Archives of Earth - Archives of Mankind

Natural Disasters

Academic Responsibility

Univ.-Prof. Dr. phil. Klaus Freitag

Department of Ancient History

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Klaus Reicherter

Department of Area Neotectonics and Geohazards

Contact Person







Thursday, 4:30-6:00 p.m.


Lecture hall S16 | C.A.R.L. 
Claßenstr. 11
52072 Aachen


The Mediterranean is a highly active seismic region, where earthquakes also occurred with great frequency in ancient times. In this course, we will focus on historical sites that have been affected by extraordinary historical events such as earthquakes and tsunamis, and ask ourselves how their transmission looks like in the different “archives” of the earth. The focus is on the study of ancient earthquakes as a phenomenon on the borderline between natural and cultural science, and therefore the following questions are in the foreground: How are natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods explained? Are they considered supernatural phenomena for which gods are responsible? Is there an awareness of man’s destruction of nature and man’s influence on natural disasters? Are there approaches to explain such disasters “scientifically”? How did ancient people struggle to “mentally cope” with natural disasters such as earthquakes? What is the impact of earthquakes on ancient societies? Do possibilities of reconstructing seismic events still exist today? How is the relationship between event and literary record to be located?



4. Mai 2020

Überblick Einführung Naturkatastrophen und Überblick Tsunami

18. Mai 2020

Erdbeben und Tsunami im Golf von Euboia 426 v. Chr.

8. Juni 2020

Der Untergang von Helike 373 v. Chr.

22. Juni 2020

Der Vulkanausbruch von Pompeii 79 n. Chr.

6. Juli 2020

Ein Blick zurück: Der Vulkanausbruch auf Thera/Sontorini

13. Juli 2020

Der Untergang von Atlantis. Mythos und Realität


J. Borsch, Erschütterte Welt: Soziale Bewältigung von Erdbeben im östlichen Mittelmeerraum der Antike, Tübingen 2018. 
E. Olshausen / H. Sonnabend (Hrsg.), Naturkatastrophen in der antiken Welt (Stuttgarter Kolloquium zur Historischen Geographie des Altertums 6, 1996), Stuttgart 1998. 
H. Sonnabend, Naturkatastrophen in der Antike. Wahrnehmung, Deutung, Management, Stuttgart 1999. 
H. Sonnabend, Katastrophen in der Antike, Darmstadt / Mainz 2013. 
G. Waldherr, Erdbeben. Das aussergewöhnliche Normale. Zur Rezeption seismischer Aktivitäten in literarischen Quellen vom 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert n. Chr., Stuttgart 1997

Procedure/Working method​

Depending on the course of studies, module and examination, credit points can be achieved through participation.


Certificate of Participation (0 CP, not graded)
Term Paper (3 CP, 10 pages)

Scroll to top