The Cretan earthquake of 365AD

Brian G Turner

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#1
Came across a reference to this while reading about the Romans - apparently it created a tsunami that destroyed settlements all around the Eastern Mediterranean.

An article on Wikipedia suggests a 8.0+ magnitude earthquake was the cause of it: 365 Crete earthquake - Wikipedia

This account by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus appears to be a clear account of the destructive power of the tsunami at Alexandria:

Slightly after daybreak, and heralded by a thick succession of fiercely shaken thunderbolts, the solidity of the whole earth was made to shake and shudder, and the sea was driven away, its waves were rolled back, and it disappeared, so that the abyss of the depths was uncovered and many-shaped varieties of sea-creatures were seen stuck in the slime; the great wastes of those valleys and mountains, which the very creation had dismissed beneath the vast whirlpools, at that moment, as it was given to be believed, looked up at the sun's rays. Many ships, then, were stranded as if on dry land, and people wandered at will about the paltry remains of the waters to collect fish and the like in their hands; then the roaring sea as if insulted by its repulse rises back in turn, and through the teeming shoals dashed itself violently on islands and extensive tracts of the mainland, and flattened innumerable buildings in towns or wherever they were found. Thus in the raging conflict of the elements, the face of the earth was changed to reveal wondrous sights. For the mass of waters returning when least expected killed many thousands by drowning, and with the tides whipped up to a height as they rushed back, some ships, after the anger of the watery element had grown old, were seen to have sunk, and the bodies of people killed in shipwrecks lay there, faces up or down. Other huge ships, thrust out by the mad blasts, perched on the roofs of houses, as happened at Alexandria, and others were hurled nearly two miles from the shore, like the Laconian vessel near the town of Methone which I saw when I passed by, yawning apart from long decay
Just thought I'd mention all this, because I haven't seen it reference before and thought it might be of interest. :)
 

BAYLOR

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#2
That earth quake changed History because had not happed , the Minoan civilization might well have saved a few more centuries and probably had longer lasting impact on all Western History and civilization.
 

Brian G Turner

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That earth quake changed History because had not happed , the Minoan civilization might well have saved a few more centuries and probably had longer lasting impact on all Western History and civilization.
You're thinking of events around 1200BC, not 365AD. :)
 

Dave

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#5
There must have been many other big earthquakes and tsunami that have gone unreported and are now forgotten. The Mediterranean is an active subduction zone. The bigger the events were, then they more likely they could have wiped out a population (most cities, even now, being on low lying land next to the sea or river mouths) and the less likely to be remembered. Communication was poor, both in quality and immediacy, and communities were more isolated. I'm sure populations could have disappeared without anyone noticing or caring. I'm also sure that the stories of Atlantis, Noah's Ark, the walls of Jericho, and Moses parting the Red Sea, all have some element of historical fact within them.
 

sknox

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#7
Thanks for the reference. That happened only a few years before the Goth rebellion and the Battle of Hadrianopolis. Clearly signs of the end of days. :)

Earthquakes were pretty regularly noted, though of course we have lost so much of the ancient record it may appear otherwise. But once we get consistent chronicles, natural phenomena often get at least a line or two.

Gods bless Ammianus Marcellinus, without whom we would know much less about late Imperial Rome!
 

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