Sieberg Quake

117 BCE

by Jefferson Williams

Introduction     Textual Evidence     Archeoseismic Evidence     Tsunamogenic Evidence     Paleoseismic Evidence     Notes     Paleoclimate - Droughts     Footnotes     References


Sieberg (1932a, p.16), without citing a source, reports an earthquake in 117 BC, His entry reads as follows:
117 v. Chr. In Judaa groses Erdbeben mit zahlreichen Nachstosen nahrend mindestens eines Monats.

Translation - 117 BC - In Judea a big earthquake followed by aftershocks lasting at least a month.

Textual Evidence

Archeoseismic Evidence

Archeoseismic evidence for a mid second century BCE earthquake is discussed in the Archeoseismic Evidence section of the Dead Fish and Soldiers Quake.

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence for a Judean Earthquake around this time is summarized below:

Location Status
Tekieh Trenches Syria possible - ~2 m displacement
Bet Zayda possible - wide spread in ages
En Feshka several candidates possible - all microbreccias 1.5 cm. thick or thinner
En Gedi possible
Nahal Ze 'elim possible
Taybeh Trench Jordan possible
Qatar Trench Jordan no events seen around this date

Tekieh Trenches Syria

Gomez et. al. (2003) could have seen evidence for this alleged earthquake in paleoseismic trenches in Syria (Event B – below 170 BC – 20 AD colluvium).
Tekieh Trench Seismic Events
Figure 13. Summary of events observed in the trenches and the interpreted palaeoseismic history of the Serghaya fault. Colluvial wedge deposits post-date palaeoseismic events. Stratigraphic ties provide additional constraint on the relative timing of events. Ages represent calendar corrected radiocarbon ages for given features (2 sigma uncertainties provided). Gomez et al (2003)

Bet Zayda

Wechsler at al. (2014) records event CH4-E6 (modeled age 392 BCE – 91 CE) in paleoseismic trenches at Bet Zayda just north of the Sea of Galilee (aka Lake Kinneret).
Bet Zeyda Earthquakes
Figure 9. Probability density functions for all paleoseismic events, based on the OxCal modeling. Historically known earthquakes are marked by gray lines. The age extent of each channel is marked by rectangles. There is an age uncertainty as to the age of the oldest units in channel 4 (units 490-499) marked by a dashed rectangle. Channel 1 refers to the channel complex studied by Marco et al. (2005).

Dead Sea

No seismites were assigned to this alleged earthquake at the sites of En Feshka, En Gedi, or Nahal Ze 'elim. However, some seismites line up with the reported age. These will be discussed below :
En Feshka
Kagan et al (2011) in Table 3 report several seismites in En Feshka at depths between 377 and 402 cm. which might fit this earthquake.

En Gedi
Migowski et al (2004) assigned a 92 BC date to a 1cm. thick seismite at a depth of 294 cm. (2.94 m) in the 1997 GFZ/GSI core DSEn (Table 2). This would indicate that they assumed that the Seventeenth of Adar Quake created this seismite. This is unlikely because the Seventeenth of Adar Quake is reported to have occurred far away in Syria. Further, the date of the Seventeenth of Adar Quake is uncertain due to inconsistencies in the textual account(s).

Nahal Ze 'elim (ZA2)
Kagan et al (2011) in Table 3 report an 8 cm. thick seismite at a depth of 516 cm. which could fit this earthquake.


Taybeh, Jordan
In paleoseismic trenches near Taybeh, Jordan, LeFevre et al. (2018) dated an earthquake Event (E6) on the Arava Fault to have occurred between 160 BC and 117 BC.

Taybeh Trench Earthquakes
Figure S5: Computed age model from OxCal v4.26 for the seismic events recorded in the trench

Qatar, Jordan
Klinger et. al. (2015) did not observe any seismic events in this time window in a trench near Qatar, Jordan.
Qatar Trench
Figure 6. Age model computed for the trench stratigraphy using OxCal v4.2 (Bronk-Ramsey et al. 2010) and IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013). Light grey indicates raw calibration and dark grey indicates modelled ages including stratigraphic information. Phases indicate subsets of samples where no stratigraphic order is imposed. Klinger et al (2015)


Paleoclimate - Droughts