The seismic history of Italy in the Hebrew sources

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G. Busi


Over more than two thousands years the Italian Jews have produced an impressive quantity of documentary
materials. To spot the data of the seismical events. therefore, has not been easy, and the results can still be supplemented,
though the research has been carried out on a quite large and rich material both manuscript and
printed in the Hebrew language. The crop was large and interesting, since documents about eleven different
earthquakes in Italy have been found. They are texts of various kinds. sornetilnes just short notes, but very often
long liturgical poems or whole writings. through which the Jewish minority traces its own historical memory
and its own understanding of these exceptional tragic events. From the Middle Ages till the first half of the
XIX century. Italian literature in the Hebrew language records the earthquakes of Ancona (1279), Norcia
(1328). Ravenna (1468). Ferrara 11570). Lugo (1688), Ancona (1690), Mantua (1693), Leghorn (1742), Lugo
(1781). Siena (1798) and Alessandria (1829). Naturally. in the towns that had a major Jewish community the
data are richer and give more detailed inforn~ation:th is is the case, for instance, of the earthquake of Ferrara,
in the second half of the fifteenth century. Here Azaryah de' Rossi gives us not only a vivid account of the reactions
of his fellow Jews, but also the fullest and most organic essay on the causes and the meaning of the
earthquakes. We also possess a remarkable abundance of Hebrew sources on the earthquake that struck
Leghon~ in January 1742: among other very interesting documents. there is also a true daily diary, in which
the strength and the nature of the shakes are recorded, during the quite long period the earthquake lasted, that
is till the end of March of the same year.

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How to Cite
Busi G. The seismic history of Italy in the Hebrew sources. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 1995Nov.25 [cited 2022Jun.30];38(5-6). Available from: