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Sabbatical Year Quakes

~16-18 January 749 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

Introduction & Summary

These earthquakes are a beautiful conundrum but there is a possible solution. For those unfamiliar with these earthquakes, our conundrum is that we have roughly a couple dozen sources producing divergent dates for one or more earthquakes between the years of ~746 and ~750 CE. Although the dates are divergent, careful examination of the textual evidence combined with some archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an allows one to parse out a coherent narrative for this piece of seismic history. The narrative will now be explained. The first earthquake struck the southern Levant on the night of 17 January 749 CE. The second earthquake struck what is modern day Syria around 10 am on 18 January 749 CE. The short amount of time between the two earthquakes contributed to the chronological confusion present in the sources and led many of the time to conclude that there was one great earthquake which shook the Middle East from Gaza to Mesopotamia. Significant aftershocks may have continued for up to a year. What is presented below is one possible solution :

  1. The damage reported, from Gaza to Mesopotamia, is too large for one of the segmented faults of the Dead Sea transform to produce. There has to have been more than one earthquake.

  2. The Dead Sea Transform is known to produce couplets - pairs of earthquakes closely spaced in time. Notable examples include the Amos Quakes of the mid 8th century BCE (a few decades apart), the 1202 and 1212 CE earthquakes, the Baalebek Quakes of 1759 CE (less than a month apart), and the Cyril Quakes which struck within about ~6 hours of each other.

  3. What we have is, at a minimum, two earthquakes. One of them struck, relieved stress on the fault, and transferred that stress to other segments. The added stress caused another segment to break

  4. Our earliest reports come from three Byzantine authors (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes) , one Syriac author (Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre), and apparent eyewitness testimony from Egypt (al-Muqaffa). These authors didn't necessarily get everything right but they are the place to look for information about these earthquakes before textual transmission muddled the story.

  5. The three earliest Byzantine authors (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes) all report two earthquakes which they define geographically. I label these earthquakes by names rather than dates so that we don't participate in their chronological confusion.

  6. The Holy Desert Quake is described as striking along the Jordan River. This indicates that part of the Jordan Valley fault likely broke during this earthquake. At the end of the Byzantine Holy Desert Quake accounts, most of the authors say that damage was worst in the desert outside the Holy City where the Holy City refers to Jerusalem.

  7. The Talking Mule Quake struck what is modern day Syria. It is called the Talking Mule Quake because at the end of the story, the authors tell the story of a Talking Mule that emerged from an earthquake induced earth fissure in Mesopotamia and spoke prophecy. Obviously, we can't take this part of the story literally but it is a memorable name which provides some insight into the mindsets of the authors (Note: Seemingly all of the authors from all of the sources held some sort of ecclesiastical position in their respective religion).

  8. The three earliest Byzantine authors writing in far off Constantinople and Italy must have based their account on a local source(s). The textual similarities in all the Byzantine accounts strongly suggests that they predominantly relied on a shared source or each other. The source is matter of conjecture but an important point is that the local source may have used the A.G. Calendar to report the dates of the earthquakes and the three early Byzantine authors converted these dates into their own chronology - usually the A.M.a calendar. They may have made mistakes during this conversion and/or their source(s) may have made chronological mistakes regarding the year(s) of these earthquakes which led these three authors to report the earthquakes too early. A clear example of their chronological confusion comes from the time between the two earthquakes. Theophanes and Paul the Deacon place 3 years between the Holy Desert Quake and the Talking Mule Quake while Anastasius Bibliothecarius separates these two earthquakes by only a year. Textual analysis of Anastasius Bibliothecarius suggests he copied his account from an earlier and more reliable version of Theophanes that we don't have access to. The main point to take away is that the years of the three earliest Byzantine authors are questionable.

  9. A rare find of chronologically precise archeoseismic evidence allows us to establish a terminus post quem for the Holy Desert earthquake. In Bet She'an, which lies at the intersection of the Yizreel and Jordan Valleys, a coin hoard was found beneath mid 8th century earthquake induced rubble. The latest coin is in near mint condition and dates to A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE).

  10. The Byzantine sources fairly consistently report that the Holy Desert Quake struck in January. Many specify 18 January. They were a day off but this is an important date to remember.

  11. al-Muqaffa presents eyewitness testimony from the night of 17 January (21 Tuba in the Coptic Calendar) when an earthquake struck the Palestinian littoral. Geographical considerations identify this as the Holy Desert Quake. The Coptic source al-Makin also reports the Holy Desert Quake on 21 Tuba.

  12. Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre who appears to be our earliest source and a contemporaneous one reports a tremor felt in the Syrian town of Mabbug from a distant earthquake the night before the Talking Mule Quake. The nighttime tremor came from the Holy Desert Quake. He reports that the Talking Mule Quake struck the next morning at the end of what appears to be an impromptu morning prayer service. We could guess that the Talking Mule earthquake likely struck around mid morning.

  13. Several Byzantine sources report a 10 am earthquake (the 4th hour) on 18 January which they attribute to the Holy Desert Quake. However, from al-Muqaffa we know that the Holy Desert Quake struck on the night of 17 January. It was the Talking Mule Quake that struck at 10 am on 18 January. This agrees with the mid morning Syrian earthquake reported by Pseudo-Dionysius. The 10 am timing from the Byzantine sources indicates that the primary Byzantine source described events from Syria as that would have been the timing when they experienced the Talking Mule Quake and conflated it with the Holy Desert Quake. This makes sense as the seismic effects described by the Byzantine sources for the Talking Mule Quake are richer and more detailed than the seismic effects described for the Holy Desert Quake.

  14. Judaic sources supply a date of 23 Shevat for the Holy Desert Quake which suggests the year 749 CE for the Holy Desert Quake. As the Jewish day begins at sundown, 23 Shevat (Hebrew Calendar) ran from about 6 pm 17 January in 749 CE until about 6 pm 18 January in 749 CE. The coincidence of 23 Shevat with 17/18 January only occurs in 749 CE. It does not, for example, occur in 748 or 750 CE. Thus, according to Jewish sources the Holy Desert Earthquake struck on 23 Shevat which was in the evening of 17 January 749 CE.

  15. One very late Muslim source (Mujir al-Din) purports to record eyewitness testimony. If this reported eyewitness testimony is accurate, the main shock for the Holy Desert Quake on 17 January struck at ~7 pm and was preceded by two powerful foreshocks around 3 pm and 6 pm. The Talking Mule Quake struck the next day around mid morning according to Pseudo-Dionysius and around 10 am (the fourth hour) according to the Byzantine sources. Mid morning and the fourth hour are broadly equivalent.

  16. To summarize - The Holy Desert Quake struck the southern Levant on the night of 17 January 749 CE possibly around 7 pm and was possibly preceded by two foreshocks in the afternoon. The Talking Mule Quake struck Syria around 10 am on 18 January 749 CE. Most who lived in the region thought this was one large earthquake rather than two separate earthquakes on two separate fault segments. Aftershocks probably lasted up to a year and it is possible that another not particularly well documented earthquake struck up to about a year before the Holy Desert Quake and the Talking Mule Quake thus explaining the persistence of the A.H. 130 date in the Muslim sources (see below).

This narrative is built on several pieces of evidence and emphasizes the earliest sources and sources which appear to present reliable eyewitness testimony written in the first person (e.g. al-Muqaffa). I paid particular attention to the time of day these earliest sources present. This is partly based on personal experience. In 1994, I spent ~20 seconds not knowing whether I would live or die as the 1994 Northridge Quake shook the building I was living in in Los Angeles, California. I have a vivid memory of those ~20 seconds as well as the time of day that the earthquake struck - about an hour to an hour and a half before sunrise. I may have to look up the month and year of that earthquake but the time of day is something I will hold onto until the day I die. It is seared into my memory. This is not unique to me. People who live through such disasters remember the time and place they were when they experienced the event long after the event has passed. It is a useful clue.

The Muslim sources are one apparently contradictory piece of evidence to this narrative. Although many of the Muslim sources present a chain of witnesses (following a Hadith tradition), the ones which mention a year were written late - very late - from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Most speak of a tradition of an earthquake in A.H. 130 (11 September 747 - 30 August 748) and most concentrate on damage to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, the numismatic evidence from Bet She'an shows that the earthquake which struck Jerusalem (the Holy Desert Quake) and likely broke at least part of the Jordan Valley Fault happened in A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749) or later. In fact, if the Holy Desert Quake struck on the night of 17 January 749 CE, it struck in A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749). A few muslim sources (As-Soyuti, Ibn Tagri Birdi, and possibly al-Jawzi) mention earthquakes in A.H. 130 and A.H. 131. As-Soyuti's A.H. 130 and A.H. 131 earthquake descriptions sound so similar that one wonders if he wasn't repeating the same earthquake twice but with two different years. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232) state that Tagri Birdi's chronicle dates the earthquake to A.H. 130 but that in the same section, Tagri Birdi adds that there existed another, less common, tradition according to which the earthquake occurred in A.H. 131. If this is the case, we might have an explanation for the preponderance of A.H. 130 dates in the Muslim tradition - their earlier sources were confused about the year of the earthquake. It is possible that a smaller localized earthquake struck in A.H. 130 and this earthquake got conflated with the Holy Desert and/or Talking Mule Quakes of A.H. 131.

Unfortunately, my proposed solution is not infallible. Two of the four Syriac authors (Pseudo Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234) date the Syrian Talking Mule Quake to A.G. 1059. With Babylonian reckoning, this dates to 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE however if one uses the Macedonian reckoning that was the standard for Syriac authors of this time (Sebastian Brock, personal communication 2021), the date becomes 1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE. The Babylonian reckoning allows for a 17/18 January 749 CE date while the Macedonian reckoning does not. If the two Syriac authors were using the Macedonian reckoning and reporting their years accurately, this may suggest that the Talking Mule Quake preceded a 17/18 January 749 CE Holy Desert Quake by up to about a year. However, one Syriac author - Elias of Nisibis - our second account - early 11th century - dates the Talking Mule Quake to A.H. 131 (31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE). This does entertain the possibility that two earthquakes struck on 17/18 January 749 CE. The Syriac author Michael the Syrian did not supply a date and exhibited confused chronology in his account.

Thus, while we have the striking coincidence of 3 dates from three different independent traditions (18 January - Byzantine, 23 Shevat - Judaic, and 21 Tuba - Coptic) which can be parsed into a coherent narrative of earthquakes on the night of 17 January and the morning of 18 January 749 CE, other possibilities have not been eliminated and the only thing we can say with certainty is that two earthquakes struck the region between 746 and 750 CE, the archeoseismic evidence from Bet She'an shows that the Holy Desert Quake struck no earlier than 31 August 748 CE (the start of A.H. 131), and there might have even been a third smaller earthquake which is not well documented.

Intensity Estimates

Intensity Estimates

Textual Evidence

Section
Master Chronology Tables - Textual Evidence
Master Seismic Effects Tables - Textual Evidence
Byzantine Writers
Syriac Writers
Christian Writers in Arabic
Judaic Texts
Samaritan Sources
Muslim Writers

Master Chronology Tables - Textual Evidence

Master Chronology Table - Time of Day

Date of Composition Author Holy Desert Quake Talking Mule Quake Notes
775 CE Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre the night before the Talking Mule Quake mid morning
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon 10 am not specified Byzantine authors likely specified the time when the Talking Mule Quake struck rather than the Holy Desert Quake
9th century CE Anastasius Bibliothecarius 10 am not specified Byzantine authors likely specified the time when the Talking Mule Quake struck rather than the Holy Desert Quake
810-815 CE Theophanes 10 am not specified Byzantine authors likely specified the time when the Talking Mule Quake struck rather than the Holy Desert Quake
11th century al-Muqaffa night time not reported copied from earlier biography - first person testimony
9-11th century Ra'ash Shvi'it night time not reported dark chaos in Tiberius may refer to a nighttime earthquake
ca. 1495 CE Mujir al-Din ~7 pm not reported first person testimony presented - Holy Desert Quake preceded by foreshocks at ~3 pm and ~6 pm

Master Chronology Table - Dates

Date of Composition Author Holy Desert Quake Talking Mule Quake Notes
775 CE Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre not reported 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE or 1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE 1059 A.G.
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon 18 June 746 - 17 June 747 CE 25 March 749 - 31 Aug. 750 CE no corrections applied
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon 18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE 18 June 749 - 24 March 752 CE corrections applied
9th century CE Anastasius Bibliothecarius 18 June 746 - 24 March 749 CE 18 June 747 - 24 March 750 CE corrections applied
810-815 CE Theophanes 18 June 746 - 24 March 749 CE 1 January 749 - 24 March 752 CE corrections applied - outliers removed
Early 9th century CE Nicephoros not reported 1 Jan. 749 - 31 Dec. 750 CE no corrections - around the time of the birth of Leo
Mid 9th century CE (estimate) Megas Chronographos 1 Jan. 746 - 31 Dec. 747 CE not reported no corrections - date range solely based on plague
9th - 11th century Judaic Texts 17/18 January 749 CE not reported 23rd Shvat for day and month, Year from coincidence of 23 Shevat with 17/18 January 749 CE. Year also interpreted from text via Gematria and speculation about Sabbatical Year calculations for this period of time.
Early 11th Century Elias of Nisibis not reported 31 August 748 - 19 August 749 A.H. 131 for Talking Mule Quake
Early 14th century CE al-Dhahabi 4 May - 2 June 748 CE not reported Ramadan A.H. 130 for Holy Desert Quake
1351 CE Jamal ad Din Ahmad 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 not reported A.H. 130 for Holy Desert Quake
15th century CE Ibn Tagri Birdi 11 Sept. 747 - 19 Aug. 749 CE not reported A.H. 130 or A.H. 131 for Holy Desert Quake
15th century CE As-Soyuti not reported 11 Sept. 747 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 130 for Talking Mule Quake, A.H. 131 for Talking Mule Quake Quake

Master Seismic Effects Tables - Textual Evidence

Holy Desert Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Palestine Earthquake - many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus, Minor Chronicles
By the Jordan Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus
All of Syria Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus could represent conflation with the Talking Mule Quake
Desert outside Jerusalem Churches and Monasteries collapsed Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus Megas Chronographos did not supply a location where the churches and monasteries collapsed.
Wilderness of Saba Village Swallowed Cedrenus
Various Places Many Earthquakes Cedrenus Cedrenus is echoing Luke 21:11. Elias of Nisibis in discussing Talking Mule Quake also says this was a year of many earthquakes. See also Master Seismic Effects Table for the Talking Mule Quake and the row for aftershocks.
Unspecified Many homes destroyed by an earthquake Zonaras, al-Muqaffa, al-Makin, Agapius of Menbij Zonaras - many homes and churches were destroyed
al-Muqaffa - 600 cities and villages affected, many houses ruined in all the cities
al-Makin - 100 or 600 cities damaged or destroyed
Agapius of Menbij - many places devastated
Jericho Spring moved Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum Paul the Deacon and Anastasius Bibliothecarius do not specify a location and associate this movement with Talking Mule Quake. Michael the Syrian locates the spring in Jericho. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 locates this in Jericho but says the spring stayed put and the nearby river moved 6 miles.
Coastal Palestine Tsunami destroyed many villages on the coast Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, al-Muqaffa, al-Makin, Judaic Texts Some tsunami reports could really be describing the Dead Sea and/or the Sea of Galilee rather than coastal Palestine however al-Muqaffa and al-Makin, reporting from Egypt, said many ships sank which suggests a coastal tsunami. Final conclusion is there probably was a tsunami that struck coastal Palestine and there may have also been destructive seiches in the Dead Sea and/or the Sea of Galilee.
Coastal Palestine Earthquake on the the coast - many places devastated, many died Agapius of Menbij
Moab (N Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee) fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 both refer to a fortress in Moab inhabited by Yemenite Arabs who Michael the Syrian specifically refers to as the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe. Ambraseys (2009) suggests the possibility that this account of the destruction of a fortress in Moab where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived may refer to a possible earthquake in Yemen in 742 CE (see Ambraseys et al, 1994:25-26).
Jerusalem many houses collapsed or destruction al-Dhahabi, Ibn Tagri Birdi, Mujir al-Din
al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem damaged al-Maqdisi, al-Dhahabi, Jamal ad Din Ahmad, Mujir al-Din
Tiberias destroyed Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, Agapius of Menbij, Judaic Texts
Egypt felt only but Damietta suffered damage al-Muqaffa


Talking Mule Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Syria Earthquake, Destruction, and Death Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities partially destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Unspecified or Mount Tabor Translational Landslide Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus, Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Byzantine Authors do not locate landslide and by implication locate it in Syria. Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 locate the landslide on Mount Tabor possibly for literary/theological reasons indicating that they may have mis-located it. If this landslide did occur on Mount Tabor, it would have been a seismic effect of the Holy Desert Quake.
Mesopotamia Earth Fissure and Sand Boils Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus, Glycas Glycas does not mention the sand boils.
PGA of sand boils estimated at 0.2 - 0.5 g according to Fig. 9 of Obermeier (1996). PGA = 0.2 - 0.5 g equates to I = 6.7 - 8.2 using transform of Wald et al (1999).
Damascus earthquake with aftershocks for days Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, al-Soyuti al-Soyuti mentions earthquakes experienced in Damascus in A.H. 130 and A.H. 131. In the A.H. 130 earthquake, he mentions damage to the Dajaj suq (poultry market), collapsed buildings and ruins leading to deaths, people being forced to leave town, and a delay of several days in digging the ruins to retrieve victims which implies continuing aftershocks. In the A.H. 131 earthquake, he mentions multiple shocks and damage to a mosque. Abu l’Fath (Samaritan - see Notes), not specifying which quake (but probably Holy Desert Quake), states that Those who survived it stayed out in the open for many days while the earth was still shaking underneath them. Michael the Syrian states that there was an earthquake at Damascus which lasted for days and shook her like leaves on trees. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 similarly states that there was an earthquake at Damascus and in the whole surrounding area, which lasted for days, and in which the area trembled and was shaken. Elias of Nisibis states that it was a year in which there were many earthquakes. Ibn Tagri Birdi states In that year, there was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem. The sons of Shaddad ibn Aws (in Jerusalem ?) died there. The inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert, where they stayed for forty days. It is said to have happened in the year 131.
Beit Qubayeh fortress overthrown - deaths Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 This could be a seismic effect for Holy Desert Quake or Talking Mule Quake depending on the fortress' location. Hoyland (2011:270-273) notes that Muslim sources know of a place called the palace (qasr) of Hajjaj, that was just outside Damascus, in view of the Jabiya gate (e.g. Dhahabi. 9.286: Yaqut. `Qasr Hajjaj' ). but this may not be what is meant. Ambraseys (2005:124,footnote 20) states The location of Beit Qoubaya is uncertain. There is a site in northern Lebanon called al-Qubayyat (35.57°N, 36.29°E) (see Dussaud, 1927. 90, 94-95) southwest of Homs. However, damage to Homs, an important urban centre, is not mentioned.
Ghautah and Dareya many died Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Bosrah and Nawa entirely swallowed up or razed to their foundations Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Daraat entirely swallowed up Michael the Syrian Sbeinati et al (2005) locate this as the modern Syrian town of Daraa
Ba'albek much of it collapsed, spring "turned to blood" Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Mabbug destruction everywhere - Church and Walls collapsed Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Elias of Nisibis only mention church collapse.
Unspecified Aftershocks Elias of Nisibis a year of many earthquakes
Unspecified Many places ruined Elias of Nisibis

Byzantine Accounts - Christian Writers in Greek and Latin

Section
Damage Reports
Introduction and Discussion
Paul the Deacon
Anastasius Bibliothecarius
Theophanes
Nicephorus
Georgius Monachus
Megas Chronographos
George Cedrenus
Minor Chronicles
Joannes Zonaras
Michael Glycas
Damage Reports - Byzantine
Holy Desert Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Palestine Earthquake - many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus, Minor Chronicles
By the Jordan Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus
All of Syria Earthquake, many died Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus
Desert outside Jerusalem Churches and Monasteries collapsed Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Megas Chronographos, Cedrenus Megas Chronographos did not supply a location where the churches and monasteries collapsed.
Wilderness of Saba Village Swallowed Cedrenus
Various Places Many Earthquakes Cedrenus Cedrenus is echoing Luke 21:11
Unspecified Many homes destroyed by an earthquake Zonaras


Talking Mule Quake

Location Description Sources Comments
Syria Earthquake, Destruction, and Death Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Syria Some cities partially destroyed Theophanes, Nicephorus, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Unspecified Spring moved ? Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius
Unspecified Translational Landslide Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus
Mesopotamia Earth Fissure and Sand Boils Theophanes, Paul the Deacon, Nicephorus, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Georgius Monachus, Cedrenus, Glycas Glycas does not mention the sand boils


Introduction and Discussion - Byzantine
Was there one earthquake or two ?

The earliest Byzantine authors report two earthquakes - one which struck in the vicinity of the Jordan Valley and another which struck further north in Syria. The damage reports from all the sources (Byzantine and otherwise) also suggest two earthquakes. The region simply seems seismically incapable of of producing a single earthquake which would create damage over such a wide geographic area (Gaza to Mesopotamia).

Order of composition

Due to the chronological confusion present in the various earthquake accounts (Byzantine and otherwise), I am going to refer to the two earthquakes described in the earliest accounts by names rather than dates. The first earthquake described by the Byzantine sources is the Holy Desert Quake. The second is the Talking Mule Quake. The Byzantine accounts are presented in chronological order as shown in the table below. There is a trend where earliest Byzantine accounts mention two earthquakes and later accounts, with the exception of Cedrenus, mention only one. You may notice that Anastasius Bibliothecarius is second before Theophanes even though his date of composition is after Theophanes. This is because textual analysis suggests that he copied his account from an older and more reliable version of Theophanes that we don't have access to. It is effectively an older Theophanes.

Date of Composition Author Holy Desert Quake Talking Mule Quake Notes
End of the 8th century Paul the Deacon yes yes
9th century CE Anastasius Bibliothecarius yes yes Anastasius copied from an earlier version of Theophanes
810-815 CE Theophanes yes yes
Early 9th century CE Nicephorus no yes
9th century CE Georgius Monachus no yes
Mid 9th century CE (estimate) Megas Chronographos yes no
1050's CE Cedrenus yes yes
? Minor Chronicles yes no
12th century CE Zonaras yes no
12th century CE Glycas no1 yes

Chronological Ambiguities and Corrections

Calendars are important in understanding and deciphering the textual evidence. Several of the Byzantine sources used the Anno Mundi (A.M.) calendar. This calendar is based on the Julian calendar however the year does not begin on 1 January and the starting day, month, and year of this calendar was a point of contention as it was based on an estimate for the start of "creation" (among other things) as interpreted through the Septuagint - a Greek translation of the Old Testament. An ongoing several hundred year long theological debate over when Biblical "creation" began led to multiple versions of the A.M. calendar. The earlier Byzantine sources used the Alexandrian version (A.M.a) of this calendar which has a starting date of 25 March 5492 BCE or 25 March 5493 BCE. I will follow Guidoboni et al (1994) and Ambraseys (2009) and assume that the starting date for the Alexandrian version was 25 March 5492 BCE - which is the starting date for what is commonly called the Alexandrian era (Grumel, 1958:219). Megas Chronographos, a later source, used the Byzantine version (A.M.Byz) with a starting date of 1 September 5509 BCE ( Bickerman, 1980:73-74).

In addition to A.M. ambiguities, there is the problem of calendaric conversion. The similarity of the Byzantine authors' earthquake descriptions suggests that they came from a similar source(s) - possibly a Melkite Chronicle which was either written in or translated to Greek (Karcz (2004), citing Brooks (1906:587), Proudfoot (1974), and Mango and Scott (1997)), the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa ( Hoyland, 2011:7-10), or some other source from the region where the earthquakes struck. It appears likely that the Calendar that was used by this source was the A.G. calendar - also known as the Seleucid Era. This is the Calendar that was was used by the Syriac sources. The A.G. calendar was apparently in widespread use by the writers in the region where the earthquakes struck and this calendar has two different starting dates. In what is known as the Macedonian reckoning, the A.G. calendar starts in the Autumn 312 BCE with a starting date that eventually got fixed to 1 October 312 BCE. In the Babylonian reckoning, the starting date of the calendar is 2 April 311 BCE. The Syriac writing authors would have likely used the Macedonian reckoning as this was the standard usage among these authors for the Seleucid era (Sebastian Brock, personal communication, 2021). This leads to several questions.

  • Did the hypothesized source report dates in the A.G. calendar ?
  • Were the A.G. dates in this source reported using Macedonian reckoning or Babylonian reckoning ?
  • Did the Greek speaking sources convert the year using Macedonian reckoning or Babylonian reckoning ?
There are no firm answers to these questions however two situations can be considered. The first is that the hypothesized source reported A.G. dates using Macedonian reckoning and the Greek speaking Byzantine writers converted A.G. dates to A.M. dates using Macedonian reckoning which would be the standard way a native Greek speaker would translate that calendar. In this situation, no error would be introduced. If, however, the source reported dates using the A.G. calendar with Babylonian reckoning and the Greek speaking sources converted A.G. dates to A.M. dates using Macedonian reckoning, a one year error in the date would be introduced.

Then there is yet another dating ambiguity. Historical scholars (e.g. Proudfoot, 1974:373-374, Grumel, 1934:407, and others) have noted that Theophanes A.M.a in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265 are a year too low. One of these problematic A.M.a spans encompasses the years in which the earthquakes are reported. The Byzantine sources in general appear to report A.M.'s that are low compared to other sources (e.g. Syriac and Muslim)

To represent the full range of possibilities in which these earthquakes are reported, I have created two "corrections" which I've labeled as the "Babylonian consideration" and the "Theophanes correction". These are explained below:
  • The Babylonian consideration is a method to add one year from Theophanes (and derivative accounts) original A.M.a and produce an additional second higher A.M.a. This is done to consider the possibility that A.G. years were converted using the Macedonian reckoning when the Babylonian reckoning should have been used instead. For example, Theophanes' year for the Holy Desert Quake is A.M.a 6238. After using the Babylonian consideration, we have two A.M.a's - 6238 and 6239.
  • The Theophanes correction is the widely used method of adding a year to Theophanes A.M.a date for the periods of A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265. The Theophanes correction is applied to both the A.M.a specified in the Byzantine text and the A.M.a that is one year higher after a Babylonian consideration is applied. For example, for the Holy Desert Quake, we have A.M.a 6238 and 6239 after the Babylonian consideration is applied. The Theophanes correction is then applied to both years leading to A.M.a 6239 and A.M.a 6240. These two A.M.a dates are then converted to Julian calendar.
These two corrections are applied while deriving a Julian date from the A.M.a of Theophanes and Anastasius Bibliothecarius who is believed to have compiled his account from an earlier and more reliable but lost version of Theophanes. No corrections are applied to other Byzantine sources although corrected and uncorrected dates are presented for Paul the Deacon. The Babylonian consideration is also applied to the indiction since if Theophanes made a bad A.G. to A.M.a conversion, he would also have made a bad A.G. to indiction conversion. Despite Proudfoot (1974)'s generalized assertion that Theophanes' indictions are correct and only the A.M.a is off in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265, the indictions in Theophanes for these earthquakes are in sync with his A.M.a dates. So, the same Theophanes correction applied to Theophanes' A.M.a is applied to his indictions. Anastasius did not supply an indiction. As for regnal years, only the Babylonian consideration is applied and only to Theophanes and Anastasius. Dates of historical events are not corrected because Theophanes and the other authors would have gotten these from other sources. Below is a summary of the correction methodology applied to Theophanes and Anastasius. As noted previously, Paul the Deacon's dates are presented with and without corrections where Paul's corrections utilize the same methodology as for Theophanes and Anastasius.

Date Reference Babylonian consideration Theophanes correction
A.M.a applied to Theophanes and Anastasius applied to Theophanes and Anastasius
Indictions applied to Theophanes applied to Theophanes
Regnal Years applied to Theophanes and Anastasius applied to Theophanes and Anastasius
Historical Events not applied not applied


In the chronological tables presented for the various authors, A.M., regnal years, and indictions are shown as reported in the texts. Any corrections applied are noted in the table and are only applied to the Julian dates. Paul the Deacon's dates are presented in both corrected and uncorrected form.

The Byzantine Authors
Historia Romana by Paul the Deacon

Paul the Deacon wrote in Latin at the end of the 8th century CE while living at a monastery on Lake Como in Italy. He was able to read Greek sources due to an early education in the language. He describes both earthquakes in his book Historia Romana written around 770 CE. Historia Miscella is an expansion and continuation of Paul's book Historia Romana by Landolfus Sagax who wrote around 1100 CE.

Holy Desert Quake

In a text printed from 1569 CE, we can read in Book XXII p. 696: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

In the 6th year of Constantine, there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria; in the month of January at the 4th hour. An innumerable multitude perished - many tens of thousands. Churches and Monasteries collapsed. The worst was in the wilderness of the Holy City (Jerusalem).

Latin

Anno sexto imperij Constantini, factus et terraemotus magnus in Palestina, & circa lordanem, & totam Syriam, mense lanuario, hora quarta, & multa milia, quin & innumerabilia mortua funt, ecclesiaeq; ac monasteria corruerút, & maxime penes eremum Sanctae ciutatis.
Chronology

Paul dates this earthquake to January in the 6th year of Constantine which places it in 747 CE if the earthquake did indeed strike in January. He also says it struck at the 4th hour. Corrected and uncorrected dates are presented below.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 746 - 17 June 747 CE Constantine's 6th year none reign started 18 June 741 CE
18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE Constantine's 6th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
Seismic Effects

Paul says the earthquake struck Palestine, along the Jordan, and Syria and that the damage was worst in the desert outside (east) of Jerusalem noting that churches and monasteries collapsed

Talking Mule Quake

In the same 1569 CE edition, we can read in Book XXII p. 700-701: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

9th year of Constantine ...

[Porrò] On the 8th of February [eiusdem] 3rd indiction, the son Leo was born to emperor Constantine from the daughter of Chagan of Chazaria. That same year there was an earthquake in Syria, an enormous and terrible [calamity]. Many died. A spring [moved ?]. In another place in the mountains, a village moved for about six miles with its walls and homes intact and without any small thing dying. Finally, In Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand [feet?] and out of the chasm came a different soil which was white and sandy. Out of this chasm emerged a spotless mule speaking in a human voice which predicted an invasion by a foreign army into the land of the Arabs. This came true.

Latin

Anno nono imperij Constantini ...

Porrò octaua Kalendas Februarij eiusdem tertię Indictionis, natus est Imperatori Constantino filius quem nominauit Leonem, ex Chaiani Cazariae filia. Anno verò eodem terraemotus factus est in Syria, & ingens ac terribilis caſus, vnde ciuitatum aliae quidem penitùs extermininatae ſunt, aliae verò mcdiocriter, aliae autem à motanis ad fubiecta campeſtria cum muris & habitationibus ſuis integrae migrauerunt & laluę quaſi ad miliaria ſex, vel etiam modicum quid vltrà. Denique aſſeuerauerút hivqui proprijs viſibus terram Mesopotamiae contemplati ſunt, in longitudine diſruptam fuiſſe ad miliaria duo, & ex profundo eius afcendiffe aliam terram nimis albam & hareno fam, de cuius medio aſcendit, vt aiunt, animal mulinum incontaminatum, loquens humana voce, & praenuncians gentis incurſionem ab eremo aduerſus Arabes. quod & factum eſt.
Chronology

Chronology is summarized below. Paul's dates are presented with and without corrections. Note that Paul says that Leo was born on 8 February. Theophanes dated Leo's birth to 25 January. Paul specifies the same indiction as Theophanes. Corrected and uncorrected dates are presented below.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Sept. 749 - 31 Aug. 750 CE 3rd indiction none
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE A.M.a 6241 none same A.M. as Leo's birth
18 June 749 - 17 June 750 CE Constantine's 9th year none reign started 18 June 741 CE
1 Sept. 750 - 31 Aug. 752 CE 3rd indiction Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
25 March 750 - 24 March 752 CE A.M.a 6241 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied same A.M. as Leo's birth
18 June 749 - 17 June 751 CE Constantine's 9th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
Seismic Effects

In the Talking Mule Quake account, Paul says that the earthquake struck Syria and mentions seismic effects in Mesopotamia. This suggests an epicenter to the north of the Holy Desert Quake. There is also a fair amount of seismic description in this second account which is listed below:
  • Earthquake in Syria - many died
  • A spring moved
  • There was a block slide type of landslide
  • There was an earth fissure in Mesopotamia
  • Sand boils appeared in the earth fissure in Mesopotamia
Despite any possible exaggerations, these describe real secondary effects of an earthquake. As noted by Karcz (2004), the translational landslide and the sand boils would be more likely to occur in the rainy season when water table was higher. Sand boils are a common liquefaction effect and can be used to estimate a minimum intensity. There was also an oracular talking mule which, though only a secondary seismic effect in fiction, may have been the most memorable part of the story to subsequent readers and authors. All the Byzantine authors listed in this catalog who describe the Talking Mule Quake mention the talking mule and by the time we get to Glycas, the talking mule is all that remains in his shortened account. He doesn't even mention the earthquake.

Sources (both accounts)

As Paul wrote earlier than Theophanes, the similarity of their accounts suggests that they likely shared the same source. Karcz (2004), citing Brooks (1906:587), Proudfoot (1974), and Mango and Scott (1997) introduced a theory by a number of historical researchers that Theophanes' source was a Palestinian or Syrian Melkite monk who wrote in Greek not long after 780 CE while Hoyland (2011:7-10) suggested that the source is the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa. There are apparently other possibilities as well but one thing seems to be clear - they shared a local source.

Notes

It is interesting that Paul the Deacon's corrected and uncorrected dates seem too low for the Holy Desert Quake while Paul's uncorrected dates seem correct for the Talking Mule Quake. This may be further evidence that the shared source of Theophanes, Paul, and Anastasius reported the earthquakes from Syria with correct dates for the Talking Mule Quake.

Chronographia Tripartita by Anastasius Bibliothecarius

Anastasius Bibliothecarius worked as the chief librarian and archivist for the Bishop of Rome and was fluent in Greek. He wrote the historical work "Chronographia Tripartita" in Latin between 871 and 874 CE ( Neil, 1998:42). He was more of a compiler than a writer - copying text from other authors. Textual analysis suggests that he had access to an earlier and more reliable version of Theophanes than the copy of Theophanes that we currently have access to. This provides us with an important chronological clue because unlike the other Byzantine writers who placed the two earthquakes three years apart, Anastasius placed the earthquakes only a year apart. Anastasius wrote an account of both earthquakes.

Holy Desert Quake

In an edition by Niebuhr (1828:225) we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

Anno Mundi 6238, divine incarnation year 738. In the 6th year of Constantine there was a powerful earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan, and in all of Syria in January, at the 4th hour. Thousands died, an innumerable multitude perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, and it was worst in the desert of the Holy City.

Latin

Mundi anno 6238, divinae incarnationis anno 738, anno vero imperii Constantinl sexto factus est terrae motus magnus in Palaestina et circa lordanem et totam Syriara mense lanuario, hora quarta, et multa milia, quin et innumcrabllla mortua sunt, eccleslaeque ac monasteria corruerunt, et maxime penes eremum sanctae civitatls.
Chronology

Anastasius specifies the same A.M.a as Theophanes as well as the same regnal year for Constantine V. Because Anastasius Bibliothecaria apparently copied from an earlier version of Theophanes, the same corrections applied to Theophanes' dates are applied to Anastasius' dates. Possible Dates are listed in the table below. Calendaric conversions do not make use of a January date.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 747 - 24 March 749 CE A.M.a 6238 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
? divine incarnation year 738 This appears to be similar to the A.D. calendar but is dating Jesus birth ~9-10 years earlier - may be based on assigning an A.M. of 5500 to Jesus' birth.
18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE Constantine, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects are almost the same as Paul the Deacon.

Talking Mule Quake

In an edition by Niebuhr (1828:228) we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

Anno Mundi 6239, divine incarnation year 739, Emperor Constantines 7th year ...

That year there was an earthquake in Syria, a terrible calamity. Many died. A spring [moved?]. In another place in the mountains, a village moved with its walls and homes intact for 6 Roman miles. Finally in Mesopotamia, the earth split two thousand feet and out of the chasm came a white sandy soil and a spotless mule which spoke in a human voice and prophesied that the Arab lands would be invaded by a foreign army. And this prophecy came true.

Latin

Mundi anno 6239, dlvinae incarnafionls anno 739, anno vero imperii Constantini septimo, occiditur Gregorius ab Arlrutensibus, et eviclt Maruham, ut praeluli.

...

Anno vero eodem factus est terrae motus in Syria, et ingens ac terribilis casus, unde civitatum aliae quidem penitus exterminatae sunt, aiiae vero mediocriter, aliae autera a montanis ad subiecta campestria cum muris et habitationibus suis integrae migraverunt et salvae quasl ad miliaria sex vel etiam modicum quid ultra. denique asseveraverunt hi qui propriis visibus terram Mesopotamiae contemplati sunl, in iongitudinem diruptam fuisse ad miliaria duo, ct ex profundo eius ascendisse aiiam terram nimis albam et arenosam, de cuius medio ascendit, ut aiunt, animal mulinum incontaminatum, loquens humana voce, et praenuntians gentis incursionem ab eremo adversus Arabes. quod et factum est. Praeterca sequenti anno quartae indictionis, solemnitate sanctae pentecostes , coronavit Constantinus imperator Leoncm filium suum imperatorem per Anastaslum patrlarcham consentaneum suum.
Chronology

Anastasius dates the Talking Mule Quake roughly a year after the Holy Desert Quake unlike Theophanes and Paul who place the two quakes ~3 years apart. Since there are indications that Anastasius had access to an earlier and more reliable version of Theophanes that we don't have access to, this is an interesting piece of chronology. Because Anastasius used Theophanes as a source, the same corrections are applied to Anastasius' dates as are applied to Theophanes' dates.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 748 - 24 March 750 CE A.M.a 6239 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied Theophanes dated this to A.M.a 6241
? divine incarnation year 739 none This appears to be similar to the A.D. calendar but is dating Jesus birth ~9-10 years earlier - may be based on assigning an A.M. of 5500 to Jesus' birth.
18 June 747 - 17 June 749 CE Constantine, 7th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects are the same as Paul.

Sources

Anastasius's work was compiled from the Greek writings of Theophanes, Nicephorus, and George Syncellus ( Neil, 1998:45). As discussed below by Neil (1998:46), Anastasius had access to an older copy of Theophanes Chronographia that we don't have.
Anastasius' Chronographia consisted of excerpts of the Chronographia of Theophanes57 which extended up to the year 813, the Opuscula historica of Patriarch Nikephoros58 and the Chronicle of George Synkellos59. Anastasius' Chronographia Tripertita has been edited by de Boor,60 who found that, while it is an often inconsistent rendition of the Greek, Anastasius' version of Theophanes' Chronographia was based on an early and more reliable version of the original than now survives.61 For this reason, it has been useful in some places for establishing the original text where the direct transmission offers a degenerate version, although Anastasius unfortunately does not provide a full translation of his original.62

Footnotes

57 Ed. C. de Boor, Theophanis Chronographia, v. 1 (Leipzig, 1883); recently translated with commentary by C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History, AD 284-813 (Oxford, 1997).
58 Ed. C. de Boor, Nicephori Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani Opuscula Historica, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1880). It is also edited in the version of I. Bekker, Sancti Nicephori Patriarchae Constantinopolitani Breviarum Rerum post Mauricium gestarum (Bonn, 1837; repr. Ann Arbor, 1988). This covers the seventh and eighth centuries from the death of Emperor Maurice. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (806-815), was a continuator of Theophylact Simocatta.
59 George Synkellos' Chronicle covers the history of the world from creation up to the rule of Diocletian. It is edited by C. de Boor, Georgii monachi chronicon, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1904; 2nd ed. with corrections by P. Wirth, Stuttgart, 1978).
60 De Boor, v. 2 (Leipzig, 1885).
61 De Boor, v. 2, pp. 401-435. Mango and Scott, op. cit., pp. xcvi f. draw our attention to the existence of two late ninth-century manuscripts of Theophanes, one of which was wrongly dated to the late tenth century by de Boor, and the other not used by him at all. These also offer an inferior text to that consulted by Anastasius.
62 De Boor, v. 2, pp. 413-415.

Chronology of Theophanes

Theophanes wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. Theophanes wrote about two earthquakes spaced roughly three years apart and a third earthquake in ~756/757 CE which is treated separately as the By No Means Mild Quake.

Holy Desert Quake

In Mango and Scott (1997:585-586)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here), the entry for Theophanes' first earthquake - the Holy Desert Quake in A.M.a 6238 - reads as follows:

[A.M. 6238, AD 745/6] II In this year there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January, in the 4th hour. Numberless multitudes perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City. IIa

II In the same year a pestilence that had started in Sicily and Calabria travelled like a spreading fire all through the 14th indiction1 to Monobasia2, Hellas, and the adjoining islands, thus scourging in advance the impious Constantine and restraining his fury against the Church and the holy icons, even though he remained unrepentant like Pharaoh of old. This disease of the bubonic plague spread to the Imperial City in the 15th3 indiction. All of a sudden, without visible cause, there appeared many oily crosslets upon men's garments, on the altar cloths of churches, and on hangings. The mysteriousness of this presage inspired great sorrow and despondency among the people. Then God's wrath started destroying not only the inhabitants of the City, but also those of all its outskirts. Many men had hallucinations and, being in ecstasy, imagined to be in the company of certain strangers of terrible aspect who, as it were, addressed in friendly fashion those they met and conversed with them. Taking note of their conversation, they later reported it. They also saw the same men entering houses, killing some of the inmates, and wounding others with the sword. Most of what they said came to pass just as they had seen it.

In the spring of the 1st indiction4 the plague intensified and in the summer it flared up all at once so that entire households were completely shut up and there was no one to bury the dead. Because of extreme necessity a way was devised of placing planks upon animals saddled with four paniers each5 and so removing the dead or piling them likewise one upon the other in carts. When all the urban and suburban cemeteries had been filled as well as empty cisterns and ditches, and many vineyards had been dug up and even the orchards within the old walls6 to make room for the burial of human bodies, only then was the need satisfied7. When every household had been destroyed by this calamity on account of the impious removal of the holy icons by the rulers, straight away the fleet of the Hagarenes sailed from Alexandria to Cyprus, where the Roman fleet happened to be. The strategos of the Kibyraiots fell upon them suddenly in the harbour of Keramaia8 and seized the mouth of the harbour. Out of 1,000 dromones9 it is said that only three escaped. IIb

Footnotes

a Cf. Agapios, 261 (Jan.): earthquake in Palestine, esp. at Tiberias, where more than 100,000 were killed.
Mich. Syr. ii. 509-10; Chr. 1234, 254. 33 ff. (without date): damage at Damascus, Tiberias, Mabbug, and elsewhere.
Ps.-Dion. Chron. 42-3, AG 1059: Chalcedonian bishop of Mabbug crushed with his flock.
b Cf. Nik. 67. 4-43,- 68. 3-11. Kleinchronik, 1. 17 (Schreiner, i. 45) abbreviates Theoph. as regards the plague.

1 AD 745/6.
2 Monemvasia on the east coast of the Peloponnese.
3 dB mistakenly prints '5th'.
4 AD 747/8. This is the date given for the plague in Kleinchronik, 2. 4 (Schreiner, i. 47).
5 Reading Sia £AIA V aayp novp.4vu v vno TETpaKavdr/Xov. For the meaning of this expression see I. Rochow, Klio, 69 (1987), 571-2.
6 The Constantinian walls.
7 On the plague see also Theodore Studites, Laud. Platonis, PG 99: 805D. Nik. Antirrh. Ill, PG 100: 496B-D, adds that the emperor betook himself during the plague to the suburbs of Nicomedia. So also Geo. Mon. 754 and Epist. ad Theophilum, PG 95: 364B.
8 Situation unknown. See Sir George Hill, A History of Cyprus, i (Cambridge, 1940); 262 n. 5; L. Philippou, KvnpiaKai Sirovhal, 6 (1942), 1-5, who believes the battle did not take place in Cyprus. According to Nik. the conflict was initiated by Constantine, who sent a fleet against the Arabs.
9 Thirty in Anast., probably correctly.
Chronology

A day, month, and hour are all specified in this account - 18 January at the 4th hour. The year however is in question. The table below lists varying years that can be derived from Theophanes' entry. Calendaric calculations do not make use of the 18 January date.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 747 - 24 March 749 CE A.M.a 6238 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
1 Sept. 746 - 31 Aug. 748 CE 14th indiction Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
18 June 746 - 17 June 748 CE Constantine, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
4 Dec. 746 - 3 Dec. 748 CE Marouam, 3rd year Babylonian consideration applied reign started on 4 December 744 CE
4 Dec. 753 - 3 Dec. 755 CE Zacharias, 13th year Babylonian consideration applied consecrated on 4 or 6 December 741 CE
1 Jan. 746 - 31 Dec. 748 CE Anastasios, 17th year Babylonian consideration applied installed 730 CE
1 Jan. 746 - 31 Dec. 748 CE Theophylaktos, 3rd year Babylonian consideration applied installed 744 CE
745/746 CE start of the plague none applied years comes from footnote 1 in Mango and Scott's translation
Seismic Effects

Theophanes says the earthquake struck Palestine along the Jordan and Syria and that churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City [Jerusalem]. Ambraseys (2009) makes a tenuous argument that the desert of the Holy City would somehow refer to Moab, however the Holy Desert seems to be well located as the desert east of Jerusalem where many churches and monasteries were built in the area where Jesus is reported to have spent 40 days alone after his baptism by John the Baptist. Further, Theophanes mentions damage along the Jordan River which is where the seismically active Jordan Valley Fault is located.

Talking Mule Quake

The Talking Mule Quake is dated to A.M.a 6241. In Mango and Scott (1997:588-589)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here), the entry for Theophanes' second earthquake - the Talking Mule Quake - in A.M.a 6241 reads as follows:

[A.M. 6241, AD 748/9] In this year Marouam was pursued by the Maurophoroi, who captured him and killed him after waging a very heavy war1. They were commanded by Salim, son of Alim2, one of the aforementioned fugitives who had sent Aboumouslim on his mission3. The rest of them gathered in Samaria and Trachonitis3 and awarded their leadership by lot to Aboulabas4, and next to him to his brother Abdela5, and next to the latter to Ise Ibinmouse6. II They appointed Abdela, son of Alim and brother of Salim, to be commander in Syria; Salim himself to be commander in Egypt; while Abdela, brother of Aboulabas (from whom he received the nomination to the command) they appointed over Mesopotamia. IIb Aboulabas himself, who was in supreme authority, established his seat in Persia, the government and all the seized treasure (which Marouam had carried away) having been transferred to him and his Persian allies from Damascus. Marouam's surviving sons and relatives went from Egypt to Africa, whence they crossed the narrow sea that separates Libya from Europe next to the Ocean at a place called Septai and settled until this day in Spain of Europe, where some kinsmen and correligionists of theirs had come to dwell at an earlier time — the latter being descendants of Mauias who had suffered shipwreck there7. The devastation in the days of Marouam lasted six years and in the course of it all the prominent cities of Syria lost their walls except Antioch, which he planned to use as a refuge. Innumerable Arabs were also killed by him for he was very cunning in civil matters. He belonged to the heresy of the Epicureans, that is Automatists, an impiety he had imbued from the pagans who dwell at Harran8.

II On 25 January of the same 3rd indiction9 a son was born to the emperor Constantine by the daughter of the Chagan of Chazaria and he called him Leo. In the same year there was an earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria, as a result of which some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so, while others slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout10. Eyewitnesses affirmed that the ground in Mesopotamia was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy, in the midst of which, they said, there came up an animal like a mule11, quite spotless, that spoke in a human voice and announced the incursion of a certain nation from the desert against the Arabs, which indeed came to pass.

The next year, in the 4th indiction12, on the feast of holy Pentecost the impious emperor Constantine conferred the imperial crown on his son Leo by the hand of the false patriarch Anastasios who shared his views. IIc

Footnotes

a Cf. Chr. 1234, 258. 33 ff., with many details.
b Ibid. 264. 5-8; Agapios, 272.
c Cf. Nik. 69. 1-70. 2

1 In Aug. 750: Caetani, Chron., AH 132, no. 39.
2 Salih b. Ali: Caetani, Chron., AH 132, no. 16. See also Chr. Z234, 258.33; Agapios, 267-9.
3 East of the Jordan.
4 The Caliph Abu-l-Abbas al-Saffah, proclaimed at Ktifa in Nov. 749.
5 Abdallah AbuDja'far, appointed governor of Mesopotamia, Armenia, etc. (Elias Nis. 82 (AH 133) ).
6 Isa ibn Musa, Al-Saffah's cousin. Cf. Agapios, 273.
7 The passage of the Umayyads to Spain 'in the days of Justinian Rhinotmetos' is recorded by Const. Porph. DAI 21. 28-32, who adds that these events 'are not recorded by our historians'. He confuses the first conquest of Spain (711) with the establishment of the emirate of Cordova by 'Abd al-Rahman (756). Cf. Bury, BZ 15 (1906), 527-9.
8 Mich. Syr. ii. 508 says that Marwan did not believe in God.
9 AD 750.
10 According to Mich. Syr. ii. 5 10 and Chr. 1234, 255. 28 ff. a village near Mount Tabor was moved 4 miles with all its houses intact, and a source near Jericho was shifted 6 miles. Cf. Elias Nis. 82 (AH 131).
11 A female mule in Nik. 69.
12. AD751. Pentecost fell on 6 June.
Chronology

The table below lists varying years that can be derived from Theophanes' entry. The synchronicity of Marwan's (aka Marouam) death with Leo's birth is curious and may suggest alteration of dates for literary purposes but this won't be explored for now.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 750 - 24 March 752 CE A.M.a 6241 Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
1 Sept. 750 - 31 Aug. 752 CE 3rd indiction Babylonian consideration and Theophanes correction sequentially applied
18 June 749 - 17 June 751 CE Constantine, 9th year Babylonian consideration applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
4 December 749 - 25 January 750 CE Marouam, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied but truncated by Marwan II's death on 25 Jan 750 CE reign started on 4 December 744 CE
4 December 756 - 3 December 758 CE Zacharias, 16th year Babylonian consideration applied consecrated on 4 or 6 December 741 CE
1 Jan. 749 - 31 Dec. 751 CE Anastasios, 20th year Babylonian consideration applied installed 730 CE
1 Jan. 749 - 31 Dec. 751 CE Theophylaktos, 6th year Babylonian consideration applied installed 744 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE Same A.M. as birth of Leo none applied Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE Same A.M. as the death of Marwan (aka Marouam) none applied Marwan (aka Marouam) died on 25 January 750 CE
Seismic Effects

In the Talking Mule Quake account Theophanes says the earthquake struck Syria and mentions seismic effects in Mesopotamia. This may suggest an epicenter to the north of the Holy Desert Quake. There is also a fair amount of seismic description in this second account which is listed below:

  • Some cities were destroyed
  • Some cities were partially ruined
  • There was a block slide type of landslide
  • Sand boils appeared in Mesopotamia
  • There was an earth fissure in Mesopotamia
Sources (both accounts)

Karcz (2004), citing Brooks (1906:587), Proudfoot (1974), and Mango and Scott (1997) introduced a theory by a number of historical researchers that Theophanes' source was a Palestinian or Syrian Melkite monk who wrote in Greek (or translated a Syriac text to Greek) not long after 780 CE. Brooks (1906:587) and others suggest that Theophanes, Michael the Syrian, Nicephorus and others may have shared the same source thus accounting for the similarity in various Christian accounts of these earthquakes. Hoyland (2011:7-10) suggests that Theophanes also made use of the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa - who was a contemporaneous source for the earthquakes. Brooks (1906) suggested that Theophanes also made use of a chronicler who wrote not long after 746, whoin there is some reason to identify with John the son of Samuel, though we cannot positively assert that he was not Theophilus of Edessa.

Chronography (aka Chronographikon Syntomon) by Nicephoros

Nicephoros I of Constantinople wrote Chronography in Greek the early 9th century CE. He only wrote about the Talking Mule Quake. He did not provide an account of the Holy Desert Quake.

Talking Mule Quake

In an English translation by Mango (1990:140-143), we can read:

69. Thereafter a son was born to the emperor, whom he named Leo. At the same time a severe earthquake occurred in Syria, causing enormous damage. For some cities that were there (were completely destroyed and) the ground round about opened up to a great extent, while others suffered this fate but partially. Others were shifted from their high positions and slipped down entire, with their walls and houses, to the plains below, moving a distance of as much as six miles, more or less, from their original situation. Some affirmed they had seen the ground in Mesopotamia (which is near Syria) crack deeply along (a distance) of two miles, and another ground, sandy and very white, thrown up from below; and that along with the latter was cast up a female mule, which proclaimed in a human voice the destruction of the Arabs. A short time thereafter a tribe appeared from the desert beyond and slew many multitudes (of Arabs) without resistance.
Chronology

Nicephorus dates this earthquake to around the time of the birth of Leo (25 January 750 CE according to Theophanes and 8 February 750 CE according to Paul the Deacon).
Year Reference Corrections Notes
749/750 CE around the time of the birth of Leo none Leo born around 25 Jan. 750 CE
Seismic Effects

The seismic effects very similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes with two additions
  • Numerous earth fissures are mentioned rather than just one in Mesopotamia.
  • The earth fissure and sand boils in Mesopotamia are located as being near to Syria
Sources

This account echoes much of Theophanes description of the second earthquake strongly suggesting that they were using the same source(s).

Missing Holy Desert Quake

Karcz (2004) speculated that the Holy Desert Quake may not be in Nicephoros' Book due to a lacuna or illegible paragraph in the manuscript(s).

Online Versions and Further Reading

The text in original Greek can be read here.

Chronicle by Georgius Monachus (aka George Hamartolos aka George the Monk)

Georgios Monachus wrote the Chronicle in Greek in the last half of the 9th century CE. Eduard von Muralt published a full volume of the text which was reprinted in Patrologia Graeca Volume 100. Georgius Monachus only discussed the Talking Mule Quake.

Talking Mule Quake

On page 946 of Patrologia Graeca Volume 100 (1857) we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

That year there was a powerful earthquake in Syria. Some cities were destroyed - others only partly so. In one place, a village moved with its walls and buildings intact. In Mesopotamia, the earth split three thousand feet and a white sandy soil came out of the chasm. Then an incredible thing - an onager emerged speaking of human affairs and predicted a foreign invasion - which happened a short time later.

Latin

In Syria vero maximus terrae motus urbes subvertit, quarum aliae omnino, aliae es parte tantum destruciae sunt , aliae ab editis in subjacentes campos, seu a duobus circiter milliariis integrae illaesaeque cum muris ac domibus fuerunt translatae . In Mesopotamia autem terra spatio trium milliariorum ſissa , aliam ebulit alliam arenosamque terram, de cujus medio ( res incredibilis ! ) exortum est bemionium humana voce loquens el praedicens populi incursuin , quod paulo post contigit.
Chronology

The earthquake account is bracketed by intrigue in Bulgaria which might help date this passage.

Seismic Effects

similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes.

Online Versions and Further Reading

All volumes in Greek may be here.

Megas Chronographos

A 10th century manuscript (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 194.r) of Chronicon Paschale contains excerpts of another text which is labeled as being from the Great Chronographer (Megas Chronographos). The excerpts document natural and political disasters from the 5th to 8th centuries ( Neville (2018:85)). Neville (2018:85) notes that although this text was originally thought to have been composed in the 8th century CE and served as source material for Theophanes and Nicephorus, further research has "shown fairly conclusively that it is the other way around". The anonymous work of Megas Chronographos is now thought to be a compilation of the mid 9th century CE. Megas Chronographos only writes about the Holy Desert Quake.

Holy Desert Quake

In an English translation by Whitby and Whitby (1989:197-198), we can read:

1. In the reign of Copronymus, an earthquake occurred in Palestine and the Jordan and all the Syrian land. And many tens of thousands, innumerable people indeed, are dead, and churches and monasteries are fallen.

And at the same time a pestilential disease, starting from Sicily and Calabria and spreading like a fire, crossed to Greece and the islands. ...12.

... Footnotes

12 Earthquake in Levant and plague at Cpl. in 747; cf. Nic. 62. 24-64. 9; Theoph. 422. 25-424. 3; Cedr. ii. 7. 17-9. 1.

GC is closer to Theophanes than to Nicephorus in that it records an earthquake in the Levant before turning to the plague, but both the other two have more information than is preserved in GC (including an exact date for the earthquake in Theophanes). The earthquake is not mentioned by Nicephorus, but he regularly omitted information that was available in the chronicle source which he shared with Theophanes. This common source did record some major events in the near east, including the earthquake of 750 (Nic. 64. 22-65. 7, Theoph. 426. 16-26; see below on GC 13), so that it could have contained a reference to the earthquake of 747. Theophanes also had an independent eastern chronicle source, which has parallels with Syriac chronicles down to 746, and contained further information probably added by a writer in Palestine c.780 (see E. W. Brooks, 'The Sources of Theophanes and the Syriac Chroniders', BZ xv, 1906, 578-87), but the example of the 750 earthquake shows that not all eastern information in Byzantine chronicles should be traced to it.

GC 12, as it stands, cannot have been the common source of Theophanes and Nicephorus because of their fuller treatment (cf. Whitby, 'Chronographer' 11-12). However, GC's account of the plague is disordered when compared with the other versions, in that it mentions the burial arrangements for the victims before the apparition of oily crosses on the garments of the afflicted, and it does not contain any of the anti-iconoclast interpretations of the plague included by the orthodox authors. One must assume, therefore, either (i) that it is an inaccurate derivation from Theophanes by an excerptor who deliberately eliminated Theophanes' anti-iconoclast interpretation of the plague, although this would run counter to the excerptor's use of the epithet Copronymus for Constantine; or (ii) that it is an inaccurate and abbreviated version of the common source used by Theophanes and Nicephorus, the distortions being caused by the excerptor's belief that he was running out of space on folio 242r (cf. p.192 above). We find the latter assumption easier, but for the alternative, see Mango, Nicephorus' 546-7.

Note by Williams: Copronymus or Copronym is a play on words with the name of Constantine combining the greek words κόπρος (kopros) which means feces and ὄνομα (onoma) which means name. The hostility of the authors who use this epithet against "Emperor Poop-onymous" derives from bitter doctrinal disputes within Christendom such as disputes over iconoclasm.
Chronology

Ambraseys (2009) supplied a date for this as (A.M.Byz 6255, Ind. xv, 18 January) which apparently comes from Schreiner (1975:44,1977:87). Ambraseys (2009) commented that it is unclear how Schreiner produced this date and I agree as neither A.M.Byz, indiction, or a date is specified in the translation by Whitby and Whitby (1989:197-198). Nonetheless, a table is presented below with this dating information. Karcz (2004) found this account chronologically tenuous because it places an account of a 746 or 747 CE earthquake after the 750 CE birth of Leo which was described in an earlier section. Although Byzantine Chronicles are known for placing events out of order, this is an important observation which illustrates how the Byzantine sources present a confused chronology and may not themselves have understood when the earthquakes struck or in which order they struck. Since I don't know the source for Megas Chronographos, I will not assume it is Theophanes or an earlier version of Theophanes. Hence, the Babylonian Consideration and the Theophanes correction are not applied.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 January 747 CE 18 January A.M.Byz 6255 none applied Byzantine A.M. places this in 747 CE for a date of January 18
18 January 747 CE Indiction XV none applied Indication XV places this in 747 CE for a date of January 18
746/747 CE around the same time as the plague crossed from Sicily and Calabria to Greece none applied In Mango and Scott's translation of Theophanes for the Holy Desert Quake, they date the start of the plague in 745/746 CE (footnote 1) which would date the plague's arrival in Greece in 746/747 CE
Seismic Effects

Similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes minus the specification that the damage was the worst in the desert by the Holy City (Jerusalem).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Further information about this text can be found in two german texts (Freund (1882:16), and Gastberger (2015)) and an English one (Farkas et al (2016)).

Synopsis Historion by George Cedrenus (aka George Kedrenus)

George Cedrenus wrote Synopsis Historion (aka A Concise History of the World) in the 1050's in Greek.

Holy Desert Quake

In Cedrenus Vol. 2 Becker Edition p.5 we can read: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

A.M. 6236 ...

there were many earthquakes in various places1; in the mountains in the wilderness of Saba, a village was swallowed in the [wilderness] of Saba.

Latin

Anno mundi 6236 ...

magna quoque siccitas fuit et multi terrae motus variis locis1; adeoque et montes in solitudine Saba inter se coiverunt, et pagus terra absorptus est.

Footnote by Williams

1 this appears to echo an eschatological prophecy uttered by Jesus in Luke 21:11 which may reflect both the language and spirit of the original source(s) and reflect a tendency by various Christian chroniclers to amalgamate multiple earthquakes into to one large doomsday-like event. In the Armenian translation of Michael the Syrian (reproduced in Notes), this is stated explicitly - "for they believed that these numerous strange signs were omens of the coming end of the world". και σεισμοί κατά τόπους in the Greek of Cedrenus text echoes σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι, και κατά τόπους of the New Testament.
On page 7 of the same book he appears to repeat the same earthquake: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)
English

Year 4 - A great comet appeared in Syria.

...

Year 6 - There was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January at the 4th hour. An innumerable multitude perished - thousands. Churches and Monasteries collapsed. The worst was in the wilderness by the Holy City (Jerusalem).



Latin

Anno 4 in Syria magnus cometa apparuit.

...

Anno sexto magnus fuit in Palaestina terrae motus, et ad Iordanem perque universam Syriam, die mensis Ianuarii 18, hora 4, innumenraque hominum perierunt milia, corruerunt templa et monasteria, maxime per solitudinem urbis sanctae.
Chronology

Cedrenus appears to count years after an anchor A.M.a so A.M.a 6236 is not his date for this earthquake. It appears that the earthquake is reported ~6 years after A.M.a 6236 which would place it in A.M.a 6242 (differing from other Byzantine sources) and would indicate that Cedrenus was using the A.M.a calendar. This is discussed further in the Chronology section for the Talking Mule Quake. In the second passage, a comet is mentioned ~2 years prior to the earthquake. Hoyland (2011:245) lists three sources (Theophanes, Agapius, and Michael the Syrian) reporting a comet in Syria in 745 CE. This would appear to date this earthquake to around 747 CE.Cedrenus' chronology for the Holy Desert Quake is summarized below:
Year Reference Corrections Notes
25 March 750 - 24 March 751 CE A.M.Byz 6242 none applied
~747 CE Two A.M.a's after the comet none applied A comet was observed in Syria in 745 CE
Seismic Effects

The second passage is similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes. The first passage appears to locate the damage in the desert by the Holy City in the wilderness of Saba. Many earthquakes in various places could suggest multiple aftershocks, an inability to sort out the various earthquakes that struck the Middle East during this time period, or it could be evoking scripture for literary purposes.

Talking Mule Quake

On page 9 we can read about another earthquake: (translated by QuickLatin and Williams)

English

In the ninth year of Constanine, Marnamus was killed in the war with the Abbasids. On 25 January, a son Leo was born Constantine [from his wife] Irena, the daughter of Chazara.

At the same time, there was a serious earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria. Some cities were destroyed [and] others partly destroyed. In some place[s?], in the mountains, a village[s?] slid down the mountain for a distance of 6 miles with their houses and buildings intact. Further, in Mesopotamia the earth was split for two thousand steps [~feet] and out of that chasm came a different type of white soil from which a emerged a mule who spoke a prophecy in a human voice - that a nation from the desert would invade the Arab lands. The prophecy came true.

Latin

Anno Constantini nono Marnamus a Maurophoris, qui et Chrysaro nitae, invaditur, gravissimaque commissa pugna occiditur. die vigesima quinta Ianuarii mensis Constantino ex Chazara Irena filius nascitur, cui Leoni nomen fecit.

eodem tempore in Syria gravis terrae motus terri biles edidit ruinas, quibusdam urbibus prorsus, quibusdam ad mediam partem prostratis, nonnullis etiam a montanis in subiectas planities cum muris et aedificiis absque ullo damno traiectis usque ad sex miliaria. porro in Mesopotamia terra in longum ad duo milia passuum rupta est, exque eius imo terra albissima atque arenosa egesta, de cuius medio animal muli forma adscendit, humana voce loquens et praedicens popu lan quendam e solitudine in Arabas incursionem facturum. quod et sic evenit.
Chronology

Cedrenus appears to provide an anchor A.M.a and then count 36-37 years to the next A.M.a in this part of Synopsis Historian. As sorting this out would force me to do more Latin translation than I am currently capable of or willing to do, I have decided to wait until the scholars at the University of Melbourne complete their English translation of Cedrenus. An example of Cedrenus chronological reckoning can be seen on page 20 where the next A.M.a mentioned in the text after the Talking Mule Quake is A.M.a 6273 which is preceded by years .... 35, 2, 3, and 5. As mentioned in Chronology for Cedrenus' account of the Holy Desert Quake, Cedrenus appears to use the A.M.a calendar whose A.M.a years start on 25 March. This is used in providing the date ranges for Leo's birth and Marwan II's death. If we look for a date range that is bracketed only by dates that match all three pieces of chronological information and make the assumption that the earthquake struck while Marwan II was still alive, we come up with a date range of 18 June 749 - 25 January 750 CE. Chronological clues from the text are summarized below.

Year Reference Corrections Notes
18 June 749 - 17 June 750 CE Constantine, 9th year none applied reign started 18 June 741 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Constantine's son Leo was born none applied Leo was born on 25 January 750 CE
25 March 749 - 24 March 750 CE same A.M.a that Marwan (aka Marouam) died none applied Marwan (aka Marouam) died on 25 January 750 CE


Seismic Effects

similar to Paul, Anastasius, and Theophanes.

Online Versions and Further Reading

A useful link to Cedrenus' texts online can be found at this site from the University of Melbourne where an English translation of Cedrenus is apparently close to completion.

Minor Chronicles

Schreiner (1979) translated Minor Chronicles to German from the original Greek. The entry of interest is brief and appears to describe the Holy Desert Quake.

Holy Desert Quake

747 Jan 18

Earthquake in Palestine
Chronology

Schreiner (1979) supplied the date of 18 Jan. 747 CE. This date should be treated with caution. Ambraseys (2009) commented on another date Schreiner supplied for the Holy Desert Quake in Megas Chrononographos:
It is not clear how Schreiner (1975, 44; 1977, 87) dates the event to 18 January 747 or 6255 A.M.a, of the 15th indiction
Neither A.M.a or indiction appears to be present in the text for the Holy Desert Quake from Megas Chrononographos. Karcz (2004) states that after the earthquake entry, Minor Chronicles reports a series of «wondrous events» after the birth of Leo in 750 A.D..

Annales Book XV by Joannes Zonaras

Joannes Zonaras wrote Annales (aka Extracts of History) in Greek in the 12th century CE. The work covers the time period from "creation" until 1118 CE. Annales is subdivided into 18 books. Book XV covers 717 - 829 CE. Over 72 manuscripts exist. A Slavonic version was translated in the 14th century CE and an Aragonese version also exists. Only the Holy Desert Quake is discussed.

Holy Desert Quake

In a critical edition of the Aragonese version (Rodriguez, 2006:329), we can read an excerpt which juxtaposes a short (too short) account of the Holy Desert Quake with an earthquake that occurred in northwest Anatolia around 740 CE (see Ambraseys, 2009 or Guidoboni et al, 1994): (translation by Williams)

English

On the 23th of September, there was a powerful earthquake where many homes and churches were destroyed. During that same time an ancient temple built by the elinios (?) collapsed - a great and well made building. In front of it, the magnificent Church of Nicea of the Holy Fathers collapsed. Afterwards in May, a sign appeared in the sky looking like a star of the tail(?) of the sun, what the Greeks call a comet; (f. 154d/Zon.XVIII 9 D)

Aragonese

a los XXIII días del mes de setiembre, fue feito un gran terremoto mui terrible por el cual muitas eglesias e cassas se derrocaron. En el cual tempo se derrocó un templo antigo, el cual fue edificado de los elinios1845, muit grant e bien obrado. Encara aquel día mesmo se derrocó la maravillosa eglesia de Nicea de los Santos Padres. E aprés en el mes1846 de mayo parexió un senyal en el cielo en manera de estrella de çaga del sol, que se clama en griego comiti; ... (f. 154d/Zon.XVIII 9 D)
Chronology

This short passage may refer to the Holy Desert Quake which it dates to 23 September. Afterwards, there may be a reference to an unrelated Anatolian Quake - something common in later sources (e.g. Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234). A comet is also described. Cedrenus also described a comet ~2 years prior to the Holy Desert Quake.

Seismic Effects

homes and churches destroyed.

Sources

The main sources for Books 13-18 seem to be Malalas, George the monk, Skylitzes, and Psellos (Neville, 2019:196).

Online Versions and Further Reading

This text can be read in Greek with a Latin translation by Pinder (1841) here. An older printing in Greek and latin may be available here or here. Three volumes are available at this last site. Volume 2 may be the one of interest.

Biblios Chronike (aka Annals) by Michael Glycas (aka Glyca, Glykas)

Michael Glycas wrote Chronicle in Greek in the second half of the 12th century CE. Book 4 covers emperors in Constantinople - from Constantine until Alexios Komnenos. He has a brief passage about the Talking Mule Quake which concentrates almost entirely on the Talking Mule.

Talking Mule Quake

On page 530 of Patrologia Graeca Vol. 158 - Migne (1866) we can read: (translation by Quick Latin and Williams)

English

the land split in Mesopotamia and a mule came out speaking of the affairs of men and predicted invasion by a foreign army.

Latin

Cumque terra dehisceret in Mesopotamia, mulus exiit, humanaque voce secutoros hostium incursus denuntiavit.
Chronology

lacking.

Seismic Effects

Earth Fissures in Mesopotamia.

Sources

His main sources for the chronicle were George Monachos, John Skylitzes and his continuators, John Zonaras, and Constantine Manasses (Schriener, 1989).

Online Versions and Further Reading

Glycas can be read in the original Greek here

Christian Writers in Syriac

Section
Introduction
Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Theophilius of Edessa
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Earthquake Sound Travel and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
Elias of Nisibis
Michael the Syrian
Chronicon Ad Annum 1234
Introduction

The earliest writers in Syriac (Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell Mahre and Elias of Nisbis) appear to give reports of seismic effects from the Talking Mule Quake while the later writers Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad 1234 amalgamated several earthquakes into one including unrelated earthquakes in Anatolia and possibly Yemen. Despite this, the later writers provide a rich, albeit likely exaggerated, description of seismic effects. The challenge with the later writers, however, lies in sorting through which earthquakes they were describing in their dramatic narratives. The Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa from Hoyland (2011) is helpful in this regard. As with the Byzantine sources, the accounts are presented in chronological order according to date of composition.

Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (aka Denys of Tell-Mahre) and Theophilus of Edessa

Dionysius of Tell-Mahre wrote the Annals in Syriac in the first half of the 9th century CE. Annals is a two volume history which covers events from 582 - 843 CE. The first volume is devoted to church history - the second to secular history. Each volume is subdivided into 8 books each. Only a few fragments of his original work survives however he is a source in other author's chronicles such as Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234. Michael the Syrian explicitly cites Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source and Brock(1976) suggests that "the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the main sources" for Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 during "this period". Both Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 provide an extensive list of seismic effects primarily from the Talking Mule Quake although, in the case of Michael the Syrian, other unrelated earthquakes are amalgamated in. In his preface, Dionysius of Tell-Mahre states that he used Theophilus of Edessa as a source ( Hoyland, 1997:416-419). Theophilus was a contemporary source who, later in his life was court astrologer for Al-Mahdi, the 3rd Abassid Caliph. Al-Mahdi was 4 or 5 years old when the earthquakes struck - living close to the southern part of the Arava in Humeina. Theophilus would have known a great deal about these earthquakes. As such, Theophilus by way of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre appears to have provided us with a wealth of seismic information - albeit filtered through textual transmission into the accounts of Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and possibly others. Theophilus' Chronicle, like that of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is lost however Hoyland (2011) attempted to reconstruct it from dependent sources and that reconstruction is shown in this catalog. Further details on Dionysius of Tell-Mahre can be found in a book by Abramowski (1940).

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

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

Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa

Theophilus of Edessa was a medieval astrologer and scholar from Edessa in northern Mesopotamia ( Hoyland, 2011:6). He is said to have translated books from Greek to Syriac - indicating fluency in both languages ( Hoyland, 2011:7). His work later in his life as the court astrologer for Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi indicates fluency in Arabic. He may have been in his 50's when the earthquakes struck and is a contemporaneous source ( Hoyland, 2011:6) who, due to his linguistic skills, could have accessed much information about these earthquakes. Unfortunately, the Chronicle he wrote in Syriac is lost. However, this Chronicle appears to show up in a number of later sources (e.g. Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and Agapius) and may have been utilized by Theophanes ( Hoyland (2011:7-10)). Hoyland (2011) attempted to reconstruct Theophilus' lost Chronicle from dependent sources and produced an extensive entry for one amalgamated earthquake (Holy Desert Quake and Talking Mule quake combined) in 749 CE which we can read below ( Hoyland, 2011:270-273). As this reconstruction comes via textual transmission from significantly later sources, it cannot be expected to faithfully reproduce Theophilus' original account however it has great value in summarizing reported seismic effects. It's chronology, however, should likely be ignored as chronology is often the first victim of textual transmission. Bold text comes from Hoyland and represents passages shared by Michael the Syrian and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 (see footnote 818).

(749) A severe earthquake in Syria, Jordan and Palestine817

Theophanes: There was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January, in the fourth hour. Numberless multitudes perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City. | There was an earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria, as a result of which some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so, while some slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout. Eyewitnesses affirmed that in Mesopotamia the ground was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy, in the midst of which, they said, there came up an animal like a mule, quite spotless, that spoke in a human voice and announced the incursion of a certain nation from the desert against the Arabs, which indeed came to pass.

Agapius: There was a violent earthquake in January on the sea coast of Palestine. Many places collapsed there and many people perished in them, especially at Tiberias, where 100,000 people or so were lost.

[Note by Williams: Hoyland refers below to the Lost Chronicle of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and not to the Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (aka the Chronicle of Zuqnin). This indicates that Hoyland's account of Dionysius is also "reconstructed" and therefore subject to the errors of textual transmission.]

Dionysius:818 In the year 1060 of the Greeks and 134 of the Arabs819 disorder gripped the world not only in affairs of the civil sphere, but also those of the church, as we have recounted and written in our book on ecclesiastical matters. I mean the schisms and confrontations that took place in the time of the patriarch John and Athanasius Sandalaya, the arguments and fights with which the church was filled, and the way in which creation itself acknowledged these events and proclaimed God's anger towards mankind. I shall now, therefore, speak of those things which happened in the west at this time: of earthquakes and submersions, of fires and death in many forms, of the removal of villages and forts from their places, of springs the waters of which are mutated, of the shifting of rivers and water sources and other calamities which a mind is incapable of describing, such that Marwan, king of the Arabs, who did not even believe in God, when he heard these things and saw them with his own eyes, he was shaken and terrified, and wrote a letter of penitence and admonition to all regions of the kingdom of the Arabs that all should give up the evil they were doing and beseech God with remorse and tears to constrain and withhold these chastisements from the world.820

[Note by Williams: End of "reconstructed" Lost Chronicle of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.]

There was at Damascus (Chron 1234: and the whole of its region) an earthquake which lasted for days and which shook the city (Chron 1234: and made it quiver / MSyr: like leaves on trees). At Beth Qubayeh there was a palace built by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf821, on which he had lavished much (Chron 1234: care and) expense; it collapsed from top to bottom and more than (MSyr: 80 / Chron 1234: 800) persons were (MSyr: suffocated / Chron 1234: fell and were buried) in it. In the city itself many perished. In the Ghuta and Darayya822 innumerable people died in this earthquake. Bostra, Nawa (MSyr: and Adraa) were entirely swallowed up823. At Baalbek (Chron 1234: much of it collapsed and) the sources of water became as though blood were in them; (MSyr: after the penitence of its inhabitants and frequent prayers it returned to its usual colour). In the sea there was an extraordinary (Chron 1234: and unusual) storm such that its waves reached (Chron 1234: so it seemed) to the sky and its foam boiled like a cauldron on the fire, making a terrifying and fearful noise. It gushed forth and surpassed its usual limits, destroying many (MSyr: cities and) villages on the coast. (Chron 1234: Many other things are narrated which, if recorded, would make much work for their writer and the reader.) In the region of the Balqa', that is, Moab, there was a palace situated on the sea:824 inhabited by Yemeni Arabs, which was struck by the waves of the sea, uprooted from its foundations and flung three miles away.

This earthquake destroyed the city of Tiberias, except for the villa of a man named `Isa Galba. It knocked down thirty synagogues of the Jews and some wonderful natural sites there. The baths, a fine structure erected by Solomon (MSyr: son of David / Chron 1234: the King), collapsed and fell down. There was there a healing spring (Chron 1234: given by God for the health of men), above which marvellous buildings had been erected and all around it was everything necessary825 for the use of those who came in search of a (MSyr: cure / Chron 1234: purge). (Chron 1234: They say that) placed there were earthen jugs skillfully arranged, on each one of which was written how many times it flushed the stomach of the one who drank it. Thus each person chose a jug according to how much he desired (Chron 1234: to be purged). All those buildings have now been (Chron 1234: destroyed and) expunged. Near Mount Tabor826 a village was moved ( Chron 1234: and transported) four miles, along with its houses and contents, without a stone or a piece of plaster falling from its buildings and without a man or beast dying, not even a hen.

The spring of water next to Jericho, the one on which were built palaces827, gardens and mills by Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Malik, remained in place, but the river from which it arose was transported and moved six miles. away from its place where it had been flowing. All the structures which Sulayman had erected on this river were thus destroyed. At Mabbug there was destruction everywhere and many people perished as a result of it. At its church, at the time of the sacrifice of our Lord, while the priest was standing with his hands held over the offering, suddenly perdition struck them; it (the church) fell down and they were unable to get out of the holy building and all who, were in it were trampled and destroyed, priests as well as lay people. Instead of hymns and spiritual psalms, sighs and lamentations were heard throughout the city. Also the walls collapsed down to their foundations. When these things had come to pass, and even greater things, men still did not refrain from wicked and impious deeds. The affairs of the church were particularly troubled at this time. For this reason people were crushed by much affliction: heavy taxes, poor harvests, wars and shedding of blood in all regions828

Footnotes

817 Theophanes, 422 | 426; Agapius, 521: Msyr 11.XXII. 466-67/508-10; Chron 1234, 325-28. Cf. Chron Zuqnin, 191 (AG 1059); Elias of Nisibis, 171-72 (AH 131 = 748-49; AG 1059 = 747-48). citing Daniel the Miaphysite (see n. 743 above). Theophanes has two notices about earthquakes, both occurring in January, but it makes more sense to assume that he has two different sources for the same event, which he assigns to different years, rather than that there were two very major earthquakes occurring in the same month only two years apart. For the date of this earthquake see Tsafrir and Foerster. 'The dating of the earthquake of 749 CE'.
818 Since this is a very long account, with a lot of material common to both Msyr and Chron 1234 (highlighted in bold). I do not give each version separately, but present them as one narrative with the extra phrases. principally from Chron 1234, indicated within brackets.
819 An incorrect synchronisation: AG 1060 = 748-49: 134 AH = 751-52.
820 This paragraph is only from Chron 1234 where it serves as a kind of foreword to the account of the earthquake. It is not in Msyr, except for the point about Marwan writing a letter, which, though the wording is almost the same, is linked by Msyr to a plague and famine (see n. 752 above), not to this earthquake.
821 Muslim sources know of a place called the palace (qasr) of Hajjaj, that was just outside Damascus, in view of the Jabiya gate (e.g. Dhahabi. 9.286: Yaqut. `Qasr Hajjaj' ). but this may not be what is meant.
822 The Ghuta is the agricultural land surrounding Damascus: Darayya was a small village some 5 miles south of Damascus (now it is a suburb in south Damascus).
823 Bostra, Nawa and Adraa (modern Der'a) are all towns in modern south Syria, near the border with Jordan.
824 Moab was the territory on the eastern side of the Dead Sea; the Balqa' corresponded to modern north and central west Jordan and had Amman as its capital. Thus the northernmost portion of the Dead Sea is probably meant here. unless Moab is being used in a general way to refer to the east side of the Jordan. and then the Sea of Tiberias (Lake Galilee) could possibly be meant.
825 Chron 1234 has 'n'nqy'. plausibly representing Greek anagkel 'need' (the Latin translation has latrinae): Msyr has 'nqy'. behind which lies, says Chabot, the Greek pandokeial guesthouse.
826 In the Galilee, northern Palestine, south-west of Tiberias: the site of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
827 Hesne: see n. 112 above. The clear attribution of these buildings at Jericho to Sulayman may mean that the construction of Khirbat al-Mafjar, an Umayyad palace at Jericho, usually attributed to the caliph Hisham or his nephew Walid II. should perhaps be placed earlier. See El. 'Khirbat al-Mafdjar'.
828 For this paragraph I only give the version of Chron 1234, since Msyr is extremely brief, just noting that: 'The spring of water next to Jericho was moved from its place six miles. At Mabbug, at the time of the offering, it (the church) fell down, and people were killed, and cattle. for great churches and walls collapsed. At Constantinople the statues of the kings fell and many buildings: the same was true of Nicaea and other cities.'
Chronology

Chronology won't be discussed here because the author Hoyland has, mistakenly in my view, dismissed the possibility of two earthquakes in the region striking so soon within one another. This belies the fact that
  1. Such a large earthquake causing damage from Gaza to Mesopotamia suggests a much larger earthquake than the segmented faults of the Dead Sea Transform are capable of producing.
  2. The three earliest Byzantine sources mention two earthquakes
  3. Elias of Nisibis speaks of a year in which there were many earthquakes.
  4. The Dead Sea transform is known to produce couplets of earthquakes in geologically short time periods where one earthquake places stress on another fault segment causing it to break. Notable examples include the Amos Quakes (a few decades apart), the 1202/1212 CE earthquakes, the Baalebek Quakes of 1759 CE (less than a month apart), and the Cyril Quakes which struck within six hours of each other.
Seismic Effects

This reconstruction by Hoyland produces an excellent compendium of Seismic Effects which are summarized in the table below:
Location Damage Description Earthquake
Damascus earthquake with aftershocks for days Talking Mule Quake
Beit Qubayeh fortress overthrown - deaths Location unknown - could be either.
Ghautah and Dareya many died Talking Mule Quake
Bosrah and Nawa entirely swallowed up Talking Mule Quake
Ba'albek much of it collapsed, spring "turned to blood" Talking Mule Quake
Sea Tsunami destroyed many villages on the coast Holy Desert Quake
Moab (N Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee) fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Holy Desert Quake
Tiberias destroyed Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (very likely mis-located) Translational Landslide Talking Mule Quake (possibly Holy Desert Quake) - see discussion below
Jericho river moved 6 miles Difficult to say. Jericho suggests Holy Desert Quake but the earliest Byzantine sources associated this with the Talking Mule Quake and did not specify a location.
Mabbug destruction everywhere - Church and Walls collapsed Talking Mule Quake
The translational landslide is recounted by the three earliest Byzantine authors (Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Theophanes) as an effect of the Talking Mule Quake and is not located near to Mount Tabor - which is a better fit for the Holy Desert Quake. These three early Byzantine authors do not locate the translational landslide and, by implication, they indicate that the landslide took place in Syria. It is only the three latest Syriac sources (Elias of Nisibis, Michael the Syrian, and Chronicon Ad Annum 1234) which specify that the landslide took place in a village near Mount Tabor. The significance of Mount Tabor should not be lost when reading the accounts of these theologically minded authors. Mount Tabor is the traditional pilgrimage site for the high mountain where the New Testament story of the transfiguration takes place - where, according to the Gospels, Jesus revealed to his disciples for the first time both his identity as the messiah and his divine status. Thus, a translational landslide in Syria may have been relocated to Mount Tabor for literary effect. The extracts above from Hoyland make notes of the schisms in Christianity at this time, laments them, and views the earthquakes as divine punishment. For example, in the reconstructed account of Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, we can read about the arguments and fights with which the church was filled, and the way in which creation itself acknowledged these events and proclaimed God's anger towards mankind.. In the reconstructed account by Theophilus of Edessa, we can read: When these things had come to pass, and even greater things, men still did not refrain from wicked and impious deeds. The affairs of the church were particularly troubled at this time. What better way to show divine displeasure than to take a poorly located Syrian landslide and relocate it to the top of the "Holy Mountain" where "God's son" first revealed the full import of his mission.

Notes

Hoyland (2011:19) discusses issues of chronology in Theophilius' Lost Chronicle
THEOPHILUS’ CHRONICLE

From a comparison of Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius it becomes immediately apparent that their notices for the seventh and eighth century follow a chronological order. A few are misplaced, but the intention was clearly to progress through history from some point in the past up until the author’s own day. Yet it is also evident from the frequency with which Dionysius and Agapius either begin a notice with ‘at this time’ or else disagree with each other on dating that Theophilus’ work was not annalistic and was indeed rather sparing with dates.63 This is an important point, for modern scholars often rely upon Theophanes for ascertaining the date of an event. But it is because he is writing an annalistic work that he puts notices under specific years, not necessarily because these notices were dated in the sources he is using. And in the case of the notices on eastern affairs, Theophanes often had to place them just where he thought best.

What the start and end point were for Theophilus is a difficult question. Since he is quoted as saying that there were 5197 years separating Adam from Seleucus, Theophilus is usually thought to have made Creation his starting point. But this is hardly cogent, for as an astrologer he would often have been obliged to make chronological calculations, or it could well be that he prefaced his chronography with some such computation.64 Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius are clearly dependent on a common source from the notice on Abu Bakr’s despatch of four generals in 634 onwards.

Footnotes

63 Theophilus may have proceeded by simply narrating events, arranging his entries in chronological order as far as possible and occasionally giving synchronisms after the fashion of Eusebius; e.g. ‘In the year 34/35/37 of the Arabs, 10/13 of Constans and 9 of ‘Uthman. Mu'awiya prepared a naval expedition against Constantinople’ (Theophanes. 345; Agapius. 483; Msyr 1 l.XI, 430/445; Chmn 1234, 274).

64 Agapius. 455. gives a calculation of the years from Adam before proceeding to relate amr al- ‘arab/'the affairs of the Arabs’, but it seems somewhat corrupt. Conrad, ‘The Mawâli, 388, is perhaps the most recent to state, without explanation, that Theophilus' chronicle began with Creation.
Mango and Scott (1997:lxxxiv n. 104) discuss the possible calendar used by Theophilius.
The Chronography of Gregory Abu '1-Faraj. . . known as Bar Hebraeus, trans. E. A. W. Budge, i (London, 1932,1, 116. Cf. A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Liteiatur (Bonn, 1922), 341-2. Note that Theophilos appears to have used the Byzantine era, since he calculated AG as starting in 5197 from Adam: Budge, 40 [39]; F. Nau, ROC 4 (1899), 327.
The references are
Excerpt from Budge (1932:40)
And SELEUCUS reigned alone over SYRIA, and over all GREATER ASIA, and BABYLON as far as INDIA, for twenty-one years. And with him began the reckoning by the years of the GREEKS (i.e. the Era of the Greeks) which we SYRIANS use, even though it be called after ALEXANDER. SELEUCUS built ANTIOCH, and SELEUCIA, and LATAKIA, and APAMEA, and URHAI (EDESSA), and BEROEA, and PILAS, and GERMANIKI, which iS MAR'ASH.

From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to EUSEBIUS, iS 4,889 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to ANDRONICUS, is 5,083 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to GIWARGI (GEORGE) the most ex-cellent Elder, is 5,085 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to AFRICANUS, is 5,083 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to THEOPHILUS of EDESSA, is 5,197 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to JACOB of EDESSA, is 5,149 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to GEORGE, bishop of the Arab peoples, is 4,929 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to ANIANUS, is 5,180 years and 10 months.

And with this last the Greek Septuagint agreeth. The reckoning which the Greeks use in our time agreeth with that of THEOPHILUS of EDESSA. Now if we add to 5,197 years the complete years of SELEUCUS, and one month to the complete months of the incomplete year, which beginneth with the FIRST TESHRIN (OCTOBER), there are gathered together for US the complete solar years from ADAM, and the months from the incomplete year which beginneth with 'ILUL (SEPTEMBER). What then in respect of the day which remaineth (?), the tenth of 'ILUL [of the] year of the GREEKS 1587 ? Let us add five thousand one hundred and ninety-seven to one thousand five hundred and eighty-six, and their total is six thousand seven hundred and eighty-three ; then add to the eleven months one month and they become twelve months. Let us add then one year to the complete years, and they become six thousand seven hundred and eighty-four. And we say that the tenth of 'ILUL belongeth to the incomplete year, that is to say, the year six thousand seven hundred and eighty-five.
Excerpt from Nau (1899:327)
In another place (Hist. Dyn., p. G3 of Pococke's translation) Bar-Hebreus tells us that Theophilus of Edessa placed the beginning of the Era of the Seleucids in the year 5197 of the world. The same author (Book of the Ascension of the Spirit, p. 199) tells us again: "Nowadays, the people around us use six chronologies. One, which the Greeks use, starts from Adam. There are various opinions to his knowledge,the most famous,in our time, reproduces that of Theophilus of Edessa. The chronology of Theophilus, who thus placed the birth of N.-S. the year 5508 5197 H-- 311), is based on the text of the Septuagint.

JW: Nau's years of 5508 and 311 may be a year off. The starting date for the Byzantine reckoning of the Anno Mundi Calendar is 1 Sept. 5509 BCE. The starting date for Macedonian reckoning of the A.G. calendar is 1 Oct. 312 BCE. Add 5197 to 312 and you arrive at 5509 BCE. This suggests that Theophilius of Edessa made use of Byzantine reckoning of the A.M. calendar ( which was the standard of the time and Macedonian reckoning of the A.G. calendar (which was standard among Syriac writers of the time - Sebastian Brok, personal communication, 2021)

Annals Part IV by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

This Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin is now thought to have been composed by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Parts 3 and 4 cover events from 488 - 775 CE. There is apparently a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE. Harrak (1999) opines on the opening page of his translation that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin. If Harrak is correct, this is a contemporaneous source. The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162), now in the Vatican (shelf mark Vatican Syriac 162). In an English translation of Part 4 by Harrak (1999:177-178) we can read:

[747-748] The year one thousand and fifty nine:

A powerful and terrible earthquake took place in the Western region:

The earth is utterly broken apart,
the earth is split open,
the earth is shaken violently.
The earth staggers like a drunkard
and sways like a shack.
5


The earth shall shake violently, the earth shall move exceedingly, and it shall swing like a hut5. The iniquities, sins and evil doings that are done by us everyday bring about these things, similar ones, and others which are much worse. Where can we show the causes of the earthquakes if these were not brought on by the sins of people? Is it the case that the earth becomes feable, and then, when she quakes and quivers, does she call upon her Maker to come and strengthen her? I do not believe so! But that she cries for help as she quakes, it is because of the wicked deeds that are on her, as she clearly indicated once in the following event.

A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance. When the morning came, the bishop emphatically ordered that all must gather and go out for prayer, saying that this happened because of sins. When everyone came to the prayer, they went out of the city altogether to a shrine called Church of the Mother of God, which was located outside the city of Mabbug in the West6. Those people were also Chalcedonians and their bishop marched before them. When they arrived, they all went inside the shrine like goats inside the fold. As they cried out together in prayer, a tremor suddenly occurred. The church collapsed on them, crushing them to death, along with their bishop. None came out alive; all were abruptly crushed in fatal and horrifying fashion, as if in a wine-press. The righteous perished alongside the sinner.

Footnotes

5. Isaiah 24:19-20
6. Elias I 172: Same date as above. Michael IV 467 [II 5101].
Chronology

This account dates the earthquake to the year 1059 of the Seleucid era (A.G. Calendar) which, using Babylonian reckoning, dates the earthquake to 2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE and, using Macedonian reckoning dates it to 1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE. Macedonian reckoning with a New Year starting on 1 October would be the standard for Syriac sources of the time (Sebastian Brock, personal communication - 2021). It should be noted that this account does not specify that the earthquake struck on a Sunday. In fact, the account suggests that the priest ordered the parishioners to attend an impromptu prayer service. This is potentially important because 18 January 749 CE was a Saturday.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 October 747 - 30 September 748 CE A.G. 1059 none Macedonian Reckoning
2 April 748 - 1 April 749 CE A.G. 1059 none Babylonian Reckoning
Seismic Effects

This account indicates that there was a distant seismic shock the night before the earthquake which may have been from the Holy Desert Quake. The account further details the collapse of a church in Mabbug the next day which appears to be a description of the Talking Mule Quake.

Sources

Harrak (1999:31) suggests that the author of Annals Part IV relied on a mix of oral and personal information for the years from 743-775 CE supplying the following discussion:
In light of the various pieces of information we have been able to uncover, the Chronicler seems to have composed the history of the period between 743 and 775. The fact that in 775 A.D. he wrote from memory about events dated as early as 743 A.D. means that his contribution covered the history of at least 32 years, using oral and personal information. This span of time is well within the range of human memory.
...
In addition to the scant written sources and oral traditions used in the early portion of Part IV, the Chronicler had recourse to "old people" and other eyewitnesses, including himself, as sources of information for most of Part IV. This explains why his information is so plentiful and often very detailed
Online Versions and Further Reading
Online versions including the supposed autograph (original copy)

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

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

References

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

Witakowski, Study, p. 124-135

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

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

Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre at syri.ac

Wikipedia page for the Zunqin Chronicle - many links and references

Notes

A good example of the effect of textual transmission is illustrated in Pseudo-Dionysius' description of the prayer service. Pseudo-Dionysius does not supply the day of the service and implies that it was prompted by the Priests' observation of the distant seismic shock from the night before. It appears to be an impromptu prayer service. By the time Elias of Nisibis tells this story in the early 11th century CE, however, a day is supplied - Sunday. Elias adds that the earthquake struck at the time of mass. When Michael the Syrian tells the story in the 12th century, the church collapse again takes place at Sunday Mass but when Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 tells the story in the 13th century, the earthquake struck not only at mass but at the exact time the priest was raising his hands over ablation for the Sunday sacrifice. Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 reports that all inside the church perished; indicating that there were no witnesses. Obviously, if there were no witnesses to report that the earthquake struck at the very moment in the service described, the timing of the earthquake striking at that moment is a literary invention. Specifying that the earthquake struck on a Sunday at mass appears to be either a literary invention or a misinterpretation from sources. As this was a time of schisms in Christendom, it can also be noted that Pseudo-Dionysius specifies that the Church was of the Chalcedonians while Elias of Nisibis specifies that it was a Jacobite church. These rival factions emerged in schisms that appeared after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE where what we know today as the geographically western churches of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants descend from the Chalcedonians and the geographically eastern churches of the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Indian, and Syriac (aka Jacobite) churches descend from Christian groups that rejected the Council of Chalcedon. The schisms were apparently very bitter and the church faction in these reports was very likely reported as a faction of a rival church to the author of the account. The individual author likely viewed the church collapse as "God's punishment" for engaging in what the author believed to be some form of heresy. This illustrates the nature of these chronicles which were composed primarily as moral instruction with history as a backdrop. This is the reason why, for example, I take a skeptical view when seismic effects are potentially re-located compared to other authors to a place that would have had biblical significance to the author of the work (e.g. the landslide re-located to Mount Tabor and the spring move located at Jericho). The days of the week for 18 January between 746 and 750 CE are noted below:
Date Day of the Week
18 January 746 CE Tuesday
18 January 747 CE Wednesday
18 January 748 CE Thursday
18 January 749 CE Saturday
18 January 750 CE Sunday
Only 750 CE has an 18 January date on a Sunday, which is roughly one to two years after A.G. 1059. Apparently, by the 4th Century CE, the days of the week were shared across all groups in the Roman empire despite their using different calendars. This habit apparently continued long after the Western Roman Empire fell at the end of the 5th century CE. The fourmilab converter was used to construct the table.

Earthquake Sound Travel and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

In the Chronicle of Zuqnin, Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell Mahre reports on the sound of a distant earthquake the night before the earthquake which struck Manbij (aka Mabbug). In an English translation of Part 4 by Harrak (1999:177-178) we can read:

[747-748] The year one thousand and fifty nine:

...

A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance.
While earthquake sound perception depends on a number of factors, it is feasible that a large earthquake, for example from the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, could have been heard ~450 km. away in Manbij (aka Mabbug). Tosi et al (2012) developed a relationship for earthquake perceptibility by examining a survey of ~70,0000 respondents in Italy from smaller magnitude earthquakes (M 5.0-5.5). The input variables are magnitude and distance. In the calculator below, this relationship predicts that ~20% of a population would notice an M 7.0 earthquake at a distance of 450 km. However, it is likely that this relationship underestimates perceptibility for larger magnitude earthquakes (e.g. M 7.0). In this eyewitness account from the 1994 M 6.7 Northridge earthquake, a respondent describes earthquake sounds which woke them up ~115 km. from the epicenter. Because Earthquake sound perception depends on a number of factors, it is difficult to predict so the only conclusion that can be made is that the report by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell Mahre that a distant earthquake perhaps 450 km. away was heard as a rumble the night before is a credible one. Earthquake researcher Patrizia Tobi contributed the following comments (personal communication, 2021) regarding the perception of earthquake sounds.
In my paper the results are based on many earthquakes and the phenomenon may appear continuous, but in reality the earthquake sound is very variable and does not depend only on the intensity of the ground motion. For example, the study of infrasound showed that waves propagating through the atmosphere are produced by earthquakes through 3 distinct mechanisms: direct generation from seismic waves below the station, propagation of the sound wave produced in the epicenter region by strong ground motion, and radiation from a secondary source such as a high mountain. This implies that the soil composition, rock type, and topography of each site cannot be neglected. These factors, added to others that affect sound propagation in the atmosphere, such as pressure and temperature variations, make the problem very complicated to model.
Calculator - Earthquake perception at distance - Tosi et al (2012)

Source - Tosi et al (2012) - based on a study of earthquakes and fitted for Local Magnitudes between 5.0 and 5.5

The Higher Magnitude Adjustment is a thought experiment to extend the equation of Tosi et al (2012) to higher magnitude (and therefore louder) earthquakes. If, for example, the eyewitness testimony from the 1994 M 6.7 Northridge earthquake indicates an earthquake loud enough to wake someone up at a distance of 115 km. from the epicenter, we can assign a perceptibility of 100% at this distance and create a calibration point. An addition of 51% would need to be added to the result of Tosi et al (2012)'s equation to achieve 100% perceptibility. Adding this 51% to the perceptibility of one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes results in a perceptibility of ~72% for an M 7 earthquake where the nearest fault break was at the north end of the Sea of Galilee ~450 km. away. Without the Higher Magnitude Adjustment, perceptibility is ~21%. Thus we can likely constrain perceptibility to between 21% and 72%. In other words, between 21% and 72% of the people in Manbij (aka Mabbug) likely did experience a rumble from the Sabbatical Year earthquake the night before a large earthquake is reported to have collapsed a church in Manbij (aka Mabbug)

Variable Input Units Notes
km.
unitless
unitless
Variable Output Units Notes
% Percentage of people who hear the rumble
  

Experimental Calculator - Earthquake Sound - Tosi et al (2000)

Source - Tosi et al (2000)

Variable Input Units Notes
Moment Magnitude
g/cc Crust Density
km. Source Distance
km./s P wave Velocity in the crust (?) - Typical values are 5-8 km./s
Radiation Pattern of the P-wave
sec. Rise time
Hz. Frequency
? Transmission Coefficient of the compressional wave in the passage ground-air, function of the angle of incidence ϴ - value needed
kg/m3 Air density
m/s Speed of sound in air
Variable Output Units Notes
N-m Seismic Moment
µ? Ground Displacement
µ? Ground Displacement at frequency
µbar Pressure
dB Pressure
  

Notes

Theoretical Model of Earthquake Sound Theoretical Model of Earthquake Sound

Tosi et al (2000)


Units
1 Pa = 1 N/m2
1 dyne is the force required to accelerate 1 gram 1 cm/s2
1 N = 100,000 dynes
1 bar = 10^6 dynes/cm2

References

Tosi, P., et al. (2012). "Earthquake sound perception." Geophysical Research Letters 39.

Tosi, P., et al. (2000). "Spatial patterns of earthquake sounds and seismic source geometry." Geophysical Research Letters 27(17): 2749-2752.

Brune, J. N. (1970). "Tectonic stress and the spectra of seismic shear waves from earthquakes." Journal of Geophysical Research (1896-1977) 75(26): 4997-5009.

Sbarra, P., et al. (2014). "How Observer Conditions Impact Earthquake Perception." Seismological Research Letters 85: 306-313.

Google Scholar Page for Patrizia Tosi

Earthquake Sounds by Michael, A. J. at the Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

Thouvenot, F. and M. Bouchon (2008). What is the Lowest Magnitude Threshold at Which an Earthquake can be Felt or Heard, or Objects Thrown into the Air?: 313-326.

Davison, C. (1938), Earthquake sounds, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 28, 147-161.

Gold, T., and S. Soter (1979), Brontides: Natural explosive noises, Science, 204, 371-375

Hill, D. P., F. G. Fisher, K. M. Lahr, and J. M. Coakley (1976), Earthquake sounds generated by body-wave ground motion, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 66, 1159-1172.

Le Pichon, A., J. Guilbert, A. Vega, M. Games, and N. Brachet (2002), Ground-coupled air waves and diffracted infrasound firm the Arequipa earthquake of June 23, 2001, Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(18), 1886

Artru et al (2004) Acoustic waves generated from seismic surface waves: propagation properties determined from Doppler sounding observations and normal-mode modelling

Mikumo, T. (1968), Atmospheric pressure waves and tectonic deformation associated with the Alaskan earthquake of March 28,1964, J. Geophys. Res., 73, 2009-2025

Sylvander, M., and D. G. Mogos (2005), The sounds of small earthquakes: Quantitative results from a study of regional macroseismic bulletins, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 95, 1510-1515

Sylvander, M., C. Ponsolles, S. Benahmed, and J.-F. Fels (2007), Seismo-acoustic recordings of small earthquakes in the Pyrenees: Experimental results, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 97, 294-304

Tosi, P., V. De Rubeis, A. Tertulliani, and C. Gasparini (2000), Spatial patterns of earthquake sounds and seismic source geometry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 2749-2752

Young, J. M., and G. E. Greene (1982), Anomalous infrasound generated by the Alaskan earthquake of 28 March 1964, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 71, 334-339

Catalog of Earthquake-Related Sounds Compiled by Karl V. Steinbrugge - Recording #21 has sounds recorded 250 km. away from the epicenter 1983 M 7.7 earthquake.

Eyewitness testimony about Earthquake sound ~115 km. from the epicenter of the 1994 M 6.7 Northridge Quake

Earthquake reports from the 1813 New Madrid earthquakes (M = 7.2-8.20

Chronography by Elias of Nisibis (aka Elijah Bar Shinajah)

Elias of Nisibis wrote Chronography in Syriac with some parts in Arabic (Woolf et al, 2011:p. 159 footnote 14) in the early 11th century CE. Most paragraphs in the first section are followed by an Arabic translation. In a French translation by Delaporte (1910:105), we can read:

Year 131 [A.H.]

Begins on Friday 30 Ab of the year 1059 of the Greeks [30 August 748 AD]

A year in which there were many earthquakes; many places ruined; a valley [located] near Mount Tabor was transported from its place to 4 miles with its houses and properties, without a single grain of dust falling from its houses, and without either a man nor an animal dying , or even a hen [sic]. In which the Church of the Jacobites, at Mabug, collapsed on a Sunday at the time of the Mass and many people perished there (Kuwarazmi'. - Daniel the Jacobite).
Chronology

Elias of Nisibis states that the church collapsed in Mabbug on a Sunday at the time of Mass unlike Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre who did not specify a day, did not describe the service as Mass, and seemed to describe an impromptu prayer service. Elias specifies the year of this earthquake as A.H. 131 (31 August 748 -19 August 749) while providing an explanation that A.H. 131 began on 30 Ab (August) of A.G. 1059 which is correct within a day. 30 Ab A.H. 131 falls within A.G. 1059 whether one uses Babylonian reckoning or the Macedonian reckoning that was the standard among Syriac authors (Sebastian Brock, personal communication 2021).
Year Reference Corrections Notes
31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 131 none
Seismic Effects

The first observation to be had is Elias of Nisibis specifies many earthquakes - not just one. The collapse of the church in Mabug suggests that Elias is describing the Talking Mule Quake. Many earthquakes may refer to numerous aftershocks or hint at the other earthquake (the Holy Desert Quake) mentioned by the early Byzantine sources. Besides the church collapse in Mabug, Elias mentions a translational landslide which bears a striking similarity to the translational landslide described by the Byzantine sources for the Talking Mule Quake. The unlocated translational landslide discussed by the Byzantine writers is located by Elias - at Mount Tabor. This relocation appears to be in error and was likely done for literary and theological reasons (see Seismic Effects section for the reconstructed account of Theophilus of Edessa). Once this is considered, these seismic effects all appear to stem from the Talking Mule Quake.

Sources

Elias of Nisibis cites his sources - the lost history of Musa al-Khwarizmi’ and Daniel the Jacobite.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronography in Syriac can be read here

Chronicle by Michael the Syrian

Michael the Syrian (1126 AD - 1199 AD wrote The Chronicle in Syriac covering "Creation" until his times. Unfortunately only one Syriac manuscript has survived. In an excerpt from a French translation by Chabot (1899-1910: Volume 2, Book XI, Chapter XXII pp. 509-510) we can read: (translation by Google, Guidoboni et al (1994), and Williams)

Meanwhile there was an earthquake at Damascus1 which lasted for days and shook her like leaves on trees. In Beit Qoubayê2 (?), there was a fortress that had been built at great expense by Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. It was overthrown from top to bottom and more than 80 people suffocated inside. Many in the city itself perished. Myriads of people died in Ghautah and Dareya3. Bosrah, Nawa4, Der'at, and Ba'albek were swallowed up completely . The water in the springs of Baalbek turned to blood. It returned to normal after much prayer and repentance by the townsfolk.

There was an extraordinary storm in the Sea. Its waves rose to the sky. The waves surged with a terrifying and horrid noise like a cauldron boiling from the flames of a fire. The sea overflowed and breached its banks destroying many towns and villages on its shores.

In the land of Balqa5, that is to say Moab, there was a fortress on the shore of the sea, where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived. It was struck by the sea's waves, the foundations were torn out, and it was deposited three miles away.

This earthquake destroyed the city of Tiberius except for house of a man named 'Isa. It overthrew thirty synagogues and wonderful natural things. The thermal baths - that wonderful building - built by Solomon the son of David, collapsed and was destroyed. There was a spring with purgative water and amazing constructions above it, surrounded by hotels6 (inns) for the sick who sought to be healed. There were clay pots artistically made and arranged. On each pot was written how many times it purged the bowels of those who drank from it. Each person chose a pot according to how much they wanted to drink. All these buildings are gone.

A village near Mount Tabor moved four miles from its place with all its homes and buildings intact. Neither a stone nor a small mud brick fell. Nor did [467] any person or animal die - not even a chicken!

The spring next to Jericho moved six miles from its original location.

In Mabboug, the quake struck during mass. People and animals died because the great churches and walls collapsed.7

In Constantinople, the statues of the emperors fell as well as most of the buildings. The same thing happened in Nicaea and in the other cities.8

Around this time, Const[antinus] drove out Germanus, their patriarch, from the church, and installed Anasta[si]us.9

Footnotes

1. Cf. Theoph., Ad ann. 741.
2. The Arabic version omits these two words. | |
3. Ar.: | |. I believe the first name should be read | |
4. Ar.: | |, like our ms. Correct | |
5, Ar.: | |
6. The word translated as hotels (inns) is corrupt. Arabic appears to have been read | | and translated | |" and the necessary things”. But, from the letters, it is likely that the original text was a transcription of the Greek | |
7. Cf. Ps.-Denys, ad ann. 1059 (trans., P. 42).
8. THEOPH., Ad ann. 732.
9. It was Leo III who forced Germanus to renounce the Patriarchy of Constantinople; cf. THEOPH., Ad ann. 721.
Chronology

Michael the Syrian's account is of limited use for chronology because he doesn't mention a year and he amalgamated several earthquakes into one but it has great value for Seismic Effects - provided that they are disentangled from the multiple earthquakes he is describing. Like Elias of Nisibis, Michael states that the church in Mabboug collapsed during the day at mass. For an example of Michael's confused chronology regarding years, see the last line in the excerpt above along with footnote 9. Michael says Germanus was ousted as Patriarch around the same time as the earthquake when these two events are separated by almost two decades. Ambraseys (2009) provided the following discussion on Michael's chronology:
Michael does not date the events he describes. He inserts the notice between others, which are not arranged within a chronological order: the accession of al-Walid II in AD 743, the earthquake in the Yemen in AD 742, the partial eclipse of the sun in AD 743 and the accession of Theophilactus in AD 721. What is important is that the year of the earthquake, i.e. ASG 1059, is not given by Michael but by the editor of his work, J. B. Chabot.
Seismic Effects

A table of seismic effects, in the order described by Michael, is presented below. Michael's account, which explicitly refers to one earthquake rather than multiple earthquakes, appears to amalgamate the Holy Desert Quake, the Talking Mule Quake, possibly the By No Means Mild Quake, and an unrelated earthquake(s) in Anatolia (e.g. one in Constantinople in 740 CE). Ambraseys (2009) suggests the possibility that the account of the destruction of a fortress in Moab where the Yemenite Taiyayê tribe lived may refer to a possible earthquake in Yemen in 742 CE (see Ambraseys et al, 1994:25-26). This table should not be used for developing Intensity Maps.
Location Damage Description Comments
Damascus earthquake with aftershocks for days Talking Mule Quake
Beit Qubayeh fortress overthrown - deaths location unknown making it hard to identify which earthquake was responsible.
Ghautah and Dareya many died Talking Mule Quake
Bosrah, Nawa, and Daraat (Daraa according to Sbeinati et al (2005) swallowed up completely Talking Mule Quake
Ba'albek swallowed up completely, spring "turned to blood" Talking Mule Quake
Sea Tsunami destroyed many towns and villages Holy Desert Quake
Moab fortress on shore moved 3 miles by seismic sea wave Talking Mule Quake
Tiberias destroyed Holy Desert Quake
Village near Mount Tabor (likely mis-located - see Theophilus) Translational Landslide Talking Mule Quake
Jericho spring moved 6 miles The location of Jericho suggests the Holy Desert Quake however the Byzantine sources associate this with the Talking Mule Quake and did not specify a location for the movement of the spring.
Mabboug Churches and Walls collapsed Talking Mule Quake
Constantinople most buildings and statues fell spurious - damage and destruction caused by a different earthquake
Nicea and other cities most buildings and statues fell spurious - damage and destruction caused by a different earthquake
Sources

Hoyland, 1997:416-419 notes that Michael explicitly cites Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source who in turn cited Theophilus of Edessa as a source. Ambraseys (2009) suggests that Michael used Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source and may have also used Elias of Nisibis as a source. Brooks (1906) wrote the following about Michael the Syrian's sources:
For the period 582—843 the work of Michael is mainly based on that of Dionysius the patriarch1 [JW: the real Dionysius of Tell Mahre], whom he probably reproduces almost in full, and we find also mention of James of Edessa and John the Stylite of Litarba 2.
Brooks (1906) went on to add:
To sum up, Michael used Dionysius (843—6), and Theophanes used a Palestinian Melchite author who wrote in Greek not long after 780, while both of these last used a chronicler who wrote not long after 746, whoin there is some reason to identify with John the son of Samuel, though we cannot positively assert that he was not Theophilus of Edessa.
If you are confused by Dionysius of Tel-Mahre and Pseudo Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, scroll up to Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre for an explanation.

Online Versions and Further Reading

An English translation from Armenian manuscripts of Michael the Syrian can be found in the Notes section and is included in this catalog because it contains some celestial observations which might assist with deciphering chronology. The text from the sole surviving Syriac manuscript can be read here. A well organized website dealing with Michael the Syrian can be found here

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234

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

Next to Michael's Chronicle this world chronicle (sometimes referred to as the 'Anonymous of Edessa') contains the most detailed account of events in the seventh century that is available in Syriac. It is largely independent of Michael's work, and the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the compiler's main sources for this period. The text is preserved in a unique manuscript (perhaps of the fourteenth century) that was in private hands in Constantinople at the beginning of the century.
As the only currently available translations of Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 that we can find are in Latin (bookmarked to the relevant page here), I will make use of Ambraseys' (2009) ample albeit slightly disconnected (e.g. he removed the bowel purging discussion at the hot spring in Tiberias) excerpt:
On the insurrections and ruin which happened at this time in the West, and the fall of the city of Mabbug. For in the year 1060 of the Greeks, 134 of the Arabs, great upheaval afflicted the world . . .

And there was an earthquake at Damascus and in the whole surrounding area, which lasted for days, and in which the area trembled and was shaken. It also [affected] Beth Cubaye, a citadel which had been built by Hagag the son of Joseph with much effort and at great expense. This was overturned and was destroyed down to its foundations, and more than eighty people were killed and buried in the middle of it. And in the same city many people died. Likewise in Gutah [a suburb] of Dareya, countless people died in this earthquake. Bosra and Neve (sic.) were razed to their foundations. And a great part of Baalbek collapsed, and the springs of water there became like blood.

There was an unusual and unexpected storm in the sea. The waves were seen to be lifted up to the sky: like a pot boiling over a blazing fire, the waves boiled with a terrible sound which made those who heard them tremble. And [the sea] rushed up and overflowed its bounds, destroying many coastal villages. Many other things are also told which, if they were recorded, would be a great burden for the writer and his readers.

They say also that in the region of Belca or the Moabitide, a certain citadel located on the shore of the sea, inhabited by Yemenite Arabs, was razed down to its foundations when waves poured into it from the depths; and it was hurled three miles. This earthquake completely overthrew the city of Tiberias, except for the house of a monk called ‘Isa. Also thirty synagogues of the Jews were overturned there and some natural wonders which were in that city. The baths built by King Solomon, a wonderful edifice, were completely overthrown and collapsed. There was also in that city a purgative spring of water given by God for the health of man. And above it had been erected fine buildings . . . These buildings were all razed and destroyed. And another village, near Mt Tabor, was moved and shifted four miles from its site, with its houses and goods, and not a single stone or piece of adobe fell; and not a man or animal died, not even a chicken.

And a spring of water situated close to Jericho, near which there were citadels, gardens and mills founded by Solomon the son of Abdamalich, itself stayed where it was, but the river which has its source there moved six miles back from the place in which it flowed, so that all that Solomon had built by this river perished.

And Mabbug [became] no insignificant ruin, and many people died there; for at the time of the Sunday sacrifice, as the priest stood raising his hands over the oblation, the church collapsed, killing those on whom it fell, and all who were inside were crushed and perished, the priests together with the people; and instead of canticles and spiritual psalms, crashes and lamentation were heard in the entire city. The foundations of the walls were also shattered. (Chron. 1234, 325–327/254–255).
Chronology

Like Elias of Nisibis, Chronicon Ad Annum states that the church collapsed in Mabbug on a Sunday at the time of Mass. Chronicon Ad Annum specifies conflicting years for this earthquake in two calendars - as A.H. 134 (26 August 751 -17 July 752) and as A.G. 1060 which equates to 2 April 749 - 1 April 750 CE using Babylonian reckoning (Macedonian reckoning places it even earlier - 1 Sept. 748 - 31 Aug. 749 CE). Obviously the dates are in disagreement.

Seismic Effects

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234 is almost identical to Michael the Syrian's account. The only notable exception is that, unlike Michael the Syrian, there is no mention of seismic damage in Constantinople, Nicea, and other cites in Anatolia due to an unrelated earthquake(s).

Sources

Brock(1976) suggests that the lost chronicle of Dionysius of Teilmahre appears to be one of the compiler's main sources for this period. Hoyland, 1997:416-419 notes that Dionysius of Tell-Mahre cited Theophilus of Edessa as a source.

Online Versions and Further Reading

There are two volumes to this Chronicle. Vol.1 deals with secular history and Volume 2 deals with ecclesiastical history. For our purposes, we are interested in Volume 1. Both volumes can be read in Syriac here where the link is bookmarked to the start of the secular section. A Latin translation is bookmarked to the page which describes the earthquake here. This web page has some well organized information about this Chronicle (scroll down to see it).

Christian Writers in Arabic

Section
Agapius of Menbij
al-Muqaffa
al-Makin
Book of History (Kitab al-‘Unvan) by Agapius of Menbij

Agapius of Menbij (aka Agapius of Hierapolis) wrote in Arabic in the 10th century CE when he was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (aka Mabbug, Hierapolis Bambyce). Kitab al-‘Unvan (trans. Book of History) is his best known work. The book is divided into two parts with the second part covering our time period. In an English translation by Vasilev (1909) by we can read:

In the month of Kanoun II (January), there was a violent earthquake on the coast of the sea of Palestine. Many places were devastated, and many people perished, especially in Tiberias, where more than 100,000 men succumbed.
Chronology

The month of January is specified. The year is not specified.

Seismic Effects
  • Destruction in Tiberias
  • Many places devastated
  • Coastal Area of Palestine affected
Seismic Effects suggest the Holy Desert Quake which was dated to January by Byzantine sources Paul the Deacon, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Theophanes, and Cedrenus.

Notes

The earthquake is preceded by an account of Constantine V's conquest of Germanikeia (Modern Marash) in 746 CE and followed by the initiation of the Abassid Revolution by Abu Muslim on 9 June 747 (25 Ramadan 129 A.H.).

History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria by Sawirus (Severus) ibn-al Muqaffa

Severus ibn al-Muqaffa is regarded as the redactor of an earlier series of biographies written in Coptic which he translated to Arabic in the 11th century CE (Coptic Encyclopedia) and titled the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria (aka History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church). The earthquake is mentioned in the biography of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) who was the Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria from 744-767 CE. The account below purports to be an eyewitness account by a companion of Michael I. In a translation by Evetts (1910:139-140) we can read:

Then we returned to Misr [i.e. Egypt] on the night of the 21st of Tuba, the night on which our Lady, the Virgin Mary, went to her rest. And that night there came great wrath from God, for there was a great earthquake in the land, and many houses were ruined in all the cities, and none was saved from them, not a single soul, and likewise on the sea many ships were sunk on that night. This happened all over the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia. And they counted the cities that were wrecked that night, and they were six hundred cities and villages, with a vast destruction of men and beasts. But the land of Egypt was uninjured, except only Damietta. And at Misr there was only great fear, without any death or ruin of houses; for though the beams in the doorways and walls were moved out of their places, they went back again to their places after two hours.We were assured by one whose word we trust that none of the churches of the Orthodox nor of their dwellings was destroyed throughout the east.
Chronology

As this is purported to be eyewitness testimony from Egypt, this earthquake would refer to the Holy Desert Quake. The date is specified as the 21st of Tuba on the day of Dormition - a feast dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Tuba (طوبه) is the Arabic name for Tobi - the 5th month of the Coptic calendar also known as the Alexandrian calendar. The Coptic calendar is a solar calendar which has been in sync with the Julian calendar for roughly 2000 years. Each month has 30 days. The calendar is often abbreviated as A.M. where A.M. stands for Anno Martyrum. The year A.M. 1 corresponds to 29 August 284 to 28 August 285 CE in the Julian calendar. Tuba runs from 27 December – 25 January in the Julian calendar in a normal year and 28 December - 26 January during a leap year. 21 Tuba would thus correspond to 16 January in a normal year and 17 January in a leap year. Coptic leap years are determined by the A.M.. If A.M. is divisible by 4, it is a leap year. Otherwise it is a normal year. 749 CE corresponds to A.M. 484 which is divisible by 4 and therefore a Coptic Leap Year. Thus, the date of this account is 17 January if it occurred in 749 CE. An earthquake on the night of 17 January would explain the tremor felt in Mabbug the night before the Talking Mule Quake - as described by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre:
A tremor took place during the night, and something like the noise of a roaring bull was heard from a great distance.
That distant earthquake was likely the Holy Desert Quake which was felt in Egypt. The Talking Mule Quake struck at roughly 10 am on the next day - January 18.

The year is not specified in the text however the earthquake takes place shortly after the imprisonment of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) from the 11th of Tut to the 12th of Babah (p. 135). Karcz (2004), using the same translation by Evetts (1910), reports that al-Muqaffa dated this to A.H. 130 although no such dates are to be found in the text. Even earlier in the text on page 134, the author alludes to the Abassid Revolution which became an open revolt on 9 June 747 (Ramadan 25, 129 A.H.). None of these years sync up with the probable year of the earthquake however events are not accurately and precisely dated in the texts of this time and these years should not be considered determinative for the year in question. They loosely determine the year of the earthquake.

Seismic Effects

Although this account amalgamates the earthquakes describing seismic destruction from Gaza to Persia, the shaking in Egypt experienced by whoever the original source was would have been caused by the Holy Desert Quake. Seismic reports are summarized below:
  • "Many houses ruined in all the cities"
  • Possible tsunami report - Ships sunk at sea
  • 600 cities and villages affected
  • Egypt unaffected except for Damietta
Sources

The biographies translated by al-Muqaffa have a complex textual history of various authors and continuations. The biography of Michael I (aka Kha 'il I) was apparently written by a companion who is described below by the Coptic Encyclopedia:
The third author in this list is John, called John I by Johnson (1973). He was the spiritual son of MOSES, bishop of Awsim, and a close companion of KHA’IL I (744-767). From some passages toward the end of the life of this patriarch, it can be inferred that John, a native of Giza, was a monk and a deacon, and that he must later have been a bishop himself, although we do not know of which see. John I wrote the lives 43-46, covering the period from 705 to 768. Besides John, an editorial note mentions two persons both called Maqarah (Macarius), in relation to this same series of patriarch lives. It is so far unclear what their contribution may have been.
Online Versions and Further Reading

The text can also be read here. The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia provides reference material for people and events. The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia also has an entry which details how to convert Coptic to Julian dates. An online calendar converter which converts Coptic to Julian date is available here.

Notes and Links

The Coptic calendar for 748 CE

The Coptic calendar for 749 CE

Dormition or Assumption Feast of 21 Tuba - Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia

Coptic Calendar - Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia

The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia provides information on the reckoning of hours among Copts:
The civil day of Christians in Egypt began in the morning, as did that of the ancient Egyptians and the Romans; but their liturgical day began, then as now, at sunset, like the Jewish, Muslim, and Greek days.
Lane (1846) also provides some information on the reckoning of the Coptic day.

Karcz (2004) supplies some references he used which could be helpful in the future: Garitte, 1958 and Gamber, 1984.

al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection) by al-Makin (aka George Elmacin aka Ibn al-ʿAmīd)

al-Makin was a Coptic Christian, born in Cairo, who wrote in Arabic. His sole surviving work is entitled al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection). It was written between 1262 and 1268 CE. The first portion runs from Adam down to the 11th year of Heraclius. The second half is a history of the Saracens, which extends from the time of Mohammad to the accession of the Mameluke Sultan Baybars in 1260 CE. In an excerpt supplied by Ambraseys (2009), we can read :

(a.460 Diocl. = 17 January 744) ... on the 21st Tuba [17 January 744] a great earthquake [occurred] which ruined several cities and caused a sizable number of people to die under the ruins, and a number of ships perished. It is said that this was a cosmic earthquake, affecting all countries, as far as the East where 100 cities were overturned on that day and so many men and beasts killed.' (al-Mak. HM 460).
In a separate excerpt supplied by Ambraseys (2009), we can read :
(a. H. 120) And then there was great upheaval in Egypt on 21st Tuba [16 January], when a great earthquake during the night destroyed many cities, the inhabitants perishing under the ruins; and many ships were engulfed in the sea. And they say that this was a cosmic earthquake, affecting all regions, out to the Far East; and on the same night 600 cities in the East were uprooted, and men and innumerable animals were wiped out.' (al-Mak. HS i. 83).
Chronology

Year is specified by editor not the author. The editor supplies two years - 744 CE and A.H. 120 (29 December 737 - 17 December 738); both of which are way off. Both passages date the earthquake to the 21st of Tuba in agreement with al-Muqaffa. Tuba is the name of a coptic month. The reason why 21st of Tuba is dated to 16 January in one account and 17 January in another has to do with whether the year supplied by the editor was a Coptic Leap Year (see Chronology section of Al-Muqaffa for details). Thus, we have a second Egyptian source who specifies that the Holy Desert Quake struck on the 21st of Tuba.

Seismic Effects

This account amalgamates the earthquakes.
  • 100 or 600 cities damaged or destroyed
  • Possible tsunami - Ships sunk at sea
  • many deaths
Sources

The Wikipedia entry on al-Makin has a cited discussion which discusses Al-Makin's sources with a potentially useful list of references.

Online Versions and Further Reading

A latin translation titled Historia Saracenica by Thomas Erpenius (1625) is available here however the section translated appears to start around 809 CE. See the Wikipedia page on al-Makin for more details, citations and references. Roger Pearse also provides information on manuscripts, translations, and editions here.

Judaic Texts

Ra'ash shvi'it (רעש שביעית)

Ra'ash shvi'it is a poem - a type of poem known as a Piyyut (פיוט). Piyyutim (i.e. Piyyuts) are a type of Jewish liturgical poetry. This difficult to date poem literally translates as 'Seventh Noise' but if it describes one of the earthquake(s) in question it might be more appropriately titled 'The Sabbatical Year Quake' (although some prefer 'the 7th Earthquake'). Parts of the poem translated into English by Raban (1989:10) are shown below:

Multitudes drowned violently
those dwellers in the Shefela [coastal lowlands of Israel]
and in the Sharon valley
A current appeared
Women and children were drowned
along with preachers of the Bible and Mishna
Karcz (2004) provided some additional apparently disconnected excerpts:
rage in fear and dark chaos will capital Tiberias
in wrath and anger sunk crowds in plains in Sharon Valley
I heard how disaster befell the city and
the old and young in it have perished
Karcz (2004) describes the poem (Zolai, 1937; Margalioth, 1941) as lamenting an earthquake that caused a widespread destruction and extensive casualties in Tiberias and a catastrophic flooding in the plain of Sharon" noting that, although the Sharon Valley currently exclusively refers to the coastal plain of Israel, Eusebius in the 4th century CE used the term Sharon Valley to refer to a part of Jordan and Yizrael Valleys between Mt.Tabor and Tiberias (Weitz, 1939; Brawer, 1940). Karcz (2004) further noted that wrath could refer to an earthquake; something common in Byzantine Chronicles (e.g. Malalas). Karcz (2004) added the following saga of exegesis and exploration of Ra'ash shvi'it which commemorates an ancient day of fasting on the 23rd of Shvat (17/18 January in 749 CE):
The poem repeatedly refers to a fast in memory of this earthquake, observed on the 23rd of Shvat. Zolai (1937) was unable to decide if the title of the poem refers to a seventh shock in course of the same earthquake swarm, or to a seventh earthquake in a series of events preserved in some extinct tradition. In his opinion, however, the form and style dated the poem to 10th-12th century, a period during which Tiberias was damaged only in 1033/1034 A.D. and in 1202 A.D. Since in [the] end [of the] 11th century, the Jewish community in Tiberias was too small for its misfortunes to trigger a nationwide day of fasting, he concluded that the fast of 23rd of Shevat commemorated the earthquake that in 1033/1034 hit Tiberias, Jerusalem, Ramle and other towns and villages. This date was rejected by Margalioth (1941), who argued that the fast of 23rd Shvat was mentioned already by Pinneas the Poet, who in a 10th century text was mentioned amongst «ancient» authors and that the poem includes a veiled reference to Moslem rulers. He assumed therefore that the earthquake should be backdated and placed between the Arab conquest (about mid 7th century) and the beginning of 9th century, a period he regarded as consistent with the literary form and style of the poem. Having found no evidence that successive earthquakes that hit the Holy Land were counted in numerical order, he read the title of the poem as «Earthquake of the Seventh (feminine)» rather than «Seventh (masculine) Earthquake». The «Seventh» (feminine) stands for a sabbatical (fallow) year and Margalioth indicated that in the above time range only the earthquakes of 712/713 A.D. and 747/748 A.D. occurred in a sabbatical year. Having found no details about the former he dismissed it as unimportant and dated the earthquake to 23rd Shvat (28 January), 748 A.D. in agreement with two late Arab chronicles of Mukaddasi (d.14th century) and Ibn Tagri Birdi (d.15th century) who transmit news of an earthquake in AH 130 (747/748 A.D.). Twenty years later, Margalioth (1960) found a reference to the 23rd Shvat fast in a 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Genizza depository
Margalioth (1960) attempted to decipher Gematria he thought might be hidden in the text found in the Cairo Geniza and arrived at the 679th year since the destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.) obtaining an earthquake date of 23rd Shvat in 749 CE. In 749 CE, 23rd Shvat corresponds to 17/18 January, the same date for Theophanes' first earthquake. In other nearby years (e.g. 748 and 750 CE), 23 Shevat does not coincide with 17/18 January. Margalioth claimed support for the 749 CE year by assuming that the 8th century reckoning of Sabbatical Years followed an older system than the one currently used (Karcz, 2004 citing Wacholder, 1973) where a Sabbatical year neither falls in August 70 CE (date of destruction of the second Temple) nor 749 CE. The older system would presumably date the Temple destruction in 70 AD to a Sabbatical Year and would make January 749 CE fall in a Sabbatical Year as well. Karcz (2004) cautioned however that conversion tables used by Margalioth are not applicable in detailed calibration of pre 10th century month and day dates, when calendar and intercalation practices were not fully fixed. As noted by Ambraseys (2009), there is a history of ways to calculate the Sabbatical Year.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Gil, M. (1992). A History of Palestine, 634-1099, Cambridge University Press

Moshe Gil on Wikipedia

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) noted that:
This piyyut has been preserved in two manuscripts, Oxford 2852/8 (fol. 40b) and Adler 2038 (fol. 5b), which provide slightly different readings. Both MSS give the dates as the 23rd of Shevat. The Adler MS, which is preferred by Margaliot, mentions the fast of the Ra'ash Shevi'it on the 23rd (day) of it ( = Shevat). The Oxford version names the earthquake Ra'ash Shevi`i. Margaliot bases himself on the version of the Adler manuscript, thus interpreting the term Ra'ash Shevi'it as the earthquake of the sabbatical (= seventh) year (Shemittah: Deut. 15).
Notes

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) noted that:
Margaliot also shows that the catastrophe is mentioned by the poet Rabbi Pinhas — a hymnologist active no later than the early ninth century in his piyyut of Qiddush Yerahim (poem on the sanctification of the New Moon), in the part referring to the month of Shevat.

10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza

The 23rd Shvat fast is referred to in a 10th-11th century book of prayers found in the Cairo Geniza. Karcz (2004) provided an excerpt:

On 23 Shevat a fast to the Land of Israel, since the land trembled and many cities fell and sages and pious and the just and the [etc.]... died under the ruins. And it is referred to in texts ‘in wrath the earth will pace ahead’ and since destruction of Jerusalem to the date it happened in Land of Israel the count of in wrath
Margalioth (1960) used one of the more common codes of Gematria to decipher [in wrath = b z a’ m], possibly בזעם which results in the number 679 using the Mispar Gadol (Large Sofit) cipher using this Gematria Calculator. Karcz (2004) provided the gematria as b = 2, z = 7, a = 70, and m = 600. If in an older system of counting Sabbatical years, the date of the destruction of the Second Temple in August 70 CE was in a Sabbatical Year (in the Hebrew calendar), one could count forward from that date and arrive at a number years which, if neatly divisible by 7 (i.e. no remainder or fraction), would also be a Sabbatical Year. 679 is neatly divisible by 7 and 679 + 70 = 749. Thus, if in some old reckoning the destruction of the second Temple in August 70 CE fell in a Sabbatical Year, it appears that January 749 CE would be in a Sabbatical Year as well.

Chronology
Date Reference Corrections Notes
Sunset Friday 17 January - Sunset Saturday 18 January 749 CE 23 Shevat for the day, Gematria and coincidence with Byzantine sources for the year none Holy Desert Quake
Seismic Effects
  • Tiberias Damaged or destroyed
  • Destruction in Shefala
  • Tsunami in Sharon Valley
As noted by Karcz (2004), the Sharon Valley at that time could have referred to Israel's coastal plain or a part of Jordan and Yizrael Valleys between Mt.Tabor and Tiberias (Weitz, 1939; Brawer, 1940). In terms of a tsunami report, this could reference a tsunami of the coast of Israel, the Sea of Galilee, or both.

Samaritan Sources

Kitab al-Ta'rikh (aka Annals) by Abu l’Fath

Abu l'Fath, a Samaritan, wrote Kitab al-Ta'rikh in 1355 CE and cited sources (Crown, 1989:221). The document exists in multiple differing manuscripts (Karcz, 2004). In an English translation provided to Karcz (2004) by Paul Stenhouse, we can read

In the days of Marwan an extraordinarily powerful earthquake struck everywhere. Houses collapsed on their inhabitants and untold numbers of people perished. It was a terrible earthquake that had no precedent. Those who survived it stayed out in the open for many days while the earth was still shaking underneath them
Karcz (2004) provided another excerpt which precedes the passage above
Marwan bin Muhammad the last of Ummayads who ruled five years and two months. From the beginning of Islam to this time was 131 years and three months.
This refers to A.H. 131 plus 3 months which works out to roughly October 750 CE using the fourmilab calendar converter. However, nothing in this second passage specifies that the earthquake passage struck at the end of Marwan II's reign. Karcz (2004) further noted that after the earthquake passage, Abu l’Fath discusses the Abassid Revolution and the rise of Abu Muslim - the Abbasid General who led the revolution. Karcz (2004) dates this last passage to Ramadan 747 CE indicating that it may specify the day in 747 CE when Abu Muslim started the rebellion (specifically 25 Ramadan or 9 June). Without seeing the passage, it is difficult to evaluate Karcz (2004)'s last date as the Abbasid Revolution lasted from 9 June 747 CE to July 750 CE. However, Karcz (2004)'s point was that the date of the earthquake recounted by Abu l’Fath and the Adler Chronicle below is not well specified and we agree. It seems that the chronology provided by these Samaritan texts is no more accurate than 644 - 650 CE - the years that Marwan II reigned. One manuscript version of Kitab al-Ta'rikh can be read in Arabic here.

Chronicle Adler

Adler and Seligsohn (1902:243) translated Samaritan texts of debated origin but which are thought to rely heavily on Kitab al-Ta'rikh by Abu l’Fath (Crown, 1989:222). The passage below provides an account of an earthquake during the reign of Marwan II, the last Umayyad Caliph. Marwan II began his rule in 744 CE and was killed in 750 CE. Thus, these are the dates that constrain the timing of this account. A translation from the French of Adler and Seligsohn (1902:243) follows:

In the time of Merwan a great earthquake, never was it so terrible.

Muslim Writers

Section
Introduction
al-Maqdisi 1
al-Maqdisi 2
al-Jawzi
al-Dhahabi
al-Mansouri
Jamal ad Din Ahmad
Ibn Tagri Birdi
al-Suyuti
Mujir al-Din
Other Muslim Writers
Introduction

Chronology

All the Muslim writers who supply a year wrote late - from the 13th to 15th centuries. Among the muslim writers who supply a year, A.H. 130 (11 Sept. 747 - 30 Aug. 748 CE) and A.H. 131 (31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE) are the years they supply except for al-Mansouri who supplied a year of A.H. 132 (20 Aug. 749 - 8 Aug. 750 CE). The table below lists the years reported (except for al-Mansouri) accompanied by a brief description of where they reported damage:

Date of Composition Author A.H. 130 A.H. 131 Notes
13th century Sibt ibn al-Jawzi
Early 14th century CE al-Dhahabi Jerusalem, Syria al-Dhahabi provided a date of Ramadan A.H. 130 (4 May - 2 June 748 CE)
1351 CE Jamal ad Din Ahmad Jerusalem
15th century CE Ibn Tagri Birdi Jerusalem, Syria Jerusalem, Syria Guidoboni et al (1994) supplied a quote dated to A.H. 131. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) state that in another part of the text, there is a description of an A.H. 130 earthquake. Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) state that Ibn Tagri Birdi quotes Sibt ibn al-Jawzi
15th century CE As-Soyuti Damascus Damascus
1495 CE Mujir al-Din Jerusalem
Seismic Effects

Damage reports are limited to Jerusalem and Damascus with the greatest emphasis on Jerusalem and damage to Al-Aqsa mosque. Damage is also reported in Syria, presumably Greater Syria, but no specifics are given of localities damaged besides Jerusalem and Damascus.

Muslim writers are discussed below ordered by date of composition.

Description of Syria including Palestine by al-Maqdisi

وصف سوريا بما في ذلك فلسطين (?) by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي

Aliases Aliases
al-Muqaddasi ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Maqdisī شَمْس ٱلدِّيْن أَبُو عَبْد ٱلله مُحَمَّد ابْن أَحْمَد ابْن أَبِي بَكْر ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
al-Maqdisi wrote Description of Syria including Palestine in Arabic in c. 985 CE (Le Strange, 1886). On page 41 of an English translation by Le Strange (1886), we can read about earthquake damage inflicted on Al-Aqsa mosque from more than one earthquake:
But in the days of the Abbasides occurred the earthquakes which threw down most of the main building; all, in fact, except that portion round the Mihrab. Now when the Khalifa of that day obtained news of this, he enquired and learned that the sum at that time in the treasury would in no wise suffice to restore the mosque. So he wrote to the Governors of the Provinces and to other Commanders, that each should undertake the building of a colonnade.
Chronology

Earthquakes are undated however earthquakes (plural) are mentioned. The causitive earthquakes which damaged Al-Aqsa mosque were likely the Holy Desert Quake and the By No Means Mild Quake

Seismic Effects

  • threw down most of the main building of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
  • only the part of the Mosque around the Mihrab was spared - this may be a legendary report as this has theological significance

The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Regions by al-Maqdisi

أفضل الأقسام في معرفة المناطق (?) by ٱلْمَقْدِسِي

Aliases Aliases
al-Muqaddasi ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Maqdisī شَمْس ٱلدِّيْن أَبُو عَبْد ٱلله مُحَمَّد ابْن أَحْمَد ابْن أَبِي بَكْر ٱلْمَقْدِسِي
I have not been able to access this book so I don't know if the earthquakes are described within it.

Online Versions and Further Reading

An English translation of this book by Collins was published in 2001. Various translations of al-Maqdisi are listed here.

Mirror of time in histories of the notables by Sibt ibn al-Jawzi

مرآة الزمان في تواريخ الأعيان by سبط ابن الجوزي

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi wrote a 23-volume encyclopedic biographical History titled Mirror of time in histories of the notables (Mir’at al-Zamān fī Tawarīkh al-'Ayān - مرآة الزمان في تواريخ الأعيان) in Arabic in the 13th century CE.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Mirror of time in histories of the notables can be read in Arabic here

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232 footnote 16) list manuscripts for Mir'at al-Zaman as follows:

  • MS British Museum, Add. 23, 277, fol. 135b, 11. 11-17 (Year A.H. 130)
  • On the existence of the earlier source of al-Jawzi we have learnt from an unpublished study by A. El'ad, who collected the various Arabic sources and traditions concerning the earthquake.
Notes

Karcz (2004) states:
It is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.

al-Mansouri

Chronology

Sbeinati et al (2005) supply an excerpt

In the year 132 A.H. [20 August 749 CE to 8 August 750 CE] there was an earthquake at Al-Sham.
Online Versions and Further Reading

AL-HAMAWI, Muhammad Ibn Ali (1963): Al-Tarikh Al-Mansouri, Moscow.

Great History of Islam by al-Dhahabi

تاريخ الإسلام by الذهبي

Aliases Aliases
Shams ad-Dīn adh-Dhahabī شمس الدين الذهبي
Shams ad-Dīn Abū ʿAbdillāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿUthmān ibn Qāymāẓ سهامس ادءدين ابو عابديللاه موحامماد يبن احماد يبن عوتهمان يبن قايماظ يبن عابديللاه اتءتوركوماني الءفاريقي ادءديماسهقي (?)
ʿAbdillāh at-Turkumānī al-Fāriqī ad-Dimashqī عابديللاه اتءتوركوماني الءفاريقي ادءديماسهقي (?)
al-Dhahabi wrote Great History of Islam (Ta'rikh al-Islam al-Kabir) in Damascus in Arabic in the early part of the 14th century CE. The work comprises 50 volumes and can be read in Arabic here. Ambraseys (2009) translated an excerpt which apparently comes from volumes 39 and/or 40:
All these events took place at the time of the first earthquake, in the month of Ramadan of 130. God knows best.
In that year there was a prodigious earthquake in Sham: we know this from Ibn Jusa, whose source is Muhammad ibn Shaddad ibn Aws al-Ansary, whose source in turn is his grandfather. According to this chain of witnesses it is known that in the year 130 there was the most violent earthquake in Jerusalem. Many of the faithful (Ansars or no) were victims of it. The houses of Shaddad ibn Aws fell on him and his guests; Muhammad ibn Shadda was saved, but he lost his property under the ruins, recovering only the Prophet's sandals. According to another report, Abu Ja'far al-Mansur, the prince of believers, was asked, "O prince of believers, the western and eastern parts of the mosque were damaged during the earthquake of 130: if you would have the damage repaired, that would be very good." The caliph replied that he had no money. Therefore they took off the plates of silver and gold which had covered the doors since the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and broke it down to the last dinars and drachmas, which financed the rebuilding.
Guidoboni et al (1994) also supplied an excerpt:
[In that year] there was a strong earthquake in Syria [...]. When the Province of Syria was struck by earthquakes in the year 130 [of the Hegira = 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 AD ], the strongest shocks occurred in Jerusalem, causing the death of many conquering troops and others.
Chronology

The first earthquake struck is reported during the month of Ramadan A.H. 130 (4 May 748 - 2 June 748). The date of subsequent earthquake is unspecified. Reference to destruction in Jerusalem appears to refer to the Holy Desert Quake however the author may be amalgamating another earthquake in his description. Sham refers to Bilad al-Sham, a large province which, at the time, encompassed what we know as the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Ibn Tagri Birdi, appears to describe the same event but dates it to A.H. 130 or A.H. 131 indicating that al-Dhahabi and Ibn Tagri Birdi dealt with some chronological uncertainty in dating these earthquakes.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
4 May 748 - 2 June 748 CE Ramadan A.H. 130 none probably Holy Desert Quake - struck Greater Syria, strongest shocks in Jerusalem
Seismic Effects
  • Earthquake in Sham (Greater Syria)
  • Earthquake in Jerusalem - many died - houses collapsed
  • Western and Eastern parts of Al Aqsa Mosque damaged

The Exciter of Desire (for Visitation of the Holy City and Syria) by Jamal ad Din Ahmad

موتهير الءعهيرام (Muthîr al-Ghirâm) by جامال اد دين اهماد (?)

Le Strange (1910:10) relates that this text was composed by Jamal ad Din Ahmad, a native Jerusalemite, in 1351 CE. The work is described as a topographical description of the Holy City. Le Strange (1910:92) translates and quotes the text as follows:

On the authority of 'Abd ar Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur ibn Thabit, from his father, who had it from his father and grandfather. In the days of 'Abd al Malik, all the gates of the mosque were covered with plates of gold and of silver. But in the reign of the Khalif Al Mansur, both the eastern and the western portions of the mosque had fallen down. Then it was reported to the Khalif, saying,
O commander of the faithful, verily the earthquake in the year 130 (a.d. 746) did throw down the eastern part of the mosque and the western part also; now, therefore, do thou give orders to rebuild the same and raise it again.
Khalif replied that as there were no moneys in his treasury, (to supply the lack of coin) they should strip off the plates of gold and of silver that overlaid the gates. So they stripped these off and coined therefrom Dinars and Dirhams, which moneys were expended on the rebuilding of the mosque until it was completed. Then occurred a second earthquake, and the building that Al Mansur had commanded to be built fell to the ground. In the days of the Khalif Al Mahdi, who succeeded him, the mosque was still lying in ruins, which, being reported to him, he commanded them to rebuild the same. And the Khalif said that the mosque had been (of old) too narrow, and of too great length - and (for this reason) it had not been much used by the people — so now (in rebuilding it) they should curtail the length and increase the breadth. Now the restoration of the mosque was completed on the new plan during the days of his Khalifate.
Chronology

Le Strange (1910:92) adds that From this account we learn that in A.H. 130 the Aksa was thrown down by earthquake and rebuilt by the Khalif Al Mansir.. A.H. 130 dates to 11 September 747 - 30 August 748 CE. Damage in Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa mosque) suggests that this describes the Holy Desert Quake. The second earthquake referred to in the account above may refer to the By No Means Mild Quake

Seismic Effects
  • both the eastern and the western portions of the [Al-Aqsa] mosque had fallen down
Online Versions and Further Reading

Le Strange (1910:10) relates that an excellent MSS of this work, which has never yet been printed, are preserved in the Bibliotlieqne Nationale at Paris, and from these the translations given have been made. For a full description of the MSS., and an account of Jamal ad Din's life, I may refer to my paper on Suyuti (who has copied Jamal ad Din), in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xix , new series, p. 250.

The shining stars in the kings of Egypt and Cairo by Ibn Tagri Birdi

النجوم الزاهرة في ملوك مصر والقاهرة by بردي يبن

Aliases Aliases
Jamal al-Din Yusuf bin al-Amir Sayf al-Din Taghribirdi جمال الدين يوسف بن الأمير سيف الدين تغري بردي (?)
Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf ibn Taghrī-Birdī ابو الءماحاسين يوسوف يبن تاعهريءبيردي (?)
Ibn Tagri Birdi wrote The shining stars in the kings of Egypt and Cairo (al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahirain) in Arabic in the 15th century CE. Guidoboni et al (1994) supplied an excerpt:
In that year, there was a strong earthquake in Syria which destroyed Jerusalem. The sons of Shaddad ibn Aws died there. The inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert, where they stayed for forty days. It is said to have happened in the year 131

al-Nujum al-Zdhira 1.311
Chronology

Ibn Tagri Birdi appears to be describing the same earthquake as al-Dhahabi.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
31 August 748 - 19 August 749 CE A.H. 131 none probably Holy Desert Quake - struck Greater Syria, destroyed Jerusalem
Seismic Effects
  • Earthquake in Sham (Greater Syria)
  • Jerusalem destroyed
  • inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the desert suggests aftershocks and house collapses
Sources

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232) relate that Tagri Birdi's earthquake account quotes from the book Mir'at al-Zaman by 13th century writer Sibt ibn al-Jawzi.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Parts of the al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira can be read in Arabic here. A short summary in Arabic is available here. The volumes may also be available here

al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira in Arabic and Latin (?) - hathi trust

al-Nujum al-zahira fi muluk Misr wa'l-Qahira in Arabic and Latin (?) - Google Play ebook

Notes

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b:232) state that Tagri Birdi's chronicle dates the earthquake to A.H. 130 but that in the same section, Tagri Birdi adds that there existed another, less common, tradition according to which the earthquake occurred in A.H. 131 (31 August 748-18 August 749).

Karcz (2004) adds:
It is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.
A list of aliases for Ibn Tagri Birdi can be found here

Ibn Tagri Birdi explained

Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes by Jalal al-Din al-Suyiti

كتاب كشف الصلصلة عن وصف الزلزلة by عبد الرحمن بن كمال الدين أبي بكر بن محمد سابق الدين خضر الخضيري الأسيوطي

al-Suyuti was a prolific Arabic language writer who wrote in Cairo in the 15th century CE. His Book Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes (Kashf as-Salsalah 'an wasf Az-zalzalak) contains an earthquake catalog. A shortened English version of this catalog was created from a translation by Sprenger (1843) where on page 742 we can read:

130. There was an earthquake at Damascus, which was so violent, that the people were obliged to leave the town.

131. Several new shocks in Damascus
All dates are in A.H.. Ambraseys (2009) provided an expanded translation from (al-Suyuti 17-19/9-10.):

A.H. 130
In Tadkirat al-Wada'i the following tradition is reported after `Abd-Allah ibn kathir al-Qari who said,
We were victims of an earthquake in Damascus in 130: the inhabitants had left their town; the Dajaj suq [poultry market] fell from the "Great Rocks". Several days after the catastrophe they started to dig through a part of the ruins and then it was that a man was found alive...
A.H. 131
[`Abd-Allah ibn kathir al-Qari (Ibn Kathir - ابن كثير) also] said,
I was told that at the time of the catastrophic earthquake of 131, the platform of the mosque opened, allowing the sky to be seen; another earthquake following after this last one closed the gap up again.
Chronology

Earthquake felt in Damascus followed by another roughly a year layer. Years specified are A.H. 130 (11 September 747 - 30 August 748) and A.H. 131 (31 August 748 -19 August 749). As As-Soyuti describes both earthquakes as a catastrophe in Damascus, it is difficult to identify whether the Talking Mule Quake or the Holy Desert Quake was the cause. It is entirely possible that al-Suyiti is repeating the Talking Mule Quake twice and giving two different A.H. years due to chronological confusion.
Year Reference Corrections Notes
11 September 747 - 30 August 748 A.H. 130 none struck Damascus
31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE A.H. 131 none struck Damascus
Seismic Effects

A.H. 130 earthquake
  • Violent earthquake experienced in Damascus
  • Poultry Market in Damascus fell from the "Great Rocks"
  • building collapsed and people died in Damascus
  • people obliged to leave town and that fact that rescue efforts were delayed a few days suggests strong aftershocks in the days after the main shock
A.H. 131 earthquake
  • Catastrophic earthquake in Damascus
  • Earthquake and aftershocks in Damascus
  • Mosque damaged in Damascus - roof collapse ?
Sources

Karcz (2004) provided the following summary of As-Suyuti's stated source:
As-Suyuti cites the eye witness evidence of Abdalla al Katir, a well known historian and scientist (d. AH 196, 811/812 A.D.), transmitted by al Wadai (d. AH 716, 1316/1317 A.D.)
Notes

Names in the text are reported in Arabic as ابن الأثير (Ibn al-Athir) and ابن كثير (Ibn Kathir). The similarity of the A.H. 130 and A.H. 131 accounts suggests that Al-Suyuti was describing the same earthquake twice but, due to confusion from his sources, were assigned two separate years.

The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron by Mujir al-Din

التاريخ المجيد للقدس والخليل (?) by مجير الدين

Aliases Aliases
Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi مجير الدين العليمي (?)
al-’Ulaimi العليمي (?)
'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-'Ulaymi مجير الدين عبدالرحمن الحنبلي العليمي الشهير بأبن قطينه (?)
Ibn Quttainah يبن قوتتايناه (?)
Mujir al-Din al-’Ulaimi was a native Jerusalemite who wrote "The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron" (al-Uns al-Jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds wal-Khalil) in Arabic around 1495 CE. Ambraseys (2009) provided a translation of an excerpt from pages 237-238 of an edition published in Cairo in 1866.
The history of the holy Rock at Jerusalem on the night of the earthquake, according to Abu Umayr who held the Jundub which pertained to Rustum al- Farisi:
At the time when the first earthquake occurred, they requested me to give the call to prayer, and I answered that that was not my business. They asked me the same when the second [earthquake] occurred and I gave the same answer. Come the third earthquake, I was very frightened and I approached the mosque. All the houses had been destroyed. One of the guards of the holy Rock asked me, 'Quick, go and get news of my family and I will tell you the prodigy.' I went to find out and brought him back the news. Then he said to me, 'The dome lifted itself up, [so that] one could see the stars in the sky, and then it settled again. I heard some unknown people giving orders: here, a bit more, since it was not in its correct place.
According to another version (that of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Qaramany), taken from Amr and Rustum himself:
There were ten guards at each gate: when I brought him news of his family, my guard related to me that the dome had been dropped down (depose´), [so] that the stars had been visible, and that before I returned, rustlings had been heard, then a voice saying ‘Put it down’ three times, and the dome was put back in its place.
Al-Walid ibn Hamad gives an account taken from Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Mansur ibn Thabit, who gives the following version passed down from his father and grandfather:
Abu ‘Uthman was sounding the evening prayer, after the prayer of Qyam [the breaking of the fast], on the black square. During the evening prayer, he heard the roar of an earthquake, and cries of people’s distress across the town. It was a black and cold night, full of rain and wind. He heard a voice (without seeing anyone) which said, “Lift it up gently, in the name of God”, and the dome was lifted up so that the stars appeared, and at the same time people felt drops of water on their faces, until the time of the call to prayer. After this the voice said, “Put it down, put it in place, in the name of God.” And the dome returned to its place.
Chronology

Year, month, or day are not supplied in the excerpt above however the year of A.H. 130 is provided for the earthquake in the excerpt from an abbreviated French translation by Sauvaire (1876) - which is reproduced in the Online Versions and Further Reading section of this entry for Mujir al-Din. Mujir al-Din refers to the night of the earthquake as experienced in Jerusalem. The location (Jerusalem) identifies this as the Holy Desert Quake. In the first excerpt, two daytime foreshocks occur before the main shock at night. It is only after the third shock that the "witness" relates that he was frightened and that all the houses had been destroyed. The second excerpt relates that stars were seen from inside the mosque and the third excerpt relates that the quake struck during evening prayer (~7 pm). A nighttime earthquake is compatible with the timing of the Holy Desert Quake as reported by al-Muqaffa and Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. If the witnesses are providing chronologically accurate recollections which can be reconciled, the above passages suggest approximate timing for three separate shocks:
Shock Prayer Name Prayer Time
1 - foreshock Asr prayer ~ 3 pm - midway between noon and sunset
2 - foreshock Maghrib prayer ~ 6 pm - just after sunset
3 - Main Shock Isha prayer ~ 7 pm - nighttime
Seismic Effects
  • earthquake and aftershocks experienced in Jerusalem
  • all the houses (of the muslim quarter?) destroyed in Jerusalem
  • Damage to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem - roof collapse
Seismic effects indicate that this is describing the Holy Desert Quake.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Histoire de Jerusalem et d’Hebron by Sauvaire (1876) contains an abbreviated French translation of The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron by Mujir al-Din. The part discussing earthquakes which struck Al-Aqsa mosque starts on page 59 where we can read: (translation by Google and Williams)
English

Abd-er-Rahman ibn Mohammad ibn Mansoûr ibn Tàbet reported from his father who reports from his grandfather that all the doors [of Al-Aqsa Mosque] were covered with gold and silver plates up to the time of Abd-el-Malek. Now, when the Abbasid Abu-Dja'far El-Mansoûr came, the eastern and western parts of the mosque had fallen. He said [to the Caliph]:
Commander of the Believers, the eastern and western parts of the mosque were overthrown by the earthquake in the year 130. If you gave the order to rebuild this Mosque and restore it, I do not have the money [to do so].
Then he [the Caliph] ordered him to tear off the gold and silver plates which covered the doors. They were torn off and they made dinars and dirhams which were used for the expenses of the reconstruction until it was completed.

The caliphate of El-Mansoùr began in the year 136. He was the second caliph of the Abbasids who built Baghdad. Construction started in the year 145. He [El-Mansoùr] died on Saturday the 6th of the month of Dhu l'Hijja, year 158 (AD October 7, 775), at the age of fifty-eight years and was buried in Mecca.

Some time later the second earthquake struck and overturned the buildings executed by the order of Abu-Dja'far. Subsequent to this time, that is to say after the death of the Caliph, [the new Caliph] El-Mahdy came and with the constructions in ruins, the state of things was explained to him. He ordered repairs saying:
This Mosque is narrow and long and empty of followers. Decrease the length and make it wider.
The building was completed under his caliphate. His full name is Abu-'Abd-Allah Mohammad, son of Abd-Allah El-Mansoûr, and his honorary nickname is El-Mahdy.

French

'Abd-er-Rahman ebn Mohammad ebn Mansoûr ebn Tàbet a rapporté d'après son père qui le tenait de son aïeul, que toutes les portes étaient revêtues de plaques d'or et d'argent à l'époque d' 'Abd-el-Malek. Or, lorsque vint Abou-Dja'far El-Mansoûr. l'Abbâsîde, les parties orientale et occidentale du Masdjed étaient tombées : « Com- mandeur des Croyants, lui dit-on_, les parties orientale et occidentale du Masdjed ont été renversées par le tremblement de terre, en l'année 130; si tu donnais l'ordre de reconstruire ce Masdjed et de le restaurer ? — Je n'ai pas d'argent, » répondit-il. Puis, il ordonna d'arracher les plaques d'or et d'argent qui recouvraient les portes. Elles furent arrachées, et on en fabriqua des dinars et des derhems qui servirent aux dépenses de la reconstruction, jusqu'à ce que celle-ci fut achevée.

Le khalifat d'El-Mansoùr commença en l'année 136. Deuxième khalife des 'Abbâsides, c'est lui qui construisit Baghdàd; la construction en fut commencée l'an 145. Il mourut le samedi 6 du mois de dou'l heddjeh, l'année 158 (7 octobre 775 de J.-C.), à l'âge de cinquante-huit ans, et fut enterré à la Mekke.

Quelque temps après eut lieu le second tremblement de terre qui renversa les constructions exécutées par l'ordre d'Abou-Dja'far. Postérieurement à cette époque, c'est-à-dire après la mort du khalife, El-Mahdy étant venu et ces constructions se trouvant en ruines, on lui exposa l'état des choses: il ordonna de faire les réparations, en disant: « Ce Masdjed est étroit et long, et vide de fidèles; diminuez-en la longueur et faites-le plus large. » La bâtisse fut achevée sous son khalifat. Son nom entier est Abou-'Abd-Allah Mohammad, fils d' 'Abd-Allah El-Mansoûr, et son surnom honorifique El-Mahdy.

Other Muslim Writers

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b) relate the following:

on the other traditions, from al-Wasiti onwards, see Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wasiti, al-Bays al Muqaddas, (ed.) I. Hasson (Jerusalem, 1979), 84.
Karcz (2004) states:
It is probable that these two successive earthquakes [A.H. 130 and A.H. 131] are responsible for the hesitant and possibly confused accounts of 13th century Sibt ibn al Jawzi, d.1257 (A. Elad, 1991, pers. comm.) followed by 15th century Ibn Tagri Birdi (Shaltut, 1929), which report strong earthquakes (plural) in Syria in AH 130, with heavy damage in Jerusalem, in the wake of which people of Damascus fled into desolate areas for 40 days and add and it was said that the earthquakes took place in AH 131.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location Status Intensity Notes
Bet She'an definitive ≥ 8 Coin hoard found underneath collapse layer. Latest coin is in near mint condition and dates to A.H. 131 (31 Aug. 748 - 19 Aug. 749 CE)
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jerash - Church of Saint Theodore probable ≥ 8 Crowfoot (1929:19) attributed destruction of the Church of Saint Theodore to a mid 8th century CE earthquake noting that this date fits the latest class of objects which we found upon our floor levels.
Jerash - Northwest Quarter possible to probable ≥ 8 Coins, pottery, and radiocarbon dating point towards a mid 8th century CE earthquake as evidenced by a collapse of a multi-story Umayyad house
Jerash - Umayyad Mosque possible needs investigation
Jerash - Umayyad House possible Gawlikowski (1992) dates destruction to after 770 CE which, if correct, suggests an earthquake later than mid 8th century CE
Jerash - Temple of Zeus probable ≥ 8 Excavated cistern revealed a violent seismic event. Collapse layer contained architectural fragments and a human skeleton. After this event, the cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned. The seismic event was dated based on the layer below (Layer 1). Ceramics dated up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE with many pieces from the Umayyad period and an Umayyad coin struck at Jerash dated to 694-710 CE.
Jerash - Hippodrome probable ≥ 8 Ordered fall of masonry in eastern half of the carceres suggests seismic destruction. The stone tumble contained no ceramic or coin deposits. Dating based on layer below which contained material dating from 3rd-8th centuries including coin from the 1st half of the 8th century CE which provided the terminus post quem.
Amman - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Amman Citadel - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Amman - Ummayad Palace probable ≥ 8 high levels of Intensity. Ridge Effect possible.
Khirbet Yajuz probable ≥ 8 tightly dated
Al-Muwaqqar possible ≥ 8 partial seismic destruction reported. Wall damage or collapse inferred from rebuilding evidence.
Jerusalem - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Umayyad Structures South and Southwest of Temple Mount possible ≥ 8
Jerusalem's City Walls possible ≥ 7 There appears to be evidence for wall repairs in the 8th century CE
Baalbek needs investigation
Damascus needs investigation
Tiberias - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Tiberias - Galei Kinneret probable ≥ 7 Marco et al (2003) observed 0.35-1.0 m of what appears to be coseismic dip slip displacement accompanied by Type I (normal stress) masonry fractures - all on land. Hazan et al (2004) examined lake level curves from the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea and concluded that more than 4 m of dip slip displacement was likely present offshore - due to the same earthquake. 4 m of dip slip displacement translates to MW between 7.0 and 7.2. Seismic effects observed by Marco et al (2003) are constrained between Umayyad walls which were faulted and Abassid structures which are unfaulted.
Tiberias - Beriniki Theatre probable ≥ 8 Ferrario et al (2020) report on a Roman theater with extensive seismic effects underneath unfaulted debris flow deposits and unfaulted Fatimid-Abassid structures. Dating of seismic damage observed in Berniki Theater and Southern Gate is constrained from 530 CE to the 11th century CE. If the faulted Umayyad Reservoir is considered, dating is constrained from 661 CE to the 11th century CE.
Tiberias - Southern Gate probable ≥ 8 Ferrario et al (2020) report warped walls with a pure normal component of displacement and ca. 45 cm. of total throw. Terminus post quem for wall damage is 530 CE. Dating of seismic damage observed in Berniki Theater and Southern Gate is constrained from 530 CE to the 11th century CE. If the faulted Umayyad Reservoir is considered, dating is constrained from 661 CE to the 11th century CE.
Tiberias - Ummayad Water Reservoir probable Ferrario et al (2020) report numerous fractures in an Umayyad reservoir which provides a terminus post quem of 661 - 750 CE for the faulting.
Tiberias - Seismo-Tectonics n/a n/a n/a
Tiberias - Mount Berineke undated archaeoseismic evidence
Tiberias - Basilica possible ≥ 8
Tiberias - House of the Bronzes no evidence reported
Tiberias - Other sites needs investigation
Hippos Sussita probable ≥ 8 Topographic or Ridge Effect appears to be present at this location
Kedesh possible ≥ 8 Roman Temple at Kedesh exhibits archaeoseismic effects and appears to have been abandoned in the 4th century CE; possibly due to the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. Evidence at the site could be due to 363 CE and/or other earthquakes in the ensuing ~1600 years including the possibility that one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes damaged the Temple.
Omrit
Minya possible ≥ 8 needs investigation
Beit Alpha possible ≥ 8 Seismic destruction dated to sometime after the 1st quarter of the 6th century CE
Jericho - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jericho - Hisham's Palace possible Although Whitcomb (1988) dates major damage due to a later earthquake, Whitcomb (1988:63) suggests that there was an initial destruction around the mid 8th century CE.
Arbel possible ≥ 8 speculative - site hasn't been systematically excavated
Gadara needs investigation
Tall Zira'a possible needs investigation
Hammat Gader needs investigation
Lod/Ramla probable 7 Precisely dated and well described. Site appeared to have experienced liquefaction. Intensity downgraded from 8 to 7
Capernaum possible ≥ 8 debated chronology
Qasrin probable ≥ 8
Kursi possible needs investigation
Ramat Rahel possible ≥ 8
Kathisma no evidence Much of the remains are missing - pilfered long after its demise and it is this pilfering which may have removed any obvious archeoseismic evidence from earthquakes which struck in the mid 8th century CE.
Pella probable ≥ 8
Beit-Ras/Capitolias possible ≥ 8
al-Sinnabra/Beth Yerah possible ≥ 7 site dismantled down to the foundations after abandonment thus obscuring potential archaeoseismic evidence. It is possible that foundation cracks were caused by a mid 8th century CE earthquake which would indicate high levels of local intensity.
Karak no evidence
Mount Nebo needs investigation
Abila possible ≥ 8
Umm al-Jimal possible ≥ 8 Speculative due to imprecise dating
Al-Tawalbeh et al (2019) estimated a SW-NE strong motion direction and intensities of VII-VIII (7-8) using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).
Iraq el-Amir no evidence undated archaeoseismic evidence
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater possible Jones (2021:3 Table 1) states that the Phase VII destruction of the Main Theatre is difficult to date, as the structure had gone out of use long before. Destruction tentatively dated to 6th-8th centuries CE but may have occurred later.
Petra - Temple of the Winged Lions possible ≥ 7 Dating based on analogy to Petra Theater - Philip Hammond excavated both the Petra Theater and Temple of the Winged Lions
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 8 dating appears to be based on iconoclastic defacing inside the church which the excavators date to the early 8th century. The excavators presume that the seismic destruction followed soon after the iconoclastic activity.
Petra Church possible ≥ 8 Dating of archaeoseismic evidence is imprecise. Phase X or Phase XIIA Earthquakes could be associated with mid 8th century earthquakes.
Petra - Blue Chapel ≥ 6 needs investigation
Aqaba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Aqaba - Ayla probable ≥ 8 Site Effect likely present - susceptible to liquefaction.
1st earthquake of al-Tarazi and Khorjenkov (2007) who estimated an intensity of IX or more and surmised that the epicenter was close - a few tens of kilometers away. They estimated that the epicenter was to the NE.
Aqaba - Aila possible ≥ 8 Earthquake III - fairly well dated
Haluza possible ≥ 8 "2nd" post-Byzantine earthquake has an apparently reliable terminus post quem and a missing terminus ante quem due to abandonment. Korjenkov and Mazor (2005) estimate Intensity of 8-9 with epicenter a few tens of kilometers away to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE
Rehovot ba Negev possible ≥ 8 7th-8th century CE earthquake that struck after 7th century CE abandonment. Tentative dating evidence suggests it struck in the 8th century CE. Probable site effect present - built on weak ground
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimate Intensity at 8-9 and appear to locate the epicenter to the ESE
Shivta possible ≥ 8 Post Byzantine earthquake thought to have struck after 7th century CE abandonment. Terminus ante quem not well established. Site effect not likely
Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate Intensity of 8-9, place the epicenter a few tens of kilometers away in the WSW direction.
Hama needs investigation
Aleppo no evidence Textual sources report wall repairs after the muslim conquest (~636-638 CE) was necessary due to prior earthquake damage
Reṣafa needs investigation
Palmyra possible Water pipes thought to have been laid in Umayyad times are thought to have been destroyed by an earthquake and replaced in the Abbāsid era
Tel Taninnim needs investigation
Caesarea possible 7-8
Baydha no evidence No evidence has been uncovered as of yet but Sinibaldi (2020:96-97) reports a Byzantine phase underneath Mosque 1 (aka the Eastern Mosque)
Tel Jezreel possible possible archaeoseismic evidence at lower levels of a Crusader period church which exhibits multiple building phases. However there is an unresolved debate whether the earlier structure is from the Byzantine or Crusader period. More researchers suggest that the earlier structure is Byzantine.
el-Lejjun possible ≥ 8 4th earthquake - difficult to constrain dating but there are indications it struck during Umayyad period.
Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible ≥ 8 "likely" struck at the end of the Umayyad period


Bet She'an

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

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

Maps and Plans Chronology
363 CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • City Plan of Bet She'an from Stern et al (1993)
Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) report that
The collapse of the roof of the Bet She'an odeum and the partial destruction of the theater were attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. A major wave of construction in the city center is thought to be related to earthquake damage (Foerster and Tsafrir 1988:18, 15-32; Foerster and Tsafrir 1992a:11-12; Foerster and Tsafrir 1992b; Foerster 1993; Atrash 2003:VI; Mazor and Najjar 2007:14,17,55-56,70,187).

7th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

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

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

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

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

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


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

Seismic Effects
363 CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

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

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


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

Intensity Estimates
363 CE earthquake

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading

Jerash

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


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

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

Maps and Plans Notes and Further Reading
References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Seigne publications at www.persee.fr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rattenborg, R. and L. Blanke (2017). "Jarash in the Islamic Ages (c. 700–1200 CE): a critical review." Levant 49(3): 312-332.

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

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

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

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

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

Archeology in Jordan II, 2020

The Islamic Jerash Project

DAAHL Site Record for Jerash

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

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

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

2. The atrium. The atrium was rhomboidal in plan, much longer from north to south than from east to west. On the east side there was a colonnade of 14 Corinthian columns on a low stylobate. The columns, many of which were obviously displaced, vary in diameter, and the capitals found in this area are very miscellaneous in character (Plate XLVI, b). The colonnade apparently never reached beyond the central doors in the parecclesia, but the walk was continued as shown in the plan (Plan XX XVII). The walk was paved with red and white mosaics of which little remains; enough is preserved, however, to show that there were different patterns in front of each church. Before the final desertion of Gerasa the atrium and colonnade, like those in St. Theodore’s and St. Peter’s, were occupied by squatters who built walls in front of and between the columns; the pottery, glass and bronze articles found in their rooms suggest that the place was finally abandoned in haste, possibly after the earthquake in 746 A. D. This occupation explains the disappearance of the steps leading into the churches and the condition of the atrium mosaics
Russell (1985)
At Jerash, this earthquake apparently brought an end to the impoverished "squatter" occupation in the Church of St. Theodore (Crowfoot 1929: 25. 1938: 221) and parts of the churches of St. John the Baptist. St. George, and SS. Cosmas and Damianus (Crowfoot 1938: 242, 244).
Walmsley(2013:86-87) described seismic destruction in Jerash in the mid 8th century CE.
Its many churches continued in use right through the Umayyad period, only to be suddenly destroyed in the mid-eighth century by a violent act of nature — an earthquake — as graphically revealed during the excavation of the Church of St Theodore by the Yale Joint Mission in the 1930s (Crowfoot 1938: 223-4). The severity of this seismic event was recently confirmed by the discovery of a human victim entombed in a collapsed building along with his mule, some possessions and a hoard of 143 silver dirhams of mostly eastern origin, the last of which was minted in the year of the earthquake.
As Walmsley(2013:86-87) did not cite a source for the human victim and mule found inside a collapsed building, it is not known if this occurred in the Church of Saint Theodore.

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

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

Jerash - Church of Saint Theodore
Introduction

Crowfoot (1929:21) noted that the Church of Saint Theodore was located on the west bank of the river in the centre of town, close to the Temple of Artemis suggesting that it was the most important, if not the largest, of the Christian churches in Jerash. An inscription dated laying of the foundation to the autumn of 494 CE and completion of construction to around 496 CE (Crowfoot, 1929:22). The church was part of a larger ecclesiastical complex.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Plan of Ecclesiastical complex at Jerash from Moralee, J. (2006)
Crowfoot (1929:19) attributed destruction of the Church of Saint Theodore to a mid 8th century CE earthquake noting that this date fits the latest class of objects which we found upon our floor levels. Crowfoot (1929:26) described the collapsed columns as follows:
The columns, fourteen in number, with their Corinthian capitals, were all lying where they had fallen ; not a single capital was missing, not a single drum had been removed, but not a single one was upon its base ; in the west half of the church the columns had fallen inwards, across each other, but in the east half most of them had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls, both of which in this part had fallen to the south. Masons' marks on the sections of the column drums showed that these columns had been used previously for the same building as the engaged columns and certain other carved blocks which we found built into the side walls ; the style of the Corinthian capitals suggests that this earlier building may have belonged to the beginning of the third century, and the lettering of the masons' marks appears to belong to the same period.
Crowfoot (1938:223-4) in Kraeling (1938) described the archaeoseismic evidence at the Church of St Theodore in Jerash.
It was quite clear from the condition of the basilica and the atrium that both had been destroyed by an earthquake. In the basilica all the columns were lying where they had fallen; not a single capital or drum had been carried away, but the bases only were in position. In the west half the columns fell inwards across each other; in the east half most of them had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls ; the apse fell outward into the Fountain Court. The violence of the shock which ruined the place was particularly clear at the entrance to the atrium, where some of the upper blocks seem to have turned a somersault in the air. In two of the side chambers there were signs of preparations to salvage building material. Fallen stones and tiles were found stacked in neat piles, but the place was ultimately abandoned wholly to squatters who converted the rooms and alleys round the atrium into stables for their animals and dwelling places for themselves.
Kraeling, C. (1938:260) noted that the west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks.

Seismic Effects
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Plan of Ecclesiastical complex at Jerash from Moralee, J. (2006)
Seismic Effects include
Source Description
Crowfoot (1938:223-4) in Kraeling (1938) In the basilica all the columns were lying where they had fallen; not a single capital or drum had been carried away, but the bases only were in position.
Crowfoot (1938:223-4) in Kraeling (1938) In the west half the columns fell inwards across each other; in the east half most of them had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls
Crowfoot (1938:223-4) in Kraeling (1938) the apse fell outward into the Fountain Court.
Crowfoot (1938:223-4) in Kraeling (1938) at the entrance to the atrium, where some of the upper blocks seem to have turned a somersault in the air.
Kraeling, C. (1938:260) the west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks.

Intensity Estimates
Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls in the east half most of them [columns] had fallen to the north after the collapse of the side walls VIII +
Fallen Columns In the basilica all the columns were lying where they had fallen; not a single capital or drum had been carried away, but the bases only were in position. V +
Displaced Masonry Blocks the west wall of the atrium was built of very massive stones, many of them dangerously dislocated by earthquake shocks. VIII +
Collapsed Vaults the apse fell outward into the Fountain Court. 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).

Jerash - Northwest Quarter
Introduction

The northwest quarter is west of the Roman sanctuary of Artemis.

Maps and Plans Chronology
8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Plan of Jerash from Daugbjerg et al (2022) showing location of Northwest Quarter.
  • Northwest Quarter of Jerash from Lichtenberger (2016)
Radiocarbon Dating
  • Radiocarbon dating from Daugbjerg et al (2022)
Lichtenberger (2016:643) reported archaeoseismic evidence in the Northwest quarter of Jerash.
On the so-called East Terrace, trenches K and P revealed extensive evidence for rich domestic architecture of the Early Islamic/Umayyad period. Settlement in this area came to a sudden halt with the earthquake of 749 C.E., confirmed through radiocarbon dates, pottery, and an Arab-Byzantine coin hoard.
Daugbjerg et al (2022) radiocarbon dated loose plaster fragments from trenches P and V on the East Terrace. Both trenches exposed levels with the remains of a multi-story Umayyad house which showed evidence of collapse during an earthquake. Daugbjerg et al (2022) presumed that the earthquake struck in 749 CE and used this date as a calibration point to examine various sample preparation methodologies in order to extract reliable radiocarbon dates from plaster or mortar. If the methodologies produced samples which pointed to seismic destruction in 749 CE, the methodology was considered useful. If, however, a sample preparation methodology produced a radiocarbon age which contradicted seismic destruction in 749 CE, the results could be discarded and re tested using a different methodology. Although their study used the 749 CE date to test the radiocarbon ages rather than using the radiocarbon ages to test the date of destruction, their results (see Radiocarbon Dating above) suggest seismic destruction around 749 CE.

Phasing was reported as follows:
Trench P phase Trench V phase Comments
bedrock bedrock
Byzantine
Umayyad Inote Umayyad Inote
Umayyad IInote Umayyad IInote The latest Umayyad phase in trench P was clearly associated with new clay floors (Lichtenberger and Raja, 2017)
Umayyad IIInote
Earthquake Destruction Earthquake Destruction

Seismic Effects
8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Plan of Jerash from Daugbjerg et al (2022) showing location of Northwest Quarter.
  • Northwest Quarter of Jerash from Lichtenberger (2016)
Daugbjerg et al (2022:4) report that the Umayyad house uncovered in trenches P and V consisted of buried rubble of a multistory building that was collapsed to ground floor level (Lichtenberger and Raja, 2017; Kalaitzoglou et al., forthcoming; Kalaitzoglou et al., forthcoming).

Intensity Estimates
8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Location Description Source Intensity
Collapsed Walls Trenches P and V - Umayyad House Trenches P and V covered parts of the Umayyad house, and the trenches excavated buried rubble of the multi-story building that was collapsed to ground floor level (Lichtenberger and Raja, 2017; Kalaitzoglou et al., forthcoming 1; Kalaitzoglou et al., forthcoming). Daugbjerg et al (2022:4) VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
Jerash - Umayyad Mosque
Maps and Plans Chronology
mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Early Islamic Jerash from Rattenborg and Blanke (2017)
El-Isa (1985) noted that the Umayyad mosque appears to have been demolished and removed and with a relic of its Mihrab the only indications left of its existence. Rattenborg and Blanke (2017) date construction of the mosque to around 725 CE.

Jerash - Umayyad House
Introduction

Gawlikowski (1992) excavated a house in quarter NE of the south Tetrapylon of Jerash in 1983. Excavations indicated that the house was in use from the 7th - 9th centuries CE.

Maps and Plans Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake - based on rebuilding evidence

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Early Islamic Jerash from Rattenborg and Blanke (2017)
  • Plan of the Umayyad House at Jerash from Gawlikowski (1992)
Gawlikowski (1992:358) reports that the Umayyad house was built on level ground after an earthquake. They discuss its date of construction below:

(translated by Google and Williams)
The construction is well dated by the numismatic findings: on one hand coins of Constantius II (641-668), the last Byzantine coins having been used in Syria-Palestine, found within the fill (at depth and on the surface), and on the other hand Arab-Byzantine coins minted at Scythopolis (Beisan) and Jerash itself, "sealed" under the ground of the House. The exact dating of the latter coinage is not assured, but it is reasonable to place it around the middle of the 7th century, if not later (Bates, 1976). Therefore, I propose that the the earthquake that preceded construction as the one that struck Syria-Palestine in June 658, according to the testimony of Theophanes (Grumel 1958:479; Kallner-Amiran 1950-51:226). A recent discovery by J. Seigne corroborates our identification: the collapse of the vaulted corridor of the lower terrace of Zeus buries under the rubble a herd of goats; the age of a kid indicates that the cataclysm took place in May-June and moreover a Byzantine currency with an Arab countermark indicating the beginning of Muslim government (Seigne, unpublished report of 1984, kindly communicated by the author).
The archaeoseismic evidence is based on rebuilding evidence. No seismic effects from a 7th century CE earthquake are mentioned.

8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Early Islamic Jerash from Rattenborg and Blanke (2017)
  • Plan of the Umayyad House at Jerash from Gawlikowski (1992)
Gawlikowski (1992) report that the Umayyad house was destroyed towards the end of the 8th century by another earthquake which they dated, based on pottery, to after 770 CE.

Notes and Further Reading
Jerash - Temple of Zeus
Aerial view of Temple of Zeus Oval Plaza and Theater Jerash Figure 3 1.

Aerial view of Zeus Sanctuary, Oval Piazza, and South Theatre (APAAME_08.DLK-40)

Kehrberg (2018)


Maps and Plans Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Chronological evolution of the sanctuary of Zeus at Jerash from Seigne (1985)
Rasson and Seigne (1989) reported on excavations of a cistern at the Temple of Zeus. They divided up the stratigraphy as follows:

(translated by Google and Williams)
Layer Date Comments
3 Byzantine layer of greenish-gray clay, very compact and strongly mixed with plant materials (wood, herbs, etc.) and some bones of small animals (birds, goats, etc.). This deposit, homogeneous, laminated, and thick of about 1.50 m, is the result of an accumulation by settling in an aqueous medium of suspended organic materials. It is particularly remarkable for the extraordinary amount of ceramic material it contained. In the excavated part alone, 232 ribbed jars, 25 pots, 8 lamps, etc. were collected, intact or broken. Many objects of glass, bronze and bone were associated with them, as well as 36 coins. All these objects were evenly distributed in height in the clay mass. They were therefore abandoned gradually, for the duration of the layer 3
2 Umayyad level of compact red clay soil mixed with small stones. This stratum, 0.25 to 0.30 m thick, completely covered layer 3. Practically horizontal, it was set up, like the previous one in an aquatic environment. It contained little material. This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. The blocks, sometimes bulky (80, 100 kg) were only slightly sunk into the red clay layer, indicating that the tank was dried up at the time of their fall, as the clay and underlying deposits had time to harden.
1 Umayyad unlike the previous ones, this layer did not correspond to an accumulation in an aqueous medium and had kept a conical shape, the maximum thickness (0.60 m) being normally located above the opening of the tank. It was formed of dark brown earth, very loose, mixed with stones and especially bones of various animals (sheep, goats, etc.), sometimes remained in anatomical connection (legs, fragments of spine, etc.). The remains of a human skeleton were found mixed with these animal bones. The finds included two coins, a large quantity of ceramics and glass and above all a rich set of objects in bone, ivory, soapstone, and bronze. Fragments of Ionic capitals, window railings, frieze blocks, etc., from the facades of the sanctuary were also found.
Two seismic destruction events were interpreted from the excavation - one in the 7th century CE and another in the 8th. The 1st seismic event was manifest in partial roof collapse of the cistern over Layer 2. Layer 2 ceramics dated to the Umayyad period and suggested an earthquake in the middle of the 7th century CE. The 2nd seismic event was more violent and contained architectural fragments and a human skeleton. After this event, the cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned. The 2nd seismic event was dated based on Layer 1 whose ceramics dated up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE with many pieces from the Umayyad period and an Umayyad coin struck at Jerash dated to 694-710 CE.

Gawlikowski (1992:358) reports archaeoseismic evidence in the 7th century CE at the Temple of Zeus

(translated by Google and Williams)
A recent discovery by J. Seigne []: the collapse of the vaulted corridor of the lower terrace of Zeus buries under the rubble a herd of goats; the age of a kid indicates that the cataclysm took place in May-June and moreover a Byzantine currency with an Arab countermark indicating the beginning of Muslim government (Seigne, unpublished report of 1984, kindly communicated by the author).

8th century CE Earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • Chronological evolution of the sanctuary of Zeus at Jerash from Seigne (1985)
Rasson and Seigne (1989) reported on excavations of a cistern at the Temple of Zeus. They divided up the stratigraphy as follows:

(translated by Google and Williams)
Layer Date Comments
3 Byzantine layer of greenish-gray clay, very compact and strongly mixed with plant materials (wood, herbs, etc.) and some bones of small animals (birds, goats, etc.). This deposit, homogeneous, laminated, and thick of about 1.50 m, is the result of an accumulation by settling in an aqueous medium of suspended organic materials. It is particularly remarkable for the extraordinary amount of ceramic material it contained. In the excavated part alone, 232 ribbed jars, 25 pots, 8 lamps, etc. were collected, intact or broken. Many objects of glass, bronze and bone were associated with them, as well as 36 coins. All these objects were evenly distributed in height in the clay mass. They were therefore abandoned gradually, for the duration of the layer 3
2 Umayyad level of compact red clay soil mixed with small stones. This stratum, 0.25 to 0.30 m thick, completely covered layer 3. Practically horizontal, it was set up, like the previous one in an aquatic environment. It contained little material. This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. The blocks, sometimes bulky (80, 100 kg) were only slightly sunk into the red clay layer, indicating that the tank was dried up at the time of their fall, as the clay and underlying deposits had time to harden.
1 Umayyad unlike the previous ones, this layer did not correspond to an accumulation in an aqueous medium and had kept a conical shape, the maximum thickness (0.60 m) being normally located above the opening of the tank. It was formed of dark brown earth, very loose, mixed with stones and especially bones of various animals (sheep, goats, etc.), sometimes remained in anatomical connection (legs, fragments of spine, etc.). The remains of a human skeleton were found mixed with these animal bones. The finds included two coins, a large quantity of ceramics and glass and above all a rich set of objects in bone, ivory, soapstone, and bronze. Fragments of Ionic capitals, window railings, frieze blocks, etc., from the facades of the sanctuary were also found.
Two seismic destruction events were interpreted from the excavation - one in the 7th century CE and another in the 8th. The 1st seismic event was manifest in partial roof collapse of the cistern over Layer 2. Layer 2 ceramics dated to the Umayyad period and suggested an earthquake in the middle of the 7th century CE. The 2nd seismic event was more violent and contained architectural fragments and a human skeleton. After this event, the cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned. The 2nd seismic event was dated based on Layer 1 whose ceramics dated up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE with many pieces from the Umayyad period and an Umayyad coin struck at Jerash dated to 694-710 CE.

Seismic Effects
7th century CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

  • This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. Blocks weighed up to 100 kg.

8th century CE Earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

  • Fragments of Ionic capitals, window railings, frieze blocks, etc., from the facades of the sanctuary were [] found.

Intensity Estimates
7th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Masonry Blocks This stratum was itself sealed by a small level (2A) of powdered mortar and boulders from the collapse of part of the ceiling. Blocks weighed up to 100 kg. 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).

8th century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls Architectural elements from the facades of the sanctuary suggests destruction of the facades VIII +
Fallen Columns Fragments of Ionic capitals were found V +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Jerash - Hippodrome
Hippodrome Jerash Restored Hippodrome at Jerash with Hadrian's Arch in the front and to the right.



Introduction

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

Chronology

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

Stratigraphy of the Hippodrome

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

Stratigraphy of Hippodrome at Jerash Figure 184

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

Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020)


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

3rd century CE Earthquake ?

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

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

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

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

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

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seismic Effects
Undated Seismic Effects

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

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


3rd century CE Earthquake ?

Seismic Effects include

  • It is clear that the SW part of the cavea had collapsed at a certain date and that once this happened no races could be held.

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

Possible seismic Effects include

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

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

Intensity Estimates
3rd century CE Earthquake ?

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

"Earlier" Earthquake - 6-7th century CE

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

Mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amman

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Amman Arabic عَمَّان‎
Philadelphia Ancient Greek Φιλαδέλφεια‎
Rabbat Amman Ammonite
Rabbat Bnei ʿAmmon" Biblical Hebrew רבת בני עמון
Rabbaṯ Bəne ʿAmmôn Tiberian Hebrew
Rabbat Ammon Modern Hebrew
Bit Ammanu Assyrian
KURBīt Ammān Akkadian
Introduction

Amman has a long history of habitation dating back to the 6th millenium with a period of very low occupancy reported by some visitors in the 14th and 15th centuries CE (Stern et al, 1993).
The Citadel in Amman
Aerial View of the Citadel in Amman Aerial Photograph of the Citadel in Amman

APAAME CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Amman Citadel English
Jabal Al-Qal'a Arabic جبل القلعة‎
Introduction

The Amman Citadel was a center of settlement in Amman for thousands of years and contains a number of structures.

Maps and Plans
Umayyad Palace and Umayyad Structures on the Citadel in Amman, Jordan
Aerial View of the Citadel in Amman Aerial Photograph of the Northern part of Citadel in Amman with the Umayyad Palace and Umayyad Structures

APAAME CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Umayyad Palace English
al-Qasr Arabic القصر
Introduction

The Umayyad Palace is the best preserved structure on the Amman Citadel (Almagro and Olavarri, 1982).

Maps and Plans Chronology
Mid 8th century CE earthquake

maps and Plans

  • Area Plan of the Citadel in Amman from maps-amman.com
  • General plan of the north part of the Amman citadel from Alamgro et al (2000)
Excavations by Alamagro
Alamgro et al (2000) excavated Building F in the Umayyad Palace on the Amman Citadel between 1989 and 1995. There they concluded that the appearance of the remains leads us to believe that the ruin of the building, and specifically of the arches of the courtyard happened in a sudden and catastrophic way, in all probability as a result of an earthquake.

The instantaneous nature of the event is discussed below:
In the sector of the courtyard and those rooms that were not cleared of rubble - 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 and 14-15, there is evidence of the characteristic stratum produced by the violent destruction of the building. It is a layer which may be even greater than 1 m in depth, and which is characterised by ample building material: masonry, ashlars and even bricks in the courtyard, and particularly by the dark grey mortar and ash used in the Umayyad construction. The characteristics of the stratum in question prove that the collapse undoubtedly occurred instantaneously; we are not in any way dealing with the slow decay of an abandoned building, but rather with the devastating effects of a natural disaster.
The dating of the destruction layer is discussed below:
Unfortunately, there has been no discovery of any coins or anything else which might offer an exact dating. Generally speaking, the archaeological records are very scarce with regard to objects, and only the pottery findings are of relative significance (Fig. 15-17), even though they are scarce, but they are clearly from the Umayyad period, as has been shown from a detailed study. In fact, the pottery found seems to be from the later part of the Umayyad period, which has characteristic forms such as bowls painted in red over white slip, round cooking pots, and even the undoubtedly exceptional discovery of some glazed items. This refers to a set of items closely related to others dated as mid-eighth century, for example, the oldest level of Khirbat al-Mafjar, or the destruction of the Umayyad houses excavated by Bennet and Northedge in the same citadel of Amman.

...

The materials found, especially the pottery, make it possible to confirm that the event in question took place at about the middle of the eighth century.

Alamgro et al (2000) did not explicitly discuss dating evidence for the layer above the destruction layer but they did describe it.
After the catastrophe, in Building F there were a series of proceedings of minor importance from a constructive point of view, and which represent a rather regressive process, but which provide evidence of the reuse of the space in question at a time which we believe to be immediately after the earthquake, since there are no signs that point to an intermediate period when it was abandoned. Strictly speaking, the partial reuse of the building can hardly be considered as a new constructive phase, but what is clear is that they made good use of the existing walls and spaces. At any rate, after its destruction, the building was never again used for its original purpose, as a palatial residence.
Conclusions

Alamgro et al (2000)'s conclusions were as follows:
  1. The building was never completely finished: construction of the walls, vaults and columns was completed, but not the plastering of the walls, only the basic plaster. The same can be applied to the buildings of the eastern sector excavated by the Italian delegation, judging by the photographs we have seen. In any case, we are dealing with circumstances which did not affect the possibility of inhabiting the building.
  2. At the time of its destruction by the earthquake, the building hardly seems to have been inhabited, since in none of the sectors where rubble from the disaster has been excavated, have there been any signs of domestic utensils, organic remains, or even the bodies of people or animals which would normally accompany such levels in other sites and even in other parts of the citadel of Amman.
  3. Immediately after the earthquake, the building was partially and marginally re-exploited; this consisted basically of clearing up certain rooms and reusing them as simple dwellings. One of the iwans was even transformed into the workshop of the oven which was never put into use. This phase seems to have lasted only a short time, probably no more than some decades, and certainly it cannot date from long before the Abbasid period.
Excavations by Harding
Harding (1951) excavated Umayyad structures on the Citadel in Amman. Although he did not attribute any damage due to earthquakes, he did describe wall collapse in Room H (Harding, 1951:10-11) associated with a fragments of a sandstone fire altar which he presumed was on a shelf before the wall collapsed. Russell (1985) cites Harding (1951) when reporting on collapsed Umayyad structures uncovered during excavation of the Citadel in 1949.

Seismic Effects
Mid 8th century CE earthquake

Broken Columns at Collonaded Street in Umayyad Palace in Amman, Jordan Broken Columns at Collonaded Street in Umayyad Palace Amman, Jordan

Photo by Jefferson Williams


Maps and Plans
  • Area Plan of the Citadel in Amman from maps-amman.com
  • General plan of the north part of the Amman citadel from Alamgro et al (2000)
Excavations by Alamagro
Alamgro et al (2000) described archeoseismic evidence at Building F as follows:
The majority of the most fragile structures of Building F, particularly the series of arches in the courtyard, the entrance arches to the iwans and part of the roofing, were destroyed at some time near to their actual construction, because there is no previous evidence of the characteristic repairs to walls and, in particular, to paving, which is usually evidence of prolonged use of a building. The characteristics of the deep stratum of destruction affecting arches and columns give us some clues to understanding the ruin of this building. The level is composed exclusively of rubble among which it can easily be seen that the elements of construction have fallen in situ, and therefore they have not been brought from elsewhere. On the other hand, the fact that there is a lack of wind-deposited earth (soil erosion) and that there is an overwhelming presence of broken-up gypsum mortar between bricks and masonry shows that the collapse happened suddenly and so, consequently, we are not dealing with the effects of a slow process of destruction. There is no evidence of any charred remains to show that the cause might have been a fire or action of war.

...

The depth of the stratum of destruction varies according to the different spaces, since some were abandoned, other cleared up wholly or partially, and it seems that in some rooms they did not even suffer the collapse of the covering. At any rate, it always coincides with the height at which the plastering materials covering the walls is conserved. In fact, this layer seems to have fallen off all those walls that were left uncovered after the earthquake, and it has only been conserved in the parts of the walls that were buried under the rubble. In practically all the excavated areas, the height at which the layer is conserved coincides with the accumulation of rubble on the Umayyad floor.

...

A large part of the roofing, series of arches, and even the façades of the iwans collapsed, leaving huge quantities of rubble which in some parts reached a depth of more than one metre.
Seismic Destruction was particularly evident in the courtyard
The Courtyard

This is the space which provides the clearest evidence of the effects of the earthquake. On the paving we can find an important amount of rubble reaching a height of more than 1 m in some areas, acting as a support for the columns and arches of the portico, broken and shattered on the floor of the palace.

Among the building material, especially in the centre of the courtyard, a large number of square bricks were found, with remains of the characteristic lime mortar with ashes, identical to that of the walls they had been taken from. We are uncertain which part of the building these bricks were used in, although from their position among the collapsed rubble, and since there is no trace of them among the standing remains, we are inclined to think that they formed part of the construction over the series of arches of the courtyard, maybe a parapet. Bricks were hardly found in the perimeter corridor, between the series of arches and the walls, as they tended to fall towards the centre of the courtyard; however, a considerable number of yellowish limestone ashlars, cut in the shape of voussoirs were found, probably ones which formed part of the vaulting covering the portico. Remains of the plaster which covered the intrados were found on several of them.

Intensity Estimates
Mid 8th century CE earthquake

Effect Intensity Notes
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Fallen Columns VI+ Destruction in the courtyard
Collapsed Vaults VIII +
Intensity Estimates are derived from excavations by Alamgro et al (2000). The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
Notes - Archeoseismic Evidence at other locations on the Amman Citadel

Alamgro et al (2000) provided the following regarding other locations with evidence of seismic destruction:

The columns of the portico and the architrave of the magnificent temple of Hercules, which is a building from the middle of the second century A.D., which was already being used as a quarry, were demolished by the earthquake. In the sector that Northedge denominated "C", the remains of two houses from the Umayyad period were discovered, together with the street which separated them. The westernmost one was so seriously affected by the seismic movement that it could only be partially reused in later periods. The easternmost dwelling showed similar signs of destruction to the previous one, and of a partial reoccupation after the disaster; the human skeleton of one of the victims was discovered here ( Northedge and Bennett, 1992:143)

Khirbet Yajuz

Khirbet Yajuz Aerial Photograph of Khirbet Yajuz

APAAME CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Khirbet Yajuz Arabic كهيربيت ياجوز
Khirbet Mudraj Arabic كهيربيت مودراج‎
Talat Nimr Arabic تالات نيمر
Introduction

Khirbet Yajuz is an archeological site ~11 km. NE of Amman, Jordan. It contains the remains of a village that was occupied from the Roman to Ayyubid/Mamluk period. Excavations at the site revealed numerous seismic effects which appears to be tightly dated to the mid 8th century CE.

Maps and Plans Chronology
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Site map from Khalil and Kareem (2002)
Khalil (1998) excavated Khirbet Yajuz over three seasons from 1995 - 1997. In Area B, they found the remains of a small chapel. A Greek inscription found in mosaic tiles on the floor of the chapel was interpreted to date construction of the chapel to 508 CE. A destruction layer was discovered above the floor.
In the same room, above the mosaic floors, were found a ca. 15cm thick layer of ash and collapsed arches of the room. The preliminary study of the pottery sherds from this layer date to the Byzantine-Umayyad period, and perhaps the destruction of the chapel was caused by the 749 AD earthquake.
In Area C, they uncovered a mill and wine press and more potential archeoseismic evidence
To the west and the south of the mill building there are two adjacent large rooms with internal arches - the southern room has eight arches - with plastered floors. The building might have been used as living quarters or for storage purposes. The arches collapsed above the plaster floor probably due to an earthquake (Fig. 15 ).

A number of copper coins, beside complete vessels and pottery sherds, were retrieved in the mill and the wine press constructions can be dated to the Byzantine and Umayyad periods.
Although Khalil (1998)'s report on Area E was brief and did not mention archeoseismic evidence, Savage et al (2001:448), perhaps informed by personal communication with Lufti Khalil, produced the following description of archeoseismic evidence in Area E:
In area E, an earthquake that occurred in A.D. 748 is illustrated by the collapsed vaulted arches and the irregularities of the paved floor, which date to the Umayyad period. Later, the collapsed arches were reinforced and strengthened, and dividing walls were added. In addition, a layer of compact hawar was added on top of the pavement in order to make it level, and materials from previous periods were used (fig. 22 ). Two different types of pottery, associated with different architectural periods, were excavated at the area. Therefore, evidence suggests that the earthquake destroyed the building during the Umayyad period, and the building was later restored during the Abassid period.
Khalil and Kareem (2002) divided up the stratigraphy at Area E from top to bottom as follows:
Unit Description Notes
1 Topsoil, ashy and greyish layers
2 Brownish layers and stones These layers were between 60 and 90 cm. thick and produced a very rich assortment of Abbasid pottery.
3 Architectural features Many walls and the bases of arches were revealed within this unit.
A number of reinforced arches were found in the area, but only one arch (Loc. 11 in square 3) was still in situ (Fig. 5). All the others may have required reinforcement after the earthquake of AD 749.
the alignment of the two-row walls, the reinforcement of the arches, and the dividing walls, all suggest that the buildings were restored for habitation after the earthquake (Figs 4-7).
4A hawar layers and floors Two main types of floors which were related to the walls and bases of arches were discovered. The first were compact hawar floors.
4B Plaster floors Two main types of floors which were related to the walls and bases of arches were discovered.
The second type were made of plaster floors, made of mortar
5 Flagstone pavement Flagstone pavement was found underneath the hawar floor in square 7. Khalil and Kareem (2002) suggested that the irregularity of the flagstone pavement was probably caused by the AD 749 earthquake.
Khalil and Kareem (2002) dated an assemblage of pottery from Unit 2 which appears to provide a tight terminus ante quem for potential seismic destruction observed in Unit 5
The pottery assemblage described in this paper was recovered from loci dated after the major earthquake of AD 749, and covers a period most probably continuing until the beginning of the tenth century AD.

...

It is suggested that the pottery sherds under discussion can be dated to between the second half of the eighth century (749 AD) and the tenth century AD.
In addition, two copper coins and some lamp fragments found above Unit 5 (Fig. 25 ) dated as early Abbasid.
Two copper coins dated to the early Abbasid period 3 were found in Area E (Square 4, Locus 7, and Square 7, Locus 1). The lamps and their surface decoration in this assemblage are also helpful chronological indicators. Only two lamp fragments of the so-called 'Jerash type', dated between the sixth and the eighth centuries, were recorded in Area E during the last three seasons. The majority were dated to the ninth and tenth centuries AD.
When the terminus ante quem of Khalil and Kareem (2002) (Abassid) is combined with the terminus post quem of Khalil (1998) (Umayyad), this seismic destruction appears to be well dated to the mid-8th century CE.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Site map from Khalil and Kareem (2002)
Source Description
Khalil (1998) Area B - ca. 15cm thick layer of ash and collapsed arches of the room
Khalil (1998) Area C - The arches collapsed above the plaster floor probably due to an earthquake (Fig. 15 ).
Savage et al (2001:448) Area E - In area E, an earthquake that occurred in A.D. 748 is illustrated by the collapsed vaulted arches and the irregularities of the paved floor, which date to the Umayyad period. Later, the collapsed arches were reinforced and strengthened, and dividing walls were added.
Khalil and Kareem (2002) Area E - the irregularity of the flagstone pavement was probably caused by the AD 749 earthquake
Khalil and Kareem (2002) Area E rebuilding evidence
  • A number of reinforced arches were found in the area, but only one arch (Loc. 11 in square 3) was still in situ (Fig. 5). All the others may have required reinforcement after the earthquake of AD 749.
  • the alignment of the two-row walls, the reinforcement of the arches, and the dividing walls, all suggest that the buildings were restored for habitation after the earthquake (Figs 4-7).

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Effect Location Intensity Notes
Collapsed Walls Area B VIII + inferred from collapsed arches
Collapsed Walls Area C VIII + inferred from collapsed arches
Collapsed Vaults Area E VIII + characterization by Savage et al (2001:448)
Fractures.Folds, and Popups on Irregular Pavements Area E VI + Irregularity of flagstone pavement in Unit 5 - Khalil and Kareem (2002)
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References

The google Scholar page for Lufti Khalil who supervised excavations at Khirbet Yajuz is here.

Al-Muwaqqar

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Al-Muwaqqar Arabic الموقر‎)
Qasr al-Muwaqqar Arabic الموقر‎)اققار
Introduction

Al-Muwaqqar is situated approximately 30 km to the southeast of Amman. The site is recorded by Yaqut el-Hamawi in Mu`jam al-Buldan (Najjar, 1989) and contains the remains of an Umayyad Palace or Desert Castle. Najjar (1989) excavated the site over roughly one month in 1989.

Chronology
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Najjar (1989) identified two destruction levels in Area IV at Al-Muwaqqar which he described as follows:

A second architectural phase and occupation was excavated in the Palace. It is obvious from Sq. D5 (W.12), A2 (W.4) and oven (tannur) loc.4, D3 (W.16, 17) and H 14 (W.18, 19) that all these walls belong to a second phase of occupation. It seems that after a partial destruction of the Palace by the earthquake of A.D. 747, the remains of the Palace were used by the local population. The destruction layer was cleared (the walls of the second phase were built directly above the flagstone pavement of the Umayyad Palace) and the Palace and its surrounding area (Sq. H14) were reoccupied.

After one century and probably slightly later the Palace was abandoned after another destruction (earthquake?) later in the 9th century (during this period Jordan was struck by earthquakes three times in 847, 853-54, 859-60)
Abbasid pottery was retrieved presumably above the lower destruction level and dated to between 730 and 840 CE.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Wall collapse (or severe damage) is inferred from rebuilding evidence. Najjar (1989) note that the destruction layer was cleared (the walls of the second phase were built directly above the flagstone pavement of the Umayyad Palace).

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading

Jerusalem

Names

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

Jerusalem has a long continuous history of habitation with textual sources (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) documenting an occupation by a Canaanite tribe known as the Jebusites at the beginning of the Iron Age (Iron Age I). The city, according to the Hebrew Bible, was wrested from the Jebusites by King David around 1000 BCE and thereafter became the premier city of the Jewish religion and people. Later religions such as Christianity and Islam also made it a focal point. A continuous history of construction and destruction has led to a complex archeological history.
Umayyad Structures South and Southwest of Temple Mount
Excavations of Umayyad Structures South and Southwest of Temple Mount Fig. 6.

Excavations south of Haram, 1977 (Ben-Dov 1982: 331).

JW:North is up, Al Aqsa mosque in center. Umayyad structures are to the south and southwest of Temple Mount Platform (aka Haram esh-Sharif)

Whitcomb in Galor and Avni (2011)


Plans and Reconstructions Chronology
Phasing

Reconstructions and Stratigraphic Section

  • Reconstruction of area south of Temple Mount in the Umayyad period from Whitcomb in Galor and Avni (2011)
  • Stratigraphy from Section E-6 ~5 m west of the SW corner of Temple Mount from Mazar (1969)
Mazar (1969) reported on the first season of excavations in an area known as Ard el-Khatuniyye adjacent to and south of Temple Mount and the southern terminus of the Western Wall near Robinson's Arch. There they examined the remains of an Ummayad Structure - possibly Dar al-Imara - and divided up the stratigraphy as follows:
Strata Period Description
A8
A7 After the Seljuk conquest of Jerusalem in 1071 CE ?
A6 Arab Fatimid
A5 Arab Fatimid
A4 Arab Fatimid
A3 Arab
A2 Arab Post Umayyad
A1 Early Arab Umayyad
B1 - B4 Byzantine
R1 - R2 Roman
H Herodian the period from Herod the Great to the destruction of the Second Temple

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Reconstructions and Stratigraphic Section

  • Reconstruction of area south of Temple Mount in the Umayyad period from Whitcomb in Galor and Avni (2011)
  • Stratigraphy from Section E-6 ~5 m west of the SW corner of Temple Mount from Mazar (1969)
Mazar (1969) concluded that stratum A1 ended with an earthquake which destroyed a large Umayyad Building south of Temple Mount about a generation or two after its construction. The earthquake was said to have collapsed its walls and columns and produced a considerable pile of rubble. They correlated the earthquake with one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. They further noted that there were partial repairs during the Abbasid period (second half of the 8th century A.D.) and that the paved street and the gateway of the building continued to be used in stratum A2, and the water system was modified drastically.

Strata Period Description
A8
A7 After the Seljuk conquest of Jerusalem in 1071 CE ?
A6 Arab Fatimid
A5 Arab Fatimid
A4 Arab Fatimid
A3 Arab
A2 Arab Post Umayyad
A1 Early Arab Umayyad
B1 - B4 Byzantine
R1 - R2 Roman
H Herodian the period from Herod the Great to the destruction of the Second Temple

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Seismic Effects from Mazar (1969) include:

  • earthquake collapsed its walls and columns
  • earthquake produced a considerable pile of rubble
  • there were partial repairs during the Abbasid period (second half of the 8th century A.D.)

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Effect Location Intensity
Collapsed Walls earthquake collapsed its walls and columns (Mazar, 1969) VIII +
Fallen Columns earthquake collapsed its walls and columns (Mazar, 1969) V +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References

Weksler-Bdolah, S., 2007 Reconsidering the Byzantine Period City Wall of Jerusalem. Eretz-Israel 28: 88-101. [Hebrew]

Galor, K. and G. Avni (2011). Unearthing Jerusalem: 150 years of archaeological research in the Holy City, Penn State Press.

Magness, J. (1991). "The Walls of Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period." The Biblical Archaeologist 54(4): 208-217.

Gevaʿ, H. (2019). Ancient Jerusalem revealed: archaeological discoveries, 1998-2018, Israel Exploration Society.

BEN Dov, M. (1985): In the shadow of the Temple, Keter, Jerusalem.

BEN Dov, M. (2002): Historical atlas of Jerusalem, Continuum, London. - site specific archeoseismic evidence is not presented.

WIGHTMAN, G.J. (1993): Walls of Jerusalem, Mediterranean Archaeology Studies Suppl. 4 (Med. Arch Univ. Sydney), p. 331.

WELLHAUSEN, J. (1973): The arab kingdom and its fall, Curzon Press, London, pp. 592.

Mazar, E. et al (2003). The Temple Mount excavations in Jerusalem 1968-1978 Final reports. Volume II, The Byzantine and early Islamic periods

Mazar, E. and B. Mazar (1989). "EXCAVATIONS IN THE SOUTH OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT: The Ophel of Biblical Jerusalem." Qedem 29: III-187.

מזר, ב. and B. Mazar (1971). "The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Near the Temple Mount — Second Preliminary Report, 1969—70 Seasons / החפירות הארכיאולוגיות ליד הר-הבית: סקירה שנייה, עונות תשכ"ט—תש"ל." Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה י: 1-34. (in Hebrew)

B. Mazar, The excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 1969), 20

Mazar, B. and M. Ben-Dov (1971). The excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount : preliminary report of the second and third seasons, 1969-1970.

B. Mazar: The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem, EI 9 (1969), pp. 161-174, ref.p. 173 (Hebrew).

Ben-Dov, M. 1983 Jerusalem's Fortifications: The City Walls, Gates and the Temple Mount. Tel-Aviv: Zemorah- Bitan. [Hebrew]

Ben-Dov, M. 1993 Jerusalem Fortifications and Citadel: Eighth to 11th Centuries. Pp. 793-95 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2, ed. E. Stern,Ben-Dov, M.

A. Lewinson-Gilboa, and J. Aviram. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society. 1994 Excavations and Architectural Survey of the Archaeological Remains along the Southern Wall of the Jerusalem Old City. Pp. 311-20 in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Broshi, M., and Gibson, S.1994 Excavations Along the Western and Southern Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Pp. 147-55 in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Ben-Dov, M. Broshi, M., and Tsafrir, Y.1977 Excavations at the Zion Gate

Hamilton, R. W.1944 Excavations Against the North Wall of Jerusalem, 1937—8. Quarterly of the Depart- ment of Antiquities of Palestine 10: 1-54.

Mazar, E. 2007 The Ophel Wall in Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period. Pp. 181-200 in The Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem 1968-1978 Directed by Benjamin Mazar, Final Reports, vol. 3: The Byzantine Period. Qedem 46. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2001 Jerusalem, The Old City Walls. Hadashot Arkheologiot / Excavations and Surveys in Israel 113: 79*-80*.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2003 The Fortifications of Jerusalem During Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods (3rd/4th to 8th cent.). M.A. thesis. Jerusalem: Hebrew University. [Hebrew]

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2005 Jerusalem, the New Gate. Excavations and Surveys in Israel: 117

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2006 The Old City Walls of Jerusalem: The Northwestern Corner. Atiqot 54: 95-119 [Hebrew]; 163-64 [English summary].

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2006-7 The Fortifications of Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period. Aram 18-19: 85-112.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2007 Reconsidering the Byzantine Period City Wall of Jerusalem. Eretz-Israel 28: 88-101. [Hebrew]

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2011 The Fortification System in the Northwestern Part of Jerusalem from the Early Islamic to the Ottoman Periods. Atiqot 65: 105-30 [Hebrew]; 73*-75* [English summary].

Weksler-Bdolah, S. forthcoming Jerusalem, Kikar Zahal's tunnel. Hadashot Arkheologiot.

Tsafrir, Y. 2000 Procopius and the Nea Church in Jerusalem. An Tard 8: 149-64.

Baruch, Y., and Reich, R. 1999 Renewed Excavations at the Umayyad Building III. Pp. 128-40 in New Studies on Jerusalem: Proceedings of the Fifth Conference, Dec. 23,1999, ed. A. Faust and E. Ba- ruch. Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press.

Ben-Dov, M. 1971 The Omayyad Structures near the Temple Mount. Pp. 37-44 in The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount: Second Preliminary Report 1969-70 Seasons, ed. B. Mazar. Jerusalem.

Ben-Dov, M. 1976 The Area South of the Temple Mount in the Early Islamic Period. Pp. 97-101 in Je- rusalem Revealed: Archaeology in the Holy City 1968-1974, ed. Y. Yadin. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mazar 1975, The Mountain of the Lord. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 269

Jerusalem's City Walls
Maps and Plans Chronology
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Roman-Byzantine city walls and exposures from Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni (2011:421)
  • Plan of north wall of the Old City of Jerusalem from Hamilton (1944)
Roman-Byzantine Walls
Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni (2011:421) summarized exposures of the Roman-Byzantine wall:
the Roman-Byzantine wall was used continuously from the time of its construction until the mid-8th century, after which it was partially damaged, probably by an earthquake (Weksler-Bdolah, 2007:97). Evidence of renovations discovered in several places along its route indicate that the wall continued to be used after the mid-8th century.
Roman-Byzantine Walls near the Damascus Gate
Magness (1991) examined ceramics and numismatics from Hamilton (1944)'s excavations of Jerusalem's city walls near the Damascus Gate and established a terminus post quem of the first half of the 8th century CE for wall repairs. Magness (1991) characterized the level used to establish the terminus post quem as one of the most securely dated assemblages of published Byzantine and Umayyad pottery from an excavation in Jerusalem.
Roman-Byzantine Walls near the Armenian Garden
Magness (1991) examined ceramics from Tushingham (1985)'s excavations of the southwest corner of the city walls in the Armenian Garden. Magness (1991) redated rebuilding from the 7th century CE to the 8th century CE.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Roman-Byzantine city walls and exposures from Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni (2011:421)
Roman-Byzantine Walls
Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni (2011:421) mentioned partial damage probably by an earthquake (Weksler-Bdolah, 2007:97) of the Roman-Byzantine wall. There was also evidence of renovations.

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Effect Location Intensity
Displaced Walls ? partial damage to Roman-Byzantine Wall ( Weksler-Bdolah in Galor and Avni, 2011:421) VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References

Weksler-Bdolah, S., 2007 Reconsidering the Byzantine Period City Wall of Jerusalem. Eretz-Israel 28: 88-101. [Hebrew]

Galor, K. and G. Avni (2011). Unearthing Jerusalem: 150 years of archaeological research in the Holy City, Penn State Press.

Magness, J. (1991). "The Walls of Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period." The Biblical Archaeologist 54(4): 208-217.

Gevaʿ, H. (2019). Ancient Jerusalem revealed: archaeological discoveries, 1998-2018, Israel Exploration Society.

Hamilton, R. W.1944 Excavations Against the North Wall of Jerusalem, 1937—8. Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 10: 1-54.

Tushingham. A. D. Hayes, J. W. (1985). Excavations in Jerusalem 1961-1967. Vol. 1 Vol. 1. Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum.

BEN Dov, M. (1985): In the shadow of the Temple, Keter, Jerusalem.

BEN Dov, M. (2002): Historical atlas of Jerusalem, Continuum, London. - site specific archeoseismic evidence is not presented.

WIGHTMAN, G.J. (1993): Walls of Jerusalem, Mediterranean Archaeology Studies Suppl. 4 (Med. Arch Univ. Sydney), p. 331.

WELLHAUSEN, J. (1973): The arab kingdom and its fall, Curzon Press, London, pp. 592.

Mazar, E. and B. Mazar (1989). "EXCAVATIONS IN THE SOUTH OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT: The Ophel of Biblical Jerusalem." Qedem 29: III-187.

מזר, ב. and B. Mazar (1971). "The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Near the Temple Mount — Second Preliminary Report, 1969—70 Seasons / החפירות הארכיאולוגיות ליד הר-הבית: סקירה שנייה, עונות תשכ"ט—תש"ל." Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה י: 1-34. (in Hebrew)

B. Mazar, The excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 1969), 20

Mazar, B. and M. Ben-Dov (1971). The excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount : preliminary report of the second and third seasons, 1969-1970.

B. Mazar: The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem, EI 9 (1969), pp. 161-174, ref.p. 173 (Hebrew).

Ben-Dov, M. 1983 Jerusalem's Fortifications: The City Walls, Gates and the Temple Mount. Tel-Aviv: Zemorah- Bitan. [Hebrew]

Ben-Dov, M. 1993 Jerusalem Fortifications and Citadel: Eighth to 11th Centuries. Pp. 793-95 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2, ed. E. Stern,Ben-Dov, M.

A. Lewinson-Gilboa, and J. Aviram. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society. 1994 Excavations and Architectural Survey of the Archaeological Remains along the Southern Wall of the Jerusalem Old City. Pp. 311-20 in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Broshi, M., and Gibson, S.1994 Excavations Along the Western and Southern Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Pp. 147-55 in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Ben-Dov, M. Broshi, M., and Tsafrir, Y.1977 Excavations at the Zion Gate

Mazar, E. 2007 The Ophel Wall in Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period. Pp. 181-200 in The Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem 1968-1978 Directed by Benjamin Mazar, Final Reports, vol. 3: The Byzantine Period. Qedem 46. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2001 Jerusalem, The Old City Walls. Hadashot Arkheologiot / Excavations and Surveys in Israel 113: 79*-80*.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2003 The Fortifications of Jerusalem During Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods (3rd/4th to 8th cent.). M.A. thesis. Jerusalem: Hebrew University. [Hebrew]

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2005 Jerusalem, the New Gate. Excavations and Surveys in Israel: 117

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2006 The Old City Walls of Jerusalem: The Northwestern Corner. Atiqot 54: 95-119 [Hebrew]; 163-64 [English summary].

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2006-7 The Fortifications of Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period. Aram 18-19: 85-112.

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2007 Reconsidering the Byzantine Period City Wall of Jerusalem. Eretz-Israel 28: 88-101. [Hebrew]

Weksler-Bdolah, S. 2011 The Fortification System in the Northwestern Part of Jerusalem from the Early Islamic to the Ottoman Periods. Atiqot 65: 105-30 [Hebrew]; 73*-75* [English summary].

Weksler-Bdolah, S. forthcoming Jerusalem, Kikar Zahal's tunnel. Hadashot Arkheologiot.

Tsafrir, Y. 2000 Procopius and the Nea Church in Jerusalem. An Tard 8: 149-64.

Baruch, Y., and Reich, R. 1999 Renewed Excavations at the Umayyad Building III. Pp. 128-40 in New Studies on Jerusalem: Proceedings of the Fifth Conference, Dec. 23,1999, ed. A. Faust and E. Ba- ruch. Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press.

Ben-Dov, M. 1971 The Omayyad Structures near the Temple Mount. Pp. 37-44 in The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount: Second Preliminary Report 1969-70 Seasons, ed. B. Mazar. Jerusalem.

Ben-Dov, M. 1976 The Area South of the Temple Mount in the Early Islamic Period. Pp. 97-101 in Je- rusalem Revealed: Archaeology in the Holy City 1968-1974, ed. Y. Yadin. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mazar 1975, The Mountain of the Lord. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 269

Notes - Marwan II's order to destroy walls

Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground. In Theophanes entry for A.M.a 6237, we can read in Mango and Scott (1997:587)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here):

[A.M. 6237, AD 744/5] ...

At that time Marouam, after victoriously taking Emesa [aka Homs], killed all the relatives and freedmen of Isam. He also demolished the walls of Helioupolish [aka Baalbek] Damascus, and Jerusalem, put to death many powerful men, and maimed those remaining in the said cities.

Baalbek

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Baalbek Arabic بعلبك
Baalbek Syriac-Aramaic ܒܥܠܒܟ
Belbek Hebrew בעלבק
Heliopolis Greek Ἡλιούπολις
Heliopoleos Latin Heliopoleos
Introduction

Baalbek is located east of the Litani River (classical Leontes) in the Beqaa Valley (وادي البقاع‎) ~85 km from Beirut. The Beqaa Valley, known as Coele-Syria in classical times, is bordered on the west by the Lebanon mountain range and to the east by the Anti-Lebanon range. Two springs, Ras al-'Ain and 'Ain Lejouj, a short distance away, provided caravans with water in antiquity. Baalbek is strategically placed at the highest point on a well-established trade route from Tripoli that led into the Beqaa before proceeding to Damascus or to Palmyra in Syria (Meyers et al, 1997).

Notes and Further Reading
References

German Archeological Institute

Archaeological Research in Baalbek

Archaeology and History in Lebanon

Jidejian, Nina. Baalbek: Heliopolis "City of the Sun." Beirut, 1975.

Kalayan, H. (1975). "Baalbek, un ensemble recemment decouvert." Liban: Les grands sites, Tyr, Byblos, Baalbek= Dossiers d'Archeologie [Paris: Archeologia SA] 12: 29-30.

Ragette, Friedrich. Baalbek. London, 1980.

Notes - Marwan II's order to destroy walls

Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground. In Theophanes entry for A.M.a 6237, we can read in Mango and Scott (1997:587)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here):

[A.M. 6237, AD 744/5] ...

At that time Marouam, after victoriously taking Emesa [aka Homs], killed all the relatives and freedmen of Isam. He also demolished the walls of Helioupolish [aka Baalbek] Damascus, and Jerusalem, put to death many powerful men, and maimed those remaining in the said cities.

Damascus

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Damascus English
Damascus Latin Damascus
Damascus Ancient Greek Δαμασκός
Dimašq Modern Arabic دمشق‎
aš-Šām Local Arabic colloquialism الشَّام
Madīnat al-Yāsmīn Arabic ܕمَدِينَةُ الْيَاسْمِينِ
Darmswq Classical Syriac ܕܰܪܡܣܘܩ‎‎
Dammaśq Old Aramaic דמשק
Dammeśeq Biblical Hebrew דַּמֶּשֶׂק
Damask Modern Hebrew דמשק
T-m-ś-q Ancient Egyptian (15th century BCE)
Imerišú Akkadian
Dimasqa Amarna letters - Akkadian
Dimàsqì Amarna letters - Akkadian
Dimàsqa Amarna letters - Akkadian
Introduction

Damascus resides in a basin east of the Anti-Lebanon range, at the foot of Mt. Qasiyun. Despite low annual rainfall, the plain is well watered by the Barada River allowing Damascus to exist as an oasis. Damascus has one of the longest periods of occupation (perhaps the longest period of occupation) of any city in the world. Due to its high urban density, very little excavation has been possible in Damascus (Stern et al, 1993). In 661 CE, the Umayyad Caliphate moved the capital to Damascus where it remained until 744 CE when Caliph Marwan II moved the capital to Harran. It was during the Umayyad period that the the Great Mosque of Damascus was built on the site of a Christian Basilica dedicated to John the Baptist. Construction was completed in 715 CE. When the Abbasid Caliphate supplanted the Umayyad Caliphate in 750 CE, the capital of the Caliphate moved to Baghdad.

Notes and Further Reading
References

Allen, Terry (1999), Ayyubid Architecture, Occidental: Solipsist Press, ISBN 0-944940-02-1.

Adorni, Elisa; Venturelli, Giampiero (2010), "Mortars and Stones of the Damascus Citadel (Syria)", International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 4 (4): 337–350, doi:10.1080/15583050903121851

Berthier, Sophie (2006), "La Citadelle de Damas: les apports d'une étude archéologique", in Kennedy, Hugh (ed.), Muslim Military Architecture in Greater Syria: From the Coming of Islam to the Ottoman Period, History of Warfare (in French), 35, Leiden: Brill, pp. 151–164, ISBN 90-04-14713-6.

Burns, Ross (2005), Damascus: A History, Milton Park: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-27105-3.

Chevedden, Paul (1986), The Citadel of Damascus, Ann Arbor: U.M.I. Dissertation Information Service, OCLC 640193186

Gabrieli, Francesco (1984), Arab Historians of the Crusades, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-05224-6

Hillenbrand, Carole (2000), The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-92914-1.

Takeo Kamiya (2004). "Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria". Eurasia News. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

Rosenwein, Barbara H. A short history of the Middle Ages. University of Toronto Press, 2014. p. 56

Charette, François (2003), Mathematical instrumentation in fourteenth-century Egypt and Syria: the illustrated treatise of Najm al-Dīn al-Mīṣrī, BRILL, ISBN 978-90-04-13015-9

Umayyad Mosque Profile Archived 2010-11-20 at the Wayback Machine. Archnet Digitial Library.

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner's Art through the Ages, Vol. I Cengage Learning, 2013. p. 264

Ibn Khaldūn; Fischel, Walter Joseph (1952). Ibn Khaldūn and Tamerlane: their historic meeting in Damascus, 1401 a.d. (803 a. h.) A study based on Arabic manuscripts of Ibn Khaldūn's "Autobiography". University of California Press.

M. Lesley Wilkins (1994), "Islamic Libraries to 1920", Encyclopedia of library history, New York: Garland Pub., ISBN 0824057872, 0824057872

Christof Galli (2001), "Middle Eastern Libraries", International Dictionary of Library Histories, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, ISBN 1579582443, 1579582443

Ibn Ṣaṣrā, Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad (1963). William M. Brinner (ed.). A chronicle of Damascus, 1389-1397 American architect and architecture, 1894, p.58.

Qummi, Shaykh Abbas (2005). Nafasul Mahmoom. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. p. 362.

Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol.9, p.163, published in Egypt. Tafseer Durre Manthur Vol.6, p.30-31.

Dumper, Michael; Stanley, Bruce E. (2007). Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-919-8.

Finkel, Caroline (2005), Osman's dream: the story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923, Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-02396-7.

Flood, Finbarr Barry (2001). The Great Mosque of Damascus: studies on the makings of an Umayyad visual culture. Boston: BRILL. ISBN 90-04-11638-9.

Flood, Finbarr Barry (1997). "Umayyad Survivals and Mamluk Revivals: Qalawunid Architecture and the Great Mosque of Damascus". Muqarnas. Boston: BRILL. 14: 57–79. doi:10.2307/1523236.

Hitti, Phillip K. (October 2002). History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press LLC. ISBN 978-1-931956-60-4.

Le Strange, Guy (1890), Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500, Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund (Ibn Jubayr: p.240 ff)

Wolff, Richard (2007), The Popular Encyclopedia of World Religions: A User-Friendly Guide to Their Beliefs, History, and Impact on Our World Today, Harvest House Publishers, ISBN 0-7369-2007-2

Winter, Michael; Levanoni, Amalia (2004). The Mamluks in Egyptian and Syrian politics and society. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-13286-4.

Walker, Bethany J. (Mar 2004). "Commemorating the Sacred Spaces of the Past: The Mamluks and the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus". Near Eastern Archaeology. The American Schools of Oriental Research. 67 (1): 26–39. doi:10.2307/4149989.

Great Mosque of Damascus. (2009, July 21). Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Great-Mosque-of-Damascus, WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Citadel of Damascus at madainproject.com

Umayyad Mosque in Damascus at madainproject.com

Notes - Marwan II's order to destroy walls

Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground. In Theophanes entry for A.M.a 6237, we can read in Mango and Scott (1997:587)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here):

[A.M. 6237, AD 744/5] ...

At that time Marouam, after victoriously taking Emesa [aka Homs], killed all the relatives and freedmen of Isam. He also demolished the walls of Helioupolish [aka Baalbek] Damascus, and Jerusalem, put to death many powerful men, and maimed those remaining in the said cities.

Tiberias

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Tverya Hebrew טיבריות
Ṭabariyyā Arabic طبريا
Rakkath Biblical Hebrew (Joshua 19:35) רקבת
Chamath Ancient Israelite (Jewish tradition) חמת
Tiberiás Ancient Greek Τιβεριάς
Tiveriáda Modern Greek Τιβεριάδα
Tiberiás Latin Tiberiás
Tiberias English Tiberias
Introduction

Tiberias was founded between 18 and 20 CE by Herod's son Herod Antipas, who made it the capital of his kingdom; the city was named after the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Its location, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was then to the south of present-day Tiberias and to the north of the hot springs known as Hammath; the city's western boundary was marked by Mount Berenice, which rises to an altitude of approximately 200m above the level of the Sea of Galilee (Stern et al, 1993). In the 3rd century CE, the ruling institutions of the Jewish people moved to Tiberias and Tiberias became the Jewish capital of Palestine and the diaspora. The majority of the Palestinian (aka Jerusalem) Talmud was composed there (Stern et al, 1993). The city began to decline and moved north to present day Tiberais in the 9th and 10th centuries (Stern et al, 1993).

Maps and Plans List of studies
Location on Map Studies Notes
Stadium Marco et al (2003) Galei Kinneret Site is just south of the Stadium
Theatre to Southern Gate Ferrario et al (2020)
Basilica Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004)
Church Mount Berineke
Galei Kinneret (adjacent to the Stadium)
Maps and Plans Chronology
mid 8th century CE

Maps and Plans

  • Map of Tiberias during the Roman period from Atrash (2010)
  • Smaller image of Galei Kinneret excavations Marco et al (2003)
  • Large image of Galei Kinneret excavations Marco et al (2003)
Marco et al (2003) examined Roman, Byzantine, and Early Arab structures that they report were abandoned in the 8th century CE due to a rising lake level at that time. These structures and the sediments that had accumulated on top of them exhibited earthquake related damage. They report damage as follows:
  1. Two extension fractures trending 305° and 320° were discovered crossing the earliest structure - a stadium apparently built during Roman times and described by Josephus. These fractures can be seen in Figure 2A . Marco et al (2003) report that the fractures are as wide as 10 cm. and extend upward into Byzantine and Early Arab walls that overlie the stadium. They also report that none of the fractures are limited to the stadium, indicating no deformation between the Roman period and the construction of the Ummayad walls.

  2. Marco et al (2003) also noted normal synsedimentary faults offsetting the lower part of the sedimentary sequence. They describe these as follows:
    Unfaulted layers as well as buildings of the Abassid period overlie these faults (Map in Fig. 2 above - tilting and faulting shown in Fig.s 2B and 2C - Note by JW). Fault planes typically dip 60°–70°. Flat pebbles and pieces of pottery are aligned with the fault planes, showing typical imbrication. In one locality, layers at the footwall near the fault are warped downward. Two major planes stand out; the western one strikes 354° with 35–50 cm offsets, and the eastern one strikes 320° with 90–100 cm vertical offsets. The downthrown side is always on the west. Smaller north-striking faults with ~10 cm off sets are also recognized, but the downthrown side is east. The ashlars from the upper part of the walls have fallen mostly westward. No liquefaction is observed in the sediments, probably owing to the large size of the clasts.

    This kind of faulting cannot be the dominant long-term pattern of activity because the structure of the Kinneret basin requires a downthrown block on the east. The observed faults reflect northeast-southwest extension, normal to the 450–500-m-high fault scarps west and south of Tiberias and smaller scarps at the lake bottom (Ben-Avraham et al., 1990). The faults postdate the Ummayad buildings and predate the later undisturbed sediments and Abassid buildings.
Marco et al (2003) attributed these seismic effects to one earthquake which struck in 749 CE. The presence of unfaulted Abassid structures, which they date to the late 8th century CE, on top of the deformed Roman, Byzantine, and Ummayad structures suggests that this is a good date assignment if the Abbasid structures are well-dated. It should be noted, however, that radiocarbon dating of the debris flow section above and inside the faulted interval in the debris flow deposits could provide better time constraints on the chronology of the damaging event. Figure 2C , for example, shows fault termination in the debris flow deposits. No radiocarbon dates were reported by Marco et al (2003).

The tectonic observations of Marco et al (2003) that the extensional stress exhibited at the site suggests normal faulting during the causitive earthquake is a valuable data point however caution is advised because their intensity map (Figure 3 in their paper - not repeated here) is flawed. The map was made before the widely read works of Karcz (2004), Ambraseys (2005), and Ambraseys (2009) showed that the Sabbatical Year earthquakes consisted of two earthquakes rather than one and before Alfonsi et al (2013) following Whitcomb (1988) redated the majority of archeoseismic damage at Hisham's Palace near Jericho to the 1033 CE earthquake rather than one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. The Intensity Map of Marco et al (2003) amalgamates the Holy Desert and Talking Mule Quakes together leading to the judgment that one large earthquake with Mw between 7.0 and 7.5 was responsible for all the reported damage. Their conclusion that sinistral slip along ~100 km. of the Jordan Valley terminating at the Dead Sea and and Kinneret pull apart basins with transformation into normal slip of the north-striking fault south of the Sea of Kinneret (aka Sea of Galilee) may be overstated. A shorter segment of the Jordan Valley Fault may have ruptured or the rupture could have been entirely along faults in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE

Seismic effects include

  • Tilted Walls
  • Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks
  • Fault scarps

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE

Effect Location Intensity
Displaced Walls VII +
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks VI +
Fault Scarps VII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Calculator
Magnitude Estimate from Normal Fault Displacement

Notes

  • Hazan et al (2004) examined lake level history and suggested that more than 4 m of tectonic shoreline subsidence occurred during this earthquake . 400 cm. of normal fault displacement produces a MW between 7.0 and 7.2.
Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)
Variable Input Units Notes
cm.
cm.
m/s Enter a value of 655 for no site effect
Equation comes from Darvasi and Agnon (2019)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude for Avg. Displacement
unitless Moment Magnitude for Max. Displacement
Variable Output - Site Effect Removal Units Notes
unitless Reduce Intensity Estimate by this amount
to get a pre-amplification value of Intensity
  

Site Effect

The value given for Intensity with site effect removed is how much you should subtract from your Intensity estimate to obtain a pre-amplification value for Intensity. For example if the output is 0.5 and you estimated an Intensity of 8, your pre-amplification Intensity is now 7.5. An Intensity estimate with the site effect removed is helpful in producing an Intensity Map that will do a better job of "triangulating" the epicentral area. If you enter a VS30 greater than 655 m/s you will get a positive number, indicating that the site amplifies seismic energy. If you enter a VS30 less than 655 m/s you will get a negative number, indicating that the site attenuates seismic energy rather than amplifying it. Intensity Reduction (Ireduction) is calculated based on Equation 6 from Darvasi and Agnon (2019).

VS30

VS30 is the average seismic shear-wave velocity from the surface to a depth of 30 meters at earthquake frequencies (below ~5 Hz.). Darvasi and Agnon (2019) estimated VS30 for a number of sites in Israel. If you get VS30 from a well log, you will need to correct for intrinsic dispersion. There is a seperate geometric dispersion correction usually applied when processing the waveforms however geometric dispersion corrections are typically applied to a borehole Flexural mode generated from a Dipole source and for Dipole sources propagating in the first 30 meters of soft sediments, modal composition is typically dominated by the Stoneley wave. Shear from Stoneley estimates are approximate at best. This is a subject not well understood and widely ignored by the Geotechnical community and/or Civil Engineers but understood by a few specialists in borehole acoustics. Other considerations will apply if you get VS30 value from a cross well survey or a shallow seismic survey where the primary consideration is converting shear slowness from survey frequency to Earthquake frequency. There are also ways to estimate shear slowness from SPT & CPT tests.

Notes and Further Reading
Notes - > 4 m of tectonic subsidence at Galei Kinneret

Hazan et al (2004) examined lake level history and suggested that more than 4 m of tectonic shoreline subsidence occurred during this earthquake. They summarized the tectonic implications as follows:

The NW-striking normal fault zone in the southwestern margin of the Kinneret basin accommodates a NE–SW extension. This fault zone is linked to the N-striking fault, which forms the western boundary of the Kinnarot Valley. We suggest that the latter fault is primarily a sinistral strike slip fault, whereas the NW normal faults are part of the strike slip termination mechanism. The overall sinistral strike slip motion on the DST is compatible with NW–SE-striking compression and SW–NE-striking extension. Locally antithetic parallel faults may occur, such as in the Galei Kinneret case, where the hanging wall is the west block. Since the main Kinneret basin is subsiding east of the site, there must be another fault further east, of which the hanging wall is the eastern block (Fig. 4 ).

Beriniki Theatre (aka The Theatre)
Archeoseismic Damage at the Theater Tiberias Figure 4a) map of ruptures across the Theatre, rose diagrams (bin size 15°) show fractures on archaeological relics from the whole site (red, n° 100) and on the orchestra floor (grey, n° 23); picture view angles (the figure number showing each picture is indicated) and trace of total station profiles are shown as well

Ferrario et al (2020)


Introduction

Ferrario et al (2020) report that the Theatre was originally built in the 1st century CE and underwent several modifications in the ensuing centuries.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Phasing

Ferrario et al (2020) report that Atrash (2010) divided up the stratigraphy of the Theatre as shown below:

Stratigraphy at the Theater Tiberias Figure 3a) Historical periods in Israel and schematic stratigraphic column at the Theatre

Ferrario et al (2020)


mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Map of surface ruptures in the Beriniki Theatre from Ferrario et al (2020)
  • Map of all Tiberias sites studied by Ferrario et al (2020) .
Ferrario et al (2020) provided what they characterize as a tight terminus ante quem of not later than the 8th - 11th century CE for the damaging event at the Theatre based on the Fatimid-Abassid quarter (Fig. 5 from Atrash, 2010). These structures were built on top of the Theatre and debris flow deposits and followed a plan similar to the underlying Theatre. The Fatimid-Abassid structures, which were removed during excavations in 2009 in order to access the Theatre showed no faulting, damage, or deformation in photographs taken prior to removal. Damage, according to Ferrario et al (2020) was limited to the Roman-age flooring and to the debris flow sediments above it.
Ferrario et al (2020) noted this was particulalrly evident the photos from Figures 5 b-d . A terminus post quem was provided from the Southern Gate where a deformed Byzantine wall was archaeologically dated to ca. 530 CE. If the apparently seismically damaged Umayyad Reservoir is indeed Umayyad, this provides a later terminus post quem of 661 - 750 CE. Taken together, the seismic event is constrained at most to between 530 CE and the 11th century CE; possibly between 661 CE and the 11th century.

No radiocarbon dates were reported in the debris flow sediments which can be seen in Figure 5 b-d and possibly S10 . A trench was examined near the South Gate site but no earthquake evidence was found in the trench and the trench could not be deepened below the 11th century CE due to the discovery of human remains.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Plans and maps

  • Map of surface ruptures in the Beriniki Theatre from Ferrario et al (2020)
  • Map of all Tiberias sites studied by Ferrario et al (2020) .
Ferrario et al (2020) described archeoseismic evidence at the Theatre as follows:
Cretaceous limestones outcrop in the NW side of the Theatre (Fig. 4a ), while the E side lies on loose alluvial deposits. At the contact, a bedrock fault zone (N60/60) is exposed inside the Theatre as a 1.5 m thick fault gouge (Fig. 4e ). Stress inversion of fault slip data (Fig. 4d and Table S3) indicates an almost pure extensional regime, with a T axis trending N62/13. The limestone - alluvial deposit contact has a clear morphological expression out of the Theatre area (i.e., lies at the base of the mountain escarpment) and is interpreted as tectonic in origin on the Israeli map of active faults (Sagy et al., 2016).

The Theatre preserves evidence of damage (Fig. 4a ), mainly aligned along a ca. 10 m wide, N140-trending, belt which is located ca. 30 m to the E of the bedrock fault gouge described above (Fig 4e ). These archaeoseismic effects include on-fault effects with vertical displacement (downthrown seat-rows and walls) and strain structures generated by permanent ground deformation (tilted and folded walls). All these features belong to the primary earthquake archaeological effects described by Rodriguez-Pascua et al. (2011). The most relevant evidence is a 5-m wide, at least 15 m long, coseismic gravity-graben affecting the orchestra limestone pavement and lower block of seats (Fig. 4b and 4c . High resolution topographic surveys carried out along several transects on features considered as a horizontal datum (i.e., flagstones and seat rows), show 50-to-60 cm of vertical net throw with downthrown side to the E (Fig. 7 ), including both discrete and distributed deformation.

Photos taken in 2009 during the archaeological excavation show that normal displacement affects Roman-age floorings as well as debris flow sediments covering the Theatre pavement (Fig. 5 ). The sediments are well-bedded for their entire exposure, except for a few meters wide zone, corresponding with the fault zone.
Ferrario et al (2015:158-161) showed the alignment of these features in the Bemiki Theatre in photographs in Figure 3 . They showed a map of all the sites studied in Figure 4 .

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Seismic effects reported by Ferrario et al (2020) for the Theatre, Southern Gate, and points in-between include:
Effect Location Photo Intensity
Penetrative fractures and cracks in masonry blocks Theatre Fig S14 VI +
Broken Corners Theatre Fig S14 VI +
Seismic Uplift / Subsidence Theatre and Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate VI +
Displaced or Folded Walls Theatre and Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate. and from Ferrario et al (2014) Fig. 7 , Fig 8 , and Fig. 10 VII +
Displaced Masonry Blocks Theatre Fig. 4c VIII +
Vertical net throw of 50-60 cm. ~300 m long fault segment from Theatre to Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate
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).

Calculator
Magnitude Estimate from Normal Fault Displacement

Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

Variable Input Units Notes
cm.
cm.
m/s Enter a value of 655 for no site effect
Equation comes from Darvasi and Agnon (2019)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude for Avg. Displacement
unitless Moment Magnitude for Max. Displacement
Variable Output - Site Effect Removal Units Notes
unitless Reduce Intensity Estimate by this amount
to get a pre-amplification value of Intensity
  

Site Effect

The value given for Intensity with site effect removed is how much you should subtract from your Intensity estimate to obtain a pre-amplification value for Intensity. For example if the output is 0.5 and you estimated an Intensity of 8, your pre-amplification Intensity is now 7.5. An Intensity estimate with the site effect removed is helpful in producing an Intensity Map that will do a better job of "triangulating" the epicentral area. If you enter a VS30 greater than 655 m/s you will get a positive number, indicating that the site amplifies seismic energy. If you enter a VS30 less than 655 m/s you will get a negative number, indicating that the site attenuates seismic energy rather than amplifying it. Intensity Reduction (Ireduction) is calculated based on Equation 6 from Darvasi and Agnon (2019).

VS30

VS30 is the average seismic shear-wave velocity from the surface to a depth of 30 meters at earthquake frequencies (below ~5 Hz.). Darvasi and Agnon (2019) estimated VS30 for a number of sites in Israel. If you get VS30 from a well log, you will need to correct for intrinsic dispersion. There is a seperate geometric dispersion correction usually applied when processing the waveforms however geometric dispersion corrections are typically applied to a borehole Flexural mode generated from a Dipole source and for Dipole sources propagating in the first 30 meters of soft sediments, modal composition is typically dominated by the Stoneley wave. Shear from Stoneley estimates are approximate at best. This is a subject not well understood and widely ignored by the Geotechnical community and/or Civil Engineers but understood by a few specialists in borehole acoustics. Other considerations will apply if you get VS30 value from a cross well survey or a shallow seismic survey where the primary consideration is converting shear slowness from survey frequency to Earthquake frequency. There are also ways to estimate shear slowness from SPT & CPT tests.

Notes and Further Reading
The Southern Gate
Archeoseismic Damage south of the Theater Tiberias Figure 6a

Map of the Southern Gate and water reservoir sites, ca. 200 m S of the Theatre, along the Jordan Valley Western Boundary (JVWB) Fault strike, with indication of picture view angles and trace of total station profile. Fault trace is marked by red dashed line

Ferrario et al (2020)


Introduction

Ferrario et al (2020) report that the Southern Gate, located ca. 200 m S of the Theatre, was originally built during the Early Roman period as a free-standing structure, in Byzantine times, the gate was incorporated in the newly-built city wall, and in Umayyad-to-Fatimid periods other buildings and retaining walls were constructed at the site (Hartal et al., 2010).

Maps and Plans Chronology
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Chronology is based on The Berniki Theater at Tiberias which provided a date range of 530 CE and the 11th century CE or 661 CE and the 11th century CE. See Chronology section for The Berniki Theater at Tiberias for details.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps

  • Map of the southern gate and reservoir sites from Ferrario et al (2020)
Ferrario et al (2020) described archeoseismic evidence at the Southern Gate as follows:
The Southern Gate is built on a bedrock (Cretaceous limestone), which outcrops at the base of the wadi channel which runs in a general E-W direction within the site. Displacement at the Southern Gate is represented by warping of a Byzantine E-W wall, archaeologically dated at ca. 530 CE (Fig. 6 b and 6 c ). A total station profile shows ca. 45 cm of total throw with downthrown side to the E (Fig. 7 a-e and Fig. 7 e ). The measured displacement has a pure normal component with an amount of vertical displacement similar to that recorded at the Theatre.

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Seismic effects reported by Ferrario et al (2020) for the Theatre, Southern Gate, and points in-between include:
Effect Location Photo Intensity
Penetrative fractures and cracks in masonry blocks Theatre Fig S14 VI +
Broken Corners Theatre Fig S14 VI +
Seismic Uplift / Subsidence Theatre and Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate VI +
Displaced or Folded Walls Theatre and Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate. and from Ferrario et al (2014) Fig. 7 , Fig 8 , and Fig. 10 VII +
Displaced Masonry Blocks Theatre Fig. 4c VIII +
Vertical net throw of 50-60 cm. ~300 m long fault segment from Theatre to Southern Gate Fig. 4c at the Theatre and Fig. 6c at the Southern Gate
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
Umayyad Water Reservoir
Introduction

Ferrario et al (2020) reported on fractures in an Umayyad Water Reservoir located between the Theatre and the South Gate.

Maps and Plans Chronology
mid 8th century CE earthquake

If the Water Reservoir is correctly dated to Umayyad times it provides a terminus post quem of 661 - 750 CE for seismic damage.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Ferrario et al (2020) described archeoseismic evidence at the Umayyad water reservoir as follows:

South of the Theatre, the last excavation phase during 2017 uncovered an Umayyad water reservoir. Damage is here represented by a series of steeply inclined fractures between masonry blocks, located in a ca. 1 m wide zone (Fig. 6d ). The damage zone is situated along the line connecting the graben in the Theatre and the warped Byzantine wall at the Southern Gate, i.e. on the fault line.

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

The fractures between masonry blocks for the reservoir is not part of the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224). Thus, for the moment, no Intensity estimate is available for the fractured Umayyad reservoir.

Seismo-Tectonic Considerations from the Theatre, Southern Gate, and Umayyad Water Reservoir
Surface Faulting Evidence

Plans and maps

  • Map of surface ruptures in the Beriniki Theatre from Ferrario et al (2020)
  • Map of all Tiberias sites studied by Ferrario et al (2020) .
Ferrario et al (2020) detailed surface faulting evidence as follows:
We measured dip and dip direction of 123 fractures (in masonry blocks) in the Theatre and 59 in the Southern Gate (Table S2). They are Mode I fractures (opening fractures), affecting walls and building stones. Generally, they break the entire stone height, albeit in some cases they affect a single corner of the building stone (see Fig. S14 for examples). The strike of the fractures has a modal value of 160° and 140° in the whole Theatre and the orchestra floor, respectively (see rose diagrams in Fig. 4a ). These values are broadly consistent with the direction of the gravity graben found within the Theatre.

South of the Theatre, the last excavation phase during 2017 uncovered an Umayyad water reservoir. Damage is here represented by a series of steeply inclined fractures between masonry blocks, located in a ca. 1 m wide zone (Fig. 6d ). The damage zone is situated along the line connecting the graben in the Theatre and the warped Byzantine wall at the Southern Gate, i.e. on the fault line.

...

Summary of the archaeoseismic observations reveals a ~300 m long segment of the [Jordan Valley Western Boundary Fault] (JVWB) [from the] Theatre to [the] Gate that ruptured the surface during an earthquake that apparently took place at the 8th century CE. Slip along the fault is normal, vertical throw is 0.5 m.
Ferrario et al (2020) summarized why they considered surface faulting the causitive mechanism for much of the observed damage as follows:
  1. The investigated sites are built on a contact between limestones and thin (few meters) alluvial deposits; the presence of shallow limestone bedrock beneath the hanging wall alluvial deposits is also confirmed by boreholes. Bedrock outcrops inside the Theatre and at the bottom of the wadi channel at the Southern Gate.
  2. All damaged sites are aligned along a lineament in a N140 direction, which is consistent with the structural framework of the study area.
  3. All our observations document a pure dip-slip normal faulting.
  4. The gravity-graben inside the Theatre is a feature consistent with coseismic, near- fault deformation (e.g., Slemmons, 1957; Rodriguez-Pascua et al., 2011) and possibly due to the steepening of the fault plane approaching the surface.
  5. Damage is consistently found in Roman levels and in the debris flow sediments uncovered in the Theatre, but the Abassid levels were not faulted nor deformed. Archaeological stratigraphy provides tight chronological constraints, based on architectural style, building techniques and materials of the findings and structures.
The lines of reasoning listed above point toward an earthquake-related damage, and more specifically to surface faulting. The damaging event is constrained to later than 530 CE and younger than the Abassid caliphate (750-1258 CE).
Ferrario et al (2020) discuss the nature of faulting during this event below:
The reconstruction of the stratigraphic and structural setting of the shallow subsurface (Fig. 10 ) shows faults reaching the surface; they were constrained by direct observation at the archaeological sites (Fig. 10a and 10b ) or presence of the hot springs (Fig. 10c ). Other faults were imaged through the seismic lines and borehole correlation. Our data suggest the presence of a fault zone some tens of meters wide, rather than a single fault. At the Theatre (Fig. 10a ) and at the Northern seismic line (Fig. 9 ), we observe to the W a fault strand at the contact between Cretaceous limestone and the Neogene-Quaternary deposits; to the E, a second fault strand lies within the Neogene-Quaternary deposits. At the Theatre, the fault gouge in Cretaceous limestones (Fig. 4e ) show no signs of historical displacements, whereas the archaeological structures are faulted more to the E (Fig. 4a ). This may suggest a basinward migration of the active fault strand, consistently with previous observations at other sites along the DSF (Marco & Klinger, 2014). At the Southern Gate the fault lies within Cretaceous limestones, as deduced from archaeoseismological observations and core drillings (Fig. 10b ).

Rupture Scenarios

Ferrario et al (2020) considered 3 different rupture scenarios for the mid 8th century CE earthquake which they suggest caused the observed damage:

Scenario Fault(s) Fault
Motion
Rupture
Length
(km.)
Rupture
Width
(km.)
Mw
1 Jordan Valley Western Boundary Fault Normal 45 6.9
2 Jordan Valley Fault Strike-Slip 125 12.5 7.3
3 Jordan Valley Western Boundary Fault
and Jordan Valley Fault
Normal and
Strike-Slip
170 12.5 7.6
While they suggested the 3rd possibility could be explained by strain-partitioning, they considered it an unlikely scenario. They also noted that their calculations represented worst case scenarios implying rupture of the entire fault where such complete fault ruptures may be obstructed by structural thresholds. For Scenario 1, they used a scaling relationship from Wesnousky (2008:1620 - Fig. 8) for Normal Faults which has a quality score of 1 (i.e. best available) according to Stirling et al. (2013)

Mw = 6.12 + 0.47*log10(L)

  L = Length of rupture (km.)

For Scenarios 2 and 3, they used a scaling relationship from Hanks and Bakun (2008:490 - Eqn. 4) for a Fault Area > 537 km.2. This scaling relationship has a quality score of 1 (i.e. best available) according to Stirling et al. (2013)

Mw = 4/3*log10(A) + (3.07 ± 0.04)

  A = Fault Area (km.2)

The scaling relationships chosen followed recommendations of Stirling et al. (2013) and were of subclass A2 (Slow Plate boundary faults with slip less than 10 mm./year) which is appropriate for the Dead Sea Transforms which is estimated to slip at 4-5 mm/year Garfunkel et al (2014).

Calculator - Scaling Relationships

Variable Input Units Notes
km.
km.
Variable Output Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude computed using Wesnousky (2008)
km.2
unitless Moment Magnitude computed using Hanks and Bakun (2008)
  

Notes

Ferrario et al (2020) plotted structural Data (dip and dip direction) using StereoNet and inverted for slip using FaultKin; both courtesy of Rick Allmendinger (Cornell).Maria Francesa Ferrario's page on Research Gate has a number of downloadable papers on archeoseismic and paleoseismic investigations in Tiberias.

Mount Berineke
Maps and Plans Seismic Effects
Undated Seismic Effects

Plan

  • Plan of church on top of Mount Berineke modified from Ferrario et al (2014)
Ferrario et al (2014) performed a preliminary archeoseismic examination of the Church on Mount Berineke and made the following comments while referring to the plan above:
The church remains at Mt. Berenice show two different building techniques (different building-stone sizes, cement between building-stones). Several fractures are visible; some of them seem a result of building decay or different techniques, or are related to part of the building added later or to weaker structural elements (e.g. arches). Some other fractures, indeed, can be explained only with the occurrence of an external event (e.g. earthquake, landslide, geotechnical failure).

...

Site A: This is probably the clearest evidence of an external event. Fracture on a 1 m high wall; the fracture covers all the wall's height. Open fracture, 3-4 cm between the 2 sides, ca. 2 cm of left displacement. The W side is vertical, the E side shows an arcuate (concave N-ward) style (Fig. 14 ).

Site B: Fracture on a 70 cm high wall; the prosecution is visible for ca. 50 cm in the superior part of the wall; no lateral displacement.

Site C: Vertical fracture on a 2.40 m high wall; the fracture is visible only in the lower 1.60 m. Spacing between the 2 sides ca. 1 cm, no lateral displacement. The wall for its entire length seems built with 2 different techniques: lower part with much more cement and smaller boulders. The fracture ends ca. at the boundary between the 2. A, B and C are aligned along the N150° direction (Fig 15 ).

Site D: Here the features (vertical fractures) seems related to different building phases (presence/absence cement).

Site E and F: Tilting and dislocation of 2 walls (loss of verticality), but related to weaker structural elements (arches).

Site G: Single stone located at the base of a door, fractured in 2 blocks.

Site H: Series of sub-vertical fractures, in correspondence to a corner in the wall; up to 4-5 cm between the 2 sides. Possible 1-2 cm of right-lateral displacement. In one point, the fracture broke a 20 cm long single stone.

Site I: Fractures in a 2.5 m high wall; several stones broken, up to 1 cm between the 2 sides, no lateral displacement.

Notes and Further Reading
Basilica
Map and Plans Chronology
Phasing

Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004) proposed the following stratigraphic sequence for Tiberias:

Stratum Period Date Notes
I Late Fatimid 11th century CE construction above the collapse caused by an earthquake (in 1033 CE?)
II Early Fatimid 9th - 10th centuries CE continued use of the street with shops.
III Abbasid 8th - 9th centuries CE a row of shops, the basilica building was renovated.
IV Byzantine–Umayyad 5th - 7th centuries CE the eastern wing was added to the basilica building; the paved street; destruction was caused by the earthquake in 749 CE.
V Late Roman 4th century CE construction of the basilica complex, as well as the city’s institutions, i. e., the bathhouse and the covered market place.
VI Roman 2nd - 3rd centuries CE establishment of the Hadrianeum in the second century CE (temple dedicated to Hadrian that was never completed) and industrial installations; the paving of the cardo and the city’s infrastructure.
VII Early Roman 1st century CE founding of Tiberias, construction of the palace with the marble floor on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, opus sectile, fresco.
VIII Hellenistic 1st - 2nd centuries BCE fragments of typical pottery vessels (fish plates, Megarian bowls).

End of Phase IV earthquake - mid 8th century CE ?

Plan

  • Plan of church on the remains in the center of Tiberias from Hirschfeld and Meir (2004)
Hirschfeld and Meir (2004) discussed Stratum IV as follows:
Stratum IV (sixth century CE). Another, eastern wing, was apparently constructed east of the apse’s outer wall during the Byzantine period. It was accessed by way of an entrance adorned with magnificent doorjambs, in situ, whose lower parts were dressed to resemble half Attic bases (Fig. 5). The eastern wing was probably destroyed in the earthquake of 749 CE. The collapse inside the rooms contained numerous roof tiles, some of them almost complete and a large quantity of plaster and fragments of a plain mosaic floor. A noteworthy find from this destruction was a large bronze goblet-like mortar and a pestle that was found nearby, in the collapse of one of the rooms (Fig. 6). In all likelihood, these were not simple kitchen utensils, although their usage is unclear.

End of Phase II earthquake - 1033 CE ?

Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004) noted that Stratum I was built above the collapse [of Stratum II] caused by an earthquake (in 1033 CE?).

Seismic Effects
End of Phase IV earthquake - mid 8th century CE ?

Plan

  • Plan of church on the remains in the center of Tiberias from Hirschfeld and Meir (2004)
Seismic Effects from Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004) include:
  • The eastern wing was probably destroyed in the earthquake of 749 CE.
  • The collapse inside the rooms contained numerous roof tiles, some of them almost complete and a large quantity of plaster and fragments of a plain mosaic floor.

End of Phase II earthquake - 1033 CE ?

Seismic Effects from Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004) include:

  • Stratum I was built above the collapse [of Stratum II] caused by an earthquake (in 1033 CE?).

Intensity Estimates
End of Phase IV earthquake - mid 8th century CE ?

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Collapsed Walls Eastern Wing The eastern wing was probably destroyed in the earthquake of 749 CE. (Hirschfeld and Meir, 2004) VIII+
Collapsed Walls ? Description may suggest collapse from a higher floor of the building - The collapse inside the rooms contained numerous roof tiles, some of them almost complete and a large quantity of plaster and fragments of a plain mosaic floor. (Hirschfeld and Meir, 2004) VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

End of Phase II earthquake - 1033 CE ?

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Collapsed Walls Hirschfeld Y. and Meir E. (2004) noted that Stratum I was built above the collapse [of Stratum II] caused by an earthquake (in 1033 CE?). VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
House of the Bronzes
Introduction

The House of the Bronzes is located just south of the sewage plant and about ~250 m N or the Beriniki Theatre (Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld, 2008).

Maps and Plans Chronology
Phasing

Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld (2008) proposed the following stratigraphic sequence for the House of the Bronzes:

Stratum Period Date Notes
I Medieval 12-14th century CE
II Fatimid 10th - 11th centuries CE Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld (2008) beleive debris on top of this layer indicates that it was terminated by an earthquake
III Umayyad - Abbasid 8th - 10th centuries CE
IV Roman - Byzantine 1st - 6th centuries CE
Hirschfeld, Y. and O. Gutfeld (2008) report that remains of a pre-Islamic layer was only found in two places and while precise dating is unclear, they were sealed by fills of the Early Islamic period. A wall in Square D/5 and top of W.26 was dated by the fill next to it (L.170) to the 1st - 6th century CE. Stratum IV was overlaid by a thick layer of debris and alluvium. Earthquake destruction relating to Stratum IV was not mentioned in the report.

Notes and Further Reading
Other Sites in Tiberias
Aviv Hotel
Site 7354
Gane Hammat

Hippos Sussita

Fallen Columns from Cathedral at Hippos Sussita Photo of Hippos Sussita

Wechsler and Marco (2017)


Names

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

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

Maps and Plans Chronology
363 CE earthquake

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

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

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

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

Seismic Effects
Undated Archaeoseismic Evidence

Plans

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

363 CE earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Plans

  • Plan of Hippos-Sussita from biblewalks.com
  • Plan of the Forum. Hellenistic compound, and Northwest Church from Segal and Eisenberg (2007)
Tilted and Displaced Wall in the Area East of the Hellenistic Compound
Segal et al (2019:18) uncovered a wall displaced towards the west in the area east of the Hellenistic Compound (HLC5) which they attributed to one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.
Fallen Columns in the Cathedral
Fallen Columns from Cathedral at Hippos Sussita Fig. 2.3

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

Wechsler et al (2018)


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

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

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

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

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

Intensity Estimates
363 CE earthquake

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Site Effect
Topographic or Ridge Effect

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

Wechsler et al (2018)


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

Calculator
Estimate Magnitude and Intensity with and without a Site Effect

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

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

Site Effect Removal Methodology

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

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

Experimental calculators - Variation of Fourier amplitude spectra - UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Source : Kramer (1996:92-93)

Seismic Moment and Moment Magnitude
Variable Input Units Notes
GPa Shear Modulus
m Displacement
km. Fault width
km. Fault length
Variable Output Units Notes
N-m Seismic Moment
dynes-cm. Seismic Moment
unitless Moment Magnitude
  
Variable Input Units Notes
unitless Radiation Patttern
unitless Free surface effect
km./s Shear Wave velocity of the rock
g/cc Density of the rock
Moment Magntidue
Hz. cutoff frequency - 15 Hz. typical for W N Am.
bars 50 bars typical for W N Am.
Hz. frequency
km. Fault Distance
Variable Output Units Notes
constant
dyne-cm. Seismic Moment
Hz. Corner frequency
Amplitude (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
  

Notes

Equations
|A(f)| = [C*Mo*(f2/{1-(f/fc)2})*(1/sqrt{1 + (f/fmax)8})]e-{π*f*R/Q(f)*vs}/R         (3.30 - Kramer, 1996:92)

|A(f)| = fourier amplitudes
C = constant
Mo = Seismic Moment (dyne-cm.)
f = frequency (Hz.)
fc = corner frequency (Hz.)
fmax = cutoff frequency (Hz.)
Q(f) = frequency dependent quality factor, inversely proportional to the damping ratio of the rock
π = Pi
R = distance from circular rupture surface
vs = shear wave velocity of the rock

C = RθΦ*F*V / 4*π*ρ*vs3         (3.31 - Kramer, 1996:92)

RθΦ = Radiation Pattern ≈ 0.55
F = Free-surface effect =2
V = √2/2 - accounts for partitioning of energy into two horizontal components
π = Pi
ρ = density of the rock
vs = shear wave velocity of the rock

fc = 4.9 x 106*vs*(Δσ/Mo)1/3         (3.32 - Kramer, 1996:93)

fc = corner frequency (Hz.)
vs = shear wave velocity of the rock (km/sec.)
Δσ = stress drop (bars) - 50 and 100 are typically used for western and eastern North America
Mo = Seismic Moment (dyne-cm.)

Mw = (2/3)*log10Mo-10.7         (2.5 - Kramer, 1996:49)

Mw = Moment Magnitude
Mo = Seismic Moment (dyne-cm.)

fxsolver

Mo = μ*A*D         (2.1 - Kramer, 1996:42)

μ = Shear Modulus (Pa)
A = Area of rupture (m2)
D = displacement (m)

fxsolver

Units
1 Pa = 1 N/m2
1 dyne is the force required to accelerate 1 gram 1 cm/s2
1 N = 100,000 dynes
1 bar = 10^6 dynes/cm2

Notes and Further Reading

Kedesh

Aerial Photo of the remains of the Roman Temple at Kedesh (view from the East) Aerial Photo of the remains of the Roman Temple at Kedesh (view from the East)

www.biblewalks.com


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Kedesh Hebrew קדש
Khirbet Qadish Arabic كهيربيت قاديسه
Kades Arabic قاديس
Qades Arabic قاديس
Cadesh
Cydessa
Cadasa
Kydissos Ancient Greek Κυδισσός
Introduction

Kedesh had a long history of occupation and has been identified as biblical Kedesh, a Canaanite town mentioned as being conquered by the Ancient Israelites in Joshua 12:22 (Yohanan Aharoni in Stern et al, 1993).

Maps and Plans Chronology
Earthquake(s) after the 3rd century CE

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

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

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

Seismic Effects
Earthquake(s) after the 3rd century CE

Maps and Plans

Roman Temple
Schweppe et al (2017) noted that the site may have been used as a quarry after abandonment and likely also suffered from looting noting that it is not possible to differentiate with certainty which damage is of anthropogenic or of natural cause. However, some archeoseismic evidence does appear to remain which is described below
The wall in Figure 3a shows horizontal shifts and gaps between the ashlars which indicate that, at least in part, dynamic shaking has ruined the Kedesh Temple. In particular, we interpret the gaps between the ashlars in the northern section and its bend as the consequence of earthquake ground motions.
Schweppe et al (2017) performed numerical simulations and estimated that a PGA of 6 m/s2 was required to topple the currently remaining Temple structure under conditions of a dominant frequency of 1 Hz. and shaking in an EW direction. This produced an estimated upper limit for strength of shaking experienced at the site - at least since around 363 CE. They additionally simulated a number of historical earthquakes thought to have affected Kedesh after 363 CE and none were shown to have toppled what remains of the Temple. They did not simulate a hypothesized 363 CE earthquake which may have led to or contributed to initial abandonment of the structure.

In their simulation of post 363 CE earthquakes (Table 2 ), the 749 CE earthquake appears to be mischaracterized and based on the flawed intensity map of Marco et al (2003: Figure 3) which amalgamated seperate mid 8th century CE earthquakes into one large event. The 749 CE simulation of Schweppe et al (2017) assumed that one earthquake in 749 CE effectively broke the entire Jordan Valley Fault and that the epicenter was ~150 km. south of Kedesh. However, the mid 8th century CE earthquake that would have caused the most damage at Kedesh was likely largely due to slippage on normal faults around the Sea of Galilee (see The Berniki Theater at Tiberias and Galei Kinneret at Tiberias). This indicates that epicenter for the 749 CE event in Schweppe et al (2017)'s simulation should have been closer to the site. It may have also had a stronger E-W component than what was modeled by Schweppe et al (2017). Schweppe et al (2017)'s simulations showed that a strong E-W component is required to topple the east facing facade of the Temple.

While abandonment around the time of the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE suggests that this earthquake damaged the Temple, the damage evidence at the site is undated and the most likely scenario is that it was caused by the northern Cyril Quake of 363 CE, one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes, and human agency. Other post 363 CE earthquakes may have also damaged the weakened structure. Photos showing archaeoseismic evidence (e.g. displaced blocks) at the Roman Temple can be seen at this link at www.biblewalks.com.
'A Masonry Tomb'
Conder and Kitchner (1882:228-229) photographed what they called 'A Masonry Tomb' that exhibited a keystone drop which, based on their plan , trends N-S.
'A Masonry Tomb' at Kedesh Masonry Tomb at Kades [aka Kedesh] - levels re-balanced by Williams

Conder and Kitchner (1882:228-229)


Intensity Estimates
Earthquake(s) after the 3rd century CE

Effect Figure Notes Intensity
Displaced Masonry Blocks 3 horizontal shifts and gaps between the ashlars ( Schweppe et al, 2017) VIII+
Folded Walls 3b bend in the wall VII+
Arch Damage Masonry Tomb at Kades Conder and Kitchner (1882:228-229) took a photo described as Masonry Tomb at Kades [aka Kedesh] which shows a dropped keystone in a N-S trending arch VI+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading

Omrit

Horvat Omrit - View of the Temple Complex Horvat Omrit - View of the Temple Complex

Stern et al (2008)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Omrit Hebrew אומריט
Horbat Omrit Hebrew הורבט אומריט
Introduction

Omrit, located in the foothills of the Hermon range ~4 km. SW of Banias was at the crossroads of the Tyre-Damascus and Scythopolis-Damascus routes and on the border between the Galilee and Iturea (J. Andrew Overman in Stern et al, 2008). Overman in Stern et al (2008) suggests that the Temple at Omrit may have marked the entrance to Iturea or the related region of Banias. Excavations have revealed Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine remains along with a brief transient occupation in the 13th century CE (J. Andrew Overman in Stern et al, 2008).

Maps and Plans Chronology
Temple I repair earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of Horvat Omrit Site from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple I (late 1st century BCE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple II (early 2nd century CE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Temple I & Temple II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
  • Closeup on Wall WF4 in Temple I&II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
Nelson et al (2015:5) reports the following:
At some point during T1’s use phase, wall wF4 needed a repair (Fig. 15 ). It was originally built as a bonded cross-wall of P1 to support the east cella wall of T1. Later it served the same purpose for T2. However, the wall’s masonry exhibits two phases of construction, or rather, one phase of construction, followed by one phase of repair (Fig. 22 ). The southern half was built with P1 style masonry of dry-laid ashlars with tight fitting joints between both blocks and courses. The northern half was built with P2 style masonry of roughly-chiseled, marginally-drafted ashlars laid with a bit of mortar. In addition, there was a change in course height for the upper courses in the northern half which resulted in an awkward series of horizontal and vertical joints running down the middle of the wall.

Thus, wall wF4 apparently failed at some point in time but the cause of the failure must be left to speculation. An ashlar block or two within wF4 may have cracked and crushed along an unnoticed internal fissure in the stone. A fire may have caused the collapse of the roof tree or its trusses which pulled down a cella wall or two. Or, an earthquake severely jolted the building which perhaps knocked down its superstructure. Regardless, because of an internal failure or an external destructive force, wall wF4 needed a repair. The timing of this building activity is not precisely known but it may have occurred with the construction of T2 because the new blocks used in the repair were shaped and assembled in the manner of P2 masonry rather than imitating the masonry of P1. In addition, small repairs with mortar and chinking stones were made here and there on the inner faces of P1.

Temple II earthquake - 363 CE ?

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of Horvat Omrit Site from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple I (late 1st century BCE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple II (early 2nd century CE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Temple I & Temple II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
  • Closeup on Wall WF4 in Temple I&II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
Nelson et al (2015:6 footnote 19) reports that Stoehr (2011:ch 7) discusses potential earthquake damage to T2. Stoehr (2018:127-130) reports on damage to the third Temple which appears to be the same as T2:
The third temple was built to encase and mimic the second temple, which itself duplicated many of the features of the first temple, but on a larger scale.
...
At some point near the end of the fourth century the third temple was severely damaged, likely the result of the large earthquake of 363 CE.
...
The Omrit temple was not repaired, presumably because the social environment had changed, and instead a small Christian chapel was later constructed in the temenos, and much of the material from the temple quarried away. This chapel, about 25 feet long, had an apse on one end. It was built to incorporate the remains of the temple’s large altar as the foundation of its north wall. It is of uncertain date.

Another new structure, probably also a church, was under construction but likely never completed. It utilized most of the remaining temple podium. It appears to have incorporated some still-standing remnants of the original cella and colonnade, but replaced the floor which had most likely been damaged beyond repair by the earthquake of 363 CE. The floor was primarily rebuilt with items in secondary use, including spolia that probably came from the original temple such as an interior column base and pieces of marble revetment. In fact, ceramic and numismatic evidence indicates that the Byzantine builders actually excavated the fill out of some parts of the temple's substructure, before replacing it with their own fill that largely consisted of basalt boulders. This may have been because they wanted to assess the structural integrity of the foundations prior to starting new construction. A range of coins found in this later fill suggest a date of sometime around the second half of the fourth century.
...
An architrave block which had evidently fallen was used to block the original temple door. The date for this modification is unclear, but perhaps a new entrance and orientation for the building was planned. Alternatively, this may have been an attempt to block access to a dangerous building, the original temple.
...
Industrial facilities such as wine or olive presses, as well as other unidentified buildings, were constructed within the temenos. Some of these later facilities were built up against the side of the temple podium.
...
Some temple blocks, such as corner pilaster capitals, fell onto the remains of these later buildings, after these later buildings had themselves already been largely quarried away. The find-spots for such fallen blocks are virtually the same as the original placements for the blocks in the Roman temple. They seem to have simply fallen from the higher courses of walls. Whatever the large new building on the podium might have been (or might have been intended to be) it likely incorporated recognizable temple components in their original positions, implying that a large section of the original building was intact and had been used in more-or-less its original state.202 The hybrid building was still standing, almost certainly in a partial state, into medieval times.

Quarrying over a long period of time is evident. Temple blocks, and columns from the propylaea of the temple, were found by the excavators in isolated small piles at other locations within the temenos. They give the appearance of having been loosely sorted by type, suggesting ongoing quarrying activity.203 The quarrying of materials at Omrit seems to have been a perpetual activity going into the thirteenth century. It thus seems best to characterize the final fate of the Roman temple at Omrit as "conversion to an active spoliation site."

Because the original intention seemed to be to Christianize the site, and because the work to this end (on the foundation and stylobate of the temple) began shortly after the earthquake, this also seems to be an example of a temple converted to a church. In fact, the evidence suggests that the cella was incorporated into the new building, a relatively unusual occurrence in Palestine.

Earthquake in the mid 8th century CE

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of Horvat Omrit Site from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple I (late 1st century BCE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple II (early 2nd century CE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Temple I & Temple II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
  • Closeup on Wall WF4 in Temple I&II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
Overman in Stern et al (2008) reports that an earthquake in the middle of the eighth century CE appears to have brought about the final destruction of the site and its abandonment.

Seismic Effects
Temple I repair earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of Horvat Omrit Site from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple I (late 1st century BCE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Temple I & Temple II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
  • Closeup on Wall WF4 in Temple I&II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
Seismic Effects include:
  • At some point during T1’s use phase, wall wF4 needed a repair (Fig. 15 ). (Nelson et al, 2015:5)

Temple II earthquake - 363 CE ?

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of Horvat Omrit Site from Stern et al (2008)
  • Plan of Temple II (early 2nd century CE) from Stern et al (2008)
  • Temple I & Temple II site plan from Nelson et al (2015)
Seismic Effects include:
  • At some point near the end of the fourth century the third temple was severely damaged (Stoehr, 2018:127-130)
  • the floor which had most likely been damaged beyond repair by the earthquake of 363 CE (Stoehr, 2018:127-130)
  • The floor was primarily rebuilt with items in secondary use, including spolia that probably came from the original temple such as an interior column base and pieces of marble revetment. (Stoehr, 2018:127-130)
  • An architrave block which had evidently fallen was used to block the original temple door. The date for this modification is unclear, but perhaps a new entrance and orientation for the building was planned. Alternatively, this may have been an attempt to block access to a dangerous building, the original temple. (Stoehr, 2018:127-130)

Intensity Estimates
Temple I repair earthquake

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Displaced Walls Temple I - wall wF4 wall wF4 needed a repair (Fig. 15 ). (Nelson et al, 2015:5) VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Temple II earthquake - 363 CE ?

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Fallen columns Temple Secondary use of building material such as an interior column base and pieces of marble revetment. (Stoehr, 2018:127-130) V+
Displaced Walls Temple Displaced walls suggested by an architrave block which had evidently fallen (Stoehr, 2018:127-130) VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading

Minya

Aerial view of Khirbet Minya from the west Aerial view of Khirbet Minya from the west

biblewalks.com


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Minya
Horvat Minnim Hebrew
Khirbat el-Minya Arabic قصر المنية‎
Ayn Minyat Hisham Arabic
Introduction

Minya, located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee ~14 km. north of Tiberias, contains the remains of an Umayyad palace. (Oleg Grabar in Stern et al, 1993). A fragmentary inscription from the reign of one of the two caliphs named Walid (I, 705–715 CE or II, 743–744 CE) indicates that the palace was at least partially constructed by the latter half of the Umayyad caliphate ( Kuhnen et al, 2018). Kuhnen et al (2018) suggest that excavations reveal that construction was probably not complete before it was destroyed by one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes. Kuhnen et al (2018) also reports partial rebuilding took place during Abassid or Crusader periods and a furnace on the site was in use during Crusader and Mamluk periods.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Earthquake dated to 749 CE by the excavators

Maps and Plans

Kuhnen et al (2018) reports that excavations indicate that the palace was not completely finished before it was damaged by an earthquake which they presume to have struck in the mid 8th century CE. Square WES I, excavated at the corner between the eastern curtain wall and the southern gate tower, contained evidence of collapse.
The foundation trench was filled with debris that contained fragments of limestone ashlars mixed with basalt boulders (L123; Fig. 3). This fill yielded pottery from the Early Islamic period, with some later intrusions. The white limestone masonry of the eastern wall and the gate tower rose above a bottom course of large basalt ashlars—the method used for the construction of all the four curtain walls of the palace. It was therefore concluded that the protruding gate complex formed part of the original architectural plan. However, reused architectural elements seen in the upper courses of the gate indicate partial reconstruction in a later building phase. The fill alongside the eastern curtain wall contained numerous broken roof tiles (Figs. 2 , 4 ). They were made of crudely mixed clay with organic temper, and were lightly burnt. The tiles may indicate that the roof of the eastern wing, which collapsed in an earthquake apparently dated to 749 CE, was rebuilt in medieval times.

Seismic Effects
Earthquake dated to 749 CE by the excavators

Maps and Plans

Kuhnen et al (2018) reports the presence of fragments of limestone ashlars mixed with basalt boulders in the foundation trench in Square WES I, which was excavated at the corner between the eastern curtain wall and the southern gate tower.

Intensity Estimates
Earthquake dated to 749 CE by the excavators

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Collapsed Walls Square WES I, which was excavated at the corner between the eastern curtain wall and the southern gate tower Kuhnen et al (2018) reports the presence of fragments of limestone ashlars mixed with basalt boulders in the foundation trench in Square WES I, which was excavated at the corner between the eastern curtain wall and the southern gate tower. VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References

Hans-Peter Kuhnen, Miriam Pines and Oren Tal, 2018, Horbat Minnim Preliminary report, Hadashot Arkheologiyot Volume 130 Year 2018

Cinamon G. 2012. Huqoq Beach. HA-ESI 124.

Cytryn K. 2016. Tiberias and Khirbat al-Minya: Two Long-lived Umayyad Sites on the Western Shore of the Sea of Galilee. In H.P. Kuhnen ed. Khirbat al-Minya: Der Umayyadenpalast am See Genezareth (Orient-Archäologie 36). Rahden. Pp. 111–130.

Kuhnen, H.-P. (2016). Khirbat al-Minya: Der Umayyadenpalast am See Genezareth, VML, Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH.

Ritter et al (2016) Umayyad foundation inscriptions and the inscription of al-Walīd from Khirbat al-Minya: text, usage, visual form in H.P. Kuhnen ed. Khirbat al-Minya: Der Umayyadenpalast am See Genezareth (Orient-Archäologie 36). Rahden. Pp. 111–130.

Kuhnen H.P. 2016a. Dated Evidence of Landscape Change around Khirbat al-Minya between the Hellenistic and Early Islamic Periods – Archaeological Contributions to a Field Survey in Geoarchaeology. In H.P. Kuhnen ed. Khirbat al-Minya: Der Umayyadenpalast am See Genezareth (Orient-Archäologie 36). Rahden. Pp. 23–55.

Kuhnen H.P. 2016b. Denkmal der Glaubensgeschichte: Der frühislamische Kalifenpalast von Khirbat al Minya (Israel). Archäologie in Deutschland 2016 (1):14–19.

Kuhnen H.P. and Bloch F. 2014. Kalifenzeit am See Genezareth: Der Palast von Khirbat al-Minya / The age of the Caliphs at the Sea of Galilee. The Palace of Khirbat al-Minya. Mainz.

Bacharach, J. L. (1996). "Marwanid Umayyad Building Activities: Speculations on Patronage." Muqarnas 13: 27-44.

Minya at biblewalks.com

academia.edu page for Hans Peter Kuhnen

Beit Alpha

Beit Alpha Synagogue after excavation Plate IV

The synagogue after excavation

Sukenik (1932)


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Beit Alpha Hebrew בית אלפא
Bet Alpha Hebrew בית אלפא
Beth Alpha Hebrew בית אלפא
Bet Alfa Hebrew בית אלפא
Beit Alpha Hebrew בית אלפא
Introduction

Nahmad Avigad in Stern et al (1993) provides the following information about the synagogue at Beit Alpha
The ancient synagogue of Beth Alpha is situated at the foot of the northern slopes of the Gilboa Mountains, east of the Jezreel Valley. The site was named after the adjacent ruin of Khirbet Beit Ilfa, which possibly preserves an ancient name.
Beit Alpha is one of a few synagogues dated epigraphically. A partially destroyed Aramaic inscription states that a mosaic was created during the reign of Justinian I (518-527 CE) although the building itself is older perhaps dating back to the end of the 5th century CE (Nahmad Avigad in Stern et al, 1993).

Nahmad Avigad in Stern et al (1993) reports that excavations conducted in 1962 by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem uncovered more buildings.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Synagogue Destruction earthquake - after the 6th century CE

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of Synagogue at Beit Alpha from Stern et al (1993)
The synagogue at Beit Alpha appears to have suffered collapse and destruction sometime after the early 6th century CE. Sukenik (1932:13) described a collapse layer found during excavations.
The stones from the pillars differing as they do in shape and especially in colour from the other stones scattered among the debris, made it plain before we had been at work a fortnight how this ancient synagogue had been destroyed. These basalt blocks were in every case found east and west of the pillar bases, Fig 7 , showing how these stones fell which belonged to the second pillar from the south in the east aisle, indicates the results of a strong earth-tremor, the direction of which was approximately west to east.
Below the pillar-debris, Sukenik (1932:14) found more debris including plaster and what appeared to be roof tiles.
When we had cleared away the debris and reached the floor of the building we found, particularly in the central nave, a great many fragments of tiles of two different types of clay, one reddish and the other greyish-brown, and a thick layer of plaster (20 to 25 cm.) covering the floor's surface. There was also a layer of plaster in the side aisles but not so thick; but here no tiles were found. This layer of plaster which, as we have seen, covered all parts of the building inside the synagogue, and which was the first to fall to the floor as a result of the shaking by the earthquake.

Most of the tile fragments were found above the plaster or in it's upper layer, and the fragments of only one complete tile was found lying on the actual surface of the mosaic, to the south near the platform.
Beneath the debris, Sukenik (1932:48) reports that that 36 bronze coins were found in the hollow built into the floor of the apse on the south side of the synagogue but only seven survived in better condition. The earliest coin dated to the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337 CE) and the two latest coins dated to the reign of Justinian I (518-527 CE). The latest coins and the Aramaic inscription commemorating construction of one of the mosaics, also dated to the reign of Justinian I (518-527 CE), provide a terminus post quem for the major seismic destruction reflected in the pillar debris.

Sukenik (1932:48-49) listed other finds discovered during excavations. The stratigraphic contexts is not listed for all items. Some fragments of Arab pottery was found in the top layer of debris which covered the ruins of the synagogue which, if identified and dated, could help narrow down the date range for the synagogue's seismic destruction.
Item Location/Context Image Description
Jar western nave near the door Fig. 42 pieces from a jar with thin, ribbed sides found in the western nave near the door (Fig. 42). The jar was made from fine reddish, well-baked clay. One side of it was flat and the other markedly convex, and in [its] general shape it resembled a bee-hive. This type also appears at much earlier periods. Its shape makes it easy to move about from place to place. Similar vessels were found at Beisan in the uppermost stratum of the mound.
glass fragments ? Certain glass fragments which we found had belonged to the stems of oil lamps.
bracelet ? Fig. 43 Mention may here be made of two other objects found after our excavations, by Mr. Isser Unger. One is a small bronze bracelet (Fig. 43) with surface decorated with thin lines scratched between three egg-shaped protuberances.
Arabic vessel ? Fig. 44 Mention may here be made of two other objects found after our excavations, by Mr. Isser Unger. ... More interesting is the other object - a piece of the 'neck' and 'shoulder' of a pre-crusade Arab earthenware vessel (Fig. 44). This was made of yellowish clay mixed with small portions of white limestone. The surface was covered with a thin layer of yellowish paint and on this were arrangements of pale reddish stripes. On the lighter parts of the surface on the 'shoulder' were 'swastika'-shaped crosses. The present writer knows of no similar examples among Arab pottery found in Palestine.
Arab pottery top layer of debris which covered the ruins of the synagogue A few fragments of Arab pottery were also found in the top layer of debris which covered the ruins of the synagogue.

Seismic Effects
Synagogue Destruction earthquake - after the 6th century CE

Seismic Effects include

  • Fallen columns ( Sukenik, 1932:13)
  • plaster debris (Sukenik, 1932:14)
  • fallen roof tiles (Sukenik, 1932:14)

Intensity Estimates
Synagogue Destruction earthquake - after the 6th century CE

Effect Location Notes Intensity
Displaced Walls Synagogue fallen roof tiles suggest displaced walls (Sukenik, 1932:14) VII+
Collapsed Walls Synagogue Level of destruction (e.g. no walls left standing) suggests a significant collapse VIII+
Fallen Columns Synagogue Pillar-debris contained fallen columns (Sukenik, 1932:13) VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
Notes - Previous earthquake

Sukenik (1932:16) discerned multiple phases of construction one of which he surmised may have been a repair due to a previous earthquake.

Jericho and environs

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Jericho English
Yeriḥo Hebrew יְרִיחוֹ
Arīḥā Arabic أريحا
reah Canaanite
Yareaẖ Canaanite
Introduction

Despite low levels of rainfall, the many springs surrounding Jericho have allowed the city to to be occupied for millennium punctuated by interludes of abandonment. A number of archeological studies have taken place in Jericho and the surrounding areas including Tell es-Sultan, Tel Abu Alik, Khirbet el-Mefjer, and Tell es-Samarat.

Hisham's Palace at the Khirbet el-Mefjer site
Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Hisham's Palace English
Qaṣr Hishām Arabic قصر هشام
Khirbat al-Mafjar Arabic خربة المفجر
Introduction

Hisham's palace, a two story Umayyad structure and an example of a Desert Castle, is the main building of the Khirbet al-Mafjar archeological site located ~3 km. north of Jericho. Originally thought to have been destroyed and abandoned after it was struck by one one the mid 8th century CE earthquakes, it is now thought to have suffered more moderate damage during that event and to have remained occupied afterwards. The final destruction and abandonment of Hisham's Palace is now thought to have occurred later.

Plans Chronology
Phasing

Whitcomb (1988) divided up phasing as follows:

Period Date (CE) Notes
1 ca. 750-800 Ceramics of this period occurred on or near the floor amid destruction debris, fallen columns, and stone elements and tended to occupy a stratum of about 40 cm. Also lying on the various floors were materials that Baramki took as evidence for interrupted and unfinished construction: plaster and marble screen production, stacked roof tiles, and window glass. Floors were either not laid or showed little or no wear on the limestone (see Baramki 1937: 167, for a summary of this evidence). The evidence from the drawn sherds indicates at least two-thirds of the excavated locations had substantial Period 1 artifacts on or near the floor, perhaps twice the occupation Baramki recognized (Table 1).

The problem of interpretation of this ceramic evidence is one of depositional and functional implications. As mentioned above, the distribution of each type is limited to the distribution of the drawn examples, since Baramki's discussion of types incurs some distortions. More important, there is no indication of the quantity of each type and condition of preservation. Thus one can only guess whether a particular location has random sherds of refuse piles or vessels suddenly broken in their place of usage. The spread in height suggests the former depositional pattern, implying usage continuing after the cessation of building and after an initial destruction (ca. 750-800).
2 ca. 800-850 There is little explicit stratigraphic information on this period; taken together with deposition of Period 1, the material usually occurs within 50 cm of the floor. The distinctive forms of this period are relatively few and usually mixed with those of the preceding and following periods. Further, stratified materials of Period 2 occurred in seven locations described by Baramki as only medieval (Table 1, Period 2, in bold) and in general occurred in at least half of the excavated locations, implying a continuation of occupation rather larger than Baramki suggested (ca. 800-850).
3 ca. 900-1000 There are a number of locations, for example the south block, where rooms seem to have been cleared for reoccupation. The locations that produced floor level materials which Baramki called 10th to 12th century are rarer than he suggested - only four locations represented by drawings. The total evidence of Period 3 occupation (ca. 900-1000) is between two-thirds (from the drawings) and three-quarters (drawings and Baramki's description).

This period must be counted as a major occupation of the palace complex
4 ca. 1200-1400 The preliminary reports described an upper layer of burnt materials, including fallen beams in the cloisters (Hamilton 1959: 28). "A large conflagration seems to have contributed to the destruction of the site during the second phase of occupation, as a layer of ash runs through the whole structure about one meter from the present surface" (Baramki 1936: 137). This can be seen in Hall I and in the entrance hall (Baramki 1937: pl. 47:1). Such a layer can hardly have been precisely regular and a photograph of the south part of the west cloister shows the burn layer at 0.5 m below surface and 1.3 m above the floor (Baramki 1936: pl. 85:2). The irregularity is noted in the courtyard (Baramki 1938: 51). The fallen arch in Room IVa appears in the burn layer at 1.8 m above the floor (Baramki 1938: 52, pl. 35:2). Baramki does not discuss the cause of this extensive burnt material, but most of the building was perhaps still carrying a wooden roof at the end of Period 3 (or possibly in the course of Period 4). The drawings confirm that only about half of the locations have materials of this last period (ca. 1200-1400).

Earlier earthquake

Whitcomb (1988:63) suggested an initial destruction affected Hisham's Palace after which occupation continued.

Ceramics of this period occurred on or near the floor amid destruction debris, fallen columns, and stone elements and tended to occupy a stratum of about 40 cm. Also lying on the various floors were materials that Baramki took as evidence for interrupted and unfinished construction: plaster and marble screen production, stacked roof tiles, and window glass. Floors were either not laid or showed little or no wear on the limestone (see Baramki 1937: 167, for a summary of this evidence). The evidence from the drawn sherds indicates at least two-thirds of the excavated locations had substantial Period 1 artifacts on or near the floor, perhaps twice the occupation Baramki recognized (Table 1).

The problem of interpretation of this ceramic evidence is one of depositional and functional implications. As mentioned above, the distribution of each type is limited to the distribution of the drawn examples, since Baramki's discussion of types incurs some distortions. More important, there is no indication of the quantity of each type and condition of preservation. Thus one can only guess whether a particular location has random sherds of refuse piles or vessels suddenly broken in their place of usage. The spread in height suggests the former depositional pattern, implying usage continuing after the cessation of building and after an initial destruction (ca. 750-800).
Whitcomb (1988:64) further reports that the deposits of Period 1 may have begun in the 740s but continued uninterrupted for the remainder of that century.

Later earthquake

Alfonsi et al (2013) dated the causitive earthquake for the major seismic destruction at Hisham's Palace to the earthquake of 1033 CE unlike previous researchers who dated it to one of the Sabbatical Year earthquakes. Their discussion is reproduced below:

The archaeological data testify to an uninterrupted occupancy from eighth century until 1000 A.D. of the Hisham palace (Whitcomb, 1988). Therefore, if earthquakes occurred in this time period, the effects should not have implied a total destruction with consequent occupancy contraction or abandonment. Toppled walls and columns in the central court cover debris containing 750-850 A.D. old ceramic shards (Whitcomb, 1988). Recently unearthed collapses north of the court confirm a widespread destruction after the eighth century (Jericho Mafjar Project - The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago). These elements support the action of a destructive shaking event at the site later than the 749 A.D. earthquake. The two well-constrained, major historical earthquakes recognized in the southern Jordan Valley are the 749 and 1033 A.D. (Table 1; Marco et al (2003); Guidoboni and Comastri, 2005). We assign an IX—X intensity degree to the here-recorded Hisham damage, whereas a VII degree has been attributed to the 749 A.D. earthquake at the site (Marco et al, 2003). Furthermore, Whitcomb (1988) defines an increment of occupation of the palace between 900 and 1000 A.D. followed by a successive occupation in the 1200-1400 A.D. time span. On the basis of the above, and because no pottery remains are instead associated with the 1000-1200 A.D. period at Hisham palace (Whitcomb, 1988), we suggest a temporary, significant contraction or abandonment of the site as consequence of a severe destruction in the eleventh century.

Seismic Effects
Later earthquake

Archeoseismic Map of Hisham's Palace Figure 2. (d) Map of the surveyed coseismic effects at Hisham palace (Khirbet al-Mafjar site). Original plan of the palace is modified from Hamilton (1959).

Nh - North hall
Cc - Central court
CI - Cloister

1 crack and fault; black arrow, direction of movement

2 tilting and warping of wall (arrow toward the direction of movement

3 column of the ground floor (larger symbol) and of the first floor (smaller symbol); circle, column top

4 deformation of floor (sunk and pop-up)

5 fracture density (> 1/8 m2)

Alfonsi et al (2013)


Rose Diagrams of Archeoseismic Evidence at Hisham's Palace Figure 2. Rose diagrams of

(a) strike of fractures

(b) direction of tilting versus cumulative length of titled walls

(c) direction of column collapse.

Alfonsi et al (2013)


Alfonsi et al (2013) documented and measured orientations of archeoseismic damage such as tilted structures, displaced walls and pavements, and colonnade failure. By combining their their field work (70%) with previous studies (30%) by Karcz and Kafri, 1981 and Reches and Hoexter, 1981 they were able to produce an array of useful archeoseismic data. They describe the archeoseismic evidence below:
The observed damage defines a severe earthquake scenario. Most of the brittle structures affect the supporting and divisor walls ( Figs. 2, 4a and 4b ). These structures are faults and open cracks with dip generally > 50° and width up to 20 cm. The faults offset archaeological structures with left-lateral slips up to 10 cm. Some structures with mixed shear (sinistral)-opening mode have also been recognized ( Fig.4b ). In the western portion of the pavement of the central court, roughly north—south striking cracks and vertical deformations occur ( Fig. 3 ). The flagstones are deformed in a pop-up-like array. These deformations have a linear continuity of about 30 m and align to the faults and shear-opening structures affecting the walls of the north and south cloister ( Fig. 2). The fractures at Hisham palace have a preferred north—south strike and a second-order east—west strike (Rose diagram in Fig. 2a ). Fracture density (shaded pale orange areas in Fig. 2d ) evidences two roughly north—south elongated subparallel areas located on the western side of Hisham palace, and one, also north—south elongated, on the eastern side. Fifty meters north of the north hall area, we observed a 6 m wide shear zone consisting of high-angle fractures and faults exposed on the northern wall of an archaeological trench ( Fig. 4c ) The vertical displacement across this zone is of the order of tens of centimeters. No data are available to strictly constraint the age of faulting. The plaster and the drainage channel close to the trench wall are affected by fracturing aligned with the deformed zone ( Fig. 5 ).

Several walls are tilted and/or warped up to 15° ( Figs. 2 and 3b ). Rose diagram in Figure 2b shows the cumulative length of tilting, for which the preferred sense is north. The occurrence of this preferred sense of tilting confirms the seismic nature of the observed damage (Paz (1997)). A human skeleton found in a room facing the east cloister under debris of an arch that collapsed in 1000-1400 A.D. could be also indicative of seismic shaking (Baramki, 1938).

The overall position of the failed columns has been reconstructed from original reports and pictures and it is reported in Figure 2 . Most colonnade collapses cluster mainly toward the southeastern quadrant (Rose diagram in Fig. 2c ). The direction of column failure is due to the traction effect of the first-floor collapse.

Intensity Estimates
Later earthquake

Effect Source Notes Intensity
Collapsed Walls Alfonsi et al (2013) The direction of column failure is due to the traction effect of the first-floor collapse. VIII+
Displaced Walls Alfonsi et al (2013) Some structures with mixed shear (sinistral)-opening mode have also been recognized ( Fig.4b ). VII+
Pop-ups on regular pavement Alfonsi et al (2013) The flagstones are deformed in a pop-up-like array. VI+
Fallen Columns Alfonsi et al (2013) Fig. 2 V+
Damaged Arches Alfonsi et al (2013) A human skeleton found in a room facing the east cloister under debris of an arch that collapsed in 1000-1400 A.D. could be also indicative of seismic shaking (Baramki, 1938). VI+
Tilted Walls Alfonsi et al (2013) Several walls are tilted and/or warped up to 15° ( Figs. 2 and 3b ). VI+
Folded Walls Alfonsi et al (2013) Several walls are tilted and/or warped up to 15° ( Figs. 2 and 3b ). VII+
Fault Scarps Alfonsi et al (2013) Speculative - Fifty meters north of the north hall area, we observed a 6 m wide shear zone consisting of high-angle fractures and faults exposed on the northern wall of an archaeological trench ( Fig. 4c ) The vertical displacement across this zone is of the order of tens of centimeters. No data are available to strictly constraint the age of faulting. VII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).
Intensity Estimate of Alfonsi et al (2013)

Alfonsi et al (2013) assigned a minimum seismic intensity of IX-X to the earthquake that caused the observed destruction at Hisham's Palace.

Seismotectonic Considerations
Seismotectonic Considerations for Later earthquake

Alfonsi et al (2013) discussed the seismotectonic implications of the archeoseismic data unearthed from Hisham's Palace as follows:

The preferred sense of tilting of the Hisham walls and the colonnade-collapse direction indicate, according to structural dynamic models by Paz (1997) and Hinzen (2009) on inelastic inertial structures, a ground shaking by seismic waves coming from the northern quadrant. Although the cause of most of the earthquake-induced damage at Hisham palace is ground shaking, some of the mapped features have a clear tectonic origin. These features include the occurrence of
  1. left-lateral faults
  2. north—south- to north-northeast—south-southwest-striking fractures and cracks
  3. aligned fractures up to 30 m long crossing the whole palace formed during the 1033 A.D. earthquake
  4. a 6 m wide north—south- to north-northeast—south-southwest-striking shear zone affecting the ground.
All these data define a syn- and post-1033 A.D. brittle deformation zone. This zone may represent the southern prolongation of the north—south-striking, subvertical fault recognized by field and seismic data (Fig. 6 ). This fault accommodates the deepening of the Jericho syntectonic sedimentary basin. The prevailing left-lateral slips we recognize at Hisham palace along north—south- to north-northeast—south-southwest-striking structures are fully compatible with the strike-slip stress regime of the Jordan area of the Dead Sea fault system, which is characterized by a northwest—southeast subhorizontal σ1 (Fig. 6 ; Hofstetter et al., 2007). As a result, we conclude that the 1033 A.D. earthquake originated within this stress field.

Notes and further reading
References

Whitcomb, D. 1988 "Khirbet el-Mafjar Reconsidered: the Ceramic Evidence", in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 271 (1988), pp. 51-67.

Alfonsi, L., et al. (2013). "The Kinematics of the 1033 A.D. Earthquake Revealed by the Damage at Hisham Palace (Jordan Valley, Dead Sea Transform Zone)." Seismological Research Letters 84(6): 997-1003.

Site Info and Bibliography from www.lasapienzatojericho.it

Augustinović, A. 1951 Gerico e dintorni, Jerusalem 1951 (in particular pp. 155-157).

Baer, E. 1974 "A Group of North Iranian Craftsmen at Khirbet el-Mafjar?", in Israel Exploration Journal 24 (1974), pp. 237-240.

Baer, E. 1979 "Khirbet el-Mafjar", in B. Lewis et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Islam, Leiden 1979, pp. 10-17.

Baramki, D.C. 1936 "Excavations at Khirbet el Mefjer", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 5 (1936), pp. 132-138.

Baramki, D.C. 1937 "Excavations at Khirbet el Mefjer, 2", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 6 (1937), pp. 157-158.

Baramki, D.C. 1938 "Excavations at Khirbet el Mefjer, 3", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 8 (1938), pp. 51-53.

Baramki, D.C. 1942a "Excavations at Khirbet el Mefjer, 4", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 10 (1942), pp. 153-159.

Baramki, D.C. 1942b "The Pottery from Khirbet el Mefjer, 4", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 10 (1942), pp. 65-103.

Baramki, D.C. 1947 Guide to the Umayyad Palace at Khirbet el-Mafjar, Jerusalem 1947 (reprinted in Amman 1956).

Bliss, F.J. 1894 "Notes on the Plain of Jericho", in Palestine Exploration Quarterly. Quarterly Statement 26 (1894), pp. 177-183 (in particular pp. 177-181).

Cirelli, E. - Zagari, F. 2000 "Gerico in epoca bizantina e islamica. Problemi e proposte di ricerca", in Archeologia Medievale 27 (2000), pp. 365-376 (in particular p. 368).

Clermont-Ganneau, C. 1896 Archaeological Research in Palestine During the Years 1873-1874, Vol. II, London 1896 (in particular p. 20).

Conder, C.R. - Kitchener, H.H. 1883 The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology. Volume III. Sheets XVII-XXVI. Judaea, London 1883 (in particular pp. 180, 211-212).

Creswell, K.A.C. 1932 "Khirbet el-Mafjar", in K.A.C. Creswel (ed.), Early Muslim Architecture, Vol. 1, Oxford 1932, pp. 545-577, pls. 99-110.

Crowe, Y. 1976 "Survival of Classical Elements in the Groundplan of Khirbet el-Mafjar", in Akten des VII Kongresses für Arabistik und Islamwissenschaft (Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 3. Folge, 98), Göttingen 1976, pp. 92-100.

Donceel-Voûte, P. 1999 "Jéricho aux époques byzantine et omeyyade", in Dossier d'Archéologie 240 (Jan./Fév. 1999), pp. 115-121.

Grabar, O. 1955 "The Umayyad Palace at Khirbet el-Mafjar", in Archaeology 8 (1955), pp. 228-235.

Hamilton, R.W. 1945 "Khirbet el-Mafjar. Stone Sculpture", in Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 11 (1945), pp. 47-66.

Hamilton, R.W. 1946 "Khirbet el-Mafjar. Stone Sculpture", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 12 (1946), pp. 1-19.

Hamilton, R.W. 1948 "Plaster Balaustrades from Khirbet el-Mafjar", in Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 13 (1948), pp. 1-58.

Hamilton, R.W. 1949a "The Baths at Khirbet el-Mafjar", in Palestine Exploration Quarterly 81 (1949), pp. 40-51.

Hamilton, R.W. 1949b "A Mosaic Carpet of Umayyad Date at Khirbet el-Mafjar", in Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 14 (1949), pp. 120-129.

Hamilton, R.W. 1950 "The Sculpture of Living Forms at Khirbet el-Mafjar", in Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 15 (1950), pp. 100-119.

Hamilton, R.W. 1959 Khirbet al-Majfar, an Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley, Oxford 1959.

Hamilton, R.W. 1969 "Who Built Khirbet el-Mafjar?", in Levant 1 (1969), pp. 61-67.

Hamilton, R.W. 1978 "Khirbet el-Mafjar: The Bath Hall Reconsidered", in Levant 10 (1978), pp. 126-138.

Hamilton, R.W. 1993 "Khirbet el-Mafjar", in E. Stern (ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Excavations in the Holy Land, Vol. 2, Jerusalem 1993, pp. 922-929.

Piccirillo, M. 1999 "Le Qasr Hisham (Khirbet el-Mafjar). Le projet de restauration", in Dossier d'Archéologie 240 (Jan./Fév. 1999), pp. 122-123.

Sabelli, R. 2006 "The Jericho Qasr Hisham Archaeological Park", in L. Nigro - H. Taha (eds.), Tell es-Sultan/Jericho in the Context of the Jordan Valley (Rome «La Sapienza» Studies on the Archaeology of Palestine & Transjordan 2), Rome 2006, pp. 237-252.

Schneider, M.A. 1931 "Das byzantinische Gilgal (chirbet mefdschir)", in Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 51 (1931), pp. 50-59.

Schwabe, M. 1946 "Khirbet el-Mafjar: Greek Inscribed Fragments", in Quarterly of the Department of Archaeology in Palestine 12 (1946), pp. 20-30.

Schwabe, M. 1959 Khirbet el-Mafjar. An Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley, Oxford 1959.

Taha, H. 2005a Inventory of Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites of Potential Outstanding Universal Value in Palestinian, June 2005, Ramallah 2005 (in particular pp. 35-36).

Taha, H. 2005b "Rehabilitation of Hisham's Palace in Jericho", in F. Maniscalco (ed.), Tutela, Conservazione e Valorizzazione del Patrimonio Culturale della Palestina, Napoli 2005, pp. 179-188.

Taha, H. 2010 "Hisham's Palace", in This Week in Palestine 144 (April 2010), pp. 16-20.

Yahya, A. 2007 PACE Tourguide of Jericho & Vicinity. Historical, Archaeological and Religious Sites, Ramallah 2007 (in particular p. 22).

Arbel

Synagogue Ruins at Arbel Remains of the Ancient Synagogue at Arbel

Source: Burkvoed - Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Arbel Hebrew אַרְבֵּל
Hittin Arabic حطّين
Hattin Arabic حَـطِّـيْـن
Introduction

Arbel is located in the Galilee ~8 km. from Tiberias. The site has a long history of habitation and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as Beth-Arbel in Hosea 10:14. After the crusader period, settlement appears to have declined (Ilan and Izdarechet in Stern et al, 1993). Arbel contains the remains of an ancient synagogue that may have been damaged or destroyed in the 6th century CE and again in the 8th century CE by one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes.

Chronology

Based on architectural details, the synagogue is thought to have originally been constructed in the 4th century CE and have undergone a series of modifications including, at one point, a rebuild over previous ruins (Ilan and Izdarechet in Stern et al, 1993) - perhaps in the 6th century CE. Ilan and Izdarechet in (Stern et al, 1993) note that the synagogue appears to have been destroyed in the mid-eighth century CE. This is apparently based on numismatic evidence however, as noted by Ilan and Izdarechet, coins recovered from the site were found on the surface rather than in a stratigraphic context. Ilan and Izdarechet in (Stern et al, 1993) hypothesized that it is possible that after the destruction of the synagogue and the community in the eighth century, the site remained desolate for two to three hundred years, until it was resettled in the Ayyubid period. It appears that this site has not been systematically excavated and, therefore, chronology is not well established. However, the sites proximity to Tiberias suggests that if Tiberias was destroyed in one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes, Arbel was likely destroyed too. Amiran et al (1994) related that the synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake in the mid 8th century based on a personal communication with the late Z. Ilan of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums in 1989.

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Details are lacking but if the synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake, one could expect wall collapse, roof collapse, and column collapse.

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading
References

H. Kohl and C. Watzinger, Antike Synagogen in Galilaea (1916), 59

Abel, in: RB, 33 (1924), 380ff.; idem

Les Livres des Maccabées (1949), 159

Avi-Yonah, Geog, 140; EM, 2 (1954), 68; Press, Ereẓ, 1 (1951), 34–36

S. Klein (ed.), Sefer ha-Yishuv, 1 (1939), 163

Sukenik, in: JPOS, 15 (1935), 143

N. Avigad and H.Z. Hirschberg (eds.), Kol Ereẓ Naftali (1967), 98–100

F. Vitto, "Synagogues in Cupboards," in: Eretz Magazine, 52 (1997), 36–42

D. Urman and P.V.M. Flesher (eds.), Ancient Synagogues, vol. I (1995)

Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea – Palaestina. Maps and Gazetteer. (1994), 168–68

Z. Ilan, Ancient Synagogues in Israel (1991), 116–18.

Entry for Arbel in the Jewish Virtual Library

Notes

Brochure for Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve (in English) - the brochure suggests that the synagogue rebuild took place in the 6th century CE and final destruction took place in 749 CE.

Gadara

Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Gadara Greek Γάδαρα
Gedaris Greek Γαδαρίς
Umm Qeis Arabic ومم قييس
Introduction

Ancient Gadara is located next to the north Jordan town of Umm Qeis and was one of the cities of the Decapolis. It is sometimes listed as the approximate location for the story of the Exorcism of the Garasene demoniac in the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament.

Tall Zira'a

Tall Zira'a Fig. 1.28

Tall Zirā‘a. View from north to south. Overview with the Areas I, II and III. Photograph taken in 2011 (Source: BAI/GPIA).

Vieweger and Häser (2017)


Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Tall Zira'a Arabic تالل زيرا'ا
Introduction

Tall Zirā‘a, located in the middle of the Wādī al-‘Arab and ~4.5 km. SW of Ancient Gadara, was continuously occupied for at least 5,000 years (Vieweger and Haser (2017)).

Maps and Plans Chronology
Phasing

Vieweger and Häser (2017:238-240) divided the Strata into 25 units.

Tall Zira'a Tab. 4.1

Strata on Tall Zirā‘a in correlation with the periods (Source: BAI/GPIA).

Vieweger and Häser (2017)


Stratum 16 earthquake - Middle Bronze Age IIC

Vieweger and Häser (2017:11) report that a landslide destroyed the western area of the settlement; triggered by an earthquake or heavy rain. Calcareous sinter caves beneath the settlement layers also collapsed.

Stratum 3 earthquake - 8th century CE

Vieweger and Häser (2017:116, 271, 273) report that the earthquake of 749 CE destroyed parts of Gadara.

Undated landslide

Maps and Plans

  • Map of the site from Vieweger and Häser (2017:28)
  • Survey Squares of the site from Vieweger and Häser (2017)
An undated landslide is present on the eastern side of the Tel (Vieweger and Häser, 2017:45).

Seismic Effects
Stratum 16 earthquake - Middle Bronze Age IIC

Seismic Effects from Vieweger and Häser (2017:11) include

  • a landslide destroyed the western area of the settlement
  • Calcareous sinter caves beneath the settlement layers collapsed

Intensity Estimates
Stratum 16 earthquake - Middle Bronze Age IIC

Effect Source Description Intensity
Landslide Vieweger and Häser (2017) a landslide destroyed the western area of the settlement IV+
Collapsed Walls Vieweger and Häser (2017) Calcareous sinter caves beneath the settlement layers collapsed VIII+
This evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224.

Notes and Further Reading

Hammat Gader

Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Hammat Gader Hebrew חַמַּת גָּדֵר‎
Hammata degader Rabbinic Sources
Hammat deGader Aramaic חחמתא דגדר
ema deGader Syriac
Al-Hamma Aramaic الحمّة
al-hamma al-souriya Arabic الحمة السورية
Emmatha Ancient Greek Ἑμμαθά
Amatha Ancient Greek Αμαθα
Introduction

Hammat Gader is located east of the Sea of Galilee on the Yarmuk River in a valley below the Decapolis city of Gadara. The town was famous in antiquity for its hot springs. Five hot springs are located in the valley and the town or area is mentioned by a number of ancient authors - e.g. Strabo, Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphanius among others (Yitzar Hirschfeld in Stern et al, 1993). A bath complex was first built in the 2nd century CE which reached a peak in the 5th - 7th centuries CE after which there was some sort of decline (possibly caused by an earthquake) as indicated in an inscription found on the site detailing renovations initiated by Mu 'awiya I, the first Umayyad Caliph (Hirschfeld, 1987). Renovations were completed in 663 CE. The renovated bath complex may have been damaged by one of the Sabbatical Year Quakes. A general decline during the Abbasid Period finally led to abandonment such that by the 10th century al-Muqdisi referred to the baths in the past tense.

Notes and Further Reading
Notes

Amiran et al (1994) states

thermal baths totally destroyed [in 748 earthquake]

Date of event proven definitely, as none of the approximately 4,000 coins found postdates 748 (personal communication by Y. Hirschfeld).

Lod/Ramla

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Lod Hebrew לוד
al-Lidd Arabic اللد
Lydda Latin
Colonia Lucia Septimia Severa Diospolis Latin
Lydda Ancient Greek Λύδδα
Diospolis Ancient Greek Διόσπολις
Georgiopolis Late Byzantine and crusader sources
Transliterated Name Source Name
ar-Ramla Arabic الرملة
Ramla Hebrew רַמְלָה
Ramle variant spelling
Ramlah variant spelling
Remle variant spelling
Rama variant historical spelling
Introduction

Lod, ~15 km. southeast of Tel Aviv, has a long history of occupation. It is mentioned in the list of Canaanite towns conquered by Thutmose III in the fifteenth century BCE and in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran (Jacob Kaplan in Stern et al, 1993). After the Muslim conquest in 636 CE, Lod (then named Lydda) became the capital of Jund Filistin. In 715/716 CE, the capital was moved to the newly formed city of Ramla ~3 km. away. Historically, Ramla has suffered frequent earthquake damage and appears to be susceptible to liquefaction. By extension, Lod should also be susceptible to liquefaction as both locations rest on soft unconsolidated sediments in a flat coastal plain which in times past likely had a relatively shallow water table.

Maps and Plans Chronology and Seismic Effects
Stratigraphy

Gorzalczany (2009b) list the stratigraphy of Ramla as follows:

Stratum Period Age Comments
0 Modern Remains of a military installation
I 11th cent. CE
II Fatimid 9th-10th cent. CE
IIIa Abbasid 8th-9th cent. CE Industrial installations
IIIb Byzantine/Umayyad 7th-8th cent. CE Industrial installations
IV Byzantine 4th-5th cent. CE Pottery kilns
V Roman 1st cent. BCE - 4th cent. CE
VI Persian/Hellenistic 4th-5th cent. BCE Potsherds only
VI Persian/Hellenistic 4th-5th cent. BCE Potsherds only
VII Late Bronze 15th-13th cent. BCE Potsherds only
VIII Middle Bronze 20th-15th cent. BCE Potsherds only
IX Prehistoric Area A

Earthquake in the 8th century CE

Maps and Plans

Gorzalczany (2009b) described 8th century CE earthquake evidence as follows:
Evidence of a major earthquake was discerned in Areas J2 and K1 (site map ); it included cracks along the walls of installations, large sections of collapse composed of neat ashlar stone construction that had not been robbed , floors that had dropped and walls that curved in unexpected directions. Wall collapse, which had been intentionally covered over with soil and hamra to save the building stones from being plundered, was observed. It seems that the residents of the town were concerned with the quick restoration of the settlement’s activity. Especially interesting was a series of jars, some positioned upside down, which were discovered in situ, smashed inside a room that was apparently used for storage . The jars dated to the first half of the eighth century CE and they seem to have been all damaged simultaneously in the same event. The room was leveled and quickly refurbished in an attempt to regain its capacity for industrial manufacture as soon as possible. The renovation of the room included the construction of new walls, with which jars dating to the second half of the eighth century CE were associated and preserved intact (Fig. 9 ). It therefore seems that we have here a small, rare chronological window, which enables us to date the earthquake.

Indisputable proof of the earthquake occurrence was found in the balks of Area K1, where a fault in the layers of sand and hamra, which were split due to a fissure, stands out prominently (Fig. 10 ). One side of the layers in the section was lower than the other side. The fissure continued along several excavation squares and it caused a plaster floor and a column base that stood above it to sink 1.5 m . Such vertical movement of layers could only be caused by a powerful seismic event. An opposite fracture was discerned elsewhere on the site, where the movement was not only vertical but also horizontal, causing the layers to climb one atop the other . It appears then that archaeological evidence of an earthquake, which occurred close to Ramla in the middle of the eighth century CE, can be pointed to for the first time. The dating is firmly based on the pottery and it is feasible that this is the famous earthquake of the year 749 CE.
Thus, we have earthquake evidence which is precisely dated and well described. The 1.5 meter sinking of the column base strongly suggests that this site experienced liquefaction. In fact, Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) report that the column base and associated plaster floor which collectively sank 1.5 m were underlain by neatly superimposed layers of sand and hamra which constituted an artificial fill. Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) found evidence this artificial fill was placed in a foundation trench which was dug to set up an antilia type water well (Avitsur 1976: 60-63; Ayalon 2000) which abutted the plaster floor and columns. The presence of an antilia type water well indicates a shallow water table and a shallow water table and uncompacted fill is a veritable recipe for liquefaction during seismic events. Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) report that the entire antilia installation - the pit and the lifting superstructure device together with the layers of fill and the occupation layer abutting them collapsed and sank several meters. Damage to surrounding areas indicates that the pit (Fig. 5 ) constituted the central axis of the fall and the sand layers around the antilia [that appeared] broken in a stepped formation encompassed the pit.

Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) added an observation of building stones of walls that had collapsed in a clear, `orderly' pattern found in situ . Such an orderly fall pattern can be a diagnostic effect of failure due to an earthquake. Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) report that no fault traces were found underneath the affected areas and no faults were indicated on geologic maps suggesting that the observed archeoseismic damage was due to shaking away from the epicenter of the causitive earthquake.

Intensity Estimates
Earthquake in the 8th century CE

Effect Source Description Intensity
Fault Scarps Gorzalczany (2009b) Indisputable proof of the earthquake occurrence was found in the balks of Area K1, where a fault in the layers of sand and hamra, which were split due to a fissure, stands out prominently (Fig. 10 ). - JW: Faulting may be related to liquefaction VII+
Collapsed Walls Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) Gorzalczany and Salamon (2018) added an observation of building stones of walls that had collapsed in a clear, `orderly' pattern found in situ VIII+
Folded Walls Gorzalczany (2009b) walls that curved in unexpected directions VII+
Broken Pottery found in fallen position Gorzalczany (2009b) Especially interesting was a series of jars, some positioned upside down, which were discovered in situ, smashed inside a room that was apparently used for storage . The jars dated to the first half of the eighth century CE and they seem to have been all damaged simultaneously in the same event. VII+
Liquefaction Gorzalczany (2009b) The 1.5 meter sinking of the column base strongly suggests that this site experienced liquefaction. VII+
The collapsed walls requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224. However, the walls may have collapsed primarily due to liquefaction rather than strength of shaking. Rapid rebuilding efforts and attempts to cover up stone tumbles suggest that this wasn't an earthquake which wiped out the city due to widespread collapse. Rather there was significant structural damage and much of it appears to be liquefaction induced. Thus, it seems that liquefaction was a driving factor for the damage and Intensity for this earthquake is estimated at VII (7) based on Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013)'s assessment for liquefaction.

Calculator
Remove Site Effect

Variable Input Units Notes
unitless Intensity Estimate before considering site effect
m/s Enter a value of 655 for no site effect
Equation comes from Darvasi and Agnon (2019)
Variable Output Units Notes
unitless Intensity with Site Effect Removed
  

Using Darvasi and Agnon (2019) to remove site effect does not work for this location.
VS30 values for Lod

VS30 is the average seismic shear-wave velocity from the surface to a depth of 30 meters at earthquake frequencies (below ~5 Hz.). Table 2 of Darvasi and Agnon (2019) lists two VS30 values for Lod.

Location VS30
Lod 1 320 m/s
Lod 2 374 m/s

Notes and Further Reading

Capernaum

Aerial Photo of Capernaum Aerial Photo of Capernaum

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


Introduction

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

Maps and Plans Chronology
Debated Stratigraphy

Maps and Plans

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

Footnotes

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


363 CE earthquake - debated chronology

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

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

Seismic Effects
Destruction of Stratum IV earthquake

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

Intensity Estimates
Destruction of Stratum IV earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading
Notes

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

Qasrin

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Katzrin Hebrew קַצְרִין‎
Qatzrin Arabic قصرين
Introduction

The archeological site of Qasrin is located in the central Golan Heights ~ 1 km. southeast of the modern city of Qasrin. The site's ancient name is unknown (Ann Killebrew in Meyers et al, 1997). The site was occupied from the Middle Bronze Age, continuing into the Iron Age, the Hellenistic and Roman periods while the most substantial structural remains date from the Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (3rd–4th to mid-8th centuries), when the site was a Jewish village with a synagogue (Killebrew in Jameson ed., 2004:127-129). Later occupation levels include Mameluke and late 19th century CE. Synagogue B on the site shows evidence of earthquake destruction in the middle of the 8th century CE.

Maps and Plans Chronology and Seismic Effects
Stratigraphy

Zvi Uri Ma'oz in Stern et al (1993) divided the strata as follows:

Stratum Period Comments
I Late nineteenth century-present cemeteries; reuse of early structures, new structures.‎
IIA-C Mameluke - 13th-15th Cent. CE reuse of Byzantine structures; a mosque (building C) in the northern half of the synagogue; houses.
III Early Arab period - mid-8th century CE renewed, short-lived squatters, occupation of the village.
IVB Late Byzantine and Early Arab periods, 7th-8th centuries CE extensive repairs to the synagogue; a new plastered floor; floor raising in the houses.
IVA Middle Byzantine period, 6th century CE erection of the second synagogue (building B); mosaic floor; houses.
V Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods, late 4th-5th centuries CE erection of the first synagogue (building A)
VI Late Roman period, 3rd-4th centuries CE building remains; ceramic and numismatic finds.
VII Hellenistic period, 2nd-1st centuries BCE ceramic finds only.
VIII Iron Age II hearths, wall fragments and ceramic finds.
IX Middle Bronze Age IIB ceramic finds only.

8th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of destruction debris in Synagogue B from Moaz and Killebrew (1988)
  • Plan of Houses A, B, and C and Synagogue B from Moaz and Killebrew (1988)
Synagogue B
Moaz and Killebrew (1988) identified two synagogues at the site - Synagogue A and Synagogue B. They estimated that Synagogue A was first constructed in late 4th century CE. Much of this synagogue was dismantled when Synagogue B was built - probably in the early 6th century CE. Synagogue B was remodeled likely in the early 7th century CE and appears to have been destroyed by an earthquake in the mid 8th century CE. The date of the destruction was derived from ceramics from undisturbed loci found beneath the destruction layer. The ceramics were dated to the end of the 7th and beginning of the 8th century CE.

House C
More earthquake evidence was found in domestic buildings east of the synagogue, which showed signs of structural destabilization (i.e. partial destruction) dating to the mid-eighth century CE. House C contained a destruction layer consisting of massive stone tumble and debris on top of the upper pavement where Moaz and Killebrew (1988) found pottery sherds dating to the mid-eighth century C.E. Very few restorable vessels were recovered from this level (stratum III), indicating that when the inhabitants left the site, they took their possessions with them.

Intensity Estimates
8th century CE earthquake

Effect Location Intensity
Displaced Masonry Blocks Northwest Wall of the Synagogue (B?) VIII +
Collapsed Walls Synagogue B VIII +
Fallen and oriented columns Synagogue B V +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf).

Notes and Further Reading

Kursi

Aerial Photo of Kursi Aerial Photo of Kursi

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Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Kursi Byzantine Greek Κυρσοί
Introduction

Kursi (Byzantine Greek Κυρσοί) is located on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. It is the traditional site of the New Testament story of the exorcism of the Garasene demoniac and thus appears to have been a pilgrammage site during Byzantine times. This likely explains why a Byzantine Basilica, Monastery, and Hostel were located there. Vassilios Tzaferis excavated the site over four seasons from 1970 - 1974 (Vassilios Tzaferis in Stern et al, 1993) and excavations began again with the Kursi Excavation Project.

Maps and Plans Chronology

Based on ceramic and numismatic evidence, the construction of the church and the monastery began at the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century CE and met its final destruction and abandonment after an earthquake in the middle of the 8th century CE (Vassilios Tzaferis in Stern et al, 1993).
The complex was badly damaged in its third phase, probably by Persian invaders, but it continued to be used until the mid-eighth century. In 741 CE it was destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned by the Christians. In the last phase of the site's history (the second half of the eighth century), Arabs settled in the complex and made further changes.
Notes and Further Reading
Notes

Tsaferis (2014) dated construction of the bathhouse on the site to the second quarter of the 7th century CE and after expulsion of the Persian army in 628 CE and the Arab conquest in 630 CE.

Ramat Rahel

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Ramat Rachel Hebrew רָמַת רָחֵל‎
Khirbet es-Sallah Arabic كهيربيت يسءساللاه
Bethofor Byzantine Name
Pathofor Variant of Byzantine Name
Betheabra Variant of Byzantine Name
Kathisma Incorrect Byzantine Name
MMST Theorized Ancient Name
Introduction

The mound of Ramat Rahel is located on a prominent hill midway between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Yohanan Aharoni in Stern et al, 1993). Numerous excavations carried out on the mound have uncovered remains from the 8th century BCE until the present punctuated by possible destructions - at the end of the 4th century BCE, at the end of the first Jewish War against Rome in ca. 70 CE, and after a mid 8th century CE earthquake. The town appears to have grown during the Byzantine period followed by an Early Arab period built upon the ruins of Byzantine strata. The Byzantine town was originally thought to have been named Kathisma after a New Testament story that it was the site where Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem but the discovery of what appears to be the authentic Kathisma Church nearby has dis-affirmed that. Excavations by Aharoni in the 1950's appear to have suffered from organizational problems, may have been hindered by geopolitical tensions of the time, and produced some faulty conclusions (e.g. that the Kathisma Church was located there and that the Roman 10th Legion was stationed there) but the stratigraphic framework appears to be approximately correct and useful. More recent excavations by Oded Lipschitz and Manfed Oeming appear to have resolved a number of earlier problems.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Stratigraphy

The Ramat Rahel Archeological Project offer the following description of the strata of the site

As at other hilly archaeological sites, differentiating between strata at Ramat Rahel has been quite difficult. The majority of remains were found at a depth of less than 1.5 m, most building materials were reused, and the lime furnaces of later periods caused the destruction and disappearance of many of the earlier remains. The generally accepted view, however, is that there are five main strata at the site
A broad stratigraphic classification for the entire site from Lipschitz et al (2011) is shown below:
Aharoni's
Stratum
Period Start Date
(centuries)
End Date
(centuries)
Construction Phase
Vb Iron Age II end 8th or beginning 7th BCE 2nd half of 7th BCE Building Phase 1
Royal Administrative Center under Imperial hegemony
Va Iron Age II-
Persian
2nd half of 7th BCE end of 4th BCE Building Phase 2
Royal Administrative Center under Imperial hegemony
Persian end 6th BCE or begin 5th BCE end of 4th BCE Building Phase 3
Expanding construction
Destruction and robbery of the walls
IVb Hellenistic 2nd BCE 2nd BCE Building Phase 4
Imperial Administrative Center ?
IVa end 2nd or begin 1st BCE 1st CE
The Great Revolt
Building Phase 5
Village
Destruction ?
III Roman middle 2nd CE ? Uninterrupted continuation
to construction Phase 8
Building Phase 6
Village
IIa Early Byzantine 5th CE Uninterrupted continuation
to construction Phase 8
Building Phase 7
Village
IIb Late Byzantine-
Umayyad
6th CE middle 9th CE Building Phase 8
Village; construction of the church
I Abbasid 9th CE 11th CE Building Phase 9
Farm with agricultural installations
Fatimid-
Ottoman
12th CE 19th CE Agricultural Zone with installations
1947/1948,1954 CE 1967 CE Military fortifications and communication trenches

Seismic Effects
mid 8th century CE earthquake

Lipschitz et al (2011) found potential evidence of mid 8th century seismic destruction as described below:

In the eighth century C.E., under Umayyad rule, there is clear evidence of collapse and conflagration in diverse areas of the site: the northern wall of the church collapsed, there are significant signs of various parts of Byzantine buildings giving way, and Aharoni notes indications of burning on the mosaic floor of the church. This destruction scene hints at the sudden end of the settlement, a destruction from which it never seems to have recovered - at least not as a Christian settlement. It is possible that this termination was the result of an earthquake that took place on 18 January 749 C.E.

11th century CE collapse

The 2006 and 2007 seasons at Ramat Rahel - The Tel Aviv - Heidelberg Joint Project - for 11th century quakes - mention is made of collapse in Area D1

A massive stone collapse had covered the floors of the different architectural units. The many broken pottery vessels date the collapse of the building to the Abbasid period or to the beginning of the Fatimid period (10th–11th century CE)

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading
References

Lipschits, O., et al. (2020). Ramat Raḥel IV The Renewed Excavations by the Tel Aviv–Heidelberg Expedition (2005–2010): Stratigraphy and Architecture, Penn State University Press.

Ramat Rahel Archeological Project

Ramat Rahel Archeological Project - Archeology of the site

Comprehensive Bibliography from Ramat Rahel Archeological Project website

Oded Lipschits, Manfred Oeming, Yuval Gadot, Benjamin Arubas and Gilad Cinamon 2006 Ramat Rahel – 2005 Hadashot Arkheologiyot Volume 118 Year 2006

The 2006 and 2007 seasons at Ramat Rahel - The Tel Aviv - Heidelberg Joint Project O. Lipschits, M. Oeming, Y. Gadot and B. Arubas 2009 The 2006 and 2007 Excavation Seasons in Ramat Rahel. Israel Exploration Journal 59: 1-20

Page for Oded Lipschitz at Tel Aviv University

O. Lipschits, M. Oeming, Y. Gadot, B. Arubas and G. Cinamon 2006 Ramat Rahal 2005. Israel Exploration Journal 56: 227–235.

Katja Soennecken, 2006, Ramat Rachel in the Byzantine Period (Masters Thesis)

Aharoni, Yohanan. "Excavations at Ramat Rahel, 1954 : Preliminary Report. " Israel Exploration Journal 6 (1956) : 102-111 , 137-157 .

Aharoni, Yohanan. Excavations at Ramat Rahel. 2 vols. Rome , 1962 - 1964 .

Aharoni, Y., et al. (1964). Excavations at Ramat Rahel, seasons 1961 and 1962. Roma, Centro die studi semitici.

Oded, L., et al. (2011). "PALACE AND VILLAGE, PARADISE AND OBLIVION: Unraveling the Riddles of Ramat Rahel." Near Eastern Archaeology 74(1): 1-49.

A short guide to the excavations at Ramal Rahel (1955)

Geva, Shulamit. "The Painted Sherd of Ramat Rahel." Israel Exploration Journal 31 (1981): 186-189.

Reich, Ronny. "Palaces and Residencies in the Iron Age." In The Architecture of Ancient Israel: From the Prehistoric to the Persian Periods, edited by Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, pp. 202-222. Jerusalem, 1992.

Shiloh, Yigal. The Proto-Aeolic Capital and Israelite Ashlar Masonry. Qedem, vol. 11. Jerusalem, 1979.

Stern, Ephraim. Material Culture of the Land of the Bible in the Persian Period, 338-332 B.C. Warminster, 1982.

Stern, Ephraim. "The Phoenician Architectural Elements in Palestine during the Late Iron Age and Persian Period." In The Architecture of Ancient Israel: From the Prehistoric to the Persian Periods, edited by Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, pp. 302-309. Jerusalem, 1992.

Yadin, Yigael. "The 'House of Ba'al of Ahab and Jezebel in Samaria, and That of Athalia in Judah. " In Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyan, edited by P. R. S. Moorey and Peter J. Parr, p p . 127-135. Warminster, 1978.

Notes

On page 5 of A short guide to the excavations at Ramal Rahel (1955), one can read that the place was completely destroyed at the beginning of the Arab period and has remained uninhabited ever since. Although this is based on Aharoni's early conclusions some of which have been shown to be incorrect, this reference remains here due to the possibility that the site received damage from the Jordan Valley Quakes of ~659 CE.

Kathisma

Aerial photo of the Kathisma Church Figure 2

Aerial photo of the Kathisma Church. View to the south-east, the main apse on the right unexposed

Avner (2007)


Names
Transliterated Name Source Name
Kathisma Greek κάθισμα
Ecclesia Kathismatis Latin
Kadismou Arabic كاديسموو
Church of the Kathisma
Old Kathisma
Introduction

The Church at Kathisma begins with a story. In the 17th paragraph of the apocryphal Gospel of James, Mary had a vision three miles outside of Bethlehem and went into labor. Over time, it appears that a legend grew and Mary was said to have rested on a rock while experiencing the pains of childbirth. In the 5th century CE, a church was built around this supposed rock. The church was called Kathisma and Kathisma became a pilgrimage site dedicated to Mary. Sometime after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, the church at Kathisma began to receive Muslim pilgrims. Mary is mentioned 70 times in the Quran and is referred to as the greatest of all women. In the 19th Surah (verses 24-25), the story of Mary at Kathisma is told in a slightly different way. In the Muslim account, which shares similarities with the 20th chapter of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, Mary retreated to the trunk of a Palm tree and lamented that she wished she were dead. A voice rang out to reassure her and told her that a stream was beneath her feet and that if she shook the tree, she would receive some dates.

The remains of the church at Kathisma, ~ 3 miles from Bethlehem and close to Ramat Rahel, was discovered by accident in the early 1990's and excavated over 4 seasons. Much of the remains were missing - pilfered long after its demise and it is this pilfering which may have removed any obvious archeoseismic evidence from earthquakes which struck in the mid 8th century CE.

Maps and Plans Chronology
Phasing

Avner (2016) divided up the exposed remains at Kathisma as follows :

Phase Period Age
(century CE)
Comments
1st Byzantine 1st half of the 5th The dating of the original first phase, according to coins retrieved underneath the lowest floors and their beddings,
is from the first half to the mid-fifth century.
This date is supported by historical sources (see Avner, 2007)
2nd Byzantine 1st half of the 6th The second phase of the church is dated by coins retrieved above the floors of the first phase and below the floors
of the second phase, as well as in the beddings of the floors of the second phase. These provide a date in the first half of
the sixth century and not later then the monetary reform of Justinian in 538.

Avner beleives the rebuilt church is referred to as New Kathisma in historical sources.
3rd Umayyad 1st half of the 8th The third phase is dated by coins, pottery and glass fragments to the first half of the eighth century - see Avner (2007)
Stratum
III
Ottoman This stratum was attributed to the Ottoman period, based on ceramic finds that were discovered on surface. - Avner (2005)
There is no mention of archeoseismic evidence in any of the reports I have read.

Notes and Further Reading
References

Avner-Levy, R. 2006-2007. The Kathisma: A Christian and Muslim Pilgrimage Site. ARAM 18-19:541-57

Avner, R., 1993 Jerusalem, Mar Elias, in Excavations and surveys in Israel 13: 89-92.

Avner, R., et al. (2001). "Jerusalem, Mar Elias – the Kathisma Church." Hadashot Arkheologiyot: Excavations and Surveys in Israel

Avner, R., 2005 Jerusalem, Mar Elias – the Kathisma Church, in Hadashot Arkheologiyot 117

Avner, Rina (2016). Leslie Brubaker; Mary B. Cunningham (eds.). The Initial Tradition of the Theotokos at the Kathisma: Earliest Celebrations and the Calendar. The Cult of the Mother of God in Byzantium: Texts and Images. Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies. Routledge

Avner, R., 2003 The Recovery of the Kathisma Church and Its Influence on Octagonal Buildings, in Bottini, G.C. et al., 2003 One Land – Many Cultures: Archaeological Studies in Honour of S. Loffreda, Jerusalem: 173-86.

Oded, L., et al. (2011). "PALACE AND VILLAGE, PARADISE AND OBLIVION: Unraveling the Riddles of Ramat Rahel." Near Eastern Archaeology 74(1): 1-49.

Johann Gildemeister, ed. (1882). Theodosius: De situ Terrae Sanctae im ächten Text und der Breviarius de Hierosolyma vervollständigt. Bonn: Adolph Markus. p. 28

Avni, Gideon (2014). "A Tale of Two Cities". The Byzantine-Islamic Transition in Palestine: An Archaeological Approach. Oxford Studies in Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 150–151.

Pixner, B. (2013). Sulle strade del Messia. Luoghi della chiesa primitiva alla luce delle nuove scoperte archeologiche, EMP.

Avner, R. (2010). "THE DOME OF THE ROCK IN LIGHT OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF CONCENTRIC MARTYRIA IN JERUSALEM: ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHITECTURAL ICONOGRAPHY." Muqarnas 27: 31-49.

Web Page on the Kathisma Church

Katja Soennecken, 2006, Ramat Rachel in the Byzantine Period (Masters Thesis)

The First Church Dedicated Entirely To Mary By Jonathan LipnickJuly 20, 2016 - Blog

The Protoevangelium of James aka the Gospel of James - a 2nd century infancy gospel written in Greek - see paragraph 17

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - a 6th or 7th century infancy gospel written in Latin - see Chapter 20

Surah 19 of the Quran (Maryam) - see verses 23-25

Kathisma - wikipedia

The Gospel of James - wikipedia

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - wikipedia

Mary in Islam - wikipedia

Rachel's tomb - wikipedia

Pella

Aerial photo of Pella Oblique aerial photograph looking west towards the Jordan River Valley. This image is scanned from a 1970 era slide taken by Professor Jim Sauer (University of Pennsylvania) showing the relationship of the two settlement areas at Pella in Jordan.

Dr. Michael J. Fuller


Names
Transliterated Name Language Name
Pella Greek Πέλλα
Fahl Hebrew פחל
Fāhl or Fihl Arabic فاهل or فيهل
Khīrbīt Fāhl Arabic كهيربيت فاهل
Tabaqat Fāhl Arabic تاباقات فاهل
Pihil(um) Ancient Semitic
Berenike
Philippeia
Introduction

Pella is located in the foothills east of the Jordan Valley ~30 km. south of the Sea of Galilee. It has been accepted as ancient Pella of the Decapolis (Smith in Stern et al, 1993).

Maps and Plans Chronology
7th century CE earthquake

Walmsley (2007) attributes some archeoseismic destruction at Pella due to the Jordan Valley Quake although this date assignment seems tentative.
Excavations in the early 1980s identified six house units destroyed in the earthquake of 749. These houses represented the last phase in a long urban development that commenced with the complete redevelopment of living quarters on Pella's main mound in the first half of the sixth century (Watson 1992). The original arrangement consisted of four-metre wide gravelled streets set out on a formal grid, each street flanked by stone and mudbrick terrace-style houses two storeys high, prefaced in some places by shops. These streets, intended to serve local needs, were not equipped with colonnades or sidewalks. Although modified, the layout remained the same until an earthquake in 659-60 required a rebuilding of the quarter, in which the linear terrace houses were replaced by independent, self-contained units centred on one or more sizeable courtyards.
Walmsley (1982) discussed this in more detail noting that:
only in one trench (IVE) has the Sydney team excavated much below the A.D. 746/7 surface, producing evidence for at least three Byzantine and Umayyad architectural phases. Since an attempt to establish a detailed chronology for the whole Umayyad period on the basis of this one trench would be premature, the following account concentrates on the final phase in the life of urban Pella.

...

We turn now to a consideration of the layout and use of the buildings in Areas III and IV (figs 28-29 and end-plates 2-3). A dominant feature of Pella in the Byzantine and early Umayyad periods appears to have been streets with packed mud and pebble surfaces. One such street, 5 m wide, ran east-west through Area IV. From it, north and south, doorways gave access to dwellings, hence referred to as the North and South Buildings. But at some stage during the Umayyad period the street was cut by a wall which continued south to form the west wall of the South Building. Before this event it appears that this building had covered a considerably greater area; now to the west of the north-south Umayyad wall the earlier walls were razed level with the new and final occupation surface of a courtyard. Into this surface were dug lightly fired clay tabuns. Although the date of the demolition of the western sector of the South Building and of the construction of the north-south wall is uncertain, the slight build-up of detritus on this surface points to a time not far removed from the final destruction of A.D. 746/7. Tentatively we ascribe these alterations to the period following the earthquake of A.D. 717.
This earlier paper by Walmsley (1982) appears to provide an earthquake date (717 CE) which was revised to 659/660 CE in the later paper - Walmsley (2007). The earthquake of 717 CE refers to an earthquake which Ambraseys (2009) and Guidoboni et al (1994) locate in Syria and Upper Mesopotamia. None of the sources mention specific localities except for a conflation mistake by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tellmahre. However, reports from Upper Mesopotamia suggests an epicenter far from Pella indicating that another closer earthquake was likely responsible for this tentatively identified and dated archeoseismic evidence.

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Skeletons at Pella Area IV Plot P (extension). Skeletons of two charred adult human beings with covering textiles, found in the AD 746/7 destruction deposit.

Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al (1992)


A mid 8th century CE destruction layer was discovered by Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al (1992) in an early Islamic domestic occupation level in Area IV on the main mound. Arceoseismic evidence showed up dramatically in Rooms 13, 14, and 15 of House G. The building collapsed. Five columns and a pier were discovered in the debris in Room 15. They were originally arranged in two rows on an east-west axis, with three columns to the south and a combination of two columns and a pier in the northern row. Archeoseismically relevant excerpts from their discussion follows:
Disinterred from amongst the debris that filled rooms 13-15 were numerous skeletons, both human and animal, as well as finds of pottery, stone and metals.

...

In the north-east corner of room 15, two adult humans (a male and a female) were found in conjunction with a large mass of textile fragments (see Appendices 3 and 8). A number of equid (probably donkeys) and chicken skeletons were also uncovered at floor level, along with a severely crushed cat. Underneath a drum from one of the fallen columns a further six Umayyad dinars were recovered, with the latest dating to AH 122/AD 739-40. Chronologically more important, however, is the bronze coin of AH 126/AD 743-4 from room 16, minted just three years before the AD 747 earthquake. A list of these and other Umayyad coins will be found in Appendix 9.

Other finds from room 15 included more examples of mid-8th-century domestic pottery, especially cooking bowls (cf. PJ1: pl. 143: 2) as well as a hoe, harnessing rings, door hinges, and an iron lock.

In the northern part of room 15, the effects of a fire after the collapse of the building were clearly discernible. Column drums were cracked and blackened and the yellow clay bricks baked red from the heat. This fire also engulfed the human couple (pl. 120) trapped in the north-east corner of the room, although their tragedy is our blessing, as the fire carbonized and preserved organic remains usually lost by decay at Pella. Of note are the textiles (see Appendix 8), oak beams, straw from mats, date stones, and olive pips.

While removing the deposit in room 15, a number of interesting observations were made on the nature of materials used in the construction of the upper storey of the house. Numerous yellow clay and pebble bricks had fallen into this and the surrounding rooms from the upstairs walls along with segments of wooden beams used to support the floor and roof. A considerable number of large white tesserae were also found in room 15, in some cases still adhering to a pebble and mortar base. These originated, it would seem, from the floor of the room located above 15. The incinerated couple would have also fallen from this upper room when its floor collapsed during the first shocks of the AD 747 earthquake.

In the adjacent room 13, more equid skeletons were uncovered, as well as three hens and another human, the latter also from the upper storey. Objects from the deposit in this room included lamps, two of pottery and one of bronze, and a glass vase.

Unlike rooms 13 and 15, no skeletal material was excavated from the Umayyad levels in room 14. However, copious quantities of sherds from storage vessels were found at floor level; at least three large jars were crushed in situ according to the area supervisor (Edwards 1982).
It is presumed that the pottery and other finds dates this destruction level to mid 8th century CE while the numismatic evidence provides a terminus post quem of A.H. 126 (743/744 CE). There are also indications that the causitive earthquake struck in the Winter as discussed by Walmsley (2013)
The animals on the ground floor were chiefly cows (Rooms 8 and 9, totaling three) and small equids (mules or donkeys; inner courtyard and Rooms 6 and 7) – more costly animals than sheep and goats, hence their owners’ wish to shelter them properly during winter, the season in which the earthquake struck.
Archeoseismic evidence of destruction in the mid 8th century CE was also found in other excavations in Pella which is discussed, for example, by Walmsley and Smith in McNicoll et al, (1992:127-129,138). Archeoseismic evidence included collapsed structures, human and animal skeletons, items of value in the rubble, coins, and other items.

Seismic Effects
7th century CE earthquake

Earthquake interpretation appears to be based on rebuilding evidence. Hence, there are no seismic effects.

mid 8th century CE earthquake

Seismic Effects include:

  • Collapsed Walls (including human remains and items of value under the rubble)
  • Fallen Columns
  • Broken pottery found in fallen position

Intensity Estimates
mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading

Beit-Ras/Capitolias

Capitolias Theater Figure 3

An aerial photograph of the excavated Beit-Ras/ Capitolias theater.
Main parts of the theater are indicated. The city wall serves as a buttress in front of the scaena walls and the towers with staircases. The city wall connected with the eastern stage gate and vomitoria gate.

Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020)

Photo taken on 1st October 2015 and photographed by Rebecca Elizabeth Banks (courtesy of Aerial Photographic Archive of Archaeology in the Middle East [APAAME], photo. APAAME_20151001_REB-0193. Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 3.3. East—west length 57 m).


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Beit Ras Arabic بييت راس
Capitolias Ancient Greek Καπιτωλιάς
Bet Reisha Aramaic
Introduction

Capitolias, located by the modern town of Beit Ras in Jordan, was one of the cities of the Decapolis. After the Muslim conquest, the town name was changed to Beit Ras, similar to its original Aramaic name Bet Reisha. (C. J. Lenzen in Meyers et al, 1997) A hiatus in occupation at the site has yet been found, but a gradual decrease in size and change in use from public space to private space seems to [have begun] as early as the tenth century CE. (C. J. Lenzen in Meyers et al, 1997)

Maps and Plans Chronology

Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020) examined archeoseismic evidence in 2019 and 2020 at the theater of Capitolias. They documented archaeoseismic evidence from two earthquakes which appear to have damaged the structure - one before 260/261 CE and one after. The 260/261 CE dividing date is based on a dedicatory inscription found in a rebuilding phase where the eastern aditus maximus gate was walled up. There also appears to be archaeoseismic evidence for later earthquakes. Estimated phasing and chronological discussions for individual earthquakes are listed below.

Phasing - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020)

  • Major parts of a Roman Theater from Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020)
  • Timeline of the site from Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020)
Phase Comments
The foundation of Capitolias and the construction of the theater
  • According to Lenzen and Knauf (1987), based on numismatic and epigraphic evidence, the city reached its peak of prosperity in the latter half of the second century and the first half of the third century A.D., and the evidence of the coins suggests that the city certainly existed when coins were minted at Capitolias in A.D. 97/98 (Spijkerman, 1978). - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:5-6)
  • The good economic position of the city promoted the construction of a theater—usually a project of decadal duration - possibly as early as the coins were minted (i.e., at the end of the first century A.D.). The theater was built against a hill slope, a typical engineering solution until the end of the second century A.D. (Sear, 2006). According to Frezouls (1959), many theaters were built in the region throughout the first to third centuries. - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:6)
1st damage and construction
  • It can be understood that the original theater was heavily damaged by an earthquake, where the perimeter corridor, the ambulacrum, the staircases, and the scaenae were damaged beyond repair, whereas the lateral portions of the cavea survived, including the eastern arched gate of the aditus maximus. Subsequent restoration was made using stones of inferior quality for the scaenae. The staircases and the eastern stage gate were rebuilt (still visible today), whereas the ambulacrum was not. Instead, the gate to the aditus maximus was walled up and marked with a dedicatory inscription. All these were built before A.D. 261—the date of the inscription. A subsequent earthquake cracked the ashlars of the gate, causing stone spalling and breaking off. Finally, the basalt stone portion of the wall is evidence for a later local damage and repair at an unknown time (Fig. 9f ). - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:6-7)
  • The ambulacrum was never restored, while the scaenae was rebuilt, but from stones of inferior quality. The idea that the ambulacrum collapsed previously is further evidenced by the walling up with chalk limestone masonry on four of the six vomitoria. This was probably done at the same time as when the eastern gate was walled up. - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:7)
Conversion of use
  • Observations strongly indicate that after the first collapse and subsequent reconstruction as a theater, the building was transformed into an amphitheater - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:7)
2nd collapse and abandonment
  • It is likely that after the conversion into an amphitheater, at least one other earthquake was responsible for deformation seen in the scaenae wall (i.e., tilting, shifted stones, dropped keystones, stones rotations). The scaenae itself is strongly tilted toward the north, so much so that two-thirds of the original height collapsed and is missing, and leaving behind only a 3-5-meter-high truncated wall. This seismic event definitely contributed to the theater's abandonment, when all damage remained unrepaired (Karasneh et al., 2002). Later, a buttress wall was built to support the tilted scaenae, making it a part of the city wall, in Late Roman-Early Byzantine.
    The second collapse of the theater certainly occurred, after the conversion into an amphitheater and just before buttressing the scaenae wall system. This succession of events is proven by the severely damaged vomitoria arches, which were left unrepaired. It can be suggested that this final collapse led to a final abandonment of the theater.
    - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:8)
2nd restoration phase
  • conversion into a fortification: The unused theater structure was kept standing by a buttress wall, 1.5 m thick, joining the 1-meter-thick tilted scaenae. This wall encircled both staircases, providing support to the damaged northern facade. Also, there are two walls (part of the city wall) adjacent to the eastern side of the theater (trend northwest-southeast) (Figs. 3 and 5 ). - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:8)
  • Mlynarczyk (2017) dated a portion of the city wall that has a width of 2.5 m and is located 140 m west of the theater to not later than second century A.D., based on ceramics embedded in abutting floor levels. We think that this dating is not valid for the portion of the city walls adjacent to the theater, where the buttress wall is 1.5 m thick. At this time, the building was still functioning as designed, as a theater or amphitheater, as proven by the inscription dated A.D. 261 (Bader and Yon, 2018). The original city wall was probably somewhere to the south of the theater at that time. The city wall, which blocks most entrances of the theater, was built later, most likely after the second damaging earthquake. Mlynarczyk's doubts can be accepted on "tentatively dated" and "not easy to be dated" ceramics from the lower two stratigraphic levels (i.e., phases) abutting the wall. However, we agree with her assignment of the upper phase (fifth phase) of the wall as Late Roman (fourth-fifth centuries), and consider this period as terminus ante quem when the wall was constructed. - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:9)
The landfill
  • burying phase: Following the final abandonment, the empty space above the cavea, orchestra, and stage was filled up naturally and/or deliberately with sand and debris (Fig. 11 ), composed of sand-sized to boulder-sized clasts and containing fragments of ceramics and thin charcoal layers. - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:10)
  • It is most likely that the sediment burying the theater can roughly be dated as Late Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad, because it contained a chaotic mixture of ceramics from these ages, including stamped Late Roman pottery (Karasneh and Fayyad, 2004). According to Lucke et al (2012), four ash bands were identified across the fill material. The 14C dating of these bands indicated that the major part of the sediment was deposited, approximately, between A.D. 521 and 667 (Lucke et al., 2012). This is the period before and during the early years of the Umayyad caliphate (A.D. 661-750). Considering the error of radiocarbon dates measured on old timber (Schiffer, 1986), it is difficult to know exactly how old the living tree and age of dead wood was, when carbonized. This is a terminus post quem for the deposition of the landfill. - Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:10)

Phasing - Lenzen (2003)

Lenzen (2003) provided the following phasing:

Phase Date Comments
I c. 1900 CE - present
II c. 1800-1900 CE
III c. 1500-1800 CE
IV c. 900-1500 CE
V c. 600-900 CE
VI c. 300-600 CE
VII foundation to c. 300 CE

mid 3rd century CE Earthquake

Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020) bracketed the date of the first earthquake between 97/98 CE and a dedicatory inscription dated to 260/261 CE. Although Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:10) noted that a definitive judgment on the time separating the first earthquake occurrence from its subsequent reconstruction [] is difficult to support, restoration efforts memorialized by the inscription suggests that the earthquake likely occurred close to the 260/261 CE date - within a few decades. Numismatic and epigraphic evidence indicated that the city was fairly prosperous from the later half of the second century CE into the first half of the 3rd century CE and thus capable (and willing) to convert their theater to an amphitheater fairly quickly after the damaging earthquake.

Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020) discovered only a few recent earthquakes in the earthquake catalogues near to the 260/261 CE date - in 233, 242, and 245 CE. However, these all appear to be false events propagated from Willis' (1928) first uncorrected catalog which misdated these earthquakes reported by Arab Chronicler As-Soyuti by ~622 years due to a failure to recognize that As-Soyuti's dates were reported in the Islamic calendar (A.H.) rather than the Julian calendar. Ambraseys (2009) reports a possible earthquake in Palmyra, Syria in 233 CE based on an inscription however Palmyra is 310 km. away from the the theater at Capitolias so it is doubtful that an earthquake could have caused heavy damage in both places. Hence, this archeoseismic evidence points towards a previously unrecognized earthquake not reported in the earthquake catalogues and not reported in any extant historical source that I am currently aware of. More details on the false earthquake events propagated from Willis (1928) can be found in Notes.

3rd-5th century CE Earthquake

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

mid 8th Century CE Earthquake

Mlynarczyk (2017) identified archaeoseismic evidence from what they believed to be a mid 8th century CE earthquake from excavations conducted in 2015 and 2016 in an area west of the theater. She presumed that destruction of the city wall was due to this earthquake.

Area 1-S (W) Square 1 (W)
  • Plan of areas excavated in 2015 and 2016 from Mlynarczyk (2017)
Mlynarczyk (2017:484) described the archaeoseismic evidence as follows:
[Floor] F III rested in part upon quake-related debris of mostly regular limestone blocks tumbled in a northerly direction, doubtlessly from [Wall] W V [Fig. 10 ]. The blocks lay on a compacted earthen floor F IV, approximately 0.65 m below F III. The ceramic material sealed below [Floor] F IV does not seem to be contaminated and pertains to the late Byzantine to Umayyad period. It is to be assumed, therefore, that the earthquake evidenced by the collapsed blocks was that of AD 749.
Area 1-S Square 9
  • Plan of areas excavated in 2015 and 2016 from Mlynarczyk (2017)
Mlynarczyk (2017:489) described the archaeoseismic evidence as follows:
The space between [Walls] W II and W III in the northeastern part of the trench was found filled with ashlars tumbled from the wall(s). The collected pottery is evidence of earthquake destruction in AD 749, even if this unsealed debris contained some intrusive material of a later (Abbasid) period. The lack of a floor above this deposit proves that habitation ceased in this particular area after the earthquake. The rubble was left in place without ascertaining the floor on which it rested.

Later Earthquakes

Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:14) discussed archaeoseismic evidence for later post abandonment earthquakes

We believe that filling up the cavea and orchestra of the theater happened parallel with the construction of the enclosing wall that essentially put all of the remaining building underground. Underground facilities are significantly less vulnerable to seismic excitation than that above-ground buildings (Hashash et aL, 2001). Understandably, when each wall and arch are supported by embedding sediment (dump in Beit-Ras), the observed deformations of the excavated theater mostly cannot develop unless unsupported. Therefore, evidence of damage due to any subsequent events, such as A.D. 551, 634, 659, and 749, cannot be observed, because the possibility of collapse of buried structures is not plausible. However, potential collapse of other above-ground structures within the site of Beit-Ras cannot be ignored, such as the upper elements of the theater's structures, which were still exposed after the filling of the theater with debris. Several observations indicated that many collapsed elements of the upper parts of the theater were mixed with the debris, as documented in excavation reports by Al-Shami (2003, 2004). Another example suggesting the effect of the later events, such as that of A.D. 749. Mlynarczyk (2017) attributed the collapse of some sections of the city wall of Beit-Ras to this event, based on the concentration of collapsed ashlars and the age of collected pottery from two trenches excavated to the west of the theater structure.
Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020:6) also noted the following about the eastern orchestra gate:
The basalt masonry in the upper left (Fig. 9f ) suggests a later local collapse and repair phase, where the basalt courses are overlaying the marly-chalky limestone to the left of the walled arched eastern gate.

Seismic Effects
Seismic Effects - mid 3rd century CE and 3rd-5th century CE Earthquake

  • Major parts of a Roman Theater from Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020)
  • Plan of the Capitolias Theater with damage locations from Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020)
Seismic Effects observed by Al-Tawalbeh et. al. (2020) in the Capitolias Theater are listed below. See plan above (referred to as Figure 5 by Al-Tawalbeh et. al., 2020) for locations.

Damage Type Event Figure