch in the northern aisle and the one that spanned the eastern-most part of the nave, for in these areas the marble floor was removed in Phase 11
VI +
Displaced Walls Based on evidence of falling stones
The most obvious evidence of this destruction consists of craters left in the church floor by tumbling stones.
Several depressions left in the floor (locus T.29) of the nave mark the places hit by the falling stones.
VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

Effect Description Intensity
Arch Collapse Remains of two fallen arches were found in the layer of stone tumble (loci F.04, F.09, F.10, F.ll) in the eastern part of the nave (Fig. 114 ), one running N-S between the pilasters loci F.07 and F.05d, and one apparently running E-W between the same pilaster (F.05d) to pilaster F.06 (Fig. 115 ). Clear remains of fallen arches were found in the stone tumble (loci T.05, T.08, T.10) in the western part of the aisle (Fig. 116 )
The four central and western arches of the chapel fell, all the voussoirs belonging to these arches were found in neat rows
VI+
Fallen Column a fallen Phase 7 pilaster, originally a part of locus T.32, toppled over by the falling column.
In the northern part of the atrium, two fallen columns were found among the stone tumble (part of locus X.05). The column standing in the northeastern corner of the atrium has fallen towards the NW. Six drums originally part of this column were found in the tumble.
V+
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in columns In the northern part of the atrium, two fallen columns were found among the stone tumble (part of locus X.05). The column standing in the northeastern corner of the atrium has fallen towards the NW. Six drums originally part of this column were found in the tumble. VIII+
Collapsed Walls The Phase 12 destruction caused a major collapse in the chapel, resulting in a stone tumble (loci I.02, I.08, I.10, I.15, I.16, Y.05 [lower part], Y.08, Y.24) especially in the western and central parts of the chapel. VIII+
Collapsed Vaults the semidome of the chapel must also have collapsed now. VIII+
Displaced Walls Chapel - The exterior of Wall S suffered extensive damage and much of the apse wall tumbled towards the east (loci C.3a, C.11). VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

References

Fiema, Z. T. and J. Frösén (2008). Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan. Helsinki, Societas Scientiarum Fennica.

Eklund, S. (2008). Stone Weathering in the Monastic Building Complex on Mountain of St Aaron in Petra, Jordan.

Frosen et al. (2000). "The 1999 Finnish Jabal Harun Project: A Preliminary Report " Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 44.

Fiema, Z. T. (2002). "The Byzantine monastic / pilgrimage center of St. Aaron near Petra, Jordan." Arkeologipäivät.

Fiema, Z. T. (2013). "Visiting the sacred : continuity and change at Jabal Hārūn " Studies in the history and archaeology of Jordan. Department of Antiquities, Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan-Amman. Vol. 4 11.

Finnish Jabal Harun Project

Bikai, P. M. 1996 Petra, Ridge Church. P. 531 in Archaeology in Jordan section. Patricia M. Bikai and Virginia Egan, eds. American Journal of Archaeology 100, no. 3, pp. 507-536.

Bikai, P. and M. Perry (2001). "Petra North Ridge Tombs 1 and 2: Preliminary Report." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 324: 59 - 78.

Bikai, P. M. 2002a Petra. North Ridge Project. Pp. 450-51 in Archaeology in Jordan section. St. H. Savage, K. Zamora and D. R. Keller, eds. American Journal of Archaeology 106: 435-458.

Bikai, P. M. 2002b North Ridge Project. ACOR Newsletter vol 14.1. Summer, pp. 1-3.

Bikai, P. M. (2002). The churches of Byzantine Petra, in Petra. Near Eastern Archeology, 116, 555-571

Bikai, P. M. 2004 Petra: North Ridge Project. Pp. 59-63 in Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan VIII. F. al-Kraysheh ed. Amman. Bikai, Patricia M., and Megan Perry

Parr, Peter 1959 Rock Engravings from Petra. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 91, pp. 106-108.

Petra North Ridge Project

Fiema, Z. T., et al. (2001). The Petra Church, American Center of Oriental Research.

Bikai, P., et al. (2020). Petra: The North Ridge, American Center of Oriental Research.

Petra: The North Ridge at ACOR

Petra Church
The Petra Church The Petra Church where the Petra Papyri were discovered.

Wikipedia


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
The Petra Church English
The Byzantine Church at Petra English
Blessed and All-Holy Lady, the most Glorious Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary Church
Introduction

The Petra Church is a Byzantine Church in Petra where the Petra papyri were discovered. Excavations revealed that it was probably named for the 'Blessed and All-Holy Lady, the most Glorious Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary' (Fiema et al, 2001). It's discovery and excavation opened a window into Byzantine Petra of which almost nothing was known before (Fiema et al, 2001). Ken Russell, who had worked as a supervisor on excavations of the nearby Temple of the Winged Lions and Area I, can be largely credited for it's discovery and it was Ken who initiated and spearheaded the project to excavate it. Tragically, Ken died at the age of 41 before excavations began. The final publication of the excavations (The Petra Church by Fiema et al, 2001) was dedicated to his memory.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Phasing



End 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.

Phase X Earthquake (aka the first earthquake) - 7th - 8th century CE

The Phase X earthquake came after the fire of Phase VIII which is well dated and provides a terminus post quem of the end of the 6th century CE. The terminus post quem is derived from chronological information found in the Petra papyri which were burned in the fire. The terminus ante quem for the Phase X earthquake is provided by succeeding Phase XI which is dated to late 7th to early 8th century. However, it should be noted that Fiema et al (2001:115) state that no easily datable material can be associated with [Phase XI] deposits adding that several 7th century sherds were found in strata which may have been created during Phase XI. Fiema et al (2001:115) concludes that Phase XI could be dated to the 7th century A.D., probably its second half, and apparently after the first earthquake but notes that other ceramic evidence indicates that Phase XI could have lasted longer, i.e. until the next earthquake. Fiema et al (2001:111) summarized Phase X earthquake evidence as follows:

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the earliest structural destruction of the church complex was caused by factors other than natural ones, and an earthquake is the most acceptable explanation. Although the density of lowermost stone deposits varied from place to place, these deposits are nevertheless evident everywhere. The earthquake damaged the already weakened structure of the church proper. Evidently, most of the columns in the basilica broke and collapsed, either in their entirety or their upper sections. That was followed by a complete failure of the arches above the capitals, and thus the clerestory walls farther up. Whatever had remained after the fire of Phase VIII i.e. elements of the roof structure, now fell. Walls A, C, and F were visibly damaged , the latter one began to lean precariously toward the south. Room II lost its vaulted ceiling and, like Rooms I and V, the upper parts of its stone superstructure. Arches broke and fell inside Room I. The atrium's porticoes collapsed, at least partially, as well as the floors in the western rooms. However, except for some shifting, at least two columns survived intact in the baptistery. The central and the side apses seemed to have escaped with little damage, but no indisputable proof can be offered for that. Also, no cracking of the ground were detected, and there was no substantial shifting of walls from their foundation courses. The latter, wherever exposed, show no particular seismic damage at all.
...
Generally, the intensity of the first major tremor which affected the complex does not suggest a total catastrophe. Rather, the magnitude of destruction indicates a moderate earthquake, probably comparable to grades VII-VIII on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMS).

The date of the earthquake is not easy to determine. A very general terminus post quem for this earthquake is the early 7th century A.D.

Phase XIIA Earthquake(s) (aka the second earthquake) - late Umayyad to early Ottoman

Maps and Plans

  • Ground Plan of the existing remains of the Petra Church from Fiema et al (2001)
  • General Plan of the Petra Church site from Fiema et al (2001)
  • General Plan of excavation squares from Fiema et al (2001)
Fiema et al (2001:115-117) summarized Phase XIIA earthquake evidence as follows:
This phase is poorly understood, as is its dating. It was definitely long-lasting, thus requiring further subdivisions. Unfortunately, the stratigraphic sequences of the upper layers in the complex are too fragmentary and enigmatic to interpret. In light of these difficulties, an attempt to connect areas marked by possible human interference into meaningful spatially and temporally defined units would be pure guesswork. Therefore, the following section presents the evidence available as to activities that happened from the second earthquake until modern times. That would include the late Umayyad-Abbasid and Mamluk periods and the early Ottoman period. In the absence of well dated deposits, the association of the walls discussed below with any of these periods is impossible.

The extant remains in the complex indicate the possibility of further earth tremor(s). The indicators, upper stone tumbles, are more difficult to interpret. They may represent a single seismic event or multiple ones in a relatively short time. They also must, at least partially, account for the continuous natural deterioration and decay of the ruins. Separation of major stone collapses as separate loci was successful only in a few places. In the area of the nave, no evidence of collapse beyond that presumably associated with Phase X can be detected.

Room X

This room produced the most dramatic evidence for a possible later earthquake. Two or three of the four columns which originally had supported the canopy over the baptismal font broke and collapsed on the surface of E3.30A (Fig. 125 ). That fall was hardly due to natural deterioration. The drums of the SE column evidently shifted and the shaft broke almost exactly at a level corresponding with the top of locus E3.30A which, by that time, had already filled up the interior. That level was ca. 899.9 m, i.e. about 1.2 m above the room's floor level. Altogether, nine drums of that column fell in a well-aligned row. Four drums of another column, the SW one, were found in the parallel row. Both rows preserved almost exact east-to-west orientation which is in striking contrast to the general north-to-south collapse observed for the first earthquake. A few drums of the third (probably NE) column and a capital fell on the same surface but not in the same orientation as the others. In addition to the column drums, collapse locus E3.29 (=D4.38) contained large quantities of ashlars and other stone material, presumably from the destruction of neighboring walls TT, S, N, and M. The presence of canopy voussoirs outside Wall TT indicates that some of them could also have fallen then, across damaged Wall TT.

The Aisles and the Apses

In the north apse, this event was represented by an extensive stone tumble, G4.17, which was deposited in the easternmost part of the aisle, including the interior of the apse. The tumble was about 0.5 m deep, originating at ca. 900.3 m and reaching up to 900.9. Glass and stone tesserae and even marble fragments continued in this area. It is possible that a section of that tumble could have originated from stones pushed aside during the activities of the previous phase. The second collapse was also noted in J4.05, although at a slightly higher level (900.6-901 m). That tumble contained several column drums (Fig. 3, section i-i' ). Unlike G4, there were practically no finds in Square J4. Locus H4.14 also contained several column drums and larger ashlars. Its bottom was at ca. 900.5 m, and it was visibly separated from the earlier earthquake destruction (Fig. 2, section d-d' ). The collapsed column in H3.11, which was found at ca. 900.2 m, might have fallen then, if not before. At any rate, the remaining columns or their broken shafts would now have finally succumbed. Notably, both Squares G4 and J4 clearly preserved what may be termed a third tumble layer.

Tumbles of high density, with many ashlars, were noted in the south apse area. beginning with F2.13 (at ca. 900.2 m) and continuing through F2.10, and 08, the latter with its top at ca. 901.1 m. Like G4, these deposits contained numerous mosaic fragments, glass, plaster flakes and loose tesserae. The confluence of the apse's wall and Wall A in this area are largely responsible for the abundance of stone material there. The destruction associated with Phase XIIA is less apparent farther west in the aisle. Perhaps loci A1.09, 08, 04, B1.04, B2.04, and C1.15, 25 may represent that event, although the density of stone deposition was not high there (Fig. 126 ). Locus C1.15 yielded interesting, though useless, numismatic evidence. An as of Trajan, struck in commemoration of the annexation of the Nabataean kingdom in A.D. 106 was associated in that stratum with two Late Byzantine nummi from the late 5th-6th century A.D.

The apse presumably survived the first earthquake. However, it fared much less well in the current seismic event. This time the collapse appears to have been complete. Massive tumbles H1.04, 03 = A3.04 covered the area of the bema up to 901.1 m. These are probably associated with tumble loci F4.05, 04 = G2.05, 04 in the apse, which also overlapped the eastern edge of the bema (Fig. 2, section a-a' , and Fig. 3, section b-b' ). While the bema tumbles still contained some wall mosaic fragments, the amount of that material in the apse loci was substantially less. The pattern of these stone deposits was not clear but it appeared to concentrate toward the west, resembling the pattern noted in the baptistery. The tremor buckled and broke the structure of the semidome resulting in its fall along with the remaining mosaics upon the central and eastern bema. The upper works of the semidome probably fell straight down on the remaining part of the synthronon and the space in Square G2.

The Northern Rooms and the Atrium

The second earthquake apparently deposited substantial stone tumble in the area of the northern rooms. Loci I.08, 07, 06, excluding the mosaic-rich deposits along Wall T, and II.07, 06 may be reasonably associated with that event. The matrix of these tumbles was sandy, and the cultural material generally meager but locus I.06 was abundant in numismatic finds. Two mid-4th century coins, one late 4th-early 5th century piece, and one Late Byzantine coin were found there. Much more significant was the find from locus I.08 — large fragments of a greenish-grey, ribbed storage jar, generally dated to the 7th century A.D. The average level of the deposits in Rooms I and II extended from ca. 900 m to 901.3 m. In the courtyards, the tumble loci were even more extensive and difficult to separate. Possibly, the collapse there is represented by IIIA.04 = IIIB.06, followed by IIIA.03=IIIB.05, 04, the latter reaching a level of ca. 901.8 m. The presence of several possibly late 7th century sherds was noted in IIIB.06 (=J4.15).

Stone tumble loci in the atrium may reflect the impact of the second earthquake there. Particularly, the areas marking the confluences of walls display upper tumbles. To such belonged D2.43, C1.16, C2.02 (?), I.2.03, 02, and K3.14, 13. Judging from the depth and density of accumulation, Walls N and YY probably suffered much damage during that seismic episode, although human interference in the subsequent phase would have been instrumental in changing the pattern of stone collapse. By then Wall YY was already reduced to a height of barely 1 m above the floor, either by natural or human forces since Wall B, probably constructed in Phase XIIB, encroached on its remains.

Seismic Effects
End of Phase II earthquake - based on rebuilding evidence - 363 CE ?

Seismic Effects are difficult to report as this seismic event is surmised from rebuilding evidence but re-used ashlars suggests wall damage or collapse.

Phase X Earthquake (aka the first earthquake) - 7th - 8th century CE

Maps and Plans

  • Ground Plan of the existing remains of the Petra Church from Fiema et al (2001)
  • General Plan of the Petra Church site from Fiema et al (2001)
  • General Plan of excavation squares from Fiema et al (2001)
Location Source Images Description
General Remarks Fiema et al (2001:105) There is little doubt that the occupation of the atrium in Phase IX was ended abruptly by a destructive natural phenomenon, an earthquake. The entire interior of the church, the area of the porticoes in the atrium, and western and northern rooms were found strewn with collapsed stone. Generally, the total depth of the loci that contain massive stone tumble varies considerably, from more than 3 m of the barely differentiated massive collapse in Room I to about half a meter in the center of the church. A notable exception is the very center of the atrium which contains very little stone, but it is suspected that the area could have been partially cleared in Phase XI.

During the excavations, particular attention was directed toward discerning the pattern of collapse, and separating the layers of stone material. This attempt was partially successful in the aisles where separation between stone collapse episodes was possible, due to the greater depth of the deposits. Occasionally, layers of silt lamination were clearly discernible between stone tumbles. In other cases, an evidently changed pattern of cultural material within loci suggested inter-collapse activities, occasional robbing, or human redeposition, as in case of Room I. The pattern that emerges of the entire post-Phase IX accumulation in the church proper, up to the modern surface. strongly indicates that the site may have experienced more than a single earthquake. Yet, it is certainly difficult to associate particular sets of loci with later earthquakes, except in a general sense. At least in some areas, stone collapse layers presumably resulted from continuous natural deterioration and decay rather than from a earthquake related phenomena.

Therefore, while the results of the earliest destructive seismic event may be reasonably recognized, their separation from later events, including long lasting natural deterioration, was not always successful. For example, the first (=lowermost) seismic related deposits in the church proper are usually well defined by the presence of column drums and capitals, but this is not always the case, since drums occur also in upper tumbles. That may indicate that the first tremor was substantial enough to cause the majority of columns to break and collapse, but perhaps not strong enough to destroy all of them. As such, some surviving stumps of already damaged columns, if not entire shafts, could have fallen in later destructive events. Many drums and capitals, obviously heavier than ordinary ashlars, fell into the strata representing the fire, or into deposits relocated in Phase IX, and often embedded themselves deeply into these layers. The first earth tremor caused the colonnades (and presumably the parts of the walls) of the church to fall in a northern direction. To be exact, the common slight deviation from the north evidenced in the collapse is the well attested alignment, NNW to SSE or NNE to SSW, of the fallen drums and ashlars with a general directional patterning, i.e. fanning out towards the north. This earliest architectural collapse in the aisles is also characterized by uneven distribution in random piles, as opposed to the upper stone tumbles which, wherever preserved, resemble more uniformly deposited fields of stone. This general pattern, not unlike that observed in the Civic Complex Church in Pella, which suffered two earthquake destructions, may also reflect scavengers rummaging among the stones after the first earthquake.

For the purpose of a better stratigraphic control, some loci of considerable depth were subdivided during the excavations. Some strata associated with the early architectural collapse are generally deprived of finds, but most of them contain considerable amounts of iron nails, wall plaster, and roof tiles, as well as wall mosaic fragments. That indicates that the remaining portions of the burnt-out roof collapsed during this disaster, as well as most of the clerestory walls above the colonnades. Occasional finds of burnt wood or ash lenses in these strata are thus not surprising. Curiously, numerous marble fragments also occur in some tumble strata. The ceramic material found in the first collapse is far from homogeneous, but 5th-6th century types are most common, with some 7th century sherds. Thus the value of the ceramic dating for these strata is debatable Probably, both marble and the mixed pottery presence may be associated with later human churning of these layers. These shadowy and poorly documented phenomena certainly occurred in the later history of the site, and their influence should not be overlooked.
The Nave Fiema et al (2001:105-106) Excavation Squares
Fig. 116
Fig. 3
section f-f'
Fig. 117
The appearance of the deposits of drums and capitals, was particularly dramatic in the nave, notably in the western and central parts. Square B4 featured a field of densely packed stone material which extended vertically from ca. 899.5 m up to 900.5 m, including the collapse loci 07 and 03 (Fig. 116). Several column drums which preserve a rough NE or NW pattern of collapse were located in locus 07. Locus 03, atop of it, contained mainly ashlar collapse. This distinction should not be related to separate episodes. Rather, the collapse of columns of the south row was followed directly by the fall of the clerestory walls. These loci contained very little cultural material, but notable amounts of roof tiles. These were also characteristic for neighboring boring B3, where loci 05 and 04 displayed a similar pattern of deposition i.e. the column drums in the lower locus (Fig. 3, section f-f'). Farther east, Square A4 preserved the earliest stone collapse in loci 07 (upper) and 06. Locus 07 (lower) is probably a silt layer containing some gravel and charcoal. This presumably accumulated before the earthquake. Both loci 07 and 06 also yielded considerable amount of roof tiles. However, what set them apart from the deposits already mentioned was the abundance of cultural material including nails, mosaic chunks, glass, wall plaster, iron objects, and a great quantity of marble fragments, the latter located close to the edge of the chancel platform. A Nabataean coin was found in A4.07 (upper).

On the northwestern side of the nave, stone deposits were also considerable. Loci J1.06 (upper) and 04 were a very dense tumble with several drums and capital fragments. These rested in a matrix of sandy soil together with large quantities of cultural material. The tumble in 04 was of considerable depth in the northern part of the square, but petered out in the southern half, being supplanted there by locus 05 (Fig. 3. Section f-f'). That locus, at the same level as J1.04, contained few stones but an abundance of cultural material including roof tiles. A coin of Tiberius II Constantine, struck in Nicomedia in A.D. 580-81, was found in that locus. A more complicated stratigraphic situation was encountered in neighboring J2 (Fig. 117). There, loci 08 and 07 seem to be the lowest deposits of the structural collapse, which contained abundant cultural material. The tumble in these loci was of medium intensity, consisting primarily of scattered fragments of capitals, and drums. Two columns had collapsed into that square. Both were substantially scorched by fire, especially the capitals. Upon collapse, the latter shattered like glass into dozens of pieces which can be found even in locus 09, directly underneath. The major high-density collapse stratum with numerous stones and drums was locus 04. Altogether, the average depth of loci 07 and 04 was from ca. 899.7 to ca. 900.2 m.
North and South Aisles Fiema et al (2001:106-107) Excavation Squares
Fig. 3
section i-i'
Fig. 2
section d-d'
Fig. 118
Fig. 2
Section h-h'
In the north aisle, the early collapse was well represented, and in squares such as J4, H2, and H3, separable from the later falls. This collapse was very uneven in terms of absolute levels, because of the considerable difference in depth of the material (including the pavers) relocated there in Phase IX. Well-defined early collapse was noted in Square G4, where Loci 23 and 21 contained drums and capitals, among the ashlars, as well as numerous wall mosaic fragments. Locus 21 was sealed by a silt lamination (locus 19), on top of which rested a later, equally impressive tumble. A similar situation occurred in the western part of the aisle. Loci J4.11 and 10 (early collapse) were well separated from the later collapses (J4.05, 02) by the silt layer, J4.08 (Fig. 3, section i-i'). A substantial stone tumble was observed in H2. Loci 09, 07, a total of ca. 0.6 m in depth, cover the area of the nave and the north aisle. Several drums were floating in these loci. Judging from the lack of any pattern, the drums could have been pushed aside from the top of the bema in the following phase. The presence of a reasonably well-defined upper stone tumble here was also noted. That upper collapse also contained column drums which may indicate that some columns or their stumps had survived the first tremor. The early collapse was poorly represented in Square H4, although loci 24 and 21 may be reasonably associated with that episode. This square featured an easily recognizable upper tumble (H4.15, 14) with several column drums and large ashlars (Fig. 2, section d-d'). Evidently, not all columns had fallen during the earthquake of Phase X.

Most problematic was the pattern of collapse in Square H3. It preserved an entire column - the easternmost in the north colonnade - which had fallen in a row of several aligned drums (Fig. 118). The column was at ca. 900.2 m on the bottom of locus H3.11, a tight packed tumble, the top of which reached 900.8. Directly south, was the tumble locus H1.07 which contained the continuation of the column from H3.11 as well the remains of the column next to it. The drums in H1.07 were more randomly dispersed, without an aligning pattern. According to stratigraphic observations from the neighboring Square G4, the collapse of the entire column in Squares H3 and H1 should be associated with later destructions which, in G4, rest on the silt lamination locus 19 (supra). This proposition, based upon comparative absolute levels, seems possible, although it faces difficulties. Loci below the fallen column in H3.11 indeed contained some stone material (H3.15, 16) which may represent a rather insubstantial, early collapse. On the other hand, locus H1.07, where the remaining drums of the collapsed column were deposited, is evidently associated there with the lower part of a major collapse as opposed to the upper one represented by H1.04, 03. The excavator of H1 was of the opinion that all these tumble loci in the bema area and directly north of it would have resulted in a simultaneous, single collapse. The history of the collapsed column in H1 remains thus unresolved, with the possibility that it might have survived the initial destruction. It may also be that the disturbances in the north apse area which happened in the following phase, are responsible for the ambiguous stratigraphic relationship between Squares G4, H3, and H1.

In the south aisle, drums and the capitals, were much rarer. A concentration of several drums was found in B1.07, but with no evident pattern of collapse. These drums probably belong to one of the southern columns which, during the tremor, twisted slightly. Its upper part collapsed northward while the central and lower sections fell backward. Neighboring B2 contained a drum deposition of the same character in loci 06 and 05. However, the squares of the south aisle did not lack stone material of other types. Numerous ashlars and the rubble material from the interior of Wall A were densely packed in loci A1.14, 13, A2.06, B1.07, 06, B2.06, 05, and C1.13 (upper) (Fig. 2. Section h-h'). The fallen stones often preserved a fanning-out pattern spread from Wall A, to NE and NW. The depth of these deposits did not exceed 0.5 m, and usually ranged from ca. 899.9 to ca. 900.5 m. It is noteworthy that the collapse layers tended to slope downward from Wall A. The reason for that was the depth of the pre-fall deposits, which represented installations against the wall and the redepositions of Phase IX. Three coins were found in A1.14-13, none dated beyond the 4th century A.D.. Generally, the recognition of two or more major episodes of architectural collapse in this entire area is difficult. The uppermost layers seem to be better related to the continuous natural deterioration of Wall A. It may be that the large part of that wall had fallen already in Phase X. An exception may be Square Al, which appears to display two separate major collapses (loci 14, 13, and 09. 08).
The Bema and Central Apse Fiema et al (2001:107-108) Excavation Squares
Fig. 2
section a-a'
Fig. 3
section b-b'
Uncertainty was already expressed as for the manner and removal of the bema's and central apse's marble floor. The nature of deposition of the lowermost layers in this area (e.g. A3.18, 16, H1.10, 08) which cover the mortar bedding of the removed floor is also unclear. Directly above these strata were stone tumble loci A3.17, 05 = H1.09, 05 = G2.14, 12 = F4.14, 12, which occupied the major part of the chancel platform and its western steps, from ca. 900.2 m to ca. 900.6 m (Fig. 2. section a-a' and Fig. 3. section b-b'). These substantial stone deposits tended to slope to the west and south. All contained very high numbers of roof tiles, and wall mosaic fragments as well as loose tesserae. The fragments of the marble furnishings of the chancel were equally numerous everywhere, forming a solid layer of marble within locus H1.05. All the aforementioned loci were, in turn, covered by an equally massive tumble at a higher level. These loci included H1.04, 03 = A3.04, and G2.08, 07, 06 = F4.08, 06, the latter set also covering a substantial part of the apse's interior. The depth of the combined lower and upper collapse loci did not exceed 1 m, and the top of the upper collapse was at about 901.1-.2 m. Although the upper collapse could reasonably be distinguished from the lower one, there were no clear intermediate layers of tumble-free soil between them. This could lead to the conclusion that all collapse layers mentioned here represent a simultaneous deposit. However, this situation may not be as obvious as it appears. Farther east, in the apse area (G2,F4), the evidence allowed the separation of stone deposits into different episodes, and also to note possible disturbances. Square F4 contains the intact southern half of the synthronon while the other half had been totally removed from the area of its northern counterpart (G2). The apse's semicircles was filled with a deposit (F4.10=G2.10) of debris including stone, mortar chucks, window glass and wall mosaic fragments. Locus F4.10 rested directly on the mortar bedding (F4.15) of the removed apse's floor. In the north, G2.10 covered not only the remains of the floor's mortar bedding (G2.15), but also appeared to spread occupied by the northern part of the synthronon. There, G2.10 was over locus 13, which in turn superseded locus 17. Locus G2.17 featured stone blocks in a clayish soil which created the elevated surface for the entire semicircle of the apse, while locus 13, above it, probably represented debris and rubble from the actual removal of the synthronon. Both loci produced mosaic fragments, tesserae, glass, mortar and plaster, but no fire-related debris.

This entire area, up to the middle steps of the preserved part of the synthronon was covered with tumbles F4.08, 06 = G4.08, 07, 06 which also filled the easternmost strip of the bema along with the apse. The bema (=western) section of these tumbles was a relatively dense accumulation of stones, mostly ashlars. But the eastern section - the apse, the steps of the synthronon, and the area where that installation was not preserved - presented a substantially different image.Although both sections seemingly maintained a stratigraphic relation, the eastern section's layers contained more sandy deposits, some irregular rubble material, practically no ashlars , and were generally of such low density as not to warrant a tumble designation. Yet, these loci contained substantial quantities of wall mosaics and tesserae. That phenomenon is probably due to several factors: the nature of deposition in this area; the general impact of the first earthquake in this spatially restricted area; and the probability of later human interference. It is obvious that a stone collapse from above would not deposit easily on the narrow steps of the synthronon in Square F4, but would largely tumble farther west toward the bema where it finally rested. However, if the northern part of the synthronon had been removed before the first earthquake, and the semidome completely collapsed during the first tremor, the area of G2 would provide a good horizontal surface for stone material to accumulate in dense deposits. This is evidently not the case in G2.

First, it seems improbable that the initial earth tremor caused the complete collapse of the apse's semidome. If it had, the mosaic fragments would have been largely restricted to the lowermost, relatively dense collapse layer, not only on top of the bema but in the apse as well. Instead, all stone tumble loci mentioned so far in the bema and in the apse area yielded substantial amounts of wall mosaic fragments and separate tesserae. Pockets of ash and charcoal pieces were also observed. Therefore, while some damage to its structural integrity is possible, the apse area must have survived largely intact. What followed was a series of collapses, some probably major, others presumably associated with the gradual deterioration of the structure.

The second part of the issue - whether the northern half of the synthronon was still in situ when the calamity befell in Phase X, or it was removed prior to that event — cannot be resolved with certainty, as the nature of deposition in Square G2, especially in Loci 13 and 10 is ambiguous. A total absence of burnt remains in G2.13, 10, which are otherwise typical for lowermost loci in the neighboring F4, seems to eliminate Phase VII as a candidate for the removal time. Had the north synthronon been removed in Phase IX, the presence of marble fragments in locus G2.10, over the place where the removed part had been, is difficult to explain. If, however, the northern half of the synthronon was still intact, and, like its southern counterpart, had survived the initial tremor in Phase X, the confusing deposition noted in the place of its removal becomes more understandable. Presumably, only in Phase XI, some rubble from the initial damage which had accumulated on its steps and in front of it was cleared away into the eastern bema, before the actual removal of the installation. The depth of stone tumble there, as well as their density, is indeed considerable. Finally, the removal of the northern section of the synthronon seems to fit into the type of activities conducted in the north apse and Room I, both of which certainly happened only after the initial architectural collapse. It then follows that both deposits G2.13 and 10 in the northern half of the apse may be secondary, i.e. resulting from these human disturbances, and the tumble above them should be of a later date.

The proposed preservation of the central area, and probably of the lateral apses as well, through the first earthquake may relate to the specifics of other construction. Firstly the considerable thickness of Walls D, CC, and VV, and the sheer mass of relatively regularly laid stone fill behind the apse's walls (MM, E, AA) might have resisted the initial tremor. The central apse, being basically a separate, tower-like section of the church, was thus more flexible during the tremor, since it was also supported on the western side by the still-complete synthronon. Such amazing preservation of church apses and semidomes in the seismic arras of Syria-Palestine into modern times is not unique. For example, all three apses, including then semidome, arches, and sometimes even the upper rooms over the side apses are still preserved in the North and South Churches at Mampsis, and the South Church in Sobata Shivta. An opinion was voiced that inscribed apses are generally more resistant to the effects of earth tremors than protruding ones. On the other hand, the impact of the initial tremor on the bema area in the Pella church would have been more observable. Even if not all of the parallel pairs of the easternmost columns collapsed at that time, the effect of the tremor would still have been particularly devastating. The eastern clerestory walls above the arches would have fallen with a mass of stone deposited on the bema and adjacent areas of the aisles.

Deposits F4.08, 06 = G2.08, 07, 06 in the apse were, in turn, covered by the medium density ashlar tumbles F4.05, 04 = G2.05, 04, which also covered the uppermost preserved sections of the synthronon, and extended westward into the bema area. If the hypothesis above is correct, the apse sections of deposits F4.08, 06 = G2.08, 07, 06 represent natural accumulation and the slow deterioration of the apse area during the following Phase XI and beyond. The eastern bema parts of these loci, together with the central and western bema upper stone deposits already mentioned above (H1.04, 03 = A3.04), and the upper tumbles in the apse (F4.05, 04 = G2.05, 04) presumably represent later structural collapse(s), seemingly associated with the final fall of the semidome (Phase XII). The amount of wall mosaic fragments and tesserae decreased noticeably compared to the synthronon's lower tumbles, and practically no burnt deposits were found.
The Side Apses Fiema et al (2001:108) Excavation Squares The image of the initial seismic destruction in the south apse is far from uniform. Locus F2.17 (lower), noted above, contains great quantities of material which could have been redeposited during Phase IX. One element of the original marble furnishing of the apse - the marble colonnette (F2.37) which had supported the altar — survived intact and continued to stand through the postulated acts of vandalism in Phase VIII and a potential redepositing in Phase IX. The colonnette is ca 0.95 m tall, with its top at 900.25 m. Its survival was possible only because the area around it was already filled up when a major collapse came. Otherwise, the colonnette would have been knocked down. The top of F2.17 was at ca. 900.2 m, which is just high enough to preserve the colonnette intact. Only a few stones came loose during the initial tremor, collapsed and became embedded in deposit F2.17 (lower). The loci above, F2,13 and 10, which contained relatively large ashlars, represent either a gradual deterioration of the structure of the apse and/or later tremors. The tumble continued farther up through loci 08 and 07. Large quantities of glass tesserae and wall mosaic chunks were found in all these loci The extant evidence does not warrant the suggestion of a complete collapse of the apse's semidome during the initial earthquake. Since the tumble loci did not display a clear subdivision, it is postulated that this area experienced a series of minor collapses related to several tremors or/and gradual decay.

The sequence of the pre-Phase Xl deposition in the north apse cannot be easily reconstructed. The early deposition inside the apse, which should also include the by-products of the initial earth tremor, was substantially disturbed by activities in Phase XI — mainly the excavation through the mosaic floor (infra). Locus 29, the lowermost sandy but compact material in the apse and which contained some burning, was ca. 0.05 m thick. This locus partially represents the primary deposit related Phases VIII and IX, but it was substantially disturbed in the following phase. Locus G4.26 was directly upon it: it was a very low density tumble with no clear pattern. Locus G4.26 filled the apse at the same level as G4.25 in the front of the apse, loci being separated from each other only by the much distributed remains of the chancel screen. Yet, the composition of these loci differed considerably. While each contained many glass tesserae and wall mosaic fragments, locus 26 lacked the traces of burning, charcoal and decayed plaster characteristic of G4.25. The difference is so striking that while stratigraphically equal, these two loci may represent two separate and unrelated episodes. Perhaps locus G4.26 reflects the process of natural decay of the apse's structure which happened after the initial, probably insignificant debris of the destruction in Phase X had been cleared during Phase XI. Had the apse's structure, including the semidome, indeed collapsed in Phase X, one would expect a multitude of wall mosaic fragments associated with a particular tumble, and one would expect to find them mainly inside the apse area. Instead, marble, tesserae, and mosaic chunks continued floating in this area in strata 1 m above the floor level. All that should indicate that the deterioration of the apse was gradual and long-lasting, and that the considerable disturbances in the area most probably occurred only after the initial earth tremor.
The Northern Area Fiema et al (2001:108-109) Excavation Squares
Fig. 119
The lowest collapse layers in Room I that may be associated with the initial earthquake destruction were the combined loci I.10 and 09, with the bottom at ca. 899.3 in and the top at ca. 900.1 m. The bottom of I.10 rested on an dense layer (I1.11) of paving stones, ca. 100 fragments. The majority of the pavers had collapsed during the fire when the wooden ceiling burned down. The I.10, 09 tumble was extensive and of high density. Patches of ash and charcoal bits were noticeable in places. A late Byzantine nummus (A.D. 491-565) was found in I.09. The most significant occurrence in Room I during the first earthquake was the collapse of the arches, or at least the western one. That arch was somewhat precarious and irregular, being supported by a pilaster against Wall HH on the north side, and practically springing out of the narrow Wall G on the south. Notably, the thick pilasters, including the northern one for the western arch, are all preserved to a considerable height. On the other hand, the upper part of Wall G collapsed early, creating a curious window-like gap. The bottom of the gap is at 900.35 m, i.e. ca. 1.4 m above the floor of Room I, which is probably the level from which the arch springer began. The emergence of this gap is important in the history of the church as it created a direct connection between Room I and the north aisle of the church.

The earliest collapse inside Room II should be associated with loci II.09 (upper) and 08. Both loci were stone tumbles, but without any discernible pattern, and of variable density and localization. Due to the difficulties in dating the removal of the room's floor (supra), the association of these loci with Phase X will remain uncertain. The initial stone fall deposits in Courtyard IIIA and Portico IIIB were IIIA.06=IIIB.09 (upper), which were directly followed by IIIA.05=IIIB.08, seemingly of the same episode. The total depth of the entire tumble, set in a matrix of very sandy soil, was ca. 0.5 m. The obvious difference between the two entities is the amount of paving slabs. Seventy pavers were found in the combined loci IIIB.08 and 09, but none in Courtyard IIIA. The presence of the paving slabs in IIIB confirms the existence of a upper floor gallery above the Portico.

Generally, all stone collapse strata in both courts, which are more than 3.5 m deep and of considerable density, contained large numbers of column drums and fragments (Fig. 119). Surprisingly, while the lowermost loci displayed their share of that particular material, the drums were most abundant in the middle-level loci which were at least 1.5 m above the pavement, and higher. This indicates that, except for few columns, the Portico's colonnade did not collapse completely in Phase X. All the collapse deposits in the courtyards were difficult to separate, because of their considerable density, a density which seldom varied from layer to layer, and an almost unbroken continuity from top to the bottom. The examination of matrices was only a little more helpful. These were predominantly very sandy, and only occasionally displayed a more loamy texture. One reasonable indication of possible breaks between the collapse episodes was the contents of the strata, i.e. the amount and nature of cultural material. Yet, in such a structurally "perforated" matrix, infiltration of small sherds from upper to lower strata is inevitable. The dating of these stone deposits is practically impossible, although the observations above indicate that the middle and upper layers could have originated in Phase XIIA. These stratigraphic difficulties are equally applicable to the deposits inside Rooms I and II, except for the column drums. These rooms did not have columns, save for the small loggia colonnade in the upper floor of Room I. Yet, drums were found inside these rooms, mainly in the middle and upper layers. Some could have tumbled down naturally from areas higher up on the slope of Jabal Qabr Jumay'an.
The Atrium Fiema et al (2001:109-110) Excavation Squares
Figs. 2
section h-h'
Fig. 20
Fig. 117
Fig. 120
Fig. 121
There is clear evidence in the form of paving slabs for earthquake damage in the atrium. This material was overwhelming in the lowermost tumble layers in the atrium, which were largely restricted to the area of the porticoes. This indicates that the upper floors of the porticoes collapsed during this phase. For example, to these initial collapse layers in the eastern Portico belong loci K3.17, K1.12 (upper) and 11, C3.06, 05, and C1.21 and probably 16 (Fig. 2. section h-h', Fig. 20, Fig. 117). The Square C1 deposits were rich in numismatic finds. These included two Early Byzantine folles and one Late Byzantine nummus in C1.21, and three Early Byzantine coins in locus 16. The collapse loci tended to slope away from the walls. Many stones of these tumbles rested directly on the floor, but the average range of the tumble was from 899.8 m to 899.5 m. The lowermost location was usually filled with sandy, slightly ashy loci. e.g. K3.19 under K3.17, C3.07 under C3.06, and C1.24 under C1.21.

The evidence from the northern Portico has a different pattern. Squares covering areas directly south of Wall XX yielded practically no paving slabs. The lower loci there were K4.13 and 08, L3.08 and 05, and L4.09 and 08, with the first locus being a sandy deposit on the floor and the second being an ashlar tumble of rather low intensity. The pavers of the north Portico occurred farther south, in the squares which cover the stylobate and the north-central part of the atrium. There the deposition pattern was similar with K2.03 and L1.03 being the bottom, loamy soil loci, covered by the stone tumble of K2.02 and L1.02. Out of a total of 31 pavers or fragments in L1, 25 were found in L1.02. The figures for K2.03 and 02 were 29 and 26 respectively. This deposition can probably be explained on the basis that the force of the earthquake lifted the uppermost parts of Wall XX and the Portico floors and threw them southwards. The stones and the paving slabs landed some distance from the wall, mostly in the area of the stylobate.

There was no scarcity of paving stones in the areas of the western Portico. Of the 59 pavers and fragments found in square L2, 32 came from locus 05 (upper). This was the lower part of a considerable stone tumble which continued in locus 04 where the stone deposit was scarcer, but which contained another 13 pavers. Large quantities of paving stones were found in the lowermost tumble D4.35 The top of this locus (D4.35) was at ca. 899.7 m, i.e. ca. 0.4 m above the floor. Paving stones were also found in the neighboring square D3 where locus 04 had the stone tumble localized close to the western stylobate. In Square D, which covers the corner between the western and southern porticoes, loci 48 and 45 represented the initial fall of the porticoes and Walls N and YY. These loci also included Sandy deposits 47 and 46, a total of ca. 0.55 m in depth. Paving stones were common in D2.48, but also represented in the other two collapse loci. The pattern of their collapse was from NE to SW. The great majority of pottery from D2.47 belong to the 5th-6/7th century, and included possibly later 7th century sherds. The few Late Hellenistic Attic Black Glaze sherds (2d century B.C.) may have come from the rubble of the walls' core.

The early collapse is also featured in the southern Portico. Notably, that area offered the least depth in excavations, often there was only a little more than 1 m between the Portico's floor and the modern surface. In C2, where 48 paving stones or fragments were found, the pattern already described was repeated. Sandy locus 06, with some ash patches, contained 13 paving stones and fragments, either floating in or on the top of the locus. The stone tumble (C3.04) was above and it yielded 23 pavers. The collapse of the Portico upper floor was particularly in evidence in square Dl where locus 11, in addition to ashlars, provided 80 of the 85 pavers or fragments found in the square (Figs. 120-21). This spectacular stone tumble extended from ca. 900,3 m down, reaching floor level (ca. 899.5 m) in some places. The tumble was embedded in the lowermost sandy stratum D1.12. The latter contained a multitude of cultural material (bone, glass, ceramics) presumably related to the occupation of the atrium in Phase IX.

Everywhere in the area of the north atrium, the lowermost soil deposits consisted of a very loamy soil with a small gravel content. Perhaps they reflect a minor flooding episode which occurred in the atrium after the earthquake. Another interesting observation concerns the column drums from the atrium porticoes, which were nowhere found in clusters or in aligned rows as in the church proper. In the central area surrounded by the stylobates and covered by squares C4, K2, D3, and L1, where one would expect many capitals, and drums, there were many decorative capital fragments (109), but only seven drums or fragments. The porticoes were equally poor in drum finds. Presumably, the atrium was roughly cleared of easily movable material such as drums in the following phase.
The Western Rooms Fiema et al (2001:110) Excavation Squares The interior of Room XI presented a particularly bewildering multilayered stone tumble. This heavy and dense mass of stone must he related to the unusual thickness of the southern and western Walls of the room. The tumble, ca. 3 m high, was difficult to subdivide stratigraphically except by rough and arbitrary means. The only reliable indication of breaks between the strata were changes in contents and amount of cultural material. The initial collapse was represented by the lowermost tumble loci D2.23 = D4.20 = E3.22 = F1.22, which also contained paving slabs. Notably, however, this material was not restricted to these loci. Pavers were found floating in most of the tumble layers inside the room, many as high as 2 m above the floor. Since the slabs in Room XI would have been used as pavement on the upper floor, this distribution is puzzling. The first major collapse inside Room IX is represented by loci M3.05 (upper) and 04. The latter having its top slightly more than 1 m above the floor. No patterning of the tumble was recognized. The tumble also contained some paving stones, undoubtedly from the upper chamber's floor. Several pavers were or marble and one of alabaster.

Room X presented much clearer stratigraphy. Substratum E3.30D was covered by 30C, a loamy silt, and then by 30B, characterized by a matrix of fine sand. The top E3.30B was about l m above the floor level. Neither 30C nor B are occupational, but relate to the first seismic-related destruction in Phase X. Stones floated inside 30C and increased considerably in 30B, so that the upper part of this substratum was a tight mass of stones. The matrices of both substrata resulted mainly from silt which filtered down through the layers of collapsed stone. Pottery was scarce in these strata, but four coins were recovered from E3.30C. These were a 4th century piece, a coin of Constantius II (A.D. 351-354), a mid-4th century piece, and an unidentified coin.

Paving stones, presumably from the floor of the upper chamber, were found in both 30C and B. Some were of considerable size, up to 1 x 0.6 m. A large accumulation of ashlars was observable along Wall TT, while the pavers were concentrated in the area between that wall and the baptismal font. The pattern of the pavers' concentration indicate that the ceiling over the part of the room that had been expanded westward in Phase V collapsed first, probably because it lacked the support of the canopy columns in the central-eastern part of the room. Each of the substrata contained a few of the arched segments of the canopy as well as the large voussoirs of the arching which presumably supported the roof above the upper chamber. Since column drums were relatively scarce in 30C and B, it is possible that a section of the canopy, two or three columns, and perhaps the eastern parts of the room's superstructure, survived the Phase X tremor. Locus 30B was followed by more than 0.5 m of natural accumulation (E3.30A). Above that locus, the remaining columns of the baptistery collapsed during the second earthquake (Phase XIIA). Canopy arch elements were also found outside of Wall TT, which may indicate that some of them fell during the earthquake of Phase X but others (including still standing columns) could have fallen at a later date, when the badly damaged Wall TT was already down to the level which allowed elements to land outside Room X. That observation corresponds to the postulated east-to-west orientation of debris that resulted from the second earthquake.
Damage to the Mosaic Floors Fiema et al (2001:110-111) Excavation Squares In addition to damage already noted to the south mosaic, damage caused by excessive wear and the rough handling of objects before the fire (some of which had been repaired in antiquity), some areas of both the north and south aisles have damage that could have been caused by an earthquake. That damage is particularly visible in the east part of the south aisle, and in the western half of the north aisle, but is not restricted to these areas. A project conservator reported:
... There are a number of areas where the mosaic has undergone compressive forces and ... has been lifted from its mortar bedding creating voids under the tesserae. In a few cases the buckling has provoked the loss of tesserae, while in others an intact ridge has been created. There are a couple of examples where a section of the mosaic has been lifted up along a fault line creating a difference in level along the fault of up to 10 cm. Some cases of cracking of the mortar bedding have been observed, with a resulting gap between tesserae. This cracking is likely due to differential settling of ground and pavement foundations. The buckling, shearing and cracking phenomena are probably due to earthquakes in antiquity. Fallen blocks and paving stones have created three kinds of localized damage to the mosaic floor. In several cases the mosaic has been crushed, with all the tesserae still in place but detached from their mortar bedding, and the individual tesserae broken into fragments. In other cases the fallen stone has actually wedged itself under the tesserae, separating them from their bedding. In several cases, the weight of the fallen stone has caused the whole mosaic to sink, creating a depression in the floor. ...
Much of that damage could be due to the first earthquake, but should not be restricted to it. Some phenomena, such as cracking, buckling, and shearing could have been caused by slow earth movement, not necessarily related to short and violent tremors. Furthermore, the existence of voids underneath the floors, created by the levelling of occupational remains predating the church's construction and ineffectual compaction of artificial fill, could have created unstable ground, generally detrimental for the mosaic's preservation.
South Exterior of the Church Fiema et al (2001:111) Excavation Squares
Fig. 3
section b-b'
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Little is known about the area south of the church complex in Phases VI-IX, and even less can be reconstructed on the basis of extant remains. It is not known if the domestic occupation continued beyond the line of Walls GGG, HHH, and Z. To recapitulate, the foundation trench for Wall A had been dug out from the level of ca. 899.5-6 m. The bottom of the lowermost stone collapse observed in the area was at around 900.5 m. This means that almost 1 m of deposition had accumulated against the south face of Wall A between Phase IV and Phase X. The strata in this vertical bracket were commonly thin, some displayed hard-packed surfaces, others were silt. The occupational character of the former can neither be proven nor rejected. However, they contained some sherds, bones, wall plaster, and sometimes, tesserae, which indicates at least casual presence of humans.

The loci which represent that interval can be treated together, as no particular pattern or logical connection seems to occur between neighboring squares. The ceramic material from these loci was commonly assigned to the 2d through the 6th century A.D., with the latter date being predominant. However sherds later in date occurred as well. For example, loci A1.11A, B1.05, and C1.08 all produced 7th century sherds and a few that probably date to the early 8th century. Coins were also found in these strata. Locus F2.19 yielded an Early Byzantine follis (late 4th-early 5th century A.D.) and a nummus of Anastasius (A.D.491-98), while a Late Byzantine nummus (A.D. 491-565) was recovered from F2.18. A Late Byzantine nummus of Justinian I was found in A1.12, and a mid-4th century follis in B1.09. Locus C1.09 provided four coins: two of mid-4th century, one of late 4th - early 5th century and a coin of Justinian I.

What can perhaps be interpreted as a multi-episode collapse, was noted in Squares F2 and Al. The lowermost tumble (F2.14, 12, A1.10, 07) noted in this area was deposited at ca. 900.4-901 m (Fig. 3, section b-b' and Fig. 6). It did not display any particular pattern. At least in Square F2, the tumble was in turn covered by another one which reached 901.45 m. Unfortunately, it was impossible to assign these stone deposits to any particular phase. These might have originated in Phase X or later.

Phase XIIA Earthquake(s) (aka the second earthquake) - late Umayyad to early Ottoman

Location Source Effect Description
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Fallen Columns Two or three of the four columns which originally had supported the canopy over the baptismal font broke and collapsed on the surface of E3.30A (Fig. 125 ). ... Four drums of another column, the SW one, were found in the parallel row. Both rows preserved almost exact east-to-west orientation which is in striking contrast to the general north-to-south collapse observed for the first earthquake. A few drums of the third (probably NE) column and a capital fell on the same surface but not in the same orientation as the others.
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls surmised from ashlar tumble large quantities of ashlars and other stone material, presumably from the destruction of neighboring walls TT, S, N, and M.
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Vaults The presence of canopy voussoirs outside Wall TT indicates that some of them could also have fallen then, across damaged Wall TT.
Aisles and Apses Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Fallen Columns That tumble contained several column drums (Fig. 3, section i-i' ). ... At a