Text #9490

Ambraseys. Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East
[p. 96]

Ben-Menahem (1979, 289) places a large-magnitude earthquake with an epicentre south-east of Cyprus and dates it to 28 February 92 BC. He says that a large seismic sea wave hit the Levantine cities and that the associated shock was felt in Syria and Israel, assigning to it a magnitude of ms 7.1. His sources are Plassard and Kogoj (1968b), Willis (1928), and two other sources, which he does not give. Plassard and Kogoj, who do not quote a reference, but who must have taken this information from Sieberg (1932b, 198), say that the shock of 92 BC was strong in Syria and that it was felt in Egypt. According to Willis the earthquake affected Syria and the island of Cyprus, which information he takes from Mallet (1852), 3), who quotes as his source Hoff (1840, 162). This author, the last in the series, who does not mention his sources, is responsible for creating a spurious event.

Text #9491

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

I think the confusion about this event can be solved by considering the possible source of Hoff’s event: I Maccabees 9:13. During a battle in 160 B.C. when 800 Jewish patriots were confronted by 22,000 Syrian fighters, it was reported that “The ground shook from the noise when the two armies met, and they fought from morning until evening”. The author of Maccabees attributes this phenomenon to trumpet blasts implemented by both armies. In addition, a paleoseismic study of the Serghaya fault (Syrian-Lebanese border) and historical texts provide evidence of an earthquake at Antioch that triggered a tsunami between Tyre and Ptolemais during the same time period (i.e., mid 2nd century B.C.). As a result, a “city above Sidon collapsed into the sea and nearly two thirds of Sidon itself was engulfed”.

See Iaakov Karcz, “Implications of some early Jewish sources for estimates of earthquake hazard in the Holy Land”, Annals of Geophysics, Vol. 47, N. 2/3, April/June 2004.

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