Area of Effect Map of the Great Earthquake of 365 AD

In the early morning of June 21, a catastrophic earthquake hit Cyprus and all of the eastern Mediterranean in three waves, just seconds apart. 

The Kourion Earthquake House
The Kourion Earthquake House Where the Ring was Found

It measured between seven point five and eight plus on the Richter Scale and has since been known as the ‘365 Crete Earthquake’ by seismologists.

The great earthquake across the eastern Mediterranean in 365AD may have shaken the seats of the high and mighty for a thousand miles around, yet it is the story of a humble Christian family which reaches across more than sixteen centuries and touches us in a way no ancient chronicler’s account of the catastrophe ever could.

The 4th Century eyewitness account of Ammianus Marcellinus describes the moments before the Tsunami hit Alexandria, in his Res Gestae:

Slightly after daybreak, and heralded by a thick succession of fiercely shaken thunderbolts,  the solidity of the whole earth was made to shake and shudder, and the sea was driven away, its waves were rolled back, and it disappeared, so that the abyss of the depths was uncovered and many-shaped varieties of sea-creatures were seen stuck in the slime; the great wastes of those valleys and mountains, which the very creation had dismissed beneath the vast whirlpools, at that moment looked up at the sun’s rays.

Tsunami engulfing the city
Tsunami engulfing Alexandria, Egypt 365 AD

Catastrophic Event of the Eastern Mediterranean Region

The effects of this quake were devastating, caused ruin and death throughout the entire Eastern Mediterranean region, as far as Alexandria on the North African coast and to the coastal areas of the Levant.  Indeed, this cataclysmic event is now thought by many seismologists to be responsible for the island of Crete lifting a staggering ten yards in just a few seconds, leveling every single town on the island.  The epicenter was located off the eastern coast of that island.

View from Kourion along the coastal Cliffs
Kourion after the Earthquake

Archaeological evidence gathered from 1934 to 1985 shows that there was little to no habitation of Kourion for almost twenty years after the massive earthquake leveled the city, killing most of the inhabitants who were caught in their beds. 

Municipal Baths at Kourion
Municipal Baths at Kourion

Parts of Kourion as Paphos were never rebuilt to their former grandeur. Paphos recovered to a degree, but after the Arab raids of the 5th century, Kourion was abandoned.

Whatever the case may be, there is ample literary evidence to suggest that this particular earthquake was without doubt one of the most destructive seismic events in recorded history, an event so completely devastating it left few physical traces in its wake.

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