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Earthquakes in Persia.

  • Arnold T. Wilson

Persia is as a whole less liable than Europe, but more than most Asiatic countries, to catastrophic earthquakes, but the references thereto in printed literature are few and peculiarly difficult to discover as few, if any, indexes to books on Persia so much as mention the word.

Watson (p. 190) remarks that earthquakes are “ very frequent in most parts of Persia ”. Allemagne (i. 3) classes them, with plagues and famines, as Acts of God to which the country is specially liable.

Khurasan.—Hamdallah Mustawfi refers to a cypress at the village of Kishmar near Turshiz (100 miles south of Nishapur): “ such was its power that earthquakes which frequently devastated all the surrounding districts never did any harm in Kishmar.’ This was in A.H. 247 (A.D. 861).

Nassiri Khusrau (A.D. 1340) states that Nishapur was completely destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Abaqa Khan (A.D. 1267). Wajid ud Din Zangi Fariwandi rebuilt it in A.H. 669 (A.D. 1270). A similar catastrophe overwhelmed the town in A.H. 808 (A.D. 1405), when most of the inhabitants were buried in the ruins.

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page 109 note 1 Many of the geological concepts and terms employed in this note were introduced into Persian geology by Dr. H. de Böckh. A full explanation can be found in his contribution to the Structure of Asia, Methuen, 1929.

page 112 note 1 Rukn-ud Din Khoi (quoted by de Meynard, Barbier in his edition of Yaqut's Mujan al Buldan, p. 132) relates that at this time there resided in the city a learned astrologer of Shiraz called Abu Tahir, who foretold that the said earthquake should happen upon the sun's entrance into Scorpio in the year A.H. 235 ═ A.D. 849, and should overthrow the whole city. To which, when he found the people would give no credit, he went and was importunate with the Governor to force the people out of the city. The Governor … did all he could … but could not persuade above one-half of the people to stir, which fell out to their destruction, for the earthquake happened at exactly the hour mentioned in the prediction, to the overwhelming of 40,000 persons.

page 114 note 1 These entries may refer to the same event.

page 114 note 2 Morier (First Journey, p. 254) writes: “ Casvin is almost one mass of ruins. An earthquake within no distant period threw down the buildings … made cracks in almost every wall. A large mosque built by the Abbasses has been rent in many places in its thick walls and totally ruined.”

page 117 note 1 Rabino (p. 54) refers to an earthquake of A.H. 1225 ═ A.D. 1810, which caused much destruction at Sari. An inscription on the Masjid-i-Juma at Barfurush states that it was destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Fath Ali Shah. For further references to earthquakes see ibid., pp. 40, 44.

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Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • ISSN: 0041-977X
  • EISSN: 1474-0699
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-the-school-of-oriental-and-african-studies
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