From Crimea to Syria. Re-defining the alleged historical earthquake of 63 B.C.

G. Traina

Abstract


Within the SGA research on the historical seismicity of the Crimean Peninsula (SGA Report, 1990), interest
has been focused on the case of the earthquake of 63 B.C. According to regional seismic catalogues as well as
to historic and archaeological literature, two late Roman sources. Dio Cassius and Paulus Orosius, allegedly
give evidence of an earthquake which happened in the Crimea in this year; the event was linked to the death of
Mithridates V1 Eupator, eventually the king of Pontos. Local archaeologists claimed to have found evidence of
this event in the excavations of Panticapaeunl (present-day Ker?). In fact. this is the result of a restricted analysis
of the written sources. Thence stems a sort of iivulgatan. currently accepted by scholarship, yet not really
supported by the evidence. A re-examination of the whole question, including an analysis of all sources
avalaible on earthquakes in the Eastern Mediterranean. showed that in that period no seismic event took place
in the Crimea. Dio's and Orosius' accounts are instead concerned with another earthquake, already known for
Syria from other sources. This historical case gives a proper methodological example of the problems concerned
with the analysis of the evidence in historical seismology. not only of Antiquity, but of almost any premodern
period.

Keywords


Historical seismology;Eastern Mediterranean;Crimea;Syria

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References


DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-4068
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X