SLAC Colloquium Series

SLAC Colloquium Series


Colloquium Detail

Earthquakes, Armageddon, and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Date: 3/12/2001

Amos Nur
Professor, Stanford

Why are there so many ruins especially in the Mediterranean and Middle East? Most people think that time and war are responsible. But actually, we now know that most of the damage was caused by historical earthquakes. Simple examples are Troy, Micenea, Crete and ancient Jericho. A special example is Armageddon (Megiddo) - the single most excavated site in Israel. Because it is situated on top of an active earthquake fault, we believe now that many of its 32 layers of destruction are the result of repeated past earthquakes. Another example is the huge earthquake of 31 BC in ancient Judea. We now think that this earthquake caused collapse in many caves in the Qumran area where the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. New evidence suggests that many scrolls, and some of their writers, were buried in the caves in which they were found under this collapse, not by enemies but by this earthquake. Understanding the major roles of earthquakes in archaeology thus provides a new insight into the interpretation of excavated evidence from other regions as well, such as Central America, Peru, and China. This evidence is especially intriguing in understanding the as yet unexplained collapse of entire ancient societies.

Last update: October 03, 2013