Summer is Hot as Heck, but it Could Always be Worse
Good day everyone. I happened to be looking out the window this morning while having some of my husband’s delicious coffee and I swore I could see the steam of the heat rising from the road. Which is pretty impressive with it only being nine in the morning. My first thought was how happy I was that I didn’t have many places to go to today. My next thought was that the weather had managed to make me a prisoner of my home. It has just been that hot outside lately. I instantly longed for my days in California and its near perfect climate.
I was still internally moping during my morning ritual of reading my history apps for the day when I came across an article of the Tsunami of Alexandria, Egypt in the year of 365. I’m not sure why this piece of history resonated with me. I know there have been many and more recent natural disasters that have made their marks on our lives and history.
Maybe because Alexandria was one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, founded by Alexander the Great after his conquest of Egypt in 332 BC that help it hold a special place in my heart and curiosity. I even named my daughter after the advanced city of ancient times. After the death of Alexander the Great at Babylon in 323 BC, his lieutenant, Ptolemy eagerly took over the leading of Egypt. It was Ptolemy that made newly-founded Alexandria the new capital of Egypt and marked the beginning of the rise of Alexandria. The early Ptolemaic kings sought to legitimize their rule through a variety of ways, including assuming the role of pharaoh, founding the Greco-Roman cult of Serapis, and becoming the patrons of scholarship and learning. It was this patronage that resulted in the creation of the great Library of Alexandria by Ptolemy, which is what I really named my daughter after. One day, when she’s old enough, I would love to take her to see her namesake.
Over the centuries, the Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries in the ancient world. The great thinkers of the age, scientists, mathematicians, poets from all known civilizations came to study and exchange ideas. Egypt was also the import and export leaders of the world during that time as well.
Sorry, I kind of gotten off topic didn’t I? Anywho, whatever the reasons, my griping of the heat of summer now seemed petty at best.
I mean, while I cry over the heat, on this day in the year 365, a powerful earthquake off the coast of Greece caused a tsunami that overwhelmed the city of Alexandria. Scientists now estimate that the quake was actually two separate tremors one after another. The principal tremor is thought to have had a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale!
After the quake hit, a wall of water quickly crossed the Mediterranean Sea towards the Egyptian coast. As the wave gathered water in its approach, the seas surrounding Alexandria actually receded just before the disaster. There are ancient accounts of the ships in the harbor at Alexandria being overturned as the water flowed out and many people rushed out to loot the ships. That was one time when the saying crime doesn’t pay was proven right as the tsunami wave rushed in and swallowed everything in its path. The huge rush of water carried the ships and debris of people over the sea walls, overcoming the city itself. In Alexandria alone, roughly 5,000 people lost their lives and 50,000 homes were lost to the catastrophe.
No one in that region was spared. As a matter of record, the surrounding villages and towns suffered even more devastation than Alexandria did. Many were almost completely decimated and many more lives were lost. The losses didn’t end there; the flood of saltwater rendered their farmland useless for years after the initial calamity. This one event changed the coastline of Alexandria permanently. It wasn’t until 1995 that archaeologists discovered the ruins of the ancient city lost to the sea off the coast of present-day Alexandria.
I guess this just goes to show me that I could have a lot more to worry about than being hesitant to leave my air conditioned house during the summer months. Happy Tuesday everyone!
*FYI* Just tidbit extra on the bit I placed in the beginning of the post. Today might be the day that Alexandria suffered nature’s wrath, but the wonderful gift of the library suffered a horrible end as well. The historians can’t agree on when it happened, but the most accepted theories are that the Library of Alexandria was accidentally destroyed by Julius Caesar during the siege of Alexandria in 48 BC. The second possible culprit would be the Christians of the 4th century AD. In 391 AD, the Emperor Theodosius issued a decree that officially outlawed pagan practices. So, it’s not a far jump to believe that the knowledge held in the library would be seen as unholy in his eyes. But there is no proof that he did destroy the structure as there is proof that he destroyed the cult Serapis places of worship. Why would they claim he destroyed places of worship but not the library itself if he had? The last possible theory is the Muslim Caliph, Omar did the deed. But just like all the rest of the theories there isn’t direct proof to this either.