Abstract

Contemporary Ottoman sources bring a major contribution to the description of the seismic activity in the eastern Mediterranean region and are extensively used by historical seismologists. Among these, the documents of the Ottoman State Archives (Istanbul), and more specifically the correspondence of the local governors with the central authorities form a valuable source for the description of the earthquake effects in territories, which were under the Ottoman rule. Especially for the more recent periods, we observe that not only major earthquakes but also small‐to‐moderate‐size events with local effects find their place in these documents. However, due to the complex and insufficiently categorized structure of the archival material, as well as the need for expertize in Ottoman language and history, except the sections covered in the works of N. Ambraseys and C. Finkel and a number of earthquake‐specific studies, these documents are not yet fully exploited in the definition of the regional seismic history.

In this pilot study, we investigate the Ottoman archive material related to earthquake effects in the central North Anatolian region and search for possible supportive or new contribution to the seismic history of the study area. The period of investigation is the nineteenth century, with occasional data also found for the pre and postperiod. The study revealed supportive information for 15 earthquakes that were already known to previous compilations, and data for 19 earthquakes that we categorize as new events, demonstrating the value of this primary source and the wealth of macroseismic information that can still be extracted, revealing earthquakes so far unknown as well as enriching the descriptive information related to already known ones.

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