This monograph is the product of years of research, and I consider it to have great value and to be of particular scientific importance. The sheer breadth of the area investigated - nineteen different countries are involved and the time span from the 11th to the 15th century called for a number of long and complex research projects funded by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) starting from 1994, the year of publication of the previous volume (Catalogue of ancient earthquakes in the Mediterranean area up to the 10th Century), up until 1999. All the work of reviewing, supplementing and updating, together with computerised cartography, has been carried out independently by the Storia Geofisica Ambiente (SGA) team, who gave continuity to the research pursued during those years.
These two catalogues make a contribution of international importance to the seismology of the Mediterranean area, and in some respects carry forward a trend that has become increasingly marked over the past decade. Increasingly earth science studies have been crossing national boundaries: it is beginning to be realised that certain great environmental catastrophes cannot be understood without referring to the whole of the geographical area affected - as has been dramatically illustrated by the hugely disastrous tsunami of 26 December 2004 in the Indian Ocean. The fact that geodynamic phenomena take no account of national boundaries is of vital importance when dealing with extreme natural events in history, for the fragmented nature of their effects means that they must all be studied and interpreted in strict relation to their cultural, social and economic context.
The authors have in some ways anticipated the heightened interest in tsunamis following the disaster of 26 December 2004 by focusing on them both in this volume and the previous one. As can be seen from tsunamis like the ones occurring in 1202 and 1303, the Mediterranean is also the scenario for phenomena whose effects may now be offset thanks to research and modern technology. To those who witnessed them in centuries past, such events must have seemed terrifying, inescapable, and largely inexplicable. As this new catalogue demonstrates, historical research can throw crucial fresh light on these phenomena. We now know that great earthquakes and great tsunamis are likely but rare events in the Mediterranean area, and for this reason that we must push our investigations very far back in time.
This volume draws to a close a research cycle whose unitary nature is a consequence of the very history of the Mediterranean area in the centuries being examined: the 15th century was chosen as an important) historical and cultural watershed (in 1453 the fall of Constantinople saw the end of the Byzantine Empire). The considerable seismic and volcanic activity of those five centuries was accompanied by a substantial loss of historical information, leading to real difficulties in studying and understanding the dynamics involved. This catalogue lies chronologically in between two quite different ages: at one extreme we have the beginning of modern times - and hence of more readily available data - while at the other we look back to the early Middle Ages and the ancient world, the latter being the subject of archaeoseismological and palaeoseismological investigations. So here we have some important pieces to fit into the jigsaw, and I certainly hope the catalogue will encourage the scientific community to make use of the data provided and also to embark on new research.
President of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
The many years of research that underpin this catalogue began immediately after the publication of the first volume in 1994 (Catalogue of ancient earthquakes in the Mediterranean area up to the 10th century). Thus the time range of this second volume naturally follows on from the first one, covering the period from the 11th century until the end of the 15th. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Turkish occupation constitute an important turning point in the history of the Mediterranean, affecting source types and the way information circulated. Our intensive research lasted a number of years, leading to results that were ready for publication in the year 2000. However, when the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica took on a new institutional form in 1999, adding Vulcanologia to its name, different publishing policies were put in place at INGV, which meant that publication plans for this catalogue were halted from 2001 to mid-2004. During those years, however, the authors of the catalogue continued to update their bibliography and track down new editions of sources. Manuscript research and new source editions also continued without interruption, leading to additional information and the new interpretation of some major earthquakes, which became the subject of a number of specific publications (e.g. the Syrian earthquakes of 1138, 1156-1157, 1170, that of 1117 in Italy, as well as a score of earthquakes unknown to current catalogues).
It is true that this catalogue is being published a good deal later than planned, and that it has undergone certain modifications. We decided, for example, not to publish the long and complex introduction that had been planned, or our iconographical research, but the delay has nevertheless produced some rather positive results: it has enabled us to carry out a more thorough review of our results and to examine certain matters in greater depth. The cartography has also improved in certain respects, and now appears in a new guise.
Although this complex and stratified catalogue covers an area now occupied by 19 countries, it can never be claimed that the work is complete. The levels of knowledge provided here are indeed different for different seismic events and tsunamis: in some cases the data make it possible to provide fairly detailed scenarios of effects, while in others it is not even possible to calculate the parameters. In the latter cases, at least the established chronological indicators remain, and may allow scholars to embark on new research. So this is an openended work, in two ways at least:
i) all the historical data that we have worked on and interpreted are presented in the original languages;
ii) the updating of our knowledge base to 2004 may well foster the advancement of other research work.
In general we have tried to stick to what we consider to be one of the basic principles of historical seismology, namely clear and controlled decision-making in the process of assessing historical earthquakes. We have also aimed to stir up an interest in historical seismological research as a valuable aid to seismological and palaeoseismological analyses. Medieval historians interested in the Mediterranean area can make good use of the information about the history of territories and environments which they approach from different standpoints. The persistence and destructive force of earthquakes and the impact of tsunamis have left deep scars in the cultures and economies of medieval Mediterranean societies.
Historical sources and works used
The texts of historical sources are provided in this catalogue in their original languages. There sources are in several different languages (Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian, Syriac, Italian, French, German etc.). In order to understand seismic activity in the Mediterranean area in medieval times, primary evidence is obviously not enough on its own, though we think it an essential part of a catalogue. Such information also has to be put into its context and related to other aspects of historical demography, and the sites mentioned in the sources have to be located. In our opinion, that is the only way that assessments of earthquake effects can have a meaning and a consistency where there is a dearth of information. All the data in this catalogue have been subjected to ex novo analysis and interpretation, involving a close dialogue with other studies in seismological literature.
Although the results obtained cannot, strictly speaking, be described as definitive owing to thej nature of the research involved, we have thought fit to give scholars and researchers the benefit of such advances as we have made. In addition, the catalogue makes it possible to systematise a tradition of catalogues and studies that is very frequently confusing, and far from faultless.
The basic sources have been identified by means of dedicated research work carried out by a work group set up for the purpose. The researchers and experts have worked on specific projects, carried out at different stages, with a view to locating, selecting and translating the historical sources. We have not only paid attention to the sources, but also to analysing the existing knowledge. In the case of many large earthquakes, there is a history of their interpretation that can be found in the scientific literature, but so scattered it has nearly always been ignored. We have taken these histories into account, hopefully with due clarity, in order to show how the interpretations of an earthquake substantially reflect the underlying level of historical understanding. The fact is that by honing our historical knowledge, whether through textual or non-textual evidence (population rates, types of building, particular political or military situations, etc.) it is nearly always possible to achieve new levels of interpretation.
The events described
This catalogue contains information, with different levels of analysis, relating to 383 earthquakes 22 tsunamis, and 102 environmental effects. The seismic effects located are 1344 and concern towns, villages, and castles in the Mediterranean area, situated within 19 present-day Countries.
We have tried to make every entry as complete as possible, as concerns the historical sources selected. Within the heading for each individual entry, the reader can review the texts that have been used to analyse the event, ranging from historical sources to the relevant literature, historiography and catalogues.
For a summary assessment of the earthquakes and tsunamis analysed in this catalogue, the reader should refer to the general maps and parametric catalogues included at the end of the volume. For an overall picture of the density of seismic events across the centuries, regardless of the countries where the effects were felt, see the graph at the beginning of the Short Catalogue (p.827).
The catalogue team
The authors of this catalogue have enjoyed the collaboration of text scholars and researchers working in oriental languages. The task of selecting the sources began in 1992; some of our researchers are now established lecturers at Italian universities, but when they were helping on this project they were mostly post-graduates or researchers. Since it was impossible to adopt a systematic approach for all language areas, we set up some basic research projects which gradually developed over time, partly in relation to the allocation of funds for the various projects involved in the INGV research plans. It should be said that this catalogue developed “along the margins” of other research that was at the time reckoned to be more urgent or more important.
The work’s complexity, the time required to carry out research and transcribe and interpret the sources as they became identified (often a tortuous and difficult matter), the identification of the relevant scientific literature and catalogues, and the careful evaluation of the seismological results obtained, meant that the task of compiling the catalogue was a very lengthy one. Inevitably there were changes of collaborators in some language areas: but such changes were offset, so to speak, by the fact that we ourselves carried on with the incessant checking of the philological and codicological literature, the manuscripts and new editions of sources. During its long period of preparation, this catalogue has been like a “laboratory” where we have endlessly tried to improve its every aspect, deal with uncertainties, solve problems. On the one hand, the amount of time needed has allowed us to produce results that are original and, we hope, not too short-lived, but it has also meant that we actually ran the risk of losing sight of a comprehensive single approach to the sources, so we were obliged to reopen certain areas of study more than onc e, thereby going well beyond the remit of the current projects carried out on behalf of INGV. It is with a certain degree of satisfaction therefore, that we now present all this information - the fruit of over a decade of intense teamwork. We have decided not to give our collaborators’ current academic qualifications, because in many cases that would mean misrepresenting the original nature of the group, which at the ti me consisted of talented young researchers who worked with us enthusiastically as well as confidently, especially in the years between 1992 and 2000. We list them below by language and theme:
||(University of Venice) carried out a critical review of the Byzantine sources already recorded by SGA researchers, and added to them;
||carried out systematic research into the Greek codices at the Biblioteca Ajpostolica Vaticana;
||(Italian School of Archaeology at Athens and University of Florence) carried out a complex piece of research into Byzantine inscription sources.
|(Universita La Sapienza, Rome) and
(Universita di Messina): selected and transcribed the texts of published Arabic sources;
||transcribed manuscript Arabic texts in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
|(University of Louvain) and
(Universita Orientale of Naples) supplemented and reviewed the Syriac sources already recorded by SGA researchers.
|(University of Lecce) and
(Université Paul Valery, Montpellier) selected and translated Armenian texts and inscriptions.
||(Universita Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples) selected and translated the texts from the Recueil des Historiens des Croisades - Historiens Occidentaux.
||Latin Crusade Chronicles
||(Jewish National and University Library of Jerusalem) transcribed and translated published and manuscript Hebrew sources.
|In the case of earthquakes in Italy, we reviewed, deepened and added to all the earlier studies, most of which published in the Catalogue of Strong Italian Earthquakes from 461 B.C. to 1997 (Boschi et al. 2000, and further releases on the web site http://storing.ingv.it/cft/). The results presented here are thus an update to the above-mentioned catalogue.
||Latin and Italian
In addition, the following researchers played an important part in our working group:
||helped us with the final draft and the editing of the catalogue. She took part in several discussions as we sought to solve the many problems presented by the text;
||located the most difficult place names, and collaborated with us in estimating the parameters;
||collaborated with us at an early stage in classifying the seismic effects; he also developed some of the seismotectonic aspects for the 12th century earthquakes in Syria (see Guidoboni et al. 2004);
|Maria Giovanna Bianchi
||produced the large-scale maps of urban effects, the graphs and the digitalisation of the illustrations; she also collaborated in the final editing stage;
|Maria Luisa De Simone
||dealt with the index of names and places;
|| translated the texts and sources into English with the skill and accuracy that typify his work.
||The thematic cartography was done by Gabriele Tarabusi using Maplnfo Professional (www.mapinfo.com) software. The relief cartographic bases have been made by Marco Gualdrini (GEOgrafica, Faenza), using Visual Nature Studio 2.5 software (3dNature LLC, www.3dnature.com), on the base of the georeferenced terrain altimetric data. The general cartographic base of the Mediterranean is derived from the GTOPO30 Digital Elevation Model (U.S. Geological Survey EROS Data Center) resampled at the resolution of 500 m x 500 m in x and y. For the detail of the Italian territory a cartographic base elaborated from the Digital Terrain Model of the INGV was used: the cell size of the grid is 250 m x 250 m. The various ground models have been depicted in planimetric views with shaded-relief techniques using multiple lights, to improve the graphic quality of the three-dimensional relief.
Earthquakes in the Sea of Marmara were reviewed and examined as part of the RELIEF (Reliable Information on Earthquake Faulting) European project “I.1.1. Seismic Risks” EVG1-CT-2002-00069, responsible for INGV dr Daniela Pantosti.
The contributions to this Catalogue have entailed coordination with various work groups at different stages. Wide-ranging and decisive though these have often been, it is the authors who take full responsibility for any errors or omissions in the data presented here.