Negev Quake

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5th century CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

Archaeoseismic Evidence in the Negev may suggest that a localized earthquake struck the region in the late 5th or early 6th century CE. If so, this may have been a result of a blind thrust. It is also possible that some of this archaeoseismic evidence is a result of the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE.

Textual Evidence

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Archaeoseismic evidence is summarized below

Location Status Intensity Comments
Avdat possible ≥ 8 ridge effect may be present at site
Shivta possible
Haluza possible
Rehovot ba Negev possible ≥ 7 Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimate Intensity at 8-9 and appear to locate the epicenter to the ESE


Archaeoseismic Evidence is examined on a case by case basis below

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
Early 2nd century earthquake

The early 2nd century earthquake is the Incense Road Quake which she described 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.
Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013) discussed seismic damage at Moyat ‘Awad due to this earthquake
The Early Roman phase of occupation in the site ended with extensive damage caused by an earthquake that took place shortly before the Roman annexation of the region in 106 CE (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003). The building in Area C and the kiln works were destroyed, and the cave dwellings were apparently abandoned as well. Reconstruction was required in parts of the fort. At this time, deposition from its floors was removed and thrown outside of the fort and a new bath as well as heating were constructed in its interior. Along its eastern exterior and lower slope, rooms were added. Thus, the great majority of the finds from inside the fort and its ancillary rooms date to the latest phase of its occupation in the Late Roman, post-annexation phase, the latest coins of which date to the reign of Elagabalus (219–222 CE).
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.
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 the late 5th to early 6th century 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.
7th century earthquake

Finally, Erickson-Gini, T. (2014) also 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.

Archaeoseismic investigations

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 in. The "previous" earthquake in this case would be the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE and/or the 5th century CE earthquake. Since, the Archaeological literature indicates that the 5th century earthquake did more damage to Avdat than the southern Cyril Quake, it can likely be assumed that most of the damaged features that were adapted to in rebuilding would come from the 5th century earthquake.

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:
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: 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

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.
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. Although I cannot rigorously distinguish whether my "previous" earthquake Intensity estimate is for the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE or the 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.

Intensity Estimate for the 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) .

Intensity Estimate for the 5th century CE 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) .

Topographic or Ridge Effect

Evidence of increased seismic damage in upslope cavescitation adjacent to the Avdat acropolis suggests that a ridge effect may present at Avdat. A terrain map showing the ~4 km. long ridge Avdat lies on suggests the same. 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 is parked at the end of the ridge; surrounded by steep slopes on 3 sides.



Notes and Further Reading

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.

Shivta

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Shivta Hebrew שבטה‎‎
Subeita Arabic شبطا‎
Isbeita Arabic يسبييتا‎
Sobata Ancient Greek ‎‎Σόβατα
Introduction

Occupation at Shivta began in the 1st century BCE when it was a station on the Incense Road ( Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). Occupation continued from Nabatean to Roman and Byzantine times until the Arab conquest after which the town declined. It was abandoned in the 8th or 9th century CE although some pottery found there suggests some type of occupation continued until the 13th or 14th century CE ( Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). .

Chronology

Negev (1989) wrote about an earthquake which affected Sobota (aka Shivta) between the end of the 3rd century CE and the middle of the 6th century CE. The end of the 3rd century CE date was apparently based on Negev's observations of archeoseismic damage at Avdat/Oboda.
A severe earthquake afflicted Sobata [aka Shivta] still more. At the same time both mono-apsidal churches of Sobata suffered a great deal of damage. The South Church (Fig. 5) was surrounded on all four sides by a high talus. It is highly likely that the transformation of this building from a mono-apsidal basilica into a tri-apsidal one took place at the time when the whole building underwent a complete remodeling. Yet, it is not certain whether this transformation is a direct outcome of the earthquake. The constructional history of the North Church (Fig. 4) is much the same, but outer buildings which were added after the earthquake indeed help in determining the various phases. Originally the mono-apsidal basilica had no additional chapels on the south. When the building suffered severe damage by the earthquake, it was completely surrounded by very high stone taluses on all sides, except on the eastern half of the southern wall of the basilica, where two strongly built chapels with apses and domes were constructed, taking the place of the talus as a support for the shattered southern wall. The repair of the first phase of the church, which was made after the earthquake marked the beginning of the second phase. This too has now been firmly dated by a coin of Justinian (527-538 A.D.) which was found in the intentionally made fill in the room behind the southern apse. The change from the mono-apsidal to tri-apsidal plan must have taken place at this time.

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. The second half of the fifth century A.D. was one of tectonic unrest. Severe earthquakes were recorded in the years 447, 498, and 502 A.D. The two latter dates would be highly probable dates for the destruction of the South and North Churches of Sobata, their total remodeling, and their rebuilding as tri-apsidal basilicae, and thus the beginning of Phase II.
Earthquakes referred to by Negev (1989) appear to come from Kallner-Amiran's (1952) catalog. The 447 CE earthquake was reported in Constantinople and would not have caused damage in the Negev (see Ambraseys (2009) for details). The 498 CE earthquake is dated to 499 CE by Ambraseys (2009) and struck Eastern Anatolia. It also would not have damaged structures in the Negev. The 502 CE earthquake is the Fire in the Sky Earthquake which could have damaged structures in the Negev although it's epicenter was not close to the region. This leaves the hypothesized Negev Quake as a distinct possibility.

Seismic Effects

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) identified damage patterns in the ruins of Shivta which indicated previous devastation by earthquakes. These patterns stemmed from three recognizable earthquakes during the Roman, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine periods. Damage patterns are summarized in the table below:
Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Hanging keystone of arches not discussed for Shivta
Asymmetric arch distortion SE Corner of Southern Church 3 Seismic wave propagation was parallel to the arch trend
In such cases the direction of the seismic wave propagation was parallel to the arch direction. In the example given in Fig. 3 the arch trend was 61° and, hence, the seismic wave propagation was ENE-WSW.
Partially collapsed arch stones One of the courtyards of the northern quarter 4 Seismic waves arrived parallel to the direction of the arch
In this example the arch support stones are still standing though slightly displaced, a few stones of the arch are still in the air, and the rest of the stones lie on the ground. The direction of the seismic wave propagation was parallel, or nearly parallel, to the original arch trend. The arch trend was 238°, hence the direction of the seismic waves propagation was along an axis of about NE—SW.
Non-shifted collapse of arches various locations 5 Seismic waves arrived parallel to the arch direction
Arch stones that lie on the ground in a straight line below the original arch position (Fig. 4a) indicate that the seismic waves propagated in a direction that was parallel to the original arch trend. Eight cases have been observed at Shivta, indicating the seismic wave propagation along a SW—NE axis.
Crescent collapse patterns of arches various locations 5 Seismic waves arrived perpendicular to the arch direction
Arch stones that lie on the ground in a crescent pattern (Fig. 5b) indicate that the seismic waves arrived in a direction perpendicular to the original arch trend. Five such cases have been found at Shivta, indicating the seismic waves arrived in a SW-NE direction.
Systematic rotation of wall fragments around the vertical axis various locations 6c Indicating azimuth of epicenter and seismic intensity
Five clockwise rotations were observed at Shivta on walls trending 40°-50° and, in contrast, 4 cases of counterclockwise rotations were observed on the perpendicular walls, trending 120°-130° (Fig. 6c). Thus, the seismic waves came along the bisector of these wall trends, i.e., the seismic waves arrived from the WSW.
Rotation of single stones, wall fragments, or entire walls around a vertical axis indicate arrival of the seismic waves at some angle to the wall trend. The theoretical background of this phenomenon has been discussed in detail by Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a,b).
Similar rotational damage patterns were observed at the Suusamyr earthquake (I = 9-10, MSK-64 scale) as described by Korjenkov and Omuraliev (1993) and Omuraliev et al. (1993b). By analogy, it seems that the intensity of the seismic event that destroyed Shivta was at least I= 8-9 (MSK-64 scale).
Stones rotated around a horizontal axis in collapsed arches Courtyard of the west-central quarter 7a The direction of the seismic waves was inclined, indicating a nearby hypocenter
Two examples of arch stones lying on the ground, each stone being rotated around a horizontal axis, have been observed at Shivta. One example is shown in Fig. 7a, leading to the following conclusions:
  1. as the arch is observed to have fallen straight on the ground, the seismic waves arrived along an axis that was parallel to the trend of the arch, 44° in the studied case, hence the seismic waves arrived along a SW—NE axis
  2. the counterclockwise rotation of the individual stones indicates that the direction of seismic wave arrival was SW
  3. the rotation of the individual stones indicates that the direction of the arriving seismic waves was inclined to the ground surface and could not be vertical (hypocenter beneath the site), nor could it be sub-horizontal (the hypocenter being far away, as compared to its depth).
Hence, the seismic waves arrived in an oblique angle to the ground and the hypocenter was, therefore, rather close to the damaged site, probably in the order of a few tens of kilometers.
Sagged roof slabs rotated around a horizontal axis Building at the north quarter of Shivta 7b The direction of the seismic waves was inclined, indicating a nearby hypocenter
Figure 7b depicts a row of sagged roof slabs that were also rotated, at a building at the north quarter of Shivta. The tilting of the individual slabs indicates a rotational movement. By the same arguments discussed in the previous section, this indicates that the direction of the arriving seismic waves was inclined, which further indicates that the hypocenter was relatively close to the study location, a few tens of kilometers away. The trend of the row of roof slabs is 138°, hence the direction of the arriving seismic waves was along the SW—NE axis.
Systematic collapse of walls and agricultural fences various locations 8a
8b
8c
Indicating seismic intensity and "general direction" of seismic wave propagation
Figure 8a shows a wall of a building, trending SE 141°, that collapsed in a SW 231° direction.
Figure 8b depicts an agricultural wall trending SE, revealing a distinct collapse towards the SW.
Nineteen cases of such walls were observed at Shivta (Fig. 8c).
In 15 cases collapse was toward the SW in walls trending 100°-160°, whereas only in 4 cases collapse was toward the NE in walls of the same trend. This clearly preferred orientation of collapse leads to the following conclusions:
  1. the cause of destruction was an earthquake
  2. since the respective seismic intensity attributed for such collapse in adobe buildings is I = 7 according to the definitions of the MSK-64 scale, in the case of the stone buildings of Shivta the local seismic intensity was at least I = 8
  3. the seismic waves arrived along a general SW—NE direction.
Severe damage to about 75% of the buildings various locations n/a Indicating earthquake intensity of at least I = 8 (MSK-64)
The MSK-64 scale definitions relate to degrees of damage of buildings, starting at "slightly" damaged and ascending up to "severe" and "total" destruction. In addition, the MSK-64 scale defines general types of building qualities, starting from modern seismic-proof buildings (type A) and descending through stone buildings (type B), fired-brick buildings, adobe buildings, etc. Accordingly, the Byzantine city of Shivta, built of hard limestone stones placed on hard limestone bedrock, is composed of type B buildings
At Shivta more than 75% of the type B Byzantine buildings reveal severe damage, indicating destruction by earthquake of an intensity of at least I = 8 (MSK-64).
Significant spreading distances of collapse debris Northeast of town 8b A criterion of high intensity earthquake
The distance at which collapse debris is observed away from the structural foundations is a crucial indicator for a seismic or non-seismic cause (e.g., static loading, poor foundations, climatic weathering) and the intensity of the former. At Shivta the collapse debris of agricultural walls, which originally were, at most, 1 m high, is observed to reach distances of up to 8 m (Fig. 8b). Experience in building construction reveals that in the case of non-seismic destruction the collapse debris is thrown to a distance that is not more than 1/3 of the original height of the structure (0. Korjenkova, personal communication). The corresponding figure is 8/1 in the described cases of agricultural walls at Shivta. Hence, this very distinct distance of collapse debris spreading denotes destruction by an earthquake. The intensity of that earthquake can be estimated from other damage patterns, described above, e.g., collapse of walls, indicating seismic intensity of I = 8; high percentage of severely damaged walls (about 75%), indicating an intensity of I = 8 or more; and, as described below, joints that cross few adjacent stones in a wall. Thus, the intensity of the earthquake that spread the stones of agricultural stone fences to the described distances was at least I=8
The advantage of studying collapse features at ancient agricultural stone fences is that they are isolated, i.e., there is a distinct distance between them. In contrast, in dense urban complexes observations are hindered because
  1. the presence of other building elements touching a wall partially support it and severely complicate the destruction pattern
  2. it is often hard to identify the source of fallen stones.
In addition, experience reveals that damaged agricultural stone fences were not robbed by later inhabitants, in contrast to the common looting of stones from fancy buildings.
Preservation of walls in a preferred direction within a complex of ruins NE quarter of Shivta 9 Destruction was by an earthquake and seismic wave propagation was parallel to the preserved wall trend
Figure 9 clearly reveals a preferred orientation of preserved walls of the northern quarter of Shivta. This type of key observation is useful as a tool in the reconnaissance stage of an archeoseismic study. The preferred orientation of intact walls testifies that the destruction of the urban complex was definitely by an earthquake. In addition, the axis of the seismic wave propagation was parallel to the trend of the preserved walls. Walls trending around 68° at the northern quarter of Shivta are distinctly better preserved, hence the seismic wave propagation was along the ENE—WSW axis.
Systematic tilting of fallen roof slabs SW quarter of Shivta 10a 10b 10c Seismic waves propagated in the direction of the tilting
Figures l0a,b depict tilting of roof slabs in two adjacent rooms (Fig. 10c) at the southwest quarter of Shivta. In this case both walls that supported the roof slabs oscillated during the earthquake, and as a result the roof slabs collapsed and were tilted in the same direction in both rooms. The seismic wave propagation was perpendicular to the trend of the supporting walls. The trend of the supporting walls depicted in Fig. 10 was SE-NW, hence the direction of the seismic wave propagation was perpendicular, i.e. NE-SW.
Holes of missing stones
("shooting of stones")
Northern quarter of Shivta 11a 11b 11c Indicating "shooting" or "bursting" during strong earthquakes
Figures 11a and 11b,c were photographed in adjacent rooms at the northern quarter of Shivta, depicting the phenomenon of "shooting stones". Nearly a hundred cases of such "missing" stones have been observed at Shivta. This resembles two different phenomena
  1. mining bursting — the extrusion of single rocks from walls of mine galleries, as a mode of localized stress release
  2. shooting of single rocks out of rock exposures during the M = 7.3 (I = 9-10) 1992 Suusamyr, Kyrgyzstan, earthquake (Korjenkov and Omuraliev, 1993; Omuraliev et al., 1993).
It is concluded that the holes of missing single stones, seen in Figs. 11 a—c, similarly resulted from localized stress release during a strong earthquake. This conclusion is supported by the numerous other seismic damage patterns observed in conjunction with the phenomenon of shooting stones, e.g., the joint seen above the missing stone in Fig. 11a, or the rotation of the stone No. 19 as well as stones No. 8, 10, 13, and 15, seen in Figs. 11b,c.

In the Suusamyr earthquake mentioned, shooting of single rocks was observed within the isoseismal line of I = 8 and more. By analogy, it is suggested that the earthquake at Shivta, which caused shooting of single stones out of walls, had an intensity of at least I = 8. This is in good agreement with similar intensities concluded from other, above-described, observations, e.g., rotation of stones and other building elements, systematic collapse of walls and agricultural stone fences, high percentage of severely damaged buildings, and distances of thrown away collapse debris of agricultural fences.
Single stones partially pushed out of walls Northern quarter of Shivta 11b 11c Indicating damage by a strong seismic event
Figures 11b,c show not only holes of bursted out stones, but also reveal stones that were partially pushed out of the wall. For example, stones No. 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 19 (Figs. 11b,c) are pulled out southward 2.5-26.0 cm. Such pushed stones provide by them-selves a criterion of seismic damage.
Vertical joints passing through few adjacent stones 12a is in West Central Quarter
12b in Northern Church
13b in South Church
12a 12b 13b Minimum earthquake intensity I= 8x MSK-64 scale
The definition of damage patterns caused by earth-quakes of intensity I = 7 (MSK-64 scale) includes joints crossing a few adjacent high-quality bricks. The reason that such through-going joints are formed only as a result of high-intensity earthquakes is understandable in light of the high energy necessary to overcome the stress shadows of free surfaces at the stone margins (i.e., the free space between adjacent stones) as described by Fisher et al. (1995), Engelder and Fisher (1996), Becker and Gross (1996). Figures 12a,b depict through-going joints, not in bricks, but in hard limestone stones, and hence, the intensity of the damaging earthquake must have been higher than the I = 7, quoted for bricks. This is in agreement with other criteria that indicate that the earthquake that damaged Shivta was at least I = 8.
It is important to note that these cracks occur in stair-cases and doorsteps that by origin carried no load and in a doorpost of the type shown in Fig. 13b, which is shielded by an overlying arch-like structure. The lack of overload rules out static damage in these cases and makes seismic destruction evident.
Cracked doorsteps, staircases, and doorposts 13a in North Church
13b in South Church
13a 13b Cracks in structures in Shivta that carry no load
Upper parts of buildings more damaged than lower parts Southwest quarter 14 The "skyscraper effect"
The arches and roof slabs seen in Fig. 14 mark the ground floor of a building, and the overlying walls are the reminders of the second floor. In this case severe damage is seen in the upper part of the building, as compared to little damage in the lower part. This observation resembles the well-known "skyscraper effect" that results from the higher degree of oscillations of the higher part of the structure. A higher degree of destruction of upper parts of structures at Shivta is the rule, providing an independent reflection of seismically-induced damage.
Special walls supporting constructions that were tilted by a former earthquake location not specified 15 Figure 15 depicts an example of a well built inclined wall that supports a tilted section of a wall of a house at the west—central quarter. Similar support walls are observable at Avdat where these walls reveal a systematic trend, indicating the supported walls were tilted by an earthquake (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a). Similarly, the supporting walls of Shivta seem to reflect a former earthquake, in agreement with the above-listed observations that indicate earthquake damage. In certain cases, such support walls are themselves seismically damaged, indicating a second earthquake event.
Seismic damage of lately restored walls not discussed
Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) summarized their conclusions as follows:
  1. The ancient city of Shivta is situated on flat low-land, built of massive carbonate bedrock. Hence, no site-effects are expected to have affected the patterns of seismic damage.
  2. Walls of buildings and agricultural fences trending SE (130°±15°) reveal collapse in a preferential direction towards the SW (Fig. 8 ), whereas walls oriented NE (40°±20°) reveal random collapse.
  3. This key observation indicates that the seismic waves arrived either from the SW (in the case of a compression wave), or from the NE, if the collapse happened in an extensional quadrangle (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a). In any case, the SE and NW directions of seismic wave propagation can be excluded.
  4. Rotations of blocks are observed at the Shivta ruins to be clockwise at walls trending NE (40°-50°), and counterclockwise at walls trending SE (115°-130°), as shown in Fig. 6c . Such rotations could be caused only by push movements by compression waves. Thus, the seismic waves arrived from the SW.
  5. The Shivta ruins disclose two main perpendicular directions of walls: NE (30°-60°) and SE (120°-150°), as can be seen in Fig. lc . Hence, all the buildings of the Byzantine city can be modeled via a "representative room" depicted in Fig. 16 . Three possible scenarios warrant discussion:
    1. seismic waves arrived parallel to the NE-trending walls (Fig. 16a) — the shear stresses along the walls would be minimal, and hence no rotation would be caused, and only collapse of NW walls would be systematic
    2. seismic waves arrived from the west, i.e., along a line of the bisector between the wall directions—both NE and SE trending walls would reveal oriented collapse to the NW and SW sides respectively; walls with a NE trend would reveal clockwise rotation, and walls with a SE trend would reveal a more or less equal number of counterclockwise rotations
    3. seismic waves arrived from the WSW, i.e., at a different angle to each of the wall directions — the SE walls would manifest systematic collapse generally toward the SW, whereas the NE walls would show random collapse; rotations of elements of walls trending NE would be clockwise, whereas rotations of stones of the SE-trending walls would be counter-clockwise
    The field observations fit this solution (c).
  6. A few hundred individual observations, made at almost one hundred locations at the ancient city of Shivta, revealed the 19 types of damage patterns reported above. Part of these observations are useful in determining the axis along which the seismic waves propagated (WSW—ENE), other observations point out that the epicenter was located WSW of the city, and yet another group of observations points to an intensity of I= 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) of the earthquake that destroyed the Byzantine city in the 7th century.
  7. The distance of the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed Byzantine Shivta can be estimated from the following boundary conditions and considerations:
    1. the systematic pattern of destruction indicates dominance of horizontal seismic movements, which in turn rules out the possibility that the hypocenter was beneath the city (i.e., Shivta was not at site A of Fig. 17 )
    2. on the other hand, the dominance of a horizontal component of the seismic movements implies that the epicenter was at a distance that at least equaled the depth of the hypocenter (i.e., Shivta was at site B of Fig. 17)
    3. the intensity I = 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) limits the distance of the epicenter probably to less that 30 km, a conclusion that has to be checked by data from more sites from the Negev, applying the "triangulation method".
  8. An attempt to locate the epicenter of the post-Byzantine earthquake at Shivta is made by applying the reconstructed WSW direction of the epicenter, and the concluded epicenter distance of a few tens of kilometers. These boundary conditions were projected on the geological map of Israel: the concluded direction of the epicenter crosses the Zin fault at a distance of 10 km, and the adjacent Nafha fault crosses with the direction of the concluded epicenter at a distance of 50 km. In any case, the results clearly point out that the epicenter was in the Negev highlands and not in the Dead Sea Rift Valley.
  9. The seismic damage patterns described so far were observed on buildings built in the Byzantine period and in secondary walls added later on, leading to the conclusion that at least two earthquakes damaged the Byzantine and post-Byzantine constructions.
  10. The described variety of seismic damage patterns provides tools to establish certain characteristics of the involved earthquakes, e.g., seismic intensity, axis of seismic waves propagation, and in the case of systematic rotation, also the specific direction of the epicenter. In a more advanced stage of the archeoseismological study, the investigations in individual sites can be put together into a regional picture that provides more definite answers on the nature of the studied earthquakes. For example, the Negev data from several ancient ruin centers may be compiled, e.g., Mamshit, Avdat, Rehovot, Haluza, Hurvat Sa'adon, Shivta, and Nizzana (Fig. 1 ). In other words, the triangulation approach is recommended (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a , 1999b).
  11. The common descriptions of damage patterns typifying different earthquake intensities are based on the inventory of modern buildings. The present work brings up additional damage patterns observed in ancient architectural complexes, e.g., damage pattern of stone arches, systematic tilt, collapse and rotation of stone building elements, the distance to which collapse debris is thrown away from the respective foundation, as well as preferential collapse of colonnades observed in many published case studies.
  12. The described archeoseismological study has modern applications in regard to specifications of seismic safety to be taken into account in new constructions in the Negev highlands.
  13. Finally, the described archeoseismological work lends itself to inter-regional and international collaboration in the construction of a seismic archive that goes back thousands of years.
Intensity Estimates

Unlike at Avdat/Oboda, Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) did not or were not able to separate out seismic effects from different earthquakes and their Intensity Estimate and directional information comes from a post-Byzantine earthquake. So, an Intensity Estimate is not possible at this time.

Notes and Further Reading

Korjenkov, A. and E. Mazor (1999). "Earthquake characteristics reconstructed from archeological damage patterns: Shivta, the Negev Desert, Israel." Israel Journal of Earth Sciences 48: 265-282.

Margalit, S. (1987). "The North Church of Shivta: The Discovery of The First Church." Palestine exploration quarterly 119(2): 106-121.

Erickson-Gini, Tali (2013-12-16). "Shivta Final Report" (125). Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel.

Tepper, Yotam; Bar-Oz, Guy (2016-05-04). "Shivta Preliminary Report" (128). Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel.

Segal, A. (1985). "Shivta-A Byzantine Town in the Negev Desert." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 44(4): 317-328

Röhl, Constanze (2010). "Shivta, Architektur und Gesellschaft einer byzantinischen Siedlung im Negev (PhD thesis); "Shivta, Architecture and Society of a Byzantine settlement in the Negev"" (in German). Cologne, Germany: University of Cologne.

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. They surmised that the first earthquake struck in the Byzantine period between the end of the 3rd and the mid-6th centuries A.D.. Citing Negev (1976) Negev (1989), 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.

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 in the table below:
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

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

Halutza Excavation Project

Rehovot ba Negev

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Rehovot ba Negev Hebrew רחובות בנגב
Khirbet Ruheibeh Arabic كهيربيت روهييبيه
Rehoboth Biblical Hebrew רְחוֹבוֹת
Introduction

Rehovot ba Negev is one of the large settlements established in the Negev in the Nabatean period that flourished in Byzantine times ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993). Lying on a branch of the Incense Road, it derives it's modern Hebrew name from an association with a well dug by the patriarch Isaac in Rehoboth (Genesis 26:22). There is, as of yet, no evidence to support this and it's association on geographical grounds is considered unlikely ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993). Although there are no signs of violent destruction via human agency, the town appears to have declined after the Muslim conquest of the Levant and most of its permanent residents had likely left by ~700 CE ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993) or earlier. Nomads took up temporary residence in the deserted town after that leaving temporary installations, campfire ashes, an occasional coin, and a few Kufic inscriptions. ( Yoram Tsafrir and Kenneth G. Holum in Stern et al, 1993) . Limited occupation took place in Ottoman times and during the British Mandate.

Chronology

Tsafrir et al (1988: 26) excavated the Northern Church (aka the Pilgrim Church) of Rehovot ba Negev and came to the following conclusions regarding its initial construction :
A clear terminus ante quem for the building of the church is given by a burial inscription (Ins. 2) dated to the month Apellaios 383, which falls, according to the era of the Provincia Arabia, in November - December 488 C.E. The church probably was erected in the second half of the fifth century. ... . Although it is clear that several parts of the complex were built later than the main hall, such as the northern chapel, there is no doubt that the entire complex was constructed within the same few years.
Later on he noted that
A date of approximately 460 - 470 for the building activity therefore seems reasonable, although the calculation remains hypothetical.
After initial construction, additional architectural elements were added; foremost among them a revetment or support wall which is described and discussed below by Tsafrir (1988: 27).
The most important architectural addition was the talus, or sloping revetment, that was built around the walls of the church from the outside to prevent their collapse. Such revetments were common in the Negev. They supported the walls of churches as well as of private houses. They are found, for example, around the walls of St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. At Rehovot such walls may have been erected following an earthquake, but more probably it was necessary to reinforce them just because of poor quality masonry.
Khorzhenkov and Mazor (2014: 84) identified what they believed to be three earthquakes based primarily on observations in the well-excavated Northern Church. They identified further potential archeoseismic evidence in Ottoman and British structures on the site.

Seismic Effects

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) surmised that three earthquakes between ~500 and ~800 CE caused the majority of observed seismic effects. One or more earthquakes in Turkish-British times may have created additional seismic effects. Tables below summarize:
All Earthquake Events
Dating constraints Comments Potential Historical Earthquake(s)
~500 CE - ~600 CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) refer to this as the Late Roman earthquake. It could represent more than one earthquake. It is presumed to have struck after construction of the northern Church in ~460 - 470 CE and led to repair of various structures including construction of revetment walls. It may be the same earthquake which struck Haluza which Negev (1989) dated to around 500 CE and no later than 506-512 CE. Negev Quake - ~500 CE
Inscription at Areopolis Quake - late 6th c. CE
7th century CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) refer to this as the Byzantine shock or the earthquake at the end of Byzantine sovereignty. They suggest this earthquake destroyed Rehovot ba Negev and led to its abandonment Sign of the Prophet Quake - 613-622 CE
Sword in the Sky Quake - 634 CE
Jordan Valley Quake - 659/660 CE
7th - 8th century CE This earthquake is presumed to have struck after the presumed abandonment of the Rehovot ba-Negev. Potential arcaehoseismic evidence comes from several locations.
  • Roof collapse in the southern quarter - Because the finds did not include any characteristic forms of the 8th century Tsafrir et al (1988:9) dates roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) to the early 8th century CE at the latest.
  • The Crypt of the Northern Church - Tsafrir et al (1988:50) found that the vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed and the staircases into the crypt and the crypt itself were filled with debris. The concentration of drums, capitals and other architectural elements, and the fragments of burial inscriptions that were found in the crypt cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay (III. 80 ). Five capitals were found, for instance, in the lower part of the debris, above the floor (Tsafrir et al, 1988). Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggest that this was due to a seismic event and suggest two main stages of destruction in the Northern Church - first when the church columns collapsed in the 7th century event and then a second time when the vault of the crypt collapsed and the staircases filled with debris.
  • Room of the Northern Church - Further evidence of two phases of destruction was found, according to Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014), in Room L 509 of the Northern Church where roof slabs were found atop a layer of debris that was presumed to have been created by the earlier 7th century CE earthquake however Tsafrir et al (1988:66) attribute debris and roof collapse in L.509 to decay that occurred over a long period of time. It is possible that Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) meant Room L 505 of the Northern Church which was completely filled with earth and stones (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62) and was covered by a layer of roof slabs . Tsafrir et al (1988) did not attribute destruction or debris in Room L 505 to a cause. Found in the debris of Room L 505 was an Umayyad coin minted at Ramla dated between 716 and 750 CE (Tsafrir et al, 1988:61). Sherds and glass from the floor level or close to it are common Byzantine types (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62).
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggest that the second phase of destruction occurred in the 9th century CE but this appears to be a typographic error and this destruction can be dated to the early 8th century CE at the latest (Tsafrir et al, 1988:9).
mid 8th century earthquakes
Sabbatical Year Quakes
By No Means Mild Quake
19th - 20th century CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) report that Tsafrir et al (1988) date destruction of a rebuilt Byzantine bath house to Turkish (i.e. Ottoman) times although I can't find any reference to dating or destruction of the rebuilt Byzantine bath house in Tsafrir et al (1988). It is only mentioned as having been examined in previous studies of the site. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) report to have have traced the impact of an earthquake at Turkish-British constructions in the Bedouin village of Khalasa built on or adjacent to ruins of ancient Haluza, noting that the deformations cover a large area and suggest that the earthquake which affected the Khalasa village would have also left traces in buildings of the same age at Rehovot-ba-Negev.
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) note that the well-house built during the British mandate was also significantly destroyed.
1834 Jerusalem quake
1927 Jericho Quake
1995 Gulf of Aqaba Quake
~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake
Seismic Effect Figure(s) Comments
tilted and shifted walls,
surrounded by revetment walls
7 8 12 19 20 21
columns supported by walls 22
deformation of arches and roofs 11
rooms filled with earth
in order to prevent the collapse of roofs
11
features of later repair and rebuilding
secondary use of building elements
7th century Earthquake
Seismic Effect Figures Comments
tilted and shifted walls 4 5 6 7 13
stone rotations 16
pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular wall 14
opening between two adjacent perpendicular walls 5 6 15
through-going joints 5 14 17
a crack cutting the water reservoir 18
collapse of the strong layer
that covered the water reservoir
18
7th - 8th century Earthquake
Seismic Effect Figures Comments
roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) III.14 from Tsafrir et al (1988) Tsafrir et al (1988:9) dates roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) to the early 8th century CE at the latest
Vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed Architectural parts in the crypt - Tsafrir et al (1988)
Accumulation of debris in the crypt - Tsafrir et al (1988)
Tsafrir et al (1988:58) state that this cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay.
Staircases into the Crypt the Northern Church filled with debris Tsafrir et al (1988:58) state that this cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay.
Roof slabs found atop a layer of debris in a room of the Northern Church Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) specified Room L 509 as the location for this potential archeoseismic evidence but Tsafrir et al (1988:66) attributed debris and roof collapse in L.509 to decay that occurred over a long period of time. It is possible that Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) meant Room L 505 of the Northern Church which was completely filled with earth and stones (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62) and was covered by a layer of roof slabs . Tsafrir et al (1988) did not attribute destruction or debris in Room L 505 to a cause. Found in the debris of Room L 505 was an Umayyad coin minted at Ramla dated between 716 and 750 CE (Tsafrir et al, 1988:61). Sherds and glass from the floor level or close to it are common Byzantine types (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62).
Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times
Seismic Effect Figures Comments
wall tilting and collapse 9 10
Detailed table of all Seismic Effects
Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Tilted Walls Northern Church
4
5
6
7
8
At Rehovot-ba-Negev, the southern wall of the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3) tilted southwards (fig. 4). The wall trend is 108°; declination azimuth is 198°; and the angle is up to 75°. Another example can be seen at the same premises (field station 3) where one can observe the same damage pattern in the western wall: the wall trend is 13°, tilted to 81° and collapsed westward — toward azimuth 283°. Only a few fragments are preserved of the western wall, and only one stone high. The wall continues northward. Here it has a tilt and a westward collapse analogous to the SW corner of the western yard in the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). The trend of the azimuth of the wall is 18°; it is tilted at an angle up to 72°; and the declination azimuth is 287°; this is also the direction of the wall collapse (fig. 5). The wall continues northward until it meets the opposite wall of the northern premises (field station 5 in fig. 3). It is tilted WNW at a maximum angle of 21° (fig. 6); the trend of the wall is 31°, and the declination azimuth is 301°.

The southern wall of the North Church (field station 10 in fig. 3) is tilted northward (fig. 7).The trend of the wall is 202°, and the maximum tilt angle is 77°. Because of this tilt one can observe an open space between the southern wall and the adjacent perpendicular one.

The existence of revetment walls, supporting the southern wall of the Church from the south, indicates that the southern wall's tilt occurred during the first of the Late Roman earthquakes. It seems that the southern wall began to tilt northward inside the building during the Early Arab earthquakes; additional evidence for this is the shift northwards of the upper part of the revetment wall. Stones of the perpendicular eastern wall are cracked in the small room marked on the plan. Nevertheless, this wall is better preserved (it is much higher) than the main southern wall of the North Church. This indicates that the seismic shocks during both earthquakes acted perpendicular to the main Church wall: it had freedom of oscillation and was significantly destroyed. The small eastern wall, oriented parallel to the effect of the seismic movements, withstood the seismic oscillations better, although many of its stones were significantly damaged. The whole northern wall of the Church (field station 12 in fig. 3) has a significant tilt to the south (figs. 8 a. b).
Collapsed Walls un-excavated quarter
well-house
9
10
At Rehovot-ba-Negev several measurements reveal the systematic failure of the walls in unexcavated quarters in certain directions: walls trending — 140° have fallen about 50°, and walls trending — 50° have collapsed — 140° (fig. 9).
The well-house, which was built during the British Mandate, is significantly destroyed (fig. 10). This could be the effect of 20th century earthquakes, which caused building deformations all over Palestine and modern Israel.
Deformed Arches and Roofs Residential Building in S quarter Area B Room L.207 11 As mentioned above, the walls were not completely destroyed during the first shock that occurred in Late Roman times. The arches and roofs probably withstood the shock too, though many of them were significantly damaged (fig. 11). This is probably the reason why ancient people filled some of the rooms with earth in order to protect them from complete collapse.
Shifted Wall Fragments Northern Church
excavated quarters of the ancient city
12
13
Above we wrote that the southern wall of the North Church (field station 10 in fig. 3) tilts northward (fig. 7); however, there is also shifting (10-15 cm) of the upper row of the stones in the same direction (fig. 12).
Another example of the same phenomenon is a 15 cm shift eastward of two stones in the upper part of an arch column (fig. 13) in one of the excavated quarters of the ancient city. The arch above collapsed during the Byzantine shocks.
Walls Deformed as a Result of Pushing by an Adjacent Perpendicular Wall Northern Church
Stables of the Caravansary

14
The pushing of walls by a connected perpendicular wall has been identified as one of the seismic damage patterns at Mamshit - one of the ancient towns of the Negev desert, east of Rehovot-ba-Negev. At Rehovot-ba-Negev we find such an example at the SW corner of the large premises of the North Church (field station 2 in fig. 3), where three stones at the upper part of the wall have been moved, probably due to the push of an adjacent perpendicular wall. The trend of the deformed wall is 110°. The stones were shifted SSW (200°) at a distance of 12 cm. The perpendicular pushing wall has a trend of 24°. Another example can be observed at the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3). There the northern wall (trend 115°) pushed the perpendicular western wall (trend 13°) westward.
A similar picture can be observed at the stables of the Caravansary (fig. 14). Here the "feeding" wall pushed a perpendicular one. Both walls are significantly deformed, tilted (declination angle 22°) and crossed by joints.
Opening between Adjacent Perpendicular Walls Northern Church
15
5
6
The pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular one is quite common. The pushed wall is usually tilted or/and collapsed. Between this tilted wall and the perpendicular one (the pusher) an open space is often formed. This could also be due to the especial vulnerability of corners to large seismic shocks, because wave-parallel and wave-orthogonal walls oscillate at different amplitudes and frequencies. Ordinary old buildings often lack coupling elements between adjacent walls, and long-lasting strong seismic oscillation often causes gaps (or long open cracks) which may lead to the failure of corners.
Such a phenomenon can be seen (fig. 15) at the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3), where one can observe an opening of 20 cm between the northern wall (trend 115°) and the western one (trend 13°). Another example of such an opening can be observed at the SW corner of the large yard of the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). Here there is a gap between the southern wall (trend 115°) and the perpendicular western wall, tilted westward (fig. 5). The same pattern can be observed in the same wall, continuing northward (field station 5 in fig. 3). Here the western wall of the church tilted westward and there is a gap between it and the perpendicular wall (fig. 6).
Rotations of Wall Fragments Northern Church
16 The rotation of wall fragments around a vertical axis is a common phenomenon during strong earthquakes. Foundation stones are pulled out and rotated, indicating dynamic beating in the process of sharp horizontal oscillations of the whole wall (and not only its upper part). A seismic ground motion is the only mechanism that can cause rotation of building elements. A large number of observed rotations, and the obvious directional systematics, support this conclusion. An example of rotation (fig. 16) can be observed outside the eastern wall of the North Church (field station 9 in fig. 3). Here one stone in the upper preserved row was rotated clockwise. The general trend of the wall is 24°; and the trend of the rotated block is 26°.
Wall Crossing Fissures (Joints) Northern Church
17
5
Many researchers mentioned that deformation of through-the-wall fissures at archaeological sites were caused by ancient earthquakes. Indeed, fissures crossing adjacent stones are the strongest evidence of the seismic origin of these deformations. Such through-going fissures are only formed as a result of high intensity earthquakes, as 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 Rehovot-ba-Negev, the wall standing to the right of the southern entrance into the North Church (field station 1 in fig. 3) is crossed by numerous joints (fig. 17). One of them crosses through three stones. The trend of the deformed wall is 20°, and the length of the joint is 83 cm. Another through-going joint can be observed at the western corner of the large yard of the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). Here there is a joint cutting three stones in a wall trending of 114° (fig. 5). The length of the through-going fissure is 48 cm.
A Crack Crossing through the Wall at the Water Reservoir Water Reservoir 18 A through-the-wall crack was observed at the Rehovot-ba-Negev water reservoir. The whole wall is cut by this rupture (fig. 18), resembling a "pure" seismic rupture with a horizontal displacement (left-lateral shift) on the first ten centimeters. However, this rupture does not continue in either the adjacent ancient building constructions, or in the relief features. Additional study, and palaeoseismological trenching of the rupture is necessary. The described rupture could be the reason for the disappearance of the water resource in the town, and its subsequent abandonment.
Revetment Walls Northern Church
19
20
21
Sloping support walls have been found in the North and South Churches and in private buildings. The core of the revetment is a combination of small rough stones and earth, with a layer of larger roughly-dressed stones on the outside. The revetment is cemented by grey mortar, consisting of chalk and ashes. The revetment wall is laid on the virgin loess. The wall reaches 1.80 m in height and is 90 cm wide at the base. The whole northern wall of the big courtyard (field station 6 in fig. 3) of the North Church is surrounded by the revetment wall (fig. 19), its half was demolished at present time. The revetment wall continues around the northern room (field station 7 in fig. 3) of the main premises of the North Church (fig. 20). At the NE corner of the North Church, one can observe the continuation of an encircling revetment wall (field station 8 in fig. 3). At this corner the wall is destroyed (fig. 21), with the stones collapsing northwards on an original wall. The encircling revetment wall is of good quality. The destruction event (an earthquake), which deformed the original wall, occurred before the decline of the Byzantine Empire. There was then another seismic event which led to the destruction of the revetment wall itself. The last event was probably an end of "civilized" life here.
The outside part of the eastern wall is also surrounded by the revetment wall (field station 9 in fig. 3), which is now almost entirely destroyed. The same pattern can be observed at the central southern jamb of the North Church (field station 10). All the three walls composing the jamb are surrounded by revetment walls that are also partly destroyed. The revetment walls at Rehovot-ba-Negev were built during the Byzantine period. Such walls are very common at the Negev cities, e. g. ancient Avdat, Mamshit and Shivta
Columns Supported by Walls Northern Church
22 Columns at ancient and modern buildings cause the redistribution of the static load of the whole building construction, and serve as art decoration of the internal and external parts of the building. When a researcher finds a column supported by a later wall, he can be sure that the column was severely deformed, making the supporting wall necessary. Such an example can be found in the North Church (fig. 22).
Features of Later Repair and Rebuilding Northern Church
Tsafrir et al. wrote that when the revetment wall was built around the church it closed the entrance to one room. A new threshold was installed which was about 60 cm above the former floor level. No remains of steps inside the room were found. This means that after the first earthquake the floor was covered by debris, which was not cleaned, but leveled, requiring a new threshold.
Another example of the later adjustment of a damaged building was noted at the Staircase Tower. At its NE corner there was a large (75 cm x 80 cm) window, which was later adopted as a secondary entrance from the atrium: long blocks used as steps were found from both sides of the window. Apparently the "normal" entrance was damaged during the first earthquake and went out of use, so the people started to use the better preserved window as an entrance. Sherds, fragments of glass, and metal weights, found in the Staircase Tower, are additional evidence of earthquake damage.
Secondary Use of Stones from Destroyed Walls Room L 522
Northern Church's chapel
Secondary use of stones from damaged and destroyed walls is a common feature at the cities that experienced strong earthquakes. For example, a large fragment of a water basin was found in an Early Arab secondary wall at the east end of the porch (Room L 522). Another secondary wall was discovered at the eastern porch of the atrium behind the stylobate and preserved it at a height of two-three rows, which blocked the atrium from the west.
Some screen fragments of imported marble of the common Early Byzantine type were also used to replace broken pavement slabs in rooms L 512 and 521 of the Northern Church’s chapel, probably by Arab squatters who dwelled in the chapel after the church was abandoned. The blocking of the door of the narthex and Arabic inscriptions written on plaster support this conclusion.
Intensity Estimates

Intensity estimates are made from the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) . The effect that produces the largest Intensity is presumed to be the minimum possible Intensity for the earthquake

~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake
Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls tilted and shifted walls, surrounded by revetment walls VI+
Displaced Walls tilted and shifted walls, surrounded by revetment walls VII+
Not on the chart columns supported by walls
Arch deformation deformation of arches and roofs VI+
Not on the chart rooms filled with earth in order to prevent the collapse of roofs
Not on the chart features of later repair and rebuilding
Not on the chart secondary use of building elements
Minimum Intensity all effects VII+
7th century Earthquake
Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls tilted and shifted walls VI+
Displaced Walls tilted and shifted walls VII+
Displaced Masonry Blocks stone rotations VIII+
Tilted Walls pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular wall VI+
Tilted Walls opening between two adjacent perpendicular walls VI+
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks through-going joints VI+
Displaced Walls a crack cutting the water reservoir VII+
Collapsed vaults collapse of the strong layer that covered the water reservoir VIII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+
7th - 8th century Earthquake
Effect Description Intensity
Not on chart roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B)
Collapsed vaults Vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed VIII+
Collapsed walls Staircases in the Northern Church filled with debris VIII+
Not on chart Roof slabs were found atop a layer of debris in Room L 509 of the Northern Church
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+
Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times
Effect Description Intensity
Tilted walls wall tilting and collapse VI+
Collapsed walls wall tilting and collapse VIII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimated the same Intensity (VIII–IX) for 4 seismic events (~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake, 7th century Earthquake, 7th - 8th century Earthquake, and Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times) and the same direction of the epicenter (ESE).
There are few measurements of tilted and fallen walls, small remnants of which are still projected above the surface (fig. 9 9 ). Generally these walls tilted or collapsed toward ESE (fig. 23 ).

The degree of destruction at all the studied cities of the Negev desert (Avdat, Haluza, Mamshit, Rehovot-ba-Negev and Shivta) is similar (fig. 1 ). In order to produce such deformations, the local seismic intensity would have had to be I > VIII. In our previous papers we came to the conclusion that most of these deformations were caused by the local faults which dissect the Negev, and not the Dead Sea Transform. If it would be the case of the Dead Sea Transform, the degree of deformations would decreased from Mamshit in the east (maximum) to Rehovot-ba-Negev in the west. However, the degree of seismic deformation is not damping westward.

Recent geological research has revealed the existence of a strike-slip fault, the Saadon fault next to the site of Saadon, and close to Rehovot-ba-Negev. A dry river Nahal Saadon follows the strike of the fault and is incised into the chalk layers of the uplifted geological block. The fault strikes N65 degrees W, dipping steeply to the northeast, and is between 0.5–1.0 km of long, with a vertical displacement of 2–3 m citation. This fault, as well as other adjacent faults (Sde-Boker, Nafha, Ramon, Paran faults), could be the source of the seismic oscillations which destroyed Rehovot ba-Negev as well as other adjacent ancient desert cities.

Thus our archaeoseismological study of the ruins at ancient Rehovot-ba-Negev has revealed numerous features of seismic destructions, which testify to at least four earthquakes that affected the ancient town. The seismic intensities of these ancient seismic events were in the range of I = VIII–IX. This data confirms similar results in the adjacent ancient cities of the Negev desert – Avdat, Haluza, Mamshit and Shivta.
Notes and Further Reading

Tsafrir, Y. (1988). "EXCAVATIONS AT REHOVOT-IN-THE-NEGEV: Volume I: The Northern Church." Qedem 25: III-209.

Korzhenkov, A. M. and E. Mazor (2014). "Archaeoseismological damage patterns at the ancient ruins at Rehovot-ba-Negev, Israel." Archaeologischer Anzeiger: 75–92-75–92.

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.

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence is summarized below:

Location Status Intensity Notes
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a n/a
En Feshka possible 8-9 2 cm. thick Type 4 seismite
En Gedi possible 8-9 0.7 cm. thick Type 4 seismite
Nahal Ze 'elim possible 8-9.5 2 candidates
17 cm. thick Type 4 seismite
5 cm. thick Type 4 seismite
Arava n/a n/a n/a
Taybeh Trench possible Event E3 - 551 CE +/- 264
Qatar Trench possible Event E6 - 251 CE +/- 251


.

Dead Sea

Seismite Types

Seismite Types of Wetzler et al (2010) are used in Intensity Estimates. Seismite Types from Kagan et al (2011) were converted to those of Wetzler et al (2010) to estimate Intensity.

Seismite Types (Wetzler et al, 2010)
Type Description
1 Linear waves
2 Asymmetric Billows
3 Coherent vortices
4 Breccia
Seismite Types (Kagan et al, 2011)
Type
(Kagan)
Type
(Wetzler)
Description
A 4 Intraclast breccia layer
B 4 Microbreccia
C 4 Liquefied sand layer within brecciated clay and aragonite
D 1, 2, or 3 Folded laminae
E 1 Small Fault millimeter -scale throw
En Feshka
The seismite at a depth of 210 cm. is a good candidate.



Image Description Source
Age Model Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model Kagan et al (2010)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2010)
En Gedi (DSEn)
The seismite at a depth of 2.29 m is a good candidate.



En Gedi Core dating ambiguities

The En Gedi Core (DsEn) suffered from a limited amount of dateable material and the radiocarbon dates for the core are insufficiently sampled in depth to produce an age-depth model that is sufficiently reliable for detailed historical earthquake work in the Dead Sea. Migowski (2001) counted laminae in the core to create a floating varve chronology for depths between 0.78 and 3.02 m which was eventually translated into a year by year chronology from 140 BCE to 1458 CE. The seismites in the "counted interval" were compared to dates in Earthquake Catalogs [Ambraseys et al (1994), Amiran et al (1994), Guidoboni et al (1994), Ben-Menahem (1991), and Russell (1985)]. Relatively minor additional input was also derived from other studies in the region which likely relied on similar catalogs. Some of these catalogs contain errors and a critical examination of where the dates and locations of historical earthquakes reported in these catalogs came from was not undertaken. Migowski (2001) shifted the dates from the under-sampled radiocarbon derived age-depth model to make the floating varve chronology in the "counted interval" match dates from the earthquake catalogs. Without the shift, the dates did not match. This shift was shown in Migowski (2001)'s dissertation and mostly varies from ~200-~300 years. The "counted interval" dates are ~200-~300 years younger than the radiocarbon dates. Some of Migowski's shift was justified. Ken-Tor et al (2001) estimated ~40 years for plant remains to die (and start the radiocarbon clock) and reach final deposition in Nahal Ze'elim. This could be a bit longer in the deep water En Gedi site but 5 to 7.5 times longer (200-300 years) seems excessive. Although uncritical use of Earthquake catalogs by Migowski (2001) and Migowski et al (2004) led to a number of incorrectly dated seismites , the major "anchor" earthquakes (e.g. 31 BC, 1212 CE) seem to be correct.

Neugebauer (2015) and Neugebauer at al (2015) recounted laminae from 2.1 - 4.35 meters in the En Gedi Core (DsEn) while also making a stratigraphic correlation to ICDP Core 5017-1. Nine 14C dates were used from 1.58-6.12 m but samples KIA9123 (inside the Late Bronze Beach Ridge) and KIA1160 (the 1st sample below the Late Bronze Beach Ridge) were discarded as outliers. These two samples gave dates ~400 years older than what was expected for the Late Bronze Beach Ridge - a date which is fairly well constrained from other studies in the Dead Sea. This left 7 samples distributed over ~4.5 m - an average of 1 sample every 0.65 meters - not a lot. Their DSEn varve count, anchored to an age-depth model derived from these 7 samples, produced an average shift of ~300 years compared to Migowski et al (2004)'s chronology (i.e. it is ~300 years older). Although two well dated earthquakes were available to use as time markers (the Josephus Quake of 31 BCE and the Amos Quake(s) of ~750 BCE), they chose not to use earthquakes as chronological anchors (Ina Neugebauer personal communication, 2015). Instead, they used the Late Bronze Age Beach Ridge as evidenced by discarding the two radiocarbon samples. Using the Beach Ridge was likely a good decision as beach ridges can tend to accumulate recycled remains ( Kagan et al, 2015:242) and the Late Bronze Age Beach ridge is well dated. Their newly counted chronology produced a paleoclimate reconstruction that aligned fairly well with data from other locations. Although paleoclimate proxies are not necessarily synchronous and suffer from greater chronological uncertainty than, for example, well dated earthquakes, the problem with their recount for our purposes does not lie with their relatively good fit to other site's paleoclimate proxies. That is probably approximately correct. The problem is they calibrated their count to the bottom of their counted interval (Late Bronze Age Beach Ridge) but did not have a calibration marker for the top.

In the En Gedi core (DSEn), the Late Bronze Age Beach Ridge (Unit II) is found from depths 4.35 to 4.55 m. It's top coincides with the bottom of the recounted interval - far away from the overlap (2.1 - 3.02 m) with Migowski's counted interval. Thus, if there were any problems with the recounted dates (e.g. hiatuses or accumulating systemic errors) as one moved to the top of the recounted interval, they would go unnoticed. Varve counts in the overlapped interval were fairly similar - 583 according to Migowski (2001) vs. 518 according to Neugebauer et al (2015). There wasn't a major discrepancy in terms of varve count interpretation. But, the lack of a calibration point near the top of the recounted interval leaves one wondering if the recounted dates in the overlap are accurate and why Migowski's pre-shifted chronology doesn't correlate well with the reliable parts of the earthquake record.

Neugebauer at al (2015:5) counted 1351 varves with an uncertainty of 7.5% (Neugebauer at al, 2015:8). That's 100 varves by the time one gets to the top of the recounted interval away from the Late Bronze Age Beach Ridge calibration point. The Beach Ridge itself likely has an uncertainty of +/- 75 years. Add the two together and the uncertainty approaches Migowski's shift. In addition, roughly 15% of the recounted interval went through intraclast breccias (seismites) where the varves were uncountable and the varve count was interpolated with a questionable multiplication factor of 1.61 applied to the interpolated varve count (Neugebauer at al, 2015:5). Migowski et al (2004) also interpolated through the intraclast breccias however in her case she used the interpolation to line up with events out of the Earthquake catalogs.

Unfortunately, Neugebauer at al (2015)'s study did not resolve the uncertainties associated with Migowski's varve counts. Both studies lack a robust calibration over the entire depth interval. Dead Sea laminae are difficult to count. They are not nearly as "well-behaved" as they are in the older Lisan formation or in Glacial varves. This was illustrated by Lopez-Merino et al (2016). Their study, which used seasonal palynology to ground truth varve counts, showed that between 1 and 5 laminae couplets (ie varves) could be deposited in a year. This study, undertaken in Nahal Ze'elim, represents a worst case scenario. It is essentially impossible to count varves in Nahal Ze 'elim because the site receives too much fluvial deposition which muddies up the varve count (pun intended) compared to the deeper water site of En Gedi. While the conclusions from Lopez-Merino et al (2016) cannot be generalized to the entire Dead Sea, it does point out that Holocene Dead Sea varve counts need to be calibrated to be used in Historical Earthquake studies. The calibration can come through anchor events such as strong earthquakes and/or clearly defined and dated paleoclimate events, seasonal palynology work (determining the season each laminae was deposited in), or dense radiocarbon dating - much denser than what is available from the En Gedi core (DESn). There may also be geochemical ways to calibrate varve counts.

In 2018, Jefferson Williams collected ~55 samples of dateable material from an erosional gully in En Gedi (aka the En Gedi Trench) located ~40 m from where the En Gedi Core (DsEn) was taken. This erosional gully was not present when the En Gedi core was taken. It developed afterwards due to the steady drop in the level of the Dead Sea which has lowered base levels and creates continually deeper erosional features on the lake margins. Due to cost, these samples have not yet been dated but lab analysis of this material should resolve dating ambiguities in En Gedi. The samples are well distributed in depth (68 - 303 cm. deep) and can be viewed here in the Outcrop Library. Radiocarbon from the En Gedi Core can be viewed here. In the Google sheets presented on the radiocarbon page for the En Gedi Core, Neugebauer's radiocarbon samples and a reconciliation table can be viewed by clicking on the tab labeled Nueg15.

En Gedi Core (DSEn)
Image Description Source
Floating Varve Chronology and Radiocarbon dates Migowski et al (2004)
Floating Varve Chronology and Radiocarbon dates -large Migowski et al (2004)
Migowski's Date shift Migowski (2001)
Recounted Age-depth plot Neugebauer at al (2015)
Recounted Age-depth plot - large Neugebauer at al (2015)
Correlated Age-depth plots of DSEn and ICDP 5017-1 Neugebauer at al (2015)
Comparison of paleoclimate proxies from DSEn to other sites Neugebauer at al (2015)
Core correlation - DSEn to ICDP 5017-1 Neugebauer at al (2015)
Core correlation - DSEn to ICDP 5017-1 -big Neugebauer at al (2015)
Nahal Ze 'elim (ZA-2)
The seismite at a depth of 315 cm. is a potential candidate as is the seismite at a depth of 342 cm.



ZA-2
Image Description Source
Age Model Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model with annotated dates Kagan (2011)
Age Model with annotated dates - big Kagan (2011)
Annotated Photo of ZA-3
ZA-3 = N wall of gully
ZA-2 = S wall of same gully
Kagan et al (2015)

Arava

On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312).
Taybeh Trench
Event E3 is a possibility

Taybeh Trench Earthquakes
Figure S5

Computed age model from OxCal v4.26 for the seismic events recorded in the trench.

LeFevre et al. (2018)


Image Description Source
Age Model Lefevre et al (2018)
Age Model - big Lefevre et al (2018)
Trench Log Lefevre et al (2018)
Annotated Trench photomosaic Lefevre et al (2018)
Stratigraphic Column Lefevre et al (2018)
Stratigraphic Column - big Lefevre et al (2018)
Qatar Trench
Event E6 is a possibility.



Image Description Source
Age Model Klinger et al (2015)
Age Model - big Klinger et al (2015)
Trench Log Klinger et al (2015)
Simplified Trench Log Klinger et al (2015)

Notes

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References

Negev, A., The cathedral of Elusa and the new typology and chronology of the Byzantine churches in the Negev, Liber Annus 39 (1989) 129-142.

Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2019)