Crusader castle torn apart by earthquake at dawn, 20 May 1202

Ronnie Ellenblum, Shmuel Marco, Amotz Agnon, Thomas Rockwell, Adrian Boas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Crusader castle of Vadum Jacob, an outpost overlooking the Jordan River, was deformed during a destructive earthquake triggered by motion along the Dead Sea Transform. The M > 7 earthquake occurred at dawn, 20 May 1202, and offset the castle walls by 1.6 m. This exceptional precision in dating and estimating displacement was achieved by combining accounts from primary historical sources, by excavating the Dead Sea Transtorm where it bisects the castle, and by dating faulted archaeological strata. The earthquakes of October 1759 and/or January 1837 may account for the remaining 0.5 m out of a total 2.1 m of offset. Our studv exploits the potential embodied in interdisciplinary historical-archaeological-geological research and illustrates how detailed histories of seismogenic faults can be reconstructed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-306
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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