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Sign of the Prophet Quake

[613 - 622 CE]

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

As two early opponents of Muhammad embarked on a trip to Syria, they met a hermit. The hermit told of a prophet who would be sent to Arabia (?). The sign of the Prophets' arrival would be an earthquake in Syria which would bring "evil and disaster". Later in their trip, the travelers met a horseman who related that an earthquake struck Syria bringing "evil and disaster". This was apparently taken by the author(s) of this story as a sign that the Prophet being sent was Muhammad. Ambraseys (2009) dates the story to between 613 and 622 CE.

It should be mentioned that Syria at this time would have been Bilad al-Sham. Bilad al-Sham (analagous to Greater Syria) was a super province of the Rashudin, Umayyad, Abbassid, and Fatimid caliphates and included the southern Levant. Since the story indicates that the two travelers received their information while still in Arabia, the epicentral location is unknown. Hence, if this describes a real earthquake, the search for evidence should cover a wide area.

Islamic Syria ca. 640's Map depicting the original junds (approximate boundaries), and the important towns and Arab tribes of Bilad al-Sham in the 640s

Wikipedia


Textual Evidence

Ambraseys (2009) reports that As-Sayuti (1445-1505 CE) in his book Al-Khasais-ul-Kubra (4-5) copied a report from the book Dala'il al-Nubuwwah (The Signs of Prophethood) written by Al-Bayhaqi in the 11th century CE. Al-Bayhaqi related (on the authority of Marwan b. al-Hakam) the following about the beginning of a trip to Syria by Abu Sufyan and Umayya bin al-Salt - two early opponents of Muhammad.
we met a hermit who told us that a Prophet would be sent, the sign of which is that Syria has been shaken by earthquakes 24 times [alternative readings: 80 or 200 times] since Jesus son of Mary, and one earthquake remains, which will cause evil and disaster in Syria. When we reached Thaniyya [Midran, between Medina and Tabuk], we saw a horseman. We asked him where he came from and he replied, `Syria'. We asked him if anything had happened, and he said, `Yes, Syria has been affected by an earthquake, which has caused evil and disaster.'.
According to Ambraseys (2009), Abu Sufyan and Umayya bin al-Salt are thought to have made this journey some time between AD 613 and 622 CE.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Archaeoseismic evidence is summarized below

Location Status Intensity Comments
Qasr Tilah possible
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater possible
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 6 based on rebuilding evidence
Petra - The Petra Church possible ≥ 8 Phase X earthquake - imprecise dating
Bet Sh 'ean possible needs investigation
Heshbon possible ≥ 8
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a
Jerash - Umayyad House possible based on rebuilding evidence
Jerash - Temple of Zeus possible ≥ 8
Jerash - Hippodrome possible ≥ 8
Pella possible appears to be based on rebuilding evidence
Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh possible 9 largely based on rebuilding evidence
Caesarea possible needs investigation
Mount Nebo needs investigation
Ein Hanasiv possible - needs investigation
Giv’ati Junction possible
Avdat/Oboda possible ≥ 8 Ridge Effect likely at Avdat

Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999) estimate Intensity of 9 - 10, destruction caused by a compressional seismic wave, epicenter located SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis of the bulges in the Roman Tower of Avdat by Kamai and Hatzor (2005) leads to an Intensity Estimate of 8 - 10.
Mizpe Shivta possible
Mezad Yeruham possible
Shivta possible ≥ 8 Site effect unlikely

Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate Intensity of 8 -9, epicenter a few tens of km. away and to the WSW
Rehovot ba Negev possible ≥ 7 Built on weak ground - site effect may be present - Intensity estimate downgraded from 8 to 7

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimate Intensity of 8-9 with epicenter to ESE
Saadon possible ≥ 7 Walls aligned in WNW direction damaged, epicenter possibly to NNE or SSW
Nessana possible
Mamphis possible ≥ 8 Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) estimate Intensity of 9 or more, epicenter to the SW
Haluza possible ≥ 8 Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate minimum Intensity of 8-9, epicenter a few tens of kilometers away, epicentral direction to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE
Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction n/a n/a
Aqaba - Aila possible 7
Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible ≥ 8 "Possible earthquake between ca. 500 and 636 CE"


Archaeoseismic Evidence is examined on a case by case basis below

Qasr Tilah

Qasr Tilah faulted birkeh Broken Corner of the Birkeh at Qasr Tilah

photo by Jefferson Williams


Chronology and Seismic Effects

Haynes et al. (2006) examined paleoseismic and archeoseismic evidence related to damage to a late Byzantine—Early Umayyad birkeh (water reservoir) and aqueduct at Qasr Tilah and concluded that left lateral slip generated by several earthquakes cut through a corner of the reservoir and aqueduct creating displacement of the structures. They identified 4 seismic events which produced coseismic slip on the Wadi Arava fault and led to a lateral displacement of 2.2. +/- 0.5 m at the northwest corner of the reservoir (aka birkeh) and 1.6 +/- 0.4 m of the aqueduct.
Event I - 1515 - 1918 CE

Haynes et al. (2006) constrained the dating of this event as follows:

The fault strand that moved during the most recent event (MRE) terminates 2-4 cm below the surface and juxtaposes unit j and younger stratigraphic layers (Figure 5 ). This fault strand is capped by unit a, the modern ground surface. A definite date cannot be assigned to this event because any stratigraphic units that may have originally buried unit j were eroded prior to the deposition of unit a. However, an Ottoman period musket ball near the base of unit a establishes the minimum date for the MRE is pre-1918, the end of Ottoman occupation of the region. The maximum age for the MRE is 1515, the beginning of Ottoman occupation, based on the truncation of layer b, which, by virtue of the musket ball in unit a, is older than 1515-1918.

Event II - 7th - 12th centuries CE

Haynes et al. (2006) constrained the dating of this event as follows:

The penultimate event (II) offsets units e, f, and g and the underlying layers.

...

The fault terminates at the top of unit e, which indicates that unit e was the ground surface at the time of the earthquake. Unit e is capped by the undeformed unit d, which, due to its radiocarbon date of 986-1155 A.D. (Figure 5 ), limits the minimum date for event II to the twelfth century. The maximum date for event II is post seventh century abandonment of the site in underlying layers.

...

Event II could not have occurred in 1458, 1293, or 1212. The tenth to twelfth century date of unit d, suggests that the minimum age of Event II is tenth century.

Event III - 7th - 12th centuries CE

Haynes et al. (2006) constrained the dating of this event as follows:

The antepenultimate event (III) is marked by the rupture trace being buried by unit e. Units f, g, h, and k are offset. Fault terminations at the top of units f and g suggest that this was the ground surface at the time of event III, and therefore, it also occurred after the seventh century. The minimum date for event III cannot be earlier than the basal age of unit d (986­-1155 A.D.).

...

Unit e caps buries the fault strands that define Event III. The overlying unit d has a radiocarbon-constrained age range between the tenth to twelfth century, and the underlying units f, g, and h contain aqueduct rubble and potsherds from the seventh century. Therefore, the age of unit e is constrained to seventh to twelfth century.

Event IV - 7th Century CE Earthquake

The first seismic event was dated to the 7th century. Haynes at al (2006) suggested it was caused by either the Sword in the Sky Quake (633/634 CE) or the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 AD - favoring the Jordan Valley Quake. There was a repair after this 7th century destruction indicating that the site was occupied when the earthquake struck. This suggests that the Sword in the Sky Quake struck the location since the location would likely have been occupied at the time - i.e. at the start of the Muslim conquest of the Levant. It is also possible that this location received damage from the Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-622 CE). At some point the site was abandoned. Haynes et al (2006) noted that archeological evidence at the site indicates that it was abandoned and was not occupied past the Early Umayyad Period (661-700 CE). They also noted that

MacDonald (1992) [] collected some Byzantine and Umayyad surface potsherds at the site and documented ruins of Byzantine houses (village) along the fan surface of Wadi Tilah.
It is not known if the location was still occupied or only partially occupied when the Jordan Valley Quake struck in 659/660 CE. If the site was abandoned around the same time as some archeoseismic sites in the Negev (~640 CE ?), it may have been empty enough not to have been repaired if the Jordan Valley Quake caused further damage. Because of the repair, it it is unclear how much lateral slip was produced.



Qasr Tilah

Qasr Tilah Trench Log A7 Figure 5

Schematic diagram of Trench A.7 north wall. Stratigraphic units are identified by lowercase letters. Faults are emphasized by heavy lines. Earthquakes are identified by Roman numerals, with IV as the oldest. Dashed lines indicate unexcavated portion of aqueduct floor.

Haynes et al. (2006)

Qasr Tilah Trench Log A7 Stratigraphic Column Schematic Figure 4

Schematic stratigraphic column of Trench A.7. Thicknesses of units are generalized from measurements of unit throughout the trench. Listed artifacts provide age control for constraining deposition and earthquake history in units where they were discovered. Age constraints come from radiocarbon data and typological dating of sherds.

Haynes et al. (2006)

Petra

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

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

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

Arcehoseismic Evidence in Petra Table 1

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

Jones (2021)

Map of Major Excavations in Petra - Jones (2021)

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

Major Excavations in Petra Figure 2

Map of Petra with the locations of major excavations marked

Jones (2021)

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

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

Wikipedia - Douglas Perkins - CC-2.0


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

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

Chronology
Phasing

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



Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Russell (1980) reports that during the 1961-1962 seasons,

Hammond (1965:13-17) found evidence of 4th century AD architectural collapse while excavating the Main Theater. From the stratigraphic evidence and the recovery of two coins of Constantine I (ruled 306 - 337 AD) and one of Constantius II (ruled 337-361 AD), he was able to date this event to the mid 4th century.
Hammond (1964) labeled the destruction period as Period IV noting that
In this period the scaena and its stories, blockade walls, the tribunalia(e), and other built parts of the Theater were all cataclysmically destroyed.

6th-8th century CE Earthquake

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

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

Seismic Effects
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

Intensity Estimates
Mid 4th century CE Earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading
References
Jabal Harun
Jabal Harun after excavations Figure 1

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

Fiema (2013)


Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Jabal Harun Arabic جابال هارون‎
Introduction

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

Chronology

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

In Appendix C of the Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan., one can find Pre-Monastic Phasing. Phase IV is listed as a destruction layer attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. However, if one considers the dates for the phases before and after Phase IV in Appendix C, it appears that other earthquakes are also plausible candidates such as the Aila Quake of the 1st half of the 4th century and the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. Some of the reasoning behind assigning a 363 CE date to this presumed seismic destruction was based on the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE being assigned to seismic destruction at other sites in Petra.

Later Earthquakes

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

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

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



Seismic Effects

Orientation of presumed seismic damage

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

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

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

In Appendix C of the Petra - the mountain of Aaron : the Finnish archaeological project in Jordan., one can find Pre-Monastic Phasing. Phase IV is listed as a destruction layer attributed to the 363 CE earthquake. It is described in Appendix C:34

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

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

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

Area West of the Chapel

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

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

Phase 9 reconstruction

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

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

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

...

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

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

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

...

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

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

Mikkola et al (2008) produced the following observations:

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

...

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

...

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

...

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

...

Northern Aisle of the Church

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

Apse and Bema of the Church

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

...

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

Atrium and Narthex of the Church

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

The Chapel

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

Intensity Estimates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 8 Destruction Event - mid 8th century CE

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

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

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

Phase 12 destruction event - not well dated

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

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

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

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

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

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

Finnish Jabal Harun Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petra North Ridge Project

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

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

Petra: The North Ridge at ACOR

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

Wikipedia


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

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

Maps and Plans Chronology
Phasing



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

Fiema et al (2001:18) surmised that Phase II ended with an earthquake based on rebuilding evidence discussed below:

The type of construction activity in Phase III [] included massive backfilling of certain spaces with material clearly originating from a demolition. Furthermore, there was seemingly no shortage of architectural elements - including doorjambs, drums, cornices and ashlars - which were reused. This evidence all indicates that Phase II ended in disaster and was followed by a period of intense restoration and construction. This hypothesis, combined with the available absolute dating, suggests that the earthquake of A.D. 363 is the best candidate for such a disaster. That earthquake is a historically documented, major natural calamity which beset Petra during the Byzantine period. The severity of its destructive power left numerous Nabataean and Late Roman period structures in ruins, e.g., the domestic structures at ez-Zantur, the Temple of the Winged Lions and Area I, the Theater, the Colonnaded Street area, and the Southern Temple. Afterwards, some buildings were either partially abandoned or never rebuilt. Whether the Phase II structures in the excavated area were seriously affected is not apparent, but it remains a possibility. At any rate, Phase II most probably represents the 3d century A.D. and the first half of the following century, ending in A.D. 363.
...
One telling indication that Phase III was initiated after a devastating earth tremor is the amount of reused stone material, presumably readily available after the disaster. In all the stone-tumble layers excavated in the interiors of the northern rooms and courts - almost 4 m deep - the number of reused doorjambs was simply astonishing. In total, 275 complete stones or recognizable fragments were retrieved from that area.
Dating for the end of Phase II was largely established from sounding 30 of the foundation course of Wall I (infra), which Fiema et al (2001:18) states certainly dates to Phase III. Fiema et al (2001:18) reports that two coins were found there, one unidentifiable, the other dated to A.D. 350-55.

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

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

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

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

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

Maps and Plans

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

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

Room X

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

The Aisles and the Apses

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

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

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

The Northern Rooms and the Atrium

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

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

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

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

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

Maps and Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location Source Effect Description
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Fallen Columns Two or three of the four columns which originally had supported the canopy over the baptismal font broke and collapsed on the surface of E3.30A (Fig. 125 ). ... Four drums of another column, the SW one, were found in the parallel row. Both rows preserved almost exact east-to-west orientation which is in striking contrast to the general north-to-south collapse observed for the first earthquake. A few drums of the third (probably NE) column and a capital fell on the same surface but not in the same orientation as the others.
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls surmised from ashlar tumble large quantities of ashlars and other stone material, presumably from the destruction of neighboring walls TT, S, N, and M.
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Vaults The presence of canopy voussoirs outside Wall TT indicates that some of them could also have fallen then, across damaged Wall TT.
Aisles and Apses Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Fallen Columns That tumble contained several column drums (Fig. 3, section i-i' ). ... At any rate, the remaining columns or their broken shafts would now have finally succumbed.
Aisles and Apses Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls surmised from ashlar tumble Locus H4.14 also contained several column drums and larger ashlars. Its bottom was at ca. 900.5 m, and it was visibly separated from the earlier earthquake destruction (Fig. 2, section d-d' ). ... Tumbles of high density, with many ashlars, were noted in the south apse area.
Apse Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Vaults The apse presumably survived the first earthquake. However, it fared much less well in the current seismic event. This time the collapse appears to have been complete. ... The tremor buckled and broke the structure of the semidome resulting in its fall along with the remaining mosaics upon the central and eastern bema. The upper works of the semidome probably fell straight down on the remaining part of the synthronon and the space in Square G2.
Atrium Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls Walls N and YY probably suffered much damage during that seismic episode, although human interference in the subsequent phase would have been instrumental in changing the pattern of stone collapse. By then Wall YY was already reduced to a height of barely 1 m above the floor, either by natural or human forces since Wall B, probably constructed in Phase XIIB, encroached on its remains.

Intensity Estimates
End of Phase II earthquake - based on rebuilding evidence - 363 CE ?

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls re-used ashlars suggests fallen or damaged 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).

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

Effect Description Intensity
Fallen Columns most of the columns in the basilica broke and collapsed, either in their entirety or their upper sections (Fiema et al, 2001:111). V+
Arch Damage That was followed by a complete failure of the arches above the capitals (Fiema et al, 2001:111). VI+
Collapsed Walls the clerestory walls farther up fell (Fiema et al, 2001:111). VIII+
Tilted Walls Walls A, C, and F were visibly damaged , the latter one began to lean precariously toward the south (Fiema et al, 2001:111). VI+
Collapsed Vaults Room II lost its vaulted ceiling (Fiema et al, 2001:111). VIII+
Arch Damage Arches broke and fell inside Room I (Fiema et al, 2001:111). VI+
Fallen Columns The atrium's porticoes collapsed, at least partially (Fiema et al, 2001:111). 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). Damage for this earthquake was oriented N-S unlike the Phase XIIA earthquake which was oriented E-W.
Intensity Estimate from Fiema et al (2001)

Generally, the intensity of the first major tremor which affected the complex does not suggest a total catastrophe. Rather, the magnitude of destruction indicates a moderate earthquake, probably comparable to grades VII-VIII on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMS) (Fiema et al, 2001:111).

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

Location Source Effect Description Intensity
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Fallen Columns Two or three of the four columns which originally had supported the canopy over the baptismal font broke and collapsed on the surface of E3.30A (Fig. 125 ). ... Four drums of another column, the SW one, were found in the parallel row. Both rows preserved almost exact east-to-west orientation which is in striking contrast to the general north-to-south collapse observed for the first earthquake. A few drums of the third (probably NE) column and a capital fell on the same surface but not in the same orientation as the others. V+
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls surmised from ashlar tumble large quantities of ashlars and other stone material, presumably from the destruction of neighboring walls TT, S, N, and M. VIII+
Room X Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Vaults The presence of canopy voussoirs outside Wall TT indicates that some of them could also have fallen then, across damaged Wall TT. VIII+
Aisles and Apses Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Fallen Columns That tumble contained several column drums (Fig. 3, section i-i' ). ... At any rate, the remaining columns or their broken shafts would now have finally succumbed. V+
Aisles and Apses Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls surmised from ashlar tumble Locus H4.14 also contained several column drums and larger ashlars. Its bottom was at ca. 900.5 m, and it was visibly separated from the earlier earthquake destruction (Fig. 2, section d-d' ). ... Tumbles of high density, with many ashlars, were noted in the south apse area. VIII+
Apse Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Vaults The apse presumably survived the first earthquake. However, it fared much less well in the current seismic event. This time the collapse appears to have been complete. ... The tremor buckled and broke the structure of the semidome resulting in its fall along with the remaining mosaics upon the central and eastern bema. The upper works of the semidome probably fell straight down on the remaining part of the synthronon and the space in Square G2. VIII+
Atrium Fiema et al (2001:115-117) Collapsed Walls Walls N and YY probably suffered much damage during that seismic episode, although human interference in the subsequent phase would have been instrumental in changing the pattern of stone collapse. By then Wall YY was already reduced to a height of barely 1 m above the floor, either by natural or human forces since Wall B, probably constructed in Phase XIIB, encroached on its remains. 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). Damage for this earthquake was oriented E-W unlike the Phase X earthquake which was oriented N-S.

Notes and Further Reading
References

Bet She'an

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

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

Maps and Plans Chronology
363 CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

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

7th century CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

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

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

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

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

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


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

Seismic Effects
363 CE earthquake

Maps and Plans

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

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

Tsafrir and Foerster (1992b)


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

Intensity Estimates
363 CE earthquake

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

mid 8th century CE earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading
References

Heshbon

Aerial view of Tall Heshbon Figure 3

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

Walker et al (2017)


Names

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

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

Chronology and Seismic Effects

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

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

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

Stratigraphy from Walker and LaBianca (2003)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Areas of excavations at Tell Heshbon from Walker and LaBianca (2003)
Mitchel (1980:181) noted that a destruction of some sort tumbled the wall on the east side of the great stairway , signaling the end of the latter's useful life. The destruction was interpreted to be a result of one of the 363 CE Cyril Quakes. Mitchel (1980:193) suggested the source of the tumble was most probably the retaining wall at the east margin of the stairs (D.3:16A). Mitchel (1980:181) also suggests that this earthquake destroyed the Temple on the acropolis; noting that it was never rebuilt as a Temple. Numismatic evidence in support of a 363 CE earthquake destruction date was obtained from Locus C.5:219 where an Early Byzantine soil layer produced a coin of Constans I, A.D. 343 providing a closing date for Stratum 11 (Mitchel, 1980:195). However, Mitchel (1980:195) noted the presence of an alternative hypothesis where Sauer (1973a:46) noted that a 365/366 coin would suggest that the rock tumble and bricky rei soil of Stratum 6 should be associated with a 365 earthquake. Mitchel (1980:195) judged this hypothesis as untenable citing other numismatic and ceramic evidence. In a later publication, Sauer (1993:255-256) changed his dating assessment of the strata which appears to align with Mitchel (1980)'s original assessment.

Storfjell (1993:109-110) noted that damage appeared to be limited at Tall Hesban during this earthquake
Although evidence for the AD 363 earthquake was found at Hesban, it could only be identified in a few rock tumbles in various areas of the tell. Following the earthquake there was no large scale construction, neither domestic nor public. The earthquake, which was severe at other sites (Russell 1980) probably did little damage at Hesban.
That said, if Mitchel (1980:193) is correct that a retaining wall collapsed on the monumental stairway, unless it was tilted and at the point of collapse beforehand, it's collapse suggests high levels of local Intensity.

Stratum 9 Earthquake - ~6th century CE - debated

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

7th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

...

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

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

Intensity Estimates

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

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

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

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

7th century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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 - Umayyad House
Introduction

Gawlikowski (1992) excavated a house in quarter NO of the south Tetrapylon of Jerash in 1983. Excavations indicated that the house was in use from the 7th - 9th centuries CE.

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

Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • 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 and 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).
This archaeoseismic evidence is based on rebuilding evidence as no seismic effects from a 7th century CE earthquake are mentioned.

8th century CE Earthquake

Plans

  • General Plan of Jerash from Wikipedia
  • 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.

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)


Plans Chronology
7th century CE Earthquake

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

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



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.]

Pella

Aerial photo of Pella Oblique aerial photograph looking west towards the Jordan River Valey. This image is scanned from a 1970 era slide taken by Professor Jim Saur (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
References

Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh

Chronology, Seismic Effects, and Intensity Estimate

Taxel (2009: 186) reports damage, based on ceramic and numismatic finds, around the middle of the 7th century CE concluding that "it is highly likely that the observed damage and subsequent repairs in Khirbet es-Suyyagh were caused by one or more earthquakes." Damage descriptions follow:
Damaged architectural remains can be recognised throughout the site. Signs of destruction and nearly immediate rebuilding combined with absence of signs of man-made violent actives are typical earthquake-related features.

The area of the large courtyard (Fig. 2.1:8-10) had been completely rebuilt after a destructive event. An earlier construction phase, which is observed south of the centre of the courtyard (Fig. 2.1:9), is covered by a later floor. Fallen masonry and subsequent repairs were observed in the southern part of the apse of the church, with its inner face remaining asymmetric. Since the damage is observed close to the foundations of the church it seems that the damage had a pervasive affect on the entire structure. A section of about 10 m in the southern end of W33 seems also to have been rebuilt. Similarly, in W100 there is a warped contact in room 19, where two different styles of masonry meet but are misaligned.

Another type of damage appears in two broken door thresholds, that of the main gate and that of the small courtyard in the south of the monastery. The large, monolithic and nicely carved stones are placed in-situ but broken by a width wise crack into two pieces. Assuming the thresholds were carved from intact rocks without significant fractures, we can envision strong vertical acceleration, perhaps of the order of lg, which caused the fracturing. Such strong shaking is known based on modern earthquakes to occur either near the epicentre of strong earthquakes (of the order of magnitude 7 and above) or in places with strong local amplification of seismic waves.

Each of the damaged elements alone would not suffice to indicate an earthquake as the damaging agent. However, the occurrence of many such elements, the extensive repair and reconstruction of features without any sign of human violence and in short time, together with the frequent occurrence of earthquakes in the region supports the association of the damage to earthquake/s.
This suggests that the Jordan Valley Quake, the Sword in the Sky Quake and/or possibly even the Sign of the Prophet Quake damaged the site with the Jordan Valley Quake the most likely candidate. Archeoseismic evidence at the Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh is labeled as possible . Seismic Intensity is estimated at IX (1 g).

Caesarea

Names

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

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

Chronology
Stratigraphic Framework of Toombs (1978)

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

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

Stratigraphic Framework for Caesarea by Toombs (1978) Figure 4

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

Toombs (1978)

Stratigraphy in Ad et al (2017)

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

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

31 BCE Earthquake

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

Late 1st century CE Earthquake

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

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

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

Cyril Quake - 363 CE - tenuous evidence

Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) examined "a large hoard of 3,700 copper coins found in the excavations of" what may have been a synagogue. They describe the discovery of the coin hoard as follows:

In 1962, during the excavations at Caesarea, Avi-Yonah unearthed a large hoard containing 3,700 copper-alloy coins, in a building that he identified as a synagogue. The latest coins in the hoard date to 361 CE, suggesting that the synagogue was destroyed by the 363 CE earthquake. ... The finds from the excavation were only partially published. Much of the information, such as locus numbers, is not always clear and the exact location of the hoard is not marked on a plan or described by Avi-Yonah. Nevertheless, his written descriptions clearly state that the hoard was found in the building and the strata are fairly well defined. A photograph shows Avi-Yonah in the building during the excavation kneeling next to the in situ hoard (Fig. 1).
The coins were found in Stratum IV. The original excavator (Avi-Yonah) "gave no reason for the destruction of Stratum IV." In discussing evidence for seismic destruction in Caesarea, Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) provide the following:
None of the excavations revealed large scale damage in Stratum IV: "there is no evidence of wholesale destruction across the site, especially since the wall lines are still mostly intact based upon photographic record. Yet not much remains of the structure either in stratum IV or stratum V" (Govaars et al. 2009:132). After the earthquake debris was cleared, the synagogue was rebuilt. Stones from the previous synagogue were reused for the building of the stratum V synagogue, but the hoard was not found until Avi-Yonah's excavations. Govaars wrote "the direct relationship of the coin hoard to a structure is uncertain and, therefore the coin evidence cannot be used to date the still unknown structure" (Govaars et al. 2009:42). This is a somewhat peculiar statement considering the coins were found in the synagogue and are on the whole well preserved, homogeneous and well dated. Avi-Yonah was convinced that the hoard was directly related to the Stratum IV building: "The fact that a hoard of 3,700 bronze coins was found in the ruins of the synagogue itself that were buried in 355/356 AD indicates that this synagogue was built in the end of the third or the early fourth century, and was destroyed in the mid fourth century AD" (Avi-Yonah 1964:26 n. 5).

...

Evidence at Caesarea

The subject of earthquakes and tsunamis has been partially reviewed by several archaeologists who directed or participated in the excavations at Caesarea. None of the monumental buildings across the site revealed earthquake damage that dates to the fourth century CE.

The report of remains from the excavations of the Promontory Palace at Caesarea, dated between the early fourth century and early sixth centuries, does not mention destruction levels (Levine and Netzer 1986:176-184). In other excavations, the Roman and Byzantine-period warehouses and granaries (horreum) gradually fell into ruin over a considerable period. Neither the main streets, pavements, sewage and water systems, the theater, amphitheater nor the stadiums of the Late Roman and Byzantine periods show signs of destruction that suggested earthquake damage (Humphrey 1974:32; Porath 1996:114-120; Porath 2003 and Porath [pers. comm.]).

If the town was partially damaged or destroyed in the 363 CE earthquake, as the Harvard Syriac letter [i.e. the letter attributed to Cyril] describes, then other than the large coin hoard, the earthquake left no clear, tangible evidence. The damage was cleared and buildings were repaired or rebuilt. Although none of the archaeological reports mentions earthquake damage, several reports clearly describe the abandonment and/or the rebuilding of public buildings in the second half of the fourth century CE. None of the authors provided a reason for their destruction or abandonment.

Tectonic evidence such as collapsed columns, thick piles of debris or warped walls are elusive throughout the fourth century architecture of Caesarea. Why is this typical earthquake damage missing? Are the written sources and the numismatic evidence sufficient proof of the 363 CE earthquake in Caesarea? It is important to note that among the various violent, politically motivated upheavals that took place in the second half of the fourth century, one of the main candidates explaining destruction at archaeological sites is the Gallus Revolt (352 CE). However, none of the sources that describe this revolt mention Caesarea Maritima (Geller-Nathanson 1986:34)
1,453 coins from the hoard of coins were identifiable by mints and dates. They ranged in age from 315 CE to the first quarter of the 5th century CE. 110 of these coins ranged in age from 364 - 421 CE and post dated 363 CE. The bulk of the hoard, however, were struck between 341 and 361 CE. The authors noted that 11 of the post 363 CE coins may have been intrusive. An explanation for the other 99 post 363 CE coins was based largely on a comparison to a similarly dated coin hoard in Qasrin. The authors opined that the many coins from Julian II shows that the coins could not have been concealed before 355 CE ruling out the Gallus Revolt (352 CE) as a cause for the loss of the hoard. On the whole, this numismatic evidence for the Cyril Quake striking Caesarea seems tenuous however since Caesarea was mentioned as being partly ruined in Cyril's letter, it merits inclusion in this catalog.

7th century CE Earthquake

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

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

Seismic Effects
Late 1st century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects include

  • Liquefaction
  • Subsidence
  • Tsunami

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

Potential Seismic Effects include

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

Intensity Estimates
Late 1st century CE Earthquake

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

mid 8th century CE Earthquake

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

Notes and Further Reading
References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caesarea-Maritima.org

Caesarea-Maritima.org - Comprehensive Bibliography

Mount Nebo

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Mount Nebo English
Jabal Nibu Arabic جَبَل نِيْبُو‎
Har Nevo Hebrew הַר נְבוֹ‎
Pisgah Hebrew Bible פִּסְגָּה
Fasga Arabic ‎فاسعا
Jabal Siyāgha Arabic جابال سيياعها
Rās as-Siyāgha Arabic راس اسءسيياعها‎
Rujm Siyāgha Arabic ‎روجم سيياعها
Jabal Nabo local bedouin جابال نابو
Jabal Musa local bedouin جابال موسا
Introduction

Mount Nebo is famous as the location where in the 34th chapter of Deuteronomy Moses climbed its peak to view the promised land before passing away. Only ~ 7km. from Madaba, it provides a commanding view of the Dead Sea, Judah, and Samaria. The ridge of Mt. Nebo has been inhabited since remote antiquity, as the dolmens, menhirs, flints, tombs, and fortresses from different epochs testify (Michelle Piccirillo in Meyers et al, 1997). Several churches and a monastery were built there in the Byzantine era.

Chronology

Ambraseys (2009) notes that
Indeed, Russell remarks that it is impossible to ascertain the effects of this and the AD 632 (634) earthquake on the Mt Nebo monastery owing to the manner in which the excavations were conducted.
However Russell (1985) correlates archeoseismic destruction at Mount Nebo to the Mount Lebanon Thrust Quake of 551 CE and the Sabbatical Year Earthquake of 746/749.

July 9, 551 CE entry - p. 45

This earthquake also appears to have been responsible for the destruction and subsequent abandonment of the Town of Nebo (Saller and Bagatti 1949: 217, n. 2).
January 748 CE entry - p. 49

The final destruction of the basilica at Mt. Nebo also appears to correlate with this earthquake (Schneider 1950: 2-3),
Notes - p.54

At Mt. Nebo (Sailer 1941: 45-46) and Aereopolis (Zayadine 1971) in the region of ancient Moab, recovery after the 551 earthquake apparently did not occur until the end of the century. Related to this delayed recovery is the possibility that an influx of southeastern populations from decaying urban centers like Petra subsequent to the 551 earthquake was responsible for the intensified building during the late 6th and early 7th centuries in both Moab (Sailer 1941: 248) and the Negev (Kraemer 1958: 23. 28-29; Colt 1962: 21-22).
This archeoseismic evidence is labeled as needs investigation.

Ein Hanasiv

Karcz et. al. (1977) list archeoseismic evidence (oriented collapse, alignment of fallen masonry) in Ein Hanasiv in the 7th century AD based on Vitto (1975). Archeoseismic evidence at Ein Hanasiv is labeled as possible and needs investigation.

Giv’ati Junction

Baumgarten (2001) excavated a round pottery kiln at Giv' ati Junction dated to the 4th-7th century CE (Shmueli (2013)). Langgut et al (2015) report that four fired Late Roman Amphora (similar to those at Yavne) "were found inside the kiln’s collapsed firing chamber" covered by a thick layer of aeolian sand. Langgut et al (2015) noted that while "the excavator suggested that the kiln was destroyed during operation, possibly due to some technical fault, and was consequently abandoned (Baumgarten 2001)", they believe an earthquake should also be considered as a cause of destruction.

(Shmueli (2013)) excavated Stratum III in a rectangular building (L109, L119) at Giv'ti Junction in 2011 where, on the floor, they found three Gaza jars which were set upside down (Fig. 4) and broken. A fourth jar was found upright but also broken. Based on numismatic finds, they dated the beginning of the settlement to the fourth or fifth century CE. Construction and use of the rectangular building was dated to the fifth to seventh centuries CE. In the seventh century the installation and building went out of use.

Archeoseismic evdience at Giv’ati Junction is labeled as possible.

Avdat

Avdat Acropolis Aerial View of Avdat Acropolis

Wikipedia


Names

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

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

Chronology

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

Early 2nd century earthquake

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

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

Southern Cyril Quake (363 CE)

Tali Erickson-Gini in Stern et al (2008) provided some information on the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

In 1999–2000 an area located east of the Byzantine town wall and the north tower at Oboda was excavated on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
...
Some structural damage, probably resulting from the 363 CE earthquake, is evident in the blockage of a few doorways and the collapse of one of the rooms (rooms 4, 7, 17).
one room of the earlier structure appears to have been utilized in the fourth century CE (room 7), and it apparently collapsed in the 363 earthquake.

the numismatic and ceramic evidence uncovered in this third phase indicate that the dwellings were destroyed in a violent earthquake several decades after that of 363 CE. Following this second, local earthquake, the area was abandoned and many of the building stones were robbed.
The second earthquake could be due the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE which fits as the early 5th century earthquake discussed below.

Early 5th century earthquake

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

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

Early 7th century earthquake

7th century earthquake

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

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

Seismic Effects

Seismic Effects

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

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

Archaeoseismic Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intensity Estimates

Distinguishing 7th century effects from "previous" earthquake effects

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

Topographic or Ridge Effect

Terrain map



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

Intensity Estimate for the 363 CE earthquake

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

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

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

Intensity Estimate for the early 7th century CE earthquake

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

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

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

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

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis by Kamai and Hatzor (2005)

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

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

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

Model and Lab derived properties

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

Lab Measurements of original stones from Avdat

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



Notes and Further Reading

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes on the so-called Potter's Workshop

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

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

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

Mizpe Shivta

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Mezad Yeruham

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Shivta

Broken and repaired lintel stone at Southern Church in Shivta Broken and repaired lintel stone (top of photo) at entrance to South Church in Shivta

photo by Jefferson Williams


Names

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

Occupation at Shivta began in the 1st century BCE when it was a station on the Incense Road ( Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). Occupation continued from Nabatean to Roman and Byzantine times until the Arab conquest after which the town declined. It was abandoned in the 8th or 9th century CE although some pottery found there suggests some type of occupation continued until the 13th or 14th century CE ( Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) report that Shivta is situated on flat low-land, built of massive carbonate bedrock where a site effect is not likely. .



Chronology

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) identified damage patterns in the ruins of Shivta which indicated previous devastation by earthquakes. Although they mention at least three strong [recognizable] earthquakes [] during the Roman, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine periods, in their conclusions this is decremented to at least two earthquakes which damaged Byzantine and post-Byzantine constructions. Nothing so far has been found in the literature for the "Roman" earthquake mentioned by Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a). It is possible that Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a)'s use of term Roman in terms of dating is non-standard and could include Byzantine earthquakes such as the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE or the Monaxius and Plinta Quake of 419 CE. Erickson-Gini (2013) indicates that there could have been two post-Byzantine earthquakes - one in the early 7th century CE based on excavations at the North Church and another possibly in the Middle Islamic period based on excavations in Room 121.

Byzantine Earthquake - ~500 CE

Margalit (1987) excavated the North Church at Shivta and discovered two building phases.

  1. The first basilica was a monoapsidal church erected in the mid-fourth century A.D.
  2. After the first church was damaged, most probably by an earthquake, a new one was erected in the beginning of the sixth century A.D.
Dating of initial construction in the first phase was based on 7 coins of the mid 4th century CE found beneath the sealed limestone floor. Margalit (1987) suggested that this pavement subsided due an earthquake and a marble floor was laid at a higher level than the original pavement during the second phase. Negev (1989) wrote about the earthquake also based on excavations in the North Church where he discovered inscriptions which appear to date the earthquake to around 500 CE.
A severe earthquake afflicted Sobata [aka Shivta] still more. At the same time both mono-apsidal churches of Sobata suffered a great deal of damage. The South Church (Fig. 5) was surrounded on all four sides by a high talus. It is highly likely that the transformation of this building from a mono-apsidal basilica into a tri-apsidal one took place at the time when the whole building underwent a complete remodeling. Yet, it is not certain whether this transformation is a direct outcome of the earthquake. The constructional history of the North Church (Fig. 4) is much the same, but outer buildings which were added after the earthquake indeed help in determining the various phases. Originally the mono-apsidal basilica had no additional chapels on the south. When the building suffered severe damage by the earthquake, it was completely surrounded by very high stone taluses on all sides, except on the eastern half of the southern wall of the basilica, where two strongly built chapels with apses and domes were constructed, taking the place of the talus as a support for the shattered southern wall. The repair of the first phase of the church, which was made after the earthquake marked the beginning of the second phase. This too has now been firmly dated by a coin of Justinian (527-538 A.D.) which was found in the intentionally made fill in the room behind the southern apse. The change from the mono-apsidal to tri-apsidal plan must have taken place at this time.

The epigraphic evidence of Sobata may help in attaining a close as possible date both for the earthquake and for the subsequent reconstruction of the North Church. One of these inscriptions, that of 506 A.D., is clearly a dedicatory inscription of a very important building, which justified the participation of a Vicarius, a man of the highest rank, in the dedication of this building. This inscription was not found in situ. However, there is no question about the inscription of A.D. 512, in which year the mosaic floor of one of the added chapels was dedicated by a bishop and the local clergy. It is thus safe to assume that the whole remodeling of the North Church began in the first decade of the sixth century. The second half of the fifth century A.D. was one of tectonic unrest. Severe earthquakes were recorded in the years 447, 498, and 502 A.D. The two latter dates would be highly probable dates for the destruction of the South and North Churches of Sobata, their total remodeling, and their rebuilding as tri-apsidal basilicae, and thus the beginning of Phase II.
Earthquakes referred to by Negev (1989) appear to come from Kallner-Amiran's (1952) catalog. The 447 CE earthquake was reported in Constantinople and would not have caused damage in the Negev (see Ambraseys (2009) for details). The 498 CE earthquake is dated to 499 CE by Ambraseys (2009) and struck Eastern Anatolia. It also would not have damaged structures in the Negev. The 502 CE earthquake is the Fire in the Sky Earthquake. It's epicenter was not close to the region and could only have been expected to, at the most, cause limited damage to structures. This leaves the hypothesized Negev Quake of ~500 CE as a distinct possibility.

Post Byzantine Earthquake(s) - Early 7th century CE and/or Middle Islamic Period (8th - ? centuries CE)

On the western perimeter of Shivta in Building 121, Erickson-Gini (2013) found evidence of earthquake induced collapse of the ceilings and parts of the walls which she dated to possibly in the Middle Islamic period after the site was abandoned at the end of the Early Islamic period. Collapsed arches were also found. The arches appear to be in a crescent pattern and both collapsed structures are aligned N-S. Erickson-Gini (2013) discussed dating of the structure is as follows:
The excavation revealed that the structure was built and occupied in the Late Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE) and continued to be occupied as late as the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE). The structure appears to have collapsed sometime after its abandonment, possibly in the Middle Islamic period.
Dateable artifacts in Room 2 came from the Late Byzantine period and the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE). Erickson-Gini (2013) discussed earthquake chronology further indicating that there is either a dating discrepancy or that there were two Post Byzantine earthquake.
Revetment walls present around the North Church and buttressing the western wall of Building 123 (Hirschfeld 2003) are indications that some damage to the site took place in the Late Byzantine period, probably in the early seventh century CE when the neighboring site of ‘Avdat/Oboda was destroyed in a tremendous earthquake. However, the excavation of Building 121 points to a later event, possibly in the Middle Islamic period, which caused the collapse of the ceilings and parts of the walls sometime after the site was abandoned at the end of the Early Islamic period.

Seismic Effects

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a)'s list of observed seismic effects and their conclusions are below.
Seismic Effects

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Hanging keystone of arches not discussed for Shivta
Asymmetric arch distortion SE Corner of Southern Church 3 Seismic wave propagation was parallel to the arch trend

In such cases the direction of the seismic wave propagation was parallel to the arch direction. In the example given in Fig. 3 the arch trend was 61° and, hence, the seismic wave propagation was ENE-WSW.
Partially collapsed arch stones One of the courtyards of the northern quarter 4 Seismic waves arrived parallel to the direction of the arch

In this example the arch support stones are still standing though slightly displaced, a few stones of the arch are still in the air, and the rest of the stones lie on the ground. The direction of the seismic wave propagation was parallel, or nearly parallel, to the original arch trend. The arch trend was 238°, hence the direction of the seismic waves propagation was along an axis of about NE—SW.
Non-shifted collapse of arches various locations 5 Seismic waves arrived parallel to the arch direction

Arch stones that lie on the ground in a straight line below the original arch position (Fig. 4a) indicate that the seismic waves propagated in a direction that was parallel to the original arch trend. Eight cases have been observed at Shivta, indicating the seismic wave propagation along a SW—NE axis.
Crescent collapse patterns of arches various locations 5 Seismic waves arrived perpendicular to the arch direction

Arch stones that lie on the ground in a crescent pattern (Fig. 5b) indicate that the seismic waves arrived in a direction perpendicular to the original arch trend. Five such cases have been found at Shivta, indicating the seismic waves arrived in a SW-NE direction.
Systematic rotation of wall fragments around the vertical axis various locations 6c Indicating azimuth of epicenter and seismic intensity

Five clockwise rotations were observed at Shivta on walls trending 40°-50° and, in contrast, 4 cases of counterclockwise rotations were observed on the perpendicular walls, trending 120°-130° (Fig. 6c). Thus, the seismic waves came along the bisector of these wall trends, i.e., the seismic waves arrived from the WSW.
Rotation of single stones, wall fragments, or entire walls around a vertical axis indicate arrival of the seismic waves at some angle to the wall trend. The theoretical background of this phenomenon has been discussed in detail by Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a,b).
Similar rotational damage patterns were observed at the Suusamyr earthquake (I = 9-10, MSK-64 scale) as described by Korjenkov and Omuraliev (1993) and Omuraliev et al. (1993b). By analogy, it seems that the intensity of the seismic event that destroyed Shivta was at least I= 8-9 (MSK-64 scale).
Stones rotated around a horizontal axis in collapsed arches Courtyard of the west-central quarter 7a The direction of the seismic waves was inclined, indicating a nearby hypocenter

Two examples of arch stones lying on the ground, each stone being rotated around a horizontal axis, have been observed at Shivta. One example is shown in Fig. 7a, leading to the following conclusions:
  1. as the arch is observed to have fallen straight on the ground, the seismic waves arrived along an axis that was parallel to the trend of the arch, 44° in the studied case, hence the seismic waves arrived along a SW—NE axis
  2. the counterclockwise rotation of the individual stones indicates that the direction of seismic wave arrival was SW
  3. the rotation of the individual stones indicates that the direction of the arriving seismic waves was inclined to the ground surface and could not be vertical (hypocenter beneath the site), nor could it be sub-horizontal (the hypocenter being far away, as compared to its depth).
Hence, the seismic waves arrived in an oblique angle to the ground and the hypocenter was, therefore, rather close to the damaged site, probably in the order of a few tens of kilometers.
Sagged roof slabs rotated around a horizontal axis Building at the north quarter of Shivta 7b The direction of the seismic waves was inclined, indicating a nearby hypocenter

Figure 7b depicts a row of sagged roof slabs that were also rotated, at a building at the north quarter of Shivta. The tilting of the individual slabs indicates a rotational movement. By the same arguments discussed in the previous section, this indicates that the direction of the arriving seismic waves was inclined, which further indicates that the hypocenter was relatively close to the study location, a few tens of kilometers away. The trend of the row of roof slabs is 138°, hence the direction of the arriving seismic waves was along the SW—NE axis.
Systematic collapse of walls and agricultural fences various locations 8a
8b
8c
Indicating seismic intensity and "general direction" of seismic wave propagation

Figure 8a shows a wall of a building, trending SE 141°, that collapsed in a SW 231° direction.
Figure 8b depicts an agricultural wall trending SE, revealing a distinct collapse towards the SW.
Nineteen cases of such walls were observed at Shivta (Fig. 8c).
In 15 cases collapse was toward the SW in walls trending 100°-160°, whereas only in 4 cases collapse was toward the NE in walls of the same trend. This clearly preferred orientation of collapse leads to the following conclusions:
  1. the cause of destruction was an earthquake
  2. since the respective seismic intensity attributed for such collapse in adobe buildings is I = 7 according to the definitions of the MSK-64 scale, in the case of the stone buildings of Shivta the local seismic intensity was at least I = 8
  3. the seismic waves arrived along a general SW—NE direction.
Severe damage to about 75% of the buildings various locations n/a Indicating earthquake intensity of at least I = 8 (MSK-64)

The MSK-64 scale definitions relate to degrees of damage of buildings, starting at "slightly" damaged and ascending up to "severe" and "total" destruction. In addition, the MSK-64 scale defines general types of building qualities, starting from modern seismic-proof buildings (type A) and descending through stone buildings (type B), fired-brick buildings, adobe buildings, etc. Accordingly, the Byzantine city of Shivta, built of hard limestone stones placed on hard limestone bedrock, is composed of type B buildings
At Shivta more than 75% of the type B Byzantine buildings reveal severe damage, indicating destruction by earthquake of an intensity of at least I = 8 (MSK-64).
Significant spreading distances of collapse debris Northeast of town 8b A criterion of high intensity earthquake

The distance at which collapse debris is observed away from the structural foundations is a crucial indicator for a seismic or non-seismic cause (e.g., static loading, poor foundations, climatic weathering) and the intensity of the former. At Shivta the collapse debris of agricultural walls, which originally were, at most, 1 m high, is observed to reach distances of up to 8 m (Fig. 8b). Experience in building construction reveals that in the case of non-seismic destruction the collapse debris is thrown to a distance that is not more than 1/3 of the original height of the structure (0. Korjenkova, personal communication). The corresponding figure is 8/1 in the described cases of agricultural walls at Shivta. Hence, this very distinct distance of collapse debris spreading denotes destruction by an earthquake. The intensity of that earthquake can be estimated from other damage patterns, described above, e.g., collapse of walls, indicating seismic intensity of I = 8; high percentage of severely damaged walls (about 75%), indicating an intensity of I = 8 or more; and, as described below, joints that cross few adjacent stones in a wall. Thus, the intensity of the earthquake that spread the stones of agricultural stone fences to the described distances was at least I=8
The advantage of studying collapse features at ancient agricultural stone fences is that they are isolated, i.e., there is a distinct distance between them. In contrast, in dense urban complexes observations are hindered because
  1. the presence of other building elements touching a wall partially support it and severely complicate the destruction pattern
  2. it is often hard to identify the source of fallen stones.
In addition, experience reveals that damaged agricultural stone fences were not robbed by later inhabitants, in contrast to the common looting of stones from fancy buildings.
Preservation of walls in a preferred direction within a complex of ruins NE quarter of Shivta 9 Destruction was by an earthquake and seismic wave propagation was parallel to the preserved wall trend

Figure 9 clearly reveals a preferred orientation of preserved walls of the northern quarter of Shivta. This type of key observation is useful as a tool in the reconnaissance stage of an archeoseismic study. The preferred orientation of intact walls testifies that the destruction of the urban complex was definitely by an earthquake. In addition, the axis of the seismic wave propagation was parallel to the trend of the preserved walls. Walls trending around 68° at the northern quarter of Shivta are distinctly better preserved, hence the seismic wave propagation was along the ENE—WSW axis.
Systematic tilting of fallen roof slabs SW quarter of Shivta 10a 10b 10c Seismic waves propagated in the direction of the tilting

Figures l0a,b depict tilting of roof slabs in two adjacent rooms (Fig. 10c) at the southwest quarter of Shivta. In this case both walls that supported the roof slabs oscillated during the earthquake, and as a result the roof slabs collapsed and were tilted in the same direction in both rooms. The seismic wave propagation was perpendicular to the trend of the supporting walls. The trend of the supporting walls depicted in Fig. 10 was SE-NW, hence the direction of the seismic wave propagation was perpendicular, i.e. NE-SW.
Holes of missing stones
("shooting of stones")
Northern quarter of Shivta 11a 11b 11c Indicating "shooting" or "bursting" during strong earthquakes

Figures 11a and 11b,c were photographed in adjacent rooms at the northern quarter of Shivta, depicting the phenomenon of "shooting stones". Nearly a hundred cases of such "missing" stones have been observed at Shivta. This resembles two different phenomena
  1. mining bursting — the extrusion of single rocks from walls of mine galleries, as a mode of localized stress release
  2. shooting of single rocks out of rock exposures during the M = 7.3 (I = 9-10) 1992 Suusamyr, Kyrgyzstan, earthquake (Korjenkov and Omuraliev, 1993; Omuraliev et al., 1993).
It is concluded that the holes of missing single stones, seen in Figs. 11 a—c, similarly resulted from localized stress release during a strong earthquake. This conclusion is supported by the numerous other seismic damage patterns observed in conjunction with the phenomenon of shooting stones, e.g., the joint seen above the missing stone in Fig. 11a, or the rotation of the stone No. 19 as well as stones No. 8, 10, 13, and 15, seen in Figs. 11b,c.

In the Suusamyr earthquake mentioned, shooting of single rocks was observed within the isoseismal line of I = 8 and more. By analogy, it is suggested that the earthquake at Shivta, which caused shooting of single stones out of walls, had an intensity of at least I = 8. This is in good agreement with similar intensities concluded from other, above-described, observations, e.g., rotation of stones and other building elements, systematic collapse of walls and agricultural stone fences, high percentage of severely damaged buildings, and distances of thrown away collapse debris of agricultural fences.
Single stones partially pushed out of walls Northern quarter of Shivta 11b 11c Indicating damage by a strong seismic event

Figures 11b,c show not only holes of bursted out stones, but also reveal stones that were partially pushed out of the wall. For example, stones No. 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 19 (Figs. 11b,c) are pulled out southward 2.5-26.0 cm. Such pushed stones provide by them-selves a criterion of seismic damage.
Vertical joints passing through few adjacent stones 12a is in West Central Quarter
12b in Northern Church
13b in South Church
12a 12b 13b Minimum earthquake intensity I= 8x MSK-64 scale

The definition of damage patterns caused by earth-quakes of intensity I = 7 (MSK-64 scale) includes joints crossing a few adjacent high-quality bricks. The reason that such through-going joints are formed only as a result of high-intensity earthquakes is understandable in light of the high energy necessary to overcome the stress shadows of free surfaces at the stone margins (i.e., the free space between adjacent stones) as described by Fisher et al. (1995), Engelder and Fisher (1996), Becker and Gross (1996). Figures 12a,b depict through-going joints, not in bricks, but in hard limestone stones, and hence, the intensity of the damaging earthquake must have been higher than the I = 7, quoted for bricks. This is in agreement with other criteria that indicate that the earthquake that damaged Shivta was at least I = 8.
It is important to note that these cracks occur in stair-cases and doorsteps that by origin carried no load and in a doorpost of the type shown in Fig. 13b, which is shielded by an overlying arch-like structure. The lack of overload rules out static damage in these cases and makes seismic destruction evident.
Cracked doorsteps, staircases, and doorposts 13a in North Church
13b in South Church
13a 13b Cracks in structures in Shivta that carry no load
Upper parts of buildings more damaged than lower parts Southwest quarter 14 The "skyscraper effect"

The arches and roof slabs seen in Fig. 14 mark the ground floor of a building, and the overlying walls are the reminders of the second floor. In this case severe damage is seen in the upper part of the building, as compared to little damage in the lower part. This observation resembles the well-known "skyscraper effect" that results from the higher degree of oscillations of the higher part of the structure. A higher degree of destruction of upper parts of structures at Shivta is the rule, providing an independent reflection of seismically-induced damage.
Special walls supporting constructions that were tilted by a former earthquake location not specified 15 Figure 15 depicts an example of a well built inclined wall that supports a tilted section of a wall of a house at the west—central quarter. Similar support walls are observable at Avdat where these walls reveal a systematic trend, indicating the supported walls were tilted by an earthquake (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a). Similarly, the supporting walls of Shivta seem to reflect a former earthquake, in agreement with the above-listed observations that indicate earthquake damage. In certain cases, such support walls are themselves seismically damaged, indicating a second earthquake event.
Seismic damage of lately restored walls not discussed

Conclusions

  1. The ancient city of Shivta is situated on flat low-land, built of massive carbonate bedrock. Hence, no site-effects are expected to have affected the patterns of seismic damage.
  2. Walls of buildings and agricultural fences trending SE (130°±15°) reveal collapse in a preferential direction towards the SW (Fig. 8 ), whereas walls oriented NE (40°±20°) reveal random collapse.
  3. This key observation indicates that the seismic waves arrived either from the SW (in the case of a compression wave), or from the NE, if the collapse happened in an extensional quadrangle (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a). In any case, the SE and NW directions of seismic wave propagation can be excluded.
  4. Rotations of blocks are observed at the Shivta ruins to be clockwise at walls trending NE (40°-50°), and counterclockwise at walls trending SE (115°-130°), as shown in Fig. 6c . Such rotations could be caused only by push movements by compression waves. Thus, the seismic waves arrived from the SW.
  5. The Shivta ruins disclose two main perpendicular directions of walls: NE (30°-60°) and SE (120°-150°), as can be seen in Fig. lc . Hence, all the buildings of the Byzantine city can be modeled via a "representative room" depicted in Fig. 16 . Three possible scenarios warrant discussion:
    1. seismic waves arrived parallel to the NE-trending walls (Fig. 16a) — the shear stresses along the walls would be minimal, and hence no rotation would be caused, and only collapse of NW walls would be systematic
    2. seismic waves arrived from the west, i.e., along a line of the bisector between the wall directions—both NE and SE trending walls would reveal oriented collapse to the NW and SW sides respectively; walls with a NE trend would reveal clockwise rotation, and walls with a SE trend would reveal a more or less equal number of counterclockwise rotations
    3. seismic waves arrived from the WSW, i.e., at a different angle to each of the wall directions — the SE walls would manifest systematic collapse generally toward the SW, whereas the NE walls would show random collapse; rotations of elements of walls trending NE would be clockwise, whereas rotations of stones of the SE-trending walls would be counter-clockwise
    The field observations fit this solution (c).
  6. A few hundred individual observations, made at almost one hundred locations at the ancient city of Shivta, revealed the 19 types of damage patterns reported above. Part of these observations are useful in determining the axis along which the seismic waves propagated (WSW—ENE), other observations point out that the epicenter was located WSW of the city, and yet another group of observations points to an intensity of I= 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) of the earthquake that destroyed the Byzantine city in the 7th century.
  7. The distance of the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed Byzantine Shivta can be estimated from the following boundary conditions and considerations:
    1. the systematic pattern of destruction indicates dominance of horizontal seismic movements, which in turn rules out the possibility that the hypocenter was beneath the city (i.e., Shivta was not at site A of Fig. 17 )
    2. on the other hand, the dominance of a horizontal component of the seismic movements implies that the epicenter was at a distance that at least equaled the depth of the hypocenter (i.e., Shivta was at site B of Fig. 17)
    3. the intensity I = 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) limits the distance of the epicenter probably to less that 30 km, a conclusion that has to be checked by data from more sites from the Negev, applying the "triangulation method".
  8. An attempt to locate the epicenter of the post-Byzantine earthquake at Shivta is made by applying the reconstructed WSW direction of the epicenter, and the concluded epicenter distance of a few tens of kilometers. These boundary conditions were projected on the geological map of Israel: the concluded direction of the epicenter crosses the Zin fault at a distance of 10 km, and the adjacent Nafha fault crosses with the direction of the concluded epicenter at a distance of 50 km. In any case, the results clearly point out that the epicenter was in the Negev highlands and not in the Dead Sea Rift Valley.
  9. The seismic damage patterns described so far were observed on buildings built in the Byzantine period and in secondary walls added later on, leading to the conclusion that at least two earthquakes damaged the Byzantine and post-Byzantine constructions.
  10. The described variety of seismic damage patterns provides tools to establish certain characteristics of the involved earthquakes, e.g., seismic intensity, axis of seismic waves propagation, and in the case of systematic rotation, also the specific direction of the epicenter. In a more advanced stage of the archeoseismological study, the investigations in individual sites can be put together into a regional picture that provides more definite answers on the nature of the studied earthquakes. For example, the Negev data from several ancient ruin centers may be compiled, e.g., Mamshit, Avdat, Rehovot, Haluza, Hurvat Sa'adon, Shivta, and Nizzana (Fig. 1 ). In other words, the triangulation approach is recommended (Korjenkov and Mazor, 1999a , 1999b).
  11. The common descriptions of damage patterns typifying different earthquake intensities are based on the inventory of modern buildings. The present work brings up additional damage patterns observed in ancient architectural complexes, e.g., damage pattern of stone arches, systematic tilt, collapse and rotation of stone building elements, the distance to which collapse debris is thrown away from the respective foundation, as well as preferential collapse of colonnades observed in many published case studies.
  12. The described archeoseismological study has modern applications in regard to specifications of seismic safety to be taken into account in new constructions in the Negev highlands.
  13. Finally, the described archeoseismological work lends itself to inter-regional and international collaboration in the construction of a seismic archive that goes back thousands of years.

Intensity Estimates

Byzantine Earthquake - ~500 CE

The only seismic effect which can be clearly attributed to one of the earlier earthquakes is the support walls which Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) characterized as having no obvious purpose other than to support a tilted section of an original wall. Since this is the only attributable seismic effect for the earlier earthquake, it results in an underestimate for seismic Intensity. Thus, while this indicates a minimum Intensity of VI (6) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224), I am going to bump up the minimum Intensity to VII (7).

- Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAE) Chart
Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls Support Wall VI +

Post Byzantine Earthquake

Because the observations of Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) are derived from what is presumed to be 2 separate earthquakes (Byzantine and post-Byzantine), it is difficult to identify which seismic effect should be assigned to which earthquake. However, it is likely that much of the observed damage comes from the later post-Byzantine earthquake when repairs would have either been limited or not made at all.

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls VI +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks VI +
Displaced masonry blocks VIII +
Dropped keystones in arches or lintels in windows and doors VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s seismic characterization

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimated a local Intensity of 8-9 (MSK-64 scale) for the 7th century (post-Byzantine) earthquake. They estimated that the epicenter was a few tens of kilometers away based on seismic effects which suggested high levels of intensity (i.e the epicenter had to be close) and rotated arch stones and roof fragments which indicates oblique incidence of the seismic waves. Oblique incidence would indicate that the hypocenter was close to the site. They also estimated that the epicenter was in the WSW direction. Directionality of the epicenter was based on orientation of damage patterns and observations about how wall orientation affected the extent and type of observed seismic damage. These patterns indicate an epicenter in the NE or SW direction. Choosing one of these two directions was apparently largely based on a preferred SW direction of wall collapse (inertia effect). Refining a WSW direction from a generally SW direction was apparently based on 9 rotated wall fragments which agreed with a model they showed in Figure 16c.

Notes and Further Reading

References

Rehovot ba Negev

Names

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

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

Rehovot ba-Negev probably has a site effect as it appears to be built on weak ground. Yoram Tsafrir, who excavated the site, described the bedrock beneath one of the apses in the Northern Church as soft and chalky (Tsafrir et al, 1988:40}. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018:5) mention that one of the revetment walls was built on top of loess. This probably explains some of the extensive damage far from large well known active faults although as pointed out by Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018:5), it is possible that there is unrecognized seismic hazard in the Negev.

Chronology

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

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) identified what they believed to be three earthquakes between ~500 and ~800 CE causing the majority of observed seismic effects. One or more earthquakes in Turkish-British times may have created additional seismic effects.
Summary of all surmised Earthquake Events

Dating constraints Comments Potential Historical Earthquake(s)
~500 CE - ~600 CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) refer to this as the Late Roman earthquake. It could represent more than one earthquake. It is presumed to have struck after construction of the northern Church in ~460 - 470 CE and led to repair of various structures including construction of revetment walls.
7th century CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) refer to this as the Byzantine shock or the earthquake at the end of Byzantine sovereignty. They suggest this earthquake destroyed Rehovot ba Negev and led to its abandonment Sign of the Prophet Quake - 613-622 CE
Sword in the Sky Quake - 634 CE
Jordan Valley Quake - 659/660 CE
7th - 8th century CE This earthquake is presumed to have struck after the presumed abandonment of the Rehovot ba-Negev. Potential archaeoseismic evidence comes from several locations.
  • Roof collapse in the southern quarter - Because the finds did not include any characteristic forms of the 8th century Tsafrir et al (1988:9) dates roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) to the early 8th century CE at the latest. It should be noted that this is an argument from silence.
  • The Crypt of the Northern Church - Tsafrir et al (1988:50) found that the vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed and the staircases into the crypt and the crypt itself were filled with debris. The concentration of drums, capitals and other architectural elements, and the fragments of burial inscriptions that were found in the crypt cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay (III. 80 ). Five capitals were found, for instance, in the lower part of the debris, above the floor (Tsafrir et al, 1988). Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggest that this was due to a seismic event and suggest two main stages of destruction in the Northern Church - first when the church columns collapsed in the 7th century event and then a second time when the vault of the crypt collapsed and the staircases filled with debris.
  • Room of the Northern Church - Further evidence of two phases of destruction was found, according to Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014), in Room L 509 of the Northern Church where roof slabs were found atop a layer of debris that was presumed to have been created by the earlier 7th century CE earthquake however Tsafrir et al (1988:66) attribute debris and roof collapse in L.509 to decay that occurred over a long period of time. It is possible that Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) meant Room L 505 of the Northern Church which was completely filled with earth and stones (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62) and was covered by a layer of roof slabs . Tsafrir et al (1988) did not attribute destruction or debris in Room L 505 to a cause. Found in the debris of Room L 505 was an Umayyad coin minted at Ramla dated between 716 and 750 CE (Tsafrir et al, 1988:61). Sherds and glass from the floor level or close to it are common Byzantine types (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62).
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) suggest that the second phase of destruction occurred in the 9th century CE but this appears to be a typographic error and this destruction can likely be dated to the 8th century possibly the early 8th century CE at the latest as stated by Tsafrir et al, (1988:9) in an argument from silence.
mid 8th century earthquakes
Sabbatical Year Quakes
By No Means Mild Quake
19th - 20th century CE Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) report that Tsafrir et al (1988) date destruction of a rebuilt Byzantine bath house to Turkish (i.e. Ottoman) times although I can't find any reference to dating or destruction of the rebuilt Byzantine bath house in Tsafrir et al (1988). It is only mentioned as having been examined in previous studies of the site. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) report to have have traced the impact of an earthquake at Turkish-British constructions in the Bedouin village of Khalasa built on or adjacent to ruins of ancient Haluza, noting that the deformations cover a large area and suggest that the earthquake which affected the Khalasa village would have also left traces in buildings of the same age at Rehovot-ba-Negev.
Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) note that the well-house built during the British mandate was also significantly destroyed.
1834 Jerusalem quake
1927 Jericho Quake
1995 Gulf of Aqaba Quake

500 - ~600 CE Earthquake

Seismic Effect Figure(s) Comments
tilted and shifted walls,
surrounded by revetment walls
7 8 12 19 20 21
columns supported by walls 22
deformation of arches and roofs 11
rooms filled with earth
in order to prevent the collapse of roofs
11
features of later repair and rebuilding
secondary use of building elements

7th century Earthquake

Seismic Effect Figures Comments
tilted and shifted walls 4 5 6 7 13
stone rotations 16
pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular wall 14
opening between two adjacent perpendicular walls 5 6 15
through-going joints 5 14 17
a crack cutting the water reservoir 18
collapse of the strong layer
that covered the water reservoir
18

7th - 8th century Earthquake

Seismic Effect Figures Comments
roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) III.14 from Tsafrir et al (1988) Tsafrir et al (1988:9) dates roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B) to the early 8th century CE at the latest
Vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed Architectural parts in the crypt - Tsafrir et al (1988)
Accumulation of debris in the crypt - Tsafrir et al (1988)
Tsafrir et al (1988:58) state that this cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay.
Staircases into the Crypt the Northern Church filled with debris Tsafrir et al (1988:58) state that this cannot be seen as the culmination of a natural process of decay.
Roof slabs found atop a layer of debris in a room of the Northern Church Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) specified Room L 509 as the location for this potential archeoseismic evidence but Tsafrir et al (1988:66) attributed debris and roof collapse in L.509 to decay that occurred over a long period of time. It is possible that Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) meant Room L 505 of the Northern Church which was completely filled with earth and stones (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62) and was covered by a layer of roof slabs . Tsafrir et al (1988) did not attribute destruction or debris in Room L 505 to a cause. Found in the debris of Room L 505 was an Umayyad coin minted at Ramla dated between 716 and 750 CE (Tsafrir et al, 1988:61). Sherds and glass from the floor level or close to it are common Byzantine types (Tsafrir et al, 1988:62).

Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times

Seismic Effect Figures Comments
wall tilting and collapse 9 10

Detailed table of all Seismic Effects

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Tilted Walls Northern Church
4
5
6
7
8
At Rehovot-ba-Negev, the southern wall of the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3) tilted southwards (fig. 4). The wall trend is 108°; declination azimuth is 198°; and the angle is up to 75°. Another example can be seen at the same premises (field station 3) where one can observe the same damage pattern in the western wall: the wall trend is 13°, tilted to 81° and collapsed westward — toward azimuth 283°. Only a few fragments are preserved of the western wall, and only one stone high. The wall continues northward. Here it has a tilt and a westward collapse analogous to the SW corner of the western yard in the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). The trend of the azimuth of the wall is 18°; it is tilted at an angle up to 72°; and the declination azimuth is 287°; this is also the direction of the wall collapse (fig. 5). The wall continues northward until it meets the opposite wall of the northern premises (field station 5 in fig. 3). It is tilted WNW at a maximum angle of 21° (fig. 6); the trend of the wall is 31°, and the declination azimuth is 301°.

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

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

14
The pushing of walls by a connected perpendicular wall has been identified as one of the seismic damage patterns at Mamshit - one of the ancient towns of the Negev desert, east of Rehovot-ba-Negev. At Rehovot-ba-Negev we find such an example at the SW corner of the large premises of the North Church (field station 2 in fig. 3), where three stones at the upper part of the wall have been moved, probably due to the push of an adjacent perpendicular wall. The trend of the deformed wall is 110°. The stones were shifted SSW (200°) at a distance of 12 cm. The perpendicular pushing wall has a trend of 24°. Another example can be observed at the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3). There the northern wall (trend 115°) pushed the perpendicular western wall (trend 13°) westward.
A similar picture can be observed at the stables of the Caravansary (fig. 14). Here the "feeding" wall pushed a perpendicular one. Both walls are significantly deformed, tilted (declination angle 22°) and crossed by joints.
Opening between Adjacent Perpendicular Walls Northern Church
15
5
6
The pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular one is quite common. The pushed wall is usually tilted or/and collapsed. Between this tilted wall and the perpendicular one (the pusher) an open space is often formed. This could also be due to the especial vulnerability of corners to large seismic shocks, because wave-parallel and wave-orthogonal walls oscillate at different amplitudes and frequencies. Ordinary old buildings often lack coupling elements between adjacent walls, and long-lasting strong seismic oscillation often causes gaps (or long open cracks) which may lead to the failure of corners.
Such a phenomenon can be seen (fig. 15) at the SE premises of the North Church (field station 3 in fig. 3), where one can observe an opening of 20 cm between the northern wall (trend 115°) and the western one (trend 13°). Another example of such an opening can be observed at the SW corner of the large yard of the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). Here there is a gap between the southern wall (trend 115°) and the perpendicular western wall, tilted westward (fig. 5). The same pattern can be observed in the same wall, continuing northward (field station 5 in fig. 3). Here the western wall of the church tilted westward and there is a gap between it and the perpendicular wall (fig. 6).
Rotations of Wall Fragments Northern Church
16 The rotation of wall fragments around a vertical axis is a common phenomenon during strong earthquakes. Foundation stones are pulled out and rotated, indicating dynamic beating in the process of sharp horizontal oscillations of the whole wall (and not only its upper part). A seismic ground motion is the only mechanism that can cause rotation of building elements. A large number of observed rotations, and the obvious directional systematics, support this conclusion. An example of rotation (fig. 16) can be observed outside the eastern wall of the North Church (field station 9 in fig. 3). Here one stone in the upper preserved row was rotated clockwise. The general trend of the wall is 24°; and the trend of the rotated block is 26°.
Wall Crossing Fissures (Joints) Northern Church
17
5
Many researchers mentioned that deformation of through-the-wall fissures at archaeological sites were caused by ancient earthquakes. Indeed, fissures crossing adjacent stones are the strongest evidence of the seismic origin of these deformations. Such through-going fissures are only formed as a result of high intensity earthquakes, as high energy is necessary to overcome the stress shadow of free surfaces at the stone margins, i. e., the free space between adjacent stones.

At Rehovot-ba-Negev, the wall standing to the right of the southern entrance into the North Church (field station 1 in fig. 3) is crossed by numerous joints (fig. 17). One of them crosses through three stones. The trend of the deformed wall is 20°, and the length of the joint is 83 cm. Another through-going joint can be observed at the western corner of the large yard of the North Church (field station 4 in fig. 3). Here there is a joint cutting three stones in a wall trending of 114° (fig. 5). The length of the through-going fissure is 48 cm.
A Crack Crossing through the Wall at the Water Reservoir Water Reservoir 18 A through-the-wall crack was observed at the Rehovot-ba-Negev water reservoir. The whole wall is cut by this rupture (fig. 18), resembling a "pure" seismic rupture with a horizontal displacement (left-lateral shift) on the first ten centimeters. However, this rupture does not continue in either the adjacent ancient building constructions, or in the relief features. Additional study, and palaeoseismological trenching of the rupture is necessary. The described rupture could be the reason for the disappearance of the water resource in the town, and its subsequent abandonment.
Revetment Walls Northern Church
19
20
21
Sloping support walls have been found in the North and South Churches and in private buildings. The core of the revetment is a combination of small rough stones and earth, with a layer of larger roughly-dressed stones on the outside. The revetment is cemented by grey mortar, consisting of chalk and ashes. The revetment wall is laid on the virgin loess. The wall reaches 1.80 m in height and is 90 cm wide at the base. The whole northern wall of the big courtyard (field station 6 in fig. 3) of the North Church is surrounded by the revetment wall (fig. 19), its half was demolished at present time. The revetment wall continues around the northern room (field station 7 in fig. 3) of the main premises of the North Church (fig. 20). At the NE corner of the North Church, one can observe the continuation of an encircling revetment wall (field station 8 in fig. 3). At this corner the wall is destroyed (fig. 21), with the stones collapsing northwards on an original wall. The encircling revetment wall is of good quality. The destruction event (an earthquake), which deformed the original wall, occurred before the decline of the Byzantine Empire. There was then another seismic event which led to the destruction of the revetment wall itself. The last event was probably an end of "civilized" life here.
The outside part of the eastern wall is also surrounded by the revetment wall (field station 9 in fig. 3), which is now almost entirely destroyed. The same pattern can be observed at the central southern jamb of the North Church (field station 10). All the three walls composing the jamb are surrounded by revetment walls that are also partly destroyed. The revetment walls at Rehovot-ba-Negev were built during the Byzantine period. Such walls are very common at the Negev cities, e. g. ancient Avdat, Mamshit and Shivta
Columns Supported by Walls Northern Church
22 Columns at ancient and modern buildings cause the redistribution of the static load of the whole building construction, and serve as art decoration of the internal and external parts of the building. When a researcher finds a column supported by a later wall, he can be sure that the column was severely deformed, making the supporting wall necessary. Such an example can be found in the North Church (fig. 22).
Features of Later Repair and Rebuilding Northern Church
Tsafrir et al. wrote that when the revetment wall was built around the church it closed the entrance to one room. A new threshold was installed which was about 60 cm above the former floor level. No remains of steps inside the room were found. This means that after the first earthquake the floor was covered by debris, which was not cleaned, but leveled, requiring a new threshold.
Another example of the later adjustment of a damaged building was noted at the Staircase Tower. At its NE corner there was a large (75 cm x 80 cm) window, which was later adopted as a secondary entrance from the atrium: long blocks used as steps were found from both sides of the window. Apparently the "normal" entrance was damaged during the first earthquake and went out of use, so the people started to use the better preserved window as an entrance. Sherds, fragments of glass, and metal weights, found in the Staircase Tower, are additional evidence of earthquake damage.
Secondary Use of Stones from Destroyed Walls Room L 522
Northern Church's chapel
Secondary use of stones from damaged and destroyed walls is a common feature at the cities that experienced strong earthquakes. For example, a large fragment of a water basin was found in an Early Arab secondary wall at the east end of the porch (Room L 522). Another secondary wall was discovered at the eastern porch of the atrium behind the stylobate and preserved it at a height of two-three rows, which blocked the atrium from the west.
Some screen fragments of imported marble of the common Early Byzantine type were also used to replace broken pavement slabs in rooms L 512 and 521 of the Northern Church’s chapel, probably by Arab squatters who dwelled in the chapel after the church was abandoned. The blocking of the door of the narthex and Arabic inscriptions written on plaster support this conclusion.

Intensity Estimates

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

~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls tilted and shifted walls, surrounded by revetment walls VI+
Displaced Walls tilted and shifted walls, surrounded by revetment walls VII+
Rotated and displaced masonry blocks in walls and drums and columns columns supported by walls - When a researcher finds a column supported by a later wall, he can be sure that the column was severely deformed, making the supporting wall necessary. Such an example can be found in the North Church (fig. 22 ) (Korzhenkov and Mazor, 2014). VIII+
Arch deformation deformation of arches and roofs VI+
Not on the chart rooms filled with earth in order to prevent the collapse of roofs
Folded steps and kerbs features of later repair and rebuilding - Tsafrir et al. wrote that when the revetment wall was built around the church it closed the entrance to one room. A new threshold was installed which was about 60 cm above the former floor level. No remains of steps inside the room were found. This means that after the first earthquake the floor was covered by debris, which was not cleaned, but leveled, requiring a new threshold (Korzhenkov and Mazor, 2014). VI+
Displaced Walls secondary use of building elements - Secondary use of stones from damaged and destroyed walls is a common feature at the cities that experienced strong earthquakes. (Korzhenkov and Mazor, 2014) VII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

7th century Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted Walls tilted and shifted walls VI+
Displaced Walls tilted and shifted walls VII+
Displaced Masonry Blocks stone rotations VIII+
Tilted Walls pushing of a wall by an adjacent perpendicular wall VI+
Tilted Walls opening between two adjacent perpendicular walls VI+
Penetrative fractures in masonry blocks through-going joints VI+
Displaced Walls a crack cutting the water reservoir VII+
Collapsed vaults collapse of the strong layer that covered the water reservoir VIII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

7th - 8th century Earthquake

Effect Description Intensity
Not on chart roof collapse in a room in the southern quarter (Area B)
Collapsed vaults Vault of the crypt in the Northern Church collapsed VIII+
Collapsed walls Staircases in the Northern Church filled with debris VIII+
Not on chart Roof slabs were found atop a layer of debris in Room L 509 of the Northern Church
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times

Effect Description Intensity
Tilted walls wall tilting and collapse VI+
Collapsed walls wall tilting and collapse VIII+
Minimum Intensity all effects VIII+

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) Seismic characterization for all earthquakes

Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimated the same Intensity (VIII–IX) for 4 seismic events (~500 - ~600 CE Earthquake, 7th century Earthquake, 7th - 8th century Earthquake, and Earthquake(s) in Turkish-British times) and the same direction of the epicenter (ESE).

There are few measurements of tilted and fallen walls, small remnants of which are still projected above the surface (fig. 9 9 ). Generally these walls tilted or collapsed toward ESE (fig. 23 ).

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

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

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

7th century and 7th-8th century Earthquakes - Using Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) to estimate Intensity

Rodkin, M. V. and A. M. Korzhenkov (2018) presented two methods to calculate Peak Ground Velocity (PGV). These values were then converted to Intensity via Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999). Using the Calculators below leads to Intensity estimates between 7.5 and 10 which can be further constrained to 8-10 as the lower value does not adequately reflect the extent of damage. Rodkin, M. V. and A. M. Korzhenkov (2018) estimated Intensities between 8.5 and 9.5. Although the calculations were not performed for any specific earthquake, these Intensities likely represent either the 7th century CE earthquake and/or the 7th - 8th century earthquake as the methods require, for the most part, un-repaired seismic effects.

Site Effect

A site effect has not been considered in generating Intensity estimates however Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014:84) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018:5) both mention revetment walls built atop loess. Tsafrir et al (1988:40) describes bedrock under the apse in the Northern Church as soft and chalky. All of these suggest a site effect as at least some of the town was built on weak soil. This somewhat mitigates the conclusions Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) and Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) that the high levels of Intensities suggested by seismic effects at Rehovot ba-Negev indicate that a a fault rupture in the Arava could not have been responsible for so much damage so far away. They say 100 km. away but I measure 75 km. at it's closest point. In considering the fairly extensive seismic damage that occurred in the Negev in the past, site effects should be considered in addition to the possibility that localized faults such a blind thrust may have been responsible for past earthquakes. Avdat/Oboda, for example, appears to be subject to a ridge effect.

Calculators

Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) presented two ways to estimate Peak Ground Velocity (PGV) - the Tilt Method and the PGV estimation method (PGVEM). Conversion from PGV to Intensity is made using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999) (only valid for I between V and IX).
Tilt Method Calculator

Variable Input Units Notes
degrees Critical Tilt Angle (11°-20°)
m Wall Thickness (1 for a Church, 0.5 for a House)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
m/s Peak Ground Velocity
unitless Intensity


Source: Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018)

PGV Estimation Method Calculator

Variable Input Units Notes
unitless Coefficient of friction (0.8 - 1.0)
cm. Displacement of masonry (10 - 15 cm.)
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
m/s Peak Ground Velocity
unitless Intensity


Source: Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018)

Calculator Explanation

Two methods are used to estimate Peak Ground Velocity (PGV) - the Tilt Method (my name) and the PGV estimation method (PGVEM - their name). PGV values were converted to Intensity using Equation 2 of Wald et al (1999)

Tilt Method
This method requires as input the Critical Tilt angle (α) of a wall in order for it to collapse. If the tilt is large enough, the projection of the wall's center of gravity will be located outside its base and the wall will fall over. In order to estimate α, we need to come up with some wall dimensions - specifically Height and Thickness. For Rehovot ba-Negev, Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) estimated the following input values for Height and Thickness:
Structure Height (m) Thickness (m) Tilt Angle - α
Church
House


Both cases lead to α between 11° and 12°. However, this tilt angle is for a rigid wall. If the wall is composed of blocks which are mortared together, as the seismic forces cause the wall to tilt, the top of the wall may start to bend and fail. If the top of the wall is destructed, the lower part of the wall will have a different effective geometry and require a larger tilt to fall over - perhaps between 15° and 20°. In fact, Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) note that this has been observed in Rehovot ba-Negev where tilt angles in the lower parts of wall can reach 15° and 20°. An example of such a phenomenon can be seen in Figure 4 of Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014). Thus, α can be constrained to between 11° and 20°. The other input variable is wall height H which is specified above as 5 meters for a church and 2.5 meters for a house. This leads to PGV values between 0.4 and 0.8 m/s for a church and 0.3 - 0.6 m/s for a house.
PGV Estimation Method
The PGV Estimation Method also requires two inputs - the coefficient of friction (k) of the sliding masonry block and the observed displacement of the block. Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018) estimated that k varied from 0.8 - 1.0 and displacement went as high as 10 - 15 cm. (the larger values are more important in their method). An example of the larger observed shift of ~15 cm. can be seen in Figure of 13 of Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014). Another example can be seen in Figure 16 . Although the PGV Estimation Method is their preferred method, there were apparently a limited number of displacement measurements in Rehovot ba-Negev. Thus, they included the Tilt method to help constrain reasonable PGV values. Inputting their suggested range of k values and displacement values leads to PGV values between 1.3 and 1.7 m/s - higher than what one obtains with the Tilt Method.

Source: Rodkin and Korzhenkov (2018)

Notes and Further Reading

References

Saadon

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Saadon
Horvat Sa'adon Hebrew
Khirbet as-Sa'adi Arabic كهيربيت اسءسا'ادي
Sudanon Greek σuδανον
Sa'adu Nabaten
Introduction

Horvat Sa'adon, a Byzantine era village in the Negev, was located on a secondary route connecting Rehovot-in-the-Negev with Shivta (Erickson-Gini, 2018). It may have been visited by the Anonymous pilgrim of Piacenza. Looting of the site in modern times may have obscured some archaeoseismic evidence.

Chronology

Erickson-Gini (2018) identified 3 phases for the Southwestern Church of Sa'adon with apparentl earthquake destruction in the mid 7th century CE between Phases 1 and 2.
Phase Start Date c. CE End Date c. CE Comments
1 5th- early 6th mid 7th The church appears to have been constructed in the Middle Byzantine period possibly as a monastery church.
2 mid 7th 8th The church was heavily damaged and subsequently repaired in the mid-7th century CE and continued to be used for several years in the Umayyad period (mid-7th— 8th centuries CE)
3 early 8th early 8th The church was abandoned sometime in the Early Islamic period, probably in the early 8th century CE.
Some time during the Umayyad period, this church, and possibly the entire town, was abandoned as attested by the Arabic graffiti and inscriptions on the walls of the abandoned church.(Erickson-Gini, 2018)

Seismic Effects

Erickson-Gini (2018) mentions the following seismic effects or seismic related repairs.
Location Observation
Southwestern Church A partially destroyed northern prayer niche
N Wall of Southwestern Church Structural damage and repairs were revealed along the north wall of the church. The damage and subsequent repairs can be attributed to earthquake damage possibly in the mid-7th century CE.
NW corner of Southwestern Church The upper section of a revetment (support) wall testifying to repairs an the exterior surface exists along the northwest corner of the church.
S Wall Southwestern Church In the second phase of occupation, the space between the square column and the southern wall was blocked and the blockage appears to have extended north of the column as well. ... The blockage of the space between the square column and the southern wall points to a contraction in the space of the church following the earthquake that required repairs in the northern wall.
S Wall in Western extension of the Southwestern Church Excavation in the western extension of the church revealed damage to the southern wall that was apparently left partially unrepaired. However the pavement in the nave survived in situ.
NE bank of Nahal Sa'adon The `wine-press' hewn along the bedrock shelf on the northeast bank of Nahal Sa'adon was apparently broken by the same seismic event.
Damage observations reveal that walls aligned in a WNW direction . were damaged.

Intensity Estimates

Effect Description Intensity
Displaced Walls In the second phase of occupation, the space between the square column and the southern wall was blocked and the blockage appears to have extended north of the column as well. ... The blockage of the space between the square column and the southern wall points to a contraction in the space of the church following the earthquake VII+
Displaced Walls A partially destroyed northern prayer niche VII+
Tilted Walls The upper section of a revetment (support) wall testifying to repairs an the exterior surface exists along the northwest corner of the church.
Revetment Walls can be used to shore up tilted walls.
VI+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Notes and Further Reading

Erickson-Gini, T. (2018). Horvat Sa'adon - Excavations in the Roman Tomb and Byzantine Church. London, The Society.

Nessana

Aerial view of Nissana Aerial view of Nessana

Etan J. Tal - Wikipedia


Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Nessana
Nitzana Hebrew ניצנה‎‎
Nizzana Hebrew ניצנה‎‎
Auja el-Hafir Arabic عوجة الحفير‎‎
el-Audja Arabic variant يلأودجا
'Uja al-Hafeer Arabic variant 'وجا الءهافيير
el Hafir Arabic variant يل هافير
Introduction

Nessana was located along the Incense Road and was settled from the Hellenistic to Early Arab periods (Avraham Negev in Stern et al, 1993). There is a Neolithic site in the vicinity. The Nessana papyri was discovered at Nessana. .

Chronology

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that Nessana suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.

Mampsis

SE Mampsis Photo 2

Southeastern part of town [Mampsis] showing city-wall

Negev (1988)


Names

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

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

Chronology

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

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

Negev (1974) dated the first earthquake to late 3rd/early 4th century via coins and church architectural styles however he dates construction of the East Church, where some archaeoseismic evidence for the first earthquake was found, to the 2nd half of the 4th century CE. Given this apparent contradiction, I am labeling the date of the first earthquake at Mamphis as "Early Byzantine ?".

Second Earthquake - 5th - 7th centuries CE ?

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

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

Early 2nd century CE earthquake

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

Seismic Effects

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

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

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

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

Statistical observations: 14 cases of shifting were observed.

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

Near Frescoes House

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

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

E of West Church

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

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

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

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

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

Statistical observations: 12 through-going joints were observed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House of Frescoes

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

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

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

Seismic Effects - Additional Imprints of Severe Earthquakes

Damage Type Location Figure Comments
Blocking of Entrances West City Wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archaeoseismic Analysis

Archaeoseismic Analysis - First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intensity Estimates

First Earthquake - Early Byzantine ?

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

Korjenkov and Mazor (2003)'s Seismic Characterization

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

Discontinuous Deformation Analysis by Kamai and Hatzor (2005)

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

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

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

Model Values and Lab derived properties

Model Values

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

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

Second Earthquake - 5th -7th centuries CE ?

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

Korjenkov and Mazor (2003)'s Seismic Characterization

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haluza

Names

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

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

Chronology

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) identified damage patterns from at least two heavy earthquakes.
1st Earthquake - late 3rd - mid 6th century CE - perhaps around 500 CE

Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) surmised that the first earthquake struck in the Byzantine period between the end of the 3rd and the mid-6th centuries A.D.. Citing Avraham Negev, they discussed this evidence further

Negev (1989) pointed out that one earthquake, or more, shattered the towns of central Negev between the end of the 3rd and mid-6th centuries A.D.. Literary evidence is scarce, but there is ample archeological evidence of these disasters. According to Negev a decisive factor is that the churches throughout the whole Negev were extensively restored later on. Negev found at the Haluza Cathedral indications of two constructional phases. One room of the Cathedral was even not cleaned after an event during which it was filled with fallen stones and debris from the collapsed upper portion of a wall. In the other room the original limestone slabs of the floor had been removed but the clear impression of slabs and ridges in the hard packed earth beneath suggests that they remained in place until the building went out of use (Negev, 1989:135).

The dating of the discussed ancient strong earthquake may be 363 A.D., as has been concluded for other ancient cities around Haluza, e.g. Avdat37, Shivta38, and Mamshit39. However, Negev (1989:129-142) noticed inscriptions on walls and artifacts.
The inscriptions Negev noticed were discovered at Shivta which Negev (1989) discussed as follows:
A severe earthquake afflicted Sobata [aka Shivta].
...
The epigraphic evidence of Sobata may help in attaining a close as possible date both for the earthquake and for the subsequent reconstruction of the North Church. One of these inscriptions, that of 506 A.D., is clearly a dedicatory inscription of a very important building, which justified the participation of a Vicarius, a man of the highest rank, in the dedication of this building. This inscription was not found in situ. However, there is no question about the inscription of A.D. 512, in which year the mosaic floor of one of the added chapels was dedicated by a bishop and the local clergy. It is thus safe to assume that the whole remodeling of the North Church began in the first decade of the sixth century.
Although Negev (1989) and Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) suggested the Fire in the Sky Earthquake of 502 CE as the most likely candidate, its epicenter was too far away to caused widespread damage throughout the region. This suggests that the causitive earthquake is unreported in the historical sources - an earthquake which likely struck at the end of the 5th or beginning of the 6th century CE. This hypothesized earthquake is listed in this catalog as the Negev Quake.

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

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

The Early Arab – Second Ancient Earthquake

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

Seismic Effects

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

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

Intensity Estimates

1st earthquake

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

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

2nd earthquake

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

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

Korjenkov and Mazor (1999)'s seismic characterization

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

Aqaba/Eilat

Names

Transliterated Name Source Name
Aqaba Arabic العقبة
al-ʿAqaba Arabic variant
al-ʿAgaba Arabic variant
ʿaqabat Aylah 12th century Arabic عقبة آيلة
Ayla Arabic آيلا
Aela Latin
Aila Latin
Ailana Latin
Haila Latin
Aila Byzantine Greek Άιλα
Berenice Ancient Greek Βερενίκη
Elath Ancient Semitic
Ailath Ancient Semitic
Ezion-Geber Hebrew עֶצְיֹן גֶּבֶר
Transliterated Name Source Name
Eilat Hebrew אֵילַת
Ilat Arabic إِيلَات
Umm al-Rashrāsh Arabic أم الرشراش
Introduction

Aqaba, located at the northern terminus of the Gulf of Aqaba has a long history of habitation punctuated by episodes of abandonment and decline. It's strategic location as the nearest port town to the copper mines of the Araba Valley made it a regional hub for copper production (smelting) and trade as evidenced at the Chalcolithic sites of Tall Hujayrat Al-Ghuzlan and Tall Al-Magass Klimscha (2011). The Hebrew Bible (e.g. 1 Kings 9:26-28 and 2 Chronicles 8:17-18) mentions nearby Elath and Ezion Geber as ports of departure for Solomon's merchant fleet to Ophir ( S. Thomas Parker and Donald S. Whitcomb in Meyers et al, 1997). According to the same Hebrew Bible, Eilat was later conquered by the Edomites in the late eighth century BCE (2 Kings 16:6). Nelson Glueck excavated the site of Tell el-Kheleifeh thinking it was Solomon's port city but subsequent work on the site suggests that this is not the case. Before the Roman annexation in 106 CE, Aqaba was a Nabatean port. In Roman and Byzantine times, the port was known as Aila. The town surrendered to the Muslims during the Muslim conquest of the Levant, and eventually a new Muslim town (Ayla) was built just outside the city walls of Byzantine Aila (aka Ailana) (Whitcomb, 1994).

The modern Israeli city of Eilat, named for ancient Elath, lies across the border from the Jordanian city of Aqaba.

Aila

Introduction

Aila (aka Ailana) was the name of the Roman Byzantine town in Aqaba .

Chronology

Thomas et al (2007) excavated and examined area J-east between 1994 and 2003. The J-East area is a multiphase site incorporating Early Islamic to Byzantine domestic occupation and a late third to fourth-century monumental mudbrick structure that has been interpreted as a church (Parker 1998a; 1999a; Mussell 2001; Rose 1998; Weintraub 1999) ( Thomas et al, 2007). This site, in the Roman-Byzantine town of Aila, is located ~500 m north of the modern shoreline of Aqaba and ~500 m NW of the Islamic town of Ayla . Thomas et al (2007) identified 6 or 7 earthquakes from the 2nd century CE onward in J-east and divided up the timing as follows:



Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They described Earthquake II as follows:
The youngest earthquake (Earthquake I) recorded at this site ruptured faults very close to the modern ground surface.

...

The fault rupture of Earthquake I was capped by sand and disturbed modern car park construction deposits, thus preventing finer dating than post—mid to late eighth century.

Earthquake II - Abbasid - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They described Earthquake II as follows:
These deposits were ruptured and the buildings collapsed.

...

The pottery within layers capping Earthquake II is earlier than that found in the occupation deposit beneath it. These data suggest that Earthquake II occurred after the mid to late eighth century A.D..

Earthquake III - Umayyad/Abassid - mid 7th - late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

and described chronology as follows:
The fault rupture was capped by a later occupation dating to the mid to late eighth century. This dates Earthquake III between the mid seventh to mid, or possibly late, eighth century.
Since Earthquake IV was dated to the 7th and possibly 8th century and was likely due to one of the 7th century earthquakes (e.g. Sign of the Prophet Quake (613-624 CE), Sword in the Sky Quake (634 CE), or Jordan Valley Quake (659/660 CE) ), this suggests that Earthquake III was caused by one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes.

Earthquake IV - Umayyad - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake IV) in a collapse layer which they suggested struck in the early to middle 7th century CE.
The pottery constrains the date of Earthquake IV to sometime between the seventh century and the mid seventh to eighth century. In this case, an early to middle seventh-century date would best fit the dating evidence.

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake V) in a collapse layer which they dated to the southern Cyril Quake. A terminus post quem of 360 CE for Earthquake V was established with coins and pottery.
Thin wall construction and surface layers produced pottery from the mid to late fourth century A.D. (similar types to Phase 2 described earlier). The latest pottery dates from about A.D. 360 onward (based on several examples of African Red Slip form 67, introduced ca. A.D. 360; Hayes 1972). However, over 100 coins were found on the final floor of this phase. The majority of these coins were found associated with the remains of a broken box in Room 2. The latest coins date to the reign of Constantius II who reigned from A.D. 337 to 361 (Parker 1999a) and provide a terminus post quem for this building phase.
They added
The very refined pottery and coin dates give a secure post A.D. 360 date for the Earthquake V event. The scarcity of post A.D. 360 pottery and the location of the coin hoard at the interface between occupation surface and collapse horizon indicate that this event cannot have occurred long after A.D. 360. We have interpreted this earthquake to be the historically attested earthquake of May 19, A.D. 363 (Russell 1980; Guidoboni 1994: 264-67).

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. They identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake VI) in a collapse layer which they dated to the 4th century but before the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE. In describing the Phase 2 layer below the collapse layer they provided a terminus post quem of ca. 320 CE
During the early fourth century, the monumental building was expanded and concluded with the final addition of Rooms 11 and 12 constructed after ca. A.D. 320. The upper sequences of floors contained Early Byzantine pottery of the mid to late fourth century.
The terminus ante quem is 363 CE when the southern Cyril Quake is presumed to have created the damage observed in Earthquake V.
This seismic event must have occurred at some point in the mid to late fourth century A.D. but before the final extensive collapse of the complex in Earthquake V [363 CE].

Earthquake VII - Nabatean/Early Roman - Early 2nd century CE

Thomas et al (2007) produced a schematic of a composite columnar stratigraphic section for the deposits of the J-east site in Figure 3

. Earthquake VII was dated to the second century CE from Nabatean pottery found in the collapse layer and the layer below. There is a question whether the collapse layer was caused by human agency or earthquake destruction. The Romans annexed Nabatea in 106 CE and the authors noted that there is debate about the degree of Nabataean resistance to the annexation that might have resulted in destruction by human agency in this period (Bowersock 1983: 78-82; Parker 1986: 123-24; Fiema 1987; Freeman 1996). Nonetheless, Thomas et al (2007) noted that a complete section of collapsed wall might suggest earthquake destruction.

Seismic Effects

Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

The youngest earthquake (Earthquake I) recorded at this site ruptured faults very close to the modern ground surface.

...

Earthquake I ruptured Faults F and H. We measured a total displacement of 35 cm southwest dip-slip in figure 5C, with little or no apparent strike-slip. These faults trend more toward the west (N12°W and N34°W) than the fault rupture in previous earthquakes (ca. 10° more than II to III, and ca. 20° more than the Byzantine Earthquakes V to VI).
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

Earthquake II - Abbasid - after mid to late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

These deposits were ruptured and the buildings collapsed. Slip on Fault A produced a left-lateral strike-slip of 5 cm on Wall J.1:26, and Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm (measured in fig. 5C). Wall collapse was minor despite the obvious energy of the earthquake.
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

Earthquake III - Umayyad/Abassid - mid 7th - late 8th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

This major event shows rupture along four fault strands (B, C, F, and G), all within the same fault corridor. Faults G and F were clearly visible cutting post monumental building tumble in the [Roman Aqaba Project] RAP 2002 excavations of J.29 in Room 13.
Fault B caused left-lateral slip on Wall J.1:26 of only 4 cm . However, the dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm, suggesting a major event.
Earthquake III can also be seen in Section C of the south baulk of J-1 in Figure 5 (Faults B, C, F and G).

Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5C

Earthquake IV - Umayyad - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Thomas et al (2007) described archeoseismic evidence in Area J-east as follows:

Measured in Section C (fig. 5), Earthquake IV caused 12 cm of dip-slip across Fault D and up to 30 cm of lateral motion on Wall J.1.53. However, since Fault D also slipped in Earthquakes V and VI and appears to have caused more severe structural damage, strike-slip is probably minimal in this event.

...

Earthquake IV probably caused the collapse of the long-abandoned domestic structures.
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 5 Section C

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Thomas et al (2007) described seismic effects from Earthquake V in J-East as follows:

The monumental building appears to have been violently shaken in Earthquake V. This is a more severe reactivation of Faults C and D but occurs along a slightly different rupture plane (through the Room 20 north wall - see Fig. 4) than during EQ VI. The amount of fault slip in this earthquake must exceed 23 cm of dip-slip (measured in sections A and B, fig. 5). Where Fault D shifted Wall J.1:53, a maximum of 30 cm of left-lateral strike-slip was measured. This slip is shared by reactivation in Earthquake IV and the previous Earthquake VI (discussed above). The collapse layer for Earthquake V exceeds 90 cm in places. The tumble is more evenly distributed throughout the site than was the case for the earlier Earthquake VI, with a bias to the north side of collapsing walls. This thick collapse horizon across the site suggests Earthquake V was stronger in intensity compared with Earthquake VI. The majority of the lateral slip across Fault D is likely to have occurred predominantly in Earthquake V (but also moves in Earthquakes VI and IV).
Plan of Area J-east
Figure 4
Figure 5 - Sections A and B

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described seismic effects from Earthquake VI in J-East as follows:

The monumental mudbrick structure experienced fault rupture and collapse of some walls, producing a tumble horizon. The southern wall of Room 13 was ruptured by Fault D and the northern wall of Room 21 by Fault C. This tectonic shift caused substantial localized damage. Earthquake VI produced a total of 10 cm of left-lateral strike-slip measured across Fault C on Wall J.1:26, north of Room 21. This damage from the fault was repaired after Earthquake VI. The strike-slip of Fault D in EQ VI could not be measured because Fault D reactivated in subsequent Earthquakes V and IV. The total strike-slip measured along Wall J.1:53 is 30 cm. Since there was no repair to the wall, this suggests that the majority of the slip was caused by EQ VI. Similarly, the dip-slip could not be directly measured, but later releveling of the southwest corner of the monumental building indicates subsidence did occur. Elsewhere on the site, damage appears not to have been quite as severe, but seismically induced wall failures were repaired in the subsequent occupation phase.
Plan of Area J-east

Earthquake VII - Nabatean/Early Roman - Early 2nd century CE

Thomas et al (2007) described seismic effects of Earthquake VII as follows:

These occupation deposits [Phase 0] were subsequently covered by a very thick layer of mudbrick collapse which contained whole or partial bricks visible in the section. The collapse dents the surfaces beneath, indicating a violent fall of the structures. Excavated in the RAP 2002 season, these layers were found to be in excess of 1 m in thickness.
...
No rupture for this possible earthquake (EQ VII) was documented in the present study because of the limited areas excavated to this depth (about 2 mast). Furthermore, subsequent building and reuse of the surviving walls have appreciably masked the original geometry.
Plan of Area J-east

At another site in Aila ( Area B ), Dolinka (2003:32) found that some structures exhibited inwardly collapsed walls and/or tumbled-over mudbricks (Fig. 14 ) which was attributed to earthquake destruction. 89

Intensity Estimates

Earthquake I - after mid to late 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps 35 cm southwest dip-slip VII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence 35 cm southwest dip-slip VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224) however as so many structures at the now long abandoned site had already collapsed, there is limited archaeoseismic evidence and this is likely an under estimate. A minimum Intensity of VIII (8) is more likely. On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) and dip slip movement averaging 35 cm. also suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.5 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake II - Abbasid - after mid to late 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm. VII +
Displaced Walls Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm. VII +
Minor Wall Collapse VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence Faults A and E caused an accumulated southwest dip-slip of 42 cm. VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) while dip slip movement averaging 42 cm. suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.5 (see Calculator below). Strike-Slip movement of 5 cm. suggests a lower Moment Magnitude MW of 5.9 however given the obvious energy of the earthquake described by Thomas et al (2007), the 42 cm. of dip slip and the general rule of Mcalpin (2009:312), Moment Magnitude MW is likely at least 6.5. The limited strike-slip and significant dip slip may just suggests a different stress regime.

Earthquake III - Umayyad/Abassid - mid 7th - late 8th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm. VII +
Displaced Walls dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm.
Figure 4 Walls J.1.26 Fault C and J.1.48 Fault F
VII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence dip-slip for all four faults measured in Section 3 was 54 cm. VI +
Conjugate Fractures in walls
made of either stucco or bricks
Figure 4 Wall J.1.26 Fault C
V +
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) . However, since Thomas et al (2007) describe this as a major event and dip slip is 54 cm., I am going to upgrade minimum Intensity to VIII (8). On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) while dip slip movement averaging 54 cm. suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.6 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake IV - Umayyad - 7th - 8th centuries CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip VII +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) however since the site was abandoned at the time, the walls may have been weakened. Since Thomas et al (2007) estimated that earthquakes V (S. Cyril Quake) and VI (Aila Quake) were more energetic at the site and an Intensity of VIII (8) was estimated for these earthquakes, it seems prudent to downgrade the intensity estimate one count to VII (7). On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312). 12 cm. of dip-slip movement suggests a Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.0 and 6.2. 10 cm. of strike-slip movement also suggests a Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.0 and 6.2. while the upper limit of 30 cm. of strike-slip movement suggests a maximum Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.4 and 6.6 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake V - Early Byzantine - 363 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip VII +
Tilted Walls VI +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312) while dip slip movement greater than 23 cm. suggests a minimum Moment Magnitude MW of 6.4 and maximum strike-slip movement of 30 cm. suggests a Moment Magnitude MW of 6.4 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake VI - 1st half of 4th century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Fault Scarps dip-slip VII +
Displaced Walls VII +
Collapsed Walls VIII +
Seismic Uplift/Subsidence VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) . On-site fault rupture suggests a minimum moment magnitude MW of 6.5 (Mcalpin, 2009:312). 10-30 cm. of strike-slip movement suggests a Moment Magnitude Mw between 6.0 and 6.6 (see Calculator below).

Earthquake VII - Nabatean/Early Roman - Early 2nd century CE

Effect Description Intensity
Impact Block Marks Area J-east V +
Collapsed Walls Complete section of collapsed wall in Area J-east
Inwardly collapsed walls and/or tumbled-over mudbricks in Area B
VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Calculators

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
  

Strike-Slip Fault Displacement

Source - Wells and Coppersmith (1994)

Variable Input Units Notes
cm. Strike-Slip displacement
cm. Strike-Slip displacement
Variable Output - not considering a Site Effect Units Notes
unitless Moment Magnitude for Avg. Displacement
unitless Moment Magnitude for Max. Displacement
  

Site Effect Explanation

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 Explanation

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

References

Castellum of Qasr Bshir

Names

Transliterated Name Language Name
Qasr Bshir Arabic قاسر بسهير
Introduction

The Castellum of Qasr Bshir is located ~15 km. NE of el-Lejjun and ~15 km. NW of the modern town of el-Qatrana. A Latin inscription on a lintel stone within a tabula ansata over the main gateway provides a date for construction of the fort between 293 and 305 CE ( Clark, 1987). This date is also supported by the earliest coin from the site (Coin #15 from H.5:008) which was dated to 310-325 CE ( Clark, 1987). A small but significant number of Iron Age and Nabataean sherds indicates earlier activity ( Clark, 1987). This material was not found in in situ occupational deposits, although such [deposits] may exist ( Clark, 1987). The site was abandoned by the Romans by 500 CE. After abandonment, limited occupation occurred which may have been no more than a squatter occupation. The site was re-occupied in the Umayyad period. After abandonment at the end of the Umayyad period, transitory occupation followed up to the present day { Clark, 1987}.

Chronology

Soundings were not undertaken where large quantities of fallen masonry made excavation unfeasible ( Clark, 1987). Although this may have limited the amount of archeoseismic evidence uncovered, there are indications that several earthquakes damaged the structure.
Stratum Period Approximate Dates Comments
I Late Ottoman-Modern ca. 1900- Traces of occupation during this late stratum were found only in H.2 and H.4.
Post Stratum II Gap ca. 750-1900 Postdating the Stratum II Umayyad occupation there appears to have been a lengthy gap in occupation until the Late Ottoman period. During this period the site may have been used by bedouin, squatters, and travelers. There is no definite trace of such occupation to be found in the archaeological record.
II Umayyad ca. 636-750 Clear evidence of Umayyad occupation was found in H.1, H.3, and H.6.
Post Stratum III Gap ca. 500-636 In H.1 a 0.25 m deposit of rock tumble and windblown loess (H.1:010 and 011) overlay the Early Byzantine I-II occupational deposits. This appears to represent a period of abandonment and of building collapse.
III Early Byzantine III-IV ca. 400-500 In H.6 evidence was found of occupation in this stratum.
little evidence as to the nature of the occupation at Qasr Bshir during this stratum.
IV Early Byzantine I-II ca. 324-400 This was the period which has produced the most evidence of activity at Qasr Bshir.
V Late Roman IV ca. 300-324 The major period of building at Qasr Bshir was during the Late Roman IV period. The gateway inscription, as noted, records the construction between 293 and 305. The archaeological evidence supports the date provided by the inscription.
Speculative evidence regarding a 363 CE earthquake

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from Clark (1987)
Clark (1987) identified some wall charring which could be earthquake related.
Stones of the adjacent barrack walls (H.2:001 and 002) were charred at this level. This may represent a localized fire or possibly extensive conflagration, perhaps the result of the 363 earthquake (note also the ash in H.1:012, 014, and 015). Ceramics from this ash were predominantly Late Roman IV to Early Byzantine, but a query is raised by a single sherd which may be Umayyad
Elsewhere in the vicus building, H.5., coins were found in the soil immediately overlying floor H.5:009 with the latest coin dating to 337-340 (Coin #52-H.5:014). There were no indications that occupation of this room extended beyond the mid-fourth century. Although no clear archaeoseismic evidence was reported in the vicus building, Clark (1987:488) speculated that abandonment of this room may have been related to the southern Cyril Quake of 363 CE.

Possible Earthquake between ca. 500 and 636 CE

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from Clark (1987)
Clark (1987) identified a tumble layer in the Post Stratum III gap which could have been caused by an earthquake or gradual decay
In H.1 a 0.25 m deposit of rock tumble and windblown loess (H.1:010 and 011) overlay the Early Byzantine I-II occupational deposits. This appears to represent a period of abandonment and of building collapse.

Late Umayyad Earthquake

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from Clark (1987)
Clark (1987:489-490) discovered a collapse in H1, H.3, and H.6 which likely occurred at the end of the Umayyad period.

H.1, H.3, and H.6

[The Post Stratum II] gap may have been initiated by the partial structural collapse of the building, in particular of the barracks rooms around the courtyard. This may have occurred initially in the 747 A.D. earthquake, with continuing collapse over the years until recent times.

The archaeological record from H.1, H.3, and H.6 suggests that the major collapse took place either during or soon after the Umayyad occupation. In H.1 and H.6 the collapse lay directly over the occupation of this period in the courtyard. There the walls of the barracks rooms along the southwest side had fallen to the northeast, into the courtyard. Elsewhere the rooms seem to have collapsed in upon themselves, as in H.3, where the upper floor had fallen into the ground floor room.

H.3

Clark (1987:489) further discussed collapse evidence at H.3 in two loci, H.3:013 and 010, which represent collapse into the ground floor room from the upper floor.
This collapse included flat roofing beams, what appeared to be flat flooring slabs of limestone, masonry blocks, chinking stones, cobbles, plaster, and mortar. The pottery from this collapse debris was predominantly Umayyad, with a few small sherds of Late Roman and Nabataean date, which had been added to the wall mortar. The presence of Umayyad sherds in this debris suggests that the upper room had been in use also during this period.
H.1

Clark (1987:488) discovered human remains at H.1.
An ashy deposit 0.26 m deep overlay Surface H.1:007. This contained Umayyad sherds, fragments of glass vessels, traces of barley seed, and a quantity of bone including human, camel, bird, and sheep/goat. This may be Umayyad occupational debris on the earthen surface, within what may have been a room of a crude structure. However, the presence of some human bones here is not easy to explain; they may be the partial remains of a person (or persons) killed in the earthquake that seems to have put an end to the Umayyad occupation.
H.2

Clark (1987:490) also found archaeoseismic evidence in H.2 but the terminus post quem for the H.2 evidence is ~400 CE indicating that it could have been a result of an earlier earthquake.
In H.2 a number of loci over the Late Roman/Early Byzantine occupation suggest a gradual buildup of debris, punctuated by sporadic or transient occupation. A buildup of loess, H.2:009, may represent a deposit during the last phase of occupation of this room or a post-abandonment/pre-collapse accumulation of windblown material. This was covered by rock tumble, H.2:007, containing many stones ranging from chinking and cobbles to blocks of masonry, mortar, plaster, and ash in a matrix of loess 0.22 m deep. Over this was a deposit of windblown, loosely packed soil containing fragments of mortar and plaster (H.2:006). This clearly represents a partial collapse of the structure, followed by an accumulation of windblown soil with which was mixed, intermittently, falling mortar and plaster from the walls above. Over the top of this was an ash-filled fire pit, H.2:005, with no other traces of occupation. A massive tumble of fallen masonry including stone ceiling beams (H.2:004) overlay this. No pottery or objects were found in loci H.2:009-004, making precise assignment of them to a particular period impossible. At some time after the fourth century there was a collapse of masonry. On the balance of probability this took place at about the end of the Umayyad period.
Corner Towers

Clark (1987:490) discussed archaeoseismic evidence in in the corner towers.
The collapse of the floors/ceilings of the rooms in the corner towers may also have taken place at this time, although it is impossible to assign more than a terminus post quem for the general destruction.

Later Earthquake(s)

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from Clark (1987)
Above what was presumed to be a Late Umayyad collapse layer Clark (1987:490) found another collapse layer in H.2
A period of abandonment followed [the Late Umayyad collapse], punctuated by a squatter occupation of the room, during which a fire was lit in the corner. There followed a major collapse of masonry, after which no further occupation of the room took place.
The ash filled fire pit was loci H.2:005 and the massive tumble of fallen masonry including stone ceiling beams was loci H.2:004.

Seismic Effects

Possible Earthquake between ca. 500 and 636 CE

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from . Clark (1987)
Seismic effects include
  • deposit of rock tumble
  • building collapse

Late Umayyad Earthquake

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from . Clark (1987)
Only the better dated seismic effects are listed
  • the walls of the barracks rooms along the southwest side had fallen to the northeast, into the courtyard
  • Elsewhere the rooms seem to have collapsed in upon themselves, as in H.3, where the upper floor had fallen into the ground floor room.
  • This collapse included flat roofing beams, what appeared to be flat flooring slabs of limestone, masonry blocks, chinking stones, cobbles, plaster, and mortar.

Later Earthquake(s)

  • Plan of the Castellum of Qasr Bshir from . Clark (1987)
Seismic effects include
  • a major collapse of masonry

Intensity Estimates

Possible Earthquake between ca. 500 and 636 CE

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls deposit of rock tumble and building 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 big pdf) .

Late Umayyad Earthquake

Only the better dated seismic effects are included

Effect Description Intensity
Collapsed Walls the walls of the barracks rooms along the southwest side had fallen to the northeast, into the courtyard VIII +
Collapsed Walls Elsewhere the rooms seem to have collapsed in upon themselves, as in H.3, where the upper floor had fallen into the ground floor room. VIII +
Collapsed Walls This collapse included flat roofing beams, what appeared to be flat flooring slabs of limestone, masonry blocks, chinking stones, cobbles, plaster, and mortar. VIII +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224 big pdf) .

Later Earthquake(s)

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

Notes and Further Reading

References

Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Paleoseismic evidence is summarized below

Location Status Intensity Notes
al-Harif Syria possible
Bet Zayda possible
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a
ICDP Core 5017-1 possible 7 16.5 cm. thick turbidite
En Feshka probable 5.6-6.4 1 cm. thick Type 1 (Linear Waves) Seismite
En Gedi possible 5.6-6.3 0.5 cm. thick Type 1 seismite was assigned to 660 CE
Nahal Ze 'elim no evidence
Taybeh Trench possible Event E3 - 551 CE +/- 264
Qatar Trench no evidence


Paleoseismic Evidence is examined on a case by case basis below

Displaced Aqueduct at al Harif, Syria

Sbeinati et. al. (2010) report a seismic event Y which they dated to 657 AD +/- 32 years at a displaced aqueduct at al-Harif, Syria (close to Masyaf, Syria).

Al Harif Aqueduct Seismic Events Fig. 13. Correlation of results among paleoseismic trenching, archaeoseismic excavations, and tufa analysis. In paleoseismic trenching, the youngest age for event X is not constrained, but it is, however, limited by event Y. In archaeoseismic excavations, the period of first damage overlaps with that of the second damage due to poor age control. In tufa analysis, the onset and restart of Br-3 and Br-4 mark the damage episodes to the aqueduct; the growth of Br-5 and Br-6 shows interruptions (I) indicating the occurrence of major events. Except for the 29 June 1170 event, previous events have been unknown in the historical seismicity catalogue. The synthesis of large earthquake events results from the timing correlation among the faulting events, building repair, and tufa interruptions (also summarized in Fig. 12 and text). Although visible in trenches (faulting event X), archaeoseismic excavations (first damage), and first interruption of tufa growth (in Br-5 and Br-6 cores), the A.D. 160–510 age of event X has a large bracket. In contrast, event Y is relatively well bracketed between A.D. 625 and 690, with the overlapped dating from trench results, the second damage of the aqueduct, and the interruption and restart of Br-3 and onset of Br-4. The occurrence of the A.D. 1170 earthquake correlates well with event Z from the trenches, the age of third damage to the aqueduct, and the age of interruption of Br-4, Br-5, and Br-6. Sbeinati et al (2010)


al-Harif Aqueduct Study

Study was based on 3 paleoseismic trenches, 6 archeological excavations, and 6 tufa cores to study the al-Harif Roman aqueduct located on the north-trending ~90 km. long Missyaf fault segment. Damage to aqueduct wall revealed 13.6 ± 0.2 m of left-lateral offset since 65 BCE. Two reconstruction and repair episodes were indicated in 320 ± 20 CE and 720 ± 20 CE. Combined analysis suggests 4 faulting events in the last ~3500 yrs (i.e. since 1500 BCE) with clusters of events in

Date Event
160-510 CE X
625-690 CE Y
1010-1210 CE Z
The authors suggest that Event Z is the 29 June 1170 CE earthquake.

al-Harif Plots and Charts

Description Source Image Comments
Age Model Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Age Model - Big Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Plan View of site Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Schematic of
Aqueduct Faulting History
Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Trench A Log - N Wall Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Trench A Log - S Wall Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Trench C Log - S Wall Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Lithology Legend
for Trench Logs
Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Aqueduct Wall
and Tufa Cores
Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Tufa Cores Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Archeological Evidence
of aqueduct rebuilding
Sbeinati et. al. (2010)
Sbeinati et. al. (2010)

Bet Zayda

Wechsler at al. (2014) may have seen evidence for this earthquake as Event CH3-E1 in paleoseismic trenches 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).

Wechsler at al. (2014)


2D and 3D Paleoseismic Study at Bet Zayda

Results are based on a 2D and 3D paleoseismic study conducted over multiple years utilizing multiple trenches. Trenches were dug to examine paleo-channels which intersect the active Jordan Gorge Fault. A few paleo-channels were active long enough to record paleo-earthquakes. Initial work done by Marco et al (2005)) identified fault ruptures with two historical earthquakes which were dated as follows:

Date Displacement (m)
1202 CE ~2.2
1759 CE 0.5
Another channel dating between 3 and 5 ka was displaced up to 15 meters.

Subsequent work at the same location by Wechsler at al. (2014) revealed 8 more surface-rupturing earthquakes in two paleo-channels which were labeled as Channels 3 and 4. Radiocarbon sampling appears to have been sufficiently dense except for Event CH4-E6..

Bet Zayda Plots and Charts

Description Image Source
Age Model Wechsler at al. (2014)
Age Model
Big
Wechsler at al. (2014)
Age Model
really big
Wechsler at al. (2014)
Map of
Trenches
Fault
Channels
Wechsler at al. (2014)

Dead Sea

Seismite Types

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

Seismite Types (Wetzler et al, 2010)
Type Description
1 Linear waves
2 Asymmetric Billows
3 Coherent vortices
4 Breccia
Seismite Types (Kagan et al, 2011)
Type
(Kagan)
Type
(Wetzler)
Description
A 4 Intraclast breccia layer
B 4 Microbreccia
C 4 Liquefied sand layer within brecciated clay and aragonite
D 1, 2, or 3 Folded laminae
E 1 Small Fault millimeter -scale throw

ICDP Core 5017-1
Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to a middle 8th century earthquake. CalBP is reported as 1248 ± 44 yr B.P. This works out to a date of 702 CE with a 1σ bound of 658 - 746 CE indicating that the Sign of the Prophet Quake Sword in the Sky Quake, Jordan Valley Quake(s), Sabbatical Year Quake(s), and the By No Means Mild Quake are all possibilities. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 16.5 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" (perhaps Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).

See the following from Lu et al (2020b) regarding estimating intensity from turbidites:
Previous studies have revealed that the intensity threshold for triggering historic turbidites are variable in different regions and range from MMI V½ to VII½ (Howarth et al., 2014; Moernaut, 2020; Van Daele et al., 2015; Wilhelm et al., 2016). The intensity threshold constrained from the Dead Sea data (≥VI½) is situated in the middle of this range.

Previous studies in Chilean lakes have indicated that the (cumulative) thickness of historic turbidites across multiple cores correlates with seismic intensity, and can thus be used to infer paleo-intensities in this setting (Moernaut et al., 2014). However, in the case of the Dead Sea core 5017-1, there is a random relationship (a correlation factor of 0.04) between the thickness of prehistoric turbidites and seismic intensity (Figure 5a).
En Feshka
Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 634 AD date to a 1 cm . thick Type D (i.e. Type 1) seismite at a depth of 172.0 cm. depth.

En Feshka Plots and Charts

Image Description Source
Age Model Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2011)
Age Model Kagan et al (2010)
Age Model - big Kagan et al (2010)

En Feshka Core (DSF) Photos

This core was taken in 1997 by GFZ/GSI

Image Description Image Description Image Description Image Description Image Description
Composite Core DSF
Sections B1-B5

0-499 cm.
Section B1

0-93 cm.
Section B2

100-197 cm.
Section B3

200-298 cm.
Section B4

300-396 cm.
Section B5

400-499 cm.

En Gedi (DSEn)
Migowski et. al. (2004) did not assign a date of 634 AD to any of the seismites in the En Gedi Core (DSEn) but did assign a 0.5 thick seismite at a depth of 1.99 m to a date of 660 AD.

En Gedi Core (DSEn) Charts and Plots

Image Description Source
Floating Varve Chronology
and Radiocarbon dates
Migowski et al (2004)
Floating Varve Chronology
and Radiocarbon dates -large
Migowski et al (2004)
Migowski's Date shift Migowski (2001)
Recounted Age-depth plot Neugebauer at al (2015)
Recounted Age-depth plot - large Neugebauer at al (2015)
Correlated Age-depth plots
of DSEn and ICDP 5017-1
Neugebauer at al (2015)
Comparison of paleoclimate proxies
from DSEn to other sites
Neugebauer at al (2015)
Core correlation
DSEn to ICDP 5017-1
Neugebauer at al (2015)
Core correlation
DSEn to ICDP 5017-1 -big
Neugebauer at al (2015)
Thin Section of Jerusalem Quake
showing varve counts
shallow section
Williams et. al. (2012)
Thin Section of Jerusalem Quake
showing varve counts
deep section
Williams et. al. (2012)
Thin Section of Jerusalem Quake
showing varve counts
shallow section - big
Williams et. al. (2012)
Thin Section of Jerusalem Quake
showing varve counts
deep section - big
Williams et. al. (2012)

En Gedi Core dating ambiguities

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

Neugebauer (2015) and Neugebauer at al (2015) recounted laminae from 2.1 - 4.35 meters in the En Gedi Core (DsEn) while also making a stratigraphic correlation to ICDP Core 5017-1. Nine 14C dates were used from 1.58 - 6.12 m but samples KIA9123 (inside the Late Bronze Beach Ridge) and KIA1160 (the 1st sample below the Late Bronze Beach Ridge) were discarded as outliers. These two samples gave dates approximately 400 years older than what was expected for the Late Bronze Age Beach Ridge - a date which is fairly well constrained from