., Vol. 3 4 (
2) , pp . 11 9
AB ADAWy l
u scr ip t rec eive d
T he histo rica l eart hq uakes t
have bee n felt in Egypt were compiled from
uakes were foun d
du ring the period fro m 2200BC to 1899AD.
T he ti me
ution of t hese
kes shows t
have bee n reported in the period before C hr ist (BC) . Up to t he end of the ninth
cent ury t he sec ula r nu mb er of repo rted ea rt hqua kes fluct uat es between zero and
t hree . A rela ti vely high
hquakes has been repor t ed in t he
te nt h ce
. In t he elevent h a nd twel fth centuries (Fatimid pe riod) a dra
decli ne in t he
r has been not ified. After t his decl ine the
hqua kes re-in creas ed up to th e fiftee nt h a nd sixteent hcenturies ( Mam luk P eriod )
reaching a relat ively high value (ten) . In seventeenth and eigh
hcentur ies, w hen
Egypt was a province of the
decline has been
realize d. T he re por ted ea rt hquakes reach t heir highest number(seventeen) in t he
nineteenth cent ury.
l dist rib ution of his torical ea rt hquakes is relatively disagreeing with
t he ep icent ral d ist ri
n of recent
hquakes. T he distribution of population in a
narrow ba nd alo ng
Nile Valley and Delta creates challenging problems in loca t ing
and assessing t he origin and
effects of historical
kes in Egypt.
epicenters are loca ted almost exclusively in Cairo, the Nile De
Nile Valley. Most earthquakes
affected these areas orig inated from epicenters
the sub duction zone in t he no
rifting zone in the east.
Egypt has experienced damaging large earthquakes from
Hellenic Arc and
as well as
Red Sea and its two branches, Gu lf of Suez
of Aqaba. Earthquakes orig
d from local sources have also affected
Arabic documents; earthquakes; Egypt; historical seismicity;
dist ribut ion
T he searc h for longest possi ble reco rds o f eart hq ua kes in a ny given region can b e
helpful in recurrence st udies and forecasting seismic hazard . In
hqua kes has been
e beginning of t he t wentiet h cent ury.
hqua ke information up to 1900 has been compiled mainly from historic al docu-
ments a nd book s. Th e refore, t his kind of recor ds is known as hist orical
Unfort unately, historical records of
nning several cent ur ies are
nonexistent in ma ny parts of the World. However, they do exist in some regions:
nean (Ambraseys 1971); China (Lee et al. 1976); Afghanistan
l Rese arch Ins tit ut e of Ast ronomy and Geop hysics 11421
Helwan , Cai ro,
/ $ 5.00 ©
and Pakistan (Quittmeyer and Jacob 1979); Middle East and north Africa (Poirier
and Taher 1980); Arab world (Ambraseys et al. 1995); Sinai plate region (Badawy
Egypt is one of the few regions of the World where evidence of historical earth-
quake activity has been documented over the last four millennium.
lished chronology of historical earthquakes in the Middle
region has been so
far the one compiled by As-Souty, an Egyptian polygrapher. As-Souty's work called
"Kashf El-Salsala fi wasf El-zalzala" contains a list of earthquakes for the period
between 712AD to 1499AD
was translated into English by Sprenger in 1843
from Arabic manuscript of the National Library at Paris.
Lyons (1907) gave the first catalogue devoted to earthquakes in Egypt. It con-
tains 29 events between 27BC and 1906AD and generally gives its information
Willis (1928) presented a list of earthquakes, which contains 130 shocks compiled
on the authority of As-Souty, Willis's list was copied in
by Sieberg (1932a,b)
they did not bother to convert into AD the Muslim dates which
were given by As-Souty. Ambraseys (1962) checked these dates against another
manuscript of the same work at British Museum and suggested
this list is
dated about six centuries too early.
Rothe (1969) also adopted Sieberg's work and it reappeared by Maamoun (1979)
and Maamoun and Ibrahim (1978)
mainly depend on Sieberg's list.
Poirier and Taher (1980), Ambraseys et al. (1995) and Badawy (1996) have
undertaken the most valuable compilation of different materials on the historical
seismicity in region of our interest.
In the present work the historical earthquake information from Arabic docu-
ments and these catalogues are incorporated and extended as possible to provide a
uniform account of the historical seismicity of Egypt.
primary sources for the history of Egypt and certainly for its earthquakes
are the Arabic chronicles. Egypt has been home to some of the earliest civilizations.
In a unique situation, Egypt at the crossroad of three major continents (Africa, Asia,
and Europe) dynastic power based on the Nile Valley go back to the first dynasty.
During the Pharaonic period the chief sources are inscriptions,papyruses and the
archaeological evidence provided by the temples and monuments themselves. Un-
fortunately, this large corpus of material to study ancient Egypt contains no explicit
reports of earthquakes.
In the classical period, Greek historiographers from about 500BC and Latin ones
from 200BC occasionally provide information about shocks in Egypt reflecting the
commercial and imperial interests of the Greek and Roman powers. During the
Byzantine period (450AD-1453) more information becomes available mainly from
ecclesiastical histories (Ambraseys et al. 1995).
In the early seventh century, the formation of the Islamic Empire had a signif-
icant cultural consequence , namely the spread and development of Arabic as the
Geod. Geoph. Hung. 34, 1999
C AL SE ISM IC I
language of learning and lit era
e. Egypt has been one of most popul ous, cultur-
ally flourishing and politically import
region s. Th er efore , t he na
e and type
of the documen
y sources in which its history were preserved is essential.
Th e greatest flourishin g of hist orical litera
eoccurred in t he period between
the sack of Baghd a d by t he Mongols (1258) and the Ottoman conquest of th e Middle
(1517). Dur ing this period Mamluks (1260- 1517) ruled Egypt and Syria from
All r epor ted ea rt hqua kes up to 1899 ha ve b een listed wit h t he cor respo nding
source in Tabl e I. References to a ll sources are given at t he end the Table.
In thi s section each earthquake is describ ed as possible from t he availabl e infor-
mation. For t he peri od 2200BC to 1899AD th e catalogue co
ins 83 eart hquakes
which have been felt in Egypt.
ese shocks ar e essentially collected from Arabic
sources and incorporated into earlier catalogues (Sieberg 1932a, 1932b, Maamoun
1979, Maamoun and Ibr ahim 1978, Poirier and Taher 1980, Ambr aseys et al. 1995,
For description and estimat ion of approxi
intensities (MMI) of hist orical
eart hqua kes, t he following te rms have b een used : Slight t o felt ea
hqua ke (up to
intensity V) including events t
are not widely reported and may be originated
from local sources . S
hqua ke (greater tha n or equal intensity VI) t
widely reported and caused considerable dam a ges.
, Tell Basta:
s shock was a severe one, caused deep fissures in t he soil in
Tell Bas ta ne ar Zagazig , Shar qui a pr ovince. Th e esti
sity is VII in a confined area near the village of Tell Basta and Abu Hammad
about 16 km east of Zaga zig. Alth ough Maam oun ( 1979) has given an isoseis-
mal map for t his event Ambraseys et al. (1995) classified it as a non-confirmed
1210BC, Abu Simbel: Th is event ca used crac ks in t he te mple of R amses II in Abu
Simb el, South ern Egy pt . Th e maximum est i
d intensity is VI. Kebeasy
(1990) suggested that these c
cks are not ce
inly du e to an ea rt hqua ke.
However, Ambraseys et al. (1995) classified this shock as not confirmed.
600BC, Luxor: An ear t hqua ke at Th eb es, Luxor , South ern Eg
event was well docum
ed in the previous
logues (e.g. Maamoun and
Ibrahim 1978). Ambr aseys et al. (1995) listed this shock as not confirmed.
221BC, Siwa Oasis:
s shock had an int ensity of VII at Siwa Oasis, western
desert (Maa moun 1979). However, it caused des
ction in locations in Libya
about 100 km away. It is possible t
ke is t
which too k place in ce
l Italy wit h an intensity X and caused landfalls and
diversion of river t here (Kebeasy 1990).
Geod. Geoph. Hun g. 34, 1999
Hist ori cal ea rt h qua kes r
on Approx. Felt at th e
. E Long. N intensity locality of Sources
2200 BC 30.75 31.50 VII Tell
Sieb erg (1932a,b )
1210 BC 22.50 31.50 VI
el Sieb erg (1932a,b)
600 BC 25.55 33.00 V
Sieb erg (1932a,b)
221 BC 29.80 26.00 VII Siwa Oasis Si
184 BC 31.00 31.00 No
95 BC 29.00 33.00 Gu lf of S uez Preisigke (1926)
27 BC 25.20 33.25 VI
Lyons (1907) ;
93 AD 30.20 31.20 VI
262 AD 29.70 26.00 VII Siwa
Sieberg (1932a ,b )
320 A D 32.00 30.00 VII A
358 AD 31.50 29.50 VII A
396 AD 31.30 29.55 VI A
ia Lyons (1907)
14 Oct . 520 31.00 30.00 V II
553 32.00 29.70 VII Al
Sieb erg (1932b)
742 29.50 33.00 VI Gu lf of Su ez Sieb erg (1932a,b)
796 31.20 29.50 VII Al
857 30.00 31.20 V
859 30.50 31.50 VI Bilbais (Eg
3 Nov. 885 30.10 31.20 VII No
912 30.00 31.00 VII Eg
4 O ct . 93 5 30.50 31.20 VIII
ern Egy p t 18
y 950 30.20 3 1.20 VI Nort he rn E gy pt 15
15 Sep. 95 1 32.00 29 .00 VII Alexand
. 956 32.00 30 .00 VIII
er ran ean 9
967 26.50 32.50 V S
969 30 .00 31.00 Egyp t 6
997 26.50 32.00 V Sou
18 Mar. 1068 29.50 35.00 VIII
12 Feb . 1091 28 .00 34.00 VSinai
31 Aug . 1111 30.03 31.15 VII
et al. (1995)
20 May 1202 33.00 36.00 IX Dead Sea 1
e 1259 30.00 31.00
20 F eb . 1264 30.00 31.00 V II
. 1299 29.50 30.50 VII Nort h
8 Aug . 1303 34.50 28.5
7, 9, 15
10 Aug . 130 7 30.20 31.00 VI No
27 Feb . 1313 30.50 31.20 V
29 May 1335 30 .00 31.00 VI
19 O ct . 1373 30 .20 31.50 VI
19 Sep, 1385 30.50 31.00 VII
17 J u l. 1386 30 .20 31.20 V
1422 30.00 31.20 V Nort he rn
. 1425 29.50 33 .50 V I Gu lf of S uez 7
14 Dec. 1433 30.00 31.00 V N ort he rn Eg yp t 2
6 Nov. 1434 30.00 31.20 VII
Acta Geod. Geoph . Hun g. 34, 1ggg
HISTORI CAL SEISMICITY OF E
Approx.LocationApprox . Felt at t he
. E Long . N int ensity loca lity of Sources
5 Mar. 1455 30.50 31.20 V
15 Dec. 1467 30.00 31.00 V
1 Nov. 1476 30.2 0 31.20 V
. 1483 30.10 31.20 V
. 1486 30.50 31.20 V
. 1498 30.00 31.20 V
17 Nov. 1502 30.15 31.25 VI No
28 Mar. 1513 30.00 31.20 V
. 1523 30.25 31.30 V
. 1525 30.15 31.20 V
1527 30.00 31.20 V
12 Nov. 1529 30.15 31.50 V No
1532 30.20 31.25 IV
23 Mar. 1534 30.10 31.20 V
. 1576 30.00 31.50 VII
7Apr. 1588 29.50 31.50 V
21 Dec. 1694 28.75 31.00 V
2 O ct . 1698 32.00 30 .00 V I Alexandria 7
27 Aug. 1710 29.30 33.25 VI
of Suez 4
18 Oct . 1754 29.60 32.25 V
of Suez 18
. 1778 26.20 32.10 V
10 Oct . 1801 30 .00 31.20 V No rt hern
27 J un . 1814 29.00 33 .00 VII Gu lf of Suez 4
. 1825 30.15 31.00 V No
28 Mar. 1846 35.00 25.00 V
15 J u n. 1846 30.00 31.00 V
7 Aug. 1847 29.50 30.75 VIII
23 J u l. 1849 30.15 31.25 V
27 Oct. 1850 27.00 31.00 VI
30 Dec. 1858 30.00 31.20 V
11 Apr. 1865 31.10 30.00 V
20 Feb. 1868 35.00 25.00 V
1870 34.50 29.50 VII
Sieberg (1932a ,b)
1873 35.00 33.50 VII
1879 29 .00 33 .00 VI Gu lf of Suez Sieberg (1932b)
27 Aug . 1886 36 .00 23 .50 VI
17 Nov. 1886 30.15 31.20 V
Ambraseys et al. (199 5)
7 Dec. 1895 30.10 31.25 V
Ambraseys et al. (1995)
1. Abel-Latif "Kit a b El-efada" facs. Eds . (1810) .
"E l-Bedaya wa El-Nehaya fi El -
. 13vols ed .
3. Ibn Tolon
EI-zaman " ed . Mohamed
. 2vols. Cairo,
"E ia b El-Asear fi E I-
et a l., 7vols. Ca iro, 1888-96.
"Nozhat El-Nofous wa El
ikh El-zaman" ed . Hassan Habashi. 3vols,
Geod. Geoph . Hung . 34, 1999
6. E l-Ma q rizy "K it ab E I-Slo uk Li Ma er afa t Dewal E l-Molo uk" ed. Ziad a
Ashour 4vo ls.
7. E l
qrizy "E l-Khi
8. E l-M aqrizy "It
fa bi ak
ima El-fat imyin EI-kh
ma l E l-
Sha wal. C airo, 3vols. 1967-73 .
9. As-So uty " Kas hf EI- sals ala fi Wasf El-za lza la" ed.
fi Ak ha ba r Mis r wa E l-
hira " ed. Mo ha me d Ab ul Fadl
11. At- Tab
y "Ta rikh El-
ry" ed. Mo ha med Abul Fadl
10 vols. Cairo, 1979.
12. Ab de l-Ra h
n ElGawzy "EI-moha ndes fi El m
" Egy pti an
13. Yihya Ibn EI
"G haya t E l
ny fi akhaba r E I-
r El -yam any " ed . Sa id Ashour,
14. Ahme d Ibn EI-Y
obi "Tarikh el
qo bi" Be iru t, 1960.
ed Ibn EI-N eweyri " Nihaye t E I-Ara b fi fun on El -As ab " Eg y pt ia n
"E I-Baya n El-M a
os wa EI-Maghrib" B
17. E I-F
Inb Youssef "
rikh Mayafarqin" ed .
Bad awy, Cairo, 1959.
18. Said Ibn
"K it a b A
184BC, North ern Egypt: An earthquake reported in northern Egypt in this year as
written on a Gr eek papyrus
, Gulf of Su ez: An ea rt hq uake affected th e temple of Heron between 97BC to
th e n
e of the effects is not mentioned
, South ern Egypt :
s event was a st rong one, caused gre at damage and leav-
ing only four villages undes
ebes, southern Egyp t. One column of
Mernnon fell down.
hqu ake was al so felt in Nort hern Eg ypt. How-
ever, Ambr ase ys et al. (1995) ga ve a tte nt ion t o t he fact t
the collapse of
Memnon was not du e t o thi s earthquake.
, North ern Egypt: Sieberg (1932a,b)
ed a de
ctive ea rt hquake in Eg
to 93AD. However, Ambr aseys et al. (1995) suggested that thi s earthquake
took place in Western Anat olia.
262AD, Siwa Oasis:
s shock was felt in Siwa Oasis
occurred probably in
Libya. There is agreement
the epicenter of this eart hquake was in Libya
(Kebeasy 1990, Ambr aseys et al. 1995, Badawy 1996).
320A D, Al exandria:
s earthquake caused destruction to man y houses in Alexan-
dria,probably it was seaquake. Lyons (1907) dat ed thi s shock to 312AD.
358A D, Alexandria:
s shock was felt in northern Egypt, especia lly in Alexan-
caused a grea t concern wi
t dam ages.
396A D, Al exandria: A slight ea rthqua ke was shaking Alexandria in daytime.
shock caused slight damages in old buildings.
Acta Geod. Geoph. Hung. 34, 1999
14 Oct. 520AD, Northern Egypt : Astrong earthquake was felt in Egypt shaking
buildings, some cities and villages were swallowed up. Unfortunately, the
correct identification of this shock is problematic (Ambraseys et al. 1995).
553AD, Alexandria:This event occurred in the Mediterranean near Alexandria,
many people were injured. Ambraseys et al. (1995) corrected the date to 9
742AD, Gulf of Suez: According to Sieberg (1932a,b), an important earthquake
took place in the Suez area, causing many cases of fissuring and some de-
struction. The maximum estimated intensity VI was assigned for Ain Soukhna
(Gulf of Suez region) where cracks in the ground were reported (Maamoun
1979). However, Ambraseys et al. (1995) places this shock in Yemen.
14 April 796AD, Alexandria: Adestructive earthquake occurred in the Mediter-
ranean Sea near Alexandria. This earthquake was located by Ambraseys et
al. (1995) to the Hellenic arc near the island of Crete
was strongly felt
in Northern Egypt. The upper
of the lighthouse in Alexandria collapsed.
857AD, Egypt: Adestructive earthquake took place in Egypt. This shock was
widely felt in Egypt, it shaked buildings and destroyed some houses.
27 January 859AD, Bilbais, Northern Egypt: Adamaging earthquake occurred in
Bilbais, Sharquia province, it was widely felt in Northern Egypt. Ambraseys
et al. (1995) correct the date of this shock to January 860AD.
3November 885, Northern Egypt: A large shock in Egypt destroyed some
houses in Northern Egypt and about one thousand people were killed. No
effects were reported from elsewhere. Therefore, the epicenter of this earth-
quake should be in Northern Egypt .
912AD, Egypt: A widely felt earthquake was reported in this year in Egypt. Poirier
and Taher (1980) placed this shock to Kairawan as it caused some damage on
the Tunisian coast. So this event originated from the central Mediterranean
4 October 935AD, Northern Egypt : The epicenter of this shock was somewhere in
Northern Egypt. This earthquake destroyed some houses in Cairo . No re-
ported damage elsewhere. Poirier and Taher (1980) proposed
quake took place on 5 October 935AD with an estimated intensity VIII in
Cairo and surrounding area.
25 July 950AD, Northern Egypt: A series of shocks destroyed most houses in Cairo
and some old buildings. There is some disagreement over the correct date
in the sources. Poirier and Taher (1980) dated it to 26 July 950AD. These
shocks might originate at an epicenter in the northern Red Sea where the
earthquakes tend to occur in related sequences (Badawy 1995).
Geod. Geoph, Hung . 34, 1999
15 September 951AD,Alexandria: Astrong earthquake in Northern Egypt. In
Alexandria, the lighthouse was totally destroyed and new springs of water
appeared in many places as a consequence of this shock.
1January 956AD, Eastern Mediterranean: A widely felt earthquake in the East-
ern Mediterranean region. In Northern Egypt and Syria the shock was felt
with long duration. In Cairo, this earthquake caused great concern
967AD, Southern Egypt: Astrong earthquake caused partial damage in many places
in Southern Egypt, as well as in the wall of the El-Karnak temple, Luxor.
However, this shock is not confirmed by Ambraseys et al. (1995).
1 July 969AD, Egypt: An earthquake reported in Egypt,
there is no informa-
tion about its place and intensity (Poirier and Taher 1980). However, Am-
braseys et al. (1995) suggested
it was no earthquake.
997AD, Southern Egypt: A relatively strong earthquake was reported at Qus, south-
ern Egypt, through other phenomena hint at particularly violent storms. Five
hundred palm trees were uprooted and a number of heavily laden boats sank.
18 March 1068AD, Northern Egypt: This seism was the first historical earthquake
which strongly affected the Gulf of Suez area.
was located near Aqaba at the
end of Gulf of Aqaba (Ben-Menahem 1979, Melville 1984). This earthquake
was widely and strongly felt in Cairo where some houses were damaged.
12 February 1091AD, Sinai:A series of earthquakes was felt in Southern Sinai (St .
Catherine) during night .
31 August 1111AD, Northern Egypt: There is some disagreement over the correct
date of this earthquake in the sources. Lyons (1907) listed it to March 1111,
Sieberg (1932a,b) to 26 May 1111 and Ambraseys et al. (1995) on the same
date as above.
Adestructive earthquake in Northern Egypt affected Cairo in the morning of
31 August. It was widely felt through the country and ruined a number of
20 May 1202AD, Dead Sea: Amajor earthquake occurred in the morning and was
widely felt throughout Egypt, causing slight damage. Poirier and Taher (1980)
this shock took place in 1203AD and was felt also in Syria, Iraq,
and Turkey. Ambraseys et al. (1995) placed the epicenter of this shock to
south of Beirut.
In Cairo, this earthquake was of long duration and awoke sleepers . Three
shocks were reported.
6 June 1259AD, Northern Egypt : Lyons (1907) dated this earthquake on 28 May
1260AD. A damaging shock occurred in Cairo and in other cities in Egypt.
Geod. Geoph . Hung . 34, 1999
This event preceded the news of the Mongols' advance and it possibly is a
reference to the political situation in Egypt, which was undergoing a prolonged
dynastic upheaval (Ambraseys et al. 1995).
20 February 1264AD, Northern Egypt: El-Maqrizy stated
a very strong earth-
quake destroyed many houses in Egypt. Few reports are available for this
shock and only As-Souty stated specifically
an earthquake occurred in
8January 1299AD, Northern Egypt:Amajor earthquake was felt in Egypt, such
as had not been felt before. There is no evidence of a strong shock elsewhere in
the Eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, this earthquake was probably a local
8August 1303AD, Eastern Mediterranean: Astrong shock was felt throughout
northern Egypt. Arabic sources reported
this earthquake was the
strongest in Egypt, particularly in Alexandria.In Cairo, almost all houses suf-
fered some damage and many large public buildings collapsed.
caused panic, and women run into the streets without their veils. Minarets of
the mosques of Cairo were particularly affected. In Alexandria, many houses
were ruined and killed a number of peoples .
lighthouse was shattered and
its top collapsed.
The damage extended to Southern Egypt up to Qus . This earthquake was
placed by Sieberg to Faiyum, south of Cairo because of the severe damage in
was also reported
this earthquake caused large-scale
damage in Rhodes and Crete.Ambraseys (1961) placed its epicenter in the
Mediterranean Sea as As-Souty mentioned
the advance of sea submerged
half of Alexandria. According to Arabic sources (e.g. El-Maqrizy; As-Souty)
aftershocks continued during three weeks.
10 August 1307AD, Northern Egypt: During the night, an earthquake was experi-
enced in Northern Egypt.This shock is not widely reported in the Arabic
sources, was evidently a small local event.
27 February 1313AD, Northern Egypt: In the midday, an earthquake was felt in
Northern Egypt. This shock is not widely reported in the Arabic sources
was evidently a small local event.
29 May 1335AD, Northern Egypt:Many people experienced an earthquake in
Northern Egypt, particularly in Cairo .
evidence from Arabic sources
this shock was a local event.
19 October 1373AD, Northern Egypt:Astrong shock was felt in Cairo. This earth-
quake was probably a small local event as it was not widely recorded.
19 September 1385AD, Northern Egypt:One or two earthquakes were felt during
the night in Cairo. However, El-Johary reported
this shock occurred in
Acta Geod. Geoph. Hung. 34, 1999
17 July 1386AD, No rthern Egypt: A slight shock was felt in Cairo around t he fourth
hour of the day.
28 Jun e 142
,Northern Egypt: Also a slight ea
hqua ke was felt in Cairo on
e, but t here is no indication of the epicent ral area .
23 Jun e 14
,Gulf of Su ez: A st rong ea
hqua ke was reported in Northern
Egypt , p
cularl y in Cairo but did li
e dam age. Th e long-p eriod shak-
ing caused by t he shock combined with the absence of inf
tion in the
Eas t ern Medit erranean suggests a possible source in the Gulf of Suez region
(Ambarseys et al. 1995).
14 December 143
, Northern Egypt: During t he night , an ea rt hqua ke was re-
ed in Cairo.
s shock is not widely reported in t he Arabic sour ces, it
was evidently a small local event .
6 Nov emb er 1434AD,Northern Egypt : On th e morning, a strong earthquake was
felt in Northern Egypt, p
cularly in Cairo. This eart hquake had shaken
th e houses in many places and caused great dam age as well as some houses
5 March 1455AD,Northern Egypt: A slight e art hq uake was felt in Nor the rn Egyp t
that concerne d in Cairo and its vicinity.
s event shook the ground more
t han once. After t hree or five d ays anot he r ligh t shoc k occ ur red .
15 December 1467
, N orth ern Egypt : At t he night, a slight shock was felt in
Nort hern Egyp t , p
cularl y in Cai ro. Thi s eart hqua ke ca used some dam-
age in Cairo and some old houses collapsed.
1 November 1476AD, N orth ern Egypt : A widely felt ea rt hqua ke r
ed in Cairo
during the night. Many people rep
ed t he shock.
s earthquake caused
damage but As-Souty calls it a slight shock.
s evide nt ly t his shoc k
originated from a local event .
, North ern Egypt: A slight eart hquake was felt in Northern Egyp t,
ati on in Cai ro during th e nigh t .
s shock caused little dam -
11 October 1486AD,North ern Egypt: A light earthquake occurred in Cairo around
e ground once or twice. Th ere is no evidence of an earth-
quake elsewhere in th e region on this dat e and it probably originated from
local sour ce in Nor th ern E gypt .
16 October 1498AD, No rth ern Egypt : A light shock was felt in Cairo.
ere is no
det ail of a n ea rt hqua ke elsewhere on this d at e and it was pr obably local to
17 November 150
, Northern Egypt: A s
ong earthqua ke was rep
ed in Cairo.
s shock des
oyed many houses in several p
s of Cairo.
Acta Geod. Geoph, Hung. 34, 1999
28 March 1513AD, Northern Egypt: A light earthquake was felt in Cairo , lasting
one minute. Three shocks were felt, which moved the ground perceptibly.
There is no detail about the epicentral area and this shock might be local to
4April 1523AD, Northern Egypt: A slight shock was felt in Cairo in the night, it
lasted about 2minutes.There is no indication of an epicentral area and this
earthquake might be a local event .
9 March 1525AD, Northern Egypt: During the night, a slight earthquake was felt
14 July 1527AD, Northern Egypt: A slight shock was reported in Cairo around
12 November 1529AD, Northern Egypt:A light earthquake was felt in Cairo, which
lasted about 2 minutes. This shock occurred towards the end of the night.
10 July 1532AD, Northern Egypt : A very slight earthquake was felt in Cairo during
23 March 1534AD, Northern Egypt: A slight shock occurred in Cairo after dawn.
1April 1576AD, Northern Egypt: Astrong earthquake was felt in Cairo during the
night . This shock was preceded by three weaker shocks .
7April 1588AD, Northern Egypt : An earthquake was felt in Cairo at sunrise and
lasted only a brief time . In the
hill, three fissures opened and
. These details and no indications of an earthquake elsewhere
this shock was probably a local event.
21 December 1694AD, Northern Egypt: In the early morning, an earthquake was
felt in Egypt. Some houses were destroyed and a few collapsed . No earthquake
was reported elsewhere in the region in this year, what gives evidence
this shock originated from a local source in Egypt.
2 October 1698AD, Alexandria:An earthquake was felt in Cairo in the morning, it
caused great concern
little damage. This shock was also reported from
Rosetta and Alexandria.
27 August 1710AD, Gulf of Suez: Aconsiderable earthquake was felt in Cairo in
the morning about 8 o'clock.
of this shock in Cairo suggests
this earthquake might originate at an
epicenter in the Northern Red Sea or Gulf of Suez region .
18 October 1754AD, Gulf of Suez:Adestructive earthquake was felt in Northern
Egypt.This shock affected some districts in Cairo where many houses were
ruined with a high loss of life. This earthquake might be a local shock; there
is no evidence
it caused damage elsewhere.
Geod. Geoph . Hung . 34, 1999
22 June 1778AD, Southern Egypt: An earthquake was felt in Southern Egypt, par-
ticularly at Nag Hammadi and Tahta. This shock was followed by several
aftershocks during the night . There was no damage
is terrified the inhab-
itants of Nag Hammadi.
10 October 1801AD, Northern Egypt: A local earthquake was felt in Cairo at the
night. There is no evidence of an earthquake on this
in the Eastern
27 June 1814AD, Gulf of Suez: Astrong earthquake was felt in Northern Egypt,
particularly in Cairo and Sinai. This shock lasted two minutes. This earth-
quake caused the minarets of Al-Azhar mosque to shake violently.
21 June 1825AD, Northern Egypt : A series of four severe earthquakes were felt in
Cairo in the night around 9 o'clock . Sieberg (1932b) lists another shock on
21 August 1825AD, probably aduplication.
28 March 1846AD, Eastern Mediterranean: Northern Egypt particularly Cairo and
Alexandria were shaken by a large magnitude event on this
in the East-
ern Mediterranean (Hellenic Arc). In Cairo the ground motion lasted three
minutes and caused considerable concern
no damage was recorded.
15 June 1846AD, Northern Egypt: Two local earthquakes were felt in Cairo . These
two shocks continued for 40 seconds.
7August 1847AD, Northern Egypt: This earthquake was a remarkable shock in the
seismological history of northern Egypt.
was a very strong earthquake which
shook northern Egypt and caused widespread damage to local houses and to
anumber of public buildings.
was the strongest shock with an epicenter on
land in Northern Egypt and was felt as far as Aswan in the South. In Cairo,
the shock continued intermittently for
one minute causing panic and
considerable damage in all districts.
earthquake was strongly felt throughout the Nile Delta. In Alexandria the
shock lasted about 35 seconds.
caused cracks in old houses . In Mansoura it
caused great concern with some minor damage in minarets.
was reportedly strong in Damietta, Rashid and Suez.
Sieberg provides an assessment of damage and regards Faiyum as epicentral
region associating the earthquake with a fault break there.
A series of aftershocks were strongly felt in Cairo and Alexandria on the
morning of 10 August 1847 with no damage.
The recent earthquake
occurred on 12 October 1992 SW, Cairo showed
the same macroseismic epicenter in the region between Cairo and Faiyum as
well as aftershocks occurrence (Badawy and Manus 1995).
23 July 1849AD, Northern Egypt: A slight earthquake was felt in Northern Egypt,
particularly in Cairo in the early morning.
Geod. Geoph. Hung . 34,
C AL SE ISM IC IT Y O F
27 October 1850AD,Southern Egypt : A st r ong ea rt hqua ke was felt nor th of Asyu t
(Sout hern Egyp t ) in t he morning which l
ed a bout 30 seconds .
was felt a t m any pla ces a long t he N ile Valley. A c rack in t he ea rt h with a
one-inch dimension near t he Nile was reported.
30 December 1858AD, Northern Egypt: An
hqua ke was felt in Cairo near the
end of t his year.
11 Ap ril 1865AD, Northern Egypt: In t he morning, a n
hquake was felt in Nor th-
icularly in Alexandria. The shock l
ed only two seconds.
20 February 1868AD, Eastern Mediterran ean: At the night , two
widely felt in Nor
ern Egypt , par ticul arly in Alexandria, Cairo, Ismaili a,
ere is no r
ed dam age due to thes e two eart h-
quakes anywhere. Ambraseys et al. (1995) pla ced th e epicen ter of this sh ock
e Eastern Medit erranean Sea.
24 Jun e 1870AD, East ern Mediterran ean: A st rong eart hquake was felt in
Northern Egypt, particularly in Alexandria,Cairo and Ismailia. In Alexan-
dria this shock caused considerable concern but no dam age was reported.
This earthquake was st ronger in Cairo and Ismailia, bu t of shorte r duration.
caused slight pan ic and damage to a few houses.
s ea rt hqua ke was felt
in a number of E
ern Mediterr anean cou nt ries (e .g. Sicily, Alba nia, Turkey,
Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Lib ya ). Th erefore t he shoc k was focused in t he
Eastern Mediterr an ean by Ambr aseys et al. (1995).
12 January 187
, Eastern Mediterranean: In t he early afternoo n, man y people
felt an ea rt hqua ke in C airo. Th e osc illat ions of th e gro und p ersist ed for abo ut
one minute bu t n o dam a ge was re po
d. Th is shock was apparently felt
along Palestin e and Lebanon, it could have originated from t he South east ern
Mediterranean (Ambraseys et al. 1995).
11 July 1879
, Gulf of Suez:
ely shocks were felt in Cairo at the
e shocks were also felt in Giza and it was st ro nger in Alexandria. In
Sinai (at Tor) th e shocks were associate d with sea-waves t hat flooded some
27 August 1886AD, Eastern Mediterranean: A very strong earthquake was felt in
icularly in Cairo and Alexandria.
great concern .
was also felt in some places in Eastern Mediterranean
countries. Thus th e ea rt hqua ke evide nt ly or iginated from a focus in t he Hel-
lenic Arc (Ambr aseys et al. 1995).
17 November 1886AD,Northern Egypt: A light earthqua ke was felt in Cairo at
shock lasted several seconds.
7 December 1895AD, No rthern Egypt: Two ea rt hqua kes were felt in North ern E gypt ,
par ticularl y in Cairo, Alex
ria and Ismailia. Each shock last ed about t hree
A cta G eod. Geoph. Hun g. 34, 1999
seconds. There is no damage reported
some concern in
Zagazig region. These earthquakes might originated from an epicenter at
Gulf of Aqaba (Badawy 1995).
reliability and heterogeneity of historical earthquake information are impor-
factors in defining the level of seismicity
determining its future recurrence.
historical earthquake information in Egypt is documented, it cannot
be regarded as complete as much of the old Egyptian literature was lost creating
gaps in earthquake records. Moreover, earthquake dating was a subject of difference
among different authors (e.g. Ambraseys 1962, Rothe 1969, Poirier
Ambraseys 1995, Badawy 1996). Also, the distribution of population causes bad
control on epicenter location.
time distribution of historical earthquakes in Egypt (Fig. 1) shows
only seven earthquakes have been reported in
period before Christ (BC) . Up to
end of the ninth century
secular number of reported earthquakes fluctuates
between zero and three. A relatively high number (eight) of earthquakes were re-
twelfth centuries (Fatimid period)
adramatic decline in
earthquake number has been notified . This decline reflects
most historical documents have been lost during
Fatimid period. After this
number of reported earthquakes re-increased up to
fifteenth and six-
teenth centuries (Mamluk Period) giving a relatively high value (ten earthquakes).
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Egypt was a province of
toman Empire, another dramatic decline has been realized . This decline reflects
acultural decline not only in Egypt
also throughout the Middle
Empire period (see Hodgson 1974).
reported earthquakes reach
their highest number in the nineteenth century. In this century Cairo newspapers
(Al-Ahram, Egyptian Gazette, and Al-Muktataf') increased the amount of available
fluctuations in the time distribution of historical earthquakes in
Egypt are closely related to variations in
availability and quality of the sources
of historical information.
spatial distribution of historical earthquakes in Egypt is depicted in Fig.
2. This map shows
shocks were reported or felt, it is not a
map of earthquake epicenters.
is in a good agreement with
given by Poirier
Ambraseys et al. (1995).
This figure clearly indicates
most historical earthquakes were felt in the
densely populated region of
Nile Valley, Nile Delta
fore, the spatial distribution of earthquake location in historical period was essen-
tially linked to
population geography in Egypt.
concentration of population
in Nile Valley has distorted the location of historical earthquakes.Whereas,
torical earthquakes are not representative what is known
in some regions in Egypt. For example along the Red Sea region
populated only a few effects on land were reported. Most of the earthquakes must
moderate level to be considered. In contrast, Northern Egypt was densely
Geod. Geoph . Hung . 34, 1999
2 2 2 2
Time (Centu ries)
from 2200BC to 1899AD
populated, has a long and well-documented information, many reported earthquakes
were relatively small.
Generally, Egypt has been affected from earthquakes originating from epicenters
in the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Red Sea (Gulf of Suez and Gulf of
Aqaba), as well by some shocks originating from local sources .
The degree of the earthquake damages (consequently the estimated intensity)
varies widely with construction and engineering quality of the structures. The
Egyptian pre-instrumentalearthquakes had widespread consequences (exaggerated
intensities) mainly because so many buildings were destroyed due to their poor
Finally, the total number of historicalearthquakes in the present catalogue is 83
up to 1899AD. Although th is number is twice greater
in the earlier catalogues
(e.g. Maamoun 1979, Poirier and Taher 1980, Ambraseys et al. 1995) the historical
earthquake records in Egypt are still very incomplete.
Ack nowle d ge
Ishould like to
Gy Szeidovitz at the Seismological Observatory
Hungarian Academy of Science for their valuable suggestions
great thanks to P M6nus for his continuous help. I am grateful to F Horvath at
of L. Eotvos University, who reviewed
valuab le suggestions and discussions .
Acta Geod. Geoph. Hung . 34, 1999
25° 26° 27° 28° 29° 30° 31° 32° 33034° 35° 36° 37"
Fig. 2. The spatial distribution of historical earthquake localities in Egypt from 2200BC to
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