Siltation, notably under deltaic and urban contexts, was a well-recognised problem in antiquity with four sedimentary sources of note: (1) local watercourses; (2) regional longdrift currents; (3) erosion of adobe constructions and urban runoff; and (4) use of the basin as a base-level waste dump. Sidon’s gravels fraction from the Roman period comprises a whole suite of discarded objects, trapped at the bottom of the basin, including ceramics, wood, seeds, leather artefacts etc. Indeed, an inscription from Roman Ephesus, demanding citizens not to throw waste into the port, attests that ancient societies must have been acutely aware of this problem.
It is postulated that extensive dredging during the Roman and Byzantine period explains (1) the observed stratigraphic hiatus and (2) dating inversions. Previously, these problems, in the absence of robust chronological frameworks, were most often ignored or left unexplained.
Marriner et al describe the rapid progradation, the outward building of a sedimentary deposition from the coast, beginning around the 6th century CE which contributed to "the deformation and dislocation of Sidon’s harbour."
Sidon shows that the magnitude of crustal mobility is inferior to Tyre, 50 cm since antiquity, yet the same coarse sand facies is persistently observed. These data chronologically contradict, at least locally, the Early Byzantine Tectonic Paroxysm (EBTP) hypothesis dated to the fourth to sixth centuries AD. In effect, the opening of Tyre and Sidon appears to be later, after the sixth century AD. [E]arthquake and tsunami events on the Levantine coast [show] that the fourth to eleventh centuries were characterised by repeated seismic shocks, possibly provoking partial harbour damage. According to data from various sources [one of the sources cited is Russell (1985)] it is interesting to note that during the EBTP a cluster of five earthquakes ï¿½ï¿½8 are documented on the Levantine coast against a mere two during the period AD 600 to AD 1100.
Marriner, Nick; Morhange, C.; Doumet-Serhal, C. (2006, in press). Geoarchaeology of Sidon’s ancient harbours, Phoenicia. Journal of Archaeological Science. Available online 21 April 2006.
Russell, K.W. (1985). The earthquake chronology of Palestine and Northwest Arabia from the 2nd through the mid-8th century A.D, Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 260, pp. 37ï¿½C59.