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The Tsunami

Alexandria - Capital Cities

What: Undersea Earthquake which created the Tsunami which reached Alexandria and the Nile Delta region of Egypt: it managed to throw ships 3km inland from the coast


When:
Sunrise on 21st July 365 and was still commemorated over 300 years later in Alexandria


Where:
Crete, Greece, Eastern Mediterranean


Why:
Thought to have been due to a reactivation of the major tectonic plate boundaries along the Hellenic Trench


Who:
Many thousands of people died as a result of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Greece, Libya, Cyprus, Sicily, Spain, Crete and Egypt

The Tsunami as described by Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman Historian

“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, as it was given to be believed, looked up at the sun’s rays.

Many ships, then, were stranded as if on dry land, and people wandered at will about the paltry remains of the waters to collect fish and the like in their hands; then the roaring sea as if insulted by its repulse rises back in turn, and through the teeming shoals dashed itself violently on islands and extensive tracts of the mainland, and flattened innumerable buildings in towns or wherever they were found.

Thus in the raging conflict of the elements, the face of the earth was changed to reveal wondrous sights.

For the mass of waters returning when least expected killed many thousands by drowning, and with the tides whipped up to a height as they rushed back, some ships, after the anger of the watery element had grown old, were seen to have sunk, and the bodies of people killed in shipwrecks lay there, faces up or down.

Other huge ships, thrust out by the mad blasts, perched on the roofs of houses, as happened at Alexandria, and others were hurled nearly two miles from the shore, like the Laconian vessel near the town of Methone which I saw when I passed by, yawning apart from long decay.”