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Migowski Quake I

~90 AD

by Jefferson Williams

Introduction & Summary

Migowski et. al. (2004) dated a 0.5 cm. thick Type 4 seismite from the En Gedi core to ~90 CE. There are no known historical reports of an earthquake in the vicinity of the Dead Sea during this time.

Textual Evidence

Earthquake Catalog Investigation

Sieberg (1932a or 1932 b) apparently lists an earthquake in Syria with destruction in Antioch between 84 and 92 CE but Sieberg (1932a or 1932 b) did not cite a source. Sbeinati et. al. (2005) duplicated Sieberg’s catalog entry with the following description

82-94 Antioch: VI-VII, Syria. Aftershocks.

Seismological compilations
Sieberg (1932): between 82-94 A.D., a strong widespread earthquake struck Syria causing destruction of many houses at Antioch. Shocks lasted for 40 days.
Karcz and Lom (1987) noted/discovered that Sieberg (1932a and 1932b) included some of Willis’(1928) uncorrected A.H. dates from the Arabic source as-Suyuti. This indicates that some of Sieberg’s (1932a and 1932b) entries like Willis (1928) before him are approximately 622 years too old. An online calendaric conversion of Sieberg’s 94 date leads to ~713 CE.

Ambraseys (2009) lists an earthquake in Northern Syria in 713 CE and cites one source, al-Yaq’ubi, who records an earthquake that lasted 40 mornings and occurred in A.H. year 94. Another Arabic source (al-Isfah) stated that the earthquake lasted 40 days and destroyed many houses in Antioch. Finally, as-Suyuti, provided similar information about 40 days of shaking and destruction of buildings in Antioch. As-Suyuti dates this earthquake to 94 A.H. Based on this information, it is clear that the 82 – 94 CE catalog entry of Sieberg (1932a or 1932b) and Sbeinati et. al. (2005) is incorrectly dated and occurred in 713 CE. Needless to say, it did not create a ~90 CE Dead Sea seismite indicating that the mysterious source of this potential seismite endures.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Heshbon possible ≥ 8 Stratum 14 Earthquake (Mitchel, 1980) - 1st century BCE - 2nd century CE - 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 (1980:100)'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.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a n/a
Dead Sea - En Gedi possible 7.9-8.8 Migowski et. al. (2004) dated a 0.5 cm. thick Type 4 seismite at a depth of 266 cm. (2.6645 m) to ~90 CE.
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Dead Sea - Seismite Types

Dead Sea - En Gedi

Migowski et. al. (2004) dated a 0.5 cm. thick Type 4 seismite at a depth of 266 cm. (2.6645 m) to ~90 CE.


Paleoclimate - Droughts