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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maps and Plans

  • Plan of the Roman Temple in Kedesh from Stern et al (1993)
  • Plan of 'a Masonry Tomb' in Kedesh from Conder and Kitchner (1882:228)
Roman Temple
Schweppe et al (2017) noted that the site may have been used as a quarry after abandonment and likely also suffered from looting noting that it is not possible to differentiate with certainty which damage is of anthropogenic or of natural cause. However, some archeoseismic evidence does appear to remain which is described below
The wall in Figure 3a shows horizontal shifts and gaps between the ashlars which indicate that, at least in part, dynamic shaking has ruined the Kedesh Temple. In particular, we interpret the gaps between the ashlars in the northern section and its bend as the consequence of earthquake ground motions.
Schweppe et al (2017) performed numerical simulations and estimated that a PGA of 6 m/s2 was required to topple the currently remaining Temple structure under conditions of a dominant frequency of 1 Hz. and shaking in an EW direction. This produced an estimated upper limit for strength of shaking experienced at the site - at least since around 363 CE. They additionally simulated a number of historical earthquakes thought to have affected Kedesh after 363 CE and none were shown to have toppled what remains of the Temple. They did not simulate a hypothesized 363 CE earthquake which may have led to or contributed to initial abandonment of the structure.

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

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

Conder and Kitchner (1882:228-229)

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

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

Notes and Further Reading