"A great and terrible event": Historical evidence for the 551 CE tsunami at Akko, Israel

Emma Heidtman, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

In 2001, the Old City of Akko in northern Israel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. This designation was based on the Old City’s well-preserved Ottoman and Islamic-era town and the partly subterranean ruins of the once-thriving Crusader port. Five years of excavation, from 2009 to 2014, have uncovered more of Akko’s history as a strategic naval outpost for several iterations of Mediterranean Sea power, particularly during the Hellenistic Age. However, evidence for Akko’s harbor operations during the Byzantine period is still being uncovered. In light of recent discoveries in geoarchaeology, scientists have learned that part of Akko’s Byzantine history includes the tsunami of 551 CE, which struck the port cities of the Levantine coast from as far north as Beirut to the port of Caesarea Maritima, 64 kilometers to the south. This tsunami had substantial and meaningful consequences for Akko’s harbor and the surrounding town, which led to long-term effects on the city following the disaster.^

Subject Area

Archaeology

Recommended Citation

Emma Heidtman, ""A great and terrible event": Historical evidence for the 551 CE tsunami at Akko, Israel" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1604912.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI1604912

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