A late antique tsunami

March 14 2011

Adrian Murdoch quotes Ammianus Marcellinus’s description of the tsunami which hit Alexandria, the Nile Delta and Libya in AD 365 after an earthquake near Crete.

“Huge ships, thrust out by the mad blasts, perched on the roofs of houses […] at Alexandria.”

The most powerful earthquake ever recorded, off southern Chile on May 22 1960, caused a tsunami which killed 140 people in Japan.

Fishing boat at Ofunato, Iwate prefecture in 1960 (Ofunato was entirely destroyed in the recent Sendai earthquake)

The 1933 Sanriku earthquake, conversely, had been off Iwate prefecture and caused a tsunami which reached Chile.

The recent Sendai earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, also caused a tsunami which reached Chile.

Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture in 2011

Wikipedia on the 365 tsunami: “The sophist Libanius and the church historian Sozomenus appear to present it as either divine sorrow or wrath – depending on their viewpoint – for the death of emperor Julian.”

Wikipedia list of historical tsunamis.

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