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Tragic earthquake in Antioch in 115 CE

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Ancient road in Antioch
Ancient road in Antioch | Photo: Valery Shanin/

At the end of 115 CE, Emperor Trajan travelled to Antioch, which he had chosen as his headquarters during an operational break in the Roman-Parth War. He was to devote this time to recuperation and overseeing the process of creating new provinces in Armenia and Mesopotamia. Unexpectedly, however, during this time, there was a massive earthquake.

According to Cassius Dio, the earth shook for several days and nights and there was no nation that would not suffer. The cataclysm was caused by the colliding tectonic plates: Arab and Eurasian. According to the researchers, the quake could have been 7, not more on the Richter scale. Antiochus and the surrounding area underwent enormous devastation; many people were buried under the ruins of the building, including consul Marcus Pedo Vergilianus.

Luckily, Trajan escaped with minor wounds through the window in his room. To avoid the risk of being buried alive, the emperor along with his closest associates and family took refuge in the hippodrome arena, probably in a military tent, during the time of danger.

  • Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXVIII.24-25

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